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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

by Simon Sinek

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,961386,471 (3.76)7
..."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..."--Jacket.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I liked the book, loved the ideas put forward in it, but couldn't finish the book. It stretched a bit more than it should have. ( )
  abhijeetkumar | Aug 22, 2021 |
One of the top recommendations by Aaron Skonnard, I knew I had to read this one. The premise is that great leaders lead by asking why to get to the bottom of something. I hadn't realized it before, but I'd already seen Simon Sineks TED talk. His talk focuses around working from the outside in, asking questions more tied to emotion than to superficial results. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
There are no genuine new ideas in this managerial self-help screed. Rigorous adherence to advertising principles of repetition makes the book a chore to read, no matter how engaging some of the individual anecdotes might be. The main theses are more concisely expressed in the TED Talk version, where author Simon Sinek nevertheless comes off almost as a parody of a motivational speaker.

While Thelemic doctrine uses "Why" to indicate rationalization, Sinek wants to use it to mean purpose, aim, or will. Alas, often enough in his various case studies of corporate business CEO heroism, he accepts the self-serving rationalizations of such figures as their genuine aims. For example, he praises Bill Gates as embracing "a higher cause" summarized as "A PC in every home and on every desk" (194)--as if Gates were interested in empowering people with personal computers, as opposed to seeking 100% market share for MS-DOS and Windows by means of the notorious anti-competitive strategies that distinguished Microsoft among its rivals. Sinek also adulates Sam Walton as a salt-of-the-earth type who "talked about building stores in rural communities so that the backbone of America's workforce didn't have to travel to the urban centers," which is rich. Walmart's willingness to set up shop in small towns, drain off the local economies, pull up stakes and move on is cast as a virtuous service to consumers.

Sinek's "Golden Circle" is a model that he asserts is bolstered by neurobiological findings, but there's little consequence to that justification, which is largely rhetorical. It does attempt to integrate the fact that effective decision-making can be pre-verbal and non-rational. In light of models and nomenclature I prefer, I found his WHY-HOW-WHAT anatomy opaque and muddled. For my purposes, the three-part formula would be better expressed as Will-Work-Result (cf. CCXX I:44) . But I did think that the corresponding sequence of clarity-discipline-consistency was well formulated.

Near the end of the book, Sinek supplies a conversion account, in which he was saved by the power of "WHY," brought through an entrepreneurial dark night of the soul to behold the power of the Golden Circle. This evangelical narrative helps to demonstrate his motive for identifying "WHY" with "belief," which is again at odds with the ways in which I constellate these symbols or the ways in which I would seek to help others use them.

"If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness." (CCXX II:30-31)
3 vote paradoxosalpha | Apr 30, 2021 |
Most people engage the world passionately through labor of some kind, only to lose their sense of purpose with time. Work becomes repetitive, and new outlets become sparse. In this book, Sinek suggests that great leaders continually re-engage with why they are doing what they do. They articulate their vision and systematize their effects in organization. By scaling their purpose, the best leaders inspire others to amplify their purpose for positive (and measurable) outcomes.

Now, Sinek freely admits that not everyone is a “why” person. There are also “how” people. Often, the why and how people pair together with one defining a vision and another implementing that vision into action. However, to borrow from spiritual language, the why person represents the soul of the organization, without which the group flounders. As the endeavor expands, the why person has to use words and structure to scale their vision for wider effects. Few actually have the skill to see these ventures through from beginning to end. Those that do achieve greatness.

To illustrate and argue for his points, Sinek borrows from a wide berth of figures and businesses. Apple, Microsoft, Walmart, Dr. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and other popular entities are referenced throughout this work. He even mentions the hardships that people face in losing their sense of why as they are overcome by a relentless what. The what and they why predictably “split” as the vision slowly dies out. Towards the end of the book, he ties these concepts to his personal story of struggle and success.

This book has obvious appeal to business and management types. However, the leaders of other organizations – like religious organizations, non-profits, or even educators – can benefit from a quick sprucing up on their leadership skills. Sinek provides clear words, cogent examples, and organizational structures for others to codify their inspiration into. It helps those active in hard work to remember why they are doing the what they do. ( )
  scottjpearson | Apr 11, 2021 |
The concept of the book is a good idea - if you know why you are doing something, eg running a business, helping people, politics, you will have an easier time convincing others who believe in the same why that your cause is good, and you will have a better chance of succeeding, as you will ground how you do things in that why and then the what you do is a direct consequence.
However, I found the book repetitive, and the stories to illustrate the point simplistic, creating illusions of coherent narratives based on a handful of elements that did not convince me for the most part.
I would suggest that you watch his TED talks to get the message Sinek wants to convey. ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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For Victoria, who finds good ideas and makes them great
There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves. This is a book for those who want to inspire others and for those who want to find someone to inspire them.
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..."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..."--Jacket.

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