Let’s Start With Why


If you haven’t heard of Simon Sinek, I recommend you get to know him. His book, Start With Why, and his widely viewed Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, are not only fascinating but totally on point when talking about how to grow one’s business.

Sinek’s thesis is that inspired leaders and organizations all think, act, and communicate exactly the same way, and it’s the opposite of everyone else. He’s codified this communication process and he calls it the Golden Circle. Three concentric circles, with Why in the center, How in the middle ring and What in the outer ring.

Every person on the planet knows What they do – 100%. Some people and companies know How they do it – you may call it your differentiating value proposition, your proprietary process or your unique selling proposition. Very few people or companies know Why they do what they do.


Sinek states, “Why is not making a profit. That’s a result.” By Why Sinek means, “What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And, why should anyone care?” Inspired people and organizations think, act and communicate from the inside out – Why, How and What.

So what does this mean for your business? Sinek explains that, “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.”

What’s amazing is this isn’t just Sinek’s opinion, “It’s all grounded in the tenets of biology. The human brain is broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with the Golden Circle. In our Homo sapiens brain, our neocortex corresponds to the “What” level. The neocortex 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 our feelings like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language. When we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand lots of complex information, it just doesn’t drive behavior.”

“When we’re communicating from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that drives behavior. This is where our gut decisions come from.”

This is a powerful insight for everyone in business today. To view Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, click here.

Why We Do What We Do At Narrative IQ

Sounds a bit like Doctor Seuss, doesn’t it? Dr. Seuss was a really good storyteller.

When people ask me, “Chris, what do you do?” I’m always tempted to immediately reply to their “What” question with a “What” answer but, I’ve learned to start with “Why”.

So, why, at Narrative IQ, do we do what we do?

Shawn Callahan founded our parent company, Anecdote, in 2004; he started the firm with the clear purpose of restoring humanity to the workplace. And our aspiration today at Narrative IQ is to reintroduce the most powerful and natural form of communication – the story – into today’s corporate environment.

The way we do this is through our strategic consulting programs, Storytelling For Leaders and Storytelling For Sales. We all need better ways to influence, build engagement and inspire people to action. Our two consulting programs develop participants’ story skills to do exactly that.

Using the tools and techniques we teach in our SFL Programs, we help leaders at all levels articulate their company’s strategy and tell their strategic story. Personal business stories are powerful, they get strategy to stick. Stories help leaders communicate more effectively. Stories drive sales forward and they are compelling when initiating and managing change.

Starting with “Why” gives us the opportunity to articulate our vision, express our aspirations and do business with people who believe what we believe.  Stories are the conduit for bringing passion and humanity back to the workplace. That’s Why we’re here.