You Gotta Read this Book: Start With Why

For anyone struggling with a marketing or a leadership issue, I have one piece of advice.  Read Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why.  It’s not that what Sinek is saying is new. It’s that he is saying is clearly and in a way that everyone can apply. I’m usually pretty skeptical about the management guru genre, but in this case his book is a good use of $15. Check out Simon’s video from TedX:

What is why?  Why is the purpose, the meaning of your organization or cause. According to Sinek, people buy the why.  That’s what explains why Apple is growing like it is – people buy the why of Apple. But the hitch is that everything Apple does is consistent with their why.

The how is about the beliefs and values your organization holds and how they get translated into policies, procedures and processes. This one sounds easy until you try to do it. Just think about it. If you believe in integrity, how does that translate into how you do business.  Do you plan a coupon that you know half your customers will not be able to use?

The what consists of your organization’s product and service offerings, including the features and benefits of the products. Historically, brand marketing has focused on creating a unique positioning for each product and service, based on the features and benefits that they offer. These too must be consistent with your why.  Sinek suggests that too much focus on the What of your business usually ends up in a downward spiral of increased cost and increased competition.

A meaningful, compelling why can build both customer and employee loyalty. I had an interesting talk with a friend the other day, who was worried about increased competition in her industry. But once we talked, she realized that her why was profoundly different from that of her key competitors, her how was profoundly different, so she didn’t really have to worry about the competition, she just had to find enough people who “got it”, for whom that why resonated.

The lightbulb went on for me.  What is your purpose, cause, belief? I’m working on mine.


Categories: Uncategorized

6 replies »

  1. Hi Colleen,
    I agree with your view and am a BIG fan of the Simon Sinek message. Coincidentally, I started writing a blog about Simon and his book (that I finished yesterday) as it is a clear and clever message, but you have beaten me to the punch. I am going to re blog your article onto my site as you have summarised the key points quite nicely. Importantly I have taken on the key message of ‘people buy the why’ and applied it whenever I can. Steve.

  2. Nice article Colleen, thanks for sharing.
    I watched Sinek’s video a couple of weeks ago and got somehow illuminated by it.
    I believe the “why” approach can be used in several areas, not only in marketing: I am a project leader dealing with process simplification and I have always found quite difficult to get a buy in and commitment from all the employees that are affected by the work i’m doing. In most of the employees mind the word “simplification” is not that appealing (nor insipiring) and the product (“what”) I’m trying to sell them is not answering properly their main question (what’s in it for me).
    I tried to change my project communication approach, starting with the why, and results have been immediate and consistent…
    Thanks to Sinek and to you and all the bloggers who are sharing this.

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