Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Simon Sinek had been trying to discover the source of what inspires.  He states that most sales are done through manipulation with such tools as pricing, fear and aspirations.  Manipulation works, but it doesn't inspire.  What he has learned is that people do not buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.  This is the secret to inspiration.

His models include Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King Jr and Herb Kelleher.  They inspired people not because of their manipulations, but because people felt inspired about why they were doing what they chose to do.

Simon improved his understanding when it was explained to him about how the brain works.  The limbic system is innermost and makes decisions without words, in other words based on emotions and feelings.  The Neocortex helps to rationalize decisions and can influence decisions.

Colin Powell makes an important observation in this information overloaded era, "I can make a decision with 30% of the information.  Anything more than 80% is too much information."  Personally I would just be concerned that you pick the right 30%.

Customers aren't always right.  Southwest Airlines  founder Herb Kelleher once said "It is a company's responsibility to look after the employees first.  Happy employees ensure happy customers and happy customers ensure happy shareholders in that order."  By treating employees fairly, trust is developed and loyalty that is transferred to customers and shareholders.

Another example given is with the Education for Employment Foundation, set up by Ron Bruder who is using this organization to develop optimism for opportunities in the Middle East.  Ron felt part of the problem in the Middle East is that too many young people are discouraged from innovating and he has set out to move in the right direction.  Innovation can be a key to jobs.

Getting back to the premise, Simon elaborates with the idea that value is a perception and not a calculation.  People buy brands that give confidence as they understand the compelling why behind them.

With innovative inspirational entrepreneurs an important lesson is that in trying to crack the mass market you need to identify early adopters first.  They are the ones who will understand the why and their enthusiasm and loyalty will carry towards the rest of the market.

An obstacle to continued growth is success.   As long as the leader is still around there is inspiration, but sooner or later they leave and the Why often gets lost to the How and the What.  One example is Walmart whose founder, Sam Walton might be best known for low prices, but in reality his secret was in how he treated his employees.  Other companies have been more successfully in passing on the original drive and some examples have been at Apple and Southwest Airlines.

Simon worked with ad agencies and wondered why some campaigns worked and others didn't although the ingredients seemed essentially the same.  As he came to understand the brain he concluded that too often the What and the How were understood, but not the Why.  Leaders need followers and the best are those who share enthusiasm for the Why.  In conclusion Simon says two things are required for innovative success.  The first is a vision of he world that does not exist.  Equally important is the ability to communicate it.  The vision comes from Why.

You can read more about Simon and his ideas at https://www.startwithwhy.com

Why is an important question, not asked enough, particularly by adults.  Earlier I had hit a similar theme from Amanda Lang http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2013/04/the-power-of-why.html  She felt that curiosity had been knocked out of a lot of people as they were socialized, but that following up Why was the way to innovate.

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