Simon Sinek is leading a movement to build a world in which the vast majority of us are inspired by the work we do. Millions have already seen his video on TED.com about the importance of knowing why we do what we do. Start with Why takes the concept even deeper.
Any person or organization can explain what they do; some can explain how they are different or better; but very few can clearly articulate why. WHY is not about money or profit – those are results. WHY is the thing that inspires us and inspires those around us.
From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Steve Jobs to the Wright Brothers, Start with Why shows that the leaders who inspire all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way – and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired – and it all starts with WHY.
The ability to motivate people is, in itself, not difficult. It is usually tied to some external factor. Great leaders, in contrast are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired.
For those who are inspired, the motivation to act is deeply personal. They are less likely to be swayed by incentives. Those who are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people – supporters, voters, customers, workers – who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.
People who love going to work are more productive and creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.
Manipulation vs. inspiration
There are only two ways of influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.
Typical manipulations include dropping the price, running a promotion, using fear, peer pressure etc. when companies do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproponiate number of manipulations to get what they need.
For the seller, selling based on price is like heroin. The short-term gain is fantastic, but the more you do it, the harder it becomes to kick the habit. Once buyers get used to paying a lower-than-average price for a product or service, it is very hard to get them to pay more.
Fear, real or perceived, is arguably the most powerful manipulation.
When marketers report that a majority of a population or a group of experts prefers their product over another, they are attempting to sway the buyer to believing that whatever they are selling is better. Peer pressure works not because the majority or the experts are always right, but because we fear that we may be wrong.
Real innovation changes the course of industries or even societies, like the light bulb, the microwave and iTunes. Adding a camera to a mobile phone is not an innovation – a great feature, but not industry altering.
Novelty can drive sales but the impact does not last. If a company adds too many novel ideas too often, it can have a similar impact on the product or category as the price game. In an attempt to differentiate with more features, the product start to look and feel more like commodities and, like price, the need to add yet another product to the line of compensate for the commodization ends in a downward spiral.
The price you pay for the money you make
Manipulations don’t breed loyalty, although they can drive sales. Over time, they cost more and more. And they increase the stress for both buyer and seller. Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or better price to continue doing business with you. Loyal customers often don ́t even bother to research the competition.
Addicted to the short term results, business today has largely become a series of quick fixes added on one after another.
Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty
For transactions that occur an average of once, carrots and sticks are the best way to elicit the desired behavior. Manipulations are perfectly valid strategy for driving a transaction.
It is the feeling of “we ́re in this together” shared between customer and company that defines great leaders.
About the Author
Simon Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people-From members of Congress to foreign ambassadors, from small businesses to corporations like Microsoft and American Express, from Hollywood to the UN to the Pentagon. He lives in New York City.