Are You Trolling for Transactions or a Man on a Mission?

Steve Jobs - Man on a MissionIn his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek asserts:

All the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world all think act and communicate in the exact same way and it’s the complete opposite of everyone else.

Almost every organization starts by telling you what they do – the feature of their product or service. Some then explain how they do it – their differentiating value proposition. Very few communicate (or even know) why they do what they do – their purpose or cause.

But the inspired leaders and organizations do just the opposite. They start with why, explain how and then communicate what.

For more on the Start With Why concept including a 18 minute TED talk Sinek presented on the topic, see my post on Christian Web Trends, The Secret to the Success of Apple, MLK and the Wright Brothers

Trolling for Transactions

When you start by telling people what you do – your products, services, features, etc. – you are appealing to people’s self-interest. You are telling people:

  • Buy my product because it will improve your life.
  • Purchase our service because it will benefit you.
  • Volunteer with our organization because you’ll feel good about making a difference.
  • Come to our church because we have good services.
  • Put your child in our school because it’s in their best interest.

You are trolling for a transaction.

The relationships you have with customers/members/students/volunteers are low-quality self-serving relationships that will only last as long as they see it as being in their self-interest.

This is how most individuals and organizations operate, but there is a better way, a higher-calling.

(Wo)Man on a Mission

Inspired leaders and organizations start with why. They tell you what they believe and inspire you to join their cause. This is easy to see in a lot of non-profits.

“Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.” There’s no appealing to self-interest there. Compassion inspires you to join them in sacrificing for this cause.

But starting with why is not limited to non-profits.

  • Apple believes to its core in thinking differently and challenging the status quo.
  • Chick-fil-A’s official statement of corporate purpose says that the business exists “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
  • Disney’s mission statement is “To make people happy.”
  • OurChurch.Com’s mission is to partner with Christians and help them achieve their mission online.

People don’t buy what they do, they buy why they do it. They join these companies because they are inspired to join their cause.

How about you? Are you starting with what or starting with why? Are you trolling for transactions or inspiring people to join your mission.

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