Why Ask "Why?"

A Review of the Ted Talk: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

By: Mollie Murphree, Fresh Advisory Services

“There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. Whether they're individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it's those who start with "why" that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”

--Simon Sinek

I recently listened to a Ted Talk from Simon Sinek exploring inspired leadership. Prior to Fresh Hospitality, I spent 6 years in leadership at Whole Foods Market and I saw the power of a purpose-driven brand first hand. From the cashier to the fishmonger to the store manager, team members felt ownership and pride in the brand because of a shared set of core values. Sinek’s Golden Circle theory explains why a model like the one at Whole Foods works.

Everyone and every business knows what they do. Some people know how they do it - what differentiates them. Very few people know why they do what they do or ask themselves, “what’s your purpose?”

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Most people and businesses communicate from the outside-in, but inspired leaders “think, act and communicate from the inside-out”.

When I think about Fresh Hospitality and our many strong partners/brands, knowing what we believe and why we get up in the morning will not only help us attract the best talent but also gain market share and customer loyalty. The law of diffusion of innovation tells us that we reach a tipping point when we attract the 2.5% of innovators and 13.5% of early adopters who shepherd in another 34% of the early majority. Those innovators and early adopters jump on board because of a gut feeling - the knowledge that they align with us in some core way. “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

We know that the future of food is fast casual, but how will we use our experience and ability to position ourselves for future success in increasingly saturated markets? Sinek would say that starting with “why” and ensuring that our stakeholders, partners and potential customers understand our purpose will help us continue to grow and lead the fast casual market.

Hear Sinek talk here, or check out his book Start With Why.