What is Your Why?

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been asked a lot lately why I decided to go into my line of work. People are particularly interested because, many eons ago, I practiced law. They usually want to know how I could even think to go into another field and away from the “prestigious” practice of law. [I know not everyone agrees with this last sentence.:)]

Why is it important to know the why behind what we do? The why fuels our desire and ability to get up every day and keep doing what we do. When times get rough or we begin to doubt ourselves, it is the why that keeps us focused and on-course. Some call this our North star.

Here is my why: I was born to advocate for others. I was born to communicate on behalf of others.

I realized early on that many dreams and desires never happen unless we are courageous enough to ask for them consistently and in a compelling way

I also know that some people never have the opportunity to share their voice. Many are just never invited to have a seat at the decision-making table. My mission is to help organizations give their employees and customers what they want so that those same organizations get what they want in the form of loyalty, retention, and growth.

Why these two stakeholders?

Traditionally, organizations are more apt to make poor assumptions about what their employees and customers want. Fundamentally, both want to be listened to, cared for and feel like they have a say in what happens to them.

Even though I have not practiced law for some time, I always found the employer/employee relationship to be tenuous and completely undervalued. After reading through many cases in law school, I felt pulled to lend my voice to the topic and chose to do this through my role as leader of teams. When I dove, head first, into customer-facing leadership positions, I discovered quickly that many of the organizations for whom I worked never bothered to ask their customers’ opinions. They did first and dealt with the consequences if their assumptions were wrong.

I saw the similarities. I wanted to help alleviate this problem in some way.

For a little more texture, my why stems from being born into an interracial and interfaith family where, I myself, often felt like an outsider…like my voice did not matter. Simply put, I turned my life as a potential victim into one where determination, courage and strong communication skills allowed me to be the voice for other “outsiders.” My strong feeling of purpose also explains my constant desire to stay positive, think big and think anything is possible when we do what we are gifted to do.

The exciting part is that I have the opportunity to inspire my clients to take action to make improvements that make providing the feedback worthwhile.

What started out to be about me overcoming my obstacles has turned into a burning passion to use my access and empathy to become the voice for customers and employees alike. By doing so, I help to elevate the voices of the oftentimes voiceless, while, at the same time, helping organizations more fully understand and deliver on the drivers for their customers’ and employees’ satisfaction and loyalty. The exciting part is that I have the opportunity to inspire my clients to take action to make improvements that make providing the feedback worthwhile. This involves a great deal of vision-setting and facilitating discussions with organizational leaders that helps them find the why for their existence. This leads to a richer, more “others-centered” culture.

That’s the stuff of great companies!

I have never looked back. It’s a fun and rewarding journey. One that I have been gifted to take. So, I come full circle. There was a reason why I became a lawyer and there is a reason why I have chosen to focus on customer and employee experience.

Does what I described above totally encapsulate every facet of what I do from a tactical perspective?

Of course not, but what I describe above is my why. That’s what’s important. It’s from the heart. That is how I choose to operate.

What is your why?


Heather Younger
Heather Younger
Heather Younger gets it. As a best-selling author, international TEDx speaker, podcast host, facilitator, and Forbes Coaches Council coach, she has earned her reputation as “The Employee Whisperer”. Her experiences as a CEO, entrepreneur, manager, attorney, writer, coach, listener, speaker, collaborator and mother all lend themselves to a laser-focused clarity into what makes employees of organizations and companies – large and small - tick. Heather has facilitated more than 150 workshops, reaching +100 employers and their employees. Her motivation and philosophy have reached more than 20,000 attendees at her speaking engagements on large and small stages. Companies have charted their future course based on her leading more than 100 focus groups. In addition, she has helped companies see double-digit employee engagement score increases through the implementation of her laws and philosophies. She has driven results in a multitude of industries, including banking, oil & gas, construction, energy, and federal and local government. Heather brings a tenacious and inspirational outlook to issues plaguing the workforces of today. Her book “The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty” hit the Forbes Must-Read list and is a go-to source for HR professionals seeking insight into their organization's dynamics. Heather’s writing can also be found on her blog at EmployeFanatix, as well as articles in Forbes, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, American Express Open Forum, and more. Coupled with her Leadership with Heart podcast, weekly videos, and employer newsletters, Heather stays connected to organizations long after she leaves the stage or conference roomWhen all the emails are returned and the mic is turned off, and Heather acts as co-manager of her busy household in Aurora, Colorado with her husband, where they oversee their four children.

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  1. Very interesting question/article. You certainly made me stop to think this over which I want to thank you for. The answer I came up with is my why is because this is what I know and have done for many years now be it professionally or personally. In terms of change, I have always been resistant to it. I suspect at 63 years old I would be that much more resistant to almost any change.

    • Joel, thank you for your honesty and for chiming in. Our words are powerful. We can change a lot by using different words and thinking differently about our current situation. You’d be surprise what you could be receptive to if you put your mind to it!

  2. Beautiful post and such an important mission you are on Heather. I love that you call out the idea of those who have not had a chance to share their voice or to be heard at the decision-making table. All too often those at the table are making too many assumptions about what those voices may be saying, what they feel employees and customers need and want. This leads to time, energy and money focused in the wrong areas.

    Thanks for all you do to give a voice to those who need to be heard!

  3. Your background and story is fascinating Heather! My why is to work with people as a soul level and help them see their potentialities based on this more spiritually-aligned perspective. I started off being in career development and project managing and just kept finding myself driven to go deeper and wider with people to their inner worlds. I have moved more and more myself and what I do in this direction. Like you, things are not perfect but this is so much more the experience of my own soul and my own why – because it just feels so much more in truth for me. Your story was illuminating and I look forward to more of your work.

    • Maureen, Thank you for adding your texture here. I always appreciate when people are transparent on this topic. We cannot truly connect if we don’t get to the bottom of our answer to this question. Thanks again for being the person connecting with people at the soul level!

  4. Such a great post, Heather! I love the opening quote by Emerson, and it is so fitting for your expression here. You have such a gift and your story is so meaningful. Thank you for sharing this and your continued inspiration!

    • Thank you, dear Melissa. You know how much I appreciate all your support. You are such a wonderfully smart and powerful woman. So glad to have you in my corner. I am right there beside you too!

  5. This is a great article. My why was to help my staff navigate their way to successful careers, as I got older it was to get as many Dogs and Cats into forever home. I was successful doing both. Thank you for a very inspiring post.