TED Talk

Free Beer is Nice. Passion is Sweeter.

I often have an internal struggle. A struggle between my head and my heart. A boxing match that flames up without much agitation. It’s usually caused by a listening session of NPR World News or even a simple bar conversation of “What do you do? Oh you work with craft beer. That’s a really cool. Do you just like drink beer all the time?” where I question myself. I am not ending poverty or working for world peace, so why is my part in the craft beer industry going to “put a ding in the Universe” as Steve Jobs would say. Besides drinking lots of free beer (of course), why do I care about craft beer? Why do I love craft beer, why does it matter, and why do I spend my waking hours working for its growth and development?

What is my why?

Understanding and questing why you do something is key to any person in any given industry. Simon Sinek first introduced me to the concept of understanding your why in his TED talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” In short, he explains that all the great leaders who had significant impact on society or in the history books knew how to rally people behind their why, not their how, or their what. Those should come after the why. For example, Apple. They are a computer company, just like any other computer company. They have the same access to technology, talent, and media. So why is it that they seem to have something different, some special, something people want to so badly be a part of? Why was it that the Wright brothers were able to figure out flight even though there were other teams more qualified and more funded? There is something more at play here, and Simon’s discovery to this mystery profoundly changed the way he thought about the world and how he operated in his world. These great leaders all think, act, and speak alike which is completely opposite of everyone else. They begin their message with why.

It is easy to know what you do. I market Short’s Brewing Company craft beer.  It is easy to know how I do it. I market beer through Facebook, twitter, and advertisements. But it is the why that makes me get up and go to work every day of the week. It is what makes a really cool job become a lifelong pursuit of changing misconceptions.

And so why does this matter? First of all, it only matters if you are passionate about your why. Secondly, it matters because every single person you share your why with is someone who can become a messenger for your passion and for your passion’s industry. When you answer a “what do you do” question with your why statement, you become an industry leader to that person. Your passion is the driving force that can ultimately create a movement. If the person you are conversing with just thinks you sell beer, there will be no movement and they will think you have a cool job, plain and simple. A movement, however, is only created when people buy in to your why. But if they believe what you do is bigger than alcohol in a bottle, they will spread your excitement and passion to more people who will in turn spread it even further. This is a win for you, and your passion. With more people talking, sharing, and spreading your why around the world, you will have an even bigger effects on your industry then you could by yourself. This is why your why is key.

It is important to understand the power of knowing your why; however, finding and putting it into words is not as easy. It is a personal journey that will, and should, continue to evolve with time and experience.

When I listen to an NPR story and my mind wanders down the rabbit hole of how marketing craft beer will create a ding in the universe, I do my best to take a step back and reflect on my company, how my initial love of craft beer blossomed, and why I get up to go to work everyday. Like most craft beer breweries, Short’s Brewing Company was built on one man’s dream to love what he did, love where he lived, and positively affect the people around him while doing it, everyday.  From there, he uncovered a passion for tradition, history, creativity, innovation and community development. The effects of Short’s Brewing Company today are ripples that expand beyond the physical liquid product of beer. This is what gets me up, ready to work, every morning.

So what is MY why elevator pitch? How will I continue to grow the craft beer movement and encourage people to think about craft beer as more than just free beer coolness?

I believe it will develop with time. I hope it does. But for now, for this moment, “what do you do?” “I work to foster imagination and creativity, to bring people together- both friends and strangers, and to build a stronger, more beautiful community.”

Want a beer?