Start With Why: How Startup Leaders Can Inspire Their Teams

As a college student, I’m constantly bombarded with questions that are some form of the following: “What’s your major? What are your summer plans? What kind of career are you looking for after college?”

The most common question I'm asked, after I say that I work at Junto, is “so what do you do?”

This question always stumps me because there are multiple ways to interpret it and answer it. I've also never thought about what I do as separate from why I do it.

The first day I joined Junto, I was asked to watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. During his talk, Sinek explains that, “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.” The idea of “start with why” has stuck with me over the course of this year, especially in terms of the work I do here at Junto.

As the JuntoStoryteller, I’m in charge of making sure that the larger “why” of the company is present in all of written pieces that we produce and share with our audience. From blogs posts like this one to the Tweets I schedule each day, each piece of content attempts to communicate our purpose and our beliefs.

From left: Todd Hext (Eclipse Telecom, JuntoI) and Patrick Tannous (Tiesta Tea, JuntoI)

From left: Todd Hext (Eclipse Telecom, JuntoI) and Patrick Tannous (Tiesta Tea, JuntoI)

At Junto, we believe in founders of growth companies becoming smarter and better leaders. We believe that when they do, they build stronger companies. We believe there should be a place where they can.

Those first three sentences taken from our manifesto were part of my orientation with the JuntoTeam and set the tone for the new hat I would begin to wear. On a personal level, the three sentences aligned exactly with my own beliefs, and I knew immediately that Junto was a good fit.

From what I’ve heard, Brian Burkhart’s JuntoClass on Leadership Communications is one of Junto’s highest rated classes. I know that he talks at length about how your best customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it (based on Simon Sinek’s golden circle concept). I look forward to attending it this summer since I wasn't able to last year, and to learn more about why “start with why” is so powerful for all companies.

I believe that starting with “why” is important not only in the startup world, but at a personal level for founders and their teams. When everyone shares the same beliefs, their individual work takes on new meaning and becomes a driving force toward collective success.