Why We Do What We Do and the Lessons of the Past

Why We Do What We Do and the Lessons of the Past
May 13, 2011 Taf McDonald

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” is the mantra of author Simon Sinek. In his talks about leadership he gives compelling arguments as to how companies and individuals have consistently failed to sell their concepts successfully. He argues that many are too eager to sell themselves (or their products) on what they do and / or how they do it. Those who have really succeeded, he tells us, have instead told us ‘why they do it’ before then explaining the how and the what. Among his examples he refers to Apple who don’t tell us ‘we make great computers, we invest in technology and we hire the best people’ instead they prefer to say things such as:

“This is what we believe. Technology alone is not enough. Faster, thinner, lighter – those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful; even magical. That’s when you leap forward. That’s when you end up with something like this.” (Taken from the latest iPad2 advert)

No mention of the how or the what but plenty of ‘this is why we do it – this is what we believe’. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. He also suggests that the reason for this behaviour is actually at a biological, rather than psychological, level. The way the brain is made up actually makes it more likely you’ll invest in ideas and products which are nearest to your own beliefs.

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