Selling The Why, Not The What

Sometimes [all right, all the time] I let my inner nerd run wild. One morning over my coffee and english muffin I watched Simon Sinek’s *TED talk: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

This easily became my favorite TED talk. Sinek zeroed in on successful organizations and asked the question why are they so successful? Focusing in on the obvious ­ Apple ­ Sinek introduced what he called the golden circle which included a small circle, a bigger circle encompassing that one, and a bigger circle encompassing them both. Why was written in the smallest circle; how in the bigger circle; and what in the biggest. He briefly explained the diagram: Every organization across the board knows what they do, some know how they do it, and very few know why they
do it ­ the cause, the purpose, the belief. [Note: My brief explanation of Sinek’s talk does not do it justice. I highly, highly recommend checking it out.]

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

I took away so much more from this talk than just lessons on leadership and why successful companies see success. I watched this talk through my recent college grad lens and took note on how to be successful in finding a job and how to find success in that job. Sinek answered this question for me. My paycheck shouldn’t be my end all goal. At first, it might have to be because that’s the world we live in. The unemployment rate for college grads continues to climb, and we simply can’t wish away the reality that we have bills to pay. However, that reality should never become our why. We should recognize the current situation as just that ­ the current situation; but we’ll never be able to sell ourselves to the working world if our end all goal is to draw a paycheck. We must know our why ­ our purpose, our drive, our passion. Why do we get out of bed in the morning and go to the place of work that we do? We should know the answers. If we don’t, some self­-evaluation should be in order.

This is an incredibly valuable lesson in networking, as well. If we know our why, the how and the what will follow. If it is evident to our professors, classmates, co­workers, employers, etc that we know the reason we get out of bed in the morning, we won’t have to search for connections. The connections will instead be recommendations from our professors, classmates, co­workers, and employers.

Know your why.