Start With Why

Start With Why

How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Book - 2011
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The inspiring, life-changing bestseller by the author of LEADERS EAT LAST and TOGETHER IS BETTER.

In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who've watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY -- the third most popular TED video of all time.

Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won't truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.

START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way -- and it's the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.
Publisher: New York : Portfolio/Penguin, 2011.
Copyright Date: ©2009.
ISBN: 9781591846444
Characteristics: x, 246 pages :,illustrations ;,22 cm.

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d
dixithanoop
Sep 07, 2020

Obviously, I have seen the author's TED talk on the same topic and that was the reason I resisted picking up this book for a long time, as I thought everything I needed to know about the topic had already been said in the talk! But when I read the preface of the book casually one day, it was all about what was proposed in that smash-hit talk. That only meant that surely the book had a lot more to offer! And it did. (And if you haven't watched the talk, please give it a gander)

"Start With Why" by Simon Senek basically embodies the idea that everyone should have a purpose for everything they do, and that the purpose is typically a "higher" purpose, something that motivates in the long-term, and is not "money"! The book is teeming with analogies in support of the theory of "Golden Circle" from Apple, Harley Davidson, Southwest Airlines, Continental Airlines etc, and also has stories from many, like Dell, post Walton-era Walmart, Motorola, even Microsoft Zune etc in support of the theory from a negative angle. Very simply put, the theory of "Golden Circle", or the extended theory of "Golden Cone" states that successful companies and individuals start with "Why", then elaborate their plan in "HOW", and then give details and numbers in "What", while the mediocre and unsuccessful ones start with "What", thereby throwing numbers and data at consumers which largely goes ignored. 

While I have my own theories about this theory, there's no doubt the idea of "Golden Circle" and "starting with Why" is motivating to the core. When I was at Zynga, irrespective of what game I was working on, or what tech stack I was building, I was certainly inspired by their WHY - "Connecting the world through games". In a way, that mission kept a lot of people motivated who in turn linked their individual work to that mission. But obviously, there are exceptions to all theories, and this is no exception. Apple had a lot of failed products, iSight to name just one! If consumers were fine buying whatever Apple made, iSight would have been a blockbuster. It wasn't. Moreover, as the author says, if Apple's WHY is largely inspired by Jobs's rebellious nature, then his other ventures like Next should have been equally successful too. That's not the case. That said, I do believe in the like that's repeated a gazillion times in the book - "People don't buy what you do, people buy why you do". I'm sure we have all experienced it in our lives. 

Another aspect of the book I liked is that it has a lot of case studies, albeit explained in a not so technical manner. The case of Motorola's RAZR, Microsoft Zune, American auto industry's rebate model, the story of Japanese auto assembly line workers not having to fix their door, TAG Heuer's Golf watch story, the legendary story of Baring Bank and its rouge investor that brought it down, the TiVo and SiriusXM use-cases, Jim Sinegal's Costco model etc have been explained in a very captivating way. The most inspiring of all is the story of the ship Endurance (the one that was supposed to explore Antarctica) and its chief explorer Shackleton's landmark ad in London Times that read - "Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success."

Overall, I think the book is a very inspiring read, even if you have watched Simon Sinek's TED Talk.  

a
adamyarschenko
Apr 29, 2020

The author makes baseless conclusions which on the surface initially sound compelling. To summarize; why has any company ever failed? Because they didn't start with why. Nothing to do with market fit, execution, or the plethora of other problems which can make a business fail. Why is Apple the best company ever was, ever will be, and why is it such a shining jewel that the author can't possibly talk enough about? Because their ads don't tell you the features of their products. The end.

s
samj1234
Jul 18, 2019

Any idea when this book will be available.?

Sgordano Apr 23, 2019

I've read this book both as a part of a mentorship program and as a student. I like Sinek's voice. Of course I can't agree with everything he indicates in the text but I do agree with the ultimate line that if you don't have a "why" you're going to have a hard figuring out how to accomplish your goals. Life and work are empty when you don't have a reason or purpose to achieve.

o
ortiztuc
Apr 03, 2018

great perspective. recommend.

v
vaibhavr87
Feb 20, 2018

A complete waste of time! Mr. Sinek has collected a few interesting anecdotes and trying to force fit it to the conclusion. There is no explanation or critical examination why things work the way they do. There is also no data to support his findings. The central idea is that one needs to start with the "why". "Why" in this case is the purpose or mission which guides a person or company's actions. This is not a new concept. It has been discussed by countless people and is a standard of any marketing text. To compare a well-written text, read "Good to great" or "The Innovator's dilemma". They build their arguments painstakingly and also take great pains to find and explain examples which do not conform to their theory. This book is a lazy attempt at explaining great endeavors.

v
VIJAY VARADAN
Jan 29, 2017

tl;dr version: Avoid, watch the 18 min TED talk instead.
Full review at: https://vijay.tech/talks/review--start-with-why/

t
TheresaAJ
Sep 19, 2016

Sinek's basic premise is "if you don't why you're doing something, the how and what don't matter in the long run". Using both historical and contemporary examples, he illustrates how organizations find their why and also lose their why. Sinek also addresses the issue of how companies lose their legendary success after the founder leaves the organization. I especially liked his chapter "The Biggest Challenge is Success". Although some of his examples are a bit dated with a 2011 publication date, his basic assumptions and premises ring true.

WVMLlibrarianCathy Feb 16, 2016

A very positive book with an interesting perspective on the things that motivate people, make them happy, and feel successful in their lives. It is a more in depth look at the theory Sinek explains in his TED talk of the same name, and his website https://www.startwithwhy.com/

d
duane767
Feb 26, 2015

I actually liked his follow up book better, but the principles that are shared within are all like "a - ha" moments that the reader will face palm themselves and be thankful that Sinek has finally put into words what they always felt: that the most successful among us are the ones who know WHY.

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aquiggles
Aug 07, 2018

aquiggles thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 18 and 45

Rizsheikh Jun 14, 2017

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sk84gr8ness
Nov 06, 2020

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why. It was their natural ability to start with why that enabled them to inspire those around them and to achieve remarkable things.

In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way—and it's the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be lead, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

Any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why. WHY is not money or profit—those are always results. WHY does your organization exist? WHY does it do the things it does? WHY do customers really buy from one company or another? WHY are people loyal to some leaders, but not others?

Starting with WHY works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don't do so because they have to; they follow because they want to.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or who wants to find someone to inspire them.

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wannaspring
Feb 17, 2020

People don't buy WHAT you do,they buy WHY you do it. 

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