Winding Whys

Asking “why” seems to be innate.

As soon as kids learn to speak, the inquisitions begin. The first few whys may emerge from innocent curiosity, but it’s easy to tell when the game is underway.

It’s easy to see how endless whys may lead to frustration (especially when it’s bed time, eh), but I’ve found joy in making these winding whys into a fun challenge for myself. Instead of shutting things down, I enjoy trying to quickly answer every why with an accurate answer. Can I mindfully outlast the youngster’s attention span? What fun!

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I’ve enjoyed winding whys many times, but “Dad, why do you love me?” gave me pause. I found myself feeling appreciative as I tried to coalesce endless reasons into one answer.

As I poked around, it felt trite to reflect on how humans have so many whys we can not answer. Instead of going down the paradoxical path or leaning into understanding our own whys, I found the Five whys interesting.

Developed by system thinkers inside Toyota back in the 1980’s, this iterative Five whys technique was used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. When following 14 specific rules, after exactly five whys, the last answer often points to a process that is not working well or does not exist. This rigid technique has critics and would seemingly lead to shortsighted interpretations, but it was fun learning about this historic use of why. Knowing the value of complexity vs. simplification, as well as, so many other methods like active listening, Socratic questioning, casual diagrams, storytelling, inverse charisma, and pure wonder, the Five whys may not answer all the winding whys of our world, but perhaps it’s another tactic to throw in the mix.

Why not?

Open to Next

Setting goals and honest resolutions provide a useful purview into what’s next. It’s no secret that appreciating the past and planning for the future can provide a fresh boost during transition times. As this introspective activity warms your thoughts and emotions, joy awaits those who translate such enthusiasm into heartfelt energy that fuels sustained action.

As we look forward, dare to be different by also staying open to things not in the plan. This fluidity helps us avoid the limiting effect of being too rigid.

There are times to remain stringent in order to stay on course, but embracing the plot twists of life ensures that perseverance does not become misguided. Most people like the idea of being a free spirit, but openness can be fleeting, because we find solace by way of control. Think about the last big trip you planned. You locked in travel, accommodations, and maybe even a collection of planned activities. You basically craft a scripted adventure to experience for yourself. If all goes to plan, you’ll surely enjoy the trip, but how often does everything go exactly to plan? Almost never, yet the unexpected detours often lead to the best stories.

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Higher the contrast, better the story.

Openness laced through different types of short and long-term goals, activated by habits that churn goals into surpassing accomplishment, provides clarifying direction with space left over to welcome serendipity. Letting go to stay open can become a source of anxiety, but the unknown can be an exciting place where possibility allows us to discover what’s next.

Feedback is Data

Customer discovery paves the path to profitability.

This really is the work for entrepreneurs starting a new business. Customer discovery requires curiosity, patience, humility, hard work, thick skin, an interest in being wrong, discernment, and a willingness to adapt.

For many entrepreneurs, impartial feedback can be scary. Customer discovery puts our ideas on the hook and conversations with strangers may contradict past assumptions, but that’s the point! Interacting with the market you seek to serve allows us to learn from “no” in a way that gets us to “yes.” As you collaborate with those who criticize what you’re building, learn why naysayers disagree with your hypotheses. Be humble and make your concepts more compelling to change their minds.

Collecting such real-world data is human and intellectual capital that will attract more network and financial capital. The more you learn from others, the more you’ll recognize—and be able to meet—true demand. This can be a protracted process, which can make it feel unnecessary, but honest feedback will strengthen your value proposition and allow you to eventually go further in the right direction.

When learning from the perspective of others, remember that feedback is only data. This data should be collected, organized, and examined like a scientist. Inference is more effective with more data, so the more feedback you have, the easier it can be to make decisions.

As you translate feedback into action, you must also find your own way. Even with good intent, people who provide you feedback are doing so based on their own experiences. The experience of others is based on the past and is unlikely to harmonize with your exact situation. There are many ways to build your business, so perpetually gather as much feedback as possible and use diversified data to guide your company toward product-market fit.

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My community visit with 1MC Joplin was sweet, this feature article was a neat chance to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, I’m gathering my own feedback by presenting Pour Over Publishing at 1 Million Cups Des Moines, and the much anticipated YDNTB audiobook is almost done!

Generosity Builds Trust

The art of connection aged in a readiness to consistently Show Up and #GiveFirst, often leads the willing to endless opportunity. Let’s explore the why.

Long story short, generosity builds trust. Such benevolence also instills wonderment from others. When our practice includes perennial actions that accelerate others, the ability to deliver on a promise is proven. This earns credibility and allows curiosity to spark new ways to collaborate, which over time, equates to endless opportunity from/with/for people you trust.

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Delivering on a promise sounds heavy, but passing this test can be as simple as suggesting a strategic introduction and following through, arriving on time, or providing the product/service/value a paying customer expects.

At a community level, when more people assume positive intent, tribes are tightened and become able to support more people with bigger ideas. The vulnerability required may introduce new challenges, but the risk is worth the reward when we’re set free to collectively build at the speed of trust. This can be hard to understand for those who have been hardened by the competitive nature of capitalism, but for those who see through the lens of abundance, when more people find their own definition of success, it translates into fresh ways for everyone to thrive.

Content Creation: Organization

Think of the last time you moved into a new home. A clean slate is easy to work with, but can quickly become cluttered as you make it your own. As entrepreneurs develop more creative content, organization is a habit that helps you scale.

The best way to do this is on the front end. Take the time to name and organize your growing collection of files in a way that’s easy to navigate. This sounds simple, but cluttered folders with unrelated files form fast. Need proof? Take a look at your recent downloads or the mess that is a “My Documents” folder.

To boost efficiency, be quick to start new folders and subfolders. Such organizational diligence adds value now and later. You’ll build faster with quick access to what you need. You’ll also be able to more effectively return to past projects. Organization is hard on your own computer. It’s much harder with more people adding all their own materials into a library of files. If the team uses the same library, establish naming conventions and organizational standards.

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Thanks to all who made this YDNTB audiobook release party so special!

Another good organizational habit is to maintain external storage. This supports unlimited growth and ensures everything you build is backed up. It takes a bit of time, but storage space has become basically free. Throw that external hard drive in your bag and treat it like it’s part of your computer. Cloud storage is another good backup method, but online connectivity may be required. For added security, store one more external hard drive outside your home or office. A safety deposit box is a good off-site option. Don’t let data lose spark interest in a better backup plan.

Data management is important, but organization plays a role in other areas as well. Nobody likes working with people who miss deadlines or go silent without reason. Stay organized with your calendar, email, phone, social media landscape, and workspace. This reduces the distraction of clutter and creates a healthy space to do your best work.

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This concludes our 6-week skill building series. To see how everything fits into the broader marketing discussion, pop over and snag You Don’t Need This Book.

As your multimedia marketing skills evolve, merge them to generate all the feels. Learn how to write so it’s easy to read. Snap photos that tell stories. Shoot contrasting collections of video that are enjoyable to watch. Bring narratives to life with captivating graphic design. Get creative and stitch it together with sharp organization. This concoction of multimedia marketing skills is a potent formula for endless stories that sell.