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Every Message Relevant

design outcomes strategy

Understanding Your Impact Motivation

“You just need to start posting—every day, several times a day, no matter what it is just post, post, post.”

I couldn’t help eavesdropping on two ladies chatting at the table next to me on the outside patio of a Starbucks near my house. As I was sitting down with my eight-year-old daughter for a couple of egg bites after a soccer game, I got the sense that one of them had written the manuscript of a book about being a single mom, and she was trying to figure out how to “get out there” more. The other, a friend, who was a local realtor and apparently had become an overnight influencer as a gluten-free baker on Instagram, gave her encouragement and free consulting on how to build a content empire.

Now, you can replace their titles and areas of interest with other things just as easily: the pastor who wants to build a speaking career, fitness buff who wants to get into online membership courses, or a high school teacher who is really into leveraging technology in the classroom. No matter who you are or what your focus is when it comes to content creation, social media, and marketing—there’s more than enough noise and bad advice to go around.

Hopefully, you’d agree with our main premise: the world doesn’t need more noise. We’re overrun already. The sheer volume of new content published every day—compounded by constantly changing algorithms controlled by social media companies—makes distributing content confusing and mysterious. Not only is there too much content already, but the people who could really use the good content get lost in the weeds of the mediocre posts, articles, episodes, or virtual workshops.

It seems like everyone (and their mother) is sharing quote posters with dramatic images, ‘live’ webinars that magically run fresh every 15 minutes, transformational digital courses, or membership sites with promises of 100X returns.

Here's the question we’re going to address: How do we avoid being ‘that guy’ who just posts for the sake of posting? How can we become more competent in creating content that’s actually relevant for our audience?

I want to avoid as much as I can that feeling I used to get when I would post something—whether it was a Facebook post, a blog article, giving a talk, or publishing a podcast episode—where I would wonder to myself: does this even matter? Does anyone even care?

I want you and I to feel absolutely confident that what we post is valuable, relevant, and effective in addressing real problems actually people struggle with.

Here’s the promise: it is possible. You can learn a framework and a process that will help you become a more effective communicator and more impactful guide to the people you’re hoping to serve. You can become increasingly more confident that what you say and what you share is like water in the desert to people who are thirsty.

Here’s the warning: it’s going to take an investment of your time and energy. It’s going to require you to spend a lot of brain calories. There’s no shortcut. You have to do the work.

Are you ready?


Start by answering this question: Why do you want to make an impact?

There’s a famous management technique from Japanese executive leaders that’s called in shorthand, ‘The Five Why’s’. The exercise is simple but hard: ask yourself, 'why' five times. For each time you answer, you’re required to go to the next, deeper layer. Here’s how it might look:

Why do you want to work with students? I want to work with students because too many of them are lost, struggling, and making poor choices. Why does that matter to you? It matters because if nobody comes alongside them, not only might some suffer unnecessarily, but many of them will never find the truth about who they are and their inherent worth. Why does that matter to you? Well, it matters to me because I know I needed someone to share that message with me when I was a teenager. Why is that important to you now? It’s important to me now because I feel like I wasted a lot of time and suffered a lot, and I want to help people avoid that same pain I feel. Why is that significant for you? Because I want other people to discover the other side, that they are loved, accepted for who they are, and have tremendous potential to do something amazing with their lives.

Now, you might be able to get to that layer of depth quickly, but for some, it takes a little bit of digging and reflection. When you do that work, you’re clarifying for yourself the true underlying motivation that drives why you’re sharing content in the first place. That level of clarity will not only help you refine who your audience is, but it will be the fuel for you when you feel like your messages aren’t landing anywhere.

This exercise, by the way, is not something that you do once and put on the shelf somewhere. We recommend a regular cadence of returning to this exercise and fully engaging in it over and over. The clarity and confidence we need to ensure that everything we share and publish is relevant seem to have a short shelf life. We forget, we lose track, we get distracted, and we get confused about whom we’re serving, where we’re trying to take them, and why we’re even doing it in the first place.


You need to define the problem that you solve.

Now, it’s tempting here to use cliches and metaphors. We’re all influenced by the world of corporate mission statements and Instagram quote posters, which are notorious for being ethereal, overly complex, or cliché. It takes work to define with high-definition level clarity what a day in the life of someone you’re trying to impact is like. But, if you don’t do that work, you’re bound to miss the mark. You’ll never develop the clarity of language that resonates with them. You’ll miss out on what they really feel, think, or struggle with. You’ll misunderstand where they’re stuck or what they want.

You have to do the work to clarify their problems in their terms.

That means you need to spend time putting yourself in their shoes, which is the foundation of empathetic listening. Ideally, there are two tracks to go down here. On one hand, you need to spend time with folks who are your ideal audience. Ask them very open-ended, non-leading questions, and listen as they share. You want to get as many details as they’re willing to share. What’s it like to be them? What goes on for them? What do they struggle with? What kinds of things do they think when they’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed? What’s their inner narrator saying? What do they say—what comes out of their mouths? What do they do? What do they avoid? What’s it like to be around them?

The second track is to reflect on your own experiences. Chances are, the very people you’re drawn to are folks whom you can relate to because you’ve been there. You’ve walked a similar path. The more work you do to recall, remember and reflect on your past experiences especially regarding your struggles, the stronger the foundation you’ll have to craft a relevant message, share with empathy, and demonstrate your own credibility through your personal transformation.

Again, we cannot stress this enough: you have to do this work. Any attempts to skip it or shortcut the reflective work we’re talking about here will result in weaker content and less opportunity for you to be effective. You’ll shortcut them, the very people you seek to serve.

Also, this isn’t something you do once and move on from it. Having continuous conversations with folks you serve where you get to know and understand their experiences will refine your message and reinforce your relevance.

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