You’ve probably heard about the power of starting with ‘why’, but what does it mean in practice? Let’s find out.
At the SalesWorks academy for SDRs, I give everyone who comes along a list of book recommendations. Right near the top of it is one of my favourite business books: Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with why’. I wish I’d read it sooner than I did, so it’s good to put people just starting out in their careers in touch with it.
Maybe you’ve read it? Maybe you’ve seen Simon Sinek’s TED talk on YouTube? (current view count: 11,750,529) It’s a book that has made a huge impact on the art and science of leadership.
In this article, I want to tell you what I like about it, as well as what I think it means in practice.
We sometimes forget about the ‘why’ behind things, focusing more on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’. However, as I have built SalesWorks, the ‘why’ has been incredibly important to me. Whenever I have to make a decision, especially when it comes to building out a new service or product offering, I make sure I ask myself why. Why am I doing what I’m doing?
In the book, Simon uses Apple as an example of a company that puts the ‘why’ at the centre of what it does. Apple has been innovating for the last 40 years, but in a way, it doesn’t matter what it makes, whether it’s a Mac, an iPod or an iPhone X, what matter is the ‘why’. For Apple, the ‘why’ is ‘think different’. It’s this philosophy that makes people love Apple products (in extreme cases, camping out at night to get their hands on them). They identify with the ‘why’, not the ‘what’ or ‘how’.
At its core, ‘Start with why’ is a book about leadership. One of the things Simon talks about, which I think is so important in leadership, is that success isn’t the ability to do everything. It’s not about ability or capacity. It’s about diversity.
I don’t mean diversity as gender or race in this case. I mean diversity of thought and diversity of strengths. When we admit to ourselves and others that we can’t do something, it’s amazing how you see people come to help.
It’s why the best leaders don’t surround themselves with like-minded people from the same kinds of background, even if they know they’ll get along and work well together. They make a conscious effort to hire people who think and do differently.
Another thing that stood out to me in the book and the TED talk is how Simon defines loyalty. For him, repeat business is one thing; loyalty is another. Repeat business is a transaction; loyalty is a feeling. It’s emotional.
There’s a part of this that’s really relevant to me at the moment. I’m hiring for people at SalesWorks and I really want to show the people that come to work with me that I put them first, that I’m loyal to them.
We hear so much about companies who ‘put their customers first’. I think this sends a message to your employees who work relentlessly that they are only second place. That’s not what I want to do at all.
What do you think?
My view is that you should treat your team like they’re your number one priority. After all, they’re the reason you have customers. When you treat your employees right, they’ll look after your customers as second nature. That’s my ‘why’.
Now, I want to know what you think. If you’ve read ‘Start with why’ or watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk, what stands out for you?