How “Why” Can Inspire Your ‘What’.

This week has been a business focused week and that focus has been on a chap called Simon Sinek. According to Wikipedia, Simon’s first TEDx Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” is the 3rd most viewed video on He is known for popularising the concepts of ‘the golden circle’ and to ‘start with why’, which is described as a “simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”‘.

Type of Flare: Business

Owner of Flare: Author, speaker and leadership & management consultant, Simon Sinek

Source: Book “Start With Why” (Link:

Key Snippet: “People Buy Into Why You Do It, Not What You Do”

Which is brings me nicely on to the topic of this week’s blog, his book “Start With Why”.

The book was introduced to me by a friend whilst talking about start-ups and why some businesses struggle to gain traction, even with a strong idea. The concept of “why” we do what we do was mentioned and so began the reading…

I have included the link to the book above should you wish to get the full story!

As someone who runs their own company, the concept of ‘starting with why’ was intriguing and I wondered if it would help with my business. The simple answer to this question was “yes, it would”.

So what is this all about?

Simon talks about the ‘golden circle’ which combines what, how and why in 3 circles each within the other (think Russian doll) – I’ve included the picture to add some flavour.


His approach dissects the principal behind the most successful individuals and businesses and how leaders inspire action.

Starting with ‘what’, Simon states that every organisation knows what they do, often telling consumers in great detail about their products or services. Take a moment to think about that for a second, what was the last thing you bought? Did the company tell you exactly what they did?

My example is running trainers – I’m currently in training for an Ironman in August 2017. This particular company told me what they did and very well mind you. That said, loyalty to the brand could be difficult as I was predominantly choosing a product based on its features.

This leads nicely on to the next layer & just like with a maze, getting to the centre is not as easy as you would imagine. The middle layer deals with ‘how’ a company does what it does. Surprisingly, only some organisations know how they do this and ultimately sets themselves apart from their competition.

Finally we reach the holy grail: the core of the business, the ‘why‘. Very few organisations really know why they do what they do. It is not about making money, that is a result. It is not about telling everyone about their products or services, that is what they do. A company’s why is their purpose, their cause or their belief. This is the very reason why the business exists.

Simon uses a fantastic number of examples including Apple and Harley Davidson motorcycles. Both are companies which sell products, but a number of their consumers have become so loyal that they’ve have had tattoos of their logos!

A lot of what is mentioned in the book makes absolute sense when read. Simon is great at clearly articulating the principle being addressed and makes it easy for the reader to envisage. There are so many snippets and takeaways I will use, that my book is covered in highlighting and folded corners for future reference.

So…how does this relate to you and I?

Well let’s start with quote from Simon: “If you don’t know why, you can’t know how”. If you are a business owner or thinking about starting something, can you define why you will do what you do?

As a keen sportsman, I have recently applied this business principle to my next sporting challenge. With a family member having been impacted by cancer last year (and thankfully beating it!), it kicked started the desire to complete a full 140.6 ironman. Using Simon’s principle, the what was straightforward but the why? Well, that was easy too – to raise money for the cancer charity which helped my family. I started with why.

In a business context, leaders are responsible for setting the direction and tone of the business, as well as providing a platform for growth. Simon believes the role of the leader is not to create all the great ideas but provide an environment for great ideas to happen.

If we look at some of the top businessmen and women, they have built fantastic companies which stimulate innovation and ideas that can change the world. They all had a clear sense of why.

The Knowledge Flare Comment:

So why is this important?

  • We all have plans and regularly need other people to help make them come alive; authenticity is often used by companies trying to demonstrate their actions but people buy in to people. Treat people with respect and if they truly believe in what you believe, a great sustainable relationship can be formed.
  • If we don’t know why, can’t know how – try and apply this is to your work or personal life and see if raises any questions which you hadn’t thought of before. Or at least, write down the reason ‘why’ you are doing something and see if it is still aligns with the image you started out with.

Finally a quote for us to ponder from Simon: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Martin Luther King gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech not the ‘I have a plan’ one”.


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About Me

About Me

Hi, I'm Brendan. Businessman, sportsman and dreamer. I write about information hidden deep within the darkness of the internet superhighways.