Have you Discovered Your Fearless Why?

Have you Discovered Your Fearless Why?

Giuletta’s a pretty cool person. She’s bold, she’s brave and she submitted her post fearlessly. Nice.

But truthfully, Guiletta didn’t start off bold and brave or even close to fearless. Fearful is more like it, as I read her story. I couldn’t help but grin, though, when she hit on something near and dear to my heart – can you figure out what it is before you reach the end of the article?

I felt excited yet overwhelmed when I started my graphic design business seven years ago.

Various fears reared their ugly heads — a fear of not being good enough, a fear of not having the courage to market my services, a fear of not attracting the right kind of clients. When I worked for a corporation, the sales and marketing force ventured into the scary customer world on behalf of the team and brought business back for the rest of us.

Now I had to do the marketing myself.

Unfortunately, these self-doubts became self-fulfilling: I attracted clients who pushed me around, bargained me down and forced me to chase them for payment.

Worse, I viewed every sales call as a trip to emotional hell. The thought of revealing my price threw me into a mini-panic, so much that I often didn’t call prospective clients back because I couldn’t face that awful pricing moment.

I seriously questioned whether I had the emotional fortitude to continue on this self-employment journey. And I was just about to throw in the business towel when a friend suggested I read a book on Leonardo da Vinci and genius.

It never occurred to me that I might have genius. I thought genius was reserved for Leonardo da Vinci, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Emily Dickinson. This book suggested otherwise, which lead me to other books on genius.

I spent months combing through them, devouring their exercises, trying on different geniuses. A few came to mind, but none felt quite right. Yet I stuck with it, scribbling down potential geniuses and one day while hoofing it around the neighborhood, the big, “A-ha!” I’d been waiting for hit me like a genius brick.

Challenger of the status quo. Rebel.

Now, you might laugh at that conclusion based on what I just revealed above. Being a business owner forced me into new emotional territory – specifically the lands of money and self-promotion – and it was a place that caused me extreme discomfort.

But you need to know that I have a long history of fighting convention, of asking questions others are afraid to ask, of standing up first even if no one else has agreed to line up behind me.

I decided to grab my newfound genius and face my business fears.

So what did I want to confront about my own business?

First, I disliked my company name – I’d called my business Designing Words. Nonsensical. Generic. Conventional. Dumped it.

New name? Fearless Design. Loved it.

Second, I disliked sharing my price on command in a vacuum. Dumped it.

New pricing philosophy? Reveal price only when I’ve developed mutual trust with the individual.

Third, I disliked the conventional marketing philosophy and the way it made me feel. Never liked walking up to folks at networking events and answering, “So, what do you do?” with “Hi, I’m a graphic designer. I create logos, brochures and annual reports.” The reaction was usually a semi-glazed look. Dumped it.

Now I answer, “What do you do?” with, “I encourage business owners to find their Fearless Why. That’s what clients buy.” The response, “Oh, tell me more about that. What’s a Fearless Why, and how do you find it?”


I ditched conventional “what” and replaced it with rebellious “why”. I now had a business adventure that spoke to me so that I could help others ditch their own adherence to business convention.

This Fearless Why allowed me to connect with my own business emotionally.

Without a Fearless Why, a small business owner can feel lost in a sea of marketing sameness and Simon Says-isms. It’s not good for the business psyche. If you sound like every other “fill-in-the business-blank,” how can you stay excited about your own business and share that enthusiasm with potential clients? How can you be in love your own business?

You can’t.

Sameness deadens excitement. Most business owners with a heart want to bring something new and useful to the client table, something only they can bring to the world.

That’s their Fearless Why.

By this point, you’re probably chomping at the business bit and wondering how the hell you can find your own Fearless Why. But let me forewarn you – it’s not for the faint of heart.

You need to stick with the journey until your Fearless Why feels brave enough to reveal itself. The conditioned part of you will want to give up and return to status quo. Don’t give in!

Here are three places to begin your journey and find your Fearless Why:

  • Self-Surveillance: Don your private eye cap, buy a small notebook and follow yourself around for a few days. I know it may sound silly, but it isn’t. Where do you go? What do you do? What catches your eye?
  • Volunteerism: What do people ask you to do – especially hoping you won’t charge them – that has you gleefully saying, “I’ll do it!”?
  • Crime & Punishment: Think back to the K-12 years. What crime did teachers punish you for doing? (Think about after-school detention, standing in the corner, or being sent to the principal’s office.)

Thinking about these questions starts the internal excavating to find your Fearless Why.

And don’t be so quick to leap on your “passion” as the answer. Interestingly enough, what a lot of folks call their “passion” isn’t really their passion at all. It’s just a vehicle for their passion – a “what”. A “why” weaves its way through any number of “what’s”.

And that’s the reason many of the self-employed feel emotionally disconnected from their own business – they’ve been trained to revolve around the generic “what”: “I’m a graphic designer. I’m an accountant. I’m a makeup artist.”

Steer clear of the canned responses and it-must-be-done-this-way edicts. Keep digging until you have your Fearless Why in hand. It’ll change how you feel about your business… and also how you feel about your life.

About the Author: Giulietta “Julie” Nardone is the Fearless Branding Rebel at Fearless Design. She also sings at karaoke nights, saves historic buildings and writes personal essays about self-liberation.

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.

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  1. Love this post Giulietta! It touches on two of my favorite concepts: Fear and “Why”…. if you can figure out both of those (overcome one and clarify the other) then you’ve got what it takes to succeed!

    Thanks for expressing such an important message so succinctly 🙂

    • Hi Peter,

      I appreciate this enthusiastic and insightful comment! Yes, fear and a lack of why impede success — any way you choose to define success, which comes in all different shapes and sizes. Love your blog, btw.
      Thx, Giulietta

  2. Great post and thanks for being so open with your own experiences. Having a powerful ‘why’ is so important in everything we do. And it’s true that being in fear of clients means we attract the wrong ones.

    Best regards


    • Hi Robert,

      You are so right that “being in fear of clients attracts the wrong ones.” I swear people can smell the fear even over the Internet. (hmm. a new post, the smell of fear?) And if they can’t smell it they can hear it in the vacillation of the voice. We’ve got to believe we can do it before anyone else does.

      Enjoy your Friday! Thx, G.

  3. James. I’m guessing, but I’ll bet you liked: “I ditched conventional “what” and replaced it with rebellious “why.” I think you’d like the ah-ha transformational moment when Giulietta embraced her creative gifts over her fears and ROARED her challenge to the world.

    Thanks Giulietta for inspiring me to find my “Fearless Why.”

    • Hey Mary!

      Thanks for stopping by. Just love the lion picture James picked out! (Triple thanks James. Did you know I’m a huge cat lover? My cat Valentino is the bravest creature I know. He inspires me to kick butt on a daily basis …)

      Mary, best wishes for finding your Fearless Why. It’s there waiting to be discovered — like any great star! Try some of my techniques and you’ll be on your fearless why way.

      Thx, Giulietta

  4. This post has gotten my wheels turning. I knew I had fear, but didn’t realize that I really have been struggling with “why.” “What” has been boring me to tears. Now I know where to focus my thoughts. Excellent.

    • Morning Beth!

      Love the vision of your wheels turning. It’s the only way to get some forward momentum out of the muddy ditch. I had such an aversion to attending networking events until I started releasing my why all over the place when asked the dreaded “So, “WHAT” do you do?” Talk about boring one to tears!

      I only answer that question with a why … Should be “So, “WHY” do you do? I’m confident that you will find your “Fearless Why” and put it to good use.

      Appreciate hearing from you. Giulietta

  5. Dear Colleagues:

    I read this post from friend.It is full of ideas.But most interestingly, there are many ideas dying in ditches of pens. Though it has somehow the eye catch.I will tell my personal experience of my 15 days of marketing where women are involved!!!!!

    Ntarugera Francois

  6. What a fantastic post!! Definitely one to share with my network.

    I think a person’s own personal ‘fearless why’ will reveal it only when said individual has shown themselves to be worthy of it – you have to give yourself permission to embrace that which is scary indeed!

    But once you do so…you never ever ever look back…it defines you from that point on.

    • Hey Barbara,

      I appreciate you sharing my words with your network. Kind of you! Great point about it being scary to embrace your fearless why. It goes against the present business grain, which promotes hiding behind the what. I like “never ever look back.” Powerful way to phrase the “post” turning point. Glad to meet you here at Men With Pens! Giulietta

  7. Thanks for this Giulietta. I am facing some of the same inhibitions you were 7 years ago. I want to connect with people and build meaningful relationships, but there is a part of me saying, “Are you really a businessman, Steven? Do you really know how to ‘sell yourself’?”

    I think I haven’t yet fully found my purpose or passion. I am still searching in the dark, picking up anything that I bump into, and seeing if it’s gold or not. It’s a learning process, certainly, but I wasn’t aware that it would take so long to find my way. I need to dig deeper into my fearless why. Why do I do what I do?

    Thanks for these tips. I like “self-surveillance” because it reminds me of “mindfulness” as taught in Buddhist psychology and meditation. I will try my best to be more attuned to my “Whys” and hopefully discover my path.

    • Hi Steven,

      Glad to be of help in your journey toward “fearless whyness.” That unadventurous voice in our head works hard to sabotage our work and life dreams. “Who do you think you are?” It wants us to stay home with it and sit on the couch watch boring sitcoms instead of going for our own life/work gusto. If you stand up to it enough, eventually that voice takes a back seat to the voice that want’s to be daring!

      We all have a life theme that weaves its way through our lives. That theme is your why. Frankly, it’s rarely mentioned, so it’s no wonder the “Fearless Why” can be hard to connect with.

      Yours is on the cusp. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have commented on this post. Stay in touch!

      Thx, Giulietta

  8. oceansideblogs says:

    Just wanted to thank you for this truly inspirational post. Perfect timing, as I am just turning my life’s hourglass in a new direction. Discovering my Fearless Why is now a top priority. Thank you again.

    • Hi Ocean Side Blogs!

      You are most welcome. I’m thankful you took time out of your busy day to read about the Fearless Why. Hourglass – great image about the turning point we need to make to move in this new direction. And the good news? You are the one in charge of your own hourglass. (I know at birth they hand out hourglasses and say, “whatever you do don’t turn it over,” but we know that’s one of the many rules that need to be broken.)

      Best wishes for your discovery journey! Giulietta

  9. Giullieta,
    Truly awesome post. Thank you for the inspiration and the (subtle) instruction on how to write a compelling post to boot! Your topic made me laugh out loud simply because the timing was incredible!

    I actually FINALLY found my Fearless Why on the way home from the day job Wednesday night. And when it struck me, I literally pulled my car over, dug my iPod out of the console and voice recorded a 10-minute manifesto, laying out a series of subtle but powerful changes I’m going to make to my blog and my business going forward.

    It was like being handed a thousand dollars! That’s how completely liberating and joyous it was to suddenly strike on what’s been “off” for the last several months.

    So to read it’s definition just two days later… priceless. Thanks again!

    • Hi Justin!

      I’m honored that you called it an awesome post. Thank you! Congrats on finding your Fearless Why – You’ve described it the way it usually happens — it just strikes! a giant “aha” goes off in our heads and finally our lives and everything we’ve been doing makes sense.

      blessed fearless why relief.

      Your manifesto sounds intriguing. Will check out your blog in a bit and see where you go with it.

      Here’s to a Fearless Why-driven 2011!

      Thx, Giulietta

  10. Thank you for the encouraging post. I have had it on my list to write down the manifesto for my wife and I’s web design business, and your words have helped bump it up the list several notches. Unless it’s truly something unusual, like pet psychiatry, the WHAT we do is not nearly as memorable as the WHY we do it. And it’s truly only a deeply felt WHY that ultimately sustains us and our work.


    • Hi Allen!

      Your manifesto sounds like a grand idea. Love the word manifesto – to manifest feels powerful!

      Brilliant of you to call it a deeply felt why. It’s got to come from the heart so we can fall in love with our own businesses and lives.

      For some reason that makes zero sense to me, our society tries to separate us from our fearless whys at an early age – to disengage us from our own enthusiasm. It doesn’t work, so let’s stop doing it!

      Keep me informed about your manifesto … Thx, G.

  11. Interesting perspective. I already have the notebook; all I need is the Sherlock hat. Finding out what drives me will either make me a better business person or scare the bejesus out of me.

    Thanks for the insights!

    • Hi Allan,

      You are most welcome!

      I also carry an inspiration notebook on me at all times. Great ideas and insights happen all the time – the magic is to catch them before they skip on out of our heads. (My shower needs a notebook on the wall, too.) I see you are wearing a hat in your picture! So you are already hat-centric. It can be scary to find your Fearless Why — that’s when you know you’re onto something — you feel alive!

      Enjoy the investigation … G.

  12. I’ve been giving away my work all my life. Finally, this year, I realized I am pretty good at what I do, and I decided to charge. The financial conversations were just as you described, and I had to have my husband sit and hold my hand while I told my clients my fee. But they paid! I am beginning to see myself as professional and worth the price. Your post has given me added confidence and a new way of looking at my work. Thanks for expressing it so well.

    • Hey TravelinOma,

      Yes, one of the biggest clues to finding your Fearless Why is to notice what you give away. See, we can’t stop ourselves from spreading our Fearless Why – it’s innate. Congrats on charging. Like how your wonderful husband lent you his hand during those maddening early sales conversations.That’s the kind of support we all need on our Fearless Why Journey. The good news is that the more you embrace your own why, the easier the sales conversation gets.

      You are a professional and worth your price! Keep going … thx, Giulietta

  13. I love this, Giulietta: “A “why” weaves its way through any number of “what’s”.” I’ve been stumbling into my why for the last few months. I know my whats … dogs and understanding how my thoughts impact the world around me. But why?

    Several random conversations, bits of information, and thoughts came together about 3 weeks ago, and I thought, “It doesn’t have to be this difficult.” And I had my why–it’s leading me to combine my two loves into something that lights me up–using the simplicity of a dog’s pure joy in the world to explain more difficult concepts like focus and intention.

    Your story gives me inspiration to keep on with mining even deeper into this fledgling why. Thanks so much. 🙂

    • Good afternoon Ande!

      Glad you could gather that info and come to the realization that “It doesn’t have to be that difficult.” It really doesn’t when you get in touch with the inner why. What a super idea to use the joy of dogs and relate it to human behavior. Dogs love to play and have fun — they make joyful living an everyday priority. I enjoy watching them run around in the field of life!

      Humans can put play, joy and fun on a back burner. Your biz direction sounds fantastic!

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. G.

  14. Wow, Giulietta! So much truth and beauty in your unconventional thinking. I am printing this for inspiration as I redefine and restructure my business. “Fearless Why” — brilliant. I stumble with the “passion” and the pricing. I will share with you what I come up with. A toast to Fearlessness, Rebellion and Belting Out Donna Summers!

    • Welcome to Men With Pens Lori,

      I’m thrilled you stopped by my friend! I look forward to hearing more about your Fearless Why “reveal.” Drumroll, please …

      Am playing with Last Dance! It’s got me out of my comfort zone for sure. I seek out new fears to conquer as often as possible.

      Let’s talk soon? Thx, Giulietta

  15. Thinking back to what I was punished for in school was the best advice I’ve had in years. No, decades. Turns out it was the same thing that often got me in trouble in corporate life – speaking up when it would have been safer to shut up! But then, safe is boring.

    • Hi Jean,

      A fellow rebel! (I’m forming a business Rebel group to work on changing the biz world …)

      We’ve walked the same disobedient path in school and work. I even got “laid off” for speaking up, so I know exactly what you experienced. Why “this doesn’t make any sense” would scare management into eliminating someone who probably has a better way of doing something, seems self-defeating.

      Great quote you’ve written “Safe is boring.” Is it ever!

      See you in rebel land – never a boring moment there. Yours in fierceness, G.

  16. Wow Guiletta, this was awesome…the antithesis of average in every way. I love the way you’ve transformed your business and honestly it’s made me think hard about my brand message and what needs to be changed to make it more meaningful and thought-provoking.

    Stay fearless… 🙂

    • Hi Marcus!

      Thank you for your most generous comment. (Like that you are a sales lion and I have this nifty lion pic!) I’m happy to hear that my words made you think about your own business direction. When I took a chance and started speaking about my business with the kind of enthusiasm that comes from a deeper connection, I began connecting with folks in a way I never did before.

      Taking chances is not something we should save for someday, because someday rarely comes.

      Will stop by your blog! Thx. G.

  17. Insightful post Giulietta. Too may people get caught up in the what – the labels and the behaviours that they think come along with that label – and never really challenge the way they’re doing things or why. I also totally agree that there’s a golden thread that runs through our lives that gives us big clues about what we should be engaging with and the real difference we can make.

    One thing to watch out for though. Asking “Why” can often bring along some unwanted guests – additional fears, limiting beliefs, etc – because it tends to make you think defensively. If I was to ask someone why they’re doing something (and doing it the way they’re doing it) they may well feel a little confronted by the question and shift to position of defending what they’re doing. If you’re mindful of that then “Why” certainly works, otherwise the question “What’s the reason…?” or “What’s the real reason…?” can get to the core of things without bringing up all that other stuff.

    • Good morning Steve,

      Like the Golden Thread analogy. I can see it winding through my life!

      Thanks for an additional way to frame the Fearless Why. Folks who find themselves getting defensive can try “What’s the real reason?”

      Finding your fearless why may indeed dredge up some new fears and that’s normal . The main one being, “do I dare make this change?” I’m a big advocate of going into the fear – since fear has been one of my best teachers. The more I dive into it, the more alive I feel!

      Thx, G.

  18. Wow… is not even the right word to describe this post. I think the real challenge here is facing that fearless why. But hey, like you, I’m a rebel myself and a student never understood by her teachers – simply because they’re limited to what they traditionally know. I’ve faced my fearless why already and I’m sure that I’m born to write and become another indelible ink – in the print or digital world. Cheers!

    • Hi Issa!

      Glad to meet another rebel. I was always being sent to sit in the corner or outside the classroom – basically for acting “alive” in the classroom or saying “no.” (Like refusing to wear a hair net during the frog dissection activity.” Tradition says kids should comply and be obedient – even if it pushes you into sleepwalking.

      Makes zero sense.

      You were born to write! Look forward to reading your writing.

      thanks! G.

  19. You rocked this post! Love the idea of a “fearless why.”

    I’ve been reading about neurobiology lately – particularly about the brain and fear. When there’s something bigger, more important than the fear that we turn our attention to, it will literally replace the fear. That’s why “fearless why” works – when people connect to their purpose, the real, heartfelt-reason why they are doing what they are doing, their why, they naturally move into fearlessness.

    • Hi Tara,

      Glad you could stop by! Excellent info about the brain and fear. Didn’t know that — really helps confirm my gut experiences. When I’m in my fearless whyness – I’m riding high – almost an adrenaline rush or is it an actual adrenaline rush? Feels really powerful. Appreciate you telling me this! G.

  20. Giulietta – This was fabulous and thought provoking. I love what you said about the why being the thread that runs beneath the “what.” It is that “why” that connects the dots and yet, for some of us (like me) it is a bit elusive. What a wonderful post!!

    • Hey Marvelous Exception!

      Thank you for the visit and supportive words. All most welcomed. If you read through your own great blog posts, the thread may be willing to reveal itself. Grateful for your words. I’ll stop by your blog soon! G.

  21. Julie you fearless rebellious branding crusader!! Thanks for sending me the link, this is just fabulous. I knew I was drawn to you for a reason and you are rocking the socks off this Fearless Design!

    ” What a lot of folks call their “passion” isn’t really their passion at all. It’s just a vehicle for their passion – a “what”. A “why” weaves its way through any number of “what’s” – this was really illuminating. I’m very very close to my fearless why (as you well know, having followed my blogging journey:), it’s been a whole year in the uncovering. What you wrote makes so much sense, I am totally going to do it.

    You go girl, so glad you’re in my fearless field 🙂

    • Hi Tia,

      I look forward to watching your fearless why fully emerge! You are very close. I can fearlessly feel it. Keep sparkling wherever you go. It lights up the way for so many others.

      Thanks for the fearless comments! G.

  22. LLLLLove this post! Great point about looking beyond ‘what’ we’re passionate about by digging deeper to tap into why it feels good.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tony Mack and Glenn Arcaro, FreelanceCamp 2010. FreelanceCamp 2010 said: Have you Discovered Your Fearless Why? http://bit.ly/gnptjw […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jan Streitburger, Patricia Lane. Patricia Lane said: Terrific post by Giulietta Nardone > find your fearless why #freelance #marketing http://su.pr/4EMF1g […]

  3. […] Zone very little can stop me. If you’ve got a moment, check out my guest post at the fabulous MEN WITH PENS. (I’m determined to do guest posts […]

  4. […] wrote a fantastic guest post for Men with Pens about being bold and fearless in our business. In ‘Have You Discovered Your Fearless Why?‘, Guiletta explains her own thoughts process as she came to terms with marketing her design […]

  5. […] redesign the site I’m working with Giulietta Nardone, a designer I found through a guest post she wrote for Men with Pens.  Stay […]

  6. […] can check out the full post Have You Discovered Your Fearless Why? and my comment below it.  I definitely recommend it as inspiration for stepping outside your box […]

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