I’ve been reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and while the book itself is frustratingly repetitive, there are some excellent lessons. My favorite so far has been what he calls The Celery Test. Here is one summary:

Imagine you are at a dinner party and you have four trustworthy friends give you advice on food to eat. One insists that the new oreos are all the rage and you have to get them. Another says no celery is simply wonderful this season. A third chimes in and argues that rice milk is the favored food item for children and adults. Finally, the fourth says M&M’s are the in-thing that should be not only in every home but in every business.

After hearing all of this apparently sage advice, you run to the grocery store and buy all of the above four items: the oreos, the celery, the rice milk, and the M&M’s. However, this is a jumble of things that may or may not be worth buying. However, starting with a clear filter of why, like I want to eat only healthy foods.  The choices become crystal clear:  I shall buy the rice milk and celery.

It’s immediately obvious how this relates to running a business. You have to have a clear purpose. If you don’t, you’ll be trying everything you can think of, and your efforts will become to diffuse to remain effective. You have to have a clear focus on your “why.”

It also meshes well with his oft-repeated quote, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

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