Start with why (book review)

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Simon Sinek
Portfolio / Penguin, 2009

Some time ago, I presented you a TED Talk of the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek. Today, I'll review his book called Start with Why

Why review particulary this book about leadership as there are many of them? What makes this one different? Well, this publication won't teach you how to become a leader within a month or so. You won't either learn any tips or tricks. But what will it tell you instead?

This book is all about passion and intrinsic motivation. Sinek begins to  tell about planes. Samuel Pierpont Langley started the development of a plane in the early 1900's. He gathered a considerable budget and some highly educated people around him.

However, he was "beaten" by Orville and Wilbur Wright who created their aircraft in a bicycleshop along with some other people. Not a single one had an advanced degree or even a college education.

Why did they succeed? Because it was their passion to fly. The Wright brothers were able to inspire those around them and truly lead their team to develop the technology. In short, they started with WHY.

Subsequently the author explains his Golden Cicle which consists of three parts: WHAT, HOW and WHY.

Picture: Wikipedia

  • WHAT: Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do.
  • HOW: Some companies and people even know HOW they do WHAT they do. HOW's are often given to explain how something is different or better, for instance an unique selling point.
  • WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. Not making money—that’s a result. By WHY Sinek means 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?
Furthermore Sinek tells his readers how great leaders inspire their followers which can be employees, customers, voters, etc. He explains WHAT to do and HOW. Just kidding. ;-) He talks about communication, which by the way is all about listening; not speaking.

I like Start with Why because of it's message. No X steps to success or something like that. Sinek explains the difference between focussing on WHAT or even HOW and WHY and the consequences thereof.

In the first situation a regular product, service or message ("me too") is created. People need to be manipulated to buy it. So a marketing campaign is launched.

In the second a (slightly) different item is developed. Manipulation is still necessary. The focus will now be on the product's features. "Great gas mileage", "X GB disc space".

In the latter the status quo - or even the world - will be changed. People get intrinsically motivated. Which will last, do you think?

Keep on reading!