By Chartese Burnett
Today after our staff meeting at Maroon PR, we watched a brief poignant motivational video. I had an “aha” moment while listening to Simon Sinek share WHAT people do vs. WHY they do it and how businesses want to do business with people who believe what they believe. The point was that people make “emotional” decisions or purchases and create relationships based upon, not WHAT businesses do, but on WHY they do what they do. He cited various examples of successful entities, including Apple computer, which has enjoyed tremendous success because their “marketing” message is not based on product capabilities alone, but on the company’s endeavor to make the end user or consumer happy, satisfied, and/or fulfilled on a much deeper emotional level.
Nonprofit organizations that successfully communicate their message to demonstrate what they have done and what they are doing to positively impact society will create a loyal donor base – those who will fund and further the work of the organization. For-profit entities that operate according to their core values will garner business from and develop successful/profitable partnerships with those that share similar beliefs.
As insightful as this was, my second epiphany came when he explored this concept further, with a different “twist: using Reverend Martin Luther King, the great civil rights leader and orator, as an example of someone who LED people, black and white, to follow his movement. According to Sinek, the titles of “DR.” or “Reverend” were not the motivating factor in this demonstration of unity among masses. In 1968, hundreds of thousands of people came out to listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream speech”, not because of WHO he was, but because of WHAT he believed. In Sinek’s opinion, it wasn’t that Dr. King was the only person who yearned for equal rights and freedom from oppression, slavery, racism; nor was he the only great orator (although I’d argue that few could compete with Dr. King’s oratory gift back then or even ever), but the fact that the March on Washington was historical was because Dr. King INSPIRED others to act, to take a stand, to FOLLOW him.
The point was simply this: Being a leader is simply a matter of possessing a title, either one of privilege, position, or stature. However, leading involves movement. It involves moving others to action. Those who have led innovations, inventions, discovery, research, progress - -have been those whom we remember, not based on what came before or after their proper names, but based on what they believed and WHY they fought, pursued, pressed on. We remember the cures they have discovered for life threatening illnesses, the laws that have been passed in the name of equality, the advances made in science and technology, the trails blazed, and the difference it has all made in humanity.
Those who lead inspire us, motivate us, and nurture our loyalty in them. Those who lead have been very privileged to have recognized their “higher” calling; some would call it their “purpose”. When we understand what our purpose is, WHY we do what we do, and then communicate that to our constituents, clients and the world – we will attract and create a loyal following of those who believe as we do. Only when we relate on a “higher” and “deeper” level and commit ourselves to positive and meaningful core values, will we enjoy fruitful partnerships and successful endeavors.
Chartese Burnett is Director of Non-Profit PR at Maroon PR. Contact her at Chartese@MaroonPR.com