A notebook, symbolizing inspirational quotes

If you’re ever looking for a good quote, ask an entrepreneur. Or an artist. These days, I’m a bit of both. A favourite thing about my post-news reporter life is that I spend my time with one foot in the entrepreneurial world and one foot in the creative.  Both these types seem to LOVE the motivational quote.

I mainly deal directly with CEOs to help them blog and tell the story of their business in a compelling way. I am also a sculptor of dessert jewelry, so I’m part of a strong maker community. We support each other in growing our handmade businesses together.

For whatever reason, the love of a powerful inspirational quote travels on the DNA of both those species of human. And hey– I get it! A good motivational quote is a powerful thing.

Isn’t that what I spent 15 years looking for as a TV news reporter? That perfect, memorable soundbite? I spent all day, everyday recording my conversations with everyone I met, only to distill each one down to the perfect 15-second pithy snippet. I was a quote machine, baby.

Maybe that’s why I’m still something of a quote connoisseur. I collect ones that inspire me in a special journal. I build graphic quotes to illustrate my content on social media, my blog and my presentation decks. I have a special fondness for pertinent song lyrics.

However there is a limitation to the motivational quote. There is a time when the words of Henry Ford, Martin Luther King Jr or Eleanor Roosevelt simply won’t suffice. Sometimes, the only words that will motivate are your own.

Picture this. Your child wants to try out for the team, but he or she is scared. You trot out that favourite adage attributed to The Great One, Wayne Gretzky. “Kid,” you say, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Your kid nods soberly and realizes you’re right. He/ she laces up, tries out and makes the team!

Except, no.

Because your kid is eight.

His/her ability to apply a metaphor from a famous person to his/her own life and use it to overcome his/her difficulty is limited at best. In this case, the motivational quote isn’t as targeted to YOUR audience as YOUR words.

This is almost always true when dealing with your own customers. No one knows them like you do. If you don’t know them, that is a whole other problem, and getting to know them is a process that the folks over at SplashOPM have perfected.

Back to Junior, if instead of Gretzky’s words, you share the true story of how frightened you were to go out for the school play, how nervous you were to sing at the audition, how you didn’t get cast the first time, but next time you got the role of Linus in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” now THAT is likely resonate with the kid.

Someone he/she loves, personally knows and has a real connection with, going through what they’re going through. Just like your audience. How bout that?

Because really– what is a “motivational quote” anyway? It’s simply good storytelling. It’s writing that makes your audience relate and feel something. And you know your audience better than Audrey Hepburn, Henry David Thoreau  and Steve Jobs combined.

What is a “motivational quote” anyway? It’s simply good storytelling. It’s writing that makes your audience relate and feel something.

I am working with a client now who is reworking his web copy. He is a gifted life coach who has helped hundreds of people find success reaching their goals. Previously, the first words visitors saw when coming to his website were those of Aristotle. Don’t get me wrong, they were powerful! But not as powerful as my client, explaining how his coaching process works.

This is a man who has helped his clients beat addiction, lose weight, turn failing businesses around. His own explanation of this is more motivating than any famous stranger’s platitude.

If you are passionate, authentic and you know your audience, then you’re the person whose words will motivate the most. Take some time to craft that quote, and then put it out there to inspire us!