Yesterday, we looked at the power of asking Who, not How. After attempting to negotiate the sale of his company himself and failing, entrepreneur Wes Sierk hired an investment banker who successfully completed the transaction and negotiated a much higher price.

Our story doesn’t end there.

1: “Two weeks after selling his company, Wes found that the air conditioner in his house had broken,” write Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy in Who Not How. “He got a quote from an air-conditioning repair person and was pained by the proposed $7,900 fee for a new air conditioner.”

When he was younger, Wes had worked as a contractor. “He decided he could save some money by rigging a big box fan and blowing it through the evaporator to ease the burden on the fan to cool down the house,” Dan and Ben write. “He would then wait until winter—when people weren’t buying air conditioners and thus they would be cheaper–to buy a new one.”

It would only take a few hours of his time, Wes reasoned. And we might save a few thousand bucks.

“It’s important to note that Wes is a millionaire,” write Dan and Ben. “He drives fancy cars, just sold a company, and is a well-educated and well-respected guy. He’s also, in many respects, a frugal guy, raised in a small town in Virginia with much of his roots still deep within him.”

So, on August 31, 2019, he climbed onto his roof to install the box fan. It was a brutally hot day. The next thing Wes remembers, he was lying on his back on the concrete. “He’d fallen from the roof, backward, and landed square on the back of his head, severely cracking his skull,” the authors write.

Wes rolled his body toward the front door of his house. He pounded on the door. His wife and sister-in-law found him lying on the ground, nearly unconscious.

“What’s wrong?” they asked, not sensing the full extent of what had happened. 

“Nothing, I’m just hot. I’m hot and need to lie down,” he replied.

Then, Wes rolled over and began vomiting. That’s when they saw the pool of blood. His wife frantically called 911. He lost consciousness as he was rushed to the hospital.

2: Wes was in the hospital for 11 days, two of which he spent in a coma. “After leaving the hospital, which Wes doesn’t remember, he was stuck in bed for two months,” write Dan and Ben. “He needed a walker to use the bathroom. He couldn’t talk and couldn’t walk on his own and had to relearn basic skills.”

Confined to his bed, Wes became highly depressed. His neurosurgeon told him more than 50 percent of people who fall from their own height or above and land on their head die. He was furious at himself for having done something he shouldn’t have been doing. He was afraid he might never regain his ability to reason and think. 

“He didn’t know what his future held. His mind went to very dark places, and he felt incredibly alone,” the authors note.

Before the accident, Wes had participated in Dan’s Strategic Coach program for several years. He found himself thinking again and again of a quote he had heard from Dan: “If you have enough money to solve a problem, then you don’t have a problem.”

When faced with an opportunity or challenge, Dan and Ben suggest we ask “Who,” not “How.” As in: “Who can help me solve this problem?” rather than “how will I solve this problem?”

“Wes Sierk is not the only person who learned the costliness of ‘How,'” they write. “In fact, trying to do all the Hows is the normal way of doing things for most people.”

This mindset is deeply ingrained. “Our culture has brainwashed us into avoiding costs rather than making powerful investments in ourselves and our futures,” the authors observe. “As a result, we willingly do all sorts of ‘busy’ or ineffective work outside our expertise and passion, falsely believing that ‘working hard’ or engaging in such tasks is worth it.”

Having a great work ethic is a crucial driver of success. But trying to do everything ourselves is a foolish strategy.

“Far too often, people wear their hard work as a badge of honor,” write Dan and Ben. “But in reality, they are engaging in Hows that could easily be handled by a Who to more effectively produce the desired result.”

3: Fortunately, Wes recovered from his fall. Six months later, he returned to work at the company he’d sold in a new role: marketing and growing the business. One of his goals was to master creating YouTube videos and Facebook advertising as marketing for his company.

When it came to shooting and editing the videos, he hired a video production company to do the work.


Reflection: What area of my life would benefit by identifying a Who to solve a problem or take on a new opportunity?

Action: Do it.

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