START WITH WHY

Simon Sinek

The one-sentence summary

It doesn’t so much matter what you do in business – it matters why you do it.

WHAT THE BOOK SAYS

  • Great leaders can inspire everyone to take action when they start with why.
  • Businesses typically use a range of carrots and sticks to manipulate customers: price, promotions, using fear, peer pressure or aspiration, and promising innovation, which is often simply a euphemism for novelty.
  • He introduces the Golden Circle, with why in the middle, then how, then what on the outside.
  • The sequence is important because it’s the reverse of what happens in most companies, who can easily say what they do, and sometimes how, but rarely why they do it.
  • This sequence mirrors how the brain works – with the limbic brain in the centre responsible for our feelings (why), and the neocortex performing rational functions (what).
  • Companies need clarity, discipline and consistency to stick to their ‘why’, and this becomes their true authenticity, unlike other companies who hilariously ask their customers how they can ‘be more authentic’.

ELEMENTS OF THE BOOK I PARTICULARLY LIKE

  • When you are motivated by why, success just happens because people who believe what you believe find you and trust you. Give the people something to believe in and they will come.
  • Energy excites and charisma inspires. This source of inspiration needs to be amplified by employees.
  • The why is the thing that is present in most start-ups, and is the first thing to veer off when a company proves to be a success.
  • Good successions can keep the why alive, but when it dies, the what is all that people have left. This is where things usually go wrong.
  • Why is the most difficult thing to articulate because the part of the brain that controls it doesn’t control language.

WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH

It’s well written and is a global best seller, but his TED talk on the same theme is arguably more inspiring.