Why do anything. Why do we do things? When asked this question it’s easy to give answers that seem obvious. Perhaps they are obvious and I sound stupid right now. Bare with me. Picture this, you’re going into a Job interview and your potential employer asks you what you’re expecting from the job and why you’ve decided to apply for a job at his company. What’s your answer? Is it something along the lines of “Well shucks, I need the money for rent, bills and basic living costs”. Or, is it something like “I really believe that what your company has to offer aligns with my personal morals and beliefs and I believe I can add something valuable to this company.” If you’ve been in this situation you probably know even if you did take the second approach, deep down you were thinking “Really man, I just need the money”.
I am good at Job interviews. When I say that I mean I am good at saying the right things. As a seemingly quiet and reserved person I morph into someone more confident and articulate in job Interviews. I know because previous employers have told me, I am not just and arrogant prick. Well maybe just a bit. Why am I telling you this? Well a few years ago I started working at a company. I loved it. I said all the right things but I barely lasted a year because I hated it. Whoah, Ross what’s going on here. You just said you loved it. Yes, but no. I loved the work I did. I was working as a Fullstack Web Developer and that is what I was passionate about. However, I hated why I did the work. What they company expected me to do did not align withy my why .
Let’s take a look at this word “Why” – Simon Sinek wrote an incredible book called “Start with Why” which beautifully articulates this concept of “Why”.
The basic concept of “Start with Why” relies on a concept called the “Golden Circle” (Pictured Below). The circle has 3 sections: The innermost circle (Why), The Second Circle (How) and the Outer Circle (What). The idea is that all good ideas start with a solid why. Bad ideas will start with a solid “What”, and that is what causes them to fail.
Sinek uses the example of Apple in contrast to other computer companies. If you look at how most company’s do their marketing these days it will look something like this: “Hey we have this awesome Car” (What), “It’s beautifully designed, goes incredibly fast and will cost you X” (How), “Want to buy one?” (Why). This is an example of what starting with “What” would look like. If you take a look at most marketing these days this is exactly what you see. There will be a TV on a pamphlet, it will tell you what the TV can do, and how you can buy it, however it doesn’t tell you why you should buy it. It assumes that you, the consumer, just happen to be looking for a TV. If they are lucky you will buy their TV instead of a competitor’s TV that is almost identical. This is where company’s like Apple are different. Apple will tell you their why first. In 1984 Apple made a commercial toying with George Orwell’s book title “1984”. The Commercial depicts a futuristic dystopia where people have become robot like drones and are all slaves to one common authority. The commercial ends with “Apple Will release the Macintosh, and we will show you why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’.” This entire commercial fits in perfectly with Apple’s Slogan: “Think Different.” Apple believes in challenging the status quo. That is their why . Instead of selling a what , they’re selling an identity that speaks to an emotional part of the human brain. If you ask most people why they buy Apple products, half the time they can’t even properly articulate why , they just know they’re loyal to Apple. What Apple does differently is starting with why . This is something that Apple does very effectively. Apple used to be called “Apple Computer Inc.” however they realized that by having the word “computer” in their company’s name they’re excluding other products such as Smart Phones and iPods. They believed so deeply in this identity shift that they changed their name from Apple Computer inc. to just “Apple Inc.”. Apple doesn’t do business with people who want what they have, but rather, they do business with people who believe in why they do it.