“People buy the ‘why’ you do something, not ‘what’ you do.” — Simon Sinek

Before jumping down my throat at quoting Sinek because you do or do not like him just take the phrase as is. He gives a unique explanation on core values and owning them in the face of corporate adversity.  

Sinek didn’t use this example but what he explained made me think about Tom’s Shoes. If you’re unfamiliar with the company the idea was to make a shoe that wasn’t flashy, but would catch on in today’s modernistic and ironically minimalistic world of “things” all in the name of helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Most people are aware of the initiative, but if that’s not you look them up. You’ll get the gist right away. The shoe looks more like a slipper and now comes in countless colors and styles (they now have nearly an entire nothing line to support the program). When you purchase a pair of shoes another pair is donated to someone in need either in the U.S. or internationally. 

There are plenty of companies mocking the design in an effort to compete in what has become a viable market. But few are doing what Toms has accomplished. If you were presented with a number of similar shoes all priced within reason to each other and wanted to make a buying decision which would you select? One of many that look the same or the one you’ve been told will also provide shoes to a child abroad who lives in a village without many of the things we take for granted? Most people, I’d assume, would choose the charitable option. 

Whether or not Toms uses this as a business strategy to make profit is besides the point. It could be for money or charity, but the why is driving people to purchase. There are many manufacturers of “things” in the world, but not all of them have the same purpose explaining why they do something. 

Moral of the story: have a why and let it take precedent as is naturally would. You might think the what or how matters, but over time, maybe under the surface, it will come up. Nobody cares what or how you do what you do. They want a heartfelt why

Obviously this carries over to more than just building and selling computers and airplanes . . .

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