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Starting better

There's a better way to start. But few people and businesses apply it.

Here, we steal a page from Simon Sinek's work to help us start (everything we do) better.

Normally, when people are asked to explain something we start with the WHAT. What you do for a living, what product your business is offering, what you plan to do over the weekend. And then we go on to the HOW. Few ever bother with the WHY. Few know the why. In fact, most people (and businesses) never mention the why. When in fact it’s much better to start with the WHY.

Here's why

Based on neuroscience, people respond more effectively when messages reach the areas of our brains that are associated with our emotions, our value judgments. Our emotions affect our behaviors and decision-making a lot, often much more than dry, rational thinking. And the WHY, which is about the purpose of doing something (the problem you’re trying to solve, the motivation behind your actions) targets the emotional part of the brain (called limbic brain) that processes feelings such as trust and affects decision-making. The WHY evokes emotions, makes you memorable, increases your influence. This is Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle concept that he explains in his book Start with Why. As Simon explains, successful companies like Apple and personalities like Martin Luther King Jr. start with the why. Here’s his TED talk with more than 61 million views and counting ⬇

Suppose you are a gym owner

...or want to become one. You need to think about your business model including things like what classes to offer, opening times, health and safety standards and so on.

You can see what your competitors are doing (focusing on the “successful” ones) and copy paste. You can see what license you need to take out and the minimum requirements to pass inspections.

Notice how may times I mention the word WHAT?

Let’s call this the WHAT-first approach.

Similarly, if someone asks you what are your plans for the weekend you may answer “I’m going to a fancy restaurant.” “I’m going to rest at home”. “Spend the day in nature with the family”.

And if they ask you what you do for a living you answer “I’m an accountant. I’m a teacher. I’m a dancer”.

Still the WHAT-first approach. Perfectly satisfactory.

But if you want to be extraordinary – there’s a better way.

The WHY-first approach.

If you set out to build a gym around WHY you focus on things like:

“I’m going to offer these classes because they’re more effective for this X population segment that I want to help get more fit”.

“I’m going to send out reminder to clients at this time because they might forget they have booked a class and they will get disappointed if they miss it.”

“I’m going to keep the space super clean and tidy because it will help my gym visitors feel more comfortable, and also signal them to try and keep the space clean themselves”.

Take-aways for starting better

In your value propositions, in everything you try to communicate, start with the why.

If you communicate the WHY, then people become interested in the HOW and WHAT.

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