Apples and Kings: What Steve Jobs and MLK Have in Common

by bxrtley

Simon Sinek had a simple message. But it’s powerful. So powerful that it is ranked the third most viewed video on TED.com to date. His message? Start With Why. It’s on how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Here’s how:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Apple – Think Different

The two examples that stood out was about a White entrepeneur and a Black preacher. More so, the entrepreneur’s company and the preacher’s activism. Steve Jobs’ (now Tim Cook’s) Apple does a phenomenal job at selling their why, while advertising their what. Sinek gave an mock pitch of an advertising piece from Apple. He hit it right on the nail.

MLK – I Have a Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had the same “magic” of persuasion and ability to rally people together to make a buying decision—not of computers but of activism. Instead of people lining up outside of a store days before a product launch, he had thousands pressed into the mall of Washington D.C., with the same type of anticipation. It wasn’t for a phone, but a message. How did he do it? Sinek made a compelling observation:

“Martin Luther King gave an I Have a Dream speech, not an I Have a Plan speech.”

The Science of It All

So how does it all work? Scientifically one portion of our brain, Sinek explains, controls how we understand the features, benefits, details of a product or service (also known as the Unique Selling Proposition). And another part of our brain handles the reason why such a product, service, or movement is necessary in the first place.

The neocortex is like the seat of our logic. Here we can decipher and compare what makes something different or the same, well-designed or poorly-constructed, extremely useful or a waste of time. And our limbic system is like the seat of our emotions. It’s where feelings gives birth to trust, loyalty and ultimately drives our decision-making.

Apple’s Why

Apple has beautifully-designed products. But that’s not what they’re truly selling. They’re selling their why. Their belief system. They believe in a world where people can become the highest expression of themselves.

And if we all embrace our own uniqueness and creativity, the world would look more like colorful splashes of oil, acrylic and crushed pastel on a plain white canvas. Like a Pollock painting.

So Apple says, “Think different (belief). And here’s how we’ll help you to do that—with our gorgeous array of technology (product).” The belief influences the product. And when it doesn’t, cult followers can tell.

King’s Why

King had persuasive, moving speeches. But he wasn’t merely trying to change policy. If that were the case, he’d have been a great politician. He was selling, believe it or not, the same dream that Apple is—a world where people can become the highest expression of themselves.

And, yeah, if we all embraced each others uniquenss and creativity, the world would look more like a colorful Polluck painting in this plain White America canvas. A place where “one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

So King says, “Love unconditionally (belief). And here’s how we’ll make sure that such love isn’t trampled on—with marches, protests and rallies that’ll political effect change starting in Washington (service).” His belief influenced his service.

Apples and Kings

It seems as if the most successful companies and people have a belief that transcends beyond themselves. It’s something that anyone can choose to take on as their own and champion around the cause or vision. That’s what Sinek is saying.

And what I’m saying is the belief system that brings the most wealth, success or makes the most raucaus (social and economic disruption) is the one that strives to pull the world together, embrace our differences, relieve pain from injustice, exhibit crazy love other—or, ambitiously, all of the above.

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