Can one word capture your passion and purpose? Can your “one word” transform your life?
Evan Carmichael believes so much in the power of one word, he made it the theme of his new book: Your One Word: The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter. One who truly breathes and bleeds entrepreneurship, Evan built and sold a biotech company at age 19. At age 22, he was a venture capitalist. Today, he's an author, speaker, and businessman who’s devoting his life to helping one billion entrepreneurs.
I recently interviewed Evan to get his perspective on how to find your one word, and why that’s so pivotal to your life and career. (The transcript below has been edited lightly for space and clarity.)
Kevin Kruse: What is the one-word secret?
Evan Carmichael: The one-word secret is finding the self-awareness to understand what your single most important core value is and then using that bring a lot more purpose and meaning to your career, business, and life.
I think a lot of people are walking through life in a fog, feeling like they could be doing more. They have more potential. They haven't come close to reaching their ceiling, but they don't know how to get there. They don't know what that greater potential looks like and it starts with understanding what your most important core value is and then making and designing a life and a business around it.
Kruse: Can you give us an example?
Carmichael: Sure. So, my one word is “believe.” I had a business. It was successful. I had a second business. I still have it. It was also successful, but I still felt like I could be doing more. And this isn't only for people who are at rock-bottom and they don't know what to do with their life. I was having a lot of success; I just felt like I was nowhere close to my ceiling and I could be doing a lot more.
And so, I sat down, did some exercises to figure out who is Evan Carmichael? What do I believe in? What's really important to me? What's my most important core value? And it came down to “believe.”
You can go through that process if you want, but I then started to look at everything and think about how I could make it all more purposeful, around the word “believe.” The first thing I did was concerning my newsletter. I sent the newsletter out; it reaches 70 thousand people and I changed the content so my next newsletter was around this theme of “believe.” Just encouraging people to believe in themselves. That single newsletter had the best response of any newsletter I had sent out and my sister wrote to me and said, “I'm actually reading your newsletter now.” It's the love and punch that only a sister can give you at the same time. I was like, “That's cool. It's actually working.”
And then, I brought it to my YouTube channel and my best video on the channel had 100,000 views. It took me a year to get it to that point and I was really proud of it. So I said, “Okay. I'm going to make a video around ‘believe'” and that video got 100,000 views in the first month.
Kruse: How can we start that process of figuring out our one word?
Carmichael: It starts with understanding that one, this is a constant. This is something that has always been a part of you and always will be a part of you. Kevin Kruse doesn't just in ten years stop caring about leading, right? It's always going to be a part of what he does. If anything, it will only be stronger and stronger and stronger. And so this is not a new resolution for 2017. This is a core, deep value for you.
Second thing, is think about all the things that have made you happy. What are your highest highs? What activities were you doing? What's your favorite movie? What did you learn from your parents that you love? Who were your favorite instructors growing up? Out of the hundreds of teachers you had, who were the one or two who really stood out? What is it about them that you love? What connects all of these highest highs in your life?
Then, just make a list. It's a detailed process in the book, but this is, like, super-condensed Cole's Notes. Make a list of the descriptors. What made those things so special? And you'll find that there's a common theme between them and that common theme is going to be your one word.
Some people find it easier to go negative and instead of thinking about the highest highs, they think about the lowest lows. The people they hate. The people they cannot stand being around, never want to see them ever again. If it's a family member or a co-worker or somebody from school. “I never want to be around this person.” It's not that that person is necessarily bad, just that they have a value that you don't share and you find toxic. So, if you can identify what that toxic negative value is, I call it your anti-word, then you can find what your one word is. Go the opposite and that's going to be your one word.
Kruse: How can your one word grow your business?
Carmichael: The next step is figuring out what your credo is. And what I recommend is figuring out what are the three things that make up your one word. So, for me, “believe” breaks down to “passion,” so you have that passion for the work that you're doing, “self-confidence,” and “conviction” to follow-through.
When most people see “believe,” they'll think, “self-confidence,” believe in yourself, which is great. That's part of it. But also believe in the work that you're doing, the passion. And believe that it will work out, the conviction. And, so, that adds an extra little layer that turns “believe” into #believe for me and this is what I'm trying to create in the world.
For people in the entrepreneur world or business context, the next thing that I'd recommend is doing a marketing campaign. ‘Cause I want you to start making money. So, I want to prove an ROI to you guys as soon as possible. The marketing side is the fastest way to do it. So, thinking about making a logo. What does our logo look like for our company? What is the color? What is it doing? What do we want it to represent? A logo is a visual representation of what you should stand for. So if I'm creating… My logo is a paper airplane taking off. For me, that represents an entrepreneur. We have big dreams. We want to fly high. But it's not a supersonic jet. It's a paper airplane. And we're starting with what we have.
Kruse: I like to challenge readers to get one percent better every single day. So, what do you want us to try today?
Carmichael: I think the biggest challenge is to start thinking about self-awareness. To think about if you had to define the one core value that you are all about, the one message that you want to pass on to your grandkids. If you're on your deathbed and your grandkids come in and you can only utter one word out of your mouth, the one lesson you want to give them, what is it?
And once you have clarity on that, a whole world of opportunities will open up to you.