Let's Start with Why

I'm learning a lot about people lately. I'm learning about what drives and unites them. What makes people stand and fight with you and what divides them. I want to do more of the former and less of the latter.

I've made mistakes. I used to be excited by the "big reveal", as Doug calls them. I'd run off, work on something, then present it to some group of people expecting celebratory champagne corks. It rarely works out that way.

Here's what actually happens: I alienate the people who want to help along the way. I create confusion because no one can see what's happening. It happens in business, at home and it certainly happens in communities.

I didn't talk about why before I started.

Start with Why

Watch this video. It's only fifteen minutes or so.

"People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it."

Peter mentioned that video last year. I watched it and forgot most of what I heard. I watched it again last night and realized that's what's missing from the conversation.

Let's look at a few questions:

  • Why are you so involved in the community?
  • Why do you put time and effort in to attending and organizing user groups?
  • Why do you want to attract more people?
  • Why do you want to get more kids involved in science and math?
  • Why do you sacrifice personal time for something that might never accomplish anything?

I'm sure most of us can answer them, but they won't be the same answers. This is something we're struggling with at Gaslight as well, but we talk about it more and more.

We're suffering from the same problem here, as I see it. We've got lots of activity, because it's what we know how to do. Activity means collaboration and community, right?


It's wrong because it creates confusion and disappointment. It makes it look like we're stepping on toes when, in fact, we have a greater vision that we've failed to share. No one is on board because they didn't know where the train was heading.

My Whys

Here's why I do what I do:

I want to move this city and region forward. It's an amazing place for families, it's affordable and it's home. I love living here and I want to make a difference.

I want a vibrant and collaborative tech community because I believe it's the fastest way to build something amazing. We have more tools and talent at our disposal than almost any other time in history.

I want our cities to operate like open source projects. I want residents to be able to suggest improvements, teams to form and action to happen. I want to be more agile.

I want to do more than sell ads or coupons. I want anyone with even a slight interest in technology to be able to explore. I want to provide guidance and mentorship.

I want others to be able to improve their lives. I want to make this industry and these careers more accessible. I want anyone to be able to get out of poverty using these skills. I want the door to be open and someone to guide the way.

I want to change our society for the better.

How about you?