I count Simon Sinek among my all time gurus. Not only because of WHAT he says, but rather because of WHY. He introduced the WHY to the world on many occasions: in his book, blog, and TED talk – which I all read, follow, and listened to zealously.
Sinek focuses on what he calls the “Golden Circle”, in the center of which stands the WHY. This simple question “WHY” should actually be at the origin of all actions. According to Sinek, people rely on why to connect with each other. In other words, customers “don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it”. Its centric position in the circle reminds us of its importance. Theoretically, it works, but here are two real-life examples to illustrate:
Nike has made its WHY very clear to the world: help people unleash the hero inside them. For that, they focus on sports gear, supporting their customers’ when they’re about to push beyond. This would be their HOW. To prove their products possess an “heroic side”, they make sure to spread their messages in every way. Even their communication campaign revolves around “ real-life heroes” who gave up everything for a cause. The brand was recently at the heart of many debates. Nike’s new face is Colin Kaepernick, an engaged American football player. His refusal to stand for the anthem ni 2016 costed him many opportunities in his field. This loss makes him the perfect Nike hero, pushing his own barriers to the max for “a crazy dream“
Colin Kaepernick – Nike 2018
2 – APPLE
Apple’s WHY is quite simple: challenging the status quo. The HOW serving this purpose is by crafting user-friendly interfaces and “simple” products. Those products happen to be computers / phones (the WHAT). Following that logic, the first Macintosh commercial introduced in 1984 at the Super Bowl was totally aligned with the firm’s WHY. Apple will shake your world.
Apple Macintosh reveal – 1984
KEEP AN EYE ON WHY
Let’s be honest. Finding your WHY is not always obvious. Once you managed to identify and articulate your WHY to the world, you can start acting on your WHY and fulfilling it. The means you find to spread your vision / values must remain aligned with your original statement, and this at all times. To me, this is the hardest part. All the more that you’re passionate about your WHY. In my mind, the biggest pitfalls lies in the risk of waking up one morning realizing your project drifted away sooo far from your original values, you don’t recognize it anymore.
To understand better how entrepreneurs manage to stay aligned with their original values I went on the field and asked some of them. The firsts are Diane and Keya from WAP:
I’m meeting Diane and Keya in their HQ at Cargo, a coworking space hosting start ups in Paris. Noticing the passion in their voice when talking about the movement WAP is igniting in France, I got curious and unleashed the question monster: “How do you stick true to your why? How is your how / what still adequate to the original motivation / vocation? And this while still remaining flexible with your clients.”
Diane ” It’s a really good question. Actually, it’s our everyday battle. At first, it was hard to draw a clear line. Sometimes we got carried away, and sometimes we felt like instincts weren’t enough.
I remember, in the early stage there were times when we doubted our own methodology. Once, we told ourselves “is this relevant?” / “are those points we should cherish as much as we do now?”. Every single time it happened – and we gave in -, we had issues during our sessions. So, we learned to trust the process – and stick to it no matter what.
It’s easier today. We are steadily growing and we recently tested our concept on a bigger scale**. We know it’s going well. So we don’t hesitate anymore. If I have to be a bit harsh or pushy, I do it. The methodology works. And it works because everybody is on the same level”
More on WAP here
The second entrepreneur I’m meeting recently underwent some soul-searching. The reason? After a rocky year in 2017, he decided to entirely reshape his brand. Realising his WHY wasn’t aligned with his project anymore acted like a trigger, which led to action.
As I admire this capacity to take a step back, I wonder how you ensure your WHYs to 1) never drift 2) drift but under some control.
Maybe, like in my last example, you need to be your own safeguard / your project’s safeguard, checking in regularly to see how your WHY is doing. How should you act if something’s wrong? Up to you!
How do you stay true to your WHY?