Business book

Are you a “why” or a “how” person?

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I’ve heard many people talk about Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” over the years and so it was finally time to tick this book off my reading list to see what all the fuss is about.

Surprisingly, the biggest takeaway was not to go away and write my why for my business but it was rather the description of two different groups of people, the “why-types” and the “how-types”.

Simon Sinek shares brief stories of successful business “why” people and “how” people and I was able to draw some interesting similarities to that of my clients and my own preferences.

“Why-types” tend to be optimists who believe that all the things they imagine can actually be accomplished. They are often focused on the things that most people can’t see, like the future. Whereas “how-types” might be described as realists who have a clearer sense of all things practical and tend to be better at building structures, processes and getting things done.

Take Disney. According to Sinek, it was Walt Disney’s vision for the family entertainment company, that was then made a reality by Walt’s brother Roy. Walt had the “why” and Roy has the “how”. Another example is Apple’s “why-type” Steve Jobs to “how-type” Steve Wozniak.

When I turn to my own business and think about these different behavioural types it is my client – the strategic marketing or PR consultant – who I see as the “why-type”. And the “how-type” is myself, the implementer.

Reading about these two behaviour types has helped me to better understand that of my target clients, how our tendencies differ and how I can best work with and support my clients. The book has also helped me to think more clearly about my marketing messages and how I position my services.  

This is why I have chosen to focus on my strengths: to focus on the implementation, rather than the strategy; to help my visionary strategic consultant clients by working in a supportive capacity, just as lesser-known Roy Disney did for his brother Walt. And you know what? This is perfectly befitting. I don’t like the limelight; I prefer to get my head down in the back office.

Sinek emphasises that one group is not better than the other and we actually need both types of people to function in today’s world. I therefore look forward to making a difference to those clients who do have amazing ideas, integrity and want to do great work for their clients. I feel incredibly lucky to work with my brilliant clients on exciting projects and to be making a difference, whatever the size and scope my part is.