Why Start With Why?

Why Start With Why?

Start With Why

On September 16th, 2009 Simon Sinek, Author of the bestselling book “Start With Why” walked out onto the “TED” stage in Newcastle, USA. He was about to deliver a speech that would define him as an individual and inspire millions of people. Simon’s talk was stunning with his superbly focused method of delivering his message: don’t start with what or how, start with why. It’s a simple message at its core as the best ideas often are.

Subtle Advantage

For 18 minutes, Simon captivated the TED crowd with examples of how companies like Apple swim against the other fish. While most companies start with a What e.g. “we make computers”, the revolutionaries start with a cause, a purpose, a why. Apple famously kicked off their ipod marketing campaign with the “1000 songs in your pocket” slogan. They were not the first to market (kills that stupid theory dead in the water), neither were they the most technically excellent. Creative were the first company to market with an mp3 player and had the technical advantage. Creative made MP3 players, Apple allowed you to carry 1000 songs in your pocket. It’s a subtle difference. So subtle that most people miss it entirely. The embracing of that subtle advantage has helped make Apple one of the most successful companies of all time.

Great Visionaries Starting With Why

It’s not just companies that can gain an advantage by starting with Why. Visionaries like Martin Luther King, Ghandi and Nelson Mandela all started with Why. They were not goal driven per se, rather they were driven by the cause, the passion, the why. None of those individuals started with the SMART mantra, Specific, Measurable etc etc. Indeed to do so would have been ridiculous. As Simon points out, Martin Luther King gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. politicians these days are so contrived that they turn their electorate off. If they started with a true why, the success would follow.


Goals, targets and achievements, they are all ubiquitous. Everytime you log on to LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter or read the newspapers, the virtues of goals are lauded. Goals are very ‘Marmite’, you either love them or hate them. Judging by the massive amount of self-development books and CDs available in support of goals, most fall onto the pro-goals side of the coin. Why is it that we are so determined to map our lives out and to set personal and group targets? Some would say that well structured goal setting has changed their lives and helped them to achieve great success. I would agree that effective goal setting is important. However, I disagree that the overused SMART mantra is necessary. A true goal is in the heart, it is a founded in passion and ignites action. Careful goal choice is vital and is only possible when we temet nosce (know thyself) as famously quoted in The Matrix.

temet nosque in The Matrix

Some of the answer has to fall at the feet of results. It is true that individuals perform better when set a challenging target. It is also true that individuals tend to perform better when pushed as part of a group. Peer pressure is, in the right circumstances more effective than a well defined goal. A great example of this is in fitness training. If you take part in a group exercise such as British Military Fitness (BMF) there is no question – you will push yourself harder, much harder than you ever would as an individual.

Simon Sinek portrait

Simon Sinek Author of Start With Why

Zen and Goals

I am a keen reader of Zenhabits, a top-ten blog by Leo Babauta. Leo is an avid supporter of flow in preference to goals. On first glance the principle of flow does not appeal to me. It seems to be a form of drifting through each day with no particular purpose or cause. Leo would argue that flow is about the journey, not the destination and there, on that point, I think goal-setters would agree. The major difference is lack of target. Chris Williams, famous goal-setting trainer for Utility Warehouse is not an advocator of flow. He contests that is it ok for Leo to flow since he has already achieved his potential. Others who have not yet achieved success in thier lives need goals to progress according to Chris.

I tend to agree with Chris Williams that generally speaking goals are the most effective way to get where we want to be. But I also contest that making a goal should be about a strong Why. In fact I think if every goal-setter out there threw away thier SMART analyses and just did what Simon Sinek recommends in his fantastic book Start With Why, they would be more successful, faster and ultimately happier.

Start With Why book

Follow you path, find your Why and, if it involves a financial element, then it could be worth you looking at The Utility Warehouse business opportunity to help you achieve your Why. Email me now for more information:
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The Happiness Advantage. Why Being Happier Brings Success

The Happiness Advantage. Why Being Happier Brings Success

I was asked recently to compile a list of the most insightful and useful books that I have read. When I had finished and emailed the list off, it struck me that sharing the list with the world at large could be helpful. Furthermore I felt compelled to expand on why each book is particularly useful.

What follows is a series of (provisionally) eleven books blogs outlining how they have had a big impact on my life and self-development. I have added honest, straight-from-the-heart comment. If that resonates with you, please leave a comment at the bottom and share your thoughts.

1. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn AchorI’ll be honest, the first time I heard about this book I thought “here we go, another happy clappy self-development book telling us all to ‘think positive’, seen it all before.” Something compelled me to buy the book though. From the moment I turned the first page, I could hardly put it down. The philosophy of the whole book is to ‘think different’ and fits very well with my preference to ‘swim against the fishes’ common amongst right brain thinkers.

The basic premise of the book is that by teaching ourselves to be happier, more good things will happen to us. The book regularly refers to studies that have been done to prove several of the specific theories. One of my favourite is “bright spots”. Shawn claims that by looking for the good things in any given situation, we can create leverage with the happiness advantage and he calls this technique “bright spots”. This is similar to the “every cloud has a silver lining saying that has been around for centuries.

Look For The Bright Spots

I recently watched Grand Designs on Channel4; the subject of the show was Jon, a chap who had recently been to Afghanistan and had lost both his legs and one arm as well as suffering from PTSD. Amazingly he and his wife spoke regularly about the good that had come of the situation. He even said at one point that he wouldn’t change things, given a free choice.  The devastating injuries that he had suffered had changed him from a young and relatively irresponsible person into a responsible husband, father and project manager for his ‘Grand Design’. He commented that he had managed to sleep for a while night (PTSD wearing off) which is a privilege most of us take for granted. This chap and his wife are great examples of people who are good at finding the bright spots. It is Series 9, Episode 6 of Grand Designs and can be viewed online:

Shawn explains in the book that using the bright spot technique is a skill that can be taught. He suggest many ways that this can be achieved, the one that I picked was to keep a gratitude journal. I know what you’re thinking – Happiness Advantage.. hmm not quite sure; gratitude journal: this chap’s absolutely nuts. Well, I tried it anyway, starting on 4th January 2013 I have written down 3 things that I am grateful for every single (working) day. I made it easy for myself to remember by shaping the path: I kept a ringbound notebook in my drawer at work, set an Outlook reminder every day to fill it in and refused to start the day’s work without ticking off that item on the calendar.

Keep a Gratitude Journal (I know, but run with me on this)

Happiness Advantage Gratitude Journal Gratitude Journal

Some days it has been very challenging to find 3 things that I am grateful for and it’s these days that filling in the gratitude journal is particularly important. When I’ve been right up against it and have had plenty of justifiable reasons to feel angry or upset, the course of my day has been changed, just a bit, but filling in the 3 things in the gratitude journal. When I’ve been on top of the world, its been an easier task and particularly recently, I’ve found that some days I have 4 or 5 things to put in. I’ve also noticed myself commenting throughout the day – “that must be the gratitude journal effect” or “that would be a really good thing to put in the journal tomorrow”. This is the effect of navigating our reticular activator to positive things. More about that part of the brain in my review of the number 2 book on the list: The Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds. Essentially the reticular activator is the part of our brain that spots things we are looking out for subconsciously. For example if you bought a grey Volkswagen Passat, it is likely that you would suddenly start to notice every grey VW Passat on the road.

You may find this Zenhabits blog post on gratitude of interest too:

Relevance to Utility Warehouse Partners

You might be wondering why I am writing this book review in a blog aimed at helping and recruiting Utility Warehouse Partners. Well, one of the most important lessons we are taught on getting started training at Utility Warehouse is: look for happy, smiley people. It sounds corny and it works – by having a relentlessly positive personality and looking for other happy people, I am certain that my Utility Warehouse business has been more successful. The lady above me in Utility Warehouse: Sarah Riley has about the most bulletproof, positive personality that I have ever encountered. Just yesterday she was telling me about how positive it was that her heart operation to insert another stent had been delayed – and she meant it. Sarah is hugely supportive and a genuine inspiration from within Utility Warehouse.

Shawn Achor

You can see Shawn himself explain the premise of the book here:

There are many, many other useful, interesting and inspirational ideas and techniques within Shawn Achor’s book. I’m about to read it again so I’ll post a follow up to this blog with new insights. I rate it as the number 1 book to read to help you get the best out of life.. and your Utility Warehouse business of course!

You can buy The Happiness Advantage in softback or on your Kindle at Amazon:

Read it? Comment and leave me a message – I read them all.

You can email Jonathan Hamilton directly at: [email protected]

By Jonathan Hamilton.

Update Nov 2013: Fitness

I have just had my first personal training session with Andy King, personal trainer based in Folkestone. I realised after the session that fitness and physical exercise is an important piece in the happiness jigsaw. Exercise releases endorphins in the body to make us feel good and literally makes the experience addictive, creating a virtuous circle. My first session with Andy has been superb and I am now about to sign up to his twice a week bootcamp in the leas in Folkestone. Thank you for a great time Andy! You can find out more about him at:

AK Health and fitness

Making Money From BNI

Making Money From BNI

I have been a member of BNI for nearly 3 years now. My chapter is White Cliffs Dover and I promote my business as a Utility Warehouse Partner – helping people to save money on their utility bills. I would like to share with you some tips that helped me massively increase my making money from BNI.

My journey through BNI has genuinely been transformational. When I joined I was not the best public speaker and I was just finding my way in  ‘sales’. To cut a long story short, 3 books helped transform my membership in BNI from mediocre to outstanding. If you know anything about BNI, you will know that outstanding membership = a lot of business and I am now blessed to receive 95% of my new customers through BNI referrals.


So what are the 3 books? They are shown below, they are (in order of importance): The Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds, The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan & Barbra Pease and The Magic of Colors 6CD audio book by Jerry “DRhino” Clark.

Making Money From BNI

The Jelly Effect is the single most important book I have read since I joined BNI. By reading it and putting its contents into practice, I found that my perspective on BNI was completely changed. I stopped being absent and getting substitutes. It’s amazing how your attendance can improve when you focus on arranging your calendar around your weekly BNI meeting. I started turning up early and the additional networking resulted in increased business – particularly from visitors.

I learned how to network effectively. I know what you’re thinking – networking is easy – and you’re right. But effective networking requires skill and care. Aim to talk less than 30% of the time. Watch, observe and respond appropriately to body language. Utilise AFTERS – the key message in this book. If you want to know what AFTERS are, you’ll have to get yourself a copy here.

The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan & Barbara Pease is the most insightful book on body language. There are plenty of books available on the subject, but this one stands out head and shoulders above the rest. I read through the entire book, absorbed lots & lots of fascinating and useful information about reading body language, and then completed the test at the end. I did pretty badly which shows that there were plenty of things that I didn’t pick up. But just those things which did stick have been massively useful to me when networking before a BNI meeting. It has also helped me in sales as well – knowing when to close, when to back off etc.

The next time you are at a networking event, when no-one is looking, have a look at the arrangement of the feet on the floor. This will tell you a lot about the dynamics in the room. When you are selling to someone – watch the pupil dilation in their eyes, observe the tension in their neck and arms. Watch to see what type of smile they use etc, etc. There is so much useful information in the book, it is absolutely essential reading.You can buy this book here.

The Magic of Colors by Jerry Clark is a really, really useful tool when dealing with people in any situation. It basically helps you to sort people’s personality type into 1 of 4 basic categories. Knowing which colour (categories are grouped into 4 colours) a person is, massively helps you choose the best approach. Don’t procrastinate to a direct person, be patient with a more caring person etc.

The Magic of Colors is not a new concept – it has been around for about 65 years, but Gerry’s method of presentation is the best by far. He makes it really simple to understand and very addictive to listen to. I have heard it over 10 times and I find it really useful to constantly reinforce the useful messages in the programme. You can buy The Magic of Colors here.


Please note – I have no affiliation with any of the authors mentioned here. All my commentary is entirely that: mine and genuine. I am happy to recommend excellent publications – especially these 3 as they have helped me massively increase making money from BNI . I hope this commentary is of use and that you get the very best return from your BNI membership.

By .