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“Who Not How” A Book By Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan

“Who Not How” A Book By Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan

The acclaimed business coach and founder of Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan, published a book in 2020 called “Who Not How“. Its premise is that to accomplish great things and attain our full potential. We should focus on who can help us achieve, instead of how we’re going to do it. The book is an inspiring tribute to the power of leveraging resources, illustrated by stories of successful collaborations throughout history.

The book opens with the story of how Michael Jordan, widely considered basketball’s greatest of all time, failed to win championships until he was joined by coach Phil Jackson and his supporting cast of teammates. Who Not How isn’t a book about sports, but rather, “personal transformation and reaching the highest levels of performance and success.” Sullivan argues that to succeed at the highest level in any endeavor, you need to break out of our cultural predisposition toward “how” to achieve and embrace the power of collaboration. The bigger your goals become, the better Whos you’ll need.

Early in the book, Sullivan walks the walk when it is revealed that he didn’t write the words on the page. The author is Dr. Benjamin Hardy, introduced as Sullivan’s “Who” for the book. Sullivan participated in its creation, but Hardy wrote the book.

About Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Hardy, a psychologist, discusses our different levels of “self” and the desirable evolution to the “transforming self.” Which comes from engaging in collaborative relationships for the sake of transformation. At this level, people come together for the purpose of expanding their views and sense of self, with the whole becoming far greater than the sum of its parts. Through such transformational relationships, we can achieve far greater things than we could on our own.

Freedom and growth are major themes of the book. Hardy writes that focusing on How constrains personal growth and we enjoy multiple levels of freedom by shifting our mindset to Who. These freedoms relate time, money, relationships and purpose.
How to Work With Who.

While making persuasive arguments through inspiring success stories, Who Not How fails to deliver much practical guidance on how to work with others. To be fair, the book’s purpose is not to create a how-to guide on executing collaborative plans. It’s a great conceptual read to help change your mindset, break through limiting beliefs, and attain a greater vision. Because a vision without execution can be called a hallucination, some guidance on How to work with Who is needed.

The “How”

The How part of working with Who should be resolved with the help of the right Whos. This means having a team of trusted advisors. These Whos may include coaches/mentors, financial advisors, accountants, attorneys, and others. What follows is a starting point of the factors to consider in determining how to work with Who. Although the scope of the book is broader, I’ll discuss considerations for how to collaborate in business deals and investments.

It’s better to try to become great at what you’re good at doing than to become good at what you’re bad at doing. Find others to handle your weaknesses. Visionaries need integrators to realize their visions.

Whether your goal is a one-off endeavor or will become an ongoing business is an important consideration. If you’re starting a business with others, understand that it’s a marriage. Consider whether you’re ready for a business marriage with your partner or you should start dating.

Starting A Business

When you start a business together, it can lead to a messy divorce with a fight over the equity. Or worse, the liabilities. If the parties want to start a business such as an LLC, an operating agreement is essential. Spell out in as much detail the roles, contributions, duties and responsibilities of the company’s members and anticipate as many “what ifs” as your imagination allows with predetermined responses.
An alternative to jointly owning a business is a joint venture (JV) agreement. Many business collaborations can be set up as a JV, with well-defined starting and end points and clear descriptions of the participants’ roles. Under a JV arrangement, there would be no continuing business relationship following the project’s completion.

Among many other considerations are whether to hire W2 employees or independent contractors. In recent years, digital platforms such as Upwork have launched a revolution through access to contractors around the world to perform virtually any imaginable task. I’ve hired a graphic designer from Estonia and website developer from Bangladesh, among others, to do great work at reasonable rates.

Independent contractors who can be used as needed provide relief from the overhead burden of employee wages, especially for start-ups.

This discussion barely scratches the surface of How to work with Who, which can be its own book. This article is only a starting point for the issues to consider. When you’re ready to begin your transformation, contact me to discuss becoming your Who for legal and strategic business planning services.