What is your WHY?
Eight years ago, my client and friend Ping Fu invited me to dinner at her home with Simon Sinek. Simon was speaking the next day at the company Ping founded, Geomagic, which has since been acquired by 3D Systems. I immediately said yes, not because I was intrigued by Sinek’s book, Start with Why (at least not yet), but because I always enjoyed spending time with Ping and was curious to meet this individual for whom she had such great praise. It was such a pleasure getting to know Ping through the years, working with her on key milestones including being named Inc. Entrepreneur of the Year as well as the publication of her memoir.
Last month, I had a closure coaching session with a leader at a fast growing technology company. In my desire to hold her accountable even after our work together was officially complete, I asked what resources she’d continue to utilize in the months to come. She said she would watch Simon Sinek. The next week, another client asked me to review his 360 feedback. One of the comments jumped out – that colleague would like my client to lead more from “WHY?”
In thinking through what Simon shared from his presentation at Ping’s company, along with what I have learned over the last three decades working in-house on leadership teams as well as a coach and consultant for clients, here are my 3 top takeaways:
— Know WHY you are in business. Invest time on articulating concisely your mission and vision. Dig deep inside. This will create trust and in turn, loyalty. Trust is a feeling, not a checklist. Loyalty is what makes customers continue to choose you even if you aren’t necessarily the least expensive or the closest to reach.
— The best leaders are those who INSPIRE. They think through WHY they do what they do, i.e. WHY their company is in business. Their goal is not to hire people who need a job and a paycheck. It’s to hire people who believe what the leader believes not because they have to, but because they want to. They put in blood, sweat, and tears out of passion for the WHY. The best leaders keep the WHY simple and easy for all to articulate. These leaders exude their WHY consistently in all of their communications and actions. This inspiration trickles down throughout the organization to all team members and, in turn, into the company’s products and services.
— Knowing WHY your customer buys is important. Good leaders know that competitors can copy what they do. And that 95% of businesses fail within 3 years. The successful leader and company is able to articulate their purpose, cause, and belief. The human brain makes purchasing decisions on these factors. The goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. Getting into the mind of your customer through ongoing market research is paramount.
The next time you decide to think about WHAT you do and WHAT your company does, instead, invest in thinking of WHY.
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About the Author
Grace Ueng is Founder & CEO of Savvy Growth, whose mission is to help companies and their leaders achieve their fullest potential…and to inspire them to climb their mountains. Founded in 2003 as Savvy Marketing Group, her firm now offers management consulting and executive coaching services as well as keynote speeches and communication workshops. Grace is a globally recognized expert in marketing strategy and personal branding and consults for clients from emerging growth to Fortune 1000.
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Commencement: Climbing Mountains of Life: Business and Beyond
Women in Technology: Channeling Fear, Embracing Failure