on 4 July 2010
I saw the ted-talk by Simon Sinek and wanted to read more about his ideas. This book is easy to read and gives some interesting insights on how to communicate.
I have tested it at work and it works. I gave a talk at a conference recently and people congratulated me on the clarity of my presentation. Really, what I did was to start with why.
More interesting to me, I think that this book provided the secret of how one specific person I know (a genious in communication) actually behaves when he enters the stage.
on 14 May 2014
I bought this book after reading so many positive reviews about the author's TED talk and reviews of this book by others. I'm afraid I was rather disappointed with it.
Starting with why is a brilliant idea - tell people why you're doing something, before you tell them what you're doing or how you're going to do it. Get people to buy into the ethos behind something or some company. The concept is quite simple, and the initial chapters of the book use examples of companies (including Apple) to make that point very effectively.
The issue I had was that that point was then reiterated, but in slightly different ways, in later chapters.
I was hoping that I'd get more from this book than I did.
on 18 October 2012
I bought this after a blog I follow linked to his TED talks which were both interesting, well delivered and inspiring. So if you haven't seen them, go there first.
I think Simon has a good message, but unfortuantely it feels like a broken record as he retreads the same examples in the TED talks as the book. So it's probably easier and cheaper to go there first.
The cynical part of me also can't help but wonder whether he's rehashing Stephen Covey's second habit (of Successful People)- begin with the end in mind.
THere are some good provocations to identify emotional motivations for a given enterprise, but it never felt like he helped the reader better gain insight into what their own mtivations might be...
The central idea of the book is that it is vision, emotion, and being true to values that creates outstanding leadership and sustainable success, rather than targets, products and marketing. The idea is powerful and true, but hardly new. However, it is remarkable how many leaders and organisations lose their way, forgetting the emotional connections which built their early success or the success of others.
In this respect the book is excellent. Disappointingly though the idea is repeated throughout the book, over and over - and at times I found myself thinking ' I get it, I get it- please tell me something else!' I found some of the examples didn't ring true for me - not all of the organisations seemed to be authentic examples. For example Sinek makes heavy use of Apple as an organisation which has become very successful because customers buy into their rebel image - and in buying Apple products are identifying with that image. I am writing this on an Apple laptop, and in a few minutes will make a call on my I Phone - but i have both of these because they are superb products which are great to use, and i had no idea of the rebel image. So the example didn't work for me
Nonetheless, an important message for leaders who wish to transform their organisations and their surroundings - its done by emotional connection.
I agree with Simon Sinek that individuals as well as organizations must have a crystal clear sense of purpose or it will be very difficult (if not impossible) for them to decide what to do and how to do it. If they have the right purpose, it will guide and inform their decisions and, meanwhile, inspire and then sustain their efforts. Sinek suggests that the Golden Circle "helps us to understand why we do what we do. [It] provides compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve if we remind ourselves to start everything we do by asking why." In brief, here is Sinek's outside-in explanation:
"Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do...Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within that system. WHATs are easy to identify."
"Some companies and people know HIW they do WHAT they do...Not as obvious as WHATs, many think these are the differentiating or motivating factors in a decision. It would be false to assume that's all that's required. There is one missing detail."
"Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do...By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?"
Brief digression: Whenever I meet with a new client's marketing team, I go around the table and ask each person to answer three simple questions. One after another around the table, they have no problem answering the "first two: "Who are you?" and "What do you do?" So far, so good. Then I ask the third question and the subsequent silence is deafening: "Why should I care?" Eventually, one brave soul finally responds, citing and praising functions, features, benefits, etc. Without the right WHY, a company's customers won't care. Worst yet, without the right WHY, a company's employees won't care.
Credit Sinek with a thorough coverage and brilliant analysis of issues inherent to statements such as these:
* "People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it."
* "Those whom we consider great leaders all have an ability to draw us close and to command our loyalty. And we feel a strong bond with those who are also drawn to the same leaders and organizations."
* "A WHY is just a belief. That's all it is. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions - everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, PR, culture, and whom you hire."
* " You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do. Again, a WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived."
* "Charisma has nothing to do with energy; it comes from a clarity of WHY. It comes from absolute conviction in an ideal bigger than oneself. Energy, in contrast, comes from a good night's sleep or lots of caffeine. Energy can excite. But only charisma can inspire. Charisma commands loyalty. Energy does not"
* "What companies say and do matters. A lot. It is at the WHAT level that a cause is brought to life. It is at this level that a company speaks to the world and it is then that we can learn what the company believes."
I hope that these brief, representative excerpts from Sinek's narrative suggest the thrust and flavor of his thinking. Here in a single volume is just about all that any business leader needs to determine precisely what her or his organization's WHY is...or should be. Sinek also provides a wealth of information, insights, and recommendations as the alignment and coordination of the organization's WHAT and HOW with its WHY.
Without the right WHY, even great leaders cannot inspire everyone in the given organization to take action. Only with the right WHY can an organization develop great leadership at all levels and in all areas of its operation.
on 15 August 2010
You can inspire people when you focus on the reason why. You won't manage it by focusing on how you do things or what you are doing. That is the idea driving Simon Sinek and it is compelling. He cites Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and others who inspire followers because they are at the least able to articulate a belief. After all, how can we expect people to share our conviction if we cannot articulate it? Beyond messages, proof points and sound bite Sinek goes to the heart of the belief and trust we place in people and organisations.
"Start With Why Offers a simple and pragmatic approach to great leadership. Each story will force you to see things from an entirely different perspective. A perspective that is nothing short of the truth." Mokhtar Lamani, former ambassador, special envoy to Iraq and ambassador, permanent observer to the UN