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Simon Sinek Is Wrong!

by Doug Davidoff | Nov 26, 2012 3:30:00 AM

I'm a big fan of Simon Sinek's concept, Start with Why.  I even shared his TEDx presentation on this blog.  However, I feel as though it's time to get something off my chest - Sinek is wrong.


Instead, start with “who.”

The most powerful question every business executive can ask, every day, is "Who do we want to be a hero to?"

The companies that obsess about this question, and orient their actions to that answer, experience disproportionate rewards.  Think about all the great companies in history.   IBM, Apple, Starbucks, FedEx, P&G, Patagonia, Four Seasons, The Grateful Dead all had powerful “why’s,” but they all started with a maniacal focus on who they wanted to attract.

In my experience, the biggest mistake made by businesses and salespeople is they approach their market too broadly.  In an effort to be opportunistic, we actually reduce the impact of our message and our efforts.

Think of it this way.  If you were to go bowling, how many pins would you aim at in your effort to get a strike?  The answer is 1½.  You’d focus on the headpin and the outer portion of either the 2 or 3 pin.  Your ability to hit the headpin directly allows momentum to knock the other pins down.

Defining your “who” is the same idea.  Describe your headpin market.  Here are the three most important things to know when defining your headpin:

    • Describe the types of companies/customers that you most want to do business with.
    • What types of problems do these companies/customers have that you can help them solve?
    • What are the consequences of these problems?  What additional problems occur because of this problem and what opportunities are missed?

The more clearly you answer these questions, the easier it will be to stand out and access the decision makers you desire.