Harnessing Your Inner Motivation for Business Success

Revealing the secrets of Harnessing Your Inner Motivation for Business Success to the Bay Area Content Marketing Meetup group this December was definitely the highlight of my year. With a 2020 that has left so many of us physically, emotionally and economically battered and bruised, I was glad to end it on a high.

Invited to speak at the Bay Area Content Marketing Meetup’s 98th event, I chose the topic of internal motivation. At a time when we are all probably seeking answers in a universe that doesn’t make any sense, it’s important to go back to the basics.

Answering the simple question ‘why?’ can help us move forward both in our personal life, and to solve complex business challenges such as new customer acquisition and defining a company culture. Lets see how all of that would work in the next few minutes.

Inner Motivation

For me, there is no stronger driver than inner motivation and this is where I began the presentation. It all starts with what I believe is the most powerful question; why?

As children, we have no problem asking ‘why?’ as much as possible. At a young age, we come to understand that these three letters have a lot of power. But for some reason, we just stop asking the question.

So how about my journey and how I discovered my inner motivation? Attracted to the bright lights of marketing, I always believed I would make it. The lifestyle seemed so exciting with lavish parties at night and days filled with important meetings where I’d sprinkle my magical marketing methods like Salt Bae, then rake in the cash.

Real life didn’t turn out to be quite so exciting, but always required a dose of self-awareness. Initially it was that I needed some academic knowledge, so I put myself on a marketing diploma with the IDM. Then came the setback of marketing no longer being a priority, a situation I’m sure a lot of marketers have experienced, which lead to me asking myself why I should continue on this marketing path.

This lead me to working in sales jobs that didn’t really do it for me. I felt there was a need for change, so looked within and discovered my truth. My motivation is mostly intrinsic rather than extrinsic. I enjoy the feeling of achieving goals, making plans work and helping others in their business journey.

Working towards short-term goals as I was in sales jobs, particularly in telemarketing, just didn’t cut it for me. Although I was completing tasks in a chain that were part of a strategy, I wasn’t making the strategy. I could also see the pitfalls in the strategies I was executing, but had no means of influencing the future direction of the campaigns.

Rather than feeling great for achieving the extrinsic reward of adding a few extra pounds to my bonus, I craved the intrinsic rewards that come with building something amazing and watching it grow. The ability to look back at an achievement with pride, delivers that long-lasting intrinsic motivation that I found critically important to what I do.

Finding Your Reason Why

Finding your reason for doing what you can do can be achieved by asking yourself the question ‘why?’ What is it that makes you happy? Is there a time you can look back on when you achieved something you’re still proud of now? Why did you go that extra mile to make it so special?

The art of asking ‘why?’ lies in the ability to probe, rejecting superficial answers, being at all times open and honest with yourself; only you can deliver the answer.

An example of a superficial answer can be found in the way we view sports stars. Famous athletes at the top of their sport command salaries worth millions of pounds. Fans often look at the money they earn and base their analysis of the player’s entire character and self-worth on the salary they command. Branded as disloyal or money grabbing mercenaries should they choose to leave their club for one offering a better wage.

Fans seem to forget that most professional sports stars came from humble beginnings. In football at least, there are many players who had nothing before their talent brought them riches. Of course they want to make money. After all, it is necessary for survival. But money can also buy us the things we couldn’t have growing up.

Money can provide for both the family we choose to build with our current partner and the family we grew up with. Players often make big money moves because it means their family will be secure for the rest of their life.

Dig deeper and ask why:

Why did that player make a big money move?
It’s because they want to make their children happy

They want their children to have opportunities they did not have

Their child will be given the ability to create the life they want

Because the player dreams of seeing their children grow up happy, successful and able to forge their own way in life instead of being limited by humble beginnings.

Keep Asking to Find True Motivation

The deeper we go asking why, the closer we get to our true motivation. In the case of professional athletes, the extrinsic motivation of monetary gain must be strong, but there will always be a deeper, longer lasting, intrinsic motivation to be found if we look for it. With the number of people who want to become huge stars, there’s a lot of competition, so they must have really wanted to make it.

Finding your internal motivation might be as simple as asking yourself ‘why?’ enough times. It might involve other means such as exercise, mindfulness, meditation, playing a musical instrument, or just making time for yourself. These actions can help clear your mind by giving you a space in which you can relax.

Bear in mind that this is an ongoing process and just because you thought you had the answer last year, that doesn’t mean you haven’t changed as a person. Remember I asked you to think of an achievement you’re most proud of? You may very well have the ability to see a deeper meaning now than you did closer to the event and may be able to look even deeper as the years go on.

Discovering Your Business Why

Discovering our business why means moving past the quantitative metrics upon which a business must rely to look at the qualitative. So how do you find your business ‘why?’ It’s important to firstly acknowledge that a business also connects with people on an emotional level. People make emotional decisions, then justify them with logic, as Marcus Cauchi has said many times on the Inquisitor Podcast.

Why for Manufacturing

The business world is no stranger to asking why; at least not in the manufacturing sector. With the popularity of Lean production methodology brought to the world by Toyota, manufacturing organisations have become accustomed to asking and answering the question of ‘why?’ in order to conduct effective root cause analysis.

At the start of a root cause analysis, used to discover the real reason behind a product failure or safety issue, the manufacturing company will typically ask the question why at least five times. Let’s take the example of a broken alarm clock demonstrated by Kanbanize in their image below.

Why did you go through the red light?
Because I was late for work.

Why were you late for work?
Because I woke up late.

Why did you wake up late?
Because my alarm clock broke.

Why did your alarm clock break?
Because I didn’t check it before I went to sleep.

Why didn’t you check it before you went to sleep?
Because I forgot.


Meaning and Culture

Asking why is not only a great tool for finding the root cause of a failure so it can be fixed, it’s also a really good way to build the culture and meaning of a business. Business culture is something you are likely familiar with, relating to how employees interact with each other and serve customers, but what is the significance of a business’s meaning?

Just like our personal why, the meaning is the reason the business exists. All businesses have a meaning, but this meaning can and does change throughout the life of a business as it grows and develops, much like we do during our lifetime. This meaning, or busness why is usually expressed in the form of a mission statement and company values.

A small business is a direct reflection of its proprietors because typically, it will be run by its founders who will have day-to-day interactions with all customers and staff. As a business grows, it can start to face a bit of an identity crisis as the founders move away from front-line duties to work on the business rather than in it.

The larger it grows and the more employees there are in a business, the need for it to take on its own identity will increase. Previously, the founders could influence the culture of the business by just being present. The business could also take its meaning from the founders without the need for an explicit declaration of their why.

In addition to a meaning and culture, a business also needs consistency in its brand and level of service if it is to grow past a certain level.

Let’s think about Pizza Hut as an example. Back in the early days of the business, they did not have a consistent theme, unlike a rival like Shakeys who did. In light of this realisation, Pizza Hut set about creating a signature brand. They created an operations manual and even designed a building that personified their brand. Even if we’ve never seen one in real life before, it’s probably the first thing that comes to mind.

By creating a consistent brand, Pizza Hut were able to create a why that customers could see and experience in store. Sure, customers might like the price of the pizza, or the quality, or the convenience of Pizza Hut’s franchise locations, but they are also choosing the why Pizza Hut makes them feel on an emotional level. Pizza Hut created an experience, and remember, people make emotional decisions, then justify them with logic.

Mission Statements and Values

Defining the mission statement and company values is the act of finding, then articulating the business why and you can find a business’s why in the same way you discovered your own. For example, you can look back to the founder’s why as a starting point.

  • Why was the business started?
  • What did the founders aspire to be?

Now we’re into the territory of mission statements and values that we are used to seeing from ‘faceless’ multinational conglomerates. Used to project a why, this is their effort to appear human, to connect with the people who ultimately purchase and utilise their products and services. Remember: emotional decisions backed by logic!

One really effective way to help define this type of why, which can be useful for long-established businesses, can be to declare what the business is not before moving on to say what it is. List the things the business definitely rejects in a list of non-negotiables.

Rather than:

‘We are committed to preserving the environment of our world for future generations.’

You might consider creating a mission statement that says:

‘We reject all forms of needless environmental destruction.

It is for this reason that we always source sustainable products where possible, seek out new sustainable partnerships and work with all current suppliers on all tiers to reduce and where possible mitigate environmental impact.’

Find something with extra oomph to really stand out from all the other generic mission statements and values. Really connect with your why, the why of your customer and of course your employees. When you effectively demonstrate exactly what you stand for and how you stand for it, you make it really easy for customers to make that emotional decision to buy from you as opposed to all the others out there with generic mission statements and values that mean nothing once they get down to work.

Watch A Presentation About Finding Your Why

Ultimately, finding your why will help you become more productive and fulfilled as an individual. When taken into the business world, it will help you to more closely align your business with its ideal customer, creating an emotional attachment that keeps them coming back to you.

You can watch the entire presentation Harnessing Your Inner Motivation for Business Success on YouTube.

I am available for online only speaking engagements and consultancy to help you find your business why and use it to create effective marketing strategies.