“Why” – What’s at the Core of Your Business?
In one of the most watched TED talks of all time – now with almost 35 million views – Simon Sinek challenged traditional perceptions and assumptions, particularly about business. He expands those insights in his book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. This thought-provoking book was our most recent choice for my reading group, Rick’s Read to Lead.
Sinek says that, in his quest to determine what makes great leaders and great companies, he discovered a truth that changed both his understanding of the world and how he lives in it. He illustrates how this applies to businesses with what he refers to as “the Golden Circle.”
The Golden Circle:
- Outer ring of the circle represents “what” a company does
- Middle circle represents “how” the company does what it does
- Inner circle represents “why” the company exists
Sinek claims that few people can articulate the “why.” People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe, not those who need what you have. Placing “why” at the foundation of your business creates trust and loyalty, by both clients and your team, which leads to sustained success. It also creates an inspired working environment for employees.
Our discussion of the book included how we might apply Sinek’s insights to our own businesses:
- We are attracted to others whose “why” and purpose is evident.
- Getting in touch with your “why” can prove to be magnetic. You begin attracting the people and companies you WANT to work with because you’re emanating WHY you do what you do.
- The “right” business will show up because you are clear about your purpose; those who resonate with that purpose will want to work with you and vice versa.
- You attract what you put out there.
Sinek’s stories include comparisons of marketing approaches that are based on “why” versus those based on “what,” and how “why” wins out, even when the product or service may not have been the very best on the market. The reason the product or service exists drew people to support it. Other stories portray how an understanding of “why” has propelled individuals into positions of leadership and/or to accomplish what they set out to do. They understood clearly and were driven by the “why” – the purpose behind their behaviors.