Our modern culture seems to be oversaturated with “what”. We always ask "what", in what we buy, market, and sell. “What’s new?”, “What’s happening?”, “What can this do for me?”, “What does it cost?”, “What do our customers want?”. But very rarely do we ask “why”. “Why do we do this?”, “Why does it matter?”, “Why is this innovative?”, “Why do our customers want what they want?”.
You might have seen Simon Sinek before, maybe in a Facebook video or two, or maybe you’re more familiar with him. Either way, you can tell by the way he speaks that he is a man on a mission. He is a man with tremendous drive, and a man who recognizes that our way of doing business, even our entire culture, is experiencing a major shift. His mission is to spread awareness about it, and make the absolute most of it.
Simon Sinek has a philosophy of starting with why. Why does a company do what they do? It’s more than simple idealism. In fact, it’s an immense driving force that transcends idealism and breaks through barriers, makes ideas work, drives success, and builds strong relationships.
Have a passion and set of beliefs that is more important than money. If you set out to make money and do nothing else, what does the customer get from it? Maybe they get a decent product. But is that enough to keep them coming back? Customers don’t come back to businesses they had poor experiences at, and they certainly don’t come back to places that they don’t trust.
Because the internet has the ability to empower, so does any company that uses the internet. They need a “why”, a passion and set of beliefs to drive what they do, and how they interact with their customers. One reason why people love to spend time with their friends and family more than they love going to work is because of the beliefs and reasons for living that they share with their community, something that they lack with the public.
So why not have a company build a foundation of shared passion? Instead of having to fish for customers, build a harbor. Customers will connect with your shared “why”, and they will dock at the harbor, with the hopes of building a genuine relationship.
…and then trust
Yes, trust comes from years of building. It comes from doing right and serving each other within a community. But trust is often broken. Our friends and family may sometimes lie to us, or betray us, or make us feel upset. Yet as long as they keep coming back to us, we keep coming back to them. Why is that?
Without a foundation, trust is just a tool we can use to feel safe and figure out who’s reliable and who’s not. With a foundation, with a why, trust is a preeminent base that we can build relationships on. It's why people might say that they’re “cool with” their coworkers or classmates. They know these people well enough to trust them and be comfortable with them, but they lack a foundation of sharing passions.
Maybe you’re cool with the tech guy at the Apple store, but it’s not the reason you go there. You go there because you need a new phone or a new charger or you want to see what’s the newest gadget. But the reason why you continue going back to the same church, or the same university, or the same club, is not just because you like what they sell. You go back because of the way that place, and the people in it, made you feel. You go back because you share a fiery, untouchable passion with other people there. You go back because of the happy relationship you have with that community.
Imagine if every company operated this way. They used to in the past. Businesses could have customers return time and time again for forty, fifty, or sixty years, or up until their death. Starting with “why” can bring customers in like ships to a harbor, but more importantly, it can keep customers coming back repeatedly, until they build relationships and become more than a customer or buyer. Having a “why” is what turns customers into friends, welcoming them into an unbreakable community.