Build Something That Matters

Working from home gives me a lot of freedom to do things I love. Part of that is spending time with my grandparents, both now in their late 80s. They’ve been married for 67 years (!) and are still living in the house they retired to here in Charlotte in 1979.

They have a lot of stories to tell and I love listening to them tell them.

So we sit at the kitchen table with strong coffee and pastries and I listen as my grandpa talks about serving in General Patton’s Third Army in World War II. My grandma reminisces about her first trip to New York City in the 40s and how she danced at the famous Latin Quarter nightclub.

Minutes melt into hours as we discuss politics, fashion, sports and music from the last century. I remind myself to write these things down as I leave, grateful to spend these moments with my grandparents, soaking in the living history of two people who have had such rich life experiences.

Awhile back I got a birthday card from my Grandma. Inside was a $20 bill and a short message in her cursive handwriting:

“Thank you for making our days matter.”

For most of us, sitting around a table and talking with our family and friends is simply every day life. But to my grandparents, those moments are a gift, a connection to the outside world. A chance to relive their best memories in vivid detail with people they care about.

We all want our family and friends to feel this way about us.

But I also want to build my business, my blog, my entire online presence around that idea that what I do brings meaning to people’s daily lives.

This transforms the way you approach your work.

When you realize the power you possess with your talents, what you do becomes the tool to bring meaning to people’s lives.

With, I focus on helping small businesses with social media and design.

So social media strategy moves beyond a plan to gain more followers on Twitter and Facebook and becomes a way to help people spread their ideas online. Ideas that may catch the attention of an employer and land them their dream job. Ideas that grow an audience for their side-business, enabling them to escape their cubicle and realize their dream of entrepreneurship.

That’s the meaning.

Design moves beyond simply creating a website and becomes a way to build something together, something bigger than you and me -- an online place to gather around ideas important to a community of like-minded people.

That’s the meaning.

This isn’t a hit-and-run marketing strategy focused on acquiring customers as quickly as possible and moving on to the next sale.

It’s about understanding that there is a person on the other side of that screen. Not a number in Google analytics.

It’s about building long-lasting connections with people and working hard to make an impact on their lives -- loving their projects like you love your own.

It’s community, it’s collaboration. It’s a give, give, give, give, give then give some more type strategy.

That’s the kind of work I want to do every day.

The Only Way Forward in the Online World

In a culture of MORE, focusing on creating something that has MEANING becomes the best way to stand out. 

Otherwise, I’m one of a million social media consultants offering the same services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

I’m a designer engaged in a bidding war with fiverrr and Elance.

And this is just another job.

But I don’t just want another job.

I want to do good work with great people and make their days matter.

A Short Exercise to help you build something that matters

Think about a company you love and the product or service they provide. (If you need help, Apple, Instagram and Skype are good places to start.)

How does it bring meaning to your life?

Now how can you apply that to your business?

Feel free to share in the comments below.

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