One Book A Day

Start with Why by Simon Sinek: Summary and Notes 

One sentence summary: Russel Brunson’s Start with Why is the ultimate guide to being a true difference-maker. Simon presents a predictable process that anyone can follow to live a life of great impact.

One Paragraph summary: In Start With Why, Simon Sinek examines individuals and organizations that have made a lasting impact and shares their secret to authentic and long-lasting success. The secret lies in starting any movement or project with a good understanding of why you are doing what you are doing. Simon’s many examples show why that matters above everything else.

Favorite quote from the author:

“There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.”

Simon Simek has written many books, such as Find Your Why and Leaders Eat Last, and although I loved both books, Start With Why is my favorite. In the book, Simon sends a message that struck a chord with me, and I’m sure you guys will agree. He says that it doesn't matter how motivated you are; what counts in the long run is having a reason that keeps you going. Motivation comes and goes, but reasons tend to stick.

That and the countless examples he offers make the book outstanding, but I’m here to share more than that with you guys, so here we go.

Main takeaways from Start With Why by Simon Simek

Here are some of the lessons that resonated with me the most from Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Action

  1. We make assumptions based on what we think we know

  2. Follow The Golden Circle: Why, How, and What

  3. A Leader Needs a Following

  4. Energy Motivates, Charisma Inspires

  5. One WHY can manifest into different Whats

Lesson 1: We make assumptions based on what we think we know

According to Simon, it is possible to make wrong decisions after collecting lots of data. It is also possible to make the right decision without necessarily knowing how we arrived at the decision. The point is, plenty of data and good advice don’t always lead to getting it right all the time.

Significant decisions are made by design and not by default. Great decisions result from foreseeing the future and taking action in the present that supports the vision rather than re-shaping the present outcome.

Simon finds it fascinating that many businesses don’t know why their customers are their customers. He suspects that such businesses also don’t know why their employees are their employees. Because of a lack of knowledge of the ‘WHY’, such companies cannot know what patterns to repeat to gain positive results.

“There are either two ways to influence human behavior: you can either manipulate it or inspire it.”

Different ways that manipulation occurs in sales and marketing are: dropping prices, running promotions and use of fear, aspirational messages, and peer pressure. These decisions may cause a temporary buzz, but they don’t prove to be consistently profitable.

Excellent quote:

“Peer pressure works not because the majority of the experts are right, but because we fear that we may be wrong.”

Manipulation in its various forms can cause short term gains, but never breeds loyalty.

“There is a big difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or better price to continue doing business with you.”

Businesses should strive to earn the loyalty of their customers by aligning their goals and objectives with something they can believe in. A great WHY is what drives someone like Elon Musk — his goal is to make humans a multi-planetary species. That’s his WHY and most people think its amazing.

Lesson 2: Follow The Golden Circle: Why, How, and What

A vast majority of individuals or organizations know what they are doing, and some know how to do it. However, very few know why they do what they do. Many live from the outside in, but the inspired live from the inside out: guided by their why and not their what. People who are inspired by their why have clear causes that have nothing to do with their what or how.

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

When you communicate from a place of starting with what, you can arouse audiences logically, but you will not necessarily inspire the emotional investment it takes for the audience to respond to your message by taking action. Decisions made from the limbic brain, the part of the brain that is limited in language but rich in connection with our feelings, are usually the best decisions because they connect with our why.

Decisions are harder to make when you don’t start with why. Starting with the what instead causes overthinking and may lead to making the wrong decisions in the end.

“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.”

When articulating the how, do so in verb form. The how is best expressed in action phrases. The WHY is your belief, the HOW is the action that is taken to actualize the WHY, and the WHAT is the result. Every aspect of the actualization process should reflect the core intention to ensure authenticity in the results.

A lack of a clear understanding of the why makes authenticity impossible.

Lesson 3: A Leader Needs a Following

Simon says great leaders understand the power of inspiring trust in their followers. Very few leaders understand that trust is a feeling. Employers inspire trust among employees by making their organization a conducive work environment that the employees enjoy. Leaders also need to ensure that they always have the best interests of their followers at heart.

The concept of trust helps groups of people achieve inspired goals together. Those who lead usually make their followers feel like they are an essential part of making the collective achievement possible, making them feel important and motivated to do more.

The WHY attracts people that believe in the WHY. Therefore, hiring someone who believes what you believe is more important than hiring someone with good skill sets. Creating ads that start with WHY attract employees connected to the WHY, becoming a perfect fit.

When you don’t have a clear WHY, it is easy for you to fall prey to what people have to say about you.

“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.”

Lesson 4: Energy Motivates, Charisma Inspires

Energy can be imitated, and imitation can cause manipulation, which leads to temporary behavior change. Charisma is a unique quality that is a by-product of having a clear WHY. Charisma manifests itself when one chooses a career path that is aligned to his WHY as opposed to a path that only looks like a proper what.

“My cause--to inspire people to do the things that inspire them--is WHY I get out of bed everyday. The excitement is trying to find new ways, different WHATs to bring my cause to life, which this book is one.”

Starting with WHY is about taking action steps that are aligned to a proper WHY. Following this sequence brings repeated success.

Lesson 5: One Why can manifest into different Whats

As emphasized severally in the book, one strong WHY is enough to inspire many different creative ways of making a difference in one’s industry or even in different industries. An inspired leader can formulate many plans to make a difference. All these plans start with the same WHY, then creatively branch out into different actions to take to make the cause come to life.

Excellent quote:

“When a company is small, it revolves around the founder’s personality. As the company grows, the CEO’s job is to personify the WHY. To ooze it. To talk about it. To preach it. To be a symbol of what the company believes.They are the intention. and WHAT the company says and does is their voice.”

Wrap Up

In a nutshell, Simon has qualified the importance of inspired leadership. He argues that inspiration is an experience that originates from individuals and members of organizations having strong and clear why's that drive their whats. Starting with the what or even overly focusing on the how without an aligned WHY causes manipulation that only brings temporary results. Any moves made where people begin with their WHY often lead to taking well aligned actions and even attracting people that have the same core beliefs. This creates a powerful inspired movement that drives lasting change in the world.

Who Would I recommend the Book To?

I recommend this book to anyone that desires to attract people that ‘get them’ professionally and socially.


Rate this book!

This book has an average rating of 5 based on 2 votes.