Simon Sinek, author of best selling business books, “Better Together” and “Leaders Eat Last” shares a simple way leaders can inspire others. His approach has inspired businesses, thought leaders and activists around the world to motivate others to be more innovative, more productive and more engaged. “Start With Why” follows influential leaders throughout history who motivated others to rally behind them, innovate better products and create movements of their own, by starting with why.
My key Takeaways from “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek
Takeaway #1: Find Your Why and Find Fulfilment
If you laugh at the idea of loving your work, it's because you haven't found work that excites you, motivates you, or that you believe in; you haven't found your why. Money is not enough. Maybe you're an employer and you're not seeing the passion that you feel reflected in your workers or you've been in business for a number of years and have lost that spark – Everything leads back to knowing the Why.
Takeaway #2: Understand Your Golden Circle
Based upon the Golden Ratio, the Golden Circle is made up of 3 concentric circles with Why in the center, How in the next circle, and What in the outermost circle. In business, the 'What' is self-explanatory, detailing what products or services are offered. How describes how the What is achieved and the Why describes the mission or goal of the business or organization. Most businesses don't have a clear understanding of the why or have lost sight of the reason over the years. Making a profit is not the Why but is a result of What and How. Know the reason Why and you can inspire and lead others more effectively.
Takeaway #3: Motivate, Don't Manipulate
If employers start every decision-making process by understanding and sharing the Why, they will see success. Most employers try to motivate their employees to take action either by offering incentives or dishing out threats. But good employers use a different tactic, they inspire their workers to take action. An inspired worker goes the extra mile without the need to be prompted because they know what they're working towards, they know the company's why and therefore they understand their own why; they feel excited to do their best work as part of a team. The same is true of customers, you can't manipulate them into buying with the promise of discounts (not if you want long term loyal followers anyway) instead, you must motivate them by getting them onboard with your why.
Key Lessons from Start with Why
- People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
- Successful leaders identify their purpose, vision, or cause first. They follow the “Golden Circle” formula which starts with working out their “Why” followed by the “How” and “What”—not the other way around.
- The “Why” comes from your core purpose and mission; it’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning.
- The “How” is what makes you, your products or services different and desirable.
- The “What” defines the day-to-day aspects of your life and business
- Great leaders...
- follow their intuition and inner voice and identify gaps in the market before customers realize they’re missing out on something.
- create strong cultures in which everyone works toward the same mission.
- create space for innovation and an environment where inspired work can happen.
- persist through failure and hard work.
- are less concerned with the competition. They compete against themselves.
- build trust all around them.
- Humans want to belong. When you engage with your ideal audience, those who share your cause and core beliefs, they will share your goal with others, allowing your mission to manifest itself.
- “Tipping points” happen when a mass of early adopters, innovators, and enough influencers unite to support a WHY. This can be consciously designed.
Start with Why Chapters
- Chapter One: Assume You Know
- Chapter Two: Carrots and Sticks
- Chapter Three - The Golden Circle
- Chapter Four - This Is Not Opinion, This Is Biology
- Chapter Five - Clarity, Discipline and Consistency
- Chapter Six - The Emergence of Trust
- Chapter Seven - How a Tipping Point Tips
- Chapter Eight - Start with WHY, but Know HOW
- Chapter Nine - Know WHY. Know HOW. Then WHAT?
- Chapter Ten - Communication Is Not About Speaking, It’s About Listening
- Chapter Eleven - When WHY Goes Fuzzy
- Chapter Twelve - Split Happens
- Chapter Thirteen - The Origins of a WHY
- Chapter Fourteen - The New Competition
Best Quotes from Start with Why
"Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it... Henry Ford summed it up best. “If I had asked people what they wanted,” he said, “they would have said a faster horse"."
"When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you."
"People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe"
"There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it."
"Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order."
"Leading means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to."
"You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills."
"Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them."
"All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year."
"The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen."
"Some in management positions operate as if they are in a tree of monkeys. They make sure that everyone at the top of the tree looking down sees only smiles. But all too often, those at the bottom looking up see only asses."
"Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion."
"People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left."
"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."
"Great leaders and great organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we would never think of asking for."
"Passion alone can't cut it. For passion to survive it needs structure. A why without how has little probability of success."
"Innovation is not born from the dream, innovation is born from the struggle."
"Our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know."
"Instead of asking, “WHAT should we do to compete?” the questions must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?"
"Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY."
"If the leader of the organization can’t clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?"
"When we tell people to do their jobs, we get workers. When we trust people to get the job done, we get leaders."
― Simon Sinek, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.