Short of putting this entire article in quotations, I want you to know that everything here comes directly from Simon Sinek. You can view his talk on www.ted.com. If you aren’t familiar with Ted, it is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
Savannah hosts a TEDx conference every year that is sponsored by The Creative Coast. It will be held in May 2015 and you can go to thecreativecoast.org for more information about the event.
So, Simon says:
Companies, organizations and even individuals function on three levels. WHAT we do, HOW we do it and WHY we do it. Every company or organization knows WHAT they do. These are the products sold or the services provided.
Some companies know HOW they do what they do. These are the things that set us apart from our competition which make us different or special. Few companies or individuals can tell you WHY they do what they do. WHY is a belief, a cause or a purpose. Why our company even exists and why that should matter to anyone else. Making money is a result, not the WHY.
When we communicate with others we tend to go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest. This means that we communicate from the outside in: WHAT we do followed by HOW we do it and then maybe WHY we do it if we even know the answer to these ourselves.
Leaders and companies who inspire us think, act and communicate from the inside-out.
Whether they realize it, all great and inspiring leaders and organizations think, act and communicate just like each other, and it is the complete opposite of everyone else.
The ability to motivate people is not difficult as it is usually tied to some external factor. Great leaders are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed but because they were inspired.
A great example of this is Apple. If it was like everyone else, it might say: We make great computers. They are beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?
But Apple isn’t like everyone else. They actually say: Everything we do, we believe in changing the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?
Consumers will buy Apple products because it’s not WHAT Apple does that differentiates them, it is WHY they do it. If a consumer feels inspired rather than manipulated to buy a product, they can tell you why they think they bought the best product. It is the cause or the WHY of the company that inspires loyalty.
If you are like most companies or people, you have started with the WHAT and finding the WHY may not be easy. During the class we had to ask why multiple times to get to the why that would inspire us.
One company sold life insurance (WHAT) by offering a variety of term and whole life policies (HOW). WHY? To fill a need. WHY? To protect families. WHY? To provide financial security. WHY? To give people peace of mind. WHY? My family couldn’t afford to send me to college so I was headed for the Army at age 18 when my father suddenly died. He had a life insurance policy that changed our financial status and I was able to go to college. I sell life insurance because it altered my life. Now I am inspired.
The WHAT and HOW are important, but customers need to know the WHY. Tell them your story and what motivates you to do what you do. This will set your business apart in today’s market and will inspire others to do business with you.
Becky Brownlee is a business consultant with The University of Georgia and Georgia Southern Small Business Development Centers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.