Carefully Crafted on June 12

Building a Team? Start with WHY.

Have you read Simon Sinek’sStart With Why?” If you haven’t, check out his TED Talk, but get the book and read it. It should be required reading for anyone involved in shaping or deploying a company’s messaging. (Which is really everyone at a company, when you think about it … more on that later.)

In the book, Mr. Sinek explains that people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. In addition to surrounding yourself with clients/customers who believe your WHY, you also need to build a team of people who believe your WHY.

We’re in growth mode here at Geben, which means I’m constantly looking for amazing talent to join our team. But, there are lots of people who are possess the right skills. That got me thinking about who I’m hiring and how to tell if someone is the right fit. Truth be told, if a jobseeker is looking for a company that can offer the best salary or benefits package, we’re probably not going to top their list. While our lax vacation policy, 401k, profit sharing and bonus programs are more than fair, I also understand that larger companies can offer other perks.

So, why would someone want to work for us? It goes back to our “WHY.” We’re building a team of people who are focused on helping our clients disrupt the status quo. We are literally working with companies trying to change the economy and their industries. It’s exciting to help Zaarly introduce mobile commerce to the masses. It’s inspiring to work with Startup Weekend, an organization that teaches people all over the world how to be entrepreneurs — giving them the tools to meaningfully impact their communities. (In Uganda, someone is working on a new technology to reduce the infant mortality rate after going through a Startup Weekend event. Being even a small part of the t

eam making things like that happen is beyond cool.) Even our non-startup/tech clients are innovating their industries. As this case study explains, Madison Electric Products, an 85-year-old electrical manufacturer was the first in their industry to crowdsource product development.

I could go on and on all day talking about the incredible people and clients we work with. I’m also certain that there are LOTS of talented PR pros out there who can deliver the tactical skills necessary to do what we do. Working at Geben requires more than that though. On a resume, someone may appear to have the right skills, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that person is the best fit. Instead, the real assets to our team are the people who share our perspective and desire to help shake things up. To do things better. And smarter.

As Mr. Sinek explains it:

“If people inside a company are told to come to work and just do their job, that’s all they will do. If they are constantly reminded WHY the company was founded and told to always look for ways to bring that cause to life while performing their job, however, then they will do more than their job.”

In contemplating our “why,” I think it’s something like this: We help clients disrupt the status quo by bringing a fresh approach to best practices. As we continue to build our team, of course I want people who can write well, pitch media and build online communities, but I also need people who share our “WHY” — people with an aversion to “the way its always been done.” (And, by the way, if that’s you or someone you know, I’m still looking for people to add to our team. Email me your resume: heather [at]

What’s your WHY? And, how do you think understanding it can help you achieve your goals?

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