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START WITH WHY HOW GREAT LEADERS INSPIRE EVERYONE TO TAKE ACTION SIMON SINEK PORTFOLIO PORTFOLIO Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,New Delhi- 110017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England First published in 2009 by Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 7 9 10 8 6 Copyright © Simon Sinek, 2009 All rights reserved "The Sneetches" from The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. Trademark TM and copyright © by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. 1953,1954,1961, renewed 1989. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc. and International Creative Management, Inc., agents for Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS C ATALO GIN G -1N - P UBLI C AT IO N DATA Sinek, Simon. Start with why: how great leaders inspire everyone to take action / by Simon Sinek. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-59184-280-4 1. Leadership. I. Tide. HD57.7.S549 2009 658.4*092—dc22 2009021862 Printed in the United States of America Set in Minion Designed by Victoria Hartman Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retriev; al system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated. While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content. For Victoria, who finds good ideas and makes them great There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves. This is a book for those who want to inspire others and for those who want to find someone to inspire them. CONTENTS Introduction: Why Start with Why? 1 PART 1: 1: A WORLD THAT DOESN'T START WITH WHY 1. Assume You Know 2. Carrots and Sticks 11 17 PART 2: AN ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE 3. The Golden Circle 4. This Is Not Opinion, This Is Biology 5. Clarity, Discipline and Consistency 41 57 71 PART 3: LEADERS NEED A FOLLOWING 6. The Emergence of Trust 7. How a Tipping Point Tips 91 127 PART 4: HOW TO RALLY THOSE WHO BELIEVE 8. Start with WHY, but Know HOW 9. Know WHY. Know HOW. Then WHAT? 10. Communication Is Not About Speaking, It's About Listening 147 171 179 PART 5: THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS SUCCESS 11. When WHY Goes Fuzzy 12. Split Happens 195 205 PART 6: DISCOVER WHY 13. The Origins of a WHY 14. The New Competition 247 Acknowledgments Notes 251 257 233 INTRODUCTION WHY START WITH WHY? This book is about a naturally occurring pattern, a way of thinking, acting and communicating that gives some leaders the ability to inspire those around them. Although these "natural-born leaders" may have come into the world with a predisposition to inspire, the ability is not reserved for them exclusively. We can all learn this pattern. With a little discipline, any leader or organization can inspire others, both inside and outside their organization, to help advance their ideas and their vision. We can all learn to lead. The goal of this book is not simply to try to fix the things that aren't working. Rather, I wrote this book as a guide to focus on and amplify the things that do work. I do not aim to upset the solutions offered by others. Most of the answers we get, when based on sound evidence, are perfectly valid. However, if we're starting with the wrong questions, if we don't understand the cause, then even the right answers will always steer us wrong ... eventually. The truth, you see, is always revealed... eventually. The stories that follow are of those individuals and organizations that naturally embody this pattern. They are the ones that start with Why. 1 START WITH WHY 1. The goal was ambitious. Public interest was high. Experts were eager to contribute. Money was readily available. Armed with every ingredient for success, Samuel Pierpont Langley set out in the early 1900s to be the first man to pilot an airplane. Highly regarded, he was a senior officer at the Smithsonian Institution, a mathematics professor who had also worked at Harvard. His friends included some of the most powerful men in government and business, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. Langley was given a $50,000 grant from the War Department to fund his project, a tremendous amount of money for the time. He pulled together the best minds of the day, a veritable dream team of talent and know-how. Langley and his team used the finest materials, and the press followed him everywhere. People all over the country were riveted to the story, waiting to read that he had achieved his goal. With the team he had gathered and ample resources, his success was guaranteed. Or was it? A few hundred miles away, Wilbur and Orville Wright were working on their own flying machine. Their passion to fly was so intense that it inspired the enthusiasm and commitment of a dedicated group in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. There was no funding for their venture. No government grants. No high-level connections. Not a single person on the team had an advanced degree or even a college education, not even Wilbur or Orville. But the team banded together in a humble bicycle shop and made their vision real. On December 17, 1903, a small group witnessed a man take flight for the first time in history. How did the Wright brothers succeed where a better-equipped, better-funded and better-educated team could not? 2 WHY STAR WITH WHY It wasn't luck. Both the Wright brothers and Langley were highly motivated. Both had a strong work ethic. Both had keen scientific minds. They were pursuing exactly the same goal, but only the Wright brothers were able to inspire those around them and truly lead their team to develop a technology that would change the world. Only the Wright brothers started with Why. 2. In 1965, students on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, were the first to publicly burn their draft cards to protest America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Northern California was a hotbed of antigovernment and antiestablishment sentiment; footage of clashes and riots in Berkeley and Oakland was beamed around the globe, fueling sympathetic movements across the United States and Europe. But it wasn't until 1976, nearly three years after the end of America's military involvement in the Vietnam conflict, that a different revolution ignited. They aimed to make an impact, a very big impact, even challenge the way people perceived how the world worked. But these young revolutionaries did not throw stones or take up arms against an authoritarian regime. Instead, they decided to beat the system at its own game. For Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the cofounders of Apple Computer, the battlefield was business and the weapon of choice was the personal computer. The personal computer revolution was beginning to brew when Wozniak built the Apple I. Just starting to gain attention, the technology was primarily seen as a tool for business. Computers were too complicated and out of the price range of the average individual. But Wozniak, a man not motivated by money, envisioned a nobler purpose for the technology. He saw the personal computer as a way for the little man to take on a corporation. If he could 3 START WITH WHY figure out a way to get it in the hands of the individual, he thought, the computer would give nearly anyone the ability to perform many of the same functions as a vastly better resourced company. The personal computer could level the playing field and change the way the world operated. Woz designed the Apple I, and improved the technology with the Apple II, to be affordable and simple to use. No matter how visionary or how brilliant, a great idea or a great product isn't worth much if no one buys it. Wozniak's best friend at the time, the twenty-one-year-old Steve Jobs, knew exactly what to do. Though he had experience selling surplus electronics parts, Jobs would prove to be much more than a good salesman. He wanted to do something significant in the world, and building a company was how he was going to do it. Apple was the tool he used to ignite his revolution. In their first year in business, with only one product, Apple made a million dollars in revenues. By year two, they did $10 million in sales. In their fourth year they sold $100 million worth of computers. And in just six years, Apple Computer was a billiondollar company with over 3,000 employees. Jobs and Woz were not the only people taking part in the personal computer revolution. They weren't the only smart guys in the business; in fact, they didn't know much about business at all. What made Apple special was not their ability to build such a fast-growth company. It wasn't their ability to think differently about personal computers. What has made Apple special is that they've been able to repeat the pattern over and over and over. Unlike any of their competitors, Apple has successfully challenged conventional thinking within the computer industry, the small electronics industry, the music industry, the mobile phone industry and the broader entertainment industry. And the reason is simple. Apple inspires. Apple starts with Why. 4 WHY STAR WITH WHY 3. He was not perfect. He had his complexities. He was not the only one who suffered in a pre-civil rights America, and there were plenty of other charismatic speakers. But Martin Luther King Jr. had a gift. He knew how to inspire people. Dr. King knew that if the civil rights movement was to succeed, if there was to be a real, lasting change, it would take more than him and his closest allies. It would take more than rousing words and eloquent speeches. It would take people, tens of thousands of average citizens, united by a single vision, to change the country. At 11:00 a.m. on August 28, 1963, they would send a message to Washington that it was time for America to steer a new course. The organizers of the civil rights movement did not send out thousands of invitations, nor was there a Web site to check the date. But the people came. And they kept coming and coming. All told, a quarter of a million people descended on the nation's capital in time to hear the words immortalized by history, delivered by the man who would lead a movement that would change America forever: "I have a dream." The ability to attract so many people from across the country, of all colors and races, to join together on the right day, at the right time, took something special. Though others knew what had to change in America to bring about civil rights for all, it was Martin Luther King who was able to inspire a country to change not just for the good of a minority, but for the good of everyone. Martin Luther King started with Why. . . . There are leaders and there are those who lead. With only 6 percent market share in the United States and about 3 percent worldwide, Apple is not a leading manufacturer of home computers. Yet the company leads the computer industry and is now a leader in other 5 START WITH WHY industries as well. Martin Luther King's experiences were not unique, yet he inspired a nation to change. The Wright brothers were not the strongest contenders in the race to take the first manned, powered flight, but they led us into a new era of aviation and, in doing so, completely changed the world we live in. Their goals were not different than anyone else's, and their systems and processes were easily replicated. Yet the Wright brothers, Apple and Martin Luther King stand out among their peers. They stand apart from the norm and their impact is not easily copied. They are members of a very select group of leaders who do something very, very special. They inspire us. Just about every person or organization needs to motivate others to act for some reason or another. Some want to motivate a purchase decision. Others are looking for support or a vote. Still others are keen to motivate the people around them to work harder or smarter or just follow the rules. The ability to motivate people is not, in itself, difficult. It is usually tied to some external factor. Tempting incentives or the threat of punishment will often elicit the behavior we desire. General Motors, for example, so successfully motivated people to buy their products that they sold more cars than any other automaker in the world for over seventy- seven years. Though they were leaders in their industry, they did not lead. Great leaders, in contrast, are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired. For those who are inspired, the motivation to act is deeply personal. They are less likely to be swayed by incentives. Those who are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people—supporters, voters, customers, workers—who 6 WHY STAR WITH WHY act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to. Though relatively few in number, the organizations and leaders with the natural ability to inspire us come in all shapes and sizes. They can be found in both the public and private sectors. They are in all sorts of industries—selling to consumers or to other businesses. Regardless of where they exist, they all have a disproportionate amount of influence in their industries. They have the most loyal customers and the most loyal employees. They tend to be more profitable than others in their industry. They are more innovative, and most importantly, they are able to sustain all these things over the long term. Many of them change industries. Some of them even change the world. The Wright brothers, Apple and Dr. King are just three exampies. Harley-Davidson, Disney and Southwest Airlines are three more. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were also able to inspire. No matter from where they hail, they all have something in common. All the inspiring leaders and companies, regardless of size or industry, think, act and communicate exactly alike. And it's the complete opposite of everyone else. What if we could all learn to think, act and communicate like those who inspire? I imagine a world in which the ability to inspire is practiced not just by a chosen few, but by the majority. Studies show that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job. If more knew how to build organizations that inspire, we could live in a world in which that statistic was the reverse—a world in which over 80 percent of people loved their jobs. People who love going to work are more productive and more creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies. That is why I wrote this book. I hope to inspire others to do the things that inspire them so that 7 START WITH WHY together we may build the companies, the economy and a world in which trust and loyalty are the norm and not the exception. This book is not designed to tell you what to do or how to do it. Its goal is not to give you a course of action. Its goal is to offer you the cause of action. For those who have an open mind for new ideas, who seek to create long-lasting success and who believe that your success requires the aid of others, I offer you a challenge. From now on, start with Why. 8 ASSUME YOU KNOW PART I A WORLD THAT DOESN'T START WITH WHY 9 START WITH WHY 10 1 ASSUME YOU KNOW On a cold January day, a forty-three-year-old man was sworn in as the chief executive of his country. By his side stood his predecessor, a famous general who, fifteen years earlier, had commanded his nation's armed forces in a war that resulted in the defeat of Germany. The young leader was raised in the Roman Catholic faith. He spent the next five hours watching parades in his honor and stayed up celebrating until three o'clock in the morning. You know who I'm describing, right? It's January 30, 1933, and I'm describing Adolf Hitler and not, as most people would assume, John F. Kennedy. The point is, we make assumptions. We make assumptions about the world around us based on sometimes incomplete or false information. In this case, the information I offered was incomplete. Many of you were convinced that I was describing John F. Kennedy until I added one minor little detail: the date. This is important because our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know. It wasn't too long ago that the majority of 11 START WITH WHY people believed the world was flat. This perceived truth impacted behavior. During this period, there was very little exploration. People feared that if they traveled too far they might fall off the edge of the earth. So for the most part they stayed put. It wasn't until that minor detail was revealed—the world is round—that behaviors changed on a massive scale. Upon this discovery, societies began to traverse the planet. Trade routes were established; spices were traded. New ideas, like mathematics, were shared between societies which unleashed all kinds of innovations and advancements. The correction of a simple false assumption moved the human race forward. Now consider how organizations are formed and how decisions are made. Do we really know why some organizations succeed and why others don't, or do we just assume? No matter your definition of success—hitting a target stock price, making a certain amount of money, meeting a revenue or profit goal, getting a big promotion, starting your own company, feeding the poor, winning public office—how we go about achieving our goals is very similar. Some of us just wing it, but most of us try to at least gather some data so we can make educated decisions. Sometimes this gathering process is formal—like conducting polls or market research. And sometimes it's informal, like asking our friends and colleagues for advice or looking back on our own personal experience to provide some perspective. Regardless of the process or the goals, we all want to make educated decisions. More importantly, we all want to make the right decisions. As we all know, however, not all decisions work out to be the right ones, regardless of the amount of data we collect. Sometimes the impact of those wrong decisions is minor, and sometimes it can be catastrophic. Whatever the result, we make decisions based on a perception of the world that may not, in fact, be completely accurate. Just as so many were certain that I was describing John F. 12 ASSUME YOU KNOW Kennedy at the beginning of this section. You were certain you were right. You might even have bet money on it—a behavior based on an assumption. Certain, that is, until I offered that little detail of the date. Not only bad decisions are made on false assumptions. Sometimes when things go right, we think we know why, but do we really? That the result went the way you wanted does not mean you can repeat it over and over. I have a friend who invests some of his own money. Whenever he does well, it's because of his brains and ability to pick the right stocks, at least according to him. But when he loses money, he always blames the market. I have no issue with either line of logic, but either his success and failure hinge upon his own prescience and blindness or they hinge upon good and bad luck. But it can't be both. So how can we ensure that all our decisions will yield the best results for reasons that are fully within our control? Logic dictates that more information and data are key. And that's exactly what we do. We read books, attend conferences, listen to podcasts and ask friends and colleagues—all with the purpose of finding out more so we can figure out what to do or how to act. The problem is, we've all been in situations in which we have all the data and get lots of good advice but things still don't go quite right. Or maybe the impact lasted for only a short time, or something happened that we could not foresee. A quick note to all of you who correctly guessed Adolf Hitler at the beginning of the section: the details I gave are the same for both Hitler and John F. Kennedy, it could have been either. You have to be careful what you think you know. Asumptions, you see, even when based on sound research, can lead us astray. Intuitively we understand this. We understand that even with mountains of data and good advice, if things don't go as expected, it's probably because we missed one, sometimes small but vital detail. In these cases, we go back to all our sources, maybe seek out 13 START WITH WHY some new ones, and try to figure out what to do, and the whole process begins again. More data, however, doesn't always help, especially if a flawed assumption set the whole process in motion in the first place. There are other factors that must be considered, factors that exist outside of our rational, analytical, informationhungry brains. There are times in which we had no data or we chose to ignore the advice or information at hand and just went with our gut and things worked out just fine, sometimes even better than expected. This dance between gut and rational decision-making pretty much covers how we conduct business and even live our lives. We can continue to slice and dice all the options in every direction, but at the end of all the good advice and all the compelling evidence, we're left where we started: how to explain or decide a course of action that yields a desired effect that is repeatable. How can we have 20/20 foresight? There is a wonderful story of a group of American car executives who went to Japan to see a Japanese assembly line. At the end of the line, the doors were put on the hinges, the same as in America. But something was missing. In the United States, a line worker would take a rubber mallet and tap the edges of the door to ensure that it fit perfectly. In Japan, that job didn't seem to exist. Confused, the American auto executives asked at what point they made sure the door fit perfectly. Their Japanese guide looked at them and smiled sheepishly. "We make sure it fits when we design it." In the Japanese auto plant, they didn't examine the problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution—they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn't achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process. At the end of the day, the doors on the American-made and Japanese-made cars appeared to fit when each rolled off the as- 14 ASSUME YOU KNOW sembly line. Except the Japanese didn't need to employ someone to hammer doors, nor did they need to buy any mallets. More importantly, the Japanese doors are likely to last longer and maybe even be more structurally sound in an accident. All this for no other reason than they ensured the pieces fit from the start. What the American automakers did with their rubber mallets is a metaphor for how so many people and organizations lead. When faced with a result that doesn't go according to plan, a series of perfectly effective short-term tactics are used until the desired outcome is achieved. But how structurally sound are those solutions? So many organizations function in a world of tangible goals and the mallets to achieve them. The ones that achieve more, the ones that get more out of fewer people and fewer resources, the ones with an outsized amount of influence, however, build products and companies and even recruit people that all fit based on the original intention. Even though the outcome may look the same, great leaders understand the value in the things we cannot see. Every instruction we give, every course of action we set, every result we desire, starts with the same thing: a decision. There are those who decide to manipulate the door to fit to achieve the desired result and there are those who start from somewhere very different. Though both courses of action may yield similar short- term results, it is what we can't see that makes long-term success more predictable for only one. The one that understood why the doors need to fit by design and not by default. 15 16 2 CARROTS AND STICKS Manipulation vs. Inspiration There's barely a product or service on the market today that customers can't buy from someone else for about the same price, about the same quality, about the same level of service and about the same features. If you truly have a first-mover's advantage, it's probably lost in a matter of months. If you offer something truly novel, someone else will soon come up with something similar and maybe even better. But if you ask most businesses why their customers are their customers, most will tell you it's because of superior quality, features, price or service. In other words, most companies have no clue why their customers are their customers. This is a fascinating realization. If companies don't know why their customers are their customers, odds are good that they don't know why their employees are their employees either. If most companies don't really know why their customers are their customers or why their employees are their employees, then 17 START WITH WHY how do they know how to attract more employees and encourage loyalty among those they already have? The reality is, most businesses today are making decisions based on a set of incomplete or, worse, completely flawed assumptions about what's driving their business. There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. When I mention manipulation, this is not necessarily pejorative; it's a very common and fairly benign tactic. In fact, many of us have been doing it since we were young. "I'll be your best friend" is the highly effective negotiating tactic employed by generations of children to obtain something they want from a peer. And as any child who has ever handed over candy hoping for a new best friend will tell you, it works. From business to politics, manipulations run rampant in all forms of sales and marketing. Typical manipulations include: dropping the price; running a promotion; using fear, peer pressure or aspirational messages; and promising innovation to influence behavior—be it a purchase, a vote or support. When companies or organizations do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. And for good reason. Manipulations work. Price Many companies are reluctant to play the price game, but they do so because they know it is effective. So effective, in fact, that the temptation can sometimes be overwhelming. There are few professional services firms that, when faced with an opportunity to land a big piece of business, haven't just dropped their price to make the deal happen. No matter how they rationalized it to themselves or their clients, price is a highly effective manipulation. Drop your prices low enough and people will buy from you. We see it at the 18 CARROTS AND STICKS end of a retail season when products are "priced to move." Drop the price low enough and the shelves will very quickly clear to make room for the next season's products. Playing the price game, however, can come at tremendous cost and can create a significant dilemma for the company. For the seller, selling based on price is like heroin. The short-term gain is fantastic, but the more you do it, the harder it becomes to kick the habit. Once buyers get used to paying a lower-than-average price for a product or service, it is very hard to get them to pay more. And the sellers, facing overwhelming pressure to push prices lower and lower in order to compete, find their margins cut slimmer and slimmer. This only drives a need to sell more to compensate. And the quickest way to do that is price again. And so the downward spiral of price addiction sets in. In the drug world, these addicts are called junkies. In the business world, we call them commodities. Insurance. Home computers. Mobile phone service. Any number of packaged goods. The list of commodities created by the price game goes on and on. In nearly every circumstance, the companies that are forced to treat their products as commodities brought it upon themselves. I cannot debate that dropping the price is not a perfectly legitimate way of driving business; the challenge is staying profitable. Wal-Mart seems to be an exception to the rule. They have built a phenomenally successful business playing the price game. But it also came at a high cost. Scale helped Wal-Mart avoid the inherent weaknesses of a price strategy, but the company's obsession with price above all else has left it scandal-ridden and hurt its reputation. And every one of the company's scandals was born from its attempts to keep costs down so it could afford to offer such low prices. Price always costs something. The question is, how much are you willing to pay for the money you make? 19 START WITH WHY Promotions General Motors had a bold goal. To lead the American automotive industry in market share. In the 1950s there were four choices of car manufacturer in the United States: GM, Ford, Chrysler and AMC. Before foreign automakers entered the field, GM dominated. New competition, as one would expect, made that goal harder to maintain. I don't need to provide any data to explain how much has changed in the auto industry in fifty years. But General Motors held fast through most of the last century and maintained its prized dominance. Since 1990, however, Toyota's share of the U.S. market has more than doubled. By 2007, Toyota's share had climbed to 16.3 percent, from only 7.8 percent. During the same period, GM saw its U.S. market share drop dramatically from 35 percent in 1990 to 23.8 percent in 2007. And in early 2008, the unthinkable happened: U.S. consumers bought more foreign-made automobiles than ones made in America. Since the 1990s, faced with this onslaught of competition from Japan, GM and the other U.S. automakers have scrambled to offer incentives aimed at helping them hold on to their dwindling share. Heavily promoted with advertising, GM, for one, has offered cashback incentives of between $500 and $7,000 to customers who bought their cars and trucks. For a long time the promotions worked brilliantly. GM's sales were on the rise again. But in the long term the incentives only helped to dramatically erode GM's profit margins and put them in a deep hole. In 2007, GM lost $729 per vehicle, in large part due to incentives. Realizing that the model was unsustainable, GM announced it would reduce the amount of the cash-back incentives it offered, and with that reduction, sales plummeted. No cash, no customers. The auto industry had effectively created cash-back junkies out of customers, building an expectation that there's no such thing as full price. 20 CARROTS AND STICKS Whether it is "two for one" or "free toy inside," promotions are such common manipulations that we often forget that we're being manipulated in the first place. Next time you're in the market for a digital camera, for example, pay attention to how you make your decision. You'll easily find two or three cameras with the specifications you need—size, number of megapixels, comparable price, good brand name. But perhaps one has a promotion—a free carrying case or free memory card. Given the relative parity of the features and benefits, that little something extra is sometimes all it takes to tip the scale. In the business-to-business world, promotions are called "value added." But the principles are the same— give something away for free to reduce the risk so that someone will do business with you. And like price, promotions work. The manipulative nature of promotions is so well established in retail that the industry even named one of the principles. They call it breakage. Breakage measures the percentage of customers who fail to take advantage of a promotion and end up paying full price for a product instead. This typically happens when buyers don't bother performing the necessary steps to claim their rebates, a process purposely kept complicated or inconvenient to increase the likelihood of mistakes or inaction to keep that breakage number up. Rebates typically require the customer to send in a copy of a receipt, cut out a bar code from the packaging and painstakingly fill out a rebate form with details about the product and how it was purchased. Sending in the wrong part of the box or leaving out a detail on the application can delay the rebate for weeks, months, or void it altogether. The rebate industry also has a name for the number of customers who just don't bother to apply for the rebate, or who never cash the rebate check they receive. That's called slippage. For businesses, the short-term benefits of rebates and other manipulations are clear: a rebate lures customers to pay full price for a product that they may have considered buying only because of the 21 START WITH WHY prospect of a partial refund. But nearly 40 percent of those customers never get the lower price they thought they were paying. Call it a tax on the disorganized, but retailers rely on it. Regulators have stepped up their scrutiny of the rebate industry, but with only limited success. The rebate process remains cumbersome and that means free money for the seller. Manipulation at its best. But at what cost? Fear If someone were to hold up a bank with a banana in his pocket, he would be charged with armed robbery. Clearly, no victim was in any danger of being shot, but it is the belief that the robber has a real gun that is considered by the law. And for good reason. Knowing full well that fear will motivate them to comply with his demands, the robber took steps to make his victims afraid. Fear, real or perceived, is arguably the most powerful manipulation of the lot. "No one ever got fired for hiring IBM," goes the old adage, describing a behavior completely borne out of fear. An employee in a procurement department, tasked with finding the best suppliers for a company, turns down a better product at a better price simply because it is from a smaller company or lesser-known brand. Fear, real or perceived, that his job would be on the line if something went wrong was enough to make him ignore the express purpose of his job, even do something that was not in the company's best interest. When fear is employed, facts are incidental. Deeply seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures. This is how terrorism works. It's not the statistical probability that one could get hurt by a terrorist, but it's the fear that it might happen that cripples a population. A powerful manipulator, fear is often used with far less nefarious motivations. We use fear to raise our kids. We use fear to mo- 22 CARROTS AND STICKS tivate people to obey a code of ethics. Fear is regularly used in public service ads, say to promote child safety or AIDS awareness, or the need to wear seat belts. Anyone who was watching television in the 1980s got a heavy dose of antidrug advertising, including one often-mimicked public service ad from a federal program to combat drug abuse among teenagers: "This is your brain," the man's voice said as he held up a pristine white egg. Then he cracked the egg into a frying pan of spattering hot oil. "This is your brain on drug. Any questions?" And another ad intended to scare the hell out of any brash teenager: "Cocaine doesn't make you sexy... it makes you dead." Likewise, when politicians say that their opponent will raise taxes or cut spending on law enforcement, or the evening news alerts you that your health or security are at risk unless you tune in at eleven, both are attempting to seed fear among voters and viewers, respectively. Businesses also use fear to agitate the insecurity we all have in order to sell products. The idea is that if you don't buy the product or service, something bad could happen to you. "Every thirty-six seconds, someone dies of a heart attack," states an ad for a local cardiac specialist. "Do you have radon? Your neighbor does!" reads the ad on the side of a truck for some company selling a home-pollution-inspection service. And, of course, the insurance industry would like to sell you term life insurance "before it's too late." If anyone has ever sold you anything with a warning to fear the consequences if you don't buy it, they are using a proverbial gun to your head to help you see the "value" of choosing them over their competitor. Or perhaps it's just a banana. But it works. Aspirations "Quitting smoking is the easiest thing I've ever done," said Mark Twain. "I've done it hundreds of times." 23 START WITH WHY If fear motivates us to move away from something horrible, aspirational messages tempt us toward something desirable. Marketers often talk about the importance of being aspirational, offering someone something they desire to achieve and the ability to get there more easily with a particular product or service. "Six steps to a happier life." "Work those abs to your dream dress size!" "In six short weeks you can be rich." All these messages manipulate. They tempt us with the things we want to have or to be the person we wish we were. Though positive in nature, aspirational messages are most effective with those who lack discipline or have a nagging fear or insecurity that they don't have the ability to achieve their dreams on their own (which, at various times for various reasons, is everyone). I always joke that you can get someone to buy a gym membership with an aspirational message, but to get them to go three days a week requires a bit of inspiration. Someone who lives a healthy lifestyle and is in a habit of exercising does not respond to "six easy steps to losing weight." It's those who don't have the lifestyle that are most susceptible. It's not news that a lot of people try diet after diet after diet in an attempt to get the body of their dreams. And no matter the regime they choose, each comes with the qualification that regular exercise and a balanced diet will help boost results. In other words, discipline. Gym memberships tend to rise about 12 percent every January, as people try to fulfill their New Year's aspiration to live a healthier life. Yet only a fraction of those aspiring fitness buffs are still attending the gym by the end of the year. Aspirational messages can spur behavior, but for most, it won't last. Aspirational messages are not only effective in the consumer market, they also work quite well in business-to-business transactions. Managers of companies, big and small, all want to do well, so they make decisions, hire consultants and implement systems to 24 CARROTS AND STICKS help them achieve that desired outcome. But all too often, it is not the systems that fail but the ability to maintain them. I can speak from personal experience here. I've implemented a lot of systems or practices over the years to help me "achieve the success to which I aspire," only to find myself back to my old habits two weeks later. I aspire for a system that will help me avoid implementing systems to meet all my aspirations. But I probably wouldn't be able to follow it for very long. This short-term response to long-term desires is alive and well in the corporate world also. A management consultant friend of mine was hired by a billion-dollar company to help it fulfill its goals and aspirations. The problem was, she explained, no matter the issue, the company's managers were always drawn to the quicker, cheaper option over the better long-term solution. Just like the habitual dieter, "they never have the time or money to do it right the first time," she said of her client, "but they always have the time and money to do it again." Peer Pressure "Four out of five dentists prefer Trident," touts the chewing gum advertisement in an attempt to get you to try their product. "A double-blind study conducted at a top university concluded . . ." pushes a late-night infomercial. "If the product is good enough for professionals, it's good enough for you," the advertising eggs on. "With over a million satisfied customers and counting," teases another ad. These are all forms of peer pressure. When marketers report that a majority of a population or a group of experts prefers their product over another, they are attempting to sway the buyer to believing that whatever they are selling is better. The peer pressure works because we believe that the majority or the experts might know more than we do. Peer pressure works not because the majority or the experts are always right, but because we fear that we may be wrong. 25 START WITH WHY Celebrity endorsements are sometimes used to add peer pressure to the sales pitch. "If he uses it," we're supposed to think, "it must be good." This makes sense when we hear Tiger Woods endorse Nike golf products or Titleist golf balls. (Woods's deal with Nike is actually credited for putting the company on the map in the golf world.) But Tiger has also endorsed General Motors cars, management consulting services, credit cards, food and a Tag Heuer watch designed "especially for the golfer." The watch, incidentally, can withstand a 5,000-g shock, a level of shock more likely experienced by the golf ball than the golfer. But Tiger endorsed it, so it must be good. Celebrity endorsements are also used to appeal to our aspirations and our desires to be like them. The most explicit example was Gatorade's "I wanna be like Mike" campaign, which tempted youngsters to grow up and be just like Michael Jordan if they drink Gatorade. With many other examples of celebrity endorsements, however, it is harder to see the connection. Sam Waterston of Law & Order fame, for example, sells online trading from TD Ameritrade. But for his celebrity, it's uncertain what an actor famed for convicting homicidal maniacs does for the brand. I guess he's "trustworthy." Impressionable youth are not the only ones subject to peer pressure. Most of us have probably had an experience of being pressured by a salesman. Have you ever had a sales rep try to sell you some "office solution" by telling you that 70 percent of your competitors are using their service, so why aren't you? But what if 70 percent of your competitors are idiots? Or what if that 70 percent were given so much value added or offered such a low price that they couldn't resist the opportunity? The practice is designed to do one thing and one thing only—to pressure you to buy. To make you feel you might be missing out on something or that everyone else knows but you. Better to go with the majority, right? 26 CARROTS AND STICKS To quote my mother, "If your friends put their head in the oven, would you do that too?" Sadly, if Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods was paid to do just that, it might actually start a trend. Novelty (a.k.a. Innovation) "In a major innovation in design and engineering, [Motorola] has created a phone of firsts," read a 2004 press release that announced the launch of the mobile phone manufacturer's newest entry to the ultracompetitive mobile phone market. "The combination of metals, such as aircraft-grade aluminum, with new advances, such as an internal antenna and a chemically-etched keypad, led to the formation of a device that measures just 13.9mm thin." And it worked. Millions of people rushed to get one. Celebrities flashed their RAZRs on the red carpet. Even a prime minister or two was seen talking on one. Having sold over 50 million units, few could argue that the RAZR wasn't a huge success. "By surpassing current mobile expectations, the RAZR represents Motorola's history of delivering revolutionary innovations," said former Motorola CEO Ed Zander of his new wunder-product, "while setting a new bar for future products coming out of the wireless industry." This one product was a huge financial success for Motorola. This was truly an innovation of monumental proportions. Or was it? Less than four years later, Zander was forced out. The stock traded at 50 percent of its average value since the launch of the RAZR, and Motorola's competitors had easily surpassed the RAZR's features and functionalities with equally innovative new phones. Motorola was once again rendered just another mobile phone manufacturer fighting for its piece of the pie. Like so many before it, the company confused innovation with novelty. 27 START WITH WHY Real innovation changes the course of industries or even society. The light bulb, the microwave oven, the fax machine, iTunes. These are true innovations that changed how we conduct business, altered how we live our lives, and, in the case of iTunes, challenged an industry to completely reevaluate its business model. Adding a camera to a mobile phone, for example, is not an innovation— a great feature, for sure, but not industry-altering. With this revised definition in mind, even Motorola's own description of its new product becomes just a list of a few great features: a metal case, hidden antenna, flat keypad and a thin phone. Hardly "revolutionary innovation." Motorola had successfully designed the latest shiny object for people to get excited about ... at least until a new shiny object came out. And that's the reason these features are more a novelty than an innovation. They are added in an attempt to differentiate, but not reinvent. It's not a bad thing, but it can't be counted on to add any long-term value. Novelty can drive sales— the RAZR proved it—but the impact does not last. If a company adds too many novel ideas too often, it can have a similar impact on the product or category as the price game. In an attempt to differentiate with more features, the products start to look and feel more like commodities. And, like price, the need to add yet another product to the line to compensate for the commoditization ends in a downward spiral. In the 1970s, there were only two types of Colgate toothpaste. But as competition increased, Colgate's sales started to slip. So the company introduced a new product that included a new feature, the addition of fluoride, perhaps. Then another. Then another. Whitening. Tartar control. Sparkles. Stripes. Each innovation certainly helped boost sales, for a while at least. And so the cycle continued. Guess how many different types of toothpaste Colgate has for you to choose from today? Thirty-two. Today there are thirty-two different types of Colgate toothpaste (excluding the four they make for 28 CARROTS AND STICKS kids). And given how each company responds to the "innovations" of the other, that means that Colgate's competitors also sell a similar number of variants that offer about the same quality, about the same benefits, at about the same price. There are literally dozens and dozens of toothpastes to choose from, yet there is no data to show that Americans are brushing their teeth more now than they were in the 1970s. Thanks to all this "innovation," it has become almost impossible to know which toothpaste is right for you. So much so that even Colgate offers a link on their Web site called "Need Help Deciding?" If Colgate needs to help us pick one of their products because there are too many variations, how are we supposed to decide when we go to the supermarket without their Web site to help us? Once again, this is an example of the newest set of shiny objects designed to encourage a trial or a purchase. What companies cleverly disguise as "innovation" is in fact novelty. And it's not only packaged goods that rely on novelty to lure customers; it's a common practice in other industries, too. It works, but rarely if ever does the strategy cement any loyal relationships. Apple's iPhone has since replaced the Motorola RAZR as the popular must-have new mobile phone. Removing all the buttons and putting a touch screen is not what makes the iPhone innovative, however. Those are brilliant new features. But others can copy those things and it wouldn't redefine the category. There is something else that Apple did that is vastly more significant. Apple is not only leading how mobile phones are designed, but, in typical Apple fashion, also how the industry functions. In the mobile phone industry, it is the service provider, not the phone manufacturer, that determines all the features and benefits the phone can offer. T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, AT&T all dictate to Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson, LG and others what the phones will do. Then Apple showed up. They announced that they would 29 START WITH WHY tell the service provider what the phone would do, not the other way around. AT&T was the only one that agreed, thus earning the company the exclusive deal to offer the new technology. That's the kind of shift that will impact the industry for many years and will extend far beyond a few years of stock boost for the shiny new product. Novel, huh? The Price You Pay for the Money You Make I cannot dispute that manipulations work. Every one of them can indeed help influence behavior and every one of them can help a company become quite successful. But there are trade-offs. Not a single one of them breeds loyalty. Over the course of time, they cost more and more. The gains are only short-term. And they increase the level of stress for both the buyer and the seller. If you have exceptionally deep pockets or are looking to achieve only a shortterm gain with no consideration for the long term, then these strategies and tactics are perfect. Beyond the business world, manipulations are the norm in politics today as well. Just as manipulations can drive a sale but not create loyalty, so too can they help a candidate get elected, but they don't create a foundation for leadership. Leadership requires people to stick with you through thick and thin. Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years. In business, leadership means that customers will continue to support your company even when you slip up. If manipulation is the only strategy, what happens the next time a purchase decision is required? What happens after the election is won? There is a big difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you. Loyal 30 CARROTS AND STICKS customers often don't even bother to research the competition or entertain other options. Loyalty is not easily won. Repeat business, however, is. All it takes is more manipulations. Manipulative techniques have become such a mainstay in American business today that it has become virtually impossible for some to kick the habit. Like any addiction, the drive is not to get sober, but to find the next fix faster and more frequently. And as good as the short-term highs may feel, they have a deleterious impact on the long-term health of an organization. Addicted to the short-term results, business today has largely become a series of quick fixes added on one after another after another. The shortterm tactics have become so sophisticated that an entire economy has developed to service the manipulations, equipped with statistics and quasi-science. Direct marketing companies, for example, offer calculations about which words will get the best results on each piece of direct mail they send out. Those that offer mail-in rebates know the incentive works and they know that the higher the rebate, the more effective it is. They also know the cost that goes along with those rebates. To make them profitable, manufacturers rely on the breakage and slippage numbers staying above a certain threshold. Just like our trusty drug addict, whose behavior is reinforced by how good the short-term high feels, the temptation to make the qualifications of the rebate more obscure or cumbersome so as to reduce the number of qualified applicants can be overwhelming for some. Samsung, the electronics giant, mastered the art of the kind of fine print that makes rebates so profitable for companies. In the early 2000s, the company offered rebates up to $150 on a variety of electronic products, stipulating in the fine print that the rebate was limited to one per address—a requirement that would have sounded reasonable enough to anyone at the time. Yet in practice, it effectively disqualified all customers who lived in apartment 31 START WITH WHY buildings where more than one resident had applied for the same rebate. More than 4,000 Samsung customers lured by the cash back received notices denying them rebates on those grounds. The practice was brought to the attention of the New York attorney general, and in 2004 Samsung was ordered to pay $200,000 in rebate claims to apartment dwellers. This is an extreme case of a company that got caught. But the rebate game of cutting out UPC symbols, filling out forms and doing it all before the deadline is alive and well. How can a company claim to be customer-focused when they are so comfortable measuring the number of customers who will fail to realize any promise of savings? Manipulations Lead to Transactions, Not Loyalty "It's simple," explains the TV infomercial, "simply put your old gold jewelry in the prepaid, insured envelope and we'll send you a check for the value of the gold in just two days." Mygoldenvelope .com is one of the leaders in this industry, serving as a broker for gold to be sent to a refinery, melted down, and reintroduced into the commodity market. When Douglas Feirstein and Michael Moran started the company, they wanted to be the best in the business. They wanted to transform an industry with the reputation of a back-alley pawn shop and give it a bit of a Tiffany's sheen. They invested money in making the experience perfect. They worked to make the customer service experience ideal. They were both successful entrepreneurs and knew the value of building a brand and a strong customer experience. They'd spent a lot of money trying to get the balance right, and they made sure to explain their difference in direct response advertising on various local and national cable stations. "Better than the similar offers," they'd say. And they were right. But the investment didn't pay off as expected. 32 CARROTS AND STICKS A few months later, Feirstein and Moran made a significant discovery: almost all of their customers did business with them only once. They had a transactional business yet they were trying to make it so much more than that. So they stopped trying to make their service "better than similar offers," and instead settled with good. Given that most people were not going to become repeat customers, there weren't going to be any head-to-head comparisons made to the other services. All they needed to do was drive a purchase decision and offer a pleasant enough experience that people would recommend it to a friend. Any more was unnecessary. Once the owners of mygoldenvelope.com realized they didn't need to invest in the things that build loyalty if all they wanted to do was drive transactions, their business became vastly more efficient and more profitable. For transactions that occur an average of once, carrots and sticks are the best way to elicit the desired behavior. When the police offer a reward they are not looking to nurture a relationship with the witness or tipster; it is just a single transaction. When you lose your kitten and offer a reward to get it back, you don't need to have a lasting relationship with the person returning it; you just want your cat back. Manipulations are a perfectly valid strategy for driving a transaction, or for any behavior that is only required once or on rare occasions. The rewards the police use are designed to incentivize witnesses to come forward to provide tips or evidence that may lead to an arrest. And, like any promotion, the manipulation will work if the incentive feels high enough to mitigate the risk. In any circumstance in which a person or organization wants more than a single transaction, however, if there is a hope for a loyal, lasting relationship, manipulations do not help. Does a politician want your vote, for example, or does he or she want a lifetime of support and loyalty from you? (Judging by how elections are run 33 START WITH WHY these days, it seems all they want is to win elections. Ads discrediting opponents, a focus on single issues, and an uncomfortable reliance on fear or aspirational desires are all indicators. Those tactics win elections, but they do not seed loyalties among the voters.) The American car industry learned the hard way the high cost of relying on manipulations to build a business when loyalty was what they really needed to nurture. While manipulations may be a viable strategy when times are good and money is flush, a change in market conditions made them too expensive. When the oil crisis of 2008 hit, the auto industry's promotions and incentives became untenable (the same thing happened in the 1970s). In this case, how long the manipulations could produce short-term gains was defined by the length of time the economy could sustain the strategy. This is a fundamentally weak platform upon which to build a business, an assumption of never-ending boom. Though loyal customers are less tempted by other offers and incentives, in good times the free flow of business makes it hard to recognize their value. It's in the tough times that loyal customers matter most. Manipulations work, but they cost money. Lots of money. When the money is not as available to fund those tactics, not having a loyal following really hurts. After September 11, there were customers who sent checks to Southwest Airlines to show their support. One note that accompanied a check for $1,000 read, "You've been so good to me over the years, in these hard times I wanted to say thank you by helping you out." The checks that Southwest Airlines received were certainly not enough to make any significant impact on the company's bottom line, but they were symbolic of the feeling customers had for the brand. They had a sense of partnership. The loyal behavior of those who didn't send money is almost impossible to measure, but its impact has been invaluable over the long term, helping Southwest to maintain its position as the most profitable airline in history. 34 CARROTS AND STICKS Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces costs, it provides massive peace of mind. Like loyal friends, you know your customers and employees will be there for you when you need them most. It is the feeling of "we're in this together," shared between customer and company, voter and candidate, boss and employee, that defines great leaders. In contrast, relying on manipulations creates massive stress for buyer and seller alike. For the buyer, it has become increasingly difficult to know which product, service, brand or company is best. I joke about the proliferation of toothpaste varieties and the difficulty of choosing the right one. But toothpaste is just a metaphor. Nearly every decision we're asked to make every single day is like choosing toothpaste. Deciding what law firm to hire, college to attend, car to buy, company to work for, candidate to elect—there are just too many choices. All the advertising, promotions and pressure employed to tempt us one way or another, each attempting to push harder than the other to court us for our money or our support, ultimately yields one consistent result: stress. For the companies too, whose obligation it is to help us decide, their ability to do so has gotten more and more difficult. Every day, the competition is doing something new, something better. To constantly have to come up with a new promotion, a new guerrilla marketing tactic, a new feature to add, is hard work. Combined with the long-term effects of years of short-term decisions that have eroded profit margins, this raises stress levels inside organizations as well. When manipulations are the norm, no one wins. It's not an accident that doing business today, and being in the workforce today, is more stressful than it used to be. Peter Whybrow, in his book American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, argues that many of the ills that we suffer from today have very little to do with the bad food we're eating or the partially hydrogenated oils in our diet. Rather, Whybrow says, it's the way that corporate America 35 START WITH WHY has developed that has increased our stress to levels so high we're literally making ourselves sick because of it. Americans are suffering ulcers, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, and cancer at record levels. According to Whybrow, all those promises of more, more, more are actually overloading the reward circuits of our brain. The short-term gains that drive business in America today are actually destroying our health. Just Because It Works Doesn't Make It Right The danger of manipulations is that they work. And because manipulations work, they have become the norm, practiced by the vast majority of companies and organizations, regardless of size or industry. That fact alone creates a systemic peer pressure. With perfect irony, we, the manipulators, have been manipulated by our own system. With every price drop, promotion, fear-based or aspirational message, and novelty we use to achieve our goals, we find our companies, our organizations and our systems getting weaker and weaker. The economic crisis that began in 2008 is just another, albeit extreme, example of what can happen if a flawed assumption is allowed to carry on for too long. The collapse of the housing market and the subsequent collapse of the banking industry were due to decisions made inside the banks based on a series of manipulations. Employees were manipulated with bonuses that encouraged shortsighted decision-making. Open shaming of anyone who spoke out discouraged responsible dissent. A free flow of loans encouraged aspiring homebuyers to buy more than they could afford at all price levels. There was very little loyalty. It was all a series of transactional decisions—effective, but at a high cost. Few were working for the good of the whole. Why would they?—there was no reason given to do so. There was no cause or belief beyond instant gratification. Bankers weren't the first to be swept up by their own 36 CARROTS AND STICKS success. American car manufacturers have conducted themselves the same way for decades—manipulation after manipulation, shortterm decision built upon short-term decision. Buckling or even collapse is the only logical conclusion when manipulations are the main course of action. The reality is, in today's world, manipulations are the norm. But there is an alternative. 37 38 PART 2 AN ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE 39 40 3 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE There are a few leaders who choose to inspire rather than manipulate in order to motivate people. Whether individuals or organizations, every single one of these inspiring leaders thinks, acts and communicates exactly the same way. And it's the complete opposite of the rest of us. Consciously or not, how they do it is by following a naturally occurring pattern that I call The Golden Circle. The concept of The Golden Circle was inspired by the golden ratio—a simple mathematical relationship that has fascinated mathematicians, biologists, architects, artists, musicians and naturists since the beginning of history. From the Egyptians to Pythagoras to Leonardo da Vinci, many have looked to the golden ratio to provide a mathematical formula for proportion and even beauty. It also supports the notion that there is more order in nature 41 START WITH WHY than we think, as in the symmetry of leaves and the geometric perfection of snowflakes. What I found so attractive about the golden ratio, however, was that it had so many applications in so many fields. And even more significantly, it offered a formula that could produce repeat- able and predictable results in places where such results might have been assumed to be a random occurrence or luck. Even Mother Nature—for most people a symbol of unpredictability—exhibited more order than we previously acknowledged. Like the golden ratio, which offers evidence of order in the seeming disorder of nature, The Golden Circle finds order and predictability in human behavior. Put simply, it helps us understand why we do what we do. The Golden Circle provides compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve if we remind ourselves to start everything we do by first asking why. The Golden Circle is an alternative perspective to existing assumptions about why some leaders and organizations have achieved such a disproportionate degree of influence. It offers clear insight as to how Apple is able to innovate in so many diverse industries and never lose its ability to do so. It explains why people tattoo Harley-Davidson logos on their bodies. It provides a clearer understanding not just of how Southwest Airlines created the most profitable airline in history, but why the things it did worked. It even gives some clarity as to why people followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a movement that changed a nation and why we took up John F. Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon even after he died. The Golden Circle shows how these leaders were able to inspire action instead of manipulating people to act. This alternative perspective is not just useful for changing the world; there are practical applications for the ability to inspire, too. It can be used as a guide to vastly improving leadership, corporate culture, hiring, product development, sales, and marketing. It even 42 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE explains loyalty and how to create enough momentum to turn an idea into a social movement. And it all starts from the inside out. It all starts with Why. Before we can explore its applications, let me first define the terms, starting from the outside of the circle and moving inward. WHAT: Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. This is true no matter how big or small, no matter what industry. Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within that system. WHATs are easy to identify. HOW: Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do. Whether you call them a "differentiating value proposition," "proprietary process" or "unique selling proposition," HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better. Not as obvious as WHATs, many think these are the differentiating or motivating factors in a decision. It would be false to assume that's all that is required. There is one missing detail: WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don't mean to make money—that's a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? When most organizations or people think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason—they go from clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do. But not the inspired companies. Not the inspired leaders. Every single one of them, regardless of their size or their industry, thinks, acts and communicates from the inside out. I use Apple Inc. frequently as an example simply because they have broad recognition and their products are easy to grasp and 43 START WITH WHY compare to others. What's more, Apple's success over time is not typical. Their ability to remain one of the most innovative companies year after year, combined with their uncanny ability to attract a cultlike following, makes them a great example to demonstrate many of the principles of The Golden Circle. I'll start with a simple marketing example. If Apple were like most other companies, a marketing message from them would move from the outside in of The Golden Circle. It would start with some statement of WHAT the company does or makes, followed by HOW they think they are different or better than the competition, followed by some call to action. With that, the company would expect some behavior in return, in this case a purchase. A marketing message from Apple, if they were like everyone else, might sound like this: We make great computers. They're beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one? It's not a very compelling sales pitch, but that's how most companies sell to us. This is the norm. First they start with WHAT they do-—"Here's our new car." Then they tell us how they do it or how they are better—"It's got leather seats, great gas mileage, and great financing." And then they make a call to action and expect a behavior. You see this pattern in business-to-consumer markets as well as business-to-business environments: "Here's our law firm. Our lawyers went to the best schools and we represent the biggest clients. Hire us." This pattern is also alive and well in politics—"Here's the candidate, here are her views on taxes and immigration. See how's she's different? Vote for her." In every case, the communication is organized in an attempt to convince someone of a difference or superior value. 44 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE But that is not what the inspiring leaders and organizations do. Every one of them, regardless of size or industry, thinks, acts and communicates from the inside out. Let's look at that Apple example again and rewrite the example in the order Apple actually communicates. This time, the example starts with 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? It's a completely different message. It actually feels different from the first one. We're much more eager to buy a computer from Apple after reading the second version—and all I did was reverse the order of the information. There's no trickery, no manipulation, no free stuff, no aspirational messages, no celebrities. Apple doesn't simply reverse the order of information, their message starts with WHY, a purpose, cause or belief that has nothing to do with WHAT they do. WHAT they do—the products they make, from computers to small electronics—no longer serves as the reason to buy, they serve as the tangible proof of their cause. The design and user interface of Apple products, though important, are not enough in themselves to generate such astounding loyalty among their customers. Those important elements help make the cause tangible and rational. Others can hire top designers and brilliant engineers and make beautiful, easy-to-use products and copy the things Apple does, and they could even steal away Apple employees to do it, but the results would not be the same. Simply copying WHAT Apple does or HOW it does it won't work. There is something more, something hard to describe and near impossible to 45 START WITH WHY copy that gives Apple such a disproportionate level of influence in the market. The example starts to prove that people don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. It's worth repeating: people don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. Apple's ability to design such innovative products so consis- tently and their ability to command such astounding loyalty for their products comes from more than simply WHAT they do. The problem is, organizations use the tangible features and benefits to build a rational argument for why their company, product or idea is better than another. Sometimes those comparisons are made outright and sometimes analogies or metaphors are drawn, but the effect is the same. Companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. This is what I mean when 1 say they communicate from the outside in; they lead with WHAT and HOW. When communicating from the inside out, however, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHATs serve as the tangible proof of that belief. The things we can point to rationalize or explain the reasons we're drawn to one product, company or idea over another. WHAT companies do are external factors, but WHY they do it is something deeper. In practical terms, there is nothing special about Apple. It is just a company like any other. There is no real difference between Apple and any of its competitors—Dell, HP, Gateway, Toshiba. Pick one, it doesn't matter. They are all corporate structures. That's all a company is. It's a structure. They all make computers. They all have some systems that work and some that don't. They all have equal access to the same talent, the same resources, the same agencies, the same consultants and the same media. They all have some good managers, some good designers and smart engineers. They all make some products that work well and some that don't. . . even Apple. Why, then, does Apple have 46 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE such a disproportionate level of success? Why are they more innovative? Why are they consistently more profitable? And how did they manage to build such a cultish loyal following—something very few companies are ever able to achieve? People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. This is the reason Apple has earned a remarkable level of flexibility. People are obviously comfortable buying a computer from Apple. But people are also perfectly comfortable buying an mp3 player from them, or a cell phone or a DVR. Consumers and investors are completely at ease with Apple offering so many different products in so many different categories. It's not WHAT Apple does that distinguishes them. It is WHY they do it. Their products give life to their cause. I'm not so foolhardy as to propose that their products don't matter; of course they do. But it's the reason they matter that is contrary to the conventional wisdom. Their products, unto themselves, are not the reason Apple is perceived as superior; their products, WHAT Apple makes, serve as the tangible proof of what they believe. It is that clear correlation between WHAT they do and WHY they do it that makes Apple stand out. This is the reason we perceive Apple as being authentic. Everything they do works to demonstrate their WHY, to challenge the status quo. Regardless of the products they make or industry in which they operate, it is always clear that Apple "thinks different." When Apple first came out with the Macintosh, having an operating system based on a graphical user interface and not a complicated computer language challenged how computers worked at the time. What's more, where most technology companies saw their biggest marketing opportunity among businesses, Apple wanted to give an individual sitting at home the same power as any company. Apple's WHY, to challenge the status quo and to empower the individual, is a pattern in that it repeats in all they say and do. It 47 START WITH WHY comes to life in their iPod and even more so in iTunes, a service that challenged the status quo of the music industry's distribution model and was better suited to how individuals consumed music. The music industry was organized to sell albums, a model that evolved during a time when listening to music was largely an activity we did at home. Sony changed that in 1979 with the introduction of the Walkman. But even the Walkman, and later the Discman, was limited to the number of cassette tapes or CDs you could carry in addition to the device. The development of the mp3 music format changed all that. Digital compression allowed for a very high quantity of songs to be stored on relatively inexpensive and highly portable digital music devices. Our ability to walk out of the house with only one easy-to-carry device transformed music into something we largely listened to away from home. And the mp3 not only changed where we listened to music, it also transformed us from an album-collecting culture to a song-collecting culture. While the music industry was still busy trying to sell us albums, a model that no longer suited consumer behavior, Apple introduced their iPod by offering us "1,000 songs in your pocket." With the iPod and iTunes, Apple did a much better job of communicating the value of both the mp3 and the mp3 player relative to how we lived our lives. Their advertising didn't offer exhaustive descriptions of product details; it wasn't about them, it was about us. And we understood WHY we wanted it. Apple did not invent the mp3, nor did they invent the technology that became the iPod, yet they are credited with transforming the music industry with it. The multigigabyte portable hard drive music player was actually invented by Creative Technology Ltd., a Singapore-based technology company that rose to prominence by making the Sound Blaster audio technology that enables home PCs to have sound. In fact, Apple didn't introduce the iPod until twentytwo months after Creative's entry into the market. This detail alone 48 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE calls into question the assumption of a first mover's advantage. Given their history in digital sound, Creative was more qualified than Apple to introduce a digital music product. The problem was, they advertised their product as a "5GB mp3 player." It is exactly the same message as Apple's "1,000 songs in your pocket." The difference is Creative told us WHAT their product was and Apple told us WHY we needed it. Only later, once we decided we had to have an iPod, did the WHAT matter—and we chose the 5GB version, 10GB version, and so on, the tangible details that proved we could get the 1,000 songs in our pocket. Our decision started with WHY, and so did Apple's offering. How many of us can say with certainty that, indeed, an iPod is actually better than Creative's Zen? iPods, for example, are still plagued with battery life and battery replacement issues. They tend to just die. Maybe a Zen is better. The reality is, we don't even care if it is. People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. And it is Apple's clarity of WHY that gives them such a remarkable ability to innovate, often competing against companies seemingly more qualified than they, and succeed in industries outside their core business. The same cannot be said for companies with a fuz2y sense of WHY. When an organization defines itself by WHAT it does, that's all it will ever be able to do. Apple's competitors, having defined themselves by their products or services, regardless of their "differentiating value proposition," are not afforded the same freedom. Gateway, for example, started selling flat-screen TVs in 2003. Having made flat-screen monitors for years, they were every bit as qualified to make and sell TVs. But the company failed to make a credible name for itself among consumer electronics brands and gave up the business two years later to focus on its "core business." Dell came out with PDAs in 2002 and mp3 players in 2003, but 49 START WITH WHY lasted only a few years in each market. Dell makes good-quality products and is fully qualified to produce these other technologies. The problem was they had defined themselves by WHAT they did; they made computers, and it simply didn't make sense to us to buy a PDA or mp3 player from them. It didn't feel right. How many people do you think would stand on line for six hours to buy a new cell phone from Dell, as they did for the release of Apple's iPhone? People couldn't see Dell as anything more than a computer company. It just didn't make sense. Poor sales quickly ended Dell's desire to enter the small electronic goods market; instead they opted to "focus on their core business." Unless Dell, like so many others, can rediscover their founding purpose, cause or belief and start with WHY in all they say and do, all they will ever do is sell computers. They will be stuck in their "core business." Apple, unlike its competitors, has defined itself by WHY it does things, not WHAT it does. It is not a computer company, but a company that challenges the status quo and offers individuals simpler alternatives. Apple even changed its legal name in 2007 from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple Inc. to reflect the fact that they were more than just a computer company. Practically speaking, it doesn't really matter what a company's legal name is. For Apple, however, having the word "Computer" in their name didn't limit WHAT they could do. It limited how they thought of themselves. The change wasn't practical, it was philosophical. Apple's WHY was formed at its founding in the late 1970s and hasn't changed to this date. Regardless of the products they make or the industries into which they migrate, their WHY still remains a constant. And Apple's intention to challenge accepted thinking has proved prophetic. As a computer company they redirected the course of the personal computing industry. As a small electronics company they have challenged the traditional dominance of companies like Sony and Philips. As a purveyor of mobile phones they 50 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE pushed the old hands—Motorola, Ericsson, and Nokia—to reexamine their own businesses. Apple's ability to enter and even dominate so many different industries has even challenged what it means to be a computer company in the first place. Regardless of WHAT it does, we know WHY Apple exists. The same cannot be said for their competitors. Although they all had a clear sense of WHY at some point—it was one of the primary factors that helped each of them become billion-dollar companies— over the course of time, all of Apple's competitors lost their WHY. Now all those companies define themselves by WHAT they do: we make computers. They turned from companies with a cause into companies that sold products. And when that happens, price, quality, service and features become the primary currency to motivate a purchase decision. At that point a company and its products have ostensibly become commodities. As any company forced to compete on price, quality, service or features alone can attest, it is very hard to differentiate for any period of time or build loyalty on those factors alone. Plus it costs money and is stressful waking up every day trying to compete on that level alone. Knowing WHY is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others. Any company faced with the challenge of how to differentiate themselves in their market is basically a commodity, regardless of WHAT they do or HOW they do it. Ask a milk producer, for example, and they will tell you that there are actually variations among milk brands. The problem is you have to be an expert to understand the differences. To the outside world, all milk is basically the same, so we just lump all the brands together and call it a commodity. In response, that's how the industry acts. This is largely the pattern for almost every other product or service on the market today, business-to-consumer or business-to-business. They focus on WHAT they do and HOW they do it without consideration of WHY; 51 START WITH WHY we lump them together and they act like commodities. The more we treat them like commodities, the more they focus on WHAT and HOW they do it. It's a vicious cycle. But only companies that act like commodities are the ones who wake up every day with the challenge of how to differentiate. Companies and organizations with a clear sense of WHY never worry about it. They don't think of themselves as being like anyone else and they don't have to "convince" anyone of their value. They don't need complex systems of carrots and sticks. They are different, and everyone knows it. They start with WHY in everything they say and do. There are those who still believe that Apple's difference comes from its marketing ability. Apple "sells a lifestyle," marketing professionals will tell you. Then how come these marketing professionals haven't intentionally repeated Apple's success and longevity for another company? Calling it a "lifestyle" is a recognition that people who live a certain way choose to incorporate Apple into their lives. Apple didn't invent the lifestyle, nor does it sell a lifestyle. Apple is simply one of the brands that those who live a certain lifestyle are drawn to. Those people use certain products or brands in the course of living in that lifestyle; that is, in part, how we recognize their way of life in the first place. The products they choose become proof of WHY they do the things they do. It is only because Apple's WHY is so clear that those who believe what they believe are drawn to them. As Harley-Davidson fits into the lifestyle of a certain group of people and Prada shoes fit the lifestyle of another group, it is the lifestyle that came first. Like the products the company produces that serve as proof of the company's WHY, so too does a brand or product serve as proof of an individual's WHY. Others, even some who work for Apple, will say that what truly distinguishes Apple is in fact the quality of their products alone. Having good-quality products is of course important. No matter how clear your WHY, if WHAT you sell doesn't work, the whole 52 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE thing falls flat. But a company doesn't need to have the best products, they just need to be good or very good. Better or best is a relative comparison. Without first understanding WHY, the comparison itself is of no value to the decision maker. The concept of "better" begs the question: based on what standard? Is a Ferrari F430 sports car better than a Honda Odyssey minivan? It depends why you need the car. If you have a family of six, a twoseater Ferrari is not better. However, if you're looking for a great way to meet women, a Honda minivan is probably not better (depending on what kind of woman you're looking to meet, I guess; I too shouldn't make assumptions). Why the product exists must first be considered and why someone wants it must match. I could tell you about all the engineering marvels of the Honda Odyssey, some of which may actually be better than a Ferrari. It certainly gets better gas mileage. The odds are that I'm not going to convince someone who really wants that sports car to buy anything else. That some people are viscerally drawn to a Ferrari more than a Honda Odyssey says more about the person than the engineering of the product. The engineering, for example, would simply be one of the tangible points that a Ferrari lover could point out to prove how he feels about the car. The dogged defense of the superiority of the Ferrari from the person whose personality is predisposed to favor all the features and benefits of a Ferrari cannot be an objective conversation. Why do you think most people who buy Ferraris are willing to pay a premium to get it in red whereas most who buy Honda Odysseys probably don't care much about the color at all? For all those who will try to convince you that Apple computers are just better, I cannot dispute a single claim. All I can offer is that most of the factors that they believe make them better meet their standard of what a computer should do. With that in mind, Macintoshes are, in practice, only better for those who believe what Apple believes. Those people who share Apple's WHY believe that Apple's 53 START WITH WHY products are objectively better, and any attempt to convince them otherwise is pointless. Even with objective metrics in hand, the argument about which is better or which is worse without first establishing a common standard creates nothing more than debate. Loyalists for each brand will point to various features and benefits that matter to them (or don't matter to them) in an attempt to convince the other that they are right. And that's one of the primary reasons why so many companies feel the need to differentiate in the first place—based on the flawed assumption that only one group can be right. But what if both parties were right? What if an Apple was right for some people and a PC was right for others? It's not a debate about better or worse anymore, it's a discussion about different needs. And before the discussion can even happen, the WHYs for each must be established first. A simple claim of better, even with the rational evidence to back it up, can create desire and even motivate a decision to buy, but it doesn't create loyalty. If a customer feels inspired to buy a product, rather than manipulated, they will be able to verbalize the reasons why they think what they bought is better. Good quality and features matter, but they are not enough to produce the dogged loyalty that all the most inspiring leaders and companies are able to command. It is the cause that is represented by the company, brand, product or person that inspires loyalty. Not the Only Way, Just One Way Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility. When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the growth, loyalty and inspiration that helped drive the original success. By difficult, I mean that manipulation rather than inspiration fast becomes the strategy of 54 THE GOLDEN CIRCLE choice to motivate behavior. This is effective in the short term but comes at a high cost in the long term. Consider the classic business school case of the railroads. In the late 1800s, the railroads were the biggest companies in the country. Having achieved such monumental success, even changing the landscape of America, remembering WHY stopped being important to them. Instead they became obsessed with WHAT they did— they were in the railroad business. This narrowing of perspective influenced their decision-making—they invested all their money in tracks and crossties and engines. But at the beginning of the twentieth century, a new technology was introduced: the airplane. And all those big railroad companies eventually went out of business. What if they had defined themselves as being in the mass transportation business? Perhaps their behavior would have been different. Perhaps they would have seen opportunities that they otherwise missed. Perhaps they would own all the airlines today. The comparison raises the question of the long-term survivability of so many other companies that have defined themselves and their industries by WHAT they do. They have been doing it the same way for so long that their ability to compete against a new technology or see a new perspective becomes a daunting task. The story of the railroads has eerie similarities to the case of the music industry discussed earlier. This is another industry that has not done a good job of adjusting its business model to fit a behavioral change prompted by a new technology. But other industries whose business models evolved in a different time show similar cracks— the newspaper, publishing and television industries, to name but three. These are the current-day railroads that are struggling to define their value while watching their customers turn to companies from other industries to serve their needs. Perhaps if music companies had a clearer sense of WHY, they would have seen the opportunity 55 START WITH WHY to invent the equivalent of iTunes instead of leaving it to a scrappy computer company. In all cases, going back to the original purpose, cause or belief will help these industries adapt. Instead of asking, "WHAT should we do to compete?" the questions must be asked, "WHY did we start doing WHAT we're doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?" But don't take my word for it. None of this is my opinion. It is all firmly grounded in the tenets of biology. 56 4 THIS IS NOT OPINION, THIS IS BIOLOGY Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars. Those stars weren't so big. They were really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn't matter at all. Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean Put together a very peculiar machine. And he said, "You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch? My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!" 57 START WITH WHY In his 1961 story about the Sneetches, Dr. Seuss introduced us to two groups of Sneetches, one with stars on their bellies and the other with none. The ones without stars wanted desperately to get stars so they could feel like they fit in. They were willing to go to extreme lengths and pay larger and larger sums of money simply to feel like they were part of a group. But only Sylvester McMonkey McBean, the man whose machine puts "stars upon thars," profited from the Sneetches' desire to fit in. As with so many things, Dr. Seuss explained it best. The Sneetches perfectly capture a very basic human need—the need to belong. Our need to belong is not rational, but it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures. It is a feeling we get when those around us share our values and beliefs. When we feel like we belong we feel connected and we feel safe. As humans we crave the feeling and we seek it out. Sometimes our feeling of belonging is incidental. We're not friends with everyone from our hometown, but travel across the state, and you may meet someone from your hometown and you instantly have a connection with them. We're not friends with everyone from our home state, but travel across the country, and you'll feel a special bond with someone you meet who is from your home state. Go abroad and you'll form instant bonds with other Americans you meet. I remember a trip I took to Australia. One day I was on a bus and heard an American accent. I turned and struck up a conversation. I immediately felt connected to them, we could speak the same language, understand the same slang. As a stranger in a strange city, for that brief moment, I felt like I belonged, and because of it, I trusted those strangers on the bus more than any other passengers. In fact, we spent time together later. No matter where we go, we trust those with whom we are able to perceive common values or beliefs. 58 THIS IS NOT OPINION, THIS IS BIOLOGY Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things and often spend money to get that feeling. Like the Sneetches, we want to be around people and organizations who are like us and share our beliefs. When companies talk about WHAT they do and how advanced their products are, they may have appeal, but they do not necessarily represent something to which we want to belong. But when a company clearly communicates their WHY, what they believe, and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives. This is not because they are better, but because they become markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear. Those products and brands make us feel like we belong and we feel a kinship with others who buy the same things. Fan clubs, started by customers, are often formed without any help from the company itself. These people form communities, in person or online, not just to share their love of a product with others, but to be in the company of people like them. Their decisions have nothing to do with the company or its products; they have everything to do with the individuals themselves. Our natural need to belong also makes us good at spotting things that don't belong. It's a sense we get. A feeling. Something deep inside us, something we can't put into words, allows us to feel how some things just fit and some things just don't. Dell selling mp3 players just doesn't feel right because Dell defines itself as a computer company, so the only things that belong are computers. Apple defines itself as a company on a mission and so anything they do that fits that definition feels like it belongs. In 2004, they produced a promotional iPod in partnership with the iconoclastic Irish rock band U2. That makes sense. They would never have produced a promotional iPod with Celine Dion, even though she's sold vastly more records than U2 and may have a bigger audience. 59 START WITH WHY U2 and Apple belong together because they share the same values and beliefs. They both push boundaries. It would not have made sense if Apple released a special iPod with Celine Dion. As big as her audience may be, the partnership just doesn't align. Look no farther than Apple's TV commercials "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" for a perfect representation of who a Mac user needs to be to feel like they belong. In the commercial, the Mac user is a young guy, always in jeans and a T-shirt, always relaxed and always having a sense of humor poking fun at "the system." The PC, as defined by Apple, is in a suit. Older. Stodgy. To fit in with Mac, you have to be like Mac. Microsoft responded to Apple with its own "I'm a PC" campaign, which depicts people from all walks of life identifying themselves as "PC." Microsoft included many more people in their ads—teachers, scientists, musicians and children. As one would expect from the company that supplies 95 percent of the computer operating systems, to belong to that crowd, you have to be everyone else. One is not better or worse; it depends on where you feel like you belong. Are you a rabble-rouser or are you with the majority? We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. Those whom we consider great leaders all have an ability to draw us close and to command our loyalty. And we feel a strong bond with those who are also drawn to the same leaders and organizations. Apple users feel a bond with each other. Harley riders are bonded to each other. Anyone who was drawn to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his "I Have a Dream" speech, regardless of race, religion or sex, stood together in that crowd as brothers and sisters, bonded by their shared values and beliefs. They knew they belonged together because they could feel it in their gut. 60 THIS IS NOT OPINION, THIS IS BIOLOGY Gut Decisions Don't Happen in Your Stomach The principles of The Golden Circle are much more than a communications hierarchy. Its principles are deeply grounded in the evolution of human behavior. The power of WHY is not opinion, it's biology. If you look at a cross section of the human brain, from the top down, you see that the levels of The Golden Circle correspond precisely with the three major levels of the brain. The newest area of the brain, our Homo sapien brain, is the neocortex, which corresponds with the WHAT level. The neocortex is responsible for rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections comprise the limbic brain. The limbic brain is responsible for all of our feelings, such as trust and loyalty. It is also responsible for all human behavior and all our decisionmaking, but it has no capacity for language. When we communicate from the outside in, when we communicate WHAT we do first, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information, like facts and features, but it does not drive behavior. But when we communicate from the inside out, we're talking directly to the part of the brain that controls decision- 61 START WITH WHY making, and our language part of the brain allows us to rationalize those decisions. The part of the brain that controls our feelings has no capacity for language. It is this disconnection that makes putting our feelings into words so hard. We have trouble, for example, explaining why we married the person we married. We struggle to put into