Simon Sinek at TEDx Puget Sound: focus on the why

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Simon Sinek makes some excellent points in this TED video but I have to admit, I don’t agree. Just in case you don’t watch the video, his supposition is that why something is done is the most important thing when creating products, services or anything for that matter. I believe intent is important and have gone as far as questioning whether or not people should be marketing things if they’re not the target market. I also know that if something is poorly built, no one will care why you did it.

I liked this argument using Apple and the Wright Brothers as examples and for me the difference is passion. Passion feeds the why. Why am I creating this product? Passion should always be the reason you’re doing something. (At least as much as possible.) If it isn’t, the time you spend will seem never ending. I agree with Sinek’s discussion around the what and the how as they’re used today as differentiators.

If Sinek is right, Apple’s relies on the fact that people have heard Apple’s message. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the “of course they’ve heard the message”, mainly because we as technologists-business people live it. But Apple doesn’t lead with a message. They lead with execution. They lead with how it works. How it looks. How something is done allows the user to create their own why.

I do believe that social can bring us much closer to businesses that tap into our reason to buy. Our why. I just don’t believe that if your product or service is sub-par and you’re users share your passion that you’ll generate much revenue. That’s exactly what happened to the US car industry.

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I’m an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I’m currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I’m passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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