What do you do?
It’s the most frequently asked question and also the most dreaded. In certain circles it’s even become passé.
Some people become offended that you are only asking them what they do, not who they are. Some people just become anxious — how do they respond that they are in between jobs, or that they work at Google but what they really love is playing music. Regardless, it’s clear many individuals want a better story to sum up their existence.
Whether you are a freelance videographer trying to encapsulate your portfolio, or a driven entrepreneur building your first startup, the importance of a personal story and/or company narrative is critical. Remember that as closely tied to what you do or who you are, your product as you are, you are not your company.
You are not your work, you are more than that. And when you tap into what makes you (and your company) so special, that’s where the magic is. That’s what will become your secret sauce.
I always advise to let your vision, creative outlet, and customer be the hero, never you, your team, or your product. No one wants to hear about how incredible your product is, they want to hear how it can help them live a better life. When you tap into that story that connects who you are to what you do, you’ll find your secret sauce.
Where do you find it?
To create a magical story, ask yourself WHY:
See, it’s normally the why behind what drives people that makes things interesting. And so it’s no surprise that it’s the why behind products and services that gets your audience or consumer excited as well.
The next step when you think about your why, is to put it in a broader context. Ask how your why can be relevant to others. What can they learn from it? How can it inspire them? It’s similar to how your friends might not really want to hear about how awesome your latest vacation was, but they would love your advice as a seasoned traveler as they plan their next trip.
Let’s take Casper mattress as an example*. They tell a story that makes sleep exciting. What was their why? Well, I believe they wanted to address why mattress shopping had to be tied to those terribly awkward and weird-smelling shops where you find newly engaged couples testing a variety of styles with their shoes on.
Their why was driven by the notion that sleep is no longer senile or boring with a Casper mattress. Even the slogan, “Live the Dream,” makes it clear that with Casper, you won’t just sleep better, but you’ll see all areas of your life improve.
Casper has tapped into the secret sauce of any good narrative: Their product not only helps the consume solve a challenge they face. The product helps the consumer tap into their most inspirational/aspirational life dream. Makes sense, since quality sleep is critical for productivity and well being. Who doesn’t want that?
So who are you?
How you respond to what you do, should convey more than what your day job is. It should convey who you are. And even if someone asks you what you do, you should find a way to infuse that answer with magic. Because who you are is the magic behind what you do. And when you tap into that, you’ve found your secret sauce.
Start getting curious about your own life and passion until you uncover the why. That why is your secret sauce. Whatever it is, find the why. Then turn that why into your story:
You love helping people so you are a nurse. You love adventure so you are a freelance journalist. You are dyslexic so you are working on a product that makes it easier to read. You love the body so you are becoming a yoga teacher. You love data and numbers are your jam…
Whatever it is, tap into your secret sauce. Use that to propel your personal or professional narrative forward. Use the why as your driving factor, because what resonates most with you will be tied to your passion and your magic. I promise your audience — whether it’s a consumer or friends — will feel that magic. And they will want to be part of that magic, too.
*For the record, I don’t have a Casper mattress. (Not even an option, as I sleep on a matteess most would liken to granite). However, I’m using Casper as an example solely on the basis that their brand has tapped into some real magic.
Originally published at medium.com