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Start with Why photo“Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain,” said Simon Sinek. This is just one of the many quotable parts of his book, Start With Why, which is what I read for October’s book club. The book was written by Sinek, but based off his Ted Talk. A Ted Talk is a speaking event where a person presents for around 18 minutes or less on an “idea worth spreading,” as stated by the organization’s slogan. Anyway, his popular Ted Talk goes into the importance of knowing why we do what we do, but his book takes it deeper.

Sinek lays out the Golden Circle, which is supposed to help us understand the all-important question of “why.”  According to Sinek, ‘why’ is a cause or belief of a business. It’s the deep reason why a company exists. ‘How’ is the action the company takes to achieve that belief. “How’s are often given to explain how something is different of better,” said Sinek. The most easily understood concept of them all is ‘what.’ Every single company can explain what they do, but they can’t always say why they do it.

Sinek explains that companies need to market their message with their why first rather than their what. For example, he explains how when the mp3 player and iPod first came out with the 5GB/1000 song storage space, they were each marketed differently. The mp3 player made by Creative Technology Ltd. marketed the device as a “5GB mp3 player.” Now, compare that to Apple’s message of “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Which device would you have wanted purchase based on that message? They’re both the same message, just framed differently.  Creative used the what as its message and Apple used the why as its message. Look at how using the why has panned out for Apple. Give your customers a reason why they should do something because why is the belief that drives the decision.

I found that the book became repetitive with the same organizations continually being used in the examples, but overall it’s a great book to reference with many tidbits and pieces of advice for businesses and leaders.

One last thing offered by Sinek I think is worth sharing, his explanation of the difference between leading and being a leader. “Leading is not the same as being a leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, having 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.”

Shelby Ray
Shelby Ray
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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