Here are my notes from Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. Most bad decisions are made on false assumptions.
When companies or organizations do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. And for good reason. Manipulations work.
- Price – the short term gain is fantastic, but the more you do it, the harder it becomes to kick the habit. Price always costs something.
- Promotions – it was incentives that drove GM into a financial hole.
- Fear – Real or perceived, it’s the most powerful manipulation tool. When fear is employed, facts are incidental. It’s how terrorism works…it has nothing to do with statistical probability.
- Aspirations – short term responses to long term desires.
- Peer Pressure – what if 70% of your competitors are idiots?
- Novelty – with dozens and dozens of toothpastes to choose from, there dis no data to show that American are brushing their teeth more than in the 1970s
Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty. Building loyalty is greater than manipulating customers. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you. Manipulation is a perfectly valid strategy of driving a transaction, but just because it works doesn’t make it right.
The Golden Circle: Why, then how, then what.
Every single organization knows WHAT they do. Some companies know HOW they do it. Very few can articulate WHY they do what they do. WHAT is easier to copy than WHY.
Apple did not invent the mp3 nor the technology that became the iPod, yet they are credited with transforming the music industry with it. Creative Technology, LTD advertised their product as a “5GB mpe player.” Apple said, “1,000 songs in your pocket.”
Good quality and features matter, but they are not enough to produce the dogged loyalty that all the most inspiring leaders and companies are able to command.
Our need to BELONG is not a rational need. Build the TRIBE through talking about WHY. The limbic brain is powerful enough to drive behavior that sometimes contradicts our rational and analytical understanding of a situation. And our biology complicates our ability to verbalize the real reasons why we make decisions the way we do. We end up rationalizing based on tangible factors, but those are not usually the real reasons. Companies that don’t talk about the WHY force people to make decision with only empirical evidence. You’ve got to win hearts, not just minds.
Apple computers are more expensive. If people made only rational decisions, nobody would ever by a Mac.
“I can make a decision with 30 percent of the information” – Colin Powell. “Anything more than 80% is too much.”
German cars (BMWs, for example) proved that great engineering without usability is not enough.
Understanding HOW means everything you say and everything you do you ACTUALLY believe. The best salespeople always say you have to really believe in the product you’re selling.
Southwest Airlines wasn’t interested in competing against every tong else for 15% of the traveling population (early 70s, only 15% traveled by air)…they cared about the other 85%. To do that, they decided to be cheap, fun and simple.
Differentiation happens in the WHY and the HOW…not the WHAT.
The goal of business should not be to do business with anyone who simply wants aha thou have. It should be to focus on the people who believe what you believe.
Great leadership is not based solely on great operational ability. We do better in cultures in which we are good fits. A company is a culture, a group of people brought together around common set of values and beliefs. The goal is not to hire people who simply have a skill set you need, the goal is to hire people who believe what you belief.
Shakelton’s ad for men to travel across Antarctica: “Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.” When tragedy struck, there were no fatalities and no mutiny. Hire people passionate about your WHY
Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.
Samuel Pierpont Langley was secretary of the Smithsonian and had ben an assistant in the Harvard College Observatory. He was well connected and knew Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. He was well funded by the War Department and set out to be the first to achieve manned flight. He assembled the best and brightest minds and was followed around by the New York Times. He wanted to be first, rich and famous.
A few hundred miles away in Dayton Ohilop, Orville and Wilber Wright were also building a flying machine. They did not have a recipe for success. No funding. No grants. No connections. They had no education, but they did have a dream. On December 17, 1903, they flew 120 feet in the air. Langley quit.
The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of the leader is to cease an environment in which great ideas can happen. People who come to work with a clear sense of WHY are less prone to giving up after a few failures because they understand the higher cause.
If people are not looking out for the community, then the benefits of a community erode. Trust has played a bigger role in advancing companies and societies than skill set alone. Great organizations become great because of the people inside the organization feel protected. For example, Southwest Airlines does not believe the customer is always right.
It was not the details of Martin Luther King’s plans that earned him the right to lead. It was what he believed and his ability to communicate it.
Though Dr. King inspired the movement, to actually move people requires organizing. For passion to survive, it needs structure.
It is the optimists who change the world.
“I never knew what was int he bank.” – Walt Disney. “Walt Disney dreamed, drew and imagined, Roy stayed in the shadow, forming am empire.” – Bob Thomas, Disney biographer. Jobs had the vision, Woz had the goods.
A business is a culture + a structure. Success is a team sport.
Even the ability to create a tipping point is possible without creating lasting change. It’s called a fad.
As a company grows, the CEO’s job is to personify the WHY. To ooze of it. To talk about it. To preach it. To be a symbol of what the company believes.
Dictators understand the power of a symbol. The Harley logo has become a symbol. The patch on the right arm of a solder’s uniform is backwards so it does not appear as if he is retreating when running.
THE CELERY TEST: You should buy MMs, Oreos, Rice milk and Celery. If you’re WHY is to do only things that are healthy, your decision is easy.
Filtering you decisions through your WHY helps you know which is the right advice. With a WHY clearly stated in an organization, anyone within the organization can make a decision as clearly and as accurately as the founder.
The reason we trust Disney is we know what they believe. Volkswagen introduced a high end car that didn’t connect. Toyota and Honda did the same thing by building other brands. If you try to seize market opportunities inconsistent with your why over time, your WHY will go fuzzy.
Most people are confident in WHAT and experts in HOW but don’t understand the WHY.
Christina Harbridge set out to create a new kind of collection’s company, one that collected money by being nice. Her business succeeded (300% greater success rate than industry average) because she knew WHY she was doing what she was doing and found way to measure the why.
John Scully ran Apple as a business not as a cause. He was manipulated by Steve Jobs to join the team in the first place.
Gaining clarity on WHY is not the hard part. IT is the discipline to trust one’s gut, to stay true to one’s purpose, cause of beliefs.
The work we’re doing now is better than the work we were doing six months ago and six months from now we will be doing better work than the work we are doing today. We wake up every day with a sense of why.