Simon Senek’s model demonstrating ordinary (uninspiring) leadership approach versus the remarkable (inspiring).
Let me give you an example:
I use Apple because they are easy to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this:
We make great computers.
They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.
Want to buy one?
Meh. And that’s how most of us communicate, that’s how marketing is done, that’s how most sales is done, and that’s how most of us communicate interpersonally. We say what we do, we say how we’re different or how we’re better, and we expect some sort of behavior (a purchase or the vote, something like that).
Here’s our new law firm.
We have the best lawyers with the biggest clients, (you know) we always perform for our clients.
Do business with us.
Here’s our new car.
It gets great gas mileage, it has leather seats.
Buy our car.
But it’s uninspiring.
Here’s how Apple actually communicates:
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
We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?
Totally different, right? You’re ready to buy a computer from me. All I did was reverse the order of the information. What it proves to us is that people don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
This explains why every single person in this room is perfectly comfortable buying a computer from Apple, but we’re also perfectly comfortable buying an mp3 player from Apple, or a phone from Apple, or a DVR from Apple. But, as I said before, Apple’s just a computer company. There’s nothing that distinguishes them structurally from any of their competitors. Their competitors are all equally qualified to make all of these products. In fact, they tried! A few years ago, Gateway came out with flat screen TVs. They are eminently qualified to make flat screen TVs, they’ve been making flat screen monitors for years. Nobody bought one. And Dell; Dell came out with mp3 players and PDA’s, and they make great quality products; and they can make perfectly well designed products. And nobody bought one. In fact, talking about it now, we can’t even imagine buying an m3 player from Dell, why would you buy an mp3 player from a computer company? But we do it every day.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. Here’s the best part. None of what I’m telling you is my opinion. It’s all grounded in the tenants of biology; not psychology, biology.
If you look at a cross section of the human brain, looking from the top down, what you see is that the human brain is actually broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with the Golden Circle. Our newest brain – our homo-sapien brain – our neo-cortex corresponds with the what level. The neo-cortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains. And our limbic brains are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision making, and it has no capacity for language. In other words, when we communicate from the outside in; yes – people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features, and benefits, and facts, and figures – it just doesn’t drive behavior. When we communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do.
This is where ‘gut’ decisions come from. You know, sometimes you can give somebody all the facts and the figures and they say, ‘I know what all the facts and details say, but it just doesn’t feel right.’ Why would we use that verb? It doesn’t feel right. Because the part of the brain that controls decision making doesn’t control language, and the best we can muster up is ‘I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel right.’ Or sometimes you say you’re leading with your heart, or leading with your soul. Well, I hate to break it to you, those aren’t the body parts controlling your behavior, it’s all happening here, (points to the ‘why’ in the chart) in your limbic brain. The part of the brain that controls decision making, and not language; but if you don’t know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how will anybody – how will you ever get people to vote for you, buy something from you, or more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do?
Again, the goal is not just to sell people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. I always say that if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat, and tears. Nowhere else is there a better example of this than with the Wright Brothers.
Most people don’t know about Samuel Pierpont Langley. Back in the early 20th century, the pursuit of powered man flight was like the ‘dot.com’ of the day. Everybody was trying it. Samuel Pierpont Langley had what we assume to be the recipe for success. I mean, even now, if you ask people why did your product, or why did your company fail, people always give you the same permutation of the same three things: under-capitalized, the wrong people, bad market conditions – it’s always the same three things. So let’s explore that. Samuel Pierpont Langley was given $50,000 dollars by the war department to figure out this ‘flying machine’, money was no problem. He held a seat at Harvard, and worked at the Smithsonian and was extremely well connected. He knew all the big minds of the day. He hired the best minds money could find and the market conditions were fantastic. The New York Times followed him around everywhere, and everyone was rooting for Langley, and how come we’ve never heard of Samuel Pierpont Langley?
A few hundred miles away, in Dayton Ohio, Orville and Wilbur Wright – they had none of what we consider to be the recipe for success. They had no money; they paid for their dreams with the proceeds from their bicycle shop. Not a single person on the Wright Brother’s team had a college education; not even Orville or Wilbur. And the New York Times followed them around nowhere. The difference was, Orville and Wilbur were driven by a cause, by a purpose, by a belief. They believed that if they could figure out this flying machine, it will change the course of the world.
Samuel Pierpont Langley was different. He wanted to be rich and he wanted to be famous. He was in pursuit of the result. He was in pursuit of the riches. And, low and behold, look what happened. The people who believed in the Wright Brother’s dream worked with them with blood and sweat and tears. The others just worked for the paycheck. And they tell stories of how every time the Wright Brothers went out, they would have to take five sets of parts because that’s how many times they would crash before they came in for supper. And eventually, on December 17 in 1903, the Wright Brother’s took flight; and no one was there to even experience it. We found out about it a few days later. And further proof that Langley was motivated by the wrong thing – the day the Wright Brothers took flight, he quit. He could have said ‘that’s an amazing discovery guys and I will improve upon your technology.’ But he didn’t. he wasn’t first, he didn’t get rich, he didn’t get famous, so he quit.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe. Why is important to attract who believe what you believe? Something called the Law of Diffusion Innovation, and if you don’t know the law you definitely know the terminology. The first 2 ½ % of our population are our Innovators. The next 13 ½ % of our population are our Early Adopters. The next 34% are your Early Majority. Your Late Majority (writes in 34%), and your Laggards (writes in 16%) – (pointing at Laggards section) the only reason these people buy touch-tone phones is ‘cause you can’t buy rotary phones anymore.
This graph exhibits Everett Roger’s theory, which states: “diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among members of a social system” (Rogers, 2003) and also illustrates “the chasm” as labeled according to Geoffrey A. Moore’s philosophy (Moore, 1991).
The lay of diffusion of innovation, shows that the adoption curve (a typical bell curve) can be segmented out into the following sections.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe. The reason that person bought the Iphone in the first six hours – stood in line for six hours – was because of what they believed about the world and how they wanted everybody to see them. They were first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
So, let me give you a famous example – a famous failure and a famous success of the Law of Diffusion of Innovation.
First, the famous failure; it’s a commercial example. As we said before, a second ago, the recipe for success is money, the right people, and the right market conditions – right? You should have success then. Look at TiVo. From the time TiVo came out, about eight or nine years ago, to this current day, they are single highest quality product on the market. Hands down, there is no dispute. They were extremely well funded. Market conditions were fantastic – I mean, we use TiVo as a verb! I TiVo stuff on my piece of junk TimeWarner DVR all the time! But TiVo’s commercial failure; they’ve never made money. And when they went IPO, their stock was at about $30-$40 and it plummeted and it’s never traded above $10. In fact, I don’t think it’s even traded above $6 except for a couple of little spikes. Because, you see, when TiVo launched their product, they told us all what they had. They said:
rewinds live TV,
and memorizes your viewing habits without you even asking.
What if they had said:
If you’re the kind of person who likes to have total control
over every aspect of your life – boy do we have a product for you!
It pauses live TV, skips commercials, memorizes your viewing habits, etc.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it, and what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.
Now, let me give you a successful example of the Law of Diffusion of Innovation. In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed on the Mall in Washington to hear Dr. King speak. They sent out no invitations and there was no website to check the date. How do you do that? Well, Dr. King wasn’t the only man in America who was a great orator. He wasn’t the only man in America who suffered in pre-civil rights America. In fact, some of his ideas were bad, but he had a gift. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America; he went around and told people what he believed. “I believe. I believe. I believe” he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause and they made it their own and they told people. And some of those people created structures to get the word out to even more people. And, low and behold, 250,000 people showed up on the right day on the right time to hear him speak. How many of them showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel on a bus for eight hours, to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August. It’s what they believed. And it wasn’t about black versus white; 25% of the audience was white. Dr. King believed that there were two types of laws in this world; those that are made by a higher authority, and those that are made by man. And not until all of the laws that are made by man are consistent with the laws that are made by the higher authority will we live in a just world. It just so happens that the Civil Rights movement was the perfect thing to help him bring his cause to life. We followed him not for him but for ourselves. And, by the way, he gave the I Have A Dream speech, not the I Have a Plan speech!
Listen to politicians now with their 12-point plans, they aren’t inspiring anybody.
Because there are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold the position of power, or authority; but those who lead inspire us – whether they’re 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.
It’s those who start with why that have the ability to inspire those around them, or find others who inspire them. Thank you very much.