Name an almost hundred-year old Filipino company based in Manila that’s been leading in its industry in Southeast Asia. This company was one of our clients in Mansmith who tasked me to evaluate their distribution and distributor network in the Philippines. This company inspired me in refreshing ways.
 
In one of our sessions, I needed to hold a forum with some of their distributor partners to primarily find out their key issues. We started our meeting with the usual superficial congeniality until one of them, with hardly any preamble, pounced on me with his grievances against some new policies and people in the company. The old man was like a bear with a sore head. It was the most precarious situations I needed to control at once as some were beginning to also openly express their thoughts in similar fashion. I can’t believe the instigator has been a distributor of this company for almost forty years. Having a bone to pick with him, I asked if there has been a time he has considered terminating his engagement as a distributor with this company considering the litany of his complaints. Why prolong his agony, I thought. His answer was one of my most insightful encounters with a client. He was proud to tell me that their relationship lasts because it’s not defined by a contract but by a covenant. A covenant to stick together no matter what. It’s not defined by violated rules but by violated relationships. Small wonder this company is able to keep their loyal distributors for decades despite of imperfections in their relationships. But to me, this covenant-relationship is just a result of the WHY - the underlying logical reason that makes them stick together despite of their flaws.
 
This brief encounter made me ponder what makes an organization truly inspiring and worth following beyond sales and profits. I came across a TED TALKS video featuring Simon Sinek who spoke on how great leaders inspire action. Sinek spoke about a pattern he has observed: A sequence of Why, How, and What.  An idea which explains why some organizations and leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. The less successful organizations do it the reverse - what, how and why.
 
Here’s an excerpt of his talk:
 
“Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they're more innovative than all their competition. And yet, they're just a computer company. They're just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent, the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different?
 
Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by "why" I don't mean "to make a profit." That's a result. It's always a result. By "why," I mean: What's your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it's obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations -- regardless of their size, regardless of their industry -- all think, act and communicate from the inside out. 
 
Here’s how Apple actually communicates. ’Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?’  Totally different, right? You're ready to buy a computer from me. I just reversed the order of the information. What it proves to us is that people don't buy WHAT you do; people buy WHY you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe…People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it, and what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.”
 
Sinek concludes his talk by saying, “…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.”
 
Emilio “Bong” Macasaet III is Partner and Chief Distribution Strategist of Mansmith & Fielders, Inc., the only advocacy-based training and consultancy firm focused on sales, marketing, strategy and innovation. For details, email info@mansmith.netor call 584-5858.