What is your Why?

If you are anything like I am, you just love reading books and enjoy learning new things. I read books of all sorts including business, marketing, finance, technology, photography, and many other subjects. I believe that education is not something you are finished with when you graduate from college but is a life-long pursuit.

One of the business books that I read recently had a huge impact on the redesign of both of my websites. The book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek emphasizes the importance of businesses starting with their WHY.

Great Organizations & Leaders That Have a Strong WHY

Great leaders are able to inspire people by giving them a sense of purpose or belonging to a cause and has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained.

  1. Apple
  2. Wright brothers
  3. Dr. King
  4. Harley-Davidson
  5. Disney
  6. Southwest Airlines
  7. John F. Kennedy
  8. Ronald Reagan

Lesson #1 – Manipulation vs. Inspiration

In today’s crowded marketplace, it is getting harder and harder to stand out both in products and services. Many businesses state reasons such as superior quality, features, price or service but have no clue why their customers really come to them. When companies or organizations don’t have a clear sense of why, they have to manipulate customers with price or fear.

In the photography industry, this can be seen by amateurs picking up an expensive camera and calling themselves a professional photographer but then don’t charge “fair” prices. They don’t realize that not only are they hurting themselves and their clients, but they are also devaluing the industry. By competing on only price, they are making themselves commodities and attracting clients that only care about price.

I, on the other hand, am always trying to improve the quality of my work and make my style and brand unique so that you choose me because it is more aligned with your beliefs. For example, I believe photography is an art and everyone should have a professional family portrait on their wall as well as beautiful albums that will become family heirlooms. Physical products are the only images that last lifetimes. Too often today, people only have their precious images in digital form and in formats and on media that will be unusable in the future. For example, how many family images were stored on old floppy disks which can no longer be read. And soon, we won’t have CD readers either and are already being phased out of computers.

Lesson #2 – The Golden Circle

There are very few leaders that choose to inspire rather than manipulate in order to motivate people. Simon Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle.

The Importance of Starting with "Why"

The Golden Circle is a perspective that attempts to explain why some leaders and organizations have achieved such a disproportionate degree of influence. Some examples:

  • People willing to get Harley-Davidson tattoos on their bodies
  • John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jrs Civil Rights Movement

This perspective proposes starting from the inside out. It all should start with the Why, but unfortunately most people and businesses start with the What.


Every organization on the planet knows WHAT they do, which is easily described by the products or services that they offer.


An organization may even know the HOW of WHAT they do. This is often called the “unique selling proposition”. HOWs are often give to explain how something is different or better.

In the photography industry, you can see the whats and hows of a photographer on the About page and most of these all sound the same.


Rarely do people or companies clearly articulate the WHY, which is the purpose, cause or belief – and it is not to make money. What inspires them to do what they do.

Examples of WHY


Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?

– Apple’s WHY: To challenge the status quo and to empower the individual

Dr. King

I have a Dream…

– Dr. King’s WHY: Vison of America where all men are created equal


The major takeaways from the book are:

  • People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it
  • When communicating from the inside out, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHATs serve as the tangible proof of that belief

I hope you enjoyed the review of this book and I want to encourage you to read the book yourself as it is very informative.

And if you don’t mind, please take just a couple minutes and share a comment for others to enjoy. 🙂