Who Not How

Michael Jordan was a god amongst men in 1984. Freshly drafted to the Chicago Bulls, he was really, really good. But how does a great player prove it? 

Hardware. Championships. Rings. 

And for six years, Jordan, and the Bulls, had no real proof. 

That story is in the opening of Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy’s book, Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork.

The title gives away the thesis and you know what happens to Jordan: in ‘87 the Bulls draft Scottie Pippen, in ‘89 they hire Phil Jackson as head coach, and from ‘91-’98 they win 6 championships.

How’d they do it? By utilizing their “triangle offense,” the Bulls took defensive pressure off of Jordan and/or allowed Jordan to draw disproportionate pressure from their opponents leaving someone else as open as the collar on our Starter pullovers. Simple and brilliant.* 

But you can’t execute “the how” without having the right people on the bus.** 

“Who not how” is the idea we can shift “How can I accomplish this” to “Who can help me achieve this?” 

It’s about niching down to the unique abilities of each “who” – so we can step back and study what the combination can achieve. 

Because when we define “who” and then “how” – it can act as an accelerant.

Getting “who” wrong is like the bus blowing up and Speed ending at the beginning of the movie. Getting “who” right is like putting gas on the fire. Or nukes on the Barbie to be more contemporary.***

It’s how this book got written too. Dan Sullivan is a super-famous entrepreneur’s coach. He’s made a career of helping figure out what their “unique ability” is, and then guides them to figuring out who they need to get everything else done. 

When it was time for Dan to write a book, he found Dr. Benjamin Hardy. “Where did I hear his name before,” I wondered. A quick notes search – in 2018 I heard Benjamin on Michael Covel’s podcast, when he was not yet Dr. Hardy and had recently become the most popular writer on a little website called Medium.com. I’m telling you this because “who” evolves too.

Who” doesn’t just make it happen, the right “who” makes it happen faster.

The book is full of stories for each phase of finding the who’s we need to surround ourselves with once we have an inkling of how to succeed. It’s short on Whoville jokes, but that’s probably for copyright purposes. Despite the repetition, the division into sections is unsurprisingly well done by Hardy – I can see pulling this off the shelf for future stories. That’s a big business book compliment. 

Now how did this post turn into a book report? I don’t even know who’s even in charge around here anymore. All I know is my working business book title just became, Start With When Because That’s What Starting Means: But Then Also Start With Who, Or Why, Or How, Or Maybe Where (If It Matters), And Usually Knowing What Helps Too. 

(h/t Brad F. for recommending this one)

Ps. Spouses in business together! You should seek out the “Conclusion (Or No Babs, No Coach)” chapter.  

*I have to shoutout every other 90s kid who had a Starter Bulls pullover jacket. We were so rad.

**I go Simon Sinek, to Jim Collins, to Brian Portnoy in “Start With Who, Start With Why” if interested.

***This was my favorite Barbie/Oppenheimer mashup meme I think. Bonus points for invoking the song: