Your “why” doesn’t need to be about you

Mickey Mellen
2 min readApr 6, 2021

In Simon Sinek’s excellent book “ Start With Why “, he offers a simple premise:

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it

That’s entirely true. However, people also may buy from you based on how you make them feel. In a TED Talk that Simon gave back in 2009, he offered the following example related to TiVo and why they ultimately failed:

Because you see, when TiVo launched their product, they told us all what they had. They said, “We have a product that pauses live TV, skips commercials, rewinds live TV and memorizes your viewing habits without you even asking.”

He thinks a slightly different approach might have made a huge difference for them. They should have said something like this:

“if you’re the kind of person who likes to have total control over every aspect of your life, boy do we have a product for you. It pauses live TV, skips commercials, memorizes your viewing habits, etc”

It flipped the script from a list of features someone might want to a connection with how people feel. It makes a huge difference! Your “why” can be about you and why you do what you do, but it can also be about how you want your customer to see the world.

This particular talk was given nearly 13 years ago, but is still worth watching today, and I encourage you to do so.

Originally published at on April 6, 2021.



Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.