The One Word Secret
You never know where he’ll turn up around the globe as he speaks about empowering entrepreneurs. I interviewed him in Madrid, Spain where he shared with me 6 Entrepreneurial Lessons that all of us can use.
His first book is out: Your One Word: The Powerful Secret to Creating A Business and Life that Matter . The book is designed to help you find your personal motto and to narrow it down to a single word that represents your unique purpose.
I asked Evan about his new book and how One Word is transforming people’s lives and focus.
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word.” –Winston Churchill
Find Your Word
How do you find your One Word? What if you think of a few? How do you narrow it down?
That’s a loaded first question J The process starts by understanding that you—and everyone else—has a deep, core value that represents who you are, and the more you live your life in alignment with it, the more happiness, success, and impact you’ll have. Understand that Your One Word has always been a part of you and always will. It’s not a New Year’s resolution. It’s a lifelong resolution. People can often be prisoners of their current situation, which prevents real self-analysis. When thinking of your One Word, put it in the perspective of, “This is a forever commitment and who you always have been – knowingly or unknowingly.” To continue the process of finding your One Word, think about all the things, people, habits, and activities that have made you come alive in the past. Who was your favorite teacher? What is your favorite song? What did you love about your parents? Fill a page with happiness. Then next to each item, write down what specifically you loved about it. Mrs. Jenkins, your 9th grade science teacher, is your favorite teacher of all time for a reason. And it wasn’t just because of the material she taught in class. When you make the list of all the things that have made you happy and the reasons why, you’ll start to find a consistent theme among them. That consistent theme is your One Word. And once you find it, I’d challenge you to start designing your life around it so you can, with purpose, bring more of those happy moments in as opposed to randomly waiting for them to happen.
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” -Anita Roddick
Your Personality Changes, Your One Word Doesn’t
Recent studies show that personality changes dramatically from when we are young to when we are old. Does your One Word change over the course of your lifetime?
Your personality can change with time. You might get more conscientious as you get older or more agreeable once you’re raising a family. Some of what you value might also change. Early in life, you might be more concerned with promotions and career advancement. Later on, it could shift to health and relationships. But your core value, your One Word, doesn’t change. Your One Word is the lens through which you see the world. The way you approach and execute may change over time, but the foundation remains the same. For instance, one of the examples in my book is Mark Drager, a 30-something-year-old father, husband, and entrepreneur. His One Word is #Extraordinary. He’s currently focused on being an #Extraordinary father, husband, and entrepreneur. What he values most is being #Extraordinary. He doesn’t want to be ordinary. He wants to be more than that, in whatever he does. If he grows tired of business and puts a higher priority on travel or restoring old cars, or any number of things, his core value of #Extraordinary comes with him. It’s forever. It’s who he is at the deepest level. That’s why it’s so important to figure out and potentially the most important exercise you can do in your life. If you’re going through the process of finding your One Word and you fast forward your life to age 90 and you see yourself not believing in the same thing anymore, then you haven’t found your One Word.
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” -Tony Robbins
I know your word: #Believe. For those who don’t know you, talk a little about how you came up with it and why it’s so central to your purpose.
#Believe came from my parents. They used to tell me that I was Evan Castrilli Carmichael and I could do anything that I wanted. My favorite songs are about #Believe. My favorite teachers are about #Believe. My favorite movie is Seabiscuit, a movie about an undersized racehorse, oversized jockey, and bankrupt owner who somehow found each other and against all the odds won the races they entered and lifted a nation. I believe in the underdog. I believe in people’s potential. I believe in resourcefulness over resources. I believe that people can do the things they believe they can do. It’s not just central to my purpose. It’s central to me. It’s who I am. Right now, I execute that belief in helping entrepreneurs primarily because that’s the area of expertise I have. But if I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship, I’d be #Believing in whatever else I was doing and the people I was around.
Why one word and not, for instance, a phrase?
Life is simple until we make it complicated. Most companies have a list of 10-20 core values that they proudly display in their annual reports and as plaques on their walls. I would wager that most of the CEOs of the Fortune 100 companies could not actually recite from memory what their companies’ core values are. And that’s the CEO! What about everyone under them? The core values are meant to be the rules with which you run your business. They help you make hard decisions that might not be the most profitable ones but represent what you stand for. And if you don’t know what they are, how are you going to make those decisions through them? It’s One Word because you can remember it. Because you can live it. Because other people remember it and know what you stand for. As Winston Churchill famously said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word.” I want your life and business to be great. Stop overcomplicating and stand for something powerful.
Absolutely. It’s important for a number of reasons. The first is, as a leader, for you to achieve your mission, you’re going to need help. You can’t do this alone. And if you want to attract the right people, it’s helpful for them to know what you stand for. You don’t just need someone’s skills. You don’t just need their brains. You need their hearts and souls. If they have the skills you need but not shared values, you both will lose. When others know what your One Word is and what you’re trying to do, they know how and who can help. Understanding your One Word also gives direction to customers. When you buy baby diapers from the Honest company, you’re not just buying another diaper. You’re buying an ethically produced, #Honest diaper. And, you’re buying into the mission that they are on to be a force for good in the world. You’re also willing to pay a premium for that. Finally, when others know your One Word, it’s a clear direction for how they should treat you and what to expect from you. For example, if your One Word is #Integrity, then I shouldn’t even bother coming to ask you to cut a corner on a project or lie to a customer to win a sale. Your core value is obvious.
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
How One Word Provides Clarity to Organizations
How about companies? Should organizations have a single word instead of a mission statement, tagline, or vision document?
This is a great chance to provide more clarity. There should be One Word for every organization. It doesn’t replace a mission statement, tagline, or vision document. Think of it as the current list of 10-20 values that companies claim to have, and then bring it down to one. That one core value then helps you define your mission statement, tagline, and vision document, as well as every other important decision in the company. This might sound like a radical idea to suggest that every organization have One Word but consider this: The Fortune 500 list was first created in 1955. Only 13 percent of the companies on that original list are still on the list today. 13 percent! Most organizations don’t endure. They lose their way, become irrelevant, and fade from existence. Consumers don’t trust big businesses anymore. They don’t trust your mission statements or taglines because you’re using it as a marketing tool as opposed to an authentic representation of what you’re actually trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter what you stand for, it just has to be something powerful and that you authentically believe in. If you don’t stand for something, your business will fade from existence as well.
What has been the response to “Your One Word” passion? Any stories you can share of someone who took the challenge on, and it made a real difference?
There have been so many success stories, but one of my favorites is of Louis Trahan, the founder of Last Minute Training. He brokers training for organizations, focusing primarily on the IT and management markets. The training business is competitive and very price sensitive, and when I first connected with Louis he just had an idea on paper. Louis discovered that his One Word was #Delight. It came from his father who was an entrepreneur and would work through nights and holidays, whatever it took, to #Delight his customers and give them the best experience possible. Louis decided to bring #Delight to his business and focus not just on selling as many courses as possible but on creating a #Delightful experience throughout the entire process. To treat his customers like his father treated them. The result? Louis has sold over $10 million of training in a stacked marketplace where multiple competitors are going out of business.
It’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed by the multitude of options in social media. The tendency is for people to feel like they need to be everywhere. So they try, and as a result, do none of them well. YouTube is my favorite at the moment because it combines a few things together that work best for me. It’s video based. It supports long form content. And it’s where lots of entrepreneurs are. Now, most of the other platforms are also moving to video and also have large audiences. I still prefer YouTube because I want the content to live forever. In the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat environments, the content you create will give a short burst of attention and then be forgotten. I want my art to live for eternity. Videos I made years ago on YouTube are still being watched and helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses. That being said, YouTube is not for everyone, and if another platform came along that better matches my skills and my audience, then I’ll move there. My mission is to help entrepreneurs, regardless of the platform.
Thanks again, Skip, for the opportunity. If your readers have comments or thoughts, I’d be happy to hear from them.
For more information, Your One Word: The Powerful Secret to Creating A Business and Life that Matter