Book Review: Start with Why


People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” Simon Sinek, Start With Why

I haven’t had the chance to read as much as I normally do since my very active 2 year old son isn’t much into entertaining himself while Mommy reads…and I love that about him!  Several weeks ago, a friend recommended Simon Sinek’s Start with Why.  The goal of this book is to focus more on WHY than on WHAT or HOW.  WHAT and HOW will consume you if you let them.  But…WHAT and HOW really don’t matter if you don’t have a clear handle on WHY.  This book is not a Christian book, but there are tons of implications for anyone that belongs to Christ and is charged with sharing the gospel.  I can’t think of a clearer WHY than the gospel itself.

This is a great read while reflecting over the past year and planning for the year ahead.  I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • Unlike any of their competitors, Apple has successfully challenged conventional thinking within the computer industry, the small electronics industry, the music industry, the mobile phone industry, and the broader entertainment industry.  And the reason is simple.  Apple inspires.  Apple starts with why.
  • The ability to attract so many people from across the country, of all colors and races, to join together on the right day, at the right time, took something special.  Though others knew what had to change in America to bring civil rights for all, it was Martin Luther King who was able to inspire a country to change not just for the good of a minority, but for the good of everyone.  Martin Luther King started with why.
  • People who love going to work are more productive and more creative.  They go home happier and have happier families.  They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better.  Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.
  • We make assumptions about the world around us base on sometimes incomplete or false information.
  • This is important because our behavior is affected by our assumptions or perceived truths.
  • Even though the outcome may look the same, great leaders understand the value in the things we cannot see.
  • Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do.  Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do.  Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do.
  • When an organization defines itself by WHAT it does, that’s all it will ever be able to do.
  • If a customer feels inspired to buy a product, rather than manipulated, they will be able to verbalize the reasons why they think what they bought is better.  Good quality and features matter, but they are not enough to produce the dogged loyalty that all the most inspiring leaders and companies are able to command.  It is the cause that is represented by the company, brand, product or person that inspires loyalty.
  • 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?
  • The goal of business should not be to do business with anyone who simply wants what you have.  It should be to focus on the people who believe what you believe.  When we are selective about doing business only with those who believe in our WHY, trust emerges.
  • Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain.
  • Average companies give their people something to work on.  In contrast, the most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.
  • A clear sense of WHY sets expectations.
  • People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
  • With a WHY clearly stated in an organization, anyone within the organization can make a decision as clearly and as accurately as the founder.  A WHY provides the clear filter for decision-making.
  • All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.


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