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

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

by Simon Sinek

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Overview

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

The inspiring, life-changing bestseller by the author of LEADERS EAT LAST and TOGETHER IS BETTER.
 
In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY — the third most popular TED video of all time.
 
Sinek starts with a fundamental question: 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 had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won't truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it. 
 
START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it's the 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 led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591846444
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/27/2011
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 444
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

SIMON SINEK, the bestselling author of LEADERS EAT LAST and TOGETHER IS BETTER, is an optimist who believes in a brighter future for humanity.  He teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people and has presented his ideas around the world, from small startups to Fortune 50 corporations, from Hollywood to Congress to the Pentagon. His TED Talk based on START WITH WHY is the third most popular TED video of all time.  Learn more about his work and how you can inspire those around you at StartWithWhy.com.

Read an Excerpt

1
ASSUME YOU KNOW
On a cold January day, a forty-three-year-old man was sworn in as the chief executive of his country. By his side stood his predecessor, a famous general who, fifteen years earlier, had commanded his nation’s armed forces in a war that resulted in the defeat of Germany. The young leader was raised in the Roman Catholic faith. He spent the next fi ve hours watching parades in his honor and stayed up celebrating until three o’clock in the morning.
You know who I’m describing, right?

It’s January 30, 1933, and I’m describing Adolf Hitler and not,
as most people would assume, John F. Kennedy.
The point is, we make assumptions. We make assumptions about the world around us based on sometimes incomplete or false information. In this case, the information I offered was incomplete.
Many of you were convinced that I was describing John F. Kennedy until I added one minor little detail: the date.

This is important because our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know. It wasn’t too long ago that the majority of people believed the world was flat. This perceived truth impacted behavior.
During this period, there was very little exploration. People feared that if they traveled too far they might fall off the edge of the earth. So for the most part they stayed put. It wasn’t until that minor detail was revealed—the world is round—that behaviors changed on a massive scale. Upon this discovery, societies began to traverse the planet. Trade routes were established; spices were traded. New ideas, like mathematics, were shared between societies which unleashed all kinds of innovations and advancements.
The correction of a simple false assumption moved the human race forward.

Now consider how organizations are formed and how decisions are made. Do we really know why some organizations succeed and why others don’t, or do we just assume? No matter your defi nition of success—hitting a target stock price, making a certain amount of money, meeting a revenue or profi t goal, getting a big promotion,
starting your own company, feeding the poor, winning public office—how we go about achieving our goals is very similar. Some of us just wing it, but most of us try to at least gather some data so we can make educated decisions. Sometimes this gathering process is formal—like conducting polls or market research. And sometimes it’s informal, like asking our friends and colleagues for advice or looking back on our own personal experience to provide some perspective. Regardless of the process or the goals, we all want to make educated decisions. More importantly, we all want to make the right decisions.

As we all know, however, not all decisions work out to be the right ones, regardless of the amount of data we collect. Sometimes the impact of those wrong decisions is minor, and sometimes it can be catastrophic. Whatever the result, we make decisions based on a perception of the world that may not, in fact, be completely accurate.
Just as so many were certain that I was describing John F.
Kennedy at the beginning of this section. You were certain you were right. You might even have bet money on it—a behavior based on an assumption. Certain, that is, until I offered that little detail of the date.

Not only bad decisions are made on false assumptions. Sometimes when things go right, we think we know why, but do we really?
That the result went the way you wanted does not mean you can repeat it over and over. I have a friend who invests some of his own money. Whenever he does well, it’s because of his brains and ability to pick the right stocks, at least according to him. But when he loses money, he always blames the market. I have no issue with either line of logic, but either his success and failure hinge upon his own prescience and blindness or they hinge upon good and bad luck. But it can’t be both.

So how can we ensure that all our decisions will yield the best results for reasons that are fully within our control? Logic dictates that more information and data are key. And that’s exactly what we do. We read books, attend conferences, listen to podcasts and ask friends and colleagues—all with the purpose of finding out more so we can figure out what to do or how to act. The problem is, we’ve all been in situations in which we have all the data and get lots of good advice but things still don’t go quite right. Or maybe the impact lasted for only a short time, or something happened that we could not foresee. A quick note to all of you who correctly guessed Adolf Hitler at the beginning of the section: the details I
gave are the same for both Hitler and John F. Kennedy, it could have been either. You have to be careful what you think you know. Assumptions,
you see, even when based on sound research, can lead us astray.

Intuitively we understand this. We understand that even with mountains of data and good advice, if things don’t go as expected,
it’s probably because we missed one, sometimes small but vital detail.
In these cases, we go back to all our sources, maybe seek out some new ones, and try to figure out what to do, and the whole process begins again. More data, however, doesn’t always help, especially if a flawed assumption set the whole process in motion in the fi rst place. There are other factors that must be considered, factors that exist outside of our rational, analytical, informationhungry brains.

There are times in which we had no data or we chose to ignore the advice or information at hand and just went with our gut and things worked out just fine, sometimes even better than expected.
This dance between gut and rational decision-making pretty much covers how we conduct business and even live our lives. We can continue to slice and dice all the options in every direction, but at the end of all the good advice and all the compelling evidence, we’re left where we started: how to explain or decide a course of action that yields a desired effect that is repeatable. How can we have 20/20
foresight?

There is a wonderful story of a group of American car executives who went to Japan to see a Japanese assembly line. At the end of the line, the doors were put on the hinges, the same as in
America. But something was missing. In the United States, a line worker would take a rubber mallet and tap the edges of the door to ensure that it fit perfectly. In Japan, that job didn’t seem to exist.
Confused, the American auto executives asked at what point they made sure the door fit perfectly. Their Japanese guide looked at them and smiled sheepishly. “We make sure it fits when we design it.” In the Japanese auto plant, they didn’t examine the problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution—they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn’t achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process.

At the end of the day, the doors on the American-made and
Japanese-made cars appeared to fit when each rolled off the assembly line. Except the Japanese didn’t need to employ someone to hammer doors, nor did they need to buy any mallets. More importantly,
the Japanese doors are likely to last longer and maybe even be more structurally sound in an accident. All this for no other reason than they ensured the pieces fit from the start.

What the American automakers did with their rubber mallets is a metaphor for how so many people and organizations lead. When faced with a result that doesn’t go according to plan, a series of perfectly effective short-term tactics are used until the desired out-
come is achieved. But how structurally sound are those solutions?
So many organizations function in a world of tangible goals and the mallets to achieve them. The ones that achieve more, the ones that get more out of fewer people and fewer resources, the ones with an outsized amount of infl uence, however, build products and companies and even recruit people that all fit based on the original intention. Even though the outcome may look the same, great leaders understand the value in the things we cannot see.

Every instruction we give, every course of action we set, every result we desire, starts with the same thing: a decision. There are those who decide to manipulate the door to fit to achieve the desired result and there are those who start from somewhere very different. Though both courses of action may yield similar shortterm results, it is what we can’t see that makes long-term success more predictable for only one. The one that understood why the doors need to fit by design and not by default.

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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
TomTex More than 1 year ago
I read at least 2-3 books a month. This was one of them. I regularly use Simon's Why, How and What to focus myself and my customers to organize and prioritize our thoughts and plans. Lots of people focus on what they do, fewer know how and the least know why. A meaningful why results in energy, focus, attracts capital and customers. Simon's examples and application ideas make this a great book.
BookClubDiva More than 1 year ago
I have definitely become a Simon Sinek evangelist. This book was insightful, well researched and inspiring. I feel like it put a whole new perspective on WHY companies do THAT they do. When I watch advertising now I say to myself “that’s manipulative” and “that aspirational” or “I understand WHY.” It has changed the way I advertise myself in social situations, my social media presence and how I conduct sales calls. As I was reading the book I kept having moments when I realized mistakes I made and how the WHY would have changed that. So I immediately implemented what I learned on my next sales call and I was astounded at the difference. The principles are not just for companies. I’ve seen my church grow three-fold in the last year and as I’m reading Simon’s book I realize it’s because they do an excellent job of communicating the WHY. I don’t think I could ever work for a company now who doesn’t clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. I’d recommend this book to everyone and have already started to buy multiples and give them out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the better "business" books I've read in a while. Yet, it is much more far reaching than a "business book." It works with the topic of a purpose driven companies and organizations in a very real and tangible way and manages to both challenge your thinking and inspire you. Definitely an easy read and worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I believe "why" is the most important queation an organization must answer. This book does a great introduction to "why" but failed to follow up with well researched examples. It is easy to point to something that failed and claim to have a better way. But there were no examples or studies of organizations successfully applying the golden circle with better results.
samuelsdaddy More than 1 year ago
This book touches on the most basic tool to success. Our reason for success. Socrates said a unexamined life is not worth living. A business that doesn't examine why they are in business will not stay in business long. Start with Why analyzes companies that have remembered "why" and helps you find yours. A must read for anyone that has lost some inspiration or are looking to create a mega phone for the future! Thank you Simon for writing this book... I'm so amped about my future megaphone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read a TON of self improvement books and numerous on the topic of the motivation and why behind taking action. This cover and title of course jumped off the shelf at me as I am always looking for different perspectives on this topic. Unfortunately, as I see another review also notes, this book is PAINFULLY repetitive. In one of the early chapters, the same examples and message are told no less than 3 times in the same chapter. And I swear the author is the biggest fanboy of Apple ever or is paid by the number of times he mentions their name. Apple is an amazing company and example of passion driven products, but literally every other chapter is about Apple. You'd think they were the only company to ever succeed at connecting with customers. By the 4th chapter (which is as far as I made it into the book), I literally said out loud, "if he mentions Apple one more time I am throwing this book across the room!" Within a page, the book was soaring across the room. Sadly this is one of the only books in the last few years I have not been able to finish and have donated to the discount book store. Stick with some of the classics from Napolean Hill, John Maxwell, or someone like Terry Savelle Foy if you want to explore this topic and not be frustrated with redundancy, Apple fandom, and words to fill space.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read a TON of self improvement books and numerous on the topic of the motivation and why behind taking action. This cover and title of course jumped off the shelf at me as I am always looking for different perspectives on this topic. Unfortunately, as I see another review also notes, this book is PAINFULLY repetitive. In one of the early chapters, the same examples and message are told no less than 3 times in the same chapter. And I swear the author is the biggest fanboy of Apple ever or is paid by the number of times he mentions their name. Apple is an amazing company and example of passion driven products, but literally every other chapter is about Apple. You'd think they were the only company to ever succeed at connecting with customers. By the 4th chapter (which is as far as I made it into the book), I literally said out loud, "if he mentions Apple one more time I am throwing this book across the room!" Within a page, the book was soaring across the room. Sadly this is one of the only books in the last few years I have not been able to finish and have donated to the discount book store. Stick with some of the classics from Napolean Hill, John Maxwell, or someone like Terry Savelle Foy if you want to explore this topic and not be frustrated with redundancy, Apple fandom, and words to fill space.
ACP More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by my employer. I enjoyed the thought process and examples demonstrated in the book. There was some repetition of the information meaning the book could have been shorter. However, the concept of finding your Why and leading from that place is a good one. More companies need to find their Why or risk desentigrating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the first books I read as a business owner and it is phenomenal. It truly casts a vision for understanding the success or failure in any business or even in your every day life. I highly recommend this to anyone looking to cast a vision in any area of their life. I've seen many businesses fall under after having forgot why they initially began because they got lost in how to make money and what their results were. You will find many negative comments about anything on the internet, however I encourage you to think for yourself. When you buy someone's advice, you buy their lifestyle. As for myself, this is one of the books I plan to read once a year for the rest of my life.
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This was a gift for my son who thinks way too much about everything he does, so it was perfect.
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