Money & You – July 2013

Personal Value Proposition

By Tommy Haws

In the competitive world of business and professional life, it is easy to wonder what makes one person successful over another.  Is it that she is smarter than everyone else?  Maybe he is just lucky or a more diligent worker?  What is it about some businesses that do the same thing as another one but one succeeds while the other one fails?  Is it location?  Product? Luck?

Personal Value Proposition
We all have a brand.  Some companies have done an excellent job at branding themselves.  There are some iconic national brands that have done it so well we have made what they’ve done into a verb or a coverall for a certain niche.  For instance, when you want an adhesive bandage for a cut on your finger, most of the time it is just easier to say, “I need a Band-Aid,” even if that is not the brand you end up using.  We usually call searching the Internet for something “googling” it.  Want a Coke?  You might just mean any sugary carbonated beverage by that, but it’s all “Coke” in some areas of the country , not a matter of the flavor.  I could go on.

What is your brand?  What do you personally bring to the table that nobody else does – or at least not as well as you do?  There are many questions to ask along the way, but one is why you do what you do.

The “Why” Behind the “What”
I invite you to take some time to watch a simple, 18-minute video on YouTube by Simon Sinek.  It is part of the “Ted Talk” series that is very informative and might change what you think of regarding yourself or your company.  Search for “Start with Why” on Google or YouTube and it should take you there.

Have you ever asked yourself why you do what you do?  It does not really matter what you do; whether you are an employer or employee, etc., you can really learn a lot about yourself by asking this.  Why am I a banker?  Why am I a lawyer, steel worker, business owner, etc?  The answer will be critical to knowing what you offer that is different.

People Buy Why You Do Something Not What You Do
One of the tenets of Mr. Sinek’s presentations is that long term success is based on why not what.  For instance, you can get certain things from a variety of sources, so why do you choose one over another?  It is in the why, and we align ourselves with someone or something that we share values with.  We cannot be all things to all people.  In fact, when I went to college I was told you can have good grades, good social life, or sleep – pick two.  Since we cannot have it all, what do we value most?  If someone ever promises it all to you, you can usually tell they are not being truthful to you.
If you understand your “why” you will be better able to deliver your “what.”  For instance, if you are motivated and passionate about why you do something, the “what” is even better.  In my world of banking we do not offer a lot of new products that are vastly different than what can be had at other institutions.  We all have great technology, competitive pricing, and similar products – so why should someone do business with me?  That will come down to my personal value proposition.  What do I bring personally that cannot be had by the products I have or the services I provide.  Price is, of course, important, but value is different than just price and cost.  Value comes from the why.  Ask yourself this: Why did you buy your last car from the dealership you did?  Why did you choose the cell phone you use?  Why did you trust someone you knew more than someone who you did not when it came to having someone babysit your kids, even though the unknown person was on paper better qualified?
We do business with people who think and believe how we do.  It is a bond that comes from the “why” and not that “what.”

My “Why”
I have given this some thought and I have come to the conclusion that I do what I do for my business, my family and my other activities such as church or service organizations because I want to be a builder of people.  I love to see in business when I can help someone get into a home, work out a budget, expand their business and hire new people.  I love at home seeing my children learn and become responsible people.  I love to see people make good choices, raise money for good causes, etc.  My “why” is that I want to be a facilitator of the common good.

My apologies if this seems a little self-serving in sharing that about me.  I do not mean to say that my why is better than anyone else’s.  It is just an exercise that might help you find ways to find your personal value statement.  Why should someone hire you, trust you, work with you or do business with you?  I encourage you to look inside and see what your purpose is; and in the process you might discover a way to deliver value to those around you.

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