Start With “Why”

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

So says Simon Sinek, in his impactful Ted talk, “Start With Why, How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”

This idea, which I’m about to unpack for you explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire while others fall short.

In every single one of our businesses, there’s the “What” we do, the “How” we do it, and though Sinek claims very few are clear about it, the “Why” we do it.

Let’s briefly define the terms… every single person, every company knows what they do. All of them. And, whether you call it a USP or a proprietary process, some of them know how they do it. But very few people or organizations know why they do what they do.

And keep in mind, Sinek says that turning a profit is a result, it’s not the Why. We can make money in all kinds of ways. It’s the over all purpose or impact that he’s talking about — what the company, or individual leader, stands for or believes in. Why do they exist? And why should anyone care?

Almost always, the order of priority plays out in the way in which I listed them… What, How, Why. And of course it would, because that’s moving from what’s most clear — the What — to what’s typically the least clear, the Why.

Think about how most marketing messages sound out in the world… they say what they do, how special or great they or their product or service is, and then they hope for a response or action… What do you do? Make great computers. How are they special? They’re fast, portable, and good looking. Want to buy one? Maybe.

And it’s usually the same with us in here. What do you do? I’m a plumber. And I’m cheap and I never sleep. I’m available any hour of the day. And that’s fine. And in Elevate, we’re incentivized a little differently. And of course, we’re already vetted.

But let’s have that computer company I made up a moment ago be Apple. Because Apple — not unlike the other companies and leaders who are able to inspire, regardless of size or industry — has the order of priority completely reversed.

They start with their why. So their actual marketing is more like this…

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

Totally different.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

And that’s why we’re not only comfortable buying a computer from Apple, but a phone, a watch, and the list goes on.

Think about that. Think about how starting with “why,” has you come out of the gate positioned to engage, and to immediately create relationship. That gets people’s attention.

People don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it.

Start. With. Why.

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