In our “why” generation, we’re always asking why things are the way they are. Bosses and CEOs attempt to find answers to an increasingly eager audience to find meaning at work. Simon Sinek authored Start With Why, and he is one of the leading leadership minds of our time. He turns traditional leadership upside-down and promotes a better kind of leadership strategy.
Start with why promotes this idea. Sinek suggests that it’s not enough to delegate tasks to the workers while leaders sit tight at the top to reap all the benefits. Instead, each person can find purpose in what they do and why they’re doing it. I’ll give a synopsis of the book, then give my opinions both positive and negative.
Communicate your “why” upfront
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” Sinek repeats this phrase often in his book, which happens to be the foundation in business. He referred to big thinkers like Apple and how they have used their “why” to grow their business. Apple knows that emotions overwhelm rational thinking, which allows them to demonstrate why they do what they do.
Sinek’s explanation goes talks about Apple leading technology because they believe in the products they sell. They’ll even put a big Apple logo on their computer facing right-side-up when the laptop is open. It shows everyone that the user is a free-thinker, an innovator, and a proud owner of an Apple product.
Apple’s why centers around innovation and creativity. People buy into that. Sinek further talks about this idea in this book, where he compares why-centered Apple to other revenue-centered companies like Dell.
Motivated employees are the heart of great businesses
The second section talks about employees. Most companies will look for people with the right credentials, who graduate from the best schools with the best GPAs, and for people who’ll make the company money. Instead, Sinek argues that it’s better to hire motivated people who’ll create a collaborative culture. It’s these people that’ll do well for a company.
They’re ‘why’ is what drives these ambitious people. Why do you get up and go to work every day? What’s your purpose for your job? Sinek gives an excellent example with three men building a wall. You can approach the wall by saying you’re just laying bricks, or you’re just collecting a paycheck, or you’re making the future. Employee motivation goes a long way when it comes to attitude, and Sinek brings that out here.
Tricky sales tactics go out the window when you start with why
Have you been duped by a salesman, or felt like you were being pushed into a sale? That’s what Sinek talks about when people don’t have a useful purpose for their work. People will rely on cheesy sales tactics or mistreat customers to reach numbers.
Sinek talks about “the golden circle”, which is the protection that employees feel when they can operate under their “why” without repercussion. People who work in sales positions resort to sales tactics because they’re not within a golden circle. This concept is recurring throughout the book, and he proves the point with several excellent examples. He compared Wal-Mart, Dell, and Apple and how they used their ‘whys’ (or lack thereof) to reach their customer bases.
Things I liked
I had a general feeling of relief while reading this book. I felt like I had a start point in how I can motivate myself and help my teams better. My problem at work has been disinterest in some tasks I do. However, Start With Why bridged that gap for me, and now I know why I’m working on menial tasks. Work isn’t burdensome anymore for me.
I enjoyed Sinek’s friendly tone throughout the book. He has a knack for calming and reassuring his audience with each page. It doesn’t matter if you read or listen to the book; the tone is always the same. I felt like I should keep listening to what he had to say.
It was easy to apply the concepts found in this book to work. A lot of leadership books talk about when someone is in leadership. Instead, you can use the ideas here immediately, whether you’re at the bottom or top of an organization. It benefits everyone in the process, and it helps put the working world in perspective.
I appreciated his tie-in with the chemicals in our brains. He talked a lot about dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin as the basis for why we do things. It helped me relate to why we humans work the ways that we do.
The thing I didn’t like
I say “thing” because there was only one thing I didn’t like. Sinek overused Apple as an example in his book. I felt like other companies also demonstrated this sense of why that Sinek could have also highlighted. Granted, Apple is a fantastic example of innovation and using its ‘why.’ But is there another company that does the same?
I wish he referred more to start-ups and how their whys motivated them to get to where they are. I felt like that could have hit home more, especially with a younger audience. Regardless, Apple is still a fantastic company, and no one can take that away. It was a little much for me.
Leaders Eat Last is one of my favorite books on leadership. It taught me how to find purpose in my work life, which has dramatically enhanced my ability to perform at work. Again, no matter where you are in your organization, the ideas and concepts Sinek discusses here will help you get where you need to be. You just need to apply them.
My rating: 9/10. Give this book a read/listen. You won’t regret it. You can buy Start With Why by Simon Sinek here.
Have you read this book? What do you think are the best parts of the book? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.