Start With Why: People Buy Why You Do It


There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY Simon Sinek refers to your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

We are drawn to leaders and businesses that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.

For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea, we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.

Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy entrepreneurs, in that order.

Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics.

Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you, not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.

You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.

Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.

Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down.

All businesses start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.

When Obama spoke about “the change we believe in” he inspired people to believe in his why. People remember Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, people remember and connect with Mandela’s “it’s an ideal I’m willing to die for.” People buy Apple products because they are believe “they are the crazy ones” because they believe they “they can change the world.” People buy certain cars because of their “sheer driving pleasure” or “their class is permanent.”

Tony Hsieh of Zappos talks about “delivering happiness” to his customers through shoes.

Why do you buy products that you buy. Why buy Apple and not Samsung, why drive BMW and not Mercedes, why do you prefer Adidas (impossible is nothing) and not Nike (just do it)? The answer to these questions is your WHY.

Therefore why should customers use your products, why should they buy from you? Lower price is not the real answer, Appple’s products are not cheap, they are actually expensive, but people still buy them.

The challenge for entrepreneurs is to get their customers, employees and anyone that connects with their business to connect with their WHY. This is beyond just the product or price, it is an emotional connect that transcends product or price.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

What is your why?


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