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What's your conference's why?

As I was reading the always thought-provoking Hugh MacLeod's thoughts on how to make the Internet squeal, this bit grabbed me big-time:

"As with any human endeavor, WHY you do something is ALWAYS more interesting than WHAT you actually do...The 'Why' is not your mission statement, it is not about 'Best Practices' – it is about the heart and soul of what you do – As Simon Sinak says, the 'People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.'"

To further clarify, he says:

"Tony Hsieh of Zappos made several hundred million dollars selling shoes. Why? Because he understood that shoes were his WHAT, but his WHY was DELIVERING HAPPINESS.

"Rackspace, a ten year old hosting business, completely amazingly effectively against the titans of the tech world because they know that their what might be hosting, but their why is FANATICAL SUPPORT."

This is so incredibly important, and yet I'd bet very few people have put serious thought into the why of what they do. Especially if it's a product or event that's been around for ages, the why can be lost in the mists of time. Or the initial why no longer applies, and the what is just limping along on its own with no real why to give it a reason for being other than corporate-speaky mission statements.

What's your product/meeting/organization's true why? It may be trickier and harder to figure out than I'd like to think for most businesses, which is pretty telling, isn't it?

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