Public Comment: What is Your ‘Origin Story’?


Business students packed a large hall to the Fire Marshal maximum. “I failed more than anyone in this room,” the speaker said.

Marketing guru Seth Godin can be described in many ways, but “failure” does not come to mind. Godin, author of 18 books, the man who developed ‘permission marketing,’ spoke at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC.

Read the full article here on The Stream, then post a 200-word comment below


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18 Responses

  1. Jack Yoest says:

    This is required reading for selected students at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

  2. Anna Webb says:

    This article caused me to take a step back and ask myself a lot of why’s. Why am I seeking a graduate degree, why specifically in federal contracting? Does it align with what I really want, and does it match my “origin story?” To be honest I’m not sure that it does. My motivation maybe of more convenience and being realistic with myself and current situation. One thing I know for sure is that having a career has always been important to me. I’ve always wanted to stand on my own and not have to rely on anyone else to provide for me. Some individuals are okay and want to be a stay-at-home mom or dad but that is not what I see for myself. My career is important. What I do need to evaluate is my why and how I can incorporate that into building a better career for myself. I’m focused on being able to work my way up and after reading this article, I may need to create more of a “ruckus” as Godin said. Sometimes you have to be willing to risk some to gain more.

  3. Rachel Howard says:

    The Purple Cow Books, as I like to call them, were introduced to me many years ago when I was just beginning what I thought would be my only career with the only company I would ever work for. Fast forward to three companies later, and I still reference stories from the Purple Cow books when I work with leaders that have come to me for mentorship as they work to develop themselves. “Why do you want to move up?”, I always ask. “What makes you more remarkable than the next person?”

    Recently, I asked myself those same questions as I struggled to decide to take what some may consider a step back in my career. At heart, I am a servant leader. I want to work in an environment where I can create change through purposeful disruption and shape future leaders. For me, that means taking a step back, rethinking my career goals and getting a degree that will enable me to focus my talents on serving others. Moving up the ladder of corporate retail may deliver a paycheck, but it would not allow me to be me – a Purple Cow, who excels in developing others. Sometimes taking the time to determine your true desires and accepting who you truly are and want to be seen as, means taking that step that others may see as a step backwards, when in reality, it’s the best step forward.

  4. Richelle A Torres says:

    This is a great article. Most of the time, we are focused on the “how” when we see a successful person. How did he/she start? How did he/she get there? How can I also be like him/her? That if we ask the person “why”, often it will be a complete pause as to its reason(s).

    After I read this article, I reflected on my origin story? Ever since I was young, I always have the mind of an entrepreneur, leveraging on stuffs that I have or ideas I may thought of and pitch these to my parents, as both of them are businesspersons as well, and if one of my sales pitches were successful, I did not see it as an additional responsibility for me, since I was still studying at that time, rather an opportunity for me to learn and discover new things. That was my playground, my hobby, growing up (yes, I was and still am a nerd!)

    And as to the question “why”? Because I enjoy learning and doing it and because I know I am good at it that every time my idea or stuffs came to a fruition, there is the sense of accomplishment that I am constantly proud of.

  5. Geraldinne Sanchez says:

    Everyone’s personal story is different; who you are and how you became who you are, are not simple questions. Your personal origin story shows how you got started, what you have been through, why it matters, and where you are going. Most interviewers skip all these personal questions and jump directly to job-related questions such as what is your experience level or what can you tell me about our company? Yet, they forget how our stories define who we are and how we “get out of the pile”.
    This article is a perfect example of why HR departments develop new strategies to not only hire people but to find the most adequate employee in this competitive market. Big organizations such as Google reinvented their department to now call “People Operations Team.” They are constantly looking for happiness and retention. They do no longer want the “perfect fit” for a position, they do not want just coworkers, they are looking for people with a craving to “shoot for the moon.” But they cannot do it without first knowing their “stories”, or the “why” we are driven to do what we do.

  6. Naga Sankar Devineni says:

    As of late, I asked myself those equivalent inquiries as I attempted to choose to take what some might consider a stage back in my vocation. On a basic level, I am a worker chief. I need to work in a climate where I can make change through intentional disturbance and shape future pioneers. For my purposes, that implies making a stride back, reevaluating my profession objectives and getting a degree that will empower me to zero in my abilities on serving others. Climbing the stepping stool of corporate retail might convey a check, however it would not permit me to be me – a Purple Cow, who dominates in creating others. At times setting aside the effort to decide your actual longings and tolerating who you genuinely are and need to be viewed as, implies making that stride that others might consider to be a stage in reverse, when as a general rule, it’s the best advance forward. This article is an ideal illustration of why HR offices foster new procedures to recruit individuals as well as to track down the most satisfactory worker in this serious market. Large associations, for example, Google rethought their area of expertise to now call “Individuals Operations Team.” They are continually searching for satisfaction and maintenance. They do at this point don’t need the “amazing fit” for a position, they don’t need just collaborators, they are searching for individuals with a hankering to “go for the moon.” But they can’t do it without first knowing their “accounts”, or the “why” we are headed to do what we do.

  7. Berhanu Sinamo DEBOCH says:

    The article reminds me how to prepare and present my story for the interviewer in the time of looking the job after graduation. It also reminds me about my origin of a story. It is really put in my mind a lot of questions like, why I am studying? What did I want to do after graduation? How can I overcome the challenges after graduation? Etc. The article mainly talks about how we can understand our “Origin Story.” As Godin explained we must know the “why, “we are driven to do what we do or want to do. Because, it helps us to guide ourselves what we want to do. Our stories illustrate what we say we are all about. Yes, it is true when our origin story aligns with our current passion, clients and employers are quicker to hire.

    Godin is telling his story because he wants audiences to reassure that even if it doesn’t seem like things are going the right way keep going. After graduation some students are encountering challenges due to lack of information about interview. They didn’t know where to go with their degree. Like Godin if we tell the right story at the right time interviewers will just feel good about ourselves. Sometimes our realities are challenging us to do our story in the right time and place. Therefore, we need to work hard to achieve the goals of our story. Yes off course our story should include obstacles that we overcome as the result of our character and resilience.

  8. Alex Kincaid says:

    This article brought me back to a rowing coaches conference I attended a few years back. The presenter encouraged us to start with our “why”. Why do we coach? What 3 words define what you are doing and why you do it. Me and the 2 other coaches for the program I was working with at the time sat down at the airport as we were leaving the airport and shared some answers. “Impact” was the word all three of us had in common. As I think through why I coach and what I want, the closer I get to my why and the stronger my why feels, the better coaching I feel I do. I really think everyone can get to the how and the what if they have a strong enough why. People that care about what they’re doing or have a strong vision of how they can impact the organization can be trained, and are willing to learn. The GPA, the busy work, all of those things are secondary to passion and being driven to accomplish something real.

  9. Julie James says:

    One question that is asked a lot during interviews is “what motivates you?” Sometimes, it’s a question that catches some candidates off guard. Candidates usually say what they believe hiring managers want to hear. However, many candidates are sitting on answers they believe hiring managers may not want to hear. I think hiring managers want to hear these answers because they provide insight into one’s character. Everyone (not just CEOs or business experts) can benefit from an origin story because it explains with clarity one’s background, as well as what motivates them. It allows others to see one’s passion. I think that if one can emotionally connect with the hiring manager through their origin story, then they’ll be that much more memorable.

  10. Kelsey Perretta says:

    I believe the idea of stepping back and always questioning your why is what will keep you motivated. If you can answer what your why is, or your purpose, then you should conitnue what you are doing it. If you don’t have a why, perhaps the thing you are doing whether a job, sport, or anything in between, I don’t think it’s worth your time. For me, my why of getting this degree and coming down to DC to work is to further my education, allow myself more opporunities, and take the first step in my career as I embark on the next chapter of my life.
    All of our whys are going to be different and our journeys to being in this same program are so different but our whys will share some similarities. To continue our education, we chose this program.
    Also, in the beginning of the article and talking about origin stories, that is the why and how you end up there. I think if I were talking about my origin story and how I endned up here, it would have to do with my undergrad experience and then pursuing my dreams further from there. THis article is a great read because we can all apply this to our personal lives and how we were shaped because of our origin stories.

  11. kelli doherty says:

    I think peoples origin stories say a lot about them. Overall it gives a good insight to where they came from and their values as well. Although I feel what they grew up with and expeirenced is very impactful it can show a lot of growth in talking about what obstacles they had to deal with throughout their life. This article really made me look at myself and think what is my origin story for getting my graduates degree as well as what got me where I am in the first place. People often need a “why” for what they do in life, becasue the why is what drives people to do what they do and work on what they are working on. My specific why for why I decided to come to Catholic was to not only pursue my masters but for the opportunity to coach soccer at the college level. That is extremely important to me because my course of life of playing soccer, coaching at the grassroots level and playing in college is what lead me to where I am now.

  12. Briana Zakszeski says:

    This excellent article points out the best question to ask oneself when making important (career) choices is the question “why.” This is a question children often ask incessantly in an effort to understand the workings of the world and those around them, and yet as we grow older, we often stop asking. It may be that sometimes we don’t like the answer, or that we don’t want to take the time to reflect, but the question “why” always remains relevant. As the author mentions in his example, once Steve Jobs had the “why,” the answers to “how” and “what” would follow.

    I tend to be a proud person, so my origin story is a bit sad and difficult to admit; my “day job” became my real job after abandoning my original dream career. I went on to become someone’s indispensable assistant (his words!) and I took a different sort of pride in that. I felt that I was helpful, efficient, knowledgeable, and useful – all good things (and they paid the bills too).

    Now my “why” has changed, and continues to change as I go further in my alternate career. As the article points out, “Godin whimsically said that our own origin story may — or may not — be true. But it is what we remember, and this is real enough.” I think it’s time I reinvent my origin story.

  13. Robert Giltner says:

    This article asks one main question of why. It is such a simple yet complex question that asks one’s elf to reflect on both their actions and thoughts. When asked why should someone hire you, for some this can be a difficult question to answer. This is not because of one not knowing why they are qualified, but when someone is asked to describe themselves, it can be a difficult task. Talking about oneself can be a difficult, when someone applies to a new job they will assume that they are more than qualified for the position they applied for, it is only when asked that one might lose confidence in themselves. In my own experience, prior to obtaining m current position I had to do a lot of interviews and was asked this question over and over, ultimately what it caused me to think was what was a I good at. At the end of the day I knew that as long as I answered the question to the best of my ability by telling the interviewer my strengths.

  14. Colleen McLaughlin says:

    This article is a very informative piece for people who are just entering the workforce. It is a reminder to always be prepared for an interview and to understand the “why” you are driven to do what we do or what we want to do. If you do not know the answer to why you are doing what you’re doing then, is it really what you want to be doing? Everyone has a different story and different interests that make you, you. An interview should not be the first time that you have thought about your origin story. After reading this article, I was able to reflect on what my origin story is and why I’m really doing what I’m doing.

  15. Nick Loney says:

    This points in this article stood out to me in a number of ways. Understanding why someone is doing something taking a deeper look at yourself and what you are doing. The idea of the “purple cow” is something that I have heard variations of for a number of years during my career. The idea is that if the company is in a bad position and needs to make cuts, what makes you stand out and needed so that they don’t look at your position first to make those cuts. The other part that stood out to me was the idea behind the interview process. I’ve been in a number of interviews over the years and what Professor Yoest presented his typical interview questions. These were the type of interviews questions I would mostly be asked when being interviewed. These are important question but do not get to the root of why you are hiring someone. Steve Jobs interview technique of asking “why do you want to work here” is one that cuts, as the article states, to the individual motivation of the person. Do they have ambition? Do they have drive? A hiring manager can figure this by asking simple questions such as Jobs did. This article provides a good framework of how a manager should go into an interview, not by look strictly at credential but by trying to find out who wants it the most.

  16. Danielle Waldschmidt says:

    In addition to asking the question why when making hiring decisions. We also need to ask that question to ourselves. Take some time to reflex on why we are applying for the job or why we do the work we do. Have an answer ready for when you are asked that question. By completing this reflection, you are committing to the job. You are also demonstrating you are the person for the job. Having the strong why in place allows the how and what to easily fall in place. I’m more creative in finding the ways to meet the why.
    A powerful question I have been asked and I have asked when hiring is ‘Why should we hire you’. Even if you aren’t asked that question, I would take the time to demonstrate why you want the job. Answer the question even if you aren’t asked it. Having a good answer will demonstrate you are the right fit for the position and provide an answer to the question the interviewer doesn’t know they have. You will stand out about the rest.
    I also try to reflect back on this question even when I’m not looking for a new position. It provides reassurance I’m in the correct position. Organizations change. People change. Making sure I’m in the right place is important and gives me motivation to work hard. Knowing my why has been valuable to me.

  17. likith sai srinivas yella says:

    What is your origin story? Or more directly, what made you think of becoming an HR professional? Most usually, we are raised with the “why” being the foundation of success. So often, we ask a successful person “how” he/she did it. That given all of the things he/she have right now, here and now. One of the rare times we would ask a successful person why he/she chose to become a Professional in Human Resources is when the person had not been into HR but rather another profession or business domain previously. This is just me thinking out loud but it appears that those who have switched perhaps into the HR profession, has something from his/her past that led them to this point, be it as a trainee at work or an internship and this was then followed by a series of courses concerning developing a career in human resources and eventually leading up to today.

  18. CLAUDE MAHESHE says:

    This is an interesting article. It makes me think of so many questions. Sometimes people do things that they don’t know why they are doing them, but this article helps to show us the important of understanding “why” before doing anything. When someone is able to give an answer to the question “Why” that’s when they make the right decision and heading to the right direction. A good example is a friend of mine who wants to earn his master’s in Information Technology, but he doesn’t enjoy technology. I asked him why he’s doing it? He answered because he wants to earn more money, but the good question is would he be able to do it for a long period of time when that’s not his passion? This article makes me understand why I must have a justifiable answer to why before engaging myself into something or asking for promotion.