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Creating a Culture from the Inside Out - Decoded

How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume, or better yet, how do you explain that some clubs or companies fare better and achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions.

That’s easy, right? It goes without saying, those clubs are better funded and they have a better product, and so on. So, why is it that, when a club gets repositioned correctly, the club immediately becomes attractive, without having made one single, tangible improvement!

If done correctly, it is called repositioning a club from the “Inside Out”, or better termed, creating a CULTURE FROM THE INSIDE OUT starting with its leadership, staff and then members.

Over the past 30 years something quite unique happened in our industry. I call it the shift as to how members view themselves today – the shift from members being owners to being customers – and for Building Clubs of the Future, the leadership needs to take an innovative approach with membership retention and growth in mind, while continuously investing capital in the club.

Applying Simon Sinek’s Rule of the Golden Circle into a Club’s Repositioning Model:

Sinek asked the question as to “Why Apple is so innovative?” Year after year, he notes, they are more innovative than their competition. Yet they are just a computer company – they are just like everyone else, they have access to the same talents, access to the same agencies, consultants, access to the same media – so, then why is it that it seems that they have something different?

Also, “Why is it that the Wright Brothers were able to figure out controlled powered man flight?" When there were certainly other teams that were more qualified, better funded – and they did not achieve powered man flight and the Wright brothers beat them to it?

Something profoundly changed my perspective as to how to view or operate clubs when John McConnell bought RCC out of bankruptcy in 2003. There is something else at play here. As it turns out, there is a pattern; a pattern that is used by great inspiring leaders, great organizations in the world, whether it is Apple or the Wright Brothers; they all act and communicate the exact same way. And it is the complete opposite to everyone else.

In Club Industry terms - in 2003, we started viewing members as customers and we started with asking ourselves “Why” does our club exists, “Why” can’t we (staff) wait to get up in the morning to go to work.

Simon Sinek codified his observation and calls it the golden circle ("Simon Sinek, The Golden Circle") – Why, How and What with “Why” being inside the circle and “What” being the most outer circle.

"What" – every single organization on the planet knows what they are doing

"How" – some know “How” they do it – call it the differentiating value proposition, best practices, or proprietary processes

"Why" – but very, very few people or organizations know why they do it. With “Why” Sinek doesn’t mean to make a profit – that would be a result, by "Why" refers to what is your purpose, what’s your cause, what’s your belief, WHY DOES YOUR ORGANZIATION OR YOUR CLUB EXIST; why do you get out of bed in the morning and why should anyone care?

In general – the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside it. It is obvious that we go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest.

But the inspired organizations or leaders, or successful clubs, or clubs that were repositioned, regardless of their membership size, all think and act from the inside out. And per Sinek, it starts with the "Why."

As an example, Sinek used Apple Corporation; simply because everyone understands and gets it.

He notes that if Apple where like everyone else; a marketing message from Apple might sound like this:

We make great computers [WHAT], they are beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly [HOW] – want to buy one? Nope…

That is how most of us communicate in the club industry: “We are the premiere country club in town, our championship course was designed by X, our recently updated clubhouse is inviting, and we have the best social programs for all ages – do you want to join the club?”

In essence, this club’s message says what they do, they say how they are different and they expect some sort of behavior from their customers or prospective members. But it is uninspiring.

Joining a club is an emotional decision first and foremost.

According to Sinek, here is how Apple ACTUALLY communicates:

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently – the WHY, the way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, and simple to use – the How, we just happen to make great computers the WHAT. – WANT TO BUY ONE?”

Totally different!

Applied to Club X – how about this? “We believe in building Clubs of the Future with our members and staff being the Club’s true product, we believe in being environmentally responsible and the pillar of our community, we believe in being more inclusive than exclusive and we believe in pure golf for the true golfer [the WHY….] The way we do this is by providing daily the best playing conditions, a service culture that comes from our hearts and embraces diversity. We are an organization that focuses on giving back to its community, and we will always strive to be environmentally responsible. [HOW…] We just happen to be the top rated golfing facility in X where everyone has fun. How can we be of service to you and your family?

What that proves to us is that people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.

The goal is not to do business with anyone or everyone who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

Lastly, when touring a prospective member, and you have the gut feeling that he or she is looking for something different, I don’t mind saying, our club may not be a good fit for you….

Joining a club is an emotional decision. All of this is not my opinion, it is all grounded in biology, not psychology, but biology.

The human brain matches up perfectly with Sinek’s Golden Circle.

Our Neo Cortex corresponds with the "What Level" – it is responsible with all our rational and analytical thoughts – "The Outer Circle."

The "Why" and "How" section of Simon Sinek circle make up the limbic mid brain or the limbic system, which is responsible for our feelings, like trust and loyalty, and is also responsible for all human behavior, and decision making and it has no capacity for language.

In other words, when we communicate from the outside in – people can understand the essence of complicated information, facts and figures but it does not drive behavior.

And we all can agree on that joining a club is an emotional decision – so, when we communicate from the inside out – we are talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior and we allow people to rationalize it with the things we say and do.

Again, the goal is not to sell to people what you have, the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe.

So, who is responsible for making repositioning work for you, or creating a "Culture from the Inside Out?"

It is not the membership that will lead the process originally – it is the club’s leadership and your staff.

So, your goal is not to hire people who need a job or fill a position, the goal is to hire people who believe what you believe.

Sinek used the Wright brothers as his best example.

Most people don’t know about Samuel Pierpont Langley. The pursuit of powered man flight was like the “dot com” of the day, everybody was trying it.

And Mr. Langley, had, what we assume, is the recipe for success. He was well-funded, had all the right political connections, and with being a Harvard graduate, he was onnected with the brightest minds of his day. Not to mention that the New York Times followed him every step of the way. (Capitalized, right people, great market conditions) Langley hired the best minds money could find. So, how have only a few heard of Samuel Langley’s pursuit of powered man flight?

A few hundred miles away in Dayton, OH, Orville and Wilbur Wright had none of what we would consider the recipe for success. They had no money. They paid for their dream with the proceeds of their bicycle business. Not a single person on the Wright brother’s team had a college education, neither did Orville or Wilbur. The New York Times followed them around “nowhere”.

The difference was, Orville and Wilbur were driven by a cause, by a belief, and they believed that when they can figure out the flying machine, it would change the course of the world.

Langley was different, he wanted to be rich and famous. He was in pursuit of a result. Low and behold, look what happened. People who believed in the Wright Brothers’ dream worked with blood, sweat and tears. Langley’s crew just worked for their paycheck.

Eventually, December 17th, 1903, the Wright Brothers took flight and nobody was there to even experience it. Further proof that Langley was motivated for all the wrong reasons is that on the day the brothers took flight, he quit. He did not get first, he did not get famous, and he did not get rich.

People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.

And when you talk about what you believe – you will attract those that believe in what you believe.

After the staff buy-in, your members now become your greatest resource for new members.

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