Start with WHY

Start with WHY because people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek says we should “Start with WHY”

One of my mentors shared a TED Talk with me a few years ago. This talk helped me feel more comfortable writing in public. The talk helped me assign value to many things I took for granted and easily overlooked as not important. “Why would someone, anyone, let alone an investor, care about the thoughts in my head?” This type of thinking, self-doubt, blocked me from learning. When the learning stops, the growing stops.

How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek is a cultural anthropologist who became a world-famous leadership expert once he gave his TED Talk, “How great leaders inspire action” [1].
This type of content is attractive to me because I work with teams in this capacity regularly. In the last ten years, I’ve helped over 100 CEOs, founders, and early stage startups build scalable infrastructure and grow their businesses.
I find that the most successful teams germinate their brand from the concepts outlined below. My assumption is that when those teams start with WHY, they differentiate themselves from competition. Those teams are no longer individuals, but they have learned to function and operate as a collective energy.
To make a comparison, here’s a story about sabertooth tigers:

Humans evolved beyond the saber tooth tiger because, eventually, after I am sure several humans died trying, we figured out that we would only overcome the obstacle if we come together, as one. We grunted. We communicated differently. Yet, we managed to self-organize into a powerful force.

This tribe mentality translates into team culture. The culture of the team emotes directly at your customer through your employee’s daily interactions.
Businesses, governments, and empires have risen and fell to their own cultural frictions for centuries.
This is startup culture, and, if you pay attention to these nuances early enough, you just might have a say in the way your culture is designed and then baked into the DNA of your organization.
As teams publicly define and align with their WHY, I find them more likely to remain a team for long periods of time.
Adversity, tough times, and modern-day sabertooth tigers do not threaten the existence of these teams.
The journey is the destination. Projects are experiments. Failure, mistakes, and continuous improvement empower these teams to realize their full potential.
These teams are equipped to go the distance.
It is no longer a question of “if it works”, rather, it is a question of “when it works”.

Start with Why

by Simon Sinek
“Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an employee, a leader of a team or division or you want to tackle the WHY of your entire organization, discovering the WHY injects passion into your work. And it’s those who start with WHY that have the ability to inspire those around them.
Why are some organizations more innovative, more influential and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees? We know WHAT we do, we know HOW we do it, now we need to know WHY we do what we do.
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If you seek change, want to carve out a new path that sets you apart from your competition and lays the foundation for the future, you are ready to discover your WHY. A WHY is a blueprint; set of values and beliefs through which to make decisions that last. It is only for those organizations committed to positive change and long-term success.
When an organization starts with WHY, they stand for something bigger than any product, result or metric. Their brand has real meaning and true value in the world. They are better able to attract and unite employees, customers and partners. And their people love coming to work.
This is your organization’s journey to WHY.” [2]
Well, my fellow lifelong learner, what’s your WHY?
Perhaps there are no “right” or “wrong” responses to my inquiry. I suggest using the time to speak with those surrounding you at this very moment about this specific topic.

[1] Video of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, How great leaders inspire action
[2] PDF of Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why
[3] Primer of Start with Why, by Simon Sinek
[4] Test your WHY with the Friends Exercise, by Simon Sinek