Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin HardyImage: Amazon

What is “Who Not How”?

“Who Not How” is a book written by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy. The central idea of the book revolves around the concept of achieving goals and solving problems by focusing on finding the right people (Who) rather than getting bogged down by figuring out the methods and processes (How) yourself.

Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy argue that too often, individuals get stuck trying to do everything themselves or figuring out the step-by-step processes to achieve their goals. Instead, they propose that it is more effective to identify the right people with the necessary skills and expertise to help you reach your objectives. By surrounding yourself with a team of capable individuals, you can leverage their strengths and collectively accomplish more than you could on your own.

The “Who Not How” mindset encourages collaboration, delegation, and building a network of talented individuals. It emphasizes the power of relationships and teamwork in achieving success. Rather than being the sole driver of every aspect of a project, the book suggests that success comes from assembling the right team of people who can contribute their unique skills and perspectives.

In essence, “Who Not How” provides a paradigm shift in how individuals approach their goals, emphasizing the importance of asking “Who can help me with this?” instead of being solely focused on “How can I do this myself?” The book provides practical insights and strategies for implementing this mindset in both personal and professional contexts.

Key Takeaways

  1. Shift from How to Who:
    The central concept is to shift your mindset from figuring out how to accomplish something on your own to identifying the right people (Who) who can help you achieve your goals more efficiently.
  2. Leverage Other’s Strengths:
    Instead of trying to master every skill or process, focus on leveraging the strengths and expertise of others. Build a team or network of individuals who excel in areas where you may not be as proficient.
  3. Collaboration is Key:
    Success is often a collaborative effort. Foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork, recognizing that collective efforts can lead to greater achievements than individual endeavors.
  4. Delegate Wisely:
    Delegating tasks to those who are better suited for them allows you to focus on your unique abilities and priorities. Effective delegation is a key aspect of productivity and goal attainment.
  5. Build a Support System:
    Surround yourself with people who share your vision and can contribute their skills to the collective success. A strong support system is essential for personal and professional growth.
  6. Network and Relationships:
    Cultivate relationships with individuals who complement your strengths and weaknesses. Networking and building strong relationships can open up new opportunities and avenues for collaboration.
  7. Focus on Unique Abilities:
    Identify and focus on your unique abilities—those activities that you are exceptionally good at and passionate about. Delegate the rest to those who are better suited for those tasks.
  8. Embrace the Power of Teams:
    Teams can achieve more than individuals working in isolation. Foster a team-oriented approach to problem-solving and goal achievement.
  9. Continuous Learning:
    Embrace a mindset of continuous learning and improvement. Be open to learning from others and be willing to adapt and evolve in your approach to challenges.
  10. Overcome Limiting Beliefs:
    Challenge limiting beliefs that may hold you back from seeking help or collaborating with others. Recognize the value that diverse perspectives bring to the table.

Book Outline

    • Chapter 1: “Whos” Create Abundance and Self-Expansion
    • Chapter 2: The Truth about Procrastination and How to Kill It
    • Chapter 3: Find Whos for All Aspects of Your Life
    • Chapter 4: Time Creates Money
    • Chapter 5: Commit to Specific Results
    • Chapter 6: If You Have Enough Money to Solve a Problem, You Don’t Have a Problem
    • Chapter 7: How to Be a Good Who for Others
    • Chapter 8: How to Avoid the Wrong Whos, Even Highly Attractive Ones
    • Chapter 9: How to Create Effective Collaborations
    • Chapter 10: Stop Competing and Start Collaborating
    • Chapter 11: Whos Expand Your Vision and Purpose


Chapter 1: “Whos” Create Abundance and Self-Expansion

Main Idea:
The primary concept in this chapter of “Who Not How” is the transformative power of collaboration. Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy assert that by identifying and collaborating with the right people (“Whos”), individuals can create abundance and foster personal growth.

Key Concepts:

  • Synergy of Unique Abilities: This chapter of “Who Not How” underscores the idea that each person possesses unique strengths, and when combined, these strengths can lead to extraordinary results.
  • Amplification of Efforts: The collaborative efforts of a team often surpass the sum of individual contributions. The chapter stresses that collective work can lead to abundance and self-expansion.

Consider a musical band where each member excels in a different instrument. Individually, they are talented, but together, their collaboration creates a harmonious and powerful symphony that resonates with a broad audience. This example illustrates how combining unique abilities can result in a product far more impactful than individual efforts.

Chapter 2: The Truth about Procrastination and How to Kill It

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” explores the relationship between the “Who Not How” mindset and overcoming procrastination. It argues that effective delegation, or finding the right “Who,” is a powerful strategy to eliminate procrastination.

Key Concepts:

  • Procrastination as a Symptom: Procrastination often stems from attempting to handle every aspect independently. Delegation is presented as a remedy to break down tasks and overcome this procrastination.
  • Delegation Strategies: This chapter of “Who Not How” introduces strategies for effective delegation, emphasizing the importance of recognizing one’s strengths and weaknesses in the process.

Imagine a business owner overwhelmed with administrative tasks, hindering their ability to focus on strategic decisions. By hiring a skilled administrative assistant, the business owner can delegate these tasks, freeing up time for more impactful responsibilities. This example demonstrates how strategic delegation can be a powerful tool against procrastination.

Chapter 3: Find Whos for All Aspects of Your Life

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” advocates for a comprehensive application of the “Who Not How” mindset. It encourages individuals to identify the right collaborators for various aspects of their personal and professional lives.

Key Concepts:

  • Universal Applicability: Collaboration is not limited to specific areas but can be applied universally across different facets of life.
  • Diverse Collaborators: Recognizing that different tasks and life domains may require different types of collaborators. Developing a network of “Whos” is presented as a strategy for a well-rounded and effective support system.

Consider an individual aiming for personal development. S/he might engage a fitness coach for physical health, a life coach for personal growth, and a mentor for career advice. By strategically selecting collaborators for different aspects of life, this person forms a comprehensive support system, showcasing the versatility of the “Who Not How” approach.

Case Study: Alex and Entrepreneur Morgan

Once upon a time in the bustling city of Progressville, there lived a young professional named Alex. Alex was talented, ambitious, and had big dreams of achieving success in their career. However, the relentless pursuit of individual goals often left Alex feeling overwhelmed and on the brink of burnout.

One day, while attending a networking event, Alex had a chance encounter with a seasoned entrepreneur named Morgan. Morgan was known for their ability to build successful ventures through effective collaboration. Intrigued, Alex struck up a conversation and soon found themselves engrossed in Morgan’s philosophy of “Who Not How.”

Morgan shared stories of their own journey, highlighting how collaboration with the right people had been the key to abundance and personal growth. Alex realized that by identifying the right collaborators, they could enhance their skills and achieve more than they ever could alone.

As Alex reflected on their struggles with procrastination, Morgan shared a personal anecdote. Morgan once faced a daunting project and, instead of procrastinating, sought out collaborators who excelled in the areas where Morgan struggled. Together, they overcame obstacles, killed procrastination, and achieved remarkable success.

Inspired by Morgan’s wisdom, Alex decided to apply the “Who Not How” mindset in all aspects of his life. He identified mentors for career guidance, fitness trainers for health, and a supportive network for personal development. In embracing the collaborative spirit, Alex began to experience newfound abundance and self-expansion.

The transformation in Alex’s life caught the attention of their colleagues, and soon, a collaborative project emerged at work. Alex, recognizing their unique strengths, assembled a team of “Whos” to tackle the project, resulting in unprecedented success for the entire team.

With these newfound insights, Alex’s career skyrocketed, and he became a sought-after collaborator in various projects.


Chapter 4: Time Creates Money

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” delves into the correlation between effective time management and financial success. Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy propose that understanding the value of time and prioritizing tasks can lead to the creation of wealth.

Key Concepts:

  • Time as a Finite Resource: Emphasizes that time is a limited and valuable resource that, when used wisely, can contribute to financial prosperity.
  • Strategic Task Prioritization: The chapter introduces the concept of prioritizing tasks based on their impact on financial goals, highlighting the importance of investing time in activities that generate wealth.

Consider an entrepreneur launching a new product. Instead of spending excessive time on minor details, they prioritize activities directly linked to product development, marketing, and sales. This strategic allocation of time enhances the likelihood of financial success by focusing efforts on aspects critical to generating revenue.

Chapter 5: Commit to Specific Results

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” explores the significance of setting clear, specific goals and committing to achieving measurable results. It argues that a commitment to specific outcomes is integral to financial success.

Key Concepts:

  • Clarity in Goal Setting: Emphasizes the importance of setting clear, specific, and measurable goals to provide a roadmap for financial success.
  • Accountability and Commitment: The chapter discusses the role of commitment in achieving financial objectives, stressing that accountability to specific results is essential.

Imagine a business setting a revenue target for the year. Rather than a vague goal, they commit to a specific financial figure. This commitment drives focused strategies, such as targeted marketing campaigns and product launches, aligning the entire organization toward the achievement of the defined financial result.

Chapter 6: If You Have Enough Money to Solve a Problem, You Don’t Have a Problem

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” challenges the conventional view of problems, suggesting that having the financial resources to address an issue means it’s not a genuine problem. Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy encourage a shift in perspective regarding problem-solving.

Key Concepts:

  • Reframing Problem Perception: Encourages individuals to reframe their perception of problems and view them as opportunities for growth.
  • Resourcefulness over Resources: The chapter advocates for prioritizing resourcefulness and creativity in problem-solving rather than relying solely on financial resources.

Consider a startup facing a shortage of funds. Instead of viewing it solely as a financial problem, the entrepreneurs approach it as an opportunity to innovate. They explore cost-effective solutions, engage in strategic partnerships, and leverage their network. This example illustrates the shift from a financial obstacle to a chance for creative problem-solving.

Case Study: Olivia and the Tech Startup

In the bustling city of Innovare, there was an aspiring entrepreneur named Olivia who dreamt of launching a revolutionary tech startup. Eager to turn her vision into reality, Olivia faced the daunting challenges of managing her time, setting financial goals, and solving problems creatively.

One day, at a startup conference, Olivia met a seasoned entrepreneur named Victor. Victor, impressed by Olivia’s enthusiasm, decided to share the principles of “Who Not How.”

Victor initiated their conversation by discussing the correlation between effective time management and financial success. He shared a personal anecdote about how, in the early days of his business, he struggled to balance tasks. Eventually, he hired a skilled project manager, allowing him to allocate time strategically and, in turn, create more opportunities for financial growth.

Olivia expressed her challenges in setting clear financial goals for her startup. Victor emphasized the importance of commitment to specific results. He shared a story of a pivotal moment in his career when he set a specific revenue target for a new product launch. The clarity of the goal galvanized his team, resulting in the project’s success and financial growth.

As Olivia faced financial hurdles, Victor guided her to reframe her perception of problems. He recounted a time when he thought a lack of funds was an insurmountable obstacle. Instead of viewing it as a problem, he embraced it as an opportunity for creative problem-solving. By leveraging his network and exploring unconventional solutions, he overcame financial constraints and achieved success.

Incorporating these principles, Olivia transformed her approach to entrepreneurship.


Chapter 7: How to Be a Good Who for Others

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” explores the concept of being a valuable collaborator for others. It emphasizes the importance of contributing effectively to a team and supporting the success of those around you.

Key Concepts:

  • Value of Collaboration: Highlights the mutual benefit that comes from being a good collaborator, fostering a culture of support and teamwork.
  • Complementary Contributions: Explores the idea that effective collaboration involves leveraging individual strengths to complement the skills of others.

Consider a project team where members have diverse expertise. A team member excels in data analysis but struggles with presentation skills. Another team member, who is proficient in communication, steps in to assist with crafting a compelling presentation. This example illustrates the value of being a good collaborator by recognizing and filling in gaps to enhance overall team performance.

Chapter 8: How to Avoid the Wrong Whos, Even Highly Attractive Ones

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” addresses the importance of strategic selection when it comes to collaborators. It discusses the potential pitfalls of choosing the wrong collaborators and provides guidance on avoiding these pitfalls.

Key Concepts:

  • Strategic Collaboration: Emphasizes the need for thoughtful consideration in selecting collaborators to avoid potential negative impacts on projects.
  • Alignment of Values and Goals: Discusses the significance of aligning values and goals with collaborators to ensure a harmonious and effective working relationship.

Imagine a business considering a partnership with another company. Despite the apparent benefits, careful evaluation reveals misalignment in long-term goals and values. Choosing to avoid this collaboration prevents potential conflicts down the line and ensures that the collaboration aligns with the overall strategic direction of the business.

Chapter 9: How to Create Effective Collaborations

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” provides insights into the principles of creating and sustaining successful collaborations. It outlines key considerations and strategies for establishing effective working relationships.

Key Concepts:

  • Clear Communication: Stresses the importance of open and clear communication to establish expectations and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Shared Vision: Discusses the significance of a shared vision and common goals in fostering a collaborative and productive working environment.

Consider a group of entrepreneurs joining forces for a joint venture. Through clear communication and a shared vision, they establish a collaborative framework that allows each member to contribute their strengths effectively. This example illustrates how effective collaborations are built on clear communication and a shared understanding of objectives.

Case Study: Lily and her Musical Masterpiece

In the charming town of Harmonyville, there lived a young musician named Lily who aspired to create a musical masterpiece that would resonate with the entire community. However, Lily found herself grappling with challenges in building effective relationships and navigating collaborations.

One day, Lily attended a music festival where she encountered a seasoned composer and conductor named Maestro Garcia. Impressed by Lily’s passion for music, Maestro Garcia decided to share the principles of “Who Not How.”

Maestro Garcia began by emphasizing the importance of being a valuable collaborator. He shared stories from his own career, highlighting instances where effective collaboration had elevated the entire orchestra’s performance. Lily learned that being a good collaborator meant contributing to the success of others, fostering a culture of support and teamwork.

Lily confided in Maestro Garcia about past collaborations that had not gone well. Maestro Garcia shared insights on the strategic selection of collaborators. He emphasized the need to align values and goals, ensuring a harmonious working relationship. Lily realized the significance of choosing collaborators thoughtfully to avoid potential pitfalls.

Inspired by Maestro Garcia’s guidance, Lily sought to create effective collaborations in her musical endeavors. She began communicating openly with fellow musicians, establishing clear expectations, and fostering a shared vision for their projects. Lily discovered that effective collaborations were built on trust, shared goals, and open communication.

Harmonyville soon witnessed a musical renaissance as Lily’s collaborations flourished.


Chapter 10: Stop Competing and Start Collaborating

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” advocates for a shift in mindset from competition to collaboration. It explores the idea that greater success can be achieved by collaborating with others rather than viewing them as competitors.

Key Concepts:

  • Collaboration Over Competition: Emphasizes the benefits of seeking collaborative opportunities rather than engaging in competitive dynamics.
  • Abundance Mindset: Explores the concept of an abundance mindset, where individuals believe that there are ample opportunities for success and that collaboration leads to a bigger pie for everyone.

Consider a group of software developers in a co-working space. Instead of viewing each other as competitors, they collaborate on projects, share expertise, and collectively contribute to the success of the entire community. This example illustrates how embracing collaboration over competition can foster a supportive and thriving environment.

Chapter 11: Whos Expand Your Vision and Purpose

Main Idea:
This chapter of “Who Not How” delves into the idea that collaborating with the right people can expand one’s vision and sense of purpose. It explores the transformative impact of working with others who share a common vision.

Key Concepts:

  • Visionary Collaborators: Highlights the role of collaborators in bringing new perspectives and ideas that can broaden one’s vision.
  • Purposeful Partnerships: Discusses the power of purposeful collaborations in achieving meaningful goals and contributing to a sense of purpose.

Imagine an environmentalist collaborating with scientists, policymakers, and educators to address climate change. Through this diverse collaboration, the environmentalist gains insights into various facets of the issue and develops a broader vision for impactful change. This example demonstrates how collaborating with the right people can expand one’s vision and purpose.

Case Study: Emma the Change Agent

In the picturesque village of Tranquil Haven, there lived a visionary named Emma who dreamt of fostering a sense of unity and purpose among the villagers. Eager to bring about positive change, Emma faced challenges in navigating collaborations and aligning everyone towards a common goal.

One day, during a community gathering, Emma met an elder named Sage. Sage, renowned for their wisdom, sensed Emma’s aspirations and decided to share the principles of “Who Not How.”

Sage initiated the conversation by emphasizing the power of collaboration over competition. They shared stories of villages prospering when individuals chose collaboration over rivalry. Emma realized that by fostering a collaborative spirit, Tranquil Haven could achieve greater collective success.

Emma expressed her desire to expand the village’s vision and purpose. Sage shared tales of collaborative efforts that had transformed communities. By bringing together individuals with diverse perspectives, a richer, more comprehensive vision emerged. Emma understood the importance of collaborating with those who could broaden the village’s horizons.

Tranquil Haven soon became a hub of collaborative projects.

Additional Reading

  1. The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss
  2. “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success” by Adam Grant
  3. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek
  4. “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown
  5. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear
  6. “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.” by Brené Brown
  7. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck
  8. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg
  9. “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
  10. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth