By ELISABETH KRISTOF AND LEE VALLELY
Does your business “why” align wither your mission and passion?
The early morning light shone through large wooden blinds and cast alternating light and dark shadows across the wall. As I sat in my living room chair, I couldn’t help but marvel at the magical springtime here in Texas. Despite the beauty of the Austin morning, which almost always fills me with inspiration and energy, I was tired. Actually, I was exhausted. In the midst of an aggressive expansion to five studios, I found myself questioning why. Why was I doing this? Was this based on ego, or mission? What was it that galvanized me to start Redbird in the first place? Had I lost that thread? Something had changed. Somehow, between investor pitches and the long days of grinding in the trenches to build our brand, our mission had migrated away. With that migration, I found myself lacking motivation and passion.
As I followed the thread of these questions that morning, I remembered Susan, a longtime client who came to us rounded, lethargic and gray. Now, Susan walks in standing tall, vibrant and confident. I remember a recent email from a client, Molly, who had struggled with depression for many years. She expressed that she had found a home and hope at RedBird, not just because of my work, but because of our entire staff’s capabilities, passion and belief in our mission.
Every studio and every founder has such stories—and their own why that motivated them to found their business and brand. However, the challenge for each of us is to not only know our own fundamental why but to hold to it through the trials and errors of growing a business. At RedBird, our mission is to create a movement education system that prepares women for sustained leadership. Remembering how strongly I feel about this mission helps me dig out of fatigue and return to my why. It has also helped to sustain me through this quarter of growth challenges and has reconnected me to the passion that brought our clientele to RedBird in the first place.
Though this concept can feel elusive, we have learned that it is actually based on brain science, and taking the time to reflect and hone our WHY was vital to the success of our business. As business owners, we spend a lot of time promoting the features of how and what we do. But in fact brain science shows us that no one buys because of the how and what. They buy because of the why.
Though logic lives in the frontal cortex, buying decisions and brand loyalty have been shown to come from the emotional center, the limbic system. This system is where the feeling of connectivity comes from. Understanding this brain function allows a brand to create a culture and experience that produces not only sticky clients – but the clients that are the right fit for your organization. At the heart of this emotional decision making and brand loyalty is a shared why. When clients connect to your why it forges an emotional bond, buy in and customer retention.
At RedBird we know our client well. We call her the “RedBird Woman.” This woman is an expert in her field, and she is looking for expertise to match her own. She has limited time and is easily frustrated with mediocrity. She is an inspiration to her family and her friends, and she is constantly in search of inspiration from those around her. She is community driven and she seeks growth in all areas of her life. Our mission is to serve this woman. We can do this best by knowing and articulating our why. When we do this we can draw the right clients to us, and ensure that when they find us, they stay with us. Because our why is their why. We share the same beliefs.
My movement practice has pulled me through a lot of my life’s challenges. When I founded RedBird, I believed passionately that if we could teach women how to feel stronger and be more resilient through intelligent movement – we could change lives. By cultivating a supportive and inclusive environment, we could help ourselves and the RedBird woman impact our families, our work environments and our communities. Healthy and resilient women change the lives of others for the better and by extension the world we live in.
Remembering this why, speaking it and creating all our programs to address it, is what has allowed our business and community to flourish. It has attracted the right clients to us – and kept them with us for over a decade, and most importantly, it sustains the passion in me that led me to start the business in the first place.