I really had no intention of teaching myself an important lesson this past Monday. I thought I was just drinking coffee.

But there I was, sitting in a local Starbucks with my friend and fellow business owner Victoria. We were talking about the usual stuff: Our families, the weather and, of course, swapping ideas to help our respective businesses.

As is my nature, I was enjoying my own prolix (look it up) ramblings regarding my new book, The Likeable Expert: 121 Insights to Start Your Day and Grow Your Business.

Actually, it was more specific than that: I was talking about the likeable part.

About how even though likeability is so squishy and hard to measure, it makes a huge difference in the Word of Mouth world in which we all live.

I was saying something about how, “helping people who are in no position to help you back” is not just nice, it’s also good marketing. They are appreciative and they remember it (often a lot longer than even you do).

Uh oh. I should have realized I was tempting fate.

Because at that precise moment, a man strode into Starbucks, stood right in front of us, and loudly asked: “Does anybody here have jumper cables? My car is dead and I’m late for work.”

I confess, I paused for what felt like a very long time.

Not because I wasn’t sure if I had the cables (I knew I did). Rather, because I was enjoying my coffee and the conversation, and I really didn’t want to interrupt it all to go outside and help this guy.

But I quickly realized something: If you’re going to run around planet Earth spewing incessantly about likeability, you’re pretty much locked into actually living it too. So out the door we went.

A little while later, while driving back to my office, I started thinking about the importance of having a vision that guides the work each of us does.

Not a mission statement. Not a tag line. Not a niche.

Those may all be important, but I’m talking about something much more fundamental: What do you stand for? What’s the unifying idea that guides your business?

In my case, once I put my finger on the term “Likeable Expert” (or, more accurately, once my friend and branding genius Mark Levy told me to put my finger there), I’ve found it much easier to stay focused and consistent.

I know what to write about. I know what to talk about. I know what services to offer my clients.

And, maybe most important, when a stranger walks into Starbucks looking for help, I know how to be.

This article originally appeared here on Blue Penguin Development and has been republished with permission.