Start With Why

By David Hassell, CEO of 15Five

Simon Sinek has started the WHY revolution. Starting with his seminal book Start With WHY, and elegantly explained in his TEDx talk (which has garnered nearly 10 million organic views), Simon explains the importance of discovering and communicating both your personal and your organization’s WHY.

The value of understanding your why is substantial and far-reaching — from having the fuel and passion to create and make it through the challenging times, to leading and inspiring others, and for creating ideas and products that spread like crazy. Most importantly, this is a clear path to finding meaning in every moment of our lives at work, something most people still think is a fantasy – but that I can assure you is a real possibility.

Personally, I want everyone in the world to have the opportunity to discover and find their WHY, to start or join an organization based on that WHY, and to experience this level of meaning in their work and the deep satisfaction that comes from it.

I believe that the future belongs to for-profit corporations that are focused on a noble cause or a WHY and that give other people who share that WHY an opportunity to find meaningful work. These corporations that are testing the boundaries of archaic institutions have the greatest potential to change the world in positive, meaningful and often transformational ways.

Unleash the Power of ‘Why’

For many CEOs and entrepreneurs, their WHY and their company’s WHY is often the same, or at least very closely related.

One of 15Five’s advisors, Chip Conley, wrote a particularly inspiring book called Peak, where he set out to help companies start with their why by applying the principles of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to organizations. He set out to uncover how to create a company that helps every one of their employees move up the pyramid, ultimately leading the organization to reach its peak potential as more of its individuals move closer to their own self-actualization.

I believe that the future belongs to for-profit corporations that are focused on a noble cause or a WHY and that give other people who share that WHY an opportunity to find meaningful work.

Similar to Chip, my personal WHY is to help everyone I come into contact with progress on their path to reaching their potential, to what Abraham Maslow called Self-Actualization.

I do this in a number of ways, from sharing my thoughts and my philosophies, suggesting things to study or programs to take, to facilitating connections between remarkable people. 15Five was my opportunity to scale these activities, rather than helping individuals one at a time. I wanted to help organizations and everyone in them reach their potential individually and collectively and become Organizationally-Actualized.

To Reach Your Potential, You Must Create a Truly Great Culture

I don’t believe that an individual or organization can truly reach its highest potential unless they have a clearly defined and communicated an authentic WHY. I’ve also discovered that no company can reach its potential without a great culture. And great cultures are ones where all the individuals share a common set of values and beliefs that help them operate as a cohesive team, keep bureaucracy and politics to a minimum, produce remarkable results, have extremely high standards of personal integrity and accountability, and improve the lives of their employees and customers as they progress along the path of their evolution as an organization.

Paulo Coelho once said “The reward of our work is not what we get, but who we become.” I believe this is true of both individuals and organizations. How we approach creating value in the world through building our organizations and producing and offering our products and services has a lot to do with who we become both individually and collectively.

Open Wide the Channels of Communication

15Five was born to help support great cultures and to help those individuals and organizations who aspire to build a great culture progress along their path as well.

Our first product focuses on creating a lightweight and regular feedback loop between employees, managers, executives and CEOs because we’ve discovered that most issues that negatively impact performance or culture can be traced back to a failure in communication.

The two most common scenarios when dealing with a breakdown in culture or performance are either some communication that was delayed or didn’t happen at all (typically an issue of not having the correct tools, channels, or structure in place), or some communication that was withheld or hidden – which is more of a deeper cultural issue and belief that it’s not safe to be open, transparent and authentic.

While we can’t turn a closed-minded organization into an open, results driven culture, we do aspire to help organizations in both situations work their way towards a healthier, more open and ultimately more productive culture of employee feedback.

We are on a mission to create a world where we all work in an organizations that are fully actualized, that create extraordinary value for their employees and customers, and where we get to work alongside a vibrant and lit up group of colleagues who are committed to creating and living a great life. We are excited to bring you this blog as a platform to share some of the most powerful ideas from the greatest minds of our time.

If you haven’t subscribed, be sure to do so now. And don’t forget, we are here to create great things together – so please share your thoughts, comments, and ideas with the 15Five community.

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Image Credit: Marco Bellucci

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