Sunday, May 11, 2008

What's Your Why

If you ever get the chance to hear Simon Sinek speak about The Golden Circle, I highly recommend it.  I was fortunate enough to listen to him during the EO Global Leadership Conference in San Francisco this weekend, and his message was my top take away.  Also present was Ken Blanchard, author of the newly released One Minute Entrepreneur, Craig Newmark from Craig's List, and me :).

The Golden Circle is simply a 3 ring circle with the words Why in the center circle, How in the middle circle, and What in the outside circle.  The message was that great companies know their Why and focus their businesses around protecting and promoting their why.  They operate from the inside out.  Other companies tend to focus on what they do and operate from the outside in, and are less successful and sustainable.  This theory is grounded in biology.  The human brain at its core is Why based, not what.  People buy because of Why not What.  Simon explains it better, trust me.

So, I've been asking my self iteratively over the last few days, what is my why and my business why.  Here's some of the answers.  It's been quite powerful to me to be able to communicate it clearly in writing and to be able to share it with others.  I'm sure it will drive business and I recommend you ask yourself the same questions - what is your why?.


I believe Good Greed is Great.  

Ayn Rand championed the philosophy that Greed is Good in her book, Atlas Shrugged 50 years ago.  Alan Greenspan also believes that Greed is Good.  Gordon Gecko, the character in Wall Street played by Michael Douglas summarized this concept best:

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."

Economist Walter Williams said on the subject:

"In a free market, you get more for yourself by serving your fellow man," said economist Walter Williams. "You don't have to care about him, just serve him. Greed gets people to cooperate. If you want to benefit from other greedy people, you have to make sure they benefit from you."

Political philospher and Ayn Rand expert, Dr. Edward Hudgins notes on the subject:

“Rand was virtually alone in celebrating the virtues of productive, innovative individuals and the wealth they create. She emphasized that businessmen at their best will first and foremost love their work and the challenge of creating products and services that earn them profits. If that’s greed, it’s to be praised! Rand also singled out for condemnation businessmen who seek money by any means, including fraud, or government handouts and special favors. If that’s greed, it’s to be damned!"

This last quote by Dr. Hudgins helps illustrate the difference between Good Greed and Bad Greed which is representative of my philosophy that Good Greed is Great.  

So, now that I know my why - Good Greed is Great, I still need to determine my How and my What in order to be in business.  You can't just have a why.  Consumers and Client interface with your what and your how, even though they buy the why.  So, my How is Creating Sustainable Giving Streams and my first What is MortgagePledge.  I will be developing my Creating Sustainable Giving Streams process further in future posts.

To summarize, Simon gave his version of an elevator pitch.  As many of us know an elevator pitch is that 30 second pitch you want to be able to give when you meet that key person that could be critical to your business.  The question is normally, "what do you do".  And then you're to give some dazzling answer that leaves the person asking the question eating out of the palm of your hand and never being able to forget about you (or at lease insure a follow up meeting).  Simon, said that he's been using the Why answer to make his elevator pitch more memorable.  When someone asks you what you do, answer with why you do it first, then finish with the what.  For example:

Joe, what do you do?

I have this big Idea.

I believe in the philosophy that Greed is Good, championed by Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, and Gordon Gecko in the film, Wall Street.  However, I believe there is Good Greed and there is Bad Greed.  I believe that if one focuses on the Good Greed, Great things will happen.  Therefore, my philosophy is Good Greed is Great.  To illustrate this, I am Creating Sustainable Giving Streams by collaborating with entrepreneurs with nonprofits.  My first social venture, is Mortgage Pledge.  My join the cause blog is Giving Returns.  And, I'm working on developing an open source model for others to use to create their own Sustainable Income Streams, called Good Greed is Great!

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