Know Why You Do What You Do

by Noah Shabman - November 24th, 2010

I have been trying to find something. It was something I thought I already had. I knew there is much to learn as a leader and business owner. In this case it’s about me.

Why is my business not growing exponentially?

Every business owner knows WHAT they do without question. Most of us know HOW we do it. It turns out great leaders know WHY they do it. In my journey I came across a video of Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why” that I am presently reading and recommend. And what he said resonated within me.

Now I know that you can swing a dead cat and hit an I.T. person. I thought that courtesy, follow-up cards, pro-active and high quality service, and networking would elevate me above my competition. But those actions are really only the minimum requirement to be in business in the first place. I have found that I am only communicating in the first two levels of what Sinek calls the Golden Circle.

Imagine three concentric rings. The outermost is WHAT. The second is HOW. The innermost is WHY. I am paraphrasing with my own interjections the succinct words of Sinek as follows:
If Apple were like most other companies, a marketing message from them would move from the outside in of the Golden Circle.

(WHAT) We make great computers

(HOW) They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?


Apple as well as great leaders and companies of any size start with WHY and work from the inside out. Here is how Apple really communicates.

(WHY) Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

(HOW)The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.

(WHAT) and we happen to make great computers.

Wanna buy one?

A completely different message that just feels different.

That kind of WHY and message creates the followers that Apple has. They line up at midnight for the IPad that could easily be bought the next morning right off the shelf. Apple doesn’t have access to technology, engineers, or money that others in their arena don’t also have. There is nothing secret about how the IPad is built that can’t be duplicated.

Yet as I watch the slew of competitor’s tablets coming out over the next two quarters and beyond, they so far pale in comparison. It’s because they (just as I have) are simply duplicating the WHAT and HOW of their competition. Not the WHY.

Martin Luther King had a WHY so powerful that some 200,000 people showed up in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. They showed up, on time, from all over the country, in a period where there was no website to check out the event details. Now that’s Viral.

I would challenge those who claim to think they know they’re WHY to re-examine it. Is it written down? Does your WHY, HOW, and WHAT flow like Apple’s does?

When someone asks you at a networking event WHAT you do, is your WHY powerful enough that they instantly want to know more even though there are 10 other people in room with the same WHAT?
Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you know your WHY definitively but your HOW and WHAT are not in line with it.

I am still on my journey but I can feel the answer is nearer than it was. I am not ashamed to say that I am presently among the masses who don’t know WHY they do what they do. I am invigorated to find the answer and want others to find theirs. Can you imagine the world if every leader in business or otherwise had a WHY as powerful as Apple, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King. I’ll meet you in the center ring.

Noah Shabman
Ark IT Indy
(317) 363-6623

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One Response to “Know Why You Do What You Do”

  1. Bradley S. Shabman says:

    Exactly. Well said Noah.

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