How to Build a Remarkable Business: Looking at the “Why”


The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek, author of “Start With The Why” explains in his TEDx talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” that people do business with you because of your values and belief systems, rather than your Unique Selling Proposition (What is a USP?) and excellent customer service. Gaining the heart and soul of your client as well as ongoing brand loyalty goes all the way to the core of your business. Instead of just offering the services that they need (What) or even exceeding their expectations by anticipating needs (How), Simon explains that loyalty is based on the belief system of your company.

Customer loyalty goes beyond excellent customer service, a unique product or even providing the right solution; it goes  to the reason behind why your business exists and why you want to work with your clients.

The Golden Circle

  • Why – The real meaning behind why you do what you do. It’s your purpose, cause or belief and answers the questions “Why does your organization exist?”, “Why should anyone care?”, “Why do you get up in the morning?”
  • How – This is what makes you unique, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Proprietary System
  • What – These are the services or products you sell

Having clients who connect to your purpose and reason for business is what builds lasting relationships. People will join you and your organization because you answer their ‘pain points’ but they will stay with you because they believe in working with you and believe in your reason for business. This deeper meaning is what really stands out in the market place.

His model of What, How and Why is called the Golden Circle, and the definition below is from Simon’s website,

Golden Circle
The model that codifies the three distinct and interdependent elements (Why, How, What) that makes any person or organization function at its highest ability.

Based on the biology of human decision making, it demonstrates how the function of our limbic brain and the neocortex directly relate to the way in which people interact with each other and with organizations and brands in the formation of cultures and communities.

The concept is fully explained in Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, published in 2009.

This week is a shorter blog, but I highly recommend watching this video (on 2x or 3x speed with Enounce is a great way to save time).

Tell me, What is your why?

Utilizing the Reticular Activating System in Your Marketing

Understanding the Reticular Activating System can help you get more clients – ideal clients – more easily!

What is it? And how can it do that? The reticular activating system plays a part in your  transition from sleep to wakefulness as well as your attention (essentially your mental states of sleep to wakefulness). This means that it can play a part in your ability to learn, your motivation, self-control, your ability to set goals and your inhibitions.

The reticular activating system helps control the transition from relaxed wakefulness to complete alertness and focused attention.

The Reticular Activating System in Marketing

How can you use the reticular activating system to your benefit? How does the reticular activating system play a part in your marketing strategy? This system not only helps you focus your attention by screening out background noise, you can use it to train your prospects to think of you at precisely the right moments that you want them to.

The reticular activating system sorts out the important information that you need to pay attention to versus the unimportant stuff that can be ignored.

You can program your prospective customers and ideal clients to think of you by setting in their mind the correct trigger words. No, not as a brainwashing trick – just a way to allow you to get their attention above all of the other noise going on in the world.

The best way to utilize this is by applying it to very specific phrases that will trigger them to think of you.

For example, I would say, “if you hear a business owner, CEO, VP of Marketing or VP of Business Development say, ‘I need a logo or marketing materials for my new business.’ ‘I need a website that is custom built for our needs.’ ‘My website is not getting enough traffic.’ ‘People visit my website, but no one stays or interacts on it.’ then please have them talk to Alyssa at”

The Reticular Activating System in Every Day Life

Have you ever walked into a store and forgotten if you locked your car? Or suddenly ‘woken up’ (mentally) and realized that you can’t remember the last 5 minutes of your drive? This is an example of when the reticular activating system shuts down. Daydreaming, or thinking about something other than your current task, shuts down your reticular activating system and this keeps you from remembering.

A large part of learning is about being engaged. If your brain is not engaged, you will fall back into a daydream mode and have difficulty retaining the information. An example of this may be a lecture where the teacher is not engaging you enough and your brain switches into a relaxed mode where it is not actively looking for information. Have you ever been reading a book and thinking about something else so you’re halfway down the page but didn’t comprehend what you read? Again, your daydream mode shut off the reticular activating system.

The reticular activating system sorts out the important information that you need to pay attention to versus the unimportant stuff that can be ignored.

Engaging this part of the brain in teaching and in marketing (where you are teaching your prospects to look for you) is extremely important to helping others retain information and notice you.

Stand out in a world of too much noise and distractions by making it easy for your ideal clients to find you.


I first heard about the reticular activiating system, specifically, from Rick Silva of B2B Gathering before. I’ve heard of and considered this concept before but having a name to connect it to helped in my research of understanding the concept.

Here are some other resources I looked at to expand my understanding:

Reticular Activation System – Follow the Yellow Brick Road (how to use it in dealing with others)
What is the Reticular Activating System? (how to use it in marketing)
The Reticular Activating System – Your Automatic Goal Seeking Mechanism (how to use it in goal setting)
The Reticular Activating System (How it influences your learning ability)

Generate Your Own Success (High Performance Academy Day 1 Review)

“A power plant does not have energy, it generates it.”

Brendon Burchard

This concept is central to Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Academy. A few months back, I went to his 3-day event on the topic of high performance. Through intensive research into high performers, Brendon has defined the traits that are in high performers; he has found that the high performers are those who go and ‘just do it’. It’s not about being tired or energetic or motivated. For those who achieve things, they made them happen; they generate their own success, like a power plant.

_____ is something that you must generate. Enthusiasm, peace, happiness, success are all things that you must generate yourself. If you wait for opportunity to knock you could be waiting a very long time.

High Performance requires Desire & Discipline as well as Mindset & Methodology.

“Desire without Discipline is just Hope.”

Brendon Burchard

High Performance

“High Performance is heightened and sustained levels of clarity, energy, courage, productivity and influence.”

Brendon Burchard

Or you can reword this to say, High performers generate heightened and sustained levels of clarity, energy, courage, productivity and influence.

Clarity – Your vision. Define it and then generate it.
Energy – Don’t let it dwindle. You must generate your own energy.
Courage – Be bold and make decisions. Don’t take too long to make decisions as you could miss out on opportunities.
Productivity – Get stuff done, but make sure it is the right things that you are getting done.
Influence – High performers have a different level of influence on the people they interact with. They influence people, society and the world.

Some interesting take-aways from the first day of his 3-day event include:

  • You don’t know what you need, or else you would already have it/be there. (Remember, you generate what you want so you must know what you want first to be able to get it.)
  • Nothing will change unless you change it.
  • If your efforts are not working then you just need more training.
  • If you want it, create it. For example, If you want more meaningful moments with loved ones, create them.

Generating Change

One other factor to keep in mind is that internal motivation is often not enough. You need to have something to fight for, a greater cause for those you care about.

Steps to Become A High Performer

To raise your levels of performance you need to be tracking yourself and studying your metrics. Brendon recommends taking a daily measure of your score and a weekly review of your high performance scores.

Each day, you should stop and take account of your current energy on each of these areas. Then ask why or how you can change them.

Each week, record these scores on a scale of 1-10 and also track the reason why.

Clarity (1-10)
Energy (1-10)
Courage (1-10)
Productivity (1-10)
Influence (1-10)

Why these numbers? Why not higher? What can I do to improve my score?

A fellow High Performance Academy attendee created an easy to use Weekly Evaluation Spreadsheet. Visit his website to download the file.

This is just part one of a several part series on this High Performance Academy. Next post: Productivity.

Getting More Done with Less Stress – Increasing Your Willpower in Business and in Life

Guest blog by Sunil Bhaskaran, Chief Innovative Strategist,

Willpower – a Problem and an Opportunity for You

One of the top things that people report as a personal weakness is their lack of self control i.e. their ability to withstand distractions or impulses.  This has become ever more critical today with the vast and almost endless series of distractions.  One study [1] showed people (men and women) spending a quarter of their waking hours resisting desires.  The most commonly resisted desires included the urge for leisure and playing instead of doing a piece of work.  The urge for sex was interestingly found to be just a little ahead of other distractions like checking email, social networking sites, website checking, watching TV etc!   When people tried to resist a desire, they succeeded only 50 percent of the time.

You can begin to imagine the impacts of lost time, productivity, money.. hopes, goals and dreams due to a lack of self control.

But there is hope!

If there is a problem or challenge, there is usually a corresponding opportunity – the opportunity may be for you to increase willpower for both yourself and for your business teams and hence elevate your competitive edge in business.

Solution Part One

The solution begins with awareness and understanding.

The research of Dr. Roy Baumeister (one of the world’s most cited psychologists/researchers) has shown that willpower is biologically limited and has to do with glucose in your bloodstream. The food that you eat gets converted into glucose that is carried around the body via your bloodstream.

Here are two things to understand about glucose and the brain:

  1. Glucose in your blood stream gets used up every-time you make a decision or switch from one task to another i.e. the level of glucose in your blood stream drops every time you decide something or switch from one task (e.g. checking an email) to another (e.g. getting your sales presentation complete for this afternoon).
    1. Glucose is used by your entire body: your brain uses up about 20 percent of the caloric input of food.
    2. The brain monitors the level of glucose in your blood stream. If it drops too fast, it shuts down parts of the brain that are used for decision making, control of impulsive actions, task switching, memorizing, recalling memories and understanding.
  2. NOTE: it is not the lack of glucose that shuts these parts or functions down – rather the brain detects a lowering of the glucose level. So restoring glucose levels by eating more can only help to a certain extent and of course is subject to other risks: overeating, diabetes etc.  The solution is thus certainly not merely to eat more to restore brain function.

A couple of conclusions here:

  1. If you spend a lot of time, moving from one menial or unimportant task or project to another – making decisions, switching tasks furiously, recalling and storing memories, trying to understand the issues: then you are burning up precious available resources for projects that are unimportant – resources that could be diverted to more important and critical projects.
  2. One of the important functions of the brain that gets reduced when the brain detects a lowering of glucose levels is the function of resisting impulses (e.g. distractions to work).
  3. So if you are spending a lot of time resisting doing something or switching from one menial task to another, you are burning up precious resources that can be diverted to more important tasks and projects: tasks and projects that can put even more money.. and satisfaction back into your pocket.. but also you are reducing your ability and function to resist impulses or distractions.

Steps to resolve this and increase willpower:

  1. New Awareness

    Just like an Olympic athlete builds muscles and better performance with better awareness of their biology,  your awareness of the biological limitations of willpower over different time frames (hours, days, weeks months and years) will help frame an understanding of what it really takes to make a goal or dream come true for you and for your team.  Building a system of journaling and tracking what you do over a day for several days for 1 – 2 months builds up this awareness.  The awareness builds up the case in your mind for the adoption of new habits.  Building this awareness together with someone else e.g. a boss, a mentor, a coach, a team member – helps considerably towards building new and more effective habits.

  2. New Habits

    Based on observations done in the author’s consulting business, it is easier to create new habits than to change old existing ones.  The brain is extremely plastic (a neurological term meaning that the brain is very quick to learn new things and to make new connections pertaining to new ideas and concepts).  Some of the latest research indicates that it takes about 90 days or slightly more of consistent practice to learn a new habit and have strong new connections in the brain that represent this new habit.   These new habits include

    1. Prioritizing doing what are the most important projects i.e. the projects that put the most money and satisfaction back in your pocket and
    2. Putting the other projects and activities lower in priority

    This may involve scheduling higher priority activities at your peak brain performance times (typically but not always early morning or late evening).  The trick is to schedule these activities so that you are more likely to get these done rather than the distracting lower priority items and the other distracters like social media, watching emails, watching videos on the internet, etc.

  3. Upward Spiral 

    From our observations of our clients over the last 10 years, we have seen that when people have a long to do list (over four items), they typically (on an average) get none of these done.  But if they have less than four, they get about 50 to 75 percent done on their projects by 2 pm in the afternoon (assuming that they start their work at about 9 am).  The interesting thing is that this success gives a ‘shot in the arm’ and gets people motivated even more to get more done for the day; leading to what we call an upward spiral in energy, peace of mind and deep satisfaction.

    One important sub point in this is that the clarity of purpose by identifying clear, do-able, non-conflicting, win-able specific and finite outcomes, gives people an additional chance of success for the day; the identification of goals with a collaborator (e.g. your team or a coach) on a daily basis accelerates this process tremendously.

  4. Getting into the Flow 

    Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a world renowned researcher into performance and what is referred to as the flow state has indicated that the right combinations of challenge and skill lead to people operating at a high or flow state. Some people refer to this state as ‘The Zone’.  When you are in ‘the zone’, you are energized or centered and indirectly more able to resist distractions etc.Working with limiting your tasks and projects typically lowers the challenge level to a level matching your skills.  As you observe daily your challenge levels for your tasks and projects, you can begin to gauge where your skill and challenge meet just right; as you gradually over each day increase your skill and challenge just right, you are more likely to get to the flow state.  The practice is to debrief daily with your team or coach or manager on where your skill and challenge are for that day in each of your projects.  The analogy is like someone training to be an Olympic athlete – when you first start training, you must start at your current abilities and then gradually but surely increase the challenge and your skill periodically.

  5. Breakthrough as a Lifestyle

    In our observations of our clients, as we work with them daily, we observe that as they increase their skill and challenge over time, their willpower increases, their abilities to resist distractions goes up and there is greater satisfaction and greater results over time.  This is not an overnight phenomenon – it takes practice over time and patience with yourself.  This is indeed the biggest obstacle for most clients – their need to be perfect quickly – an impatience for quick success.  The biggest gift to yourself is patience – patience for your own success gives you the patience to train others – crucial for a sustainable and vibrant business.


Sunil Bhaskaran

Mentor, Coach, Author & Speaker

Having owned and run several businesses himself, Sunil speaks, trains and mentors from his own real-life experiences. Sunil began coaching and training people in 1989; and he has been in high demand as a mentor, private coach and keynote speaker for more than 20 years. His “Brain Performance Program” has made a profound difference in the bottom-line of thousands of business people worldwide. Additionally, Sunil has designed leadership, diversity, and accountability trainings for the corporate world at companies like Cisco, Comerica Bank, Compass Cares, to name a few.  For more information on his programs utilizing brain science, please go to

[1] Research by Dr. Roy Baumeister: German Beeper Study

Willpower is a Muscle: Ego Depletion and Decision Fatigue

I survive on willpower alone for many things; neither caffeine nor energy drinks affect me or keep me awake. Many all-nighters in college were done through sheer willpower alone and I’m proud of my ability to overcome obstacles based on my inner strength. However, as I get older, I notice that lack of sleep catches up on me more easily and late night decisions are harder to make. Many of my late nights are actual a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle because it is easier to stay awake then stop what I am doing, get up and get ready for bed.

For this reason, it was very interesting to discover that willpower is actually a finite resource that diminishes throughout the day – through each decision you make!

Self-Control and Willpower Can Be Depleted

A 1996 study by Roy Baumeister tested participants’ willpower by forcing them to eat radishes over chocolate chip cookies, after tantalizing them with the smell of the freshly baked treats. After the food experiment, participants were then given a second test using a persistence-testing puzzle. Those who were forced to choose the radishes over the cookies made fewer attempts and were far less interested in solving the puzzle versus a control group who did not make the food choice. Those who had to resist the cookies and eat an unappealing vegetable instead were too tired to engage in another difficult task. They were too tired because of the previous conscious control of willpower.

“…self-control is a general strength that’s used across different sorts of tasks  — and it [can] be depleted.”

This proved that self-regulation is not a skill to be mastered or a rote function that can be performed with little consequence. It’s like using a muscle: After exercising it, it loses its strength, gets fatigued, and becomes ineffectual, at least in the short-term.

The Chocolate and Radish Experiment that Birthed the Modern Conception of Willpower

Making Decisions Requires Energy

Studies have found that willpower is linked to our glucose levels and with each decision we make, these glucose levels decrease. Blood glucose is believed to be an important part of self-control.

Enforcing self-control causes glucose levels to decrease – each decision made throughout the day depletes glucose supplies and a lack of self-control is linked to low glucose levels, or glucose cannot be reached quickly by the brain (such as when insulin is low or insensitive).

Willpower, or the ability to show self-control, can be depleted by acts of self-control as well as making decisions and choices, executing plans, and exerting initiative.

Alcohol also reduces glucose throughout the body and is known to impair many forms of self-control. (The Physiology of Willpower)

Freud first posed the idea of “ego depletion” (Roy Baumeister’s term) with his hypothesis that the self (or ego) transfers energy to perform mental activities and that these stores of energy are finite.

A study by the University of Wurzburg tested willpower and found three things:

  1. People spend 3-4 hours a day struggling on whether or not to resist a particular desire
  2. Frequent episodes of denial made it increasingly likely an individual would give into temptation
  3. Glucose levels influence the ease with which an individual approaches each struggle of will

Glucose Levels Affect Willpower and Mental Focus

The discoveries about glucose help explain why dieting is a uniquely difficult test of self-control — and why even people with phenomenally strong willpower in the rest of their lives can have such a hard time losing weight. They start out the day with virtuous intentions, resisting croissants at breakfast and dessert at lunch, but each act of resistance further lowers their willpower. As their willpower weakens late in the day, they need to replenish it. But to resupply that energy, they need to give the body glucose. They’re trapped in a nutritional catch-22:

  1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.
  2. In order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat.

How to Increase Depleted Willpower Glucose Levels

Get More Sleep – Studies show that those who are better rested have more willpower than tired people.
Eating – Eating helps restores glucose levels. An interesting point: Hungry people are more likely to give into the need to be cranky and impatient rather than use their willpower to resist such urges. For those who are dieting, rather than resist food, eat small meals throughout the day.
Positive Mood Experiences – Being put into a positive mood by pleasant experiences, socializing with friends, watching a movie, etc can all help improve depleted willpower levels.
Exercise It – Like a muscle, willpower can become depleted, but it can also be exercised to increase its strength.

Further Blog Articles on the Topic of Ego Depletion

Understanding the Dangers of Ego Depletion – by Tim Ferris
Willpower: How to Improve Your Personal Self Discipline