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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action - Simon Sinek

books, leadership & management65 min read

About the book



Some random quotes from beginning to end order. For the full context, please buy and read the book. I do this to help myself to quickly get the main ideas of the book.

There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us.

Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.

This is a book for those who want to inspire others and those who want to find someone to inspire them.


With a little discipline, any leader or organization can inspire others, both inside and outside their organization, to help advance their ideas and their vision. We can all learn to lead.

Most of the answers we get, when based on sound evidence, are perfectly valid. However, if we're starting with the wrong questions, if we don't understand the cause, then even the right answer will always steer us wrong... eventually. The truth, you see, is always revealed... eventually.

There are leaders and there are those who lead. Just about every person or organization needs to motivate others to act for some reason or another. Some want to motivate a purchase decision, Others are looking for support or a vote. Still others are keen to motivate the people around them to work harder or smarter or just follow the rules. The ability to motivate people is not, in itself, difficult.

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 incentive 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 ac for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.

For those whose have an open mind for new idea, who seek to create long-lasting success and who believe that your success requires the aid of others, I offer you a challenge. From now on, start with Why.

Part 1: A World That Doesn't Start with Why

1. Assume You Know

We make assumptions about the world around us based on sometimes incomplete or false information. Our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceives truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know

Now consider how organizations are formed and how decisions are made. Do we really know why some organizations succeed and why others don't, or do we just assume? Regardless of the process or the goals, we all want to make educated decisions. More importantly, we all want to make the right decisions.

As we all know, however, not all decisions work out to be the right ones, regardless of the amount of data we collect. Sometimes the impact of those wrong decisions is minor, and sometimes it can be catastrophic. Whatever the result, we make decisions based on a perception of the world that may not, in fact, be completely accurate.

Not only bad decisions are made on false assumptions. Sometimes when things go right, we think we know why, but do we really? That the result went the way you wanted does not mean you can repeat it over and over.

So how can we ensure that all our decisions will yield the best results for reasons that are fully within our control? Logic dictates that more information and data are key. And that's exactly what we do. We read books, attend conferences, listen to podcasts and ask friends and colleagues - all with the purpose of finding out more so we can figure out what to do or how to act. You have to be careful what you think you know. Assumptions, you see, even when based on sound research, can lead us astray.

There are times in which we had no data or we chose to ignore the advice or information at hand and just went with our gut and things worked out just fine, sometimes even better than expected. This dance between gut and rational decision-making pretty much covers how we conduct business and even live our lives.

"We make sure it fits when we design it". In the Japanese auto plant, they didn't examine the problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution - they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn't achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process.

2. Carrots and Sticks

Manipulation vs. Inspiration

Most companies have no clue why their customers are their customers. This is a fascinating realization. If companies don't know why their customers are their customers, odds are good that they don't know why their employees are their employees either.

There are only 2 ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. 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.


Many companies are reluctant to play the price game, but they do so because they know it is effective. Drop your price low enough and people will buy from you.

Playing the price game, however, can come at tremendous cost and can create a significant dilemma for the company. 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.

Price always costs something. The question is, how much are you willing to pay for the money you make?


Whether it is "2 for 1" or "free toy inside", promotions are such common manipulations that we often forget that we're being manipulated in the first place. Given the relative parity of the features and benefits, that little something extra is sometimes all it takes to tip the scale. In the business-to-business world, promotions are called "value added". But the principle are the same, give something away for free to reduce the rusk so that someone will do business with you. And like price, promotions work.


When fear is employed, facts are incidental. Deeply stated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures. This is how terrorism. It's not the statistical probability that one could get hurt by a terrorist, but it's the fear that it might happen that cripples a population.

Businesses also use fear to agitate the insecurity we all have in order to sell products. The idea is that if you don't buy the product or service, something bad could happen to you.


If fear motivates us to move away from something horrible, aspirational messages tempt us toward something desirable.

Though positive in nature, aspirational messages are most effective with those who lack discipline or have a nagging fear or insecurity that they don't have the ability to achieve their dreams on their own (which, at various times for various reasons, is everyone)

Gym memberships tend to rise about 12% every January, as people try to fulfill their New Year's aspiration to live a healthier life. Yet only a fraction of those aspiring fitness buffs are still attending the gym by the end of the year. Aspirational messages can spur behavior, but for most, it won't last.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure works not because the majority or the experts are aways right, but because we fear the we may be wrong.

To make you feel you might be missing out on something or that everyone else knows but you. Better to go with the majority, right?

Novelty (a.k.a. Innovation)

Novelty can drive sales - the RAZR proved it - but the impact does not last. If a company adds too many novel ideas to often, it can have a similar impact on the product or category as the price game.

The Price You Pay for the Money You make

I cannot dispute that manipulations work. Every one of them can indeed help influence behavior and every one of them can help a company become quite successful. But there are trade-offs. Not a single one of them breed loyalty. Over the course of time, they cost more and more. The gains are only short-term. And they increase level of stress for both the buyer and the seller. If you hav e exceptionally deep pockets or are looking to achieve only a short-term gain with no consideration for the long term, then these strategies and tactics are perfect.

Leadership requires people to stick with you through thick and thin. Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years. In business, leadership means that customers will continue to support your company even when you slip up. Loyal customers don't often even bother to research the competition or entertain other options. Loyalty is not easily won.

Manipulations Leads to Transactions, Not loyalty

Manipulations are a perfectly valid strategy for driving a transaction, or for any behavior that is only required once or on rare occasions. The rewards the police use are designed to incentivize witnesses to come forward to provide tips or evidence that may lead to an arrest. And, like any promotion, the manipulation will work if the incentive feels high enough to mitigate the risk.

Manipulations work, but they cost money. Lots of money. When the money is not available to fund those tactics, not having a loyal following really hurts.

Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces costs, it provides massive peace of mind. Like loyal friends, you know your customers and employees will be there for you when you need them the most. It is the feeling of "we're in this together", shared between customer and company, voter and candidate, boss and employee, that defines great leaders.

In contrast, relying on manipulations creates massive stress for buyer and seller alike. For the buyer, it has become increasingly difficult to know which product, service, brand or company is best. Deciding what law firm to hire, college to attend, car to buy, company to work for, candidate to elect - there are just too many choices. For the companies too, whose obligation it is to help us decide, their ability to do so has gotten more and more difficult. Every day, the competition is doing something new, something better. When manipulations are the norm, no one wins.

It's not an accident that doing business today, and being in the workforce today, is more stressful than it used to be. The short-term gains that drive business in America today are actually destroying our health.

Just Because It Works Doesn't Make It Right

The danger of manipulations is that they work. And because manipulations work, they have become the norm, practiced by the vast majority of companies and organizations, regardless of size or industry. That fact alone creates a systematic peer pressure. With the perfect irony, we, the manipulators, have been manipulated by our own system. With every price drop, promotion, feat-based or aspirational message, and novelty we use to achieve our goals, we find our companies, our organizations and our systems getting weaker and weaker.

A free flow of loans encouraged aspiring homebuyers to buy more than they could afford at all price levels. There was very little loyalty. It was all a series of transactional decisions - effective, but at a high cost. Few were working for the good of the whole. Why would they? - there was no reason given to do so. There was no cause or belief beyond instant gratification. Buckling or even collapse is the only logical conclusion when manipulations are the main course of action.

The reality is, in today's world, manipulations are the norm

Part 2: An Alternative Perspective

3. The Golden Circle

There are a few leaders who choose to inspire rather than manipulate in order to motivate people. Whether individuals or organizations, every single one of these inspiring leaders thinks, acts and communicates exactly the same way. And it's the complete opposite of the rest of us.

It all starts from the inside out. It all starts with Why.

WHAT: every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within that system. WHATs are easy to identify

HOW: some companies and people know WHO they do WHAT they do. Whether you call them a "differentiating value proposition", "proprietary process" or "unique selling propositions", HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better.

WHY: very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY, i mean what is your purpose, cause of belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

When most organizations or people think, act or communicate they do some from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason - they go from clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.

But not the inspired companies. Not the inspired leaders. Every single one of them, regardless of their size or their industry, thinks, acts and communicates from the inside out.

Apple did not invent the mp3, nor did they invent the technology that became the iPod, yet they are credited with transforming the music industry with it. Given their history in digital sound, Creative was more qualified than Apple to introduce a digital music product. The problem was, they advertised their product as a "5GB mp3 player"/ It is exactly the same message as Apple's "1000 songs in your pocket". The difference is Creative told us WHAT their product was and Apple told us WHY we needed it.

To the outside world, all milk is basically the same, so we just lump all the brands together and call it a commodity. In response, that's how the industry acts. This is largely the pattern for almost every other product or service on the market today, B2C or B2B.

Having good-quality products is of course important. No matter how clear your WHY, if WHAT you sell doesn't work, the whole thing falls flat. But a company doesn't need to have the best products, they just need to be good or very good. Better or best is a relative comparison. Without first understanding WHY, the comparison itself is of no value to the decision maker.

Instead of asking "WHAT should we do to compete?", the questions must be asked "WHY did we start doing WHAT we're doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?"

4. This Is Not Opinion, This Is Biology

Sometimes our feeling of belonging is incidental. We're not friends with everyone from our home state, but travel across the country, and you'll eel a special bond with someone you meet who is from your home state.

Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things and often spend money to get that feeling. When companies talk about WHAT they do and how advanced their products are, they may have appeal, but they do not necessarily represent something to which we want to belong But when a company clearly communicates their WHY, what they believe, and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives. This is not because they are better, but they become markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear. Those products and brands make us feel like we belong and we feel a kinship with others who buy the same things.

Our natural need to belong also makes us good at spotting things that don't belong. It's a sense we get. A feeling. DSomething deep inside us, something we can't put into words, allows us to feel how some things just fit and some things just don't.

We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. Those who we consider great leaders all have an ability to draw us close and to command our loyalty. And we feel a strong bond with those who are also drawn to the same leaders and organizations

Gut Decisions Don't Happen in Your Stomach

golden circle


When we communicate from the outside in, when we communicate WHAT we do first, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information, like facts and features, but it does not drive behavior. But when we communicate from the inside out, we're talking directly to the part of the brain that controls decision-making, and our language part of the brain allows us to rationalize those decisions.

We have trouble, for example, explaining why we married the person we married. We struggle to put into words the real reasons why we love them, so we talk around it or rationalize it. "She's funny, she's smart", we start. But there are lots of funny and smart people in the world, but we don't love them and we don't want to marry them. There is obviously more to falling in love than just personality and competence. Rationally, we know our explanation isn't the real reason. It is how our loved ones make us feel, but those feelings are really hard to put int words. That's the problem with love; we only know when we've found it because it "just feels right".

The same is true for other decisions. When a decisions feels right, we have a hard time explaining why we did what we did. Decision-making and the ability to explain those decisions exist in different parts of the brain. This is where "gut decisions" come from. They just feel right.

Our limbic brain is powerful, powerful enough to drive behavior that sometimes contradicts our rational and analytical understanding of a situation. We often trust our gut even if the decision flies in the face of all the facts and figures. When you force people to make decisions with only the rational part of their brain, they almost invariably end up "overthinking". These rational decisions tend to take longer to make, and can often be of lower quality. In contrast, decisions made with limbic brain, gut decisions, tend to be faster, higher-quality decisions.

This is what we mean when we talk about winning hearts and minds. The heart represents the limbic, feeling part of the brain, and the mind is the rational, language center. Most companies are quite adept at winning minds; that that requires is a comparison of all the features and benefits. Winning hearts, however, takes more work. Why does no one set out to win "minds and hearts"?

The ability to win hearts before minds is not easy. It's a delicate balance of art and science - another coincidental grammatical construction. Why is it that things are not a balance of science and art, but always art before science? Perhaps it is a subtle clue our language-impaired limbic brain is sending us to help us see that the art of leading is about following your heart. Perhaps our brains are trying to tell us that WHY must come first.

This is the genius of great leadership. Great leaders and great organization are good at seeing what most of us can't see. They are good at giving us things we would never think of asking for. Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.

It's What You Can't See That Matters

The amount of the limbic brain is astounding. It not only controls our gut decisions, but it can influence us to to things that seem illogical or irrational. Leaving the safety of home to explore faraway places. Crossing the ocean to see what's on the other side. Leaving a stable job to start a business out of your basement with no money in the bank. Many of us look at these decisions and say, "That's stupid, you're crazy, You could lose everything. You could get yourself killed. What are you thinking?" It is not logic or facts but our hopes and dreams, out hearts and our guts, that drive us to try new things.

If we were all rational, there would be no small businesses, there would be no exploration, there would be very little innovation and there would be no great leaders to inspire all those things. It is the undying belief in something bigger and better that drives that kind of behavior. But it can also control behavior born out of other emotions, like hate or fear. Why else would someone plot to hurt someone they had never met?

Products with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe. Remember, people don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. If a company does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the company does. And when that happens, manipulations that rely on pushing price, features, service or quality become the primary currency of differentiation.

5. Clarity, Discipline and Consistency

Starting with WHY is just the beginning. There is still work to be done before a person or an organization earns the right or ability to inspire. For The Golden Circle to work, each of the pieces must be in balance and in the right order.

Clarity of WHY

It all starts with clarity. You have to know WHY you do WHAT you do. If people don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it, so it follows that if you don't know WHY you do WHAT you do, how will anyone else? If the leader of the organization can't clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its product or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?

Manipulations can motivate the outcome of an election, but they don't help choose who should lead. To lead requires those who willingly follow. It requires those who believe in something bigger than a single issue. To inspire starts with the clarity of WHY.

Discipline of HOW

Once you know WHY you do what you do, the question is HOW will you do it? HOWs are your values or principles that guide HOW to bring your cause to life. HOW we do things manifests in the systems and processes within an organization and the culture. Understanding HOW you do things and, more importantly, having the discipline to hold the organization and all its employees accountable to those guiding principles enhances an organization's ability to work to its natural strengths. Understanding HOW gives greater ability, for example, to hire people or find partners who will naturally thrive when working with you.

It's the discipline to never veer from your cause, to hold yourself accountable to HOW you do things; that's the hardest part. Making it even more difficult for ourselves, we remind ourselves of our values by writing them on the wall... as nouns. For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs.

Consistency of WHAT

Everything you say and everything you do has to prove what you believe. A WHY is just a belief. That's all it is. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions - everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, PR, culture and who you hire. If people don't buy WHAT you do by WHY you do it, then all these things must be consistent. With consistency people will see and hear, without a shadow of a doubt, what you believe. After all, we live in a tangible world. The only way people will know what you believe is by the things you say and do, and if you're not consistent in the things you sand and o, no one will know what you believe.

Ask the best salesman what it takes to be a great salesman. They will always tell you that it helps when you really believe in the product you're selling. What does belief have to do with a sales job? Simple. When sales men actually believe in the thing they are selling, then the words that come out of their mouths are authentic. When belief enters the equation, passion exudes from the salesman. It is this authenticity that produces the relationships upon which all the best sales organization are based. Relationships also build trust. And with trust comes loyalty.

The Right Order

The WHATs are important - they provide the tangible proof of the WHY - but WHY must come first. The WHY provides the context for ev everything else. As you will see over and over in all the cases and examples in this book, whether in leadership, decision-making or communication, starting with WHY has a profound and long-lasting impact on the result. Starting with WHY is what inspires people to act.

If You Don't Know WHY, You Can't Know HOW

"You are now free to move about the country", they said in their advertising. That's much more than a tagline. That's a cause. And it's a cause looking for followers. Those who believed what Southwest believed became fiercely loyal to the company. They felt Southwest was a company that spoke directly to them and directly for them. More importantly, they felt that flying Southwest said something about who they were as people. The loyalty that developed with their customers ahd nothing to do with price. Price was simply of he the ways the airline brought their cause to life.

It is a false assumption that differentiation happens in HOW and WHAT you do. Simply offering a high-quality product with more features or better service or a better price does not create difference. Doing so guarantees no success. Differentiation happens in WHY and HOW you do it. Southwest isn't the best airline in the world. Not are they always the cheapest. They have fewer routes than many of their competition and don't even fly outside the continental United StateS. WHAT they do is crystal clear and everything they do proves it. There are many ways to motivate people to do things, but loyalty comes from the ability to inspire people. Only when the WHY is clear and when people believe what you believe can a true loyal relationship develop.

Manipulation and Inspiration Are Similar, but Not the Same

Manipulation and inspiration both tickle the limbic brain. Aspirational messages, fear or peer pressure all push us to decide one way or another by appealing to our irrational desires or playing on our fears. But it's deeper than emotional feeling foes deeper than insecurity or uncertainty or dreams that the emotional reaction aligns with how we view ourselves. It is at that point that behavior moves from being motivated to inspired. When we are inspired, the decisions we make have more to do with who we are and less to do with the companies or the products we're buying.

When our decisions feel right, we're willing to pay a premium or suffer and inconvenience for those products or services. This has nothing to do with price or quality. Price, quality, features and services are important, but they are the cost of entry in business today. It is those visceral limbic feelings that create loyalty.

When WHY, HOW and WHAT are in balance, authenticity is achieved and the buyer feels fulfilled. When they are out of balance, stress or uncertainty exists. When that happens, the decisions we make will also be out of balance. Without WHY, the buyer is easily motivated by aspiration or feat. At that point, it is the buyer who is at the greatest risk of ending up being inauthentic. If they buy something that doesn't clearly embody their own sense of WHY , then those around them have little evidence to paint a clear and accurate picture of who they are.

Doing Business Is Like Dating

To learn how to apply WHY to a business situation, you needn't look much farther than how we act on a date. Because, in reality, there is no difference between sales and dating. In both circumstances, you sit across a table from someone and hope to say enough of the right things to close the deal. Of course, you could always opt for a manipulation or two, a fancy dinner, dropping hints of tickets that you have or whom you know. Depending on how badly you want to close the deal, you could tell them anything they want to hear. Promise them the world and the odds are good that you will close the deal. Once. Maybe twice. With time, however, maintaining that relationship will cost more and more. No matter the manipulations you choose, this is not the way to build a trusting relationship.

"You know what I love about our company? Every single one of us comes to work every day to do something we love. We get to inspire people to do the things that inspires them, It's the most wonderful thing in the world. In fact, the fun part is trying to figure out all the different ways we can do that. It really is amazing, The best part is, it is also good for business. We do really well. We have beautiful offices, you should stop by sometime to see. We work with some of the biggest companies. I'm sure you've seen our ads. We're actually doing pretty well."

3 Degrees of Certainty

When we make gut decisions, the highest level of confidence we can offer is, "The decision feels right", even if it flies in the face of all the facts and figures. Ask the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders what their secret is and invariably they all say the same thing: "I trust my gut". The times things went wrong, they will tell you, "I listened to what others were telling me, even though it didn't feel right. I should have trusted my gut." It's a good strategy, except it's not scalable. The gut decision can only be made by a single person, It's a perfectly good strategy for an individual or a small organization, but what happens when success necessitates that more people be able to make decisions that feel right?

That's when the power of WHY can be fully realized. The ability to put the WHY into words provides the emotional context for decisions. Ot offers greater confidence than "I think it's right". It's more scalable than "I feel it's right". When you know your WHY, the highest level of confidence you can offer is "I know it's right". When you know the decision is right, not only does it feel right, but you can also rationalize it and easily put into words. The decision is fully balanced. The rational WHATs offer proof for the feeling of WHY. If you can verbalize the feeling that drove the gut decision, if you can clearly state your WHY, you'll provide a clear context for those around you to understand why that decision was made. If the decision is consistent with the facts and figures, then those facts and figures serve to reinforce the decision - this is balance. And if the decision flies in the face of all the facts and figures then it will highlight the other factors that need to be considered. It can turn a controversial decision from a debate into a discussion.

The goal of business should not be to do business with anyone who simply wants what you have, It should be to focus on the people who believe what you believe. When we are selective about doing business only with those who believe in our WHY, trust emerges.

Part 3. Leaders Need a Following

6. The Emergency of Trust

Trust does not simply because a seller makes a rational case why the customer should buy a product or service, or because an executive promises change. Trust is not a checklist. Fulfilling all your responsibilities does not create trust. Trust is a feeling, not a rational experience. We trust some people and companies even when things go wrong, and we don't trust others even though everything might have gone exactly as it should have. A completed checklist does not guarantee trust. Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain.

With trust comes a sense of value - real value, not just value equated with money. Value, by definition, is the transference of trust. You can't convince someone you have value, just as you can't convince someone to trust you. You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do. Again, a WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions. When all 3 are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived.

Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it having good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you - not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.

No one likes to lose, and most healthy people live their life to win. The only variation is the score we use. For some it's money, for other it's fame or awards. For some it's power, love, a family or spiritual fulfillment. The metric is relative, but the desire is the same.

The drive to win is not, per se, a bad thing. Problems arise, however, when the metric becomes the only measure of success, when what you achieve is no longer tied to WHY you set out to achieve it in the first place.

The Only Difference Between You and a Caveman Is the Car You Drive

Cultures are groups of people who come together around a common set of values and beliefs. When we share values and beliefs with others, we form trust. Trust of others allows us to rely on others to help protect our children and ensure our personal survival.

There is a reason we're not friends with everyone we meet. We're friends with people who see the world the way we see it, who share our views and our belief set. No matter how good a match someone looks on paper, that doesn't guarantee a friendship.

Most people who are born and raised in one culture will, for obvious reasons, end up being a reasonably good fit in that culture, but not always. There are people who grew up in France who never quite felt like they belonged; they were misfits in their own culture. So they moved, maybe to America. Drawn to the feelings they had for America's WHY, they followed the American Dream and emigrated.

One culture is not better or worse than the other, they are just different. We do better in cultures in which we are good fits. We do better in places that reflect our own values and beliefs.

A company is a culture. A group of people brought together around a common set of values and beliefs. It's not products or services that bind a company together. It's not size and might that make a company strong, it's the culture - the strong sense of beliefs and values that everyone, from the CEO to the receptionist, all share. So the logic follows, 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 believe.

Finding the People Who Believe What You Believe

When you fill an organization with good fits, those who believe what you believe, success, just happens.

We provide a list of qualifications for the job and expect that the best candidate will be the one who meets those requirements. They are all about WHAT and not about WHY.

What all great leaders have in common is the ability to find good fits to join their organizations - those who believe what they believe. "You don't hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills". This is all fine and good; the problem is, which attitude? What if their attitude is not one that fits your culture?

The truth is, almost every person on the planet is passionate, we're just not all passionate for the same things. Starting with WHY when hiring dramatically increases your ability to attract those who are passionate for what you believe. Simply hiring people with a solid resume or great work ethic does not guarantee success. The goal is to hire those who are passionate for your WHY, your purpose, cause of belief, and who have the attitude that fits your culture. Once that is established, only then should their skills set and experience be evaluated.

Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you'll be stuck with whoever's left.

Give 'Em a Cathedral

Companies with a strong sense of WHY are able to inspire their employees. Those employees are more productive and innovative and the feeling they bring to work attracts other people eager to work there as well. It's not such a stretch to see why the companies that we love to do business with are also the best employers. When people inside the company know WHY they come to work, people outside the company are vastly more likely to understand WHY the company is special. In these organizations, from the management on down, no sees themselves as any more or less than anyone else. They all need each other.

When Motivated by WHY, Success Just Happens

But the Wright brothers did have something very special. They had a dream. They knew WHY it was important to build this thing. They believed that if they could figure out this flying machine, it would change the world. They imagined the benefits to everyone else if they were successful.

What Langley and the Wright brothers were trying to create was exactly the same; both were building the same product. Both the Wright brothers and Langley were highly motivated. Both ad a strong work ethic, Both had keen scientific minds. What the Wright brothers' team had that Langley did wasn't luck. It was inspiration. One was motivated by the prospect of fame and wealth, the other by a belief. Langley paid for talent to help him get rich and famous. The Wright brothers started with WHY.

Innovation Happens at the Edges

Dream teams are not always so dreamy. When a team of experts comes together they often work for themselves and not for the good of the whole. This is what happens when companies feel the need to pay mega-salaries to "get the best talent". Those people are not necessarily showing up because they believe in your WHY, they are showing up for the money. A classic manipulation. Paying someone a lot of money and asking them to come up with great ideas ensures very little. However, bringing a team of like-minded people and giving them a cause to pursue ensures a greater sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

Average companies give their people something to work on. In contrast, the most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.

The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen. It is the people inside the company, those on the front lines, who are best qualified to find new ways of doing things. The people who answer the phone and talk to customers, for example, can tell you more about the kinds of questions they get than can anyone sitting in an executive suite miles away. If the people inside a company are told to come to work and just do their job, that's all they will do. If they are constantly reminded WHY the company was founded and told to always look for ways to bring that cause to life while performing their job, however, they they will do more than their job.

The ability of a company to innovate is not just useful for developing new ideas, it is invaluable for navigating struggle. When people come to work with a higher sense of purpose, they find it easier to weather hard times or even to find opportunity in those hard times. People who come to work with a clear sense of WHY are less prone to giving up after a few failures because the understand the higher cause.

The Definition of Trust

Trust is a remarkable thing. Trust allows us to rely on others. We rely on those we trust for advice to help us make decisions. Trust is the bedrock for the advancement of our own lives, our families, our companies, our societies and our species. We trust those in our community to care for our children so we can go out to dinner.

Great organizations become great because the people inside the organization feel protected. The strong sense of culture create a sense of belonging and acts like a net. People come to work knowing that their bosses, colleagues and the organization as a while will look out for them. This results in reciprocal behavior. Individual decisions, efforts and behaviors that support, benefit and protect the long-term interest of the organization as a whole.

Real Trust Comes from the Things You Can't See

Trust matters. Trust comes from being a part of a culture or organization with a common set of values and beliefs. Trust is maintain when the values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do no actively work to keep their Golden Circle in balance - clarity, discipline and consistency = then trust stars to break down. A company, indeed any organization, must work actively to remind everyone WHY the company exists. WHY it was founded in the first place. What it believes. They need to hold everyone in the company accountable to the values the guiding principles. It's not enough to just write them on the wall - that's passive. Bonuses and incentives must revolve around them. The company must serve those whom they wish to serve it.

Passion comes from the feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself. If people do not trust that a company is organized to advance the WHY, then the passion is diluted. Without managed trust, people will show up to do their jobs and they will worry primarily about themselves. If a company doesn't manage trust, then those working ofr it will not trust the company, and self-interest becomes the overwhelming motivation.

The Influence of Others

Personal recommendations go a long way. We trust the judgement of others. It's part of the fabric of strong cultures. But we don't trust the judgement of just anyone. We are more likely to trust those who share our values and beliefs. When we believe someone has our best interest in mind because it is in their benefit to do so, the whole group benefits. The advancements of societies were based on a great deal on the trust between t hose with a common set of values and beliefs.

7. How a Tipping Point Tips


Early adopters are similar to innovators in that they appreciate the advantages wrought by new ideas or technologies. They are early to recognize the value of new ideas and are quite willing to put up with imperfection because they can see the potential. Although quick to see the potential and willing to take risks to try new technologies or idea, early adopters are not idea generators like the innovators.

Early adopters, like innovators but to a lesser degree, are willing to pay a premium of suffer some level of inconvenience to own a product or espouse an idea that feels right.

The next 34% of the population are the early majority, followed by the late majority, and finally the laggards on the far right side of the spectrum. Laggards are the ones who buy touchtone phones only because they don't make rotary phones anymore. The early and late majority are more practical-minded. For them, rational factors matter more. The early majority is slightly more comfortable with new ideas or technologies, while the late majority is not.

The farther you go on the curve, the ore you will encounter the clients and customers who may need what you have, but don't necessarily believe what you believe. As clients, they are the ones for who, no matter how hard you work, it's never enough. Everything usually boils down to price with them. They are rarely loyal. They rarely give referrals and sometimes you may even wonder out loud why you still do business with them. "they just don't get it, our gut tells us. The importance of identifying this group is so that you can avoid doing business with them. Why invest good money and energy to go after people who, at the end of the day, will do business with you anyway if you meet their practical requirements but will never be loyal if you don't?

Each of us assigns different values to difference things and our behaviors follow accordingly. This is one of the major reasons why it is nearly impossible to "convince" someone of the value of your products or ideas based on rational arguments and tangible benefits.

According to the Law of Diffusion, mass-market success can only be achieved after you penetrate between 15-18% percent of the market. That's because the early majority won't try something new until someone else has tried it first. This is why we have to drop our price or offer value-added services. We're attempting to reduce the risk tolerance of these practical-minded people until they feel comfortable to buy. That's what a manipulation is. They may buy, but won't be loyal. Don't forget, loyalty is when people are willing to suffer some inconvenience or pay a premium to do business with you. They may even turn down a better offer ability to get the system to tip is the point at which the growth of a business or the spreading of an idea starts to move at an extraordinary pace. It is also at this point that a product gains mass-market acceptance. The point at which an idea becomes a movement.. When that happens, the growth is not only exponential, it is automatic. It just goes.

The goal of business then should not be to simply sell to anyone who wants what you have - the majority - but rather to find people who believe what you believe, the left side of the bell curve. They perceive greater value in what you do and will happily pay a premium or suffer some sort of inconvenience to be a part of your cause. They are the ones who, on their own volition, will tell others about you. That 15-18% is not made up of people who are simply willing to buy the product. It is the percentage of people who share your beliefs and want to incorporate your ideas, your products and what your services into their own lives as WHATs to their own WHYs.

If you have the discipline to focus on the early adopters, the majority will come along eventually. But it must start with WHY. Simply focusing on so-called influencers is not enough. You don't just want any influencer, you want someone that believes in what you believe. Only then they will talk about you without any prompts or incentives. The entire act of incentivizing an influencer is manipulative to his or her group. Trust erodes and the value of the influencer is rendered useless.

Refusing to Consider the Law of Diffusion Will Cost You

When you start with WHY, those who believe what you believe are drawn to you for very personal reasons. It is those who are your values and beliefs, not the quality of your products, that will case the system to tip. Your role in the process is to be crystal clear about what purpose, cause or belief you exist to champion, and to show how your products and services help advance that cause. Absent a WHY, new ideas and technologies quickly find themselves playing the price-and-feature game - a sure sign of an technology that failed, it was how the companies tried to sell it.

Give the People Something to Believe In

In the summer of 1963, a quarter of a million people showed up to hear Dr. King deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. But how many people showed up for Dr. King? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It was what they believed, It was what they saw as an opportunity to help America become a better version of itself. It was they who wanted to live in a country that reflected their own values and beliefs that inspired them. Showing up that day was one of the WHATs to their own WHY. This was a cause and it was their cause.

Part 4. How To Rally Those Who Believe

8. Start With Why, But Know How

Energy motivates but charisma inspires. Energy is easy to see, easy to measure and easy to copy. Charisma is hard to define, near impossible to measure and too elusive to copy. All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarify of WHY; an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves. It's not Bill Gates's passion for computers that inspires us, it's his undying optimism that even the most complicated problems can be solved. He believes we can find ways to remove obstacles to ensure that everyone can live and work to their greatest potential. It is his optimism to which we are drawn.

Charisma has nothing to o with energy; it comes from a clarify of WHY. It comes from absolute convection in an ideal bigger than oneself. Energy, in contrast, comes from a good night's sleep or lots of caffein. Energy can excite. But only charisma can inspire. Charisma commands loyalty. Energy does not.

Energy can always be injected into an organization to motivate people to do things. Bonuses, promotions, other carrots and even a few sticks can get people to work harder, for sure, but the gains are, like all manipulations, short-term. Over time, such tactics cost more money and increase stress for employee and employer alike, and eventually will become the main reason people show up for work every day. That's not loyalty. That's the employee version of repeat business. Loyalty among employees is then they turn down more money or benefits to continue working at the same company. Loyalty to a company trumps pay and benefits. And unless you're an astronaut, it's not the work we do that inspires us either. It's the cause we come to work for. We don't want to come to work to build a wall, we want to come to work to build a cathedral.

The Chosen Path

Regardless of WHAT we do in our lives, our WHY - our driving purpose, cause or belief - never changes. If our Golden Circle is in balance, WHAT we do is simply the tangible way we find to breathe life into that cause

When a WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and maybe want to take part in bringing it to life. If that belief is amplified it can have the power to rally even more believers to raise their hand and declare, "I want to help". With a group of believers all rallying around a common purpose, cause or belief, amazing things can happen. But it takes more than inspiration to become great. Inspiration only starts the process; you need something more to drive a movement.

Amplify the Source of Inspiration


The cone represents a company or an organization - an inherently hierarchical and organized system. Sitting at the top of the system, representing the WHY, is a leader; in the case of a company, that's usually the CEO. The next level down, the HOW level typically includes the senior executives who who are inspired by the leader's vision and know HOW to bring it to life. Don't forget that a WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief and WHATs are the results of those actions. No matter how charismatic or inspiring the leader is, if there are not people in the organization inspired to bring that vision to reality, to build an infrastructure with systems and processes, then at best, inefficiency reigns, and at worst, failure results.

I Have a Dream (and He's Got the Plan)

In every case of a great charismatic leader who ever achieved anything of significance, there was always a person or small group lurking in the shadows who knew HOW to take the vision and make it a reality.

It wasn't Dr. King who changed America; it was the movement of millions of others whom he inspired that changed the course of history. The vision and charisma of the leader are enough to attract the innovators and the early adopters. Trust their guts and their intuition, these people will make the greatest sacrifices to help see the vision become a reality. With each success, with every tangible demonstration that the vision can in fact become reality, the more practical-minded majority starts to take interest. What was previously just a dream soon becomes a provable and tangible reality. And when that happens, a tipping point can be reached and then things really get moving.

Those Who Know WHY Need Those Who Know HOW

WHY-types are the visionaries, the ones with the overactive imaginations. They tend to be optimists who believe that all the things they imagine can actually be accomplished. HOW-types live more in the here and now. They are the realists and have a clearer sense of all things practical. WHY-types are focused on the things most people can't see, like the future. HOW-types are focused on things that most people can see and tend to be better at building structures and processes and getting things done. One is not better than the other, they are just different ways people naturally see and experience the world.

Most people in the world are HOW-types. Mot people are quite functional in the real world and can do their jobs and do very well. Some may be very successful and even make millions of dollar, but they will never build billion-dollar businesses or change the world. HOW-types don't need WHY-types to do well. But WHY-guys, for all their vision and imagination, often get the short end of the stick. Without someone inspired by their vision and the knowledge to make it a reality, most WHY-types end up as starving visionaries, people with all the answers but never accomplishing much themselves.

In nearly every case of a person or an organization that has gone on to inspire people and do great things, there exists this special partnership between WHY and HOW. Bill Gates, for example, may have been the visionary who imagined a world with a PC on every desk, but Paul Allen built the company. Steve Jobs was the rebel's evangelist, but Steve Wozniak is the engineer who made the Apple work. Jobs had the vision, Woz had the goods. It is the partnership of a vision of the future and the talent to get it done than makes an organization great.

This relationship starts to clarify the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement in an organization. The vision is the public statement of the founder's intent, WHY the company exists. It is literally the vision of a future that does not yet exists. The mission statement is a description of the route, the guiding principles - HOW the company intends to create that future. When both of those things are stated clearly, they WHY-type and the HOW-type are both certain about their roles in the partnership.Both are working together with clarity of purpose and a plan to get there. For it to work, it requires more than a set of skills, it requires trust.

9. Know Why. Know How. Then What?

Speak Clearly and Ye Shall Be Clearly understood

When a company is small, it revolves around the personality of the founder. There is no debate that the founder's personality is the personality of the company. As the company grows, the leader becomes physically removed, further and further away from WHAT the company does, and even father away from the outside market. Just as the the cone demonstrates, the CEO's job, the leader's responsibility - it's not to focus on the outside market, it's to focus on the layer directly beneath: HOW. The leader must ensure that there are people on the team who believe what they believe and know HOW to build it. The HOW-types are responsible for understanding WHY and must come to work every day to develop the systems and hire the people who are ultimately responsible for bringing the WHY to life. The general employees are responsible for demonstrating the WHY to the outside world in whatever the company says and does. The challenge is that they are able to do it clearly.

We rely on metaphors, imagery and analogies in an attempt to communicate how we feel. Absent of the proper language to share our deep emotions, our purpose, cause of belief, we tell stories. We use symbols. We create tangible things for those who believe what we believe to point to and say, "That's why I'm inspired". If done properly, that's what marketing, branding and products and services become; a way for organization to communicate to the outside world. Communicate clearly and you shall be understood.

10. Communication Is Not About Speaking, It's About Listening

Most companies have logos, but few have been able to convert those logos into meaningful symbols. Because most companies are bad at communicating what they believe, so it follows that most logos are devoid of any meaning. At best they serve as icons to identify a company and it's products. A symbol cannot have any deep meaning until we know WHY it exists in terms bigger then simply to identify the company. Without clarify of WHY, a logo is just a logo.

In truth. most people who tattoo Harley-Davidson logos on their bodies have no idea what the stock price of Harley is. That symbol is no longer about Harley. The logo embodies an entire value set - their own. "Mostly it says I'm American".

It is not just WHAT or HOW you do things that matters, what matters more i WHAT and HOW you do things is consistent with your WHY. Only then will your practices indeed be best. There is nothing inherently wrong with looking to others to learn what they do, the challenge is knowing what practices or advice to follow.

Part 5. The Biggest Challenge Is Success

11. When Why Goes Fuzzy

Being Successful vs. Feeling Successful

Someone asked the group how many of them had achieved their financial goals. About 80% of the hands went up. I thought that alone was quite impressive. But it was the answer to the next question that was so profound. With their hands still in the air. te group was then asked, "How many of you feel successful?" And 80% of the hands went down.

Here was a room full of some of America's brightest entrepreneurs, many of them multimillionaires, some of whom don't need to work anymore if they don't want to, yet most of them still didn't feel like the had succeeded. In fact, many of them reported that they'd lost something since they started their businesses. They reminisced about the days when they didn't have any money and were working out of their basements, trying to get things going. They longed for the feeling they used to have.

These amazing entrepreneurs were at a point in their lives where they realized that their businesses were about much more than selling stuff or making money.They realized the deep personal connection that existed between WHAT they do and WHY they were doing it. This group of entrepreneurs fathered to discuss matters of WHY, and at times it was quite intense.

It is easy to see what they gained over the course of their careers - we can easily count the money, the size of the office, number of employees, the size of their homes, market share and the number of press clippings. But the thing they had lost is much harder to identify. As their tangible success grew, something more elusive started to dissipate. Every single one of these successful business owners knw WHAT they did. They know HOW they did it. But for many, they no longer knew WHY.

Achievement vs. Success

For some people, there is an irony to success. Many people who achieve great success don't always feel it. Some who achieve fame talk about the loneliness that often goes with it. That's because success and achievement are not the same thing, yet too often we mistake one for the other. Achievement is something you reach or attain, like a goal. It is something tangible, clearly defined and measurable. Success, in contrast, is a feeling or a state of being.

Success comes when we wake up every day in that never-ending pursuit of WHY we do WHAT we do. Our achievements, WHAT we do, serve as the milestones to indicate we are on the right path. It is not a either/or - we need both.

A wise man once said, "Money can't buy happiness, but it pays for the yacht to pull alongside it". The yacht represents achievement; it is easily seend and, with the right plan, completely attainable. The thing we pull alongside represents that hard-to-define feeling of success. Obviously, this is much harder to see and attain. They are distinct concepts and sometimes they go together and sometimes they don't. More importantly, some people, while in pursuit of success, simply mistake WHAT they achieve as the final destination. This is the reason they never feel satisfied no matter how big their yacht is, no matter how much they achieve. The false assumption we often make is that if we simply achieve more, the feeling of success will follow. But it rarely does.

Those with an ability to never lose sight of WHY, no matter how little or how much they achieve, can inspire us. Those with the ability to never lose sight of WHY and also achieve the milestones that keep everyone focused in the right direction are the great leaders. For great leaders, The Golden Circle is in balance. They are in pursuit of WHY, they hold themselves accountable to HOW they do it and WHAT they do serves as the tangible proof of what they believe. But most of us, unfortunately, reach a place where WHAT we are doing and WHY we are doing it eventually fall out of balance. We get to a point when WHY and WHAT are not aligned. It is the separation of the tangible and the intangible that marks the split.

12. Split Happens

At the beginning, ideas are fueled by passion - that very compelling emotion that causes us to do quite irrational things. That passion drives many people to make sacrifices so that a cause bigger than themselves can be brough to life. Some drop out of school or quit a perfectly good job with a good salary and benefits to try to go it alone. Some work extraordinarily long hours without a second thought, sometimes sacrificing the stability of their relationships or even their personal health. This passion is so intoxicating and exciting that it can affect others as well. Inspired by the founder's vision, many early employees demonstrate classic early-adopter behavior. Relying on their gut, these first employees also quit their perfectly good job and accept lower salaries to join an organization with a 90% statistical change of failing. But the statistics don't matter; passion and optimism reign and energy is high. Like all early adopters, the behavior of those who join early says more a about them than it does about the company's prospects.

The reason so many small businesses fail, however, is because passion alone can't cut it. For passion to survive, we needs structure. A WHY without the HOWs, passion without structure, has a very high probability of failure. Remember the dot-con boom? Lots of passion, but not so much structure.

The single greatest challenge any organization wil face is... success. When the company is small, the founder will rely on his gut to make all the major decisions. From marketing to product, from strategy to tactics, hiring and firing, the decision the founder makes will, if he trusts his gut, feel right. But as the organization grows, as it becomes more successful, it becomes physically impossible for one person to make every major decision. Not only must others be trusted and relied upon to make big decisions, but those people will also start making hiring choices. And slowly but surely, the clarity of WHY starts to dilute.

When organizations are small, WHAT they do and WHY they do it are in close parallel. Born out of the personality of the founder, it is relatively easy for early employees to "get it". Clarity of WHY is understood because the source of passion is near - in face physically comes to work every day. In most small businesses all the employees are all crammed into the same room and socialize together. Simply being around a charismatic founder allows that feeling of being a part of something special to flourish.

It is no accident that big companies talk about a "return to basics". What they are alluding to is a time before the split. They do indeed need to return to a time when WHAT they did was in perfect parallel to WHY they did it. If they continue down the path of focusing on their growth of WHAT at the expense of WHY - more volume and less clarity - their ability to thrive and inspire for years to come is dubious at best.

Good Successions Keep the WHY Alive

When the person who personifies the WHY departs without clearly articulating WHY the company was founded in the first place, they leave no clear cause for their successor to lead. The new CEO will come aboard to run the company and will focus attention on the growth of WHAT with little attention to WHY. Worse they may try to implement their own vision without considering the cause that originally inspired most people to show up in the first place. In these cases, the leader can work against the culture of the company instead of leading or building upon it. The result is diminished morale, mass exodus, poor performance and a slow and steady transition to a culture of mistrust and every-man-for-himself.

When the WHY Goes, WHAT Is All You'll Have Left

With a company so beloved by employees, customers and communities, Walton made only one major blunder. He didn't put his cause into clear enough words so that others could continue to lead the cause after he died. It's not entirely his fault, The part of the brain that controls the WHY doesn't control language. So, like so many, the best Walton could articulate was HOW to bring his cause to life. He talked about making products cheap to make things more affordable to thea average working American. He talked about building stores in rural communities so that the backbone of America's workforce didn't have to travel to the urban centers. It all made sense. it was the WHY upon which the company was built, however, that was left unsaid.

Part 6. Discover Why

13. The Origins of a Why

THe WHY Comes from Looking Back

Gaining clarity of WHY, ironically, is not the hard part. It is the discipline to trust one's gut, to stay true to one's purpose, cause or beliefs. Remaining completely in balance and authentic is the most difficult part.

I Am a Failure

If things were to change, I knew I needed to learn to implement more structure before everything crashed. I attended conferences, read books and asked successful friends for advice on how to do it. It was all good advice, but I couldn't hear it. No matter what I was told, All I could hear was that I was doing everything wrong. Trying to fix the problem didn't make me feel better, it made me feel worse. I felt more helpless. I started having desperate thoughts, thoughts that for an entrepreneur are most worse than suicide: I thought about getting a job. Anything that would stop the feeling of falling I had almost every day.

I remember visiting the family of my future brother-in-law for Thanksgiving that year. I sat on the couch in the living room of his mother's house, people were talking to me, but I never heard a word. If I was asked questions, I replied only in platitude. I didn't really desire or even have the ability to make conversation anymore. It was then that I realized the truth. Statistics notwithstanding, I was a failure.

The biology of human behavior and the Golden Circle overlapped perfectly. While I was trying to understand why some marketing worked and some didn't, I had tripped over something vastly more profound. I discovered why people do what they do. It was then I realized what was the real cause of my stress. The problem wasn't that I didn't know what to do or how to do it, the problem was I had forgotten WHY. I had gone through what I now know is a split, and I needed to rediscover my WHY.

To Inspire People to Do the Things That Inspire Them

I had a decision to make: do I try to patent it, protect it and use it to make lots of money, or do I give it away? This decision was to be my first Celery Test. My WHY is to inspire people to do the things that inspire them, and if I am to be authentic to that cause there was only 1 decision to make - to give it away, to talk about it, to share it.

14. The New Competition

If You Follow Your WHY, Then Others Will Follow You

When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.

Now think about how we do business. We're always competing against someone else. We're always trying to be better than someone else. Better quality, More features. Better service. We're always comparing ourselves to others. And no one wants to help us. What if we showed up to work every day simply to be better than ourselves? What if the goal was to do better work this week than we did the week before? To make this month better than last month? For no other reason than because we want to leave the organization in a better state that we found it?

All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Those who forget WHY they were founded show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of to outdo themselves. The pursuit, for those who lose sight of WHY they are running the race, is for the medal or to beat someone else.

What if the next time when someone asks, "Who's your competition?", we replied, "No idea". What if the next time someone pushed, "Well, what makes you better than your competition?", we replied, "We're not better than them in all cases". And what if the next time someone asks, "Well, why should I do business with you then?", we answer with confidence, "Because the work we're doing now is better than the work we were doing 6 months ago. And the work we'll be doing 6 months from now will be better than the work we're doing today. Because we wake up every day with a sense of WHY we come to work. We come to work to inspire people to do the things that inspire them. Are we better than our competition? If you believe what we believe and you believe that the things we do can help you, then we're better, If you don't believe what we believe and you don't believe the things we can do will help you, then we're not better. Our goal is to find customers who believe what we believe and work together so that we can all succeed. We're looking for people to stand should-to-shoulder with us in pursuit if the same goal, we're not interested in sitting across a table from each other in pursuit of a sweeter deal. And here are the things we're doing to advance our cause...". And then the details of HOW and WHAT you do follow. But this time, it started with WHY.

Imagine if every organization started with WHY. Decisions would be simpler, Loyalties would be greater. Trust would be a common currency. If our leaders were diligent about start with WHY, optimism would reign and innovation would thrive. No matter the size of the organization, no matter the industry, no matter the product or the service, if we all take some responsibility to start with WHY and inspire others to do the same, then, together, we can change the world.


Be a Part of This Movement, Share Your Vision of the World

Leadership is not about power or authority. Leadership is decidedly more human. Being a leader requires one thing and one thing only: followers. A follower is someone who volunteers to go where you are going. They choose to go not because they have to, not because they were incentivized to, not because they were threatened to, but because they want to. The question is, why would anyone follow you?

If an individual or organization hopes to assume the responsibility of leadership - a responsibility that is given, not taken - then they mist think, act, and speak in a way that inspires people to follow. Leadership is always about people. No one leads a company. A company is a legal structure. You can run a company, you can manage an organization, but you can lead only people.

Leadership requires 2 things: a vision of the world that does not yet exists and te ability to communicate it.

Leaders don't have all the great ideas; they provide support for those who want to contribute, Leaders achieve very little by themselves; they inspire people to come together for the good of the group. Leaders never start with what needs to be done. Leaders start with WHY we need to do things. Leaders inspire action.