• Laura Johnston

So, what do you do?

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

As I have transitioned into my new focus around leadership development and team culture training a few years back, my family was regularly asking me, “so, what do you do?” Apparently, I was not doing a good job of explaining my service.

Last November, I attended a Steve Sims Speakeasy and that is where I learned the concept around building your brand and being super clear on who you are and what you do. In Steve’s book, Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen, he talks about being “easy to understand and impossible to misunderstand.”

I found that was not as easy as it sounded. I thought I knew myself pretty well and I believed in the path I was taking. Leadership and team building is my passion and I wanted to share it with everyone. But when asked “what do you do” I found myself stumbling around the answer only to have them look at me blankly.

The last straw was when I was talking to a mentally disabled young man at a friend’s Christmas party and he asked me that same question and I tried to tell him in the simplest terms what I do and stumbled all over myself! I laughed till I cried and then I got serious.

The question you get asked most in life is, “What do you do for a living?” Tom Love says, “your answer can be a trap—a commodity trap where you instinctually answer by saying what it is you do, “I’m in (insert industry here).” At that point you are immediately lumped (commoditized) into a category with thousands of other people who share that title. You have no differential advantage whatsoever. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

I went back to the drawing board so that I could be clearer when I share with family, friends, colleagues and especially potential clients why I do what I do.

And… I am going to share the formula with you…

There are six components to explain your Explanation of Services as developed by Tom Love:

Step 1: Start with what you believe vs. what you do.

Starter statement: Before I tell you what I do let me first tell you what I believe.

Mine: I believe that with great leadership, drama and dysfunction in a team can be eliminated.

I believe that trust is the foundation of great communication and great communication is the basis for great leadership. I believe that with a foundation of trust, great teams can have hard conversations, be committed to each other and be accountable to the outcome together.

Step 2: Tell them why you believe it.

Starter statement: I believe this because…

Mine: I have been on great teams and I have been on dysfunctional teams. There are fundamental behaviors that every team must demonstrate to create a cohesive team and massive results come from cohesive teams.

Step 3: Tell them what you do because of that belief.

Starter statement: Because of that belief I work at (insert company name) where I (insert what you do).

Mine: Because of this belief, I partner with leaders to get vulnerable around exposing their gaps and leveraging their strengths to lead their teams to clarity on their role and expectations and realize their potential that is directly reflected in the organization’s revenue.

Step 4: How you do it different.

Starter statement: At (insert company) name there are three things that make us different.

Mine: Like Covey takes a whole-body approach to coaching: mind, body, heart & spirit, we at High Impact Leadership take the whole-organization approach to our coaching model:

Leaders, Team, Systems & Accountability.

Step 5: Who you’ve done it for (Proof of Concept).

Starter Statement: Over the past (number of) years we’ve helped (insert clients or number of clients) achieve (insert results, problems solved, or growth).

Mine: Over the past several years, we have perfected our systems to get our clients the results they needed to COMMUNICATE with their teams, build a world class EXPLANATION OF VALUE, implement a true PROSPECTING and SELLING SYSTEM & 7-touch FOLLOW UP system and begin to build a LEGACY CULTURE.

Step 6: Ask for the business.

Starter Statement: If we could help you or someone you know just like we’ve helped all these other people what would stop us from getting started? Or…Out of all the things I just said what piques your interest the most?

Mine: Out of all the things I just said, what piques your interest the most?


It is a good idea to have many Explanation of Service statements based on a variety of situations. The ones I have shared is just one of the many I use. Then you need to get comfortable saying it. The way to get comfortable with it is by committing to it and practicing it so that it becomes a natural part of your conversations. Remember to include,

  1. What you believe

  2. Why you believe it

  3. How you do it differently

  4. Who you have done it for

  5. Ask for the business

This exercise has been a game changer, not only in my clarity but in my confidence. Take the time to come up with many explanations of your service and get clear. You will be glad you did.


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