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Your One Word: The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter

Insights from Evan Carmichael’s Book

Rajasekar Elango
May 25, 2018 · 8 min read

About the Book

This book will help give you the momentum, guidance, and confidence you need to build a business and life you can be proud of. This book is aimed at entrepreneurs as well as intrapreneurs, managers, and anyone else who wants to achieve success in a powerfully meaningful way.

This book will help you identify your one word — the word that captures your purpose and passion and teaches you how to build your business around that one word.

Key message of the book

There is One Word that connects all the things in your life that make you come alive. Your One Word is your core. Identifying your one word gives you several benefits such as:

Makes decision making easier

Your one will act as your guiding light. It makes all decisions easier

Keeps you motivated

Reminding about your one word after you wake up makes you feel that the work you were doing is important. When you get that feeling you’re more likely to stay motivated.

Can spread by word of mouth

When you stand for a powerful and important one word, people will be delighted to spread your message at every possible opportunity.

Your entire business should be run through the lens of your One Word.

Your One Word is more than a marketing slogan. It’s a way of life.

Actionable Advices from the book

Don’t chase the money

If a man goes into business with only the idea of making a lot of money, chances are he won’t. But if he puts service and quality first, the money will take care of itself.

The most important thing in life is to love what you’re doing because that’s the only way you’ll ever be really good at it. Money was never a motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game. — Donald Trump

Find your one word

Steps for finding your one word

  1. Find what makes you happy?
    Write down the list of things that makes you happy. Find the common theme that connects to your happiness.
  2. What trait do you hate?
    If you don’t know who you are, then start by thinking of who you aren’t. Make a list of everything and everyone that makes you unhappy.
  3. What’s your constant? Is this really who you are?
    Your One Word is not a New Year’s resolution. Your One Word is a constant. It has always been with you and will always remain.

Finally, Look at your One Word and ask yourself, “Is this really, deep down, who I am?”

Get rid of your limiting belief.

The biggest obstacle will be your limiting belief. Some of the limiting beliefs that could hold you back are

  • It’s too hard.
  • What others think about it?
  • Someone else is doing it.
  • It’s too simple.

You should get rid of those limiting beliefs and stay motivated.

Three Steps for Motivation

  1. Try the stick. i.e Write down the five things you hate most about being an employee.
  2. Try the carrot. i.e Ask yourself:
    Why did you want to be an entrepreneur? What are you doing to help people through your business? Write down five positive things that get you excited about your business.
  3. Think about : What do you want to be remembered for?

Build a Movement around your one word.

Once you figured out your one word, next build a movement around it.

  • Make it clear and powerful.
  • Make it mean something to people.
  • When you stand for something powerful, something that other people can easily understand, people will share it and rally behind you.

The Planning Checklist

Here is the quick summary of planning checklist that author provides to build and run your business around your one word.

  1. Break your one word into three core meanings.

Whatever your One Word is, it means a few things to you. If your One Word is Love, it might mean love yourself (self-esteem), love others (be nice), and love a higher purpose (faith). So now you can build a company around a message — having self-esteem, being nice, and having faith.

2. Share your beliefs.

Let your customers know what you stand for. Your credo is the inspiration behind everything you do.

3. Share your story.

Your story is important because getting to know the founder will create more emotional connection to the customer than just knowing the company. So tell your founding story to add value and context for your customers.

But, they don’t want to read your boring resume. Your story has to have passion, entertaining message, and should create a personal connection with your customers.

Also, create two versions. One less than 100 words and if people want to read more show them longer version.

4. Create a tribe and name them.

Bring your customers together. Turn your fans from loners into belongers. Give them opportunities to meet and collaborate with other fans. By meeting and connecting with each other, fans become more devoted, empowered, and willing to promote you.

Provide experiences to energize them and work on joint projects. They should feel like they are part of an important team with you. It doesn’t have to be in a physical location, you can also bring people together online.

5. Choose a purposeful name for your company.

Instead of picking a straightforward descriptive name, it’s more powerful to assign meaning to a name. You can even choose a name without intrinsic meaning and apply meaning to it. For e.g HP was created after their founders, but they invented HP way.

6. Know your enemy.

Identify your enemies and use it to your advantage. Enemies inspire creativity. They will challenge you to work harder and motivate you to keep going.

7. Create memorable logos, fonts and symbols.

Create a powerful logo for your brand. Even the colors, fonts , symbol and sounds conveys some inherent meaning. Use them appropriately to add uniqueness and make you standout. Some examples:

  • Anywhere you go, you don’t see starbucks name , but just logo.
  • Intel inside sound makes it globally known brand.

Building your company culture.

In this chapter author shows how five different entrepreneurs used one word philosophy to build either company with revenues ranging from $50,000 to $150 Million. He provides examples of how those companies applied one word principle in following areas:

  1. Hire right people

Make sure the core values of the people your hire aligns with your one word. During the interview ask them: Why they want to work here..? What’s their philosophy ? What’s their life goal?

If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external. — Stephen Covey

2. Onboard new hires

Roberto Blake, the founder of one of the company said “Clarity is the key to on boarding. First, I set clear expectations. They must be willing to give value to others, set standards, and continually grow.”

To quote another example, the founder of Toronto Dance Salsa said “Students move into volunteer positions as Helpers. Some then become Assistants before they start training to become an Instructor. By the time they’re Instructors, they’ve been here two years and know what the culture and responsibilities are.”

3. Create a purposeful environment

Your environment should ooze your One Word too. To design a powerful culture around your One Word, start by thinking about what behaviors you want to recognize, encourage, and promote?

You can also create some rituals to strengthen the bond to your company and each other.

4. Pick name and language

Names and language are a critical part of every successful culture. So add unique names and language to your culture.

5. Policies

When you have a strong culture based on your One Word, you don’t need many strict policies. Because , culture beat policies. Your One Word should be directing the plans, decisions, and actions of your team.

6. Fire when needed

People who work for you should have two things:

  • The skills needed to complete the responsibilities of the position.
  • Alignment with your One Word core value.

Even the lack of skill can be improved by training. But alignment with core value is very important. Don’t hesitate to fire if core value don’t match.

Operating your company

For this section, I will just list down topics covered in the book to give you the idea of whats in the book.

  • Client management
  • Supplier selection
  • Products and services
  • Quality control
  • Research and development
  • Mentors and advisors
  • Raising capital
  • Sales and marketing
  • Project management
  • Tough decisions

Inspirational Quotes from book

This book is full of quotes from great people. I am quoting the few that inspired me.

I think it’s very important not to do what your peers think you should do, not do what your parents think you should do, or your teachers or even your culture. Do what’s inside of you. — George Lucas (billionaire entrepreneur and creator of Star Wars and Indiana Jones)

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Sleep is the best meditation. — Dalai Lama

Thinking good thoughts is not enough, doing good deeds is not enough, seeing others follow your good examples is enough. — Douglas Horton

It’s irrelevant whether you see [the glass] as half full or half empty. Take the opportunity to just fill it — create that value, fill that void. — Roberto Blake

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t — you’re right. — Henry Ford

You are where you are because of what you believe. If you want to change your circumstances, you start by changing your beliefs. — Tony Robins

It’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us . . . And so, we have to be really clear on what we want — Steve Jobs

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it . . . Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. — Steve jobs

What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can’t make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant — and the success will naturally follow . . . If you do work that you love, and work that fulfills you, the rest will come. And, I truly believe, that the reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never, ever for one minute been money. Would you do your job and not be paid for it? I would do this job, and take on a second job just to make ends meet if nobody paid me. That’s how you know you are doing the right thing. — OPRAH WINFREY

The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.


The book provides practical steps for identifying your one word and how to build and run your business around it. If you are an entrepreneur or planning to become one, I highly recommend reading this book.

If you want to read the book, you can buy it from amazon.

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