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Start With WHY: Book Discussion

Published: March 17, 2018

“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” This is a saying you will hear many times from Simon Sinek in his book “Start With WHY”. This book is a brilliant entrepreneur read for those who want to be successful in any form of business or organization. Focusing on leaders specifically, Simon explains why some leaders lead successful companies that cause buyers to follow them through all financial and economic instability and why some leaders simply fall by the wayside. Apple Inc., Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines and food giant Walmart are used to explain a variety of successful and not-so-successful company outcomes.

Simons concept for business success lies within the Golden Circle (pictured below). On the outside is the WHAT category, this is all the products and services a business sells. The second layer is the HOW category, this represents the employees within a company tasked to carry out the vision of leadership. The inner most category in the diagram is the WHY category, this is the most important. The WHY category is the ‘vision’ of the CEO which signifies what the business believes in, or why they exist.

Many companies can easily define the WHAT and the HOW, because those are the most clear and easy to understand. Most of the time because of the ease to understand, the WHAT and the HOW take the spotlight in marketing. web design and sales efforts. Simon encourages companies to do the opposite of the status quo and start with WHY not once, not twice but in everything the company says and does. Simon encourages us to start with WHY when it comes to marketing and web design efforts, as well as company culture and customer experience.

The Author

Simon Sinek is an entrepreneur that transparently explains that he has no Ivy League education, or any idea how to build a build a business. What sets Simon apart is that he knows one thing that most people don’t, and that is how to start with WHY. Simon is a British-American author, motivational speaker and successful marketing consultant for those such as Virgin Group founder and visionary Richard Branson. Before starting his business, Sinek Partners, in the United States, Simon lived in Johannesburg, London and Hong Kong.

Simon listed as the third most popular TED talk for his presentation How Great Leaders Inspire Action in 2009 based on his earlier published book Start With WHY. This TED talk is one of our all-time favorites and have included this video in this blog so you may enjoy it too!

After writing and publishing his first book, Simon has since published three others including:

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration

Find Your Why: A practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

These books are on our current reading list, and we encourage you to add them to yours as you will not be disappointed.

People dont buy WHAT you do they buy WHY you do it

This is the single most important lesson we learned from this book. Although the concept seems simple, most companies in the industry today still do not understand WHY they do what they do.

The Law of Diffusion of Innovation

We don’t quite know whether is concept is an actual ‘law’ but its message should be understood as one. Diffusion of Innovation breaks down the population into 5 categories plotted within a traditional bell-curve from most likely to adopt new products into their everyday life to those who resist new products: Innovators (top 2.5%), Early Adaptors (13.5%), Early Majority (34%), Late Majority (34%), and the Laggards (16%). This law teaches us that only when a product of a business reaches 15-18% of the population, can it be considered a success.

“The goal should not be to simply sell to anyone who wants what you have – the majority – but rather to find people who believe what you believe…”

Many times, as business owners, it is easy to just want to sell your products or services to anyone that is willing to buy them but, those are not the customers who will carry your success to the next level. For example, someone who buys an iPhone because their “dinosaur-like” flip phone finally died (laggard) will not be the customer who makes the newest Apple product successful. This customer did not buy the iPhone because they believe in the ‘vision’ of Apple Inc., this customer simply needed a working phone that met their needs.

WHY creates TRUST

Whether it’s an employee or a customer, as a leader you want your customers and fellow employees to trust that your company is trustworthy. Without WHY, this can be extremely difficult to sustain. WHY is your belief, it’s the reason you get out of bed before the sun rises, and it’s the reason you stay up late on your laptop long after the sun has gone down. WHY is the reason you choose one brand over another and WHY is the reason you shop at one store but refuse to shop at the other. WHY creates the bond between the ‘visionary’ (CEO), and the HOW (the employees); this bond creates a ‘megaphone’ with the WHAT (products or services) that in turn creates a strong bond between the business and its customers.

The Celery Test

After you have discovered your WHY, it’s important to ensure that everything you say and do fits into the profile of WHY. How do you do this? Simply use the Celery Test.

"You go to a dinner party with many successful people and someone says to you “You know what you need in your organization? M&M’s. If you’re not using M&M’s in your business, your leaving money on the table.”

Somebody else comes up to you and says “You know what you need? Rice milk. The data shows that all the people are buying rich milk these days. You should be selling rice milk in this economy.”

Somebody else says “Oreo cookies,” he says. “We made millions from implementing Oreo cookies in our organization. You’ve got to do it.”

Still somebody else comes up to you and says “Celery. You’ve got to get into celery.”

So now we need to test whether any of these items fit into our WHY before we go to the store and spend a lot of money on ideas that may or may not work for our business!

For example, if your companies WHY involves healthy eating and natural products then the Oreo Cookies and the M&M’s will only cloud your WHY because they just don’t fit."

Using the Celery Test will save you a ton of time and money on ideas or concepts that don’t fit or won’t be successful with your companies WHY. Using the Celery Test will also give you confidence is the processes you do implement because everything your customers perceive from your business will be in line with your WHY and your Golden Circle will be balanced.

The Challenge

Take a few minutes to create your Golden Circle. Ask yourself WHAT you do, then HOW you do it, and finally WHY you do what you do. Then whether its marketing yourself, or your group, or maybe even your business ask yourself these questions:

“Does Everything I do start with WHY?"

“Does everything my Brand stands for, start with WHY”?

“Do my employees or team members know WHY they do what they do?'

“Do my customers know WHY they choose us as a company?”

If you answered “No” or “Price” or “Money” to any of these questions, we suggest you grab a copy of this book as soon as possible, so you can start changing they way you do business.

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