People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. — Simon Sinek

This quote hit me today as I was watching this 5-year old TED talk. It’s not what we produce for people, it’s WHY we’re so hellbent on producing it in the first place… that’s what differentiates us from every other marketer, every other professional. Your story of who you are and why you do what you do is more interesting than just your output.

Yesterday, I met with my friend Vincent, a very talented guitar luthier in the city. We were talking about his background, developing copy for his About page on his soon-to-be redesigned website. While I’ve known him for almost a year, I still didn’t know WHY he builds guitars. We talked about his heritage, being born and raised in the French Quarter, steeped in his Italian roots, making pasta in the family factory. I learned about his trip to the Vatican where he did restoration work on marble sculptures for a few months when he was young and how that shot him into a trajectory on form and function. I got to see the passion in his eyes when we talked about his sculptures and what makes him come alive.

In the end, he produces guitars. If you put them side-by-side with another electric guitar with the same humbuckers and bridge, a similar paint job and tuning pegs, you might think they were the same. They both have unique stories and in my eyes, his will always be more valuable.

Here’s the TED talk from Simon Sinek on inspiring action through leadership.