From 2010 WIRED Magazine:

Why do you do what you do? In Silicon Valley, that question has become the hottest team-building meme since Outward Bound—and it’s spreading.

WDYDWYD stands for why do you do what you do. Tony Deifell, an artist and entrepreneur, created a movement of people uploading photos with people with their answers on signs. This movement started out in 2004 and the simple question spread later to companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

This concept of why we do what we do would later also be in the opening line of Simon Sinek’s famous TED talk - Start With Why:

We assume that we know why we do what we do, but then how do you explain when things don’t go as we assume. Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all the assumptions.

The origin of the WDYDWYD movement is fascinating. Here’s how Tony explained it:

I was in my office late one night in 1999 not wanting to be bothered.

The phone rang, and I wanted to ignore it . . . but I felt compelled to answer.

Before I could start, a child’s voice blurted,

“Why do you do what you do?”

I’ve thought about that phone call many times, and that question chases me around still. It’s a really simple question, yet so much depends on it.

Here’s the link to the original blog post of Tony. And below is a scanned copy of the article from WIRED in 2010.

Why do you do what you do? A simple, but profound question that deeply ties with Purpose.