Start With Why
Simon Sinek – Start With Why
This book is a great read for every starting entrepreneur, leader and for those looking for purpose. Simon Sinek is also known as an inspirational speaker and that’s why I recommend watching TED talks on this topic amongst many others.
According to Sinek, leaders tend to talk about what they do and what they want their employees to do. Other, very usual, way is to talk about the how. Very few leaders talk about their why – why does the company exist or why is the product developed in the first place. Sinek believes that true leadership is to inspire people, to provide them with a purpose outside benefits and money.
Simon Sinek says that behavior is influenced in two ways; inspiration or manipulation. You might already guess that inspiration is more engaging and long lasting than manipulation. Let’s see this first from leadership point of view: if your employees are inspired and feel that they are working for a higher purpose, they are willing to help you to reach your why, without the need to manipulate them to exceed their limits, with incentives or deterrence (Carrot and stick).
Using the example of attracting customers: motivating customers to do a purchase with promotions, novelties, aspiration, advertising and discount offers is manipulation. I know, it really works. But even though it might help you to close the deal faster, it doesn’t encourage loyalty, which we already should know is the key to repeat the sale.
Simon Sinek introduces a concept called “the Golden Circle”. He emphasizes that when you have your why figured out and you truly believe in it, you will find out how you will do it and also what is it that you sell to reach your why. I will shortly introduce these three tiers:
WHY – this is your purpose, why does your company exist. This part engages the consumer on an emotional level.
HOW – This is the way you design your product or service, serve as evidence of the why.
WHAT – This is the product or service.
Sinek points out that what tier of The Golden Circle is processed in human brains rational part and how and why in the limbic part, which is the decision-making center.
Also, as humans, we crave a sense of belonging, we want to feel that our beliefs and values are shared. If you communicate your values and beliefs, as a leader or an organization, you will earn trust of the consumers and employees who share these values with you.
In my opinion here lies the effectiveness of starting with why. If you can clearly communicate why you do what you do and you believe in it, it is much easier to find people to support you. If you rely on what, you need to provide explanation for your customers and employees, or use manipulation. As said in the book: “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
I want to continue with another quote; “Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.” This must be the most valuable lesson for me in the book. I see myself looking for purpose, I see myself looking for why. I am confident that I am not alone with the same struggle. It is quite easy to understand the concept and the reasons behind it, but when it comes to finding the why, it gets tricky. But I am optimistic, genuine discoveries may take time, but they are powerful source of inspiration. And inspiration is strong driver for me.
Talking about genuineness, I find many already established companies telling stories and communicating their why, but I don’t by them. They seem artificial, they lack in authenticity because they are trying so hard to be authentic. By inventing your why, you are inventing a need that you can fit that beautiful why to serve it. This is something that we should try to avoid as young starting leaders and entrepreneurs.
I think, at least in my case, I need to change my mindset to discover my why. I feel that in today’s fast society it is easy to start inventing a buzzing why, a trendy slogan to follow. I have been thinking exactly like that; if I just see an opportunity, I will invent a reason to fill it, to make money out of it. I have noticed that if my why is only to serve the what and how I’m cheating myself and others.
This all falls into category of manipulation. Manipulation is compelling because it is fast and it works, but at least I want to be part of a company, team, society or lead employees who share the same values and beliefs as I do.
This might feel like circling around without any vision, but I would like to think that maybe this is the start of the process to discover my why.