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Book Summary: Your One Word – The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter

“There is one word that defines who you are, connects all the things in your life that make you come alive, and will help you escape the chains of mediocrity.” – Evan Carmichael

Your One Word is what you stand for. It’s a core value that you use to make important decisions.

Discovering your One Word is essential if you want to build a great company or product.


Your One Word is a steady source of motivation

Anytime you try doing something great, you’ll encounter a dip. It’s a time when you feel like giving up because you’re not getting the results you expected, and you’re no longer getting encouragement from others. What pulls you through these dips is remembering why you do what you do, the reason for your struggle. Your One Word is that reason. And because it’s so short, it’s easy to remember when times get tough.

Book Summary: Your One Word - The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter

Your One Word makes it easy for people to talk about you

“It’s a noisy world. We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. And so, we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.” – Steve Jobs

While Steve Job’s was running Apple, his focus on “elegance” was apparent. It made it easy for people to tell the difference between an Apple computer and every other computer on the market.

When you build your business around One Word that is NOT ‘money’ or ‘profit’, you develop a competitive advantage by establishing an emotional connection with a select group of people who identify with your One Word.

“When you stand for something important, something people feel connected to, something people are proud to be a part of, and you make it easy for them to share because they only have to remember One Word, then referrals start to flow.” – Evan Carmichael

How do I find my One Word?

Generate a list of answers to the following questions:

Favorite Things

  • What are my favorite books and what do they have in common?
  • What are my favorite movies and what do they have in common?


  • What interest(s) have been a constant theme in my life?
  • What do I never seem to never get bored of?

Personality Traits

  • Of the people I enjoy being around, what personality traits do they have in common?
  • Of the people I dread being around, what traits do they share, and what is the opposite of that?

What words do each of the three areas have in common?

When you’ve narrowed it down to One Word, remind yourself of your One Word throughout the day, and observe what effect it has. Does it inspire you to take action? Does it allow you to make decisions easily? If not, keep searching for the One Word that does.

About the author

EVAN CARMICHAEL coaches entrepreneurs for peak performance. At 19, he built then sold a biotech software company. At 22, he was a VC helping raise $500k to $15mil. Evan was named one of the Top 100 Great Leadership Speakers for your Next Conference by Inc Magazine and one of the Top 40 Social Marketing Talents by Forbes. He has been interviewed or featured as an entrepreneur expert in The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal, Forbes, Mashable, and elsewhere. He now runs, a popular website for entrepreneurs. He speaks globally and is based in Toronto. And his One Word is Believe.

Evan Carmichael


Business Culture, Business Motivation, Self-Improvement, Motivational Management, Leadership, Success Self-Help, Business Life, Business Skills, Psychological Self-Help, Self-Esteem, Entrepreneurship, Personal Development, Technology

Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Part 1 Core 1
Chapter 1 One Word Impact 3
Chapter 2 My One Word, “Believe” 19
Chapter 3 Finding Your One Word 37
Part 2 Campaign 73
Chapter 4 Build a Movement 75
Chapter 5 The Planning Checklist 87
Part 3 Company 141
Chapter 6 Culture 144
Chapter 7 Operations 181
Conclusion 235
Acknowledgments 247
About the Author 249


In this bold and empowering guide, entrepreneur and social media sensation Evan Carmichael shares the secret to turbo-charging your path to success on your own terms. With thought-provoking questions and inspiring, instructive examples, Your One Word will help you nail down your personal mottos – the word that captures your purpose and passion. With this operating philosophy in hand, you will then learn how to leverage this powerful tool to create the business and future of your dreams.

Aimed at entrepreneurs as well as intrapreneurs, managers, and anyone else who wants to achieve success in a powerfully meaningful way, Your One Word more than just a useful tool. It’s also an inspiring and enlightening read.


“Evan consumes so much content and then knows how to DJ it to inspire people.” —Gary Vaynerchuk, New York Times bestselling author of #AskGaryVee and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

“Evan is the real deal. Believe! And while you’re at it, pick up at least ten copies of this book.” —Chris Guillebeau, New York Times bestselling author of The $100 Startup

“Evan consumes so much content and then knows how to DJ it to inspire people.” —Gary Vaynerchuk, New York Times bestselling author of #AskGaryVee and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

“Evan’s content is always inspirational. It’ll make you want to go out and run through a brick wall to achieve your goals.” —Lewis Howes, New York Times bestselling author of The School of Greatness

“Find the One Word that defines you and your mission, and you’ll be one step closer to having the life you want.” —Ryan Holiday, bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy

“Evan is creative and puts a lot of care into his work. He’s like the David Letterman or Jay Leno of YouTube. He doesn’t need a gatekeeper or someone to approve of him. He just went out and did it. That’s choosing yourself.” —James Altucher, New York Times bestselling author of Choose Yourself

“This new book by Evan Carmichael, an authority on this topic, is exactly what you’ll want to study. Written by a man who has been there, done that, and continues to do so with excellence, the lessons, stories, and remarkable insights he shares will take you step-by-step on a journey to success in both business and life.” —Bob Burg, bestselling author of The Go-Giver

Your One Word is the real deal – a smart, actionable guide that empowers each of us to take control of our success, and make it our own. It all starts with just one word.” —Mel Robbins, bestselling author, TEDx phenom, and CNN Analyst

“Evan’s passion for serving entrepreneurs is evident in all he does. I discovered this through his YouTube channel impacting millions of entrepreneurs monthly, but when I watched, it became no surprise why so many people follow him: his advice is solid, his experience is unmatched, and his heart for service makes for an amazing combo. Now I turn to Evan for help with my own business and every single time he delivers. Thanks Evan!” —Tim Schmoyer, creator of Video Creators on YouTube

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If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.
—Anita Roddick (founder of the Body Shop and pioneer of ethical consumerism)


Ninety percent of America gets up in the morning and drives to a job they hate.
—Dana White (president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship)

Please sit down and let’s have an honest talk.

Most people live mediocre lives.

You wake up and drive to a job you don’t love, so you can work with a team that doesn’t support you, and do tasks that are beneath your skill level.

You never achieve greatness. You never accomplish your dreams. You never make a big impact on the world.

You’re living for the evenings and weekends, and hope that the time spent working just doesn’t suck too much.

You may have been told that you’re not good enough.

You may think you don’t have the resources to follow your true passion. You may be afraid to try something new after starting down one path.

And, hey, you’ve got mouths to feed, responsibilities to look after, and not enough savings. You just can’t afford to take a risk.

The saddest news of all is that you’ve set the bar so low for yourself that you’ve created a world where it’s okay to be mediocre.

You’ve created an environment of thinking small and being insignificant.

You want to do more, act more, be more, but something is holding you back.

The people you hang out with, the websites you visit, the media you consume—everything in your environment holds you exactly where you are.

It prevents you from taking steps forward.

Being mediocre has not only become acceptable but is the norm. Because it’s comfortable. Because it’s safe. But it’s limiting you.

I want you to do something important with your life and stop being mediocre.


Everything about mediocrity kills me.
—Ivanka Trump (former model and American entrepreneur)

If you care about your life, then being mediocre should be insulting.

At the risk of offending you, I’m using strong language intentionally. This has to be important to you. If it’s important, then you’ll change. If it’s important, you’ll make it a priority. If it’s important, you’ll face your fears. If it’s important, you’ll stop making excuses.

When something is truly, deeply important to you, you find ways to make it happen, even when the #LittleMan tells you it’s not possible.

If it’s not important enough to you, then you won’t do anything about it. You’ll continue doing exactly what you’re doing now. Being mediocre is easy. Anybody can do it. And most people
and companies do.

Following your passion, being crazy enough to try to change the world, and standing for something important are hard.

So most people and companies don’t, and thus most businesses are mediocre too.

They’re boring and uninspiring. You haven’t made people care enough about what you’re doing. I mean really care. Feel‑it‑in‑their-bones care. Tell-all-their-friends-about-you care. Tattoo-your-logo‑on‑their-body care. Even if you get halfway to that level of care, you’ll be way ahead of your competition.

Right now if someone lowers their prices by 10 percent, you lose your customers. Because everyone is selling the same products and services. Because there really isn’t all that much that separates you from your competition. There is no strong customer loyalty because you’re not inspiring it. And, hey, you’re not alone.

The Fortune 500 list was first created in 1955. Only 13 percent of the companies on that original list are still on the list today.

Thirteen percent! The others faded away because they were boring and lost relevancy.

Most businesses are boring.

Do you want to know the first step to having a remarkable business? Here’s where it all begins and your life and business will change forever:

You need to find your greatness.


Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god-like feature that only the special among us will ever taste. It’s something that truly exists in all of us.
—Will Smith (actor and entrepreneur)

Do you have the mindset for greatness?

This isn’t hokey, fluffy, BS advice.

If you’re laughing at this point, or are about to close the book or think you know better, then you need this chapter more than anyone else.

You’re not hitting your big goals and you picked up this book for a reason, so at least give yourself a chance and finish this section. All the advice and books in the world will be useless to you until you fix your mindset.

Your limiting mindset is holding you where you are.

One of the most powerful ads Nike has ever created doesn’t feature Michael Jordan or LeBron James. It pictures a chubby kid huffing and puffing as he’s running down an open road. To see a copy of the ad check out

Nike’s ads usually feature great athletes—physical specimens at the peak of their careers who have already achieved extraordinary success.

And here is this fat kid . . . running . . . and he’s . . . great?

Yes, because he took the first step. He started doing.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
—Francis of Assisi (Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher, and one of the most respected religious figures in history)

Whoever made this ad for Nike is a genius and needs a raise.

This ad speaks directly to your mindset for greatness.

When you’re finding your greatness, you start at the beginning. Everyone starts at the beginning. And the beginning is really hard. Just taking the first step is hard. Maybe this kid wants to be a distance runner and win an Olympic medal. He tells his friends and family and they all laugh at him.

Classic #LittleMan behavior.

“You want to what? Umm . . . have you looked at yourself in the mirror?”

This fat kid is you.

You have a big goal and you’re just getting started on it. You don’t have the skills. You don’t have the training. You don’t have the experience. You don’t have all the answers. So you’re going to make a lot of mistakes and you won’t make very much progress right away.

The difference is going to be how you see yourself when you look in the mirror. Do you honestly, deep down, see a future Olympic runner?

Or do you just see a fat kid?

If you just see a fat kid staring back at you, then you’ll never reach your goals until you change your mindset. Maybe your first run is only to the edge of your driveway. That’s okay. Most people quit here. “It’s too hard. I’ll never make it. What was I thinking? Man, this was a stupid idea.”

Understand that every successful person was once this fat kid when they got started. And as with any skill, they learned, practiced, and got better. Consistently. They found their greatness. They didn’t let the #LittleMan hold them back. They believed in themselves. So they succeeded.

What do you see in the mirror?

If you see greatness, you’re ready for your One Word.


Better than a thousand hollow words,
is one word.
—Buddha (sage whose teachings founded Buddhism)

I’m going to share a secret with you.

A secret so powerful that once you discover it, every decision you make in your life and business will become easier.

Doors will start to open where before you struggled to make any progress. You’ll finally feel like you’re living your life with a purpose instead of fighting the world around you.

Great leaders have used this secret to build powerful companies, spark important movements, and create meaningful change.

And now you can too.

Here’s the secret: There is One Word that defines who you are.

There is One Word that connects all the things in your life that make you come alive. Think about the friends you have, the music you listen to, the books you read, the movies you watch, the companies you’ve worked for, the businesses you’ve started. Think about everything in your life right now that you enjoy.

They are all connected.

Until you figure out what that connection is, you’ll never live up to your potential.

What’s your favorite song? And what does it have to do with who your best friend or favorite book is?

The answer is everything. And it can be boiled down to one simple, powerful word.

Great people can be described in One Word.

Martin Luther King Jr.: Equality. Oprah Winfrey: Heart. Steve Jobs: Impact. You: ?

If you want to break free from the chains of mediocrity and really make an impact, then it starts with finding your One Word.

You have to stand for something powerful and important.


Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t
see the whole staircase.
—Martin Luther King Jr. (pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the civil rights movement)

On August 23, 1963, a quarter of a million people went to Washington, DC, to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak at the Lincoln Memorial.

How did he get so many people to come out?

He didn’t have a newsletter or a Twitter account. He wasn’t making YouTube videos or using Google AdWords. He didn’t have a website or use Facebook. He didn’t have any of the tools that make it so easy for us today to reach people and start movements.

And yet 250,000 people came out. Why?

Because he stood for something important.

The cause he believed in touched people’s hearts and led them to action. It was so important that people willingly spread the word and promoted his cause—because it was their cause.

You need to do the same.

What does this have to do with business?

You might be thinking, “That’s great, it works for political or cultural movements but what does this have to do with business?” I’m glad you asked.

What we’re talking about here is getting people to take action—influencing decision making by appealing to something that people feel passionate about. It can apply to going to your website and buying your product just as easily as it does to getting in a bus and traveling to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak.

Most companies just never do it (see previous notes on mediocrity). Your business is not just about making a product or service. That’s a recipe for failure.

People want to know who you are and what you stand for before they’ll buy anything from you. It’s about standing for something important and having your cause be your customers’ cause.

Let me introduce you to Core Selling.


A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.
—Mary Kay Ash (founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics)

This concept alone will transform your business and how you market yourself.

There are three kinds of selling in business: feature, benefit, and core.

1. Feature Selling

When you first start selling something you usually promote its features.

You’re talking about the specifics of what your company offers.

Here are some examples of feature-based selling:

  • These sheets have a thread count of twelve hundred.
  • This car has a fuel economy of thirty-four miles per gallon.
  • This lightbulb will last ten years.

2. Benefit Selling

Somewhere along the way you learn from reading a book, watching a video, or talking with others that you should be selling benefits, not features.

You tell me not just what your product or service does, but how I’m going to gain from using it. Sell the hole, not the drill.

Benefit-based selling would change the sales pitches to:

  • These sheets are super soft and you’ll get a great night’s sleep.
  • You’ll save a lot of money on gas with this car and rarely have to fill up.
  • You’ll never have to change a lightbulb again!

Feature and benefit selling are how 99 percent of the world sells today. It works but it’s inefficient.

3. Core Selling

Forget features and benefits. The real gold is in Core Selling. In Core Selling you lead with your One Word. What are you here to do? Why is this so important?

Let me show you an example.


The “flower guy” selling “calm” was a lightbulb flash exploding in my brain.
—Wayne E. (One of Evan’s YouTube subscribers)

A subscriber, Jay, wrote to tell me that he wants to start a flower shop and asked me how he could stand out.

Now, the flower industry is brutal. Ridiculously brutal. Margins are being squeezed by supermarkets and online stores. There are fewer flower growers, making it harder to find locally grown products. It’s one of the most competitive online businesses, so good luck with getting people to search and find your website. When the economy is down, luxury items like flowers are the first thing people stop spending money on. The big referral partners, like funeral parlors and banquet halls, already have long-standing relationships with florists. Man . . . who wants to be in the flower business? Jay did. So I was going to help him.

The secret was for Jay to realize that he wasn’t selling flowers.

He was selling something much more powerful. Jay was really selling #Calm. What I learned from Jay was that he loves flowers because they make him feel calm. If he is stressed or worried, he looks at flowers and becomes calm. That’s his core. For Jay to avoid massive failure and beat the odds, he needed to embrace #Calm.

And it’s so much more than just having great flowers.

His store should be a haven for people who want to feel calm. He should sell flowers that make people calm. He should have signage outside that makes people calm. He should play music, hire staff, greet people, fill the air with scents, and have a store layout that makes people calm. He should get involved with charities that help people deal with stress and overcoming trauma. Talking with Jay or anyone on his team should make you feel calm. For him to be successful, he needs others to experience the calm feeling that he loves getting from his flowers.

And it’s easy to do. It doesn’t have to be faked. It’s not just a marketing strategy. Because that’s who Jay is. He just needs to embrace it and share it. Then his flower shop will become a destination for people who want to be calm. He’ll attract people he’ll naturally get along with, who will buy more flowers, spend more money, refer more customers, and won’t compare him to the dozen roses you can buy online for $19.99.

That’s Core Selling. And it applies to much more than just selling. It’s a philosophy for how to run your entire business and your life. Almost nobody does it, and it’s your chance to dominate your industry.

It’s also how to make lots of money.


If you just work for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing, success will be yours.
—Ray Kroc (built McDonald’s and his family fortune is worth billions of dollars)

“I want to make a million dollars before I turn X years old.”

Sound familiar?

Most new entrepreneurs are just trying to make money.

And that’s why they fail.

You’re tired of working for someone else and think you can
strike it rich by branching off on your own.

You’re partly right.

If you look at any list of the world’s wealthiest people and remove those who had inherited wealth, almost everyone else is an entrepreneur.

You don’t make real money working for someone else.

But . . . and this is a huge “but”. . .

If money is your only goal, then you’ll never be rich.

Look at the list of the most successful entrepreneurs and you’ll see that none of them are driven by the money.

They want to change the way something is done.

They want to have an impact.

They want to leave a legacy.

To be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to build a business around your passion and use your One Word as your operating philosophy.

You’re not running a charity here (unless you are). Money is important. You’re here to create profits and wealth. But it’s not the most important thing.

Let me show you how Steve Jobs got rich.


I was worth over a million dollars when I was 23, over $10 million when I was 24 and over $100 million when I was 25. But you know what? The money wasn’t that important. I wasn’t in it for
the money.
—Steve Jobs (billionaire entrepreneur and cofounder of Apple Computer)

Steve Jobs wanted to “put a dent in the universe.”

He had all the money he’d ever need for the rest of his life when he was in his early twenties.

He could have retired, partied, traveled the world, bought a professional sports team—

And what did he do?

He continued to work at Apple.

Until the day he died, Steve Jobs worked on projects that would help him put a dent in the universe.

You might be thinking: “That’s great, Evan. Give me $1 billion and I’ll go put a dent in the universe, as well.”

And that’s exactly why you’re not successful.


Steve Jobs didn’t make his billions and then want to have an impact.

It’s because he wanted to have an impact that he made his billions.

Is this sinking in yet?

The core comes first and the money follows.

And it’s not just Steve Jobs.

This is a pattern used by the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.

You can use its too and achieve beyond your wildest goals.

Your mindset for greatness leads to your One Word that so you’re standing for something important, you’re Core Selling, and you’re making a lot of money.

This is the root cause of entrepreneurial success.


If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.
—Tony Robbins (life coach, self-help author, and motivational speaker)

Still don’t believe that money should never be your primary goal?

Here are some more examples to follow (emphasis mine). I encourage you to look up your favorite entrepreneur and see how they got started and where their priorities were.

Never go into business purely to make money. If that’s the sole motive . . . you’re better off doing nothing.
—Richard Branson (billionaire founder of Virgin Group)

You have to be committed, and you have to find something that you are passionate about. And forget about money.
—Chris Gardner (went from homeless to millionaire, his story is told in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness)

If a man goes into business with only the idea of making a lot of money, chances are he won’t. But if he puts service and quality first, the money will take care of itself. Producing a first- class
product that is a real need is a much stronger motivation for success than getting rich.
—Joyce Clyde Hall (founder of Hallmark)

What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and work that fulfills you, the rest will come. And I truly believe that the reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never, ever for one minute been money.
—Oprah Winfrey (billionaire entrepreneur and creator of The Oprah Winfrey Show)

Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the
idea of making money.
—Walt Disney (entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, film producer, and cofounder of the Walt Disney Company)

The most important thing in life is to love what you’re doing because that’s the only way you’ll ever be really good at it . . . Money was never a motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.
—Donald Trump (billionaire business magnate, investor, television personality, and author)

If you focus on the money, you’re not going to get anywhere. You can want to be successful, but at the end of the day, if money is your motivation, if that’s how shallow your outlook is on life, then you’re going to be such an empty person. Because there’s nothing driving you from the inside—there’s no passion.
—Jennifer Lopez (actress, author, fashion designer, dancer, producer, and singer worth over $250 million)



  • Don’t do what the people around you think you should do. Do what’s inside you.
  • Most people live mediocre lives and have set the bar so low that they’ve created a world where it’s okay to be mediocre.
  • The people you hang out with, the websites you visit, the media you consume, everything in your environment holds you exactly where you are.
  • The Fortune 500 list was first created in 1955. Only 13 percent of the companies on the original list are still on it today.
  • You need to find your greatness.
  • Everyone starts at the start. The difference is where you see yourself going.
  • There is One Word that defines who you are, connects all the things in your life that make you come alive, and will you help escape the chains of mediocrity.
  • People want to know who you are and what you stand for before they’ll buy anything from you. Make your cause be your customer’s cause too.
  • Forget features and benefits. They work, but they’re not efficient. The real gold is in Core Selling.
  • Making money is so much more than just having a great product or service. It’s about how you make people feel when they see your brand.
  • If money is your only goal, then you’ll never be rich. You have to want to have an impact and leave a legacy.
  • Steve Jobs didn’t make billions and then want to have an impact. It’s because he wanted to have an impact that he made his billions.
  • Never go into a business purely to make money. If that’s the motive, you’re better off doing nothing.



Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.”
—Mary Kay Ash (founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics)


You can be pursuing a profession because your parents say it’s the best thing. You can be pursuing a profession because you think you will make a lot of money. You can be pursuing a profession because you think you are going to get a lot of attention. None of that will do you any good if you are not being honest with yourself.
—Oprah Winfrey (billionaire entrepreneur and creator of The Oprah Winfrey Show)

Most people waste their lives living someone else’s dream.

They imprison themselves by accepting the results of other people’s thinking.

They allow the opinions of others to crush their own inner voice.

You might have been beaten down so often that now you stomp out your own dreams before they even have a chance to blossom. You have become your own #LittleMan.

It’s time to rediscover yourself.

The ancient Greeks had a proverb gnothi seauton, “know thyself.”

It was used as a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the masses.

It’s a valuable reminder that this is your life.

You need to take charge.

If you want success . . .

If you want to accomplish your goals . . .

If you want your life to mean something and to have a significant impact . . .

You start by digging deep, to know yourself, to find your One Word, and to set your course in a powerful new direction.

For some people it’s really easy and they get it right away.

For others, like myself, it takes time, analysis, and exercises to narrow it down.

If you don’t do a lot of regular self-reflection, this will be a challenging activity—but totally worth it.

When I found my One Word, it changed my business and my life.


When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.
—Walt Disney (entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, film producer, and cofounder of the Walt Disney Company)

I was unhappy.

I started my business because I wanted to help entrepreneurs. I struggled so much to get my first business off the ground and almost gave up. One of the worst days of my life was when I told
my business partner “I quit.”

I was tired of putting in all this time and effort and money, and not seeing results. I was tired of working for less than minimum wage. I was tired of losing respect for myself and feeling
like a total failure.

I managed to pull through, beat the odds, and be one of the success stories. And I wanted to share my experience and advice with others, because I almost didn’t make it. I wanted to make their path a little easier than what I had to go through.

But I was unhappy.

I was unhappy because I started doing all sorts of different projects—a website, YouTube videos, radio shows, media interviews, and so on—but I wasn’t getting people talking about my business enough.

It seemed too scattered. People couldn’t wrap their heads around what I did, because it was all over the place.

I needed clarity.

I thought it was a marketing problem, so I met with my friend Jason to try to come up with a tagline for my business.

Over the years it has gone from “HELPING you build the company of your dreams” to “Motivation and strategies for entrepreneurs” to “Over 20 million entrepreneurs helped and counting.”

Weak sauce.

What we came up with was “Hungry entrepreneurs deserve help.” This felt better, but still wasn’t quite right. Something was missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then Steve Jobs changed my life.


Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.
—David Packard (cofounder of Hewlett-Packard)

One day I stumbled upon what would become one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time.

It was Steve Jobs talking about marketing. It hit on exactly what I was missing—the Core Selling that made Apple so successful. It’s had a dramatic impact on my business and my life. Here is part of what Steve said:

To me . . . marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is! And so, we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us. . . . The way to do that is NOT to talk about speeds and feeds. It’s NOT to talk about bits and megahertz. It’s NOT to talk about why we are better than Windows.

. . . The best example of all, and one of the greatest jobs of marketing that the universe has ever seen, is Nike. Remember, Nike sells a commodity. They sell shoes!!!

And yet, when you think of Nike you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don’t ever talk about the product. They don’t ever tell you about their air soles and why they are better than Reebok’s air soles.

What does Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes. And they honor great athletics. That’s who they are, that’s what they are about!

Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe!

And we believe that, in this world, people can change it for the better. And that those people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that actually do! . . . Values and core values—those things shouldn’t change. The things that Apple believed in at its core are the same things Apple really stands for today.

To see the full video of his speech check out

Jobs ends his talk by saying that lots of things have changed—in the world, in the tech business, and at Apple. But that Apple’s core values haven’t changed—and that they’re what the company needs to put forward to customers.


I think there is probably no better person to aspire to emulate than Steve Jobs and what he has done at Apple in terms of his leadership, his innovation, not settling for mediocrity.
—Howard Schultz (billionaire chairman of Starbucks)

If you act on what Steve Jobs said, you’ll spark a movement.

This speech was given just after Steve Jobs returned to Apple.

In his absence, Apple had struggled.

It was a few months away from bankruptcy, had only 4 percent market share, and was losing over $1 billion a year.

Asking Jobs to come back was a “desperation” move.

Apple had just been through three different CEOs and nobody could make it work.

Jobs agreed and took his company from life Support to being the most valuable company in the world. It might be the single greatest turnaround story of all time.

It’s time for your business to start taking off too.

In this speech, Jobs outlines the basics of Core Selling.

“The way to do that is NOT to talk about speeds and feeds. It’s NOT to talk about bits and megahertz” = Feature Selling.

“It’s NOT to talk about why we are better than Windows . . .And what we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done—although we do that well” = Benefit Selling.

“Marketing is about values . . . We have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us . . . Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe! . . . And we believe that, in this world, people can change it for the better. And that those people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones that actually do!” = Core Selling.

Mind. Blown.

I finally had some clarity. It was time to get to work.


The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.
—Conan O’Brien (television host, comedian, writer, producer best known for hosting several late-night
talk shows)

If you want to model Steve Jobs’s amazing results, you need to get just as clear about who you are and what you stand for.

Once you have clarity, everything else falls into place.

I was frustrated that my business didn’t have enough momentum and I didn’t have the clarity I needed to move forward.

So I made a list, to try to find my core value.

I started with my “Hungry entrepreneurs deserve help” tagline and wrote down ideas for how to convey the emotion behind my work.

Something that really got my blood pumping.

I purposely tried not to think too much and instead just started writing whatever entered my mind. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Hungry entrepreneurs deserve help
  • What I do . . . what I believe . . . but not inspirational
  • Entrepreneurs change the world
  • Entrepreneurs are heroes
  • Celebrate entrepreneurs
  • Rallying call
  • Gets your heart pumping
  • It’s on you
  • Take your shot
  • Believe
  • Follow your passion
  • Overcome
  • Persevere
  • Keep going
  • Step up
  • Don’t settle
  • Start

I didn’t love anything on the list yet. Nothing felt quite right—yet.

So I decided to sleep on it.


Sleep is the best meditation.
—Dalai Lama (head monk of the Gelug school, the newest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and Nobel Peace Prize winner)

If you’re struggling to make a decision, sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning.

I felt inspired by Steve Jobs and was ready to act but was frustrated that I couldn’t get my clarity. I wanted it badly but it wasn’t coming. So I slept on it. I came back to the same list the next day, and one word jumped out: “Believe.” It was right there in the middle of my list. I thought about what “believe” meant to me. I came up with this:

  • Believe in what you’re doing—passion
  • Believe that you can do it—confidence
  • Believe that it will work—conviction

Finally, because I felt “Believe” on its own was too simple, I started looking for ways to add to it:

  • Believe you can
  • Believe in the possible
  • Believe more
  • Believe it all
  • Believe in belief
  • Believe and believe

The more I looked at the list, the more I realized that I just liked “Believe,” so I decided that I was going to do this crazy thing and rebrand my entire business around “Believe.”

It felt right . . . and my life was about to change.


The Macintosh is not a computer, it’s a way of life.
—Don Rittner (historian, archeologist, environmental activist, educator, and author)

The one thing that hit me pretty quickly was that this was more than just a slogan.

This was a value. This was a personal mission statement. This was a way of life. “Believe” became #Believe. It started my movement. I looked back at the people I had hired on my team and the ones who were still with me were the ones who also had #Believe as a core value. I reflected on my personal life and realized that I’ve always been about believing, but I never realized it. I loved reading books about the little guy who overcame the odds to be successful. My favorite movie is Seabiscuit, which is the story of an undersized racehorse whose victories lifted a nation in the middle of the Great Depression. My favorite entrepreneur is A. P. Giannini, the founder of Bank of America, who made loans of as little as twenty- five dollars to people whose only collateral was the calluses on their hands. He would lend money based on “a man’s face and a signature.” My friends are about #Believe. The songs I like are about #Believe. Everything that makes me come alive somehow relates to #Believe. #Believe isn’t a marketing slogan for me. It’s who I am. You need to find who you are.

Then you can start making some important decisions.


When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.
—Roy E. Disney (longtime senior executive at the Walt Disney Company, founded by his father, Roy, and uncle, Walt Disney)

Making decisions can be hard . . .

. . . when you don’t know what you stand for. Your One Word is your core. It’s your guiding light. It makes all decisions easier. If you don’t have that guiding light, then you never completely feel like you’re going in the right direction. You’ll constantly second-guess yourself, not being sure if you made the best choice. You’ll spend more time agonizing over decisions than acting, than making a decision to improve your life and the lives of others.

When you know your One Word, you can make decisions that support your path.

Decisions that were difficult before now become easy to make. You know if you should start that business or not. You know if you should move to that city or not. You know if you should marry that person or not. It’s also easy for people to understand who you are and how they can help you. Everything becomes easier. Your life, your business—everything becomes much easier.

It will also help you stay motivated.


When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren’t the people who are motivated, but have consistency in their motivation.
—Arsène Wenger (French soccer manager and former player credited with revolutionizing soccer in England in the late 1990s)

Being an entrepreneur sucks a lot of the time.

It’s hard to stay motivated. You might have a fantastic day, be on top of the world, and then the next morning wake up and find you’re starting from scratch. You’re doing something different, something new, something powerful, and it takes time to make it happen. You might have a #LittleMan in your life telling you all the reasons why you’re not going to be successful. You might not be seeing any growth or momentum as you struggle to find your way. You might even be thinking of going back to get a job and do the “safe thing” to support your family. Man, it’s hard staying motivated as an entrepreneur.

But you know what helps?

Feeling like you’re doing something important. That’s what people really want out of life.

That’s probably what you hated about your last job. You wanted to wake up and feel like the work you were doing was important. When you get that feeling you’re more likely to stay motivated. And that comes from finding your One Word and applying it to make a positive impact on the world.

People will also catch that motivation and help spread the word for you.


If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.
—Jeff Bezos (billionaire cofounder of

If you don’t get positive word of mouth, you’re sunk.

You don’t have the big budgets to take out a Super Bowl commercial or hire a celebrity spokesperson. You need people talking about you. Having a great product or service isn’t enough. You need to make it easy for people to talk about you.

Think about how busy your customers are. They have opportunities every single day to promote you to their colleagues and friends. Every. Single. Day. And they don’t. Why? It’s not because they don’t love your product or service. (If they don’t, then you need to get to work at improving your offering!) It’s because you don’t stand out enough. They forget about you. You’re just okay. But when you stand for something important, something people feel connected to, something people are proud to be a part of, and you make it easy for them to share because they only have to remember One Word, then referrals start to flow.

Make your message difficult, boring, and unremarkable and nobody will talk about you.

Make your message One Word, powerful, and important and people will be delighted to spread your message at every possible opportunity.


My goal is to delight my own family of customers, just like my dad did for his. —Louis Trahan (founder of Last Minute Training)

Louis Trahan had a problem—he’s in a boring industry.

Louis’s company, Last Minute Training, sells training for office workers. Most people don’t think about training until they need it, and it’s really hard to get people excited and talking about it. Most
people see training as a necessary evil, not something to look forward to. When was the last time you went around telling everyone you know about the amazing Excel training you just can’t wait to take?


But with my help, Louis realized that he doesn’t really sell training. He sells the experience of being delighted. His One Word is #Delight and he built his entire business around it.

He delights his customers by actually caring about them. He and his team research and know more about all the training options available than any other competitor so he can give the best recommendations to his clients.

He knows which training providers deliver the highest quality training for each subject area, who is least likely to cancel classes, and who has the best learning environment for his customers.

He often books people into courses where he makes less money because it’s the right thing for the client.

When he interviews new staff members, he first looks at whether they have an attitude of delighting people before he looks at their skills, experience, or references.

In his marketing, he shows a picture of his baby son smiling because he wants people to feel delighted when they see his ads.

The results?

When I first met Louis and he joined my mastermind group, he had just an idea on paper. It was a pure start‑up. Fast-forward a few years and Louis now has an office, a team, brand-name clients, sells over ten thousand training classes, and has booked almost $10 million in business. He’s making money and making an impact.

So I asked Louis to share how he found his One Word.


It wouldn’t matter what kind of business I’m in, my number-one priority would still be to delight my customers.
—Louis Trahan (founder of Last Minute Training)

It was over twenty years ago—but I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

I woke up on Christmas morning, wondering where Dad was.

He was gone because it was cold outside. I mean REALLY cold outside (like fifty below) . . . and another family needed him to come fix their broken furnace.

He was a furnace repair man and these were his customers! Dad always went above and beyond to help a customer, even if they were total strangers. Especially on Christmas.

That wasn’t the first (or last!) holiday without him. Dad hated seeing people suffering. I could tell you story after story where he aimed to bring joy and relief to the people around him, in every moment. Often at his own expense, or his family’s.

And now I understand. We were ALL family to him. Every person.

Now my goal is to delight my own family of customers, just like my dad did for his. I can’t help it; it’s ingrained in me; it’s part of my DNA.

And let’s be honest, you probably rarely think of scheduling training as a delightful experience. In reality, it’s probably a huge headache.

Most of our clients tell us they would previously spend hours AND HOURS researching, and then booking and managing multiple vendors for a variety of different training classes, only to get inadequate and even canceled classes!

We screen the vendors and trainers for quality, making sure we understand your needs to get you the right training, plus we negotiate the deal for you.

Our staff can often find you the right training class in minutes, when it might take you days to complete the search for the right class on your own.

I’ve built an entire team, made up of people who, just like my dad, will bend over backwards to delight you.

It wouldn’t matter what kind of business I’m in, my number-one priority would still be to delight my customers.

It works for Louis and can work for any company. Honest!


Everyone I approached was skeptical . . . Even my husband, Cash, thought the idea was too big.
—Jessica Alba (cofounder of the Honest Company)

The Honest Company took its One Word to the next level.

Not only did cofounders Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan embrace the One Word philosophy, they named their business after their One Word, #Honest.

Jessica and Christopher were disgusted by how unhealthy many children’s products are. They are laced with toxic chemicals that haven’t been properly tested. They were making kids (and Jessica) sick. She and Christopher got fed up.

So they decided to be the change they wanted to see in the world.

They launched the Honest Company to provide nontoxic, eco-friendly, fashionable, and affordable products for kids, ranging from diapers to bath and body products.

They believed in their business so much that they hired Jessica’s mom to work for them. They love their manifesto and products so deeply that they hang them on their wall.

Jessica practices #Honest management and the actress-entrepreneur worth over $200 million doesn’t have her own office.

She sits right alongside her team.

They don’t test their products on animals, they test them on their own children. They give 1 percent of their revenue to charity and chemical research.

From their employees to their suppliers, they think about the impact they’re leaving on the world. To reduce their carbon footprint everything they make is produced within 150 miles of Los Angeles and they ship ground, not air.

They have unapologetically high standards in products, people, and business practices. Everything they do has to match up with their #Honest philosophy.

The results?

The Honest Company went from zero to hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. After three years in business, the company was valued at one billion dollars.

They are making money and making an impact by following their One Word.

So I asked Christopher to share his One Word story.


In our core mission, we don’t talk about product. We talk about what’s the change in the world we want to see and how do we accomplish that. —Christopher Gavigan (cofounder of the Honest Company)

Early in my career, I was frustrated. I was frustrated with the lack of authentic relationships in business.

I was frustrated when I saw that everyone would promise you the world and then there was no consistent follow‑up. That’s being totally dishonest. What I found was the levels of transparency and authenticity and clarity and willingness to tell the consumer what was healthy and safe weren’t there. And I’m thinking, “Wow, these are products that we’re using on our bodies, in our homes, on our children, we’re ingesting them . . . How is that possible?”

When my business partner, Jessica, and I were developing our concept we were imaging the world, dreaming big, and what we wanted in it. We were thinking about “What’s the world we wanted?” I loved the beauty of the word “honest,” the simplicity. To be honest is something that everyone wants to be. It’s an aspiration as well as a real-life fulfillment. It’s an honor to hold that word. It’s a privilege. And it’s a duty. It holds you to a standard and it drives us forward every single day.

I wanted to challenge ourselves. To be honest, what does that mean? That’s a lot to live up to. I wanted to see if we could do it. We’re constantly, as a brand and as a company, pushing ourselves to really achieve, to be more and more honest every single day. Everyone is here to see this mission and purpose- driven company fulfill its core goal, and a lot of it is we’re not here to build product. We’re here to educate a new generation of consumers and parents. In our core mission, we don’t talk about product.

We talk about what’s the change in the world we want to see and how do we accomplish that.

You have to align yourself with what you believe is right. What I love about us is we really act from our heart and if it doesn’t feel right, we’re not going to go there.

Honesty is telling people the truth even though it might be uncomfortable. It’s quality. It’s saying things that matter. It’s telling people what you won’t do and what’s not inside as opposed to what is inside. We’re everything from a baby diaper to shampoo to fruit and veggie washes to a range of lifestyle products. At the end of the day, a parent just wants to trust you. I guard that trust. I safeguard it every single day. It’s the only thing we have, our credibility and trust. I am such a strong, passionate advocate of keeping that trust and that level of connectivity with that consumer and letting them know we are doing everything possible, every single day, to build and improve on that level of trust and connected relationship.



  • You can go as far as the mind lets you.
  • Gnothi seauton = ancient Greek proverb used as a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the masses.
  • Marketing is about values. Apple’s core value is that it believes it can change the world for the better.
  • If you want to model Apple’s amazing results, you need to get just as clear about who you are and what you stand for.
  • Once you have clarity, everything else falls into place.
  • If you’re struggling to make a decision, sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning.
  • Your One Word is more than a marketing slogan. It’s a way of life.
  • When you know your One Word, you can make decisions that support your path.
  • What helps you stay motivated? Feeling like you’re doing something important.
  • Your One Word makes it easy for people to talk about you.
  • The One Word philosophy has helped entrepreneurs generate millions in sales, and it can work for you too.
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