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Understanding the WHY
Clarify Your Message to Create Your Brand

October 2017

Allan Hirsch, Principal, Allan Hirsch Advisors

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why!” – Mark Twain

In 2009, Simon Sinek published his book, “Start with Why” and did a TED Talk called, “Why.” His thesis was that great leaders know why they do what they do and people will follow them or buy from them because they believe in their why. This has led to the realization that we all have a Why.

So what is a Why? It is why you do what you do. Your WHY is: what you are compulsive about, your cause, the reason you get up in the morning, how you are hardwired, what makes you special, how you think, what you believe, what people can count on you for, and your purpose. It is part of your limbic system of your brain. It is the emotional center and the area we make most of our decisions. How often do we make decisions and say “I followed my gut” or “it feels right.” That is a decision made in the limbic system. The other part of the brain is the neocortex, which is where we communicate and think logically. Think about decisions you have made. How often do they feel right and you justify them by logical analysis? The decision is made in the limbic system and confirmed in the neocortex.

If you do not know your WHY, you can be in a fog without realizing it. Knowing your WHY will make things look clear. A woman I know told me she was miserable at work and wanted to change her 30-year career. I met with her and when we discovered her WHY was “Trust”” she had an A-HA! Moment. “I do not trust my boss.” No wonder she was miserable at work. She changed jobs where she trusts her boss and loves her work again.

After evaluating and discovering the Whys of thousands of people, we realize there are only nine WHYS:

• Contribute to a greater cause, to make a difference, have an impact or add value to other people

• To create relationships based upon trust

• To make sense of the challenging or complex

• To find a better way

• To do things the right way

• To challenge the status quo or to think differently

• To master things or seek mastery over things

• To create clarity

• To simplify

But how do 7 billion people have only 9 WHYs and be different? It is how you do what you do and what you do.

By using your WHY, HOW and WHAT in that order, you create a personal WHY message. Using a WHY message helps people understand you and believe in you. They want to work with you. It is creating your personal brand. We need to rethink how you present yourself. When asked what you do or communicating what you do, most of us say what we do. What do they know about you? If you start with your Why, How and What, we connect with their limbic system and they know about you and what they can expect from you and have an emotional attraction to you.

So how does that translate into business? The WHY of the founder or the current leader is the WHY of the business. Just like Steve Jobs’s Why is “Think Different” is the WHY of Apple, and Edward Jones’s Why “Making Sense of Investing” is the Why of the organization. Whether understood or not, the WHY of the leader sets the culture in all areas of the business.

The WHY message should be used as the basics of the marketing of the congregation. Remember it starts with the WHY! For example: some of Apple’s great commercials do not mention a word about how or what their iPhones do, but just shows the WHY “Think Different” followed by the Apple logo. Another example is marketing based on HOW. When Apple launched the iPad3, the commercial started with: “We believe technology is at its best when it’s invisible – when you are only conscious of what you are doing – not the device you are doing it on.” Their ad was about the HOW.

I have a client I have worked with for three years. His WHY is “Trust.” We created a Why message he uses in his marketing. He delivers on his WHY and HOW. He has created loyal customers. His sales in 2017 will be three times what they were in 2014 with a gross profit margin that has grown 150 percent.

As Simon Sinek points out in his book and TED talk, “Customers buy your Why, not your what.” I95 Content Marketing

Allan Hirsh believes in making a difference in the lives of other people. He works with business owners, CEOs and executive directors, building their trust and helping them find better ways to run theirbusiness in order to achieve their personal and professional goals. He is the principal of Allan Hirsh Advisors: Creating AHA! Moments, and is a Certified Executive Coach and Facilitator and WHY Coach. He also produces and hosts AHA! Business Radio on CBS Radio 1300AM 6-7 p.m. on Tuesdays.