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Simon Says: Knowing ‘Why You Do What You Do’ is Often a Game Changer

August 2, 2018

Do you know why you get out of bed every day? Do you walk through your office door with a dance in your step? Do your employees know why they go to work every day? Do they execute with purpose and enthusiasm? Does your team know why your business exists and why it matters? If you’re thinking, “Why would anyone care?” read on.

Well, as a brand development specialist, I think Simon is on to something. Inspired by a loss of passion for his work at the time, author Simon Sinek went in search of greater fulfillment. His discovery of his “why” changed his life and restored his passion—a passion he defines in his book, “Start with Why.”

As Simon describes it, his theory is a simple concept. We say what we do, we say how we do it, but few of us can say why we do what we do. He draws on a pad his Golden Circle—three concentric circles, one inside the other. “Why” is the innermost circle and defines the purpose, cause, or belief that drives the inspiration of why what you do matters. “How,” the second circle explains how your company is different or better—many of us can articulate this, but not all. “What” your company does is the outer circle. It is the part that all of us can describe. There can be several competitors whose “what” sounds just like yours. While most of us can easily state our “what” and some our “how,” only a few understand the “why”—the purpose of the company’s existence and why it matters.

“We say what we do, we say how we do it, but few of us can say why we do what we do.”

According to Simon, inspired organizations communicate from the inside out (which aligns with brand development). Many of us focus on how to describe our differentiation. To get to the core or soul of an organization we need to understand why what we do matters. Simon says people don’t buy your “what.” They may sometimes buy your “how.” But buyers connect with your “why” and it is your company’s “why” that will drive them to buy from you.

Why do your customers do business with you? Most businesses don’t know. Sometimes we can make an educated guess, but we are making assumptions. I love Simon’s argument if you don’t know why your customers do business with you, you probably also don’t know why your employees work for you. We need to be able to understand why our customers will select us when there are so many competitors that look and sound just like we do. So why choose you?

If you hire people to come to work for your “why” rather than for your “what,” they will engage with their heart and soul. Why? Because their passion is aligned with yours. When inspired by “why” people perform beyond the norm in a way that can change the industries they work in and at times the world we live in.

So what is your company’s “why?” If your answer is to earn a profit, listen to Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk. Simon defines profit as a result—not a purpose. I challenge you to define your company’s purpose and see how your “why” can change our world to benefit future generations.


Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America. Reach her at 614-885-7921,, @brandpro or for more information

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The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.