I recently listened to the Rich Roll podcast featuring Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (link to podcast).
Early in the interview she posed a question that really piqued my interest – “Who do you envy?”
The question proposed by Gretchen points to what the person who is envied is, does, or has over the person envying. Oftentimes, we ask questions about regrets or what we want only for folks (myself included) to say we have no regrets or we don’t really want anything more than what we have (beyond the usual dreams). Personally, I can say there are a fair number of things I want. However, the thought of who I envy really draws out a deeper perspective. I ask why.
Thinking about this, I envy:
  • Elon Musk, James Dyson, JK Rowling, David Beckham, Jack Ma. I envy them for their remarkable success. Success that was achieved by overcoming incredible failures and adversity. They stayed true to their beliefs and emerged victorious.
  • My older brother and my best bud for raising beautiful families with their equally amazing spouses.

This is the immediate list that comes to mind. However, I’m sure there are many more.


Who do you envy? Why?
I was recently interviewed for a documentary about an entrepreneur I wrote about last year. I was asked what I saw in the entrepreneur and the entrepreneur was asked what I brought to the table, especially when we first met.
The entrepreneur cited how early on, she consistently pitched what her app was about, and found little traction. After she and I met, we talked about sharing more of her story. Since then, she’s been featured in numerous magazines, radio interviews, free invites to technology conferences, and meeting all sorts of powerful, influential figures.
What my friend didn’t see initially was the opportunity to share her WHY and her PURPOSE. Her app was all about helping others. Her very powerful, hit-home story could coalesce the masses, if shared.
What I advised was really bits and pieces from my learnings from Joey Reimanof BrightHouseon purpose and Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” — specifically, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
In an age of data bombardment and advertising, it’s amazing how personal stories can create strong empathy towards the purpose of brands and people. It creates a strong rallying point for employees building influential values, and can be a powerful tool for marketing. Sharing our purpose and our why amplifies our message to the masses.