Articles by John Gifford and Noah Shabman

“Why” Stories: Understanding the Why of Our Business

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

“Why” Stories

By John Gifford

Too often we blithely go along running our business without considering any deeper level of meaning. When I attended the November 18th Power Circle conducted by Noah Shabman and Luke Russell I was expecting the supportive, relationship-building, and accountability-inducing group I had attended before. Much more was in store.

Noah led an exercise in mental and emotional exploration inspired by Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why.” What is the reason behind your being in the business you are in?

Noah’s questions got people to think deeply about their motivations for doing the work that they do. Because people felt comfortable enough to respond honestly and thoughtfully, it allowed me and I believe others in the group to clarify the reasons they are pursuing the work they are currently doing.

Noah subsequently wrote up a summary of the discussion topics from that Power Circle.
Because I believe that identifying the “Why” of your business is important for both personal and ROI reasons, I have asked Noah to help me facilitate a series of “Why” stories about people’s businesses and jobs, written by the persons themselves. The article below will be the first in this series, followed by one written by myself. We thought if we are going to ask others to jump into the deep end of the pool, we need to go first.

If you are interested in the “Why Story” challenge for yourself, as well as providing great benefit to our readers, contact Noah Shabman at or me (John Gifford) at and we will provide you with the details and format for your “Why” article.

The Why of My Business

By Noah Shabman

It was both easy and hard finding out the answer to WHY. Hard to really open up to myself and analyze why my business exists. It became much easier once I started. It became a snowball gaining size rolling down the mountain. Ideas began to flow but nothing really resonated within me.

To recap from a previous article, Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why” describes what he calls the Golden Circle.

Imagine three concentric rings. The outermost is WHAT. The second is HOW. The innermost is WHY. I am paraphrasing Sinek as follows:
The majority of companies start from the outside and only work in as far as HOW.

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?

I was on a quest to find out that one reason, that one thought that described the very drive that inspires me and my employees to become something more. How do I stand out amongst all the other companies that do WHAT it is I do? How do I find a WHY that rings as true as Apple.
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