What Lin-Manuel Miranda, Solange Knowles and Elon Musk Have in Common

The essential question that every creative should ask themselves

Simone Keelah Brathwaite
4 min readFeb 1, 2022


Lin Manuel Miranda, 2009 White House Poetry Jam

In 2009 Lin-Manuel Miranda received a request to perform at the first-ever White House Poetry Jam. “Do you have anything about America, and can you perform it at this podium?” Miranda was asked.

In true kismet fashion, the composer happened to be working on his next Broadway musical. Yet, when Miranda revealed to the webcast audience and East Room attendees that he’d be performing the opening number about the person he believed embodies hip hop: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton — the audience laughed.

Lin-Manuel Miranda already a celebrated and respected artist for his work creating In the Heights — would spend another six years writing the rest of Hamilton. He encountered his fair share of skeptics throughout his journey, including his mentor and famed lyricist, Stephen Sondheim (who later became an ardent fan).

Yet, Miranda was able to keep going (bringing along an ever-growing camp of Hamilton enthusiasts). I believe that’s because he had answered for himself the essential question for any creative undertaking.

Photo by The 77 Human Needs System on Unsplash

What’s Your Why?

I have long understood the importance of an organization or business articulating its reason for being. However, somewhat new to the creative community, it wasn’t immediately clear to me that creatives also have the ability — and perhaps even the mandate — to create their own “why.”

Every single person; every single organization on the planet knows what they do. Some know how they do it. But very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by ‘why’ I don’t mean to make a profit. By ‘why’ I mean what’s your purpose, your cause, your belief. Why do you get out of bed in the morning and why should anyone care? — Simon Sinek

Your creative why is why you do what you do. A north star for your creative work that aligns with your values.



Simone Keelah Brathwaite

A self-proclaimed freedom chaser who writes about self-development, spirituality, relationships, & black folx thangs. Sign up for updates www.SimoneKeelah.com.