Start With Why – Using PurposeTo Motivate Action

start with whySimon Sinek’s book “Start with why – “How great leaders inspire people to take action” is a must read for all business owners and marketers alike. Be prepared to be inspired and start asking yourself what is your WHY?

His seemingly simple concept of engaging people with your purpose or “cause” (the “Why”), before bombarding them with the how & what (the typical features benefit sale pitch) is so simple, yet powerful. It is easy to see how this can transform your customer engagement, beyond a simple transactional relationship into that Nevada of life time loyal customer.

By purpose he is not talking about making money, which is the result that comes from achieving your purpose. He is talking about the inner connecting thought that gets people engage in what you do. This core motivating purpose, is the same concept that Daniel Pink’s book Drive is all about. You can read more on Daniel Pink’s take on purpose in my blog post – “Forget about incentives for your staff”

Simon’s approach is a great tool for building that instant bond with your target customers , using the common ground of “a matter of principle”, before attempting to bait them into your product value proposition. Simon’s approach is well illustrated by using  Apple as an example. Compare the two sales messages below:

The What / How Sell: (how most companies sell)

  • We make great computers.
  • They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.
  • Wanna buy one?

The Why / How / What  Sell : (how apple sell)

  • 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?

Watch at least the first 8 mins of Simon Sinek’s 18 min TED Video (below)

Take the time to uncover your “Why” and get your customers appreciating the true value of your offering.

The “Start With Why” methodology is a quick way to qualify potential customers in or out. People who get your purpose, will quickly build powerful relationships with you.

If you do not connect on the “Why” with your customers,  be prepared for the typical transactional relationship that can quickly fall into the death spiral of price haggling.

Simon Sinek’s book is available on kindle and paper, well worth the investment.  You can read more about his methodology on his web site

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Inspired by: NO, Inconvenience and Only 4 chapters Left

 Last week I attended the KEA World Class NZ – Inspire morning … here’s 4 of my take away’s

1: What are you doing with your 6 remaining chapters?

“Your life is broken into 5 year chapters” so what are you doing with your remaining chapters?  
This was one of the challenges tabled by Derek Handley – Hyperfactory fame, at this week’s Inspirational World Class NZ workshop. Derek along with a bunch of other world class New Zealanders certainly did a great job of revving the room up.

Break your life down into your big achievements and missions. Certainly in my life the 5 year blocks hold true. It seems it takes five years to do stuff, whether it’s and achievement of learning or accomplishment or simply recognising you’re on the wrong track.  According to Wikipedia in NZ the average life expectancy is male 78.43 years Female 82.39 years.  So what’s on your chapter – to do list: things to have achieved or accomplished?

The scary thought then at 47, I only have 6 chapters left, or 6 things to achieve. Take this into the business environment then perhaps my list needs to be reduced to 4.

2: Opportunities never arrive at convenient times?

Claudia Batten – Victor & Spoils message was;  “grab opportunities as they arise, but be warned the big opportunities always arrive at the worst possible time.”

Anyone in the new media business interested in the transformation of the design agency into the model world of social media and crowdsourcing check out victor and spoils intro flash … it’s got a great punch line …  victorsandspoils.com/

3: Play to win not lose and say NO

Listed on Forbes as the 10th most powerful women in sports – Sarah Hobbs (President at Gatorade) was inspirational. Talk about chapters, my guess is this super woman has a chapter of reduced size.

She told a great courageous story of turning around Gatorade and going back to the core of your business. And saying NO to opportunities that fall outside your scope.  Just because you can do something does not mean you should.

4: Watch out real farmers – the virtual world is out performing you

Another Derek Handley wakeup calls came, when he referenced the market cap (value) of Farmville (the social media virtual farm) compared to NZ’s Fonterra ( a real farm). And that Farmville with virtual cows, was doing better than Fonterra with real cows!

Congratulations KEA a fantastic and inspirational morning at World class New Zealand – Inspire day. I am looking forward to the video replay … So much to take in and hell I have only mentioned 3 of the great 7 speakers.

PS: Kea have a service to help NZ businesses access their powerful offshore network of  talent. Contact them direct www.keanewzealand.com

Forget Motivating Staff With Incentives – Pink Drive Review

Are your staff on board or not?   Do a quick test – sit back and listen to how your staff talk about your company. Is it  in terms of “we” or “they” – this is a good barometer as to whether you have engaged your staff or are controlling them.

The old days of control, carrots and stick have gone – they simply do not work. In fact research shows giving people extra rewards for work is not a way to motivate them in the long run. It works the first time, then they expect it and when it doesn’t come they get de-motivated.

I drew a parallel for you cyclists out there, it’s like eating chocolate on a long hard ride, a great sugar rush  that is followed by a crash in energy.

This is not to ignore a basic “baseline reward” (remuneration) that people get for doing their job. But we need to hunt down how we inspire the inner drive in people.

Enter the new age of autonomy, mastery and purpose…

I have just spent the weekend reading Daniel Pink’s Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us.  Many of the business owners I deal with, are often faced with the thought “how do I get that extra drive out of staff?”

Pink questions the age-old management philosophy of carrot and stick. He provides some great scientific examples of how people behave or more importantly how traditional management approaches simply do not work. “So here we have a major mismatch between what science knows and how business behaves”.  I drew a parallel for you cyclists out there, it’s like eating chocolate on a long hard ride, great sugar rush that is followed by a crash in energy.

Pink presents an evolutionary approach to how people are motivated – i.e we have lived in two worlds and are about to join a third. Motivation 1.0 – world of basic survival, Motivation 2.0 based on fact that humans respond to rewards and punishments and now we have entered the world of 3.0 – Motivation 3.0  is based on the theory that humans have a third drive – to learn, to create, and to better the world. For me it was like the next step from the Maslow’s hierarchy theory. By the way like DOS motivation 1.0 and 2.0 are no longer supported!

Pink advocates that we need to focus more on unleashing the inner drive – that place we get to when we are doing thing that we enjoy and have purpose – that state of flow.

What he advocates is that we need to create an environment of:

  • Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives
  • Mastery – the desire to get better at something that matters
  • Purpose – the yearning to do something in the service of something larger than ourselves

In practise, we need to find ways to let people harness what matters to them, rathing than ordering creation or fun!

To spark creativity in teams Atlasian ran FedEx Days – like Fedex they had to deliver something overnight. So all the staff were given complete freedom to work on anything they liked as long as it delivered something finished the next day. After initial trials Atlasian now give staff freedom to spend 20% of their time on stuff that is not part of their normal tasked job.

The book suggest caning those “fun off sites” and replace them with “fed Ex days” hell most people like what they do let them “create” with their skills. An interesting example was given – Artist’s best works are never the commissioned ones. Another interesting point is that generally people waste at least 10% of their working day anyway.

Gmail and google news, all came about by giving staff free creativity time.

Drive is one of those books that doesn’t give you the answers, as much as it inspires you to rethink your world both from a personal and business perspective.

Questions that came to me reading Pink’s Drive were:

  •  Do you earn your money from a job or your vocation?
  • How much of your time are you operating in your flow zone?
  • What are you doing in your business to ensure you are creating flow, unleashing the inner drive in your people, rather than using carrots and sticks?

So my verdict … not good enough to topple a book of  my  top 5 book  list.  Why, too slow to start and not enough practical takeaways, but certainly a great thought provoking book just the same.

Thanks Simon for putting the link to this video in comments on this post

If you are  looking at how to best capture human capital for your business then get a copy. Bottom line it has changed the way I think, I sense as I reflect on it I may change my rating.

post ed note: It definitely rates in my top 10 books, although post Simon connecting me to the video I actually recommend people watch the great RSA animates video version of the book. Now posted above.

Managing change or riding the wave? – Lessons from a futurist

Are we managing change or adapting to it? 

Success in the future will be determined by your ability to ride the wave of change. Not on the false premise you create change.

That was my big takeaway from an inspirational session with David Houle – self claimed futurist, at an open TEC event this week.

David spent the first half of our time together building the scene: giving us a technology history lesson and then motivating us (NZ)  to get our act together with broadband.  To be honest the warm up was a bit slow for me (maybe I am an impatient bugger) , but then came the really good thought-provoking stuff.

David labels the current decade (2010 – 2020) the Shift Age, with three main characteristics:

  • Flow to global
  • Flow to individual
  • Accelerated connectedness

 David describes a futurist as someone who helps transform shape and form of business. Stating there is always opportunity in danger.

 The main takeaways from this event for me were:

  •  Don’t kid yourself we can no longer manage change – we can no longer be change agents – we live in a world of every increasing change – future winners will be the leaders who can read and adapt to it, rather than attempt to control it. Effectively riding the wave of change.  We need to become a “morph corps” – how well structured for constant change is your business?
  • Forget traditional office environments – we need to separate the concept of place and work.  Modern workers need space to collaborate and cross fertilise. So how about pulling down cubicle farms and create thinking rooms – for staff to get together and collaborate in. Then let them to work at home for the rest of the time? It’s interesting us baby boomers still cannot get our head around teenagers working with distractions around (music, tv, etc) it is time we consider how the new generation thinks and creates best.
  • The new high touch – tech world – “hugging is in” – check out the teenagers – look at the Apple retail concept “the temple of cool” – designed to  get people using stuff. How are you integrating this concept  into your business?
  • Future wealth will be defined by Intellectual Property (IP) – interpreting his case studies my take on this was that it will be  IP + Brand Experience that will drive future wealth.  The emotional attachment to brand experience is real and consuming in this modern world. David gave a great example of this  “whose kid wants a HP or a Dell Laptop?” “Apple is the cool one” – Hell my daughter is fixated on her new ,MacBook experience this year.
  • Watch out for the “digital natives” those young ones coming through – who have no experience of the pre digital world – they are different – adapt and find ways to maximise their talent.
  • People hold the power not traditional corporations / structure – the individual needs to be engaged with. Interesting to still hear people failing to adapt to the new channel of customer/stakeholder communications of social media.

A great morning of inspiration:  If you are interested in more of David’s theories, he does have a book – “The Shift Age”. By all accounts he is another American who has fallen in love with Australia and NZ , so I am sure we will see him as a regular visitor on the NZ speaking circuit. Well worth a listen to.

GMC Business Model Canvas

Often business owners get distracted by the complexity of their own business and end up wasting time and energy working on the wrong stuff. The business model canvas is a technique that documents your business model with a simple diagram. I have found it invaluable in helping businesses gain greater clarity about what activities add value to their business.

Having now used the canvas for some time, I have generated my own version of it, that better suits the type of businesses I have been working with. Often just filling out this template or canvas, creates many powerful discussions that benefits the business.

Below is my adapted version of the canvas: (you can click here for a pdf)

In the formative stages of growth of a company, it is particularly important not to loss sight of both the quantifiable value proposition and what your sustainable competitive advantage is.

In my incarnation of the canvas I have included two new boxes:

  • Problem – What is the problem your product or service solves?
  • Unique Proposition – What do you have that makes you unique and keeps competitors at bay? Particularly ones with deep pockets.

If you are new to the “business model canvas” , here is a link to a book review and summary that I published a while ago on the original book. It’s great to see this book appearing on book shelves all around the country.My hope is that business owners are using it to accelerate decisions in their business on a daily basis and note just letting it gather dust.

PS: Like all tools it works better when you under stand how to use it. If you want a hand getting used to using this model on your business– come along to one of the GMC business planning workshops.

PPS:  I have just updated my version of the canvas read my V2 GMC Canvas post Oct 2012

Rework your perspective on growing companies

Jason Friend & David Heinemeier Hansson are founders of 37signals – home of products such as base camp, high rise and creators of the “Ruby on rails” revolution. The 37signal’s team created software products that are used by millions of people, by doing stuff different.  

They provide simple tools for people like them, with basic problems. They have not designed a product with more feature s than their competitors.  They focus on delivering fewer features, in a simpler and easier product to use.

I have just finished reading their book “Rework”. I must say it’s is the most refreshing look at how to grow a business, that I have come across for some time.  It has gone on my top 5 books business owners must read. Every page is a gem.

What makes this book interesting is they challenge the norm e.g. you don’t need to employ heaps of people to grow a successful business. Their company is small, Frugal and profitable”, services millions of users worldwide and employees only 16 people.

So here is a taste of their magic:

  • Workaholism is stupid – working more doesn’t mean you get more done, it just means you work more.
  • Underdo your competition – focus on less than your competitors but better than them.
  •  Start a business, not a startup: Let’s drop the word entrepreneur and startup it has become synonymous with: creating businesses that spend other people’s money that don’t focus on making real revenue with real profits. 
  • Less is a good thing: it forces you to be smart with money. Only employ people who do stuff – no managers. – Hire when it hurts – resist the urge to over hire – teams are more productive when small.
  • Build half a product, not a half assed product: focus on the basics and get them right, and get it out there. Hell they launched a product with no billing system; they figured they had until the end of the month to create the billing system.
  • Make lots of small decisions: the consequences of failure are less and you build momentum.  Swap: let’s think about with, let’s decide- don’t waste time on long planning sessions – just do it.
  • Pick a fight: – stand for something, take a stand against competitor
  • Culture is by product of consistent behavior:  No policies – just tell people when they do wrong stuff

My favourite:

  •     Nobody likes plastic flowers – imperfection is natural, seize it and don’t over fuss stuff. 
        Make a stand for something and be brave enough to defend it.

  “So those that know me well – those typos and spelling mistakes – that’s just me imperfect. I add value in other ways – not as an editor”

The book concludes with a great concept:

 Inspiration is NOW THING.
Inspiration is perishable – it has a use by date.
So when inspiration strikes, do not hold back. – that’s the time to do the all-nighter.  Not when you are late on something.

Get your own copy of this book, it’s truly inspirational.