Not Just “Why?” — But “for Whom”?

When I first heard Simon Sinek’s Ted talk on The Golden Circle, I was exhilarated and disappointed at the same time. On the one hand, here was someone validating and putting into words (far better than I could) the very things I had been saying and feeling. However, it was still a little disappointing to once again discover that what I was saying wasn’t unique. Not that I thought it was; even Simon Sinek once said in a talk that many thought leaders were essentially saying the same thing, just in different ways.

Yet as someone who fancies himself a deep, philosophical type (with an admittedly deep-seated need for validation), I was still disappointed. I felt like I could no longer share the truths I had discovered on my own, simply because someone had already revealed them. That explains why there is only one marketing thought leader, a single book on self-help, and just one book on how to be a better entrepreneur — right?

The truth is that Simon said it far more succinctly and clearly, in a way that resonated, and with far more knowledge about the scientific aspects than I ever could have. On the plus side, it’s comforting to realize that great ideas never spoken, tested, or even repeated are of little value to those who have not yet heard them.

So it is with the confidence of having value — combined with the humility of understanding that this may not be entirely unique — that I want to offer some additional thoughts on Simon’s Golden Circle. Namely, I want to suggest that it is not merely why a person does what they do, but for whom they do it. In fact, I postulate that the greater the who, the more impactful the why, and the greater the resonance in the mind of the hearer when using authentic inside-out language.

“The greater the who, the more impactful the why, and the greater the resonance when expressed using authentic inside-out language.”

Idea Spring was fundamentally reshaped during a time of crisis around this principle, among many others. A big part of our entity is formed and operated in the personal pursuit of where purpose, passion, and profession collide with sustainable profitability. This is where I most experience a sense of true fulfillment.

If I were to pursue this goal only to gratify myself with a sense of fulfillment, it would be of lesser value than when the pursuit extends beyond myself to others. Although purpose is listed as a separate item (from profession, passion, and profitability), in truth, purpose is a thread that runs through each of those other aspects. Our sense or belief of purpose will shape the lens through which the other aspects are viewed — and consequently acted upon.

If your purpose is only to please yourself, this philosophy will be manifested in why, how, and what you do. If you believe there is no purpose to life other than to grab what you can, then the why, how, and what will reflect that. Such a view may still resonate — but likely only to those who share the same belief.

On the other hand, if your purpose is driven by your creator, your culture, your community, or your cause (or all of the above), the power of your who will be increased according to the scope. In short, your sense of purpose will answer the questions, “If you stopped doing what you are doing, who would care? Who would be impacted? What would they do instead?”

So what is your purpose? How broad is your who? And if you stopped doing what you do for a living,how big is the who who would be impacted? And what would they do instead?


Coby Pachmayr is an entrepreneur who is #SlayingDragons for his family, team, and for clients — while on the journey of not just earning a living, but living a life well-earned.
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