The best 3 minutes you’ll ever spend

OK, that might be overselling it. But just a bit. It’s early in the morning and I needed to get your attention.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream,” not “I have a plan.” That’s what caught MY attention about Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk.

Simon offers a simple but galvanizing idea: that one thing extraordinary accomplishments have in common is the people who did them started with the  why, versus the how or what. (Not coincidentally, this is the title of his 2009 book, Start with Why.)

I’ll confess: I’m the kind of learning junkie who can get excited about a TED talk like this one before 7:00am.

This morning over tea, my partner told me about a volunteer Board meeting scheduled for the afternoon. “We’re calling it a ‘Why?’ meeting,” she said. She showed me Simon’s clip, and we took 3 minutes to apply his insight to the inspiring non-profit the Board supports. (Please ignore the fact that she was taking a just-in-time approach to her Board homework.) Here’s what we came up with:

We believe in every person’s capacity to change. We believe that our own lives, and society, will benefit from offering the most troubled among us tools to drive their own change.

Notice the difference between this and going straight to the “What?” (currently on the organization’s website):

Living Yoga is a non-profit outreach program that teaches yoga as a tool for personal change to disadvantaged individuals in prisons, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, and transitional facilities.

Start with why, then add what, and you get a very different sort of power.

We actually came up with this in 90 seconds. That was a total investment of 19 minutes and 35 seconds – 18:05 to watch Simon’s talk, and 90 seconds to apply it.

Now on my second cup of tea, I heartily recommend taking a few minutes to ask this refreshing question about your own organization (or your work, or even your life):


I’d love to hear what you come up with.

2 thoughts on “The best 3 minutes you’ll ever spend

  1. Thx for the tip, watched it twice! I don’t think he says ‘brand’ once in the whole pres, but you could easily replace ‘belief’ or ‘why you do it’ with ‘brand story.’

  2. People don’t buy “what you do”, they buy “why you do it”. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing

Comments are closed.