The origin of language: a 4 year old boy’s musings

I had a very interesting chat with Master 4 the other day. It went something like this:

“Mummy, how did I learn to talk?”

“Because I taught you. And so did daddy, and nanny and poppy, and your sister. Everyone that is around you and loves you has taught you to talk. We speak to you, you listen, and you connect the words to the thing or action.”

“So, who taught you to speak then?”

“Nanny and poppy and my teachers.”

“Ok, then. So who taught them? And who taught those ones? And really mummy, who taught the first person EVER in the world to speak? They didn’t have anyone to teach them?? And why did they just make up sounds and give names to stuff like TREE. How did they know that was supposed to be called a TREE?”


Yes. Umm. Well?

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Great results with minimal effort. Really?

If you’re brutally honest with yourself, in the quiet of the middle of the night when your brain is still racing like a wild horse through a fire, and you can’t turn off the twitch in every fibre of your being that is linked to your desire to succeed, and every ounce of your mind body and soul is tired from trying, you’ll admit you wish this was true…..

…That creating and running a successful business really was as easy as those people promise.

You know, THOSE people. The ones with all the ‘luck’. The ones with all the right people in their camp. The ones with supportive parents and partner. The ones with the nannies. The ones with great marketing speak as a natural gift. The ones with money to invest. The ones who make it look easy.

You know that deep down, even though you tell people you love what you do and that you enjoy working hard and figuring things out for yourself, and that you relish the challenge of your solo growth path, that you REALLY wish you could achieve great results with minimal effort.

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Do you know what problem you solve?

Too many businesses focus on the solution they provide rather than the problem they solve.

Whilst coaching people, I’ve asked them: “What problem does your business solve?”

Often there is deafening silence…followed by an “umm, I’m not sure.” Worse still is the response: “I don’t think I do solve problems.”

The thing is that in a world where most people have what they need, and where businesses are popping up all over the place, you need to know how your business is going to stand out and why. Why does the world need your ‘thing’? What is your differentiator? What problem are you solving and for whom? It’s almost impossible to tell your story or market your business if you don’t know what problem you solve.

The One Sentence Pitch

It’s a really challenging – but worthwhile – exercise to articulate what you do in terms of solving ONE single problem. Understanding what this is, and using it to drive you, is at the root of doing meaningful work.  So how do you do it? Pretend you are pitching to an investor for a $1million injection….they don’t want to hear about all the solutions you provide, they only have 30 seconds to hear about what issue you can solve.

For example:

Dropbox: People have no reliable way to store, access, update and share all their data from one place – a USB or emailed file doesn’t cut it.

Uber: Why can’t I just push a button and get a ride?

So, in one sentence, tell me, yourself, your business partner, your mirror, what’s the key problem you solve in the world with your business?