I enjoy listening to TED Talks. Last month, I happened on Simon Sinek’s TED Talk entitled “People Don’t Buy What You Do, They Buy Why You Do It” and found it inspiring. As the CEO of Mariner, my greatest fear is to find that my company’s products and services commoditized and indifferentiable. In Mr. Sinek’s TED talk, we learn that no matter how competitive a market, a company’s motivation and purpose has a significant influence on how the market perceives it and its products and services. This is powerful stuff; powerful because of the impact it can have on the two most important stakeholders in any business: its customers and its employees.
Customers want to receive more than what has been promised them. Receiving what has been promised is not the measure of exemplary performance; it’s the minimum acceptable outcome. Customers want to believe they’re supporting a company with a purpose that rises above simply making money. They want to believe that the benefits gained from their relationship will serve a greater purpose that will somehow make the world a little better.
Similarly, employees seek benefits beyond financial. Don’t get me wrong, money can be a motivator, but depending upon the survey you consult, it ranks well below other “softer” motivators. Among them is the desire to support a sense of purpose greater than profit. If employees feel they’re contributing to a greater good, they will be happier, more productive and more engaged.
I have been pondering this since watching the “People Don’t Buy What You Do, They Buy Why You Do It” TED Talk. What is Mariner’s “why”? What is our center? Whatever it is, it must be true, it must be authentically Mariner. It has to be a fundamental component of the culture of the organization’s leadership, namely, Joe and me.