Start With Why

By: Simon Sinek - Read: July 28, 2023 - Rating: 5/10

The core concept of this book is important, but it could've been better explained in a 5 page blog post than in this 300 page book.

The idea that you should start with the "why" of your business before doing anything else is valuable.

Unfortunately, the book spends hundreds of pages explaining to you why "starting with why" is the correct approach with the same examples.

Instead, I wanted to see more explanation about how to actually start with why. The book also missed out on how relevant it's philosophy is to personal decisions.

My Notes

“Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired.”

Inspiration is not about incentivizing people, but about motivating them to act because they care.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”

“Manipulations are a perfectly valid strategy for driving a transaction, or for any behavior that is only required once or on rare occasions.”

“The reality is, in today’s world, manipulations are the norm.”

There are three levels of certainty in decision making:

  1. I think it’s the right decision
  2. I feel it’s the right decision
  3. I know it’s the right decision

You want your customers to be in the 3rd category as much as possible.

Shackleton was looking for people that belonged on his expedition.

This was his ad in the local newspaper:

“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.”

“For every great leader, for every WHY-type, there is an inspired HOW-type or group of HOW-types who take the intangible cause and build the infrastructure that can give it life. That infrastructure is what actually makes any measurable change or success possible.”

Interesting making a distinction between the why and how types as if they’re mutually exclusive. Elon Musk is an example of someone who is a why and a how - and no one could do what he’s doing without being both.

“Give the people something to believe in”

“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not.”

“If companies do not actively work to keep their Golden Circle in balance—clarity, discipline and consistency—then trust starts to break down. A company, indeed any organization, must work actively to remind everyone WHY the company exists. WHY it was founded in the first place. What it believes. They need to hold everyone in the company accountable to the values and guiding principles. It’s not enough to just write them on the wall—that’s passive. Bonuses and incentives must revolve around them. The company must serve those whom they wish to serve it.”

Unlocking this motivation for everyone in the company is the biggest productivity increase over anything else. The level people are capable of operating at when they’re at maximum motivation is far higher than anything else.

“Passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.”

Passion for your work, and genuinely loving your career comes from alignment between your personal why and the why of your company, or alignment between what you believe is important and what the company believes is important/what it wants to create. This is how you unlock the maximum motivation for everyone in the company.

“Our population is broken into five segments that fall across a bell curve: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.”

“The early majority, indeed the entire majority, need the recommendation of someone else who has already sampled the product or service. They need to know someone else has tested it. They need that trusted, personal recommendation.”

This is why you can’t try to target the middle market first. You have to start with the early adopters to prove yourself. That way most people can look at their recommendations to verify that your product is good.

“With a WHY clearly stated in an organization, anyone within the organization can make a decision as clearly and as accurately as the founder. A WHY provides the clear filter for decision-making.”

People who are motivated by a purpose rather than by attaining something for themselves (like a level of wealth, status, etc.) are the ones that bring about the greatest change.

“What gets measure gets done”

“Successful succession is more than selecting someone with an appropriate skill set—it’s about finding someone who is in lockstep with the original cause around which the company was founded.”