5 Useful Takeaways from a Year of Whyfinding

by | Sep 22, 2020 | Craft Your Brand

Last August I sat in a massive, dark, slightly too-chilly conference room of the Hilton in Toronto, nestled between several of my clients, my mom and my husband who was bouncing our 3-month old daughter on his knee. I was absorbing the words of Stu McLaren, my ‘membership mentor’, who, from the colorfully-lit stage, was telling stories I’d already heard about 3 times before.

One of the things I love about conferences like this, rooms like this, is that there are always a handful of words, relationships or ideas that grab hold of you and don’t let go. Even (and sometimes especially) if you’ve heard it before).

On this particular day

On this particular day, Stu was emphasizing the importance of knowing your niche (amen!) and being very clear and specific about who you are and what you do – and – to put the finishing touches on his point, he said something like:

‘How am I going recommend you to someone else? If you do a dozen things, I’m not going be able to say ‘hey, here’s the gal you need for that’ – but if you own just ONE THING – then I know – your customers know – how and when to sell you.’

This information was not new. For goodness sake I TEACH this information, but something struck me that hadn’t quite landed in just that way before… and I realized just how totally I had failed to take my OWN DAMN ADVICE about knowing your niche and being SPECIFIC.

I heard my own words in my head – words I’d played over and over, years and years before, as I sought to find my out of the lovely, but totally-wrong-for-me business I had just built…

These words, this challenge I had forgotten, as over the last few years, I had built product after product to meet the needs of my existing clients…

Was one of the core questions of Whyfinding…

‘What could you be the best in the world at?’

I think this is one of the most interesting questions we can ask ourselves.

But, if you’re like me, a ‘multi-passionate entrepreneur’ as Marie Forleo would say… Then you probably have a lot of skills, interests and shiny objects to pick from that you could monetize… making this question hard to answer…

Here are some of mine, I am:

A photographer

A designer

A copywriter

A marketing consultant

An applied color psychology practitioner

A pet industry expert

An author

A speaker

And after 15 years learning by doing + a Masters degree, I’m not afraid to say I’m more than pretty decent at all of those things…

But what I KNOW I’m world class at, that is unique to me, is what I call ‘Whyfinding’…

Using my head, heart and intuition to help entrepreneurs inventory their skills, strengths and passion to find their why AND create magnetic communications (images, words, colors, design) that help them convey all that magic in a way that’s instantly magnetic to their ideal clients.

My superpower is helping OTHER people find THEIRS.

But I hadn’t been focusing on this.

I hadn’t been talking about it, or selling it, or even really acknowledging it because helping people find and communicate their purpose (to ultimately ACHIEVE that purpose) seemed so ‘fluffy’ compared to helping people make more money.


Funny enough, I know I’m not alone in this, because through my Whyfinding work I’ve seen just how common this is…

That feeling that you must pick between the thing YOU KNOW WILL SELL and the thing that LIGHTS YOU UP THE MOST.

Here’s what most of us do…

We logically prioritize the thing that is easy to sell and let the rest simmer away on the back-burner as we try to build something practical and sustainable to feed ourselves, our kids (and let’s be honest, our pets, because they definitely eat better than we do!)

We go head over heart.

We go fact over feeling.

Which hey, usually works!

To a point.

When we pick the thing that’s clear and easy to sell it’s easier for us to pick up those low hanging fruit customers all around us and do what a business exists to do: make money.

But then – clients get harder to find, or harder to convert, life happens and circumstances change (hello virus I’m looking at you)…

Or, we grow weary of working so hard on the practical thing

Our heart and spirit scream at us to get out of our head and FEEL

We find ourselves burnt out, or bored or stuck on a plateau craving growth

Wondering (when someone like me asks) ‘why DO I do what I do?’

I did this.

You’re probably doing this.

The solution:

If you’re making money in your biz and that continues to need to be the main driver of your decision-making (because hey, real life) then you can’t just drop the thing that feeds you to follow your heart into the sunset, right?

Plus, I’m not going to lie to you, transitioning from doing the logical, practical thing into something more steeped in your purpose and passion, isn’t often quick.

I’ve done this Whyfinding work for myself over and over, slowly peeling away layers of truth, revealing new layers of truth.

That day in that conference room was 4 years after my first big ah-ha where I discovered my unique ability to help entrepreneurs grow… but that day I decided to FOCUS on WHYFINDING and let most of the rest of it go (or get other people to run the other stuff).

That day in the conference room was over a year ago and I’ve been working daily since then

Trying to figure out EXACTLY what it looks like for me and my brand and my business to OWN the title of Whyfinder, to let go of products and services that are no longer a total fit for that work… to build NEW products and services that ARE a total fit, and most of all (arguably the hardest part)…

To get the CLARITY of VISION of how all the pieces fit together.

Man isn’t clarity just the Holy Grail when you’re in a season of transition!?

This NEW vision is one where I’m more vulnerable… where I step into my genius… where I declare more often and more loudly that I believe in magic… and where I address some of the darker, harder stuff… like my own limiting beliefs and most recently, my privilege and unconscious biases.

As I say all the time, this process can’t be rushed.

Which is precisely what makes it decidedly ‘less sexy’ to sell!

‘Hey, whyfinding will change your life, but you won’t really understand HOW until you’ve experienced it, and it will probably take YEARS to properly manifest the way you dream of’

Hahah. Great sales pitch, right?

Why can’t my genius just be Pinterest or Passive Income !!?? It’s SO MUCH EASIER to sell!!!!

But thems the breaks.

Your genius, your gift, the thing you were put here to do isn’t always going to be easy to understand, to own, to EXPLAIN or to sell…


It may take time to figure out the shape of it, the true value of it, the way to sell it EASILY without all the explaining…


You just have to be patient.

I’m proud to say I’ve been quite patient this year as this unfolding has occurred. That’s a big win for someone who likes things done faster pretty much all the time.

In the last few weeks the pieces have fallen into place.

I know what it is.

I know how I can serve in a way that’s simple and clear.

I know how to sell it.

I know who I am.

I know why I’m world class

I don’t just know my superpower now, but I now know how to SHARE IT in a way that raises eyebrows and starts conversations with THE RIGHT people.

People who want and need it.

People who are willing to pay for it.

People who are looking for superpowers like mine (whether they know it or not)

(and best of all, as you’ll see below, I also figured out a way to help my people get transformation FASTER – hurrah!)

5 Useful Takeaways:

Here’s what I’ve learned (or been reminded of) over this part year of the rollercoaster Whyfinding process that I’ve gone through personally…

5. PUSHING when we need to be PERCOLATING never yields sustainable, scalable magic.

4. I’ve been re-reminded (yet AGAIN) that it isn’t what you create, but what you LET GO OF that truly defines your success as an entrepreneur .

3. Relax. It is OK to not DO IT ALL, all the time. The more you communicate when you’re testing something or trying something or setting something down for a while, the more your people will support you. You make the rules!

2. Ego can feel like the MOST compelling motivator. Ego is not heart or soul. Ego is not magic. It can be very distracting and destructive. Checking-in on decisions and the role ego may be playing in how we make them, is endlessly useful.

And my top nugget of all… the one most intricately woven into this story, and the most important for me AND for you… is that achieving your freedom & fulfilment as an entrepreneur – reaching whatever definition of success you fancy – all comes down to one simple human truth: FEELINGS.

This, my #1 takeaway from a year of intense Whyfinding is a two-parter:

Part 1: For Us: 

As my mentor Ruth Ridgeway would say: Do what feels f*cking great and let go of the rest

SOMETIMES we need to LEAN IN to the impractical choice to get where we’re trying to go.

Let your HEART lead no matter how uncomfortable it is at first – financial rewards follow genuine PASSION and CARE (certainly more than pushing/ over-thinking / desperate ‘trying’). What would feel great?

Part 2: For our Business & Customers:

Want more clients? Sell with feelings, not facts.

There is a bit of #1 in here – as it sometimes feels so awkward to tell stories and use emotional language when we set about to sell our products and services – but it’s WHAT WORKS.

In particular, not just selling with feeling… but KNOWING the RIGHT feelings to be wielding and HOW TO CREATE THEM is the secret.

After Whyfinding (discovering the right feelings) – CREATING those feelings through your marketing and branding remarkably just comes down to just three simple things:

  1. Your color palette
  2. Your imagery
  3. Your words

One of the big truths I had to lean into this year – was the IMMENSE power and effectiveness of the visual assets I ADORE.

Over the last few years, working with entrepreneurs on limited budgets I’d often labelled effective design ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘must have’ – and in many cases this is true – but when it comes to your colors, images and words – you simply MUST get them right ASAP to accelerate EASY growth.

This does NOT mean go pay 10k for a fancy website in order to procrastinate on the ‘REAL WORK’… (I see you procrasti-brander!)

It DOES mean, do the work (and it doesn’t have to be pricey) to get the clarity you need to focus on JUST WHAT WORKS (not JUST what’s pretty).

As I mentioned before, I’ve figured out what my thing is… How I can help… How I can sell it, and what do you know it has EVERYTHING to do with helping you get these three assets right.

  1. Helping you find your Why ( your purpose, identifying your clients and the FEELINGS that matter to you and them)
  2. Helping you build a Niche Brand (focusing on these 3 powerful FEELING assets: color, imagery and words)

It’s that simple.

So if you’ve been ignoring your heart in favor of being all up in your head

Or you’ve been struggling to get enough clients, or the RIGHT clients in the door

If you’ve been struggling to truly CONNECT with your business, products or services

If you want to build an audience, build visibility or increase your profit margin…quickly

Then you need one or both of these things. Like, yesterday.

Best of all, although the unfolding of the Whyfinding process may be long… but you don’t have to wait to have it all figured out to get your branding assets working for you.

Making quick, simple changes to your imagery, copy and ESPECIALLY your color palette can lead to an almost IMMEDIATE increase sales.

It’s a great way to kickstart your growth, to re-engage your interest, and invigorate your website and social media channels.

It truly is like magic.

I am ALL IN on helping you make this happen, so here are some ways I can support you over the next few weeks to get this done:

  1. Attend this Free LIVE Workshop: http://go.jnicholesmith.com/live-workshop/

  2. If you’re in the pet space, register for this Online Business Conference hosted by Victoria Stilwell – I’ll be doing interactive workshops on messaging and color psychology: https://www.vsdogtrainingacademy.com/dog-behaviour-conference/

  3. Want me to do it for you? Grab this LIMITED EDITION branding package at a massive discount (only a few left!) http://jnicholesmith.com/brand-new-quick-fix-to-get-more-clients/

These are great ways you can switch into ‘heart mode’, get out of your head, trade pushing for being propelled and TRULY discover the riches waiting for you when you click into that brand, that color palette, that purpose that has been tapping you on the shoulder.

Join me on the path of the the Whyfinder… it may not always be easy or obvious, but it sure does yield the most delicious rewards!!

xx – Nic