The One Question That Will Determine Your Fate

This is a shameless catchy headline, but it’s justified, because answering it has in fact changed my life.

Thanks to a grrreat reminder by Simon Sinek, I now know the answer why some people and companies enjoy remarkable success with a cult-like following, while others drown in mediocre waters.

I have tested the principle myself and I can attest – it works like white magic.

I believe it can change your business and life as well, as long as you answer and APPLY it !

It’s the simplest concept:

golden circle Here’s the deal:

Most entrepreneurs and businesses act from the outside-in. They know what they do, and they know how they do it.

Some examples:

  • I teach people how to make money online
  • We are the best law firm in the city because our lawyers went to the best schools and won the most cases
  • I’m the most qualified person for the job because I have a lot of experience in (subject) and I know how to (subject)

It’s useful, but it’s not inspiring and doesn’t give your audience / clients a kick-ass reason to hire / buy from you.

Very few people know WHY they do it. And that’s what makes all the difference in success.

All inspired leaders and businesses know “Why” they do it.

And with “why”, I don’t mean “I want to become rich and make lots of money”.

That’s a result and not a purpose. Or is your purpose to have a lot of printed paper with numbers on it ?

No, you want what money will give you: more freedom. Live on your terms. Complete control over your destiny.

What is your purpose ?

What is your cause ?

Why does your company exist ?

Leaders and businesses that know the answer attract a huge following and achieve cult-like status.

The best examples are arch enemies Microsoft and Apple. Both companies have fought epic battles over market share domination. For decades. They have similar resources and access to technology.

Then how come Microsoft is just a software company, while Apple creates game-changing stuff that attracts a raving fan base ?

The golden circle delivers the answer:

Microsoft define themselves by what they do and how they do it:

We make great software. It’s easy to use and reasonably priced. Want to buy ?

You: …meh !

Microsoft doesn’t have a “why”.

That’s why you can’t answer the following question:

What does Microsoft stand for ?


We don’t know why they exist.

Now Apple is the complete opposite. They act from the inside-out:

Think different. We are challenging the status quo and define convention. We are rebels and do things our own way. Our products are innovative, easy to use and beautifully designed. We happen to make grrreat computers.

Want to buy one ?


Can you feel the difference ?

Microsoft: What > How

Apple: Why > How > What

Microsoft define themselves by WHAT they do (make software), while Apple define themselves by WHY they do it (think different, challenge the status quo).

If you buy from Microsoft, you buy a product. If you buy from Apple, you join their “lifestyle” and belief. You become a member of their “movement”.

That’s the same reason why people tattoo a Harley Davidson logo on their skin.

Hello ? It’s a company logo. Do people tattoo it on their skin because they love the Harley Davidson stock market value, or their annual revenue ?

No. They do it because they share the same belief – Freedom.

Or Zappos – the biggest and most successful internet shoe company on the planet.

Are they super-successful because they offer the best shoes for the best prices ?

No. They get admired because they believe in a certain philosophy:

To build a company culture that inspires and encourages every employee to be their best, and to offer the most caring customer service in the world.

Inspiring !

Now, it’s your turn.

Do you want to inspire to join your mission or buy your stuff ?

Then figure out what you stand for.

To rephrase Simon’s line:

People don’t do business with you because of WHAT you do. They do business with you because of WHY you do it.


What is your purpose ?

What is your cause ?

Why does your company exist ?

If you need more inspiration, check out these mavericks:

Simon Sinek: inspire people to do things that inspire them

Chris Guillebeau: encourage others to lead an unconventional life

Karol Gajda: help one hundred people achieve ridiculously extraordinary freedom

Jonathan Mead inspire people to live on their own terms

Chris Guillebeau has delivered a super-successful digital launch with his Empire Building Kit. It’s about building a small sustainable business.

Question: Is he the biggest authority to know about the subject ? Probably not. So why did he sell it like crazy ? Because of people that share his belief:

You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others at the same time.

People who wanted to build their own business bought his product because they believed what Chris believes.

ACTION – What to do now


Stop talking about what you do, start talking about what you believe. Obsessively. Tweet it. Mention it in your posts. Friends. Family. Followers.

Tweet / Facebook – share this post and share this valuable message with your friends.

Challenge: Together we’ll change the digital world one bit at a time. I will randomly pick 5 people who tell me their inspirational “why” in the comment section and offer a free, 40 min “build a kick-ass online presence” session.

What is your why ?

  • Eric

    What’s up Mars,

    You know when I first created my blog, I started of with the what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. Really not focusing on the WHY! I like the comparison between Microsoft and Apple because you don’t see hoards of people waiting in the rain for a Microsoft product launch.

    The reason why I write my blog is to create a society of tranquil free-thinkers who are driven and not afraid to rid themselves of the desire for MORE. I help them understand how the hedonistic treadmill almost destroyed me and if I can liberate just one person from the path I was on, my work will be a success!

    Looking forward to our 40min chat Mars;-)!


    • Mars Dorian

      Hey Eric,
      wow – sounds you had quite an experience !
      It's always awesome if someone takes positive knowledge from a past life he wanted to change. And it's even more killer that you want to help others ! I'm sure you can liberate more than one person, Eric :)

    • Erica Douglass

      Were you around for Windows 95's launch? That made the news. I remember anxiously popping in floppy after floppy, waiting for the awesome benefits. I used that OS for years!

  • Rosemary

    What a great post Mars and what a deadly unresistable Headline that was! I'm totally with you on the 'Why' of things, and your competition comes at a perfect time for me as I'm a newbie.Just 8 weeks and 6 posts into my blog and I'm at the stage where I;ve whizzed around the blogosphere so fast learning and getting the feel for things and now I can't remember why I started. Well I didn't until I read this blog but now I do so here goes:
    Offbeat Woman wants to 'Encourage others to feel pure freedom by embracing their inner Offbeat'

    • Mars Dorian

      haha, awesome Rosemary. Sometimes the fast response is the better one – because it comes straight from your intuition.

      I like your why since I'm pretty offbeat myself. I believe the world needs more peeps like us !

  • Kirsty Hall

    My why. I'm passionate about getting other artists online and using the internet well. In fact, I want everyone to be rocking the net with their beautiful, authentic selves. Because I love the internet with an unholy passion and think it's radically changing the world and we can either be left behind or we can grab our chance and ride it like a crazy, unbroken stallion while laughing our heads off.

    • Mars Dorian

      wow wow wow Kirsty.

      I luv the fire with your post here. It's blazing. The writing style kicks even my ass, and the mission is inspiring.
      ( I believe I luv the internet with an unholy passion as well)
      Shine on !

  • Joe Wilner – Shakeoffthegrind

    A great post with a great reminder to focus on a bigger purpose and mission for doing what we do. Simon Sinek did a wonderful TED talk on this topic and it provides a very important lesson that many people and companies neglect. We live at time when people want more than bells and whistles, and facts and knowledge. They want to know peoples motives and what they care about. This is a great message to pass along. Thanks!

    • Mars Dorian

      Hey Joe,

      I believe that this talk by Simon Sinek totally changed the way I perceive my life and business. I also believe that people want more than facts – they cherish a vision/mission/belief that they can agree with. That's how I lived my life unconsciously, and now I know “why” :)

  • Emilie Wapnick

    Woo! Great Post Mars!

    Here's my why: To help others understand that it's ok to have many different interests in life and that you don't have to settle on one path or one identity and neglect everything else just to make those around you more comfortable.

    • Mars Dorian

      that's a cool insight, Emilie !

      I believe that you should never make others comfortable around you IF it means sacrificing your true, inner character. As long as it isn't hurting anyone, the free expression of your being should always go first !
      It's tough to implement that, I know from experience :)

  • George Geder

    Hello Mars,

    This is an incredible post. I have the ‘why’ part down. Unfortunately, it’s down in my head and not necessarily on my blog. I’m assuming that folks ‘know my why’; big mistake for sure.

    So, now that I’m thinking about this, what is my ‘why’?

    I’m here to say that ‘Family History’, the unearthing of ancestors and their STORIES is more important than ‘Genealogy’ or the mere pursuit of dates and documents going back into antiquity. The STORIES will tell us what really happened in history and tell us something about our character. My job is to help you tell those stories, get history right, and bolster esteem by learning about the lives of our ancestors. (I’m saving this as a note so I can fine tune it).

    Thank you for this opportunity.

    “Guided by the Ancestors”

    • Mars Dorian

      Hey George,
      that is awesome. Stories are more fun that pure facts anyways – because they are more human. And the better you tell them, the more people will listen. That's why I never go to Museums. I rather listen to the locals :)

      Inspiring “why”, George !

  • Mike Reeves-McMillan

    That's a great challenge, Mars.

    Why do I do what I do? Because when people are free from their inner conflicts, they're able to live wholeheartedly, and wholehearted people are glorious.

    • Mars Dorian

      Agreed :)

  • feint

    my why: I want to change the way people think about productivity. I want to make being productive ridiculously simple and get rid of the productivity nerds. I want you to create productivity tools which are so simple to use, you barely feel like you're using them.

    • Mars Dorian

      that's awesome man.
      Kind of remains me of the earlier Bill Gates – he said something similar about helping people become more productive (and thus creating the Microsoft empire !)

  • Gabriele Maidecchi

    Very inspiring as usual, I was worried I didn't read from you in a few days but now I realize what you've been cooking ;)
    The “why” of my company is very selfish: to see people's face when they go “oooh” by realizing how we solve their needs.

    • Mars Dorian

      Yeah, I wanted to make this post essential, Gabriele.
      That's a cool why. You want to blow people's minds. So do I :)

  • Erica Douglass

    This is a great topic. Unfortunately, the Apple example is so overused in blog posts, books, and speeches that I have a tendency to just hit “close” on the article when I see it. I really wish for examples “closer to home”–for instance, your business.


    • Kacper

      First of all: awesome post. It's the first one of yours I've ever read and I'm so thankful to to Crobet Barr for retweeting it. I've never seen anybody putting the 'to determine fate' thing this way. It *is* refreshing…

      My WHY: I write my blog because I believe in power of individual. I believe that anybody can create an awesome world to live in, if he only wants to, if he wants to create his own beliefs (I've even written a post on that topic lately). Also, I've put my faith in challenging the world. I've put my faith in living without rules, without atrificialy layed on us obligations. Because what doesn't come from ourselves but comes from the outside isn't natural — it's artificial. We have to find ourselves in what we do and in the boundries we accept.

      Think that's all.

      Once again thanks for an awesome post. :)

      • Mars Dorian

        Hey Kacper,

        that's awesome. The rules from the outside really stifle us. It has taken me ages to become somewhat independent. I'm still working on it. It's an endless process.

    • Mars Dorian

      Hey Erica,

      I used the example because everyone gets it. If you read my other posts, you will see that I always talk about my personal experience.

  • Brooke_farmer

    My why: I want our nation to start seeing art as it’s own purpose. I want artists to be confident that they don’t have to starve in order to pursue their dreams and that it isn’t necessary to live a 9-5 existence in order to live a productive life.

    • Mars Dorian

      cool. That's definitely a strong why, and a much needed one !

  • Nicole : Three By Sea

    It's taken me a while to figure out my WHY, but doing so actually helps give me some focus in the WHAT and HOW I create.
    I want to lighten moods and lighten lives so people remember to laugh often, relax and enjoy life, and create whenever possible, even if it's total crap now and again! The world could always use more laughter and more creativity.

    • Mars Dorian

      That's so true Nicole – the world can always use more laughter. And way more creativity. I'm glad that you share such a positive mission. It's truly inspiring.

      • Nicole : Three By Sea

        Well, my brand of humor runs to the snarky/ sarcastic side, which some people might not consider “a positive mission”, but it makes me (and those who get me) happy, so I march on, encouraging others to lighten up and create something!

  • Ro Van Saint

    Really helpful post Mars and killer title for it. I have foggy head syndrome right now from lack of sleep but let's see if I can answer this without fumbling the words…

    The WHY: Zero to Rockstar blog came from an idea of helping the solopreneur newbie reach their maximum potential through personal development and by leveraging technology. A lot of people lose the fire along the way. It's time to let it burn. I want to inspire and help people to think big, use their powers for good, then pay it forward.

    • Mars Dorian

      Hey Ro (Is this a stage name ? Sounds pretty cool !)

      “A lot of people lose the fire along the way. It's time to let it burn.”
      I luv your attitude. Inspiring people with an edgy style is my kinda thing :)

  • Meg

    See, this is why reading your blog is essential–you're one of the ones that explains the good shit, gets down to the nitty-gritty. I know what, I know how, but do I know why???

    On my cooking blog, why is evident–I want to simplify people's relationship to cooking and food and remove corporate marketing from that relationship. But on my other blog, the why is more ephemeral, because that is where I am a pure writer. Why does any writer write? But there is a theme, and I stick to it.

    I write to show life as it really is through the lens of minimalism, to find our way through the good, the sad, the mundane, the ridiculous. No “positive thinking” no “7 ways to make life perfect” no preaching no gimmicks. It's not directly self-help, but a place for real readers to recognize the complexities in our shared longing for a centered life.

    Does that count as a why?

    • Mars Dorian

      I luv your diversity Meg, and yeah – it counts as a why.
      Your recurring theme seems to be about simplicity – which leads to improving people's life.

      Inspiring !

  • El

    It was so awesome to meet and chat with you today Mars- you know your shit and have some wicked inspiration to offer bloggers just starting out, such as myself!

    Keep kickin'-ass buddy!


  • Pingback: Why The World Needs YOU()

  • Sarah Y

    I help people cue into to their body signals which clears up the suffering and the pain. Listening to the body is the quickest and most reliable path to a rockin' and transformative experience. I do this because I believe the body hurts for a reason and it's a signal that something is wrong, not something to be endured.

    • Mars Dorian

      Hey Sarah,

      that is a sweet and important message – you are truly making the world a better place :)
      I have to listen more to my body recently, and it has helped me be more healthy and energetic. It's so important to listen to it…

  • Michelle

    My why: Because people loving what they are doing and doing it in kindness will inspire others to do the same. :)

    • Mars Dorian

      I believe that too, Michelle !

  • Prisqua

    What happens when you can’t see the why?

    • Mars Dorian

      I believe everyone has it – it may be hidden in the depths of your subconscious, but it’s there. Everything you do – your friendships, your work and your daily actions is affected by your “why”. I encourage you to uncover it, for your life and business :)
      If you can’t do it yourself, get some consulting. Your own judgement is often clouded by your emotions, and a clear, detached look from the “outside” can do wonders !

      Ask me if you have questions, Prisqua.
      ANd keep shining ;)

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