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The Golden Circle – It’s All About the ‘Why’

19 Feb

I will intentionally go out of my way to tell people why Apple products are superior to any other product on the market. I will (and have) wait in line for eight hours outside an Apple store in order to purchase the new iPhone even though I can purchase one a week later with no line. I will pay on average 25% more money for an Apple product as opposed to a comparable non-Apple product, with a smile on my face. I will gladly suffer many inconveniences caused by Apple products and not hold it against them for a moment. What’s more, I am not the only person who does this. There are millions of Apple fanatics who do the same thing or more! Why?

According to Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”, a book I just recently read, the answer is that Apple understands ‘why’ they do what they do. It is this understanding of ‘why’ that

Simok Sinek - Author of "Start with Why"

allows Apple, or any other company following their ‘why’, to be so successful and command such a dedicated following. Sinek argues in his book “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” and he calls this principle the “Golden Cirlce”. I think it is very profound and is something a lot of organizations miss.

The Golden Circle Explained:

Imagine a target. It has three rings. The outer most ring is the ‘what’, followed by the ‘how’ ring, and lastly the ‘why’ ring in the middle. Sinek says that most organizations start with the ‘what’ and work their way in to the ‘why’. Companies always tell their customers ‘what’ they do first and not ‘why’ they do what they do.

The Golden Circle

For example, if Apple were to start with ‘what’ they do their marketing message could say “we make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly, want to buy one?”. This is not exactly the most convincing or inspiring sales message ever heard. In fact, it sounds a lot like most other companies and sales pitches explaining ‘what’ they do instead of ‘why’ they do it. Here’s more like what Apple’s marketing message sounds like: “everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently, the way we challenge the status quo is we make our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly, we just happen to make great computers, want to buy one?” All that really changed here is the order of reasons you should buy a computer, going from ‘why’ they do what they do, to ‘what’ they do. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This helps explain why people like me will do seemingly absurd things like wait in line for eight hours to buy an iPhone the day it comes out! I don’t do all those things simply because Apple makes beautifully designed computers that are easy to use and user friendly, although that does go into my decision, the real reason I buy from Apple is because I identify with their ‘why’. Like Apple, I too want to challenge the status quo, I don’t want the products that everyone else has or that are built all the same way, I want something that is bigger than that and that is why I buy Apple products. I believe, and literally buy into their mission for creating products. The Golden Circle principle is powerful.

To further the point of the Golden Circle, if Apple’s mission was not ‘to challenge the status quo’ and was instead ‘build computers’ it would make no sense for them to have made some of the decisions they have made. However, through this filter, it makes sense why Apple would move into other industries outside of the computer industry, they are ‘challenging the status quo’. What business does a computer company have being in the MUSIC industry? That is unless they were a company set on ‘challenging the status quo’ and then it makes perfect sense why a company like Apple would go into the music industry…to challenge the status quo! The same could be said about the cell phone industry and Apple’s iPhone. It is within their mission of ‘challenging the status quo’ to move into those industries. So much so that in 2007 Apple changed their name from Apple Computers, Inc. to Apple, Inc. Makes sense because they are not just a computer company.

History is littered with examples of companies that lost their ‘why’. In his book, Sinek tells the story of the railroad industry in the late 19th century which was dominating the transportation industry at the time. All of these companies defined themselves by ‘what’ they did and not ‘why’ they did it. They would say “I am in the railroad business” and that was enough for the short term. However, the beginning of the 20th century introduced new transportation options, such as the car and later the airplane, eventually crippling the railroad industry. Now, had the railroad industry defined themselves as being in the “people transportation” business, they could have noticed emerging technology and followed trends leading them to adapt and move into the car or airplane business and thus still thrive through the 20th century.

The Golden Circle principle is profound and not only for business, but for many different facets of life. Relationships, work, religion, and money can all be filtered through asking ourselves why? The more I think about the Golden Circle principle the more I find myself asking ‘why?’ Why do I do this or that, or why don’t I do this or that. Doing this has allowed me to focus on the important things (the things I know ‘why’) and question other things (the things I don’t know ‘why’). Simon Sinek gave a presentation at a TED conference a few years ago (embedded below) and this is where I first came across his Golden Circle principle. I would highly suggest checking it out, as well as his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
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Twitter Love

1 Oct

I am fascinated with social media. I am especially fond of Twitter. Many of my friends have asked me why I enjoy Twitter so much and in an effort to explain myself more thoroughly I deemed it worthy of writing a blog post about it.

For those of you un-aware of the 120 million active user website called Twitter, let me briefly explain what it is. Twitter is a website where you have 140 characters to answer the question ‘what’s happening?’ and each answer, or Tweet, is ‘delivered’ to all those who follow you. Those who follow you can read your Tweet and respond by re-Tweeting your message, or replying to what you had to say. You can also choose to follow other people who answer the same question and interact and engage with them as well. This may seem like an unnecessary tool and a great waste of time, but I would disagree with you and here is why.

First of all, Twitter is not just status updates. It is that, and it is so much more, and it is the so much more aspect of Twitter that is why I think it is such a great tool. One of the things I love about Twitter is that it is unique to everyone. The people who I follow and am interested in are not going to be the same people you follow and are interested in. For example: I love technology, entrepreneurs, and cycling so I follow a lot of people associated with those things and thus get updated with information regarding all those topics. On the other hand, my brother is obsessed with baseball and music and follows lots of musicians, athletes, managers, announcers, etc. So both my brother and I follow different people (with some overlap) and get very different things out of Twitter.

For me, what I enjoy most about Twitter is the content I come across. Because of the people I follow, and the content they share, I read a lot of really interesting articles, blogs, and amazing videos all ‘customized’ to my interests. It’s also a great way to interact and keep up to date with friends in a very easy and streamlined way.

I think the best way to explain how awesome this can be is to share what kind of experiences I have had because of Twitter. Although these are unique experiences and something not necessarily every person experiences, I still think it helps explain why I enjoy Twitter.

Bike Ride with Lance Armstrong

Like I said, I enjoy cycling and follow people who are involved with cycling. The most famous cyclist being Lance Armstrong who also happens to be an avid Tweeter. Last September Lance updated his Twitter saying he would be in L.A. and asked all his followers in the area to go on a

 

Bike Ride with Lance Armstrong

 

bike ride with him the following day. Since I lived a short distance away, my friend Corey and I woke up really early and drove to Griffith Park where we met up with 500 of Lances local followers for a bike ride. We rode for about 2 hours during which I made my way to the front and snapped a picture of Lance as we were riding. I also took some video while he was leaving right in front of me. It was awesome and all because of Twitter.

Special Events

I also follow John Mayer who was also a devoted Tweeter. Last Summer he Tweeted that he was going to play an impromptu set at Hotel Café in Hollywood and tickets were only $5. When my friends and I read about this we rushed over to Hollywood, found parking, ran to Hotel Café and were met with a long line

 

Paparazzi Taking Pictures of John Mayer

 

of people and a sold out Hotel Cafe. Although we didn’t get to see the concert, we did hang out with some paparazzi and when John did come we snapped some photos. It was awesome and all because of Twitter.

Products

One of the people I follow is an entrepreneur in the tech industry who said in a tweet that he had found the best case he has seen available for the iPad and shared a link to the website. Having just purchased an iPad and unsatisfied with the cases currently available, I clicked on the link he had posted which led me to the DODOcase website. It was love at first site and exactly what I was looking for for my new iPad. Because of that person tweeting about that case I purchased it. It’s an awesome case that I love and I purchased it all because of Twitter. (I even wrote a blog post about how much I love the case).

Keeping Companies Accountable

I also really love that more and more businesses are joining Twitter in order to connect with their customers more and promote their business. What this also does is give us consumers a direct line of communication to the company to voice our opinions (good or bad). In my case, it was bad. After a VERY unfavorable experience with a certain gym (BALLYS TOTAL FITNESS) I decided to see if they happened to be active on social media. They were and I was happy to see it. I told all 150 of my followers on Twitter and all 650 of my friends on Facebook how Bally’s Total Fitness has the worst customer service (it’s true, they do) and to NEVER join their gym (seriously don’t). This led to their social media person contacting me on both Twitter and Facebook to try and solve the issue. After many back-and-forths the issue, of course, was not resolved and I am still very dissatisfied and still very pissed. That said, although Bally’s Total Fitness is an awful example of a company doing social media well, it has been interesting to see how businesses are using Twitter (good or bad). Companies are held accountable and it’s awesome and it’s all thanks to social media (including Twitter). I really think Twitter is great for business, which I will save for another post.

 

Update (10/07): Here is that other post about social media and business.

Deals

Not one of my favorite uses of Twitter but something that a lot of people are interested in are the freebies you can gain from Twitter. In an effort to gain more followers, many companies will have drawings to give away products (seems to always be an iPad) to people who follow them and retweet their message. I have never won one of these contests nor has anyone I know, but that could be reason enough for people to get something out of Twitter. This is maybe thanks to Twitter.

Make Money

Making money using Twitter can happen in many different ways and people are still finding out really interesting ways to do so. I never have myself, but I have read and thoroughly enjoy reading how people have done it. One story I recently came across (through Twitter) was how an indie musician made $19,000 in 10 hours using Twitter. That is REALLY awesome and all thanks to Twitter.

Like I said, these experiences are fairly unique and more than anything they’re just really…cool. Even if I had not experienced these things I still would value Twitter because of all of the content I gain from it. I’m not talking about viral YouTube videos, but actual content that, for me, has seriously impacted me in significant ways. Not so much because of the individual tweets themselves, but for the places that the tweets lead me to on the internet, such as articles, blogs, breaking news, etc. Lot’s of people don’t see the point of social media and Twitter and that’s fine, but for me it is something that really interests me.

While Twitter is a great way to find interesting things and connect with people, actually connecting with people in real life is way better. So let’s not stop doing that.

If you’re unsure of how to get started and are really interested in Twitter or other social media I would suggest going The Yellow Sandbox to learn more about how to get started with social media.

Use Twitter? Have any cool experiences come from using Twitter? Let me know in the comments.

Tacking to Complete Goals

13 Sep

I consider myself to be a “goal setter”. I set a lot of goals for myself in order to be more productive and complete the tasks I think are worth putting forth time and effort. Being of the goal setting type, I always have enjoyed hearing or reading about how other people accomplish their goals and what “tactics” they use in order to accomplish their goals. I think that setting goals can be a great practice for accomplishing tasks that are important to you and a great way of getting things done. Not everybody is a goal setter, but for those of us that enjoy setting goals, here is what I do.

I had set an aggressive goal in July to have purchased a house by September 1st of this year. While that goal was lofty, it was still very much achievable. As I said in my earlier post, I am currently unemployed and pursuing real estate investing in order to make the most of my time without a job. While trying to complete my goal of purchasing a house (or any goal for that matter) I ask myself one question several times a day:

“What can I be doing right now to be more productive and get closer to achieving my goal?”

Asking myself this question keeps me focused on the goal I have set and helps me determine the steps necessary to get closer to achieving that goal. This question also helps me break my goal into sections and forces me to think of what can be accomplished next. I like to break my goals into these sections because it takes away the feeling of being overwhelmed by a huge goal and keeps me focused on my set main goal.

Buying a house, for example, can seem slightly overwhelming when looking at the big picture. However, there are many smaller steps in-between where you are now and buying a house. One of my professors once used a great analogy between accomplishing goals and sailing. Let me explain. In sailing, you don’t go straight from point A to point Z in a straight line. Instead, you tack. You make many turns and go from point A to B, B to C, C to D, and so on until you reach your destination of point Z. The same is true with completing your goals. You have to “tack” and go through the necessary steps in between you and your final destination (or goal). With every turn of the boat you are moving forward towards your desired goal. Also, you always want to have your focus set on where you ultimately want to end up and through determination and “tacking” you will arrive at your goal. So, in my example of buying a house, it could look like this: Where I am now is point A and purchasing the house is point Z. One of my first “tacks” could be determining how much money I can invest, point B. Point C could be finding a real estate agent. Point D could be touring a house. These “tacks” continue all the way until you have reached your goal of buying a house. Now, I’m not saying it only takes twenty-six “tacks” to buy a house (could be much, much more) but, it illustrates my point. Thinking about how you can “tack” towards your goal can be really helpful as you determine the steps necessary to get there.

Also important, is the timing factor of goals. There are some goals that have a constraint of time and require a due date to be put into place such as turning in an assignment for school or your taxes, for example. I think setting due dates for all your goals is important because it adds some pressure and keeps you moving towards completing your goal. That said, what happens when you don’t achieve your goal by the time you had planned for? This just happened to me when I had not accomplished my goal of purchasing a house by September 1st. While this can be very frustrating and discouraging, what you do after the deadline has passed is more important than the due date. I knew I wanted to still pursue real estate investing, so I had to take a step back and re-examine my goal, and make a new timeline for my goal. I also had to ask myself “is this goal still worth pursuing?” The answer was yes, so I had to press forward, and continue tacking towards my goal. This takes tenacity and perseverance (two things I am actively working on) in order to continue towards your goal.

I hope after reading this you can set some goals that are important to you and that the analogy of tacking has helped you view accomplishing your goals as more manageable and less overwhelming. Now, go set some goals and be productive!

Why I Blog

6 Aug

If you think about what a blog is, it’s kind of silly. A place for people to write whatever they want for as long as they want and “publish” it to the World Wide Web for everybody in the world to read. The thing is, almost nobody reads a majority of the blogs out there, apart from that particular blogger’s girlfriend, parents, and best friend. Then there is the blogger who takes themselves far too seriously and you find yourself grimacing at their sesquipedalian posts of normal mundane things.

Now, to answer the question of why I blog. I blog because I have grown up around technology and the web and have always had a general fascination with trying and experimenting with new social mediums.  While blogging itself is certainly not new, it is new to me, therefore I want to give it a go. Also, I am highly interested in social media and I already have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., etc. I figure I might as well add blogging to the mix. More than anything, I think blogs offer people a great way to communicate their thoughts and opinions while creating another environment for conversation to take place. Now, Will my blog be one that is only read by my girlfriend, parents, and best friends? Perhaps. Will I use analytics and track every single “hit” that my blog gets? Definitely. Will I take myself too seriously? I’ll certainly try not to. Will I post on my other social media outlets every time I create a new post? Of course, because I read your blogs when you post them, so I expect you to do the same! (ok that’s not true, I don’t read all of them, but I do read some).

Finally, you can expect to read about my current adventures in my post-graduate-pre-career life while I try to stay productive and pursue some lofty goals. I mean, what better time to start a blog than while I’m unemployed? Am I right? I’ll be posting about a variety of topics varying from my current pursuit to buy an investment property to my fan-boyism of all things Apple. I hope you like what you read.

–  Colby

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