Years ago, a man who loved music as much as anyone of his generation, began going deaf, just as he was becoming recognized as one of the world’s great composers. But he didn’t let his handicap interfere with his destiny. After losing over 90% of his  hearing, he went on to compose one of the most famous symphonic works of all time. That man of course, was Ludwig van Beethoven. The symphony? His Ode to Joy

Anyone who knows this story never forgets it. That’s because stories engage. Stories move us. Stories are how we learn.

A couple of years ago I called on several Indian software companies with my colleague Jennifer Beck. The CEO of one of these firms asked us to look at his ideas for refreshing his organization’s brand. After the second or third slide, Jennifer asked, “ Why do you bother to get out of bed and come to work every day? What moves you?  What is the heart and soul of this company?”  It was a memorable moment, because the client was speechless (stunned is more like it). There were a few more moments of awkward silence. So Jennifer tried again, with a tone that indicated she was quite serious about getting an answer. This time she slowed the pace of her usual rapid fire speech, asking in a near whisper:  “Why do you bother?”  

We went on to remind this client that brand is about memory (arguing that  people rarely, if ever, remember bullet points on powerpoint slides; they do however, remember good stories).

When I asked the CEO of a Silicon Valley firm  who was pitching a new chemical compound used to prevent heart attacks, I asked him Jennifer’s standard question. He said he was inspired to invent the compound following the premature death of his father, with whom he was very close. He went on to explain that in his grief, he kept seeing ways his father’s death could have been prevented.  It took some coaxing, but he eventually agreed to make this part of his corporate story.

I don’t remember much about that company; but I remember the reasons that CEO bothers to get out of bed every day. Behind every good brand is a good story. A story of why you do – what you do. Mr. Beethoven, who never cared much about marketing, might have been a natural brand manager. When asked, “What do you do?” he responded, “I write music for the ages.”


  1. 18 February 2014 at 12:19 am
    Martin Marsi says:

    It is pretty important to know why to get out bed in the morning. The first thing I think about is what it would be like to wake up as I have reached all my goals, and I am free to help others do the same. Unfortunately our minds are too sleepy and confused in the morning to start thinking about the deep and important stuff right off the bat, especially when we are tired and risk sleeping in. That creates a lot of anxiety in relation to getting up. That is why I developed a method when I was 29 to solve this issue once and for all. Now I have used this step by step way of getting out of bed in a pleasurable way for over a year, and I put it into my book that shows you how to do so also. Please check it out at

  2. 16 November 2015 at 6:34 am
    taigemmienphi says:

    Very well articulated. Thanks!

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