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Start With Why: Summary and Takeaways

May 12, 2022 Edwin Kooistra

Why do some companies achieve extraordinary success while others have failed with the same resources? This is a question that Simon Sinek begins his famous Ted Talk with.

Essentially, Sinek believes the sense of purpose of any brand or business is the key to success. The “why” they exist (besides making money), followed by the “how” and the “what” are the three steps to growing a successful company.

Who is Simon Sinek?

Simon Sinek is a strategic consultant and a motivational speaker who became well-known when his first TED talk went viral, reaching over 50 million views. He later expanded that speech into the best-selling book Start With Why.

This post summarizes the philosophy behind “Start With Why” and dives into its relation to the product marketing industry.

So let’s jump into the key takeaways from this book.

Follow The Golden Circle

Imagine a circle with three rings. The outer ring is WHAT someone does. For example, “We sell tablets.” The middle ring is HOW the person does things, like, “We sell tablets with a lifetime guarantee.” And the inside of the circle is the WHY which is the purpose, cause, or belief that only a few can tell. Yet this is the key to long-term success.

Starting with the WHY is definitely harder as it involves a lot of introspection, inspiration, vision, and clarity. Most companies start with the most superficial layer, which is the easiest to identify and communicate: the WHAT—unfortunately turning into manipulations to sell a product.

Manipulations can work, but only for short-term solutions. Loyal, repeat customers won’t buy the WHAT– they always buy the WHY.

To answer your WHY, take a step back and examine the big, bold vision that motivates your company. Once you have your WHY, you’ll have a guideline for decision-making to ensure that everyone and every action is working towards the same goal.

The result is:

  1. Companies that are less dependent on sales and promotions and more focused on developing a loyal customer base willing to pay the full price.
  2. Avoid wasting time and money targeting people who just want your end product, and focus on attracting customers who believe what you believe instead.
  3. Less competition and more flexibility when you have taught people to trust you.

As an example, Simon points out how “Apple” didn’t market themselves as creators of computers like Dell. Instead, they sold themselves as challengers of the status quo, focusing on the WHY and empowering individuals.

And finally, the WHY alone isn’t enough. While it helps your customers understand the vision and passion, passion alone won’t cut it. You still need to show the structure and what it will take to execute that vision.

It starts with the WHY, so focus on that first, and the rest of your business will function more smoothly.

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Edwin Kooistra - Product Marketer & Founder

Technology can be a huge differentiator but leveraging emerging technologies can be challenging. After my degree in Business Information Technology I decided to work on the provider side of Technology, because I believe Technology providers play an important role in guiding enterprises on their digital journey. Besides helping tech businesses to optimize their growth and go-to-market strategies, I also like to write about the topic. I hope you find it useful!

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