The Six-Question Story: HOW?

When I was 21 years old, I decided to drop out of college, wrote my first novel, and moved from New York to New Mexico.

As a story told in that way, it’s at best mildly compelling. Because it’s literally what I did. For anybody who’s never done any of those things, as a “feature list” of sorts, it’s not bad.

Now let’s try it a different way …

When I was 21 years old, I decided to drop out of college, and spent the rest of the year living in the smallest room of a small house with four accounting majors, writing my first novel on a clunky computer I’d been forced to buy when I was in engineering school. Then, because the computer didn’t have any printer, I had to type it all over again on an electric typewriter in order to have a hard copy.

Early the next year, my half-brother and I got an offer from our father to move some of his things two-thousand miles to his home in New Mexico. And that’s how we ended up driving a 14-foot U-Haul truck from upstate New York to a motel outside of Little Rock, Arkansas in about 24 hours, stopping to do a tour of Graceland along the way. Then we slept for 12 hours straight, ate breakfast at a Waffle House, and pushed on to Santa Fe, arriving in the middle of the night.

That’s a bit more interesting, right? Because this time, I shared not just the “what” but the “how” with you.

How did I live? In a small house with four accounting majors. How did I write my novel? First on a computer, then on a typewriter. How did I get to New Mexico? In a U-Haul truck, with my brother, in a relatively short amount of time.

The details of “how” always matter.

If I had lived in a penthouse writing my novel on a top-of-the-line Mac computer, then flown on a private jet from New York to New Mexico while a high-end moving company followed along later with my things, then that would have been an entirely different story that told people very different things about me.

Likewise, what we tell people about the “how” of our business matters.

How did we build our company? From the ground up, starting only with an idea? Or was it a family business handed down? Or did we buy it from somebody else and give it new life?

How do we treat our employees, our customers, our supply chain partners, and the environment?

How do we offer a better solution? And by this, I don’t simply mean “what” do we do that’s better, but “how” is it better? What is it about our processes, philosophy, protocols, and practices that makes it better?

How do we define our role in our industry, our community, and the world, and how does that shape the choices we make as a business when it’s time to go from point A to point B?

Metaphorically speaking, do we get there by U-Haul or by private jet?

The “how” of our story will go a long way toward helping future customers decide whether we’re the kind of company they want to do business with. Especially if our “hows” align with theirs.

Not sure about the “how” of your story? Visit me at and let’s talk about it.