Following a Path with Heart: from Mission to Search Results

My Uncle Fred, the wise elder of our family, posted this on Facebook:

Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it. ( Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge)

I read this book years ago and really felt that there is some sort of deep truth about humans that is captured in Don Juan’s wisdom. This is similar to the idea of a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) advocated by Jim Collins in Built to Last. Having a path with heart or a BHAG motivates individuals and teams to their highest potential. And it attracts others!  Everyone enjoys working with people who love what they do and, as a result, are having fun.

A path with heart can help you create a mission that is compelling for your team. It can inspire market positioning that connects with your audience.  As Don Juan instructs us, we easily enjoy our work when our path has heart.

I have been asking this question more often with my co-workers and friends. I am wondering how best to introduce this into client conversations. Given that Philly Marketing Labs focuses on search, I wanted to explore how basic SEO is impacted by a Path with heart.

I searched for bakeries in my hometown of Wayne, PA.

Below is an excerpt of the Page one search results. Does one of these seem to have more of a heart than the others?

Right off the bat, the “Best Bread on Earth” caught my eye. Such a bold statement strikes me as aspirational and passionate and, while a cynic may call it an unsubstantiated claim, the poet in me shouts, Hurrah! How does it strike you?

I wanted to see if Great Harvest followed up on their promise on their home page. In it, I found a compelling and strong story about their mission. This bread really does sound like it could be the best in the world — or at least the best in the world of Wayne, PA!

Instead of , the URL is which just reinforces their position and mission to be the very best breadmakers in their marketplace.


I happen to know first-hand that Great Harvest follows through on its promise on the ground level as well. My family often stops in for a free slice of bread. Great Harvest is a popular Wayne institution as kids flood their shop after school for a free slice, shoppers enjoy a coffee with some bread on Saturday afternoons and they are the go-to spot when you need to pick up a quick something to bring to a party.

In this case, the Path with heart marketing remains strong from the first impression on the Internet to the last bite in the store!

Consider, Bread Uprising in Durham, NC. This bread-baking co-op just completed a $10,000 fund-raiser at IndieGogo to help them achieve their mission.

Talking about your mission and inspiration can be a delicate balance. One close friend of mine found this text to be too preachy. I found it to be an inspirational view of how things can be. When communicating your path with heart, you really need to make sure your messaging resonates with your target audience.

I’m curious – do you find this About statement to be inspirational or preachy?

A number of businesses in our line of work help with charitable causes.  I admire those businesses for their contributions to their community. At Philly Marketing Labs, we’ve worked Pro Bono with , run the Main Line Digital Marketing Meetup and have mentored countless interns towards success.

But, as businesses, can we do even more? How far can we go in finding a real path with heart for our existing work? What does it mean to realign around a BHAG; a mission with heart. This is a question that we’ll be asking ourselves at Philly Marketing Labs.

How about you?



  • September 27, 2012

    Well, you know I’m with you on this because I left my former path to get back to a path with heart, and even though I’m back in the corporate world, I’m still on my path with heart and I make sure I’m mindful of that everyday.

    As for the Bread Uprising statement, they probably should’ve left out that third paragraph. If they felt that strongly about it, they could communicate that message using another avenue. But, in reading it, you certainly do know what they’re all about.

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    • September 27, 2012


      Hey Coreen – leaving a path to find another with heart can be a challenge and requires a lot of courage. It is a good practice to remind ourselves of our mission daily.

      On Bread Uprising, I see your point. The third paragraph could alienate or galvanize, depending on one’s perspective.

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