What is your WHY?
At ICON, Simon Sinek gave his famed talk: Start With Why. And to follow up I was asked by a group of Infusionsoft partners what my why was. I’ve thought about it a lot, but I’ve never articulated it publicly.
One thing I’ve experienced, learned, and seen is that if your “why” is not big enough, you will never find the drive needed to succeed. When the going gets tough, there just isn’t enough gas in the tank to keep you going. But when the “why” is truly important to you, when it is bigger than you, it is what keeps you going through thick and thin.
Here’s my why (the abridged version). I invite you to articulate yours and share it publicly.
My dad is a photographer. A VERY good commercial advertising photographer. So, unlike the average starving artist, he’s been able to make a decent living and always provided well for our family.
While growing up, I watched him go to work in jeans and a t-shirt. He was always there for us – ball games, campouts, surfing, etc. I also observed my friends parents go to work each day in suits and ties. They weren’t around as often and when they were, they seemed to be stressed, mean, upset at the world. I noticed a significant difference in the way I felt when I went to their houses versus our house. Obviously, there were other factors that contribute to those feelings. But to my juvenile mind, I quickly associated “being your own” boss with having fun, and working for someone with being grumpy.
I made a vow as a teenager that I’d never go to work in a suit and sit at a desk all day long. I knew that wasn’t for me.
I didn’t realize until later that my dad was not an “entrepreneur”. He owned his own “job”, not his own business. He comes from a long line of hard-working miners. He was in the Marines. He went to Vietnam. He works HARD.
This is something I’ve tried to emulate. He’s my hero.
But, he’s 64 and still working hard. Luckily, he married my mother, who is the most diligent saver you ever met. If it weren’t for her, he’d probably have to work until the day he died. And luckily, they’ve made smart decisions together that will allow them to retire well. They saved and they bought his studio in LA. So, they’ll be just fine.
But when he stops working, the money stops coming in. There will be no retirement “benefit” automatically doled out. He has not built a business that will continue to pay him. There is no “asset”. His business is his name. His reputation. And although his reputation is excellent, and his work is valuable, it all stops when he stops.
I’ve asked him about building a sustainable business and he has said, “I never even thought about it.” It never even crossed his mind. He wasn’t raised with that mentality. He sees the wisdom in it now, but this was not the way he thought as he worked for decades.
So, why do I do what I do? One reason is because there are millions of people like him, but worse off, who will work their entire lives and have nothing to show for it.
That’s a shame!
These are the people that make a life out of thin air. These are the people that move our world forward. They’re the innovators. The dreamers. The creative ones who make our lives better. And what does society reward them with? Nothing!
But we know a better way. And it’s selfish not to share it.
I want to teach them, show them the better way, help them build a future.
When I was a young child, my mom, whose major was elementary education, with a minor in psych-sociology, and understands kids VERY well, thought I had a psychiatric problem. She was extremely concerned about my destructive behavior. No matter what toy they would give me, I would break it. I was destructo-kid.
One day, when she was at her wits end, with tears in her eyes, she asked me why I broke my toys. I don’t remember this conversation, but I know the response because it has been a part of me my whole life. I replied, “Because I want to know how they work”. I don’t know why, but I NEED to understand WHY and HOW stuff works. When a problem is presented, my mind won’t stop until a solution is found.
Now I realize that I have a God-given talent to figure stuff out. I take no credit. Stuff just happens in my heart and mind and solutions appear. It’s a talent I’m grateful for and have tried to foster throughout my life.
I always believed I’d put that talent to use as a doctor. I have a passion for using this talent to help people. I have always loved the sciences. My undergraduate degree is in Zoology with an emphasis in Human Biology. I LOVED more than anything, being in a lab for hours on end, dissecting, studying, testing, solving problems.
I loved this more than anything until I got married. And then things changed. By the time I graduated I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to invest the time it would take to become the doctor I wanted to be because by then I had two sons. I realized I’d essentially miss the next 12 years of their lives. I wasn’t ready to make that commitment. So, I didn’t even apply to medical school.
While in school I had started working at an Internet startup along with Clate Mask, Dave Lee, Eric Martineau, and Jeff Mask. I LOVED it. I had found a new home for my passion to solve problems. This is where my inner automation junkie was born. Jeff and I work in a job selling advertising space. We spent much of our time combing the web to find good fits for our advertising platform. I taught myself some PERL and figured out how to create a bot to scrape the web and send automated emails to the site owners. This was back in 2000. I’d start the program in the morning and go play ping pong. I’d come back in a while and see if I had any replies. I’d handle those, start the program again, and play more ping pong. (No, you can’t blame me for today’s SPAM bots)
Then, in 2001, the Internet blew up.
We all went our separate ways and I started a job at Pfizer, doing pharmaceutical sales. I was back in the medical industry and really enjoying it. While there, I was put through world-class sales training and became a frequent guest trainer at headquarters. I still rely heavily on that training today, because in reality, it’s all marketing. I recruited Jeff Mask to Pfizer. He crushed it there.
Meanwhile, Eric Martineau had teamed up with his brother Scott and started eNovasys. Clate joined them shortly afterwards. And then they started building. They recruited much of the old team back. Eventually they got Jeff.
Around that same time, I was getting fed up with “Corporate America”. The industry was changing. Things were become more and more regulated and restricted. And my entrepreneurial desire was ramping up. I started building websites for small businesses on the side. And then I thought I was ready to make the jump.
At about that same time, I had a conversation with Clate and I told him what I was about to do. He said “If that’s really what you want to do, there’s no better place to learn how to do that than at Infusionsoft”. I’ve known Clate for a long time. I know he’s a good salesman. So, I took his comment as his sales pitch to get me to come work for him.
But, I did fly out to Arizona to spend a week with the Infusionsoft team and check it out. I fell in love instantly. They hired me that week to become the Internet Marketing Manager. I won’t go into the details here, but I was given opportunity after opportunity to learn, to grow, to develop new skills. Much of the time I’d say wasn’t necessarily deserving. But the team trusted in me, and I worked hard.
Bottom line: Clate took a chance on me. Clate and Scott continually supported me in more ways that one. I will forever be in their debt for what they did for me, and for what I learned while at Infusionsoft. It would be very ungrateful of me to not share what I have learned.
Plus, I WANT to share it. I love this stuff. I’ve learned the better way. I’ve learned what can help people like my dad build a life for themselves, retire early, and enjoy more free time.
How can I not share this? How can I not continue to learn and progress and help others do the same?
Where am I going with this? My dream is big. I see so much potential in the Infusionsoft community. This community has brought together the best of the best. But there is chaos and confusion. Infusionsoft users don’t know where to go to get help. The Marketplace is confusing. And often they get burned there.
The vendor area at ICON was evidence of this. I watched people come in and wander. They didn’t know what they needed. They didn’t know who to hire. The most common question in that room was, “How are you different than _________”. I heard people ask it about service providers, apps, add-ons, etc. Part of this is due to the fact that many of the vendors are not positioning themselves well. There’s not a clear message. But part of it is a result of a chaotic and confused market.
My goal is to fix that. I know Infusionsoft has efforts to fix these things as well. And I’m not trying to compete with those efforts in any way. But I believe that when the solution comes from the community itself, it will be much more powerful.
There are three things that need to happen:
First, Infusionsoft users need to be TAUGHT strategy and messaging BEFORE they ever get into Infusionsoft. People get burned all day, every day when they pay to have campaigns built and they don’t have a strategy in place.
Second, they need to know WHO to hire for help in getting things built and set up. They need clear direction on who is the expert in what areas.
Third, they need ACCOUNTABILITY. We all know what it’s like. Being an entrepreneur is HARD. There are a TON of distractions. We need accountability. We need people like us to help us stay the course.
These are the things we’re striving to build in our membership site.
Why? Because the community needs it. And because I’ve been given the talents and the experience to do it right. Again, I take no credit for the talents. I take no credit for the experiences. These things were freely given to me.
I need to pay it forward.