Do You Remember?

Reading time ( words)

I was recently inspired by a TED Talk in which the speaker, Simon Sinek, discussed what made great leaders great. And not just leaders, but the companies or organizations they led as well.

Sinek said we all know what we do and we all know how we do it, but much of the time we forget why we do it…if we ever knew. He said those companies who know why they do what they do are not only the most successful in their marketplace, but also become the innovators--the game-changers. He cited two examples led by "why:" Apple and Martin Luther King.

The speaker said consumers buy from people who understand what they want. They buy from those who think the same way they think and have the same vision. Then they buy. He said 250,000 people did not join Martin Luther King’s march on Washington because of him, but for themselves. They joined because they agreed with what King was saying. With his words, he painted a picture of the way life should be. Those who marched with him that day shared his vision and shared his dream. After all, he didn't say “I have a plan.” He said, “I have a dream.”

What about you and your company? Do you know why you are building boards? Do you remember why you got into this business? No, I don’t want to talk about making money. That’s a secondary reason--a by-product if you will. If all you want to do is make money, you will have a hard time being successful. Money is only a secondary driver to having a successful business. In fact, I think money is what has hurt our business. Of course, we all have to make money, but that's just a result--not a reason--to build PCBs. For that, we must dig deeper.

When the first independent board shop went into business, its goal was to supply customers with a solution--to help customers achieve something based on their "why." The goal was to help them achieve their goals. The goal was to help them improve by giving them the best products to make them successful and make the world a better place to live.

Do you remember when board shops used to believe that? Back then, the goals were very noble: From going to the Moon, to exploring Mars, building super computers, and building defense weapons to save the world from the bad guys.

Do you remember those days? Do you remember the pride we all took in seeing the space shuttle Columbia soaring into space, knowing that we had all shared in that great and noble effort?

Remember the story of the man who visited a work site many years ago where hundreds of craftsmen and other workers were building a giant structure. He went up to one man and asked him what he was doing, and the man answered bluntly, “I’m a mason and I’m laying stone; can’t you see that?” Then the man went up to another man, a man who seemed so happy he was positively glowing and asked him the same question. The man straightened up, looked at the rising structure and said, “Why, I’m building the most beautiful cathedral in the world sir; can’t you see that?

So what happened to us? Where is our cathedral? Where is that passion we once had? Did we lose the passion because of things like commoditization of our products or the sense of betrayal felt when customers abandoned us for cheaper, offshore solutions? Or have we lost the passion because we have to spend so much time and effort on the money side of things so we can simply stay afloat? I’m sure it's all of these things and probably more, that’s why we have lost our sense of direction; our love of why we do what we do.

So, maybe it’s time to get that passion back. They say that if you love what you do and do what you love, you will do it well enough for the passion to come back. With passion comes great product and with great product comes success. Sit back for a minute when you get home tonight and think about what once was: Remember the space shuttle and Apollo missions, the cathedrals of technology that you once built, and get some of your passion back. Remember why you got into this business in the first place. Its only common sense.


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