Ron Bruder’s Secret to Innovating in Any Industry

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Who is Ron Bruder? Why is he such a successful entrepreneur?

Ron Bruder is an entrepreneur who started Greenwell, a computerized travel company. He’s also the founder of Brookhill, a real estate company, and the Education for Employment Foundation.

We’ll cover a brief history of Ron Bruder’s entrepreneurial ventures and discuss how he’s used the “Start with Why” concept to spread his purpose and message.

Ron Bruder: The Power of Purpose

Entrepreneur Ron Bruder has had repeated success because of his commitment to starting with his WHY: his belief that if you show someone an alternative possibility, it creates the possibility for that idea to be realized. 

First, Ron Bruder started Greenwell, a travel company that was one of the first to fully computerize its operation. He grew Greenwell into a multi-million dollar business.

Next, Ron Bruder founded Brookhill, a real estate development company focused on building on brownfields, which are former oil and gas production sites that have long been considered too polluted to develop. While everyone thought brownfields were a lost cause, Bruder’s WHY meant that he wasn’t willing to accept that answer. Instead, he partnered with engineering firms to figure out how to clean the land through new, innovative techniques. 

His latest endeavor is the Education for Employment Foundation. After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, Ron Bruder realized that terrorism wasn’t really a result of hatred. It was the consequence of a lack of opportunity for young men and women in the Middle East, Gaza, and the West Bank. 

So while the country was using violence to end terrorism, Bruder saw a different path: education. The EFE Foundation’s goal is to teach these young people the hard and soft skills they need to access opportunities in their countries and abroad.    

By sitting at the top of The Golden Circle and using it as a megaphone, Ron Bruder is able to amplify his WHY while trusting those who align with his beliefs to keep the movement going. This is how Bruder is able to repeat his success over and over again across industries.    

Don’t Confuse Amplification With Volume

Amplification happens when you successfully share your WHY using The Golden Circle, as Ron Bruder does. Unfortunately, it’s easy to confuse amplification with volume.

Volume comes from a combination of money and publicity stunts. With enough of both, you can create expensive advertising campaigns that keep your message front and center (and the volume cranked up to high). But volume alone doesn’t create loyalty. 

Take, for example, a publicity stunt that happened on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004 where Oprah gave a new car to every member of her studio audience. Everyone remembers the stunt, but no one remembers the type of car she gave away: the Pontiac G6. 

In the end, Pontiac spent $7 million dollars to market their car through this publicity stunt, but it quickly faded from memory since the stunt didn’t reinforce the brand’s WHY. In contrast, people remember the event because it reinforced Oprah’s WHY, which was to be spontaneously generous to those around her. As Ron Bruder does, focus on the WHY, not being flashy.

Focus on the WHY: Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy

Like Ron Bruder, Martin Luther King Jr. understood the power of WHY. Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil rights movement exemplify the ways WHY and HOW people work together to achieve their common goals. 

In this case, while Dr. King was the leader and the WHY behind the push for racial equality, he was supported by Ralph Abernathy, who handled the HOW. Abernathy’s job was to help individuals understand what steps they needed to take to be part of the movement. Then King’s followers–the people in the WHAT level–hit the pavement to create change. 

Great leaders are great because they have a team of excellent HOW-type people. Leaders can keep their sights set on the path ahead while their HOW team figures out how to implement ideas and create an organization oriented around the leader’s vision. 

And because great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Ron Bruder are charismatic, they attract incredibly talented HOW types that also believe in their vision.

Ron Bruder’s Secret to Innovating in Any Industry

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Amanda Penn

Amanda Penn is a writer and reading specialist. She’s published dozens of articles and book reviews spanning a wide range of topics, including health, relationships, psychology, science, and much more. Amanda was a Fulbright Scholar and has taught in schools in the US and South Africa. Amanda received her Master's Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

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