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

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Why do you do what you do?

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 might have little in common, but they all started with why. It was their natural ability to start with why that enabled them to inspire those around them and to achieve remarkable things.

In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way—and it's the complete 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 lead, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

Any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why. WHY is not money or profit—those are always results. WHY does your organization exist? WHY does it do the things it does? WHY do customers really buy from one company or another? WHY are people loyal to some leaders, but not others?

Starting with WHY works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don't do so because they have to; they follow because they want to.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or who wants to find someone to inspire them.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published October 29, 2009

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About the author

Simon Sinek

89 books9,804 followers
Simon Sinek is an optimist. He believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together.

Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. With a bold goal to help build a world in which the vast majority of people go home everyday feeling fulfilled by their work, Sinek is leading a movement to inspire people to do the things that inspire them.

Sinek’s unconventional and innovative views on business and leadership have attracted international attention and have earned him invitations to meet with an array of leaders and organizations, including: Microsoft, MARS, SAP, Intel, 3M, the United States Military, members of the United States Congress, multiple government agencies and entrepreneurs. Sinek has also had the honor of presenting his ideas to the Ambassadors of Bahrain and Iraq, at the United Nations and to the senior leadership of the United States Air Force.

Sinek is an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world. He is also active in the arts and not-for-profit world, working with Education for Employment Foundation to help create opportunities for young men and women in the Middle East region. When not in hotels, he lives in New York, where he teaches graduate level strategic communications at Columbia University.

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5 stars
92,553 (44%)
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3 stars
34,118 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,553 reviews
Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,797 followers
March 26, 2020
Me: “I’ll take ‘Books That Should Have Been Long Articles Instead of Books’ for $500, please, Alex.”

Alex Trebek: “This book takes hundreds of pages, including at least 4,398 references to how great Apple is, to make a fairly simple (albeit important) point, and was likely written by someone from the Department of Redundancy Department.”

Me: “What is ‘Start With Why’?”

The idea at the core of this book—that successful companies can clearly articulate WHY they are in business (beyond making profit) rather than just being able to describe WHAT they do and HOW they do it—is a compelling one. It’s helped me think about how my team operates in the context of our firm, and how our firm defines its own value proposition.

But, I don’t think I needed 250+ pages to get me to that point. 25 probably would have been sufficient.

Contrary to popular belief, my time is valuable, people. It’s not just going to waste itself, you know.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,447 reviews480 followers
July 31, 2016
Great TED Talk, but not enough to carry a book.
The author utters the same platitudes over and over. The main concept is that persuasive argument starts with connection, then emotions, then facts. This goes back to Aristotle and is nothing new.
The plus-value here would come from present real world illustrations, but this is where he trips himself up in self-contradictions.
For example, Apple Inc. is great because they are so original, i.e. they don't just copy and refine, they truly "innovate." But Southwest Airlines totally copied and refined Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) including the name, the concept, even the stewardesses in the go-go boots, and PSA the true innovator is long gone while Southwest thrives.
So the details of the "why" become circular reasoning: if you are successful then you must have started with why, where "starting with why" means doing whatever it is that makes organizations successful.
Profile Image for Jesse Field.
757 reviews39 followers
July 6, 2021
Simon Sinek gave a really great TED Talk that summarizes the argument of this book: when we get caught up in the details of HOW and WHAT we are working on, it is very easy to forget WHY we are doing it.

For example, at the turn of the 20th century, the Wright brothers were trying to build something that would fly with no support and very little money of their own. Meanwhile, Samuel Pierpont Langley was given full government subsidy to solve the problem of flight. But the Wright brothers got their first and Langley didn't. How so? "They were pursuing the same goal, but only the Wright brothers were able to inspire those around them and truly lead their team to develop a technology that would change the world. Only the Wright brothers started with Why."

"Why" here means not the motivating factors, but the "passion" to succeed, directed at some measurable activity. As A. mentioned, this is an argument a serial killer would use to get the idea that he was doing the right thing by being the best serial killer he could be (and damn the world for doubting his passions!). It is an amoral, ethics-free system for thinking about enterprise.

Token mention of Martin Luther King aside, most examples in this book refer to the enterprise of coming up with products to sell: iPhones, TiVo, Harley-Davidson. It's as if all great tasks in life are things we sell each other, from motorcycles to social justice. That's a profound thought, and not one I can either accept or deny at the moment. Is spreading justice a matter of salesmanship? As a teacher I respond immediately with "yes," but as a researcher and a devoted reader I remember, out at the edge of my mind, that there is something to life besides sales. There's something else, a need to connect with others, a drive to help, to add to the world, that isn't covered here.

The style of the book is short, blockish sentences. Clearly it is written so that even people with short attention spans will be engrossed. This works better in speech than in print. Overall, I'd say the TED talk is a far more successful product than the book.
Profile Image for Avolyn Fisher.
265 reviews106 followers
May 15, 2014
I am only on page 90 and this book is driving me nuts. I usually don't review a book or make a comment before I have finished reading it but I have to get this off of my chest so I can power through the rest.

First of all, I agree 100% with Sinek in that a company has to have an established vision and mission in which the company culture hinges upon with a unified purpose. I believe that it is important to hold yourself and your company to an ethical standard. However, beyond that I think Sinek was a little misguided in weaving together the fabric of his theory.

First of all, his examples seemed a little far fetched, he mentions countless successful companies and individuals and says that they succeeded because of his theory without presenting any substantial examples or evidence to make the connection between them and his theory. It's as if he said "These people were successful because they were able to get off of the couch and do it. You can't be successful without getting started" - ok that isn't what Sinek says but the concept and theory of his book is so vague and loosely tied together that it feels like a similar sentiment.

Second of all, business is not emotional. Yes, if I worked at a children's hospital or if I managed an animal rescue it might be a different case, but in many professional settings our emotions have to be checked at the door. And even at a children's hospital or an animal rescue I feel you would have to check your emotions when it came to working with others. Sinek mentions that you shouldn't work with people you don't like and for many of us, the reality is that we will encounter people we don't like. We will encounter people who have different beliefs than us. That doesn't mean we can't work together and be successful and I would argue that the ability to get along and work with others who have different cultural backgrounds and beliefs than you, is key to being successful and being a leader at work. Even his comments about moving to another city were driving me crazy. I moved from Des Moines, IA to California last year and I can tell you that people who live in different cities and states are more alike than we think and I don't think it's simply because we're "American" and we fit into "American Culture" I feel that it's because most people are good, want to do good, and are good at heart. The people who are bad or don't have the best interest of others at heart are few and far between and I have learned that if you believe in the good of others and make a conscious effort to be a positive person and a positive force, you can get along with almost anyone. It's not a "cultural" thing, it's a "respect" thing.

We will see if I can power through the rest of this book ---- I'd probably have abandoned this one if I weren't reading it for a book club at my office.

----- update --------

Yup, couldn't do it. Life is too short, abandoned this one.
Profile Image for Henry Manampiring.
Author 8 books1,042 followers
January 1, 2014

I was lured by this book because of Sinek's TED video. Great video and idea, and I should have stopped there.

I feel that the book can be cut by 75% without losing its message. What's really annoying is the overuse of Apple as a example. Like, really? There are other examples in the book, the massive use of Apple story is just irritating.

Borrow the book and skim through it. But it is not worth buying. Watch the TED video for free instead.
Profile Image for Jurgen Appelo.
Author 8 books900 followers
October 18, 2013
One good point, offered with endless repetition, extreme oversimplification, and annoying inconsistencies, in a bad writing style.
Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews309 followers
February 20, 2020
i watched simon sinek’s tedtalk YEARS ago, and i liked it. it’s easy, simple, and provides food for thought.

because it IS handy to remind people not to forget about their initial vision and their overarching goal while they get caught up with all the shit they need to get together to run a business, a household, or their own life. it’s clever to START with a functional specification of what you want to achieve rather than cook up an exact product right off the bat.

BUT… his tedtalk makes for a poor, badly researched, and repetitive book. i am now also convinced that sinek’s head is very far up his own ass.

if you are doubting whether to read this, just watch the tedtalk i linked above. it literally covers this entire book in 18 min so it WILL save you time (and a great amount of stupidity, too).

if you want to save time by not reading my review either because it’s LONG, you are also very much in the right because much of it is just me repeating Bad Book!! like a broken record.

anyhow, here we go.

area businessman says it’s not an opinion, it’s biology.

no, really, the golden circles of (1) why, (2) how, and (3) what are legit because they are pure biology. you see, they correspond perfectly to these three circles of the brain mr. business man just drew -- the neocortex, the limbic system, and… oh SHIT, that’s only two!

but, you know, that’s why we humans respond so well to when businesses market their stuff with the WHY. because it plays directly on our emotional, ancient limbic system. it’s instinctive, you see? we don’t need no rationales for this. begone, neocortex.

a note: nothing that sinek references is actual scientific research. it’s all just marketing aficionados happily throwing their theories out there (hi, malcolm gladwell) without a SHRED of evidence.

local tedtalk guy has one (1) hypothesis and confirms it.

thinking about WHY, having that higher goal, that purpose, that vision -- that’s what fully attributes to businesses’ and people’s success. not time, resources, clever strategies or whatever the fuck. tedtalk guy WILL find example upon example upon example of a business or a person that succeeded because of the wHY and the why ONLY. no other attributing factors.

(and no, tedtalk guy has not heard of the concept of falsifying.)

regional self-helper sometimes seems to play a weird game of “one is not like the others” but then insists that it is.

do i agree with regional self-help-guru that martin luther king was very inspiring? yes. but it’s very strange seeing mr. king named alongside apple, harley-davidson, and southwest airlines for being inspiring to a degree where it plays on your emotions, NOT your rational brain, and inspires loyalty through that.

… yes. i am VERY uncomfortable with putting martin luther king and his cause in a place where he just spoke to people’s ancient emotional lizard brains and thus got the loyalty of the masses. as if they were his customers.

see that, businesses?? that’s what y’all should be doing. no facts, only emotions. rally the people for your product, whether that’s computers, motorcycles or civil rights.

mr. visionary author often contradicts his own pop psych concepts by walking a very fine line between making an argument for genuine, inspiring authenticity while also advising businesses to play according to the ‘authenticity’ rules to gain revenue.

this is not me saying mr. visionary is being disingenuous, by the way. this is mostly me being confused. he comes out and says that manipulation and inspiration are two sides of the same coin, but that manipulation leads to eventual commercial ruin and inspiration will earn you the loyalty of your followers/customers (and thus more sweet, sweet dollars).

so, you gotta play the inspiration game and appeal to an idea or concept (the WHY) in order to achieve that loyalty. if you frame your usual sales pitches differently by focusing on the WHY rather than the WHAT, you’ll be using Inspiration (which at this point i feel is an 8th level spell) to con those fuckers into following you! ha!

but you’re still genuine, remember. and authentic. ‘cause you’re INSPIRING, not MANIPULATING.

meanwhile, me in the background: ???????

anyway, i don’t know if this is purely an issue with semantics and me assigning different meanings to words than mr. author, but it happens A LOT.

he’ll say peer pressure is a manipulation tactic, and then turn around and claim that selling an IDEA / WHY to people will make them personally identify with it and want to make it a part of their identity. like the whole “hipster” vibe for apple users; people who identify and wish to belong to that lifestyle/subgroup will be more loyal to the apple brand.

but wait. if i am a hipster and all my fellow hipsters are swearing by apple products i sure as HELL will experience peer pressure of at least LOOKING into buying an apple product too when i feel a big desire to remain in the hipster group.

SO WHAT ARE WE, a manipulation tactic or an inspiration tactic??

resident business advisor (i am running out of names) doesn’t know shit about cultural differences, norms, and that things actually exist beyond the usa.

he argues that the usa is an individualistic culture versus france’s collectivist culture (really?? fRAnce?), he argues that we thrive in places that align with our own wants and goals and needs to a point where it feels painfully like, “don��t let yourself in with Scary Stuff that’s Different from you”, AND he says that not all immigrants are productive members of american society; only if they have an enterprising sort of mindset.

because if they have that enterprising mindset, they’ll be drawn to the great u-s-of-america, you see. and then they will thrive in this incredibly enterprising, WHY-focused country, where a 100% of the population is WHY-focused even though he just argued that they’re not ALL like this.

welcome to the home of the brave, land of the free, in which mr. resident business advisor has his head so far up his own america-centric, my-country-is-the-best-in-the-world ASS that i wonder how he was even able to pick up a pen to write this bullshit down.

and oh yes, there’s also a “Success Story” about an american ceo who, after 9/11, realized that the Ominous Middle-East had Problems With Terrorism because american kids wake up knowing they have opportunities in front of them, and middle-eastern kids wake up knowing they have no opportunities.

i mean, why else would they turn to terrorism??

simplifying to the max. it’s an art.

entrepreneurial pop psych loving cryptid only talks about the most successful, top-level, innovative ceos. (which are consequently almost all rich white guys, except tokens martin luther king and general lori robinson.)

talking only about the Successful one percent doesn’t have to be BAD, per se. but reading this book makes me feel as if all the regular employees of companies are a bunch of no-brain drones that can only thrive when their boss leader gives them an incentive, organizational culture, or goal to do so.

like, of course -- people need time, resources, support and trust to be able to work on inventing and innovating new things or concepts. so yes, they will be more efficient and productive if they have leaders who support or nurture that sort of thing.

but there is no translation of the whole WHY concept for the regular person. there’s no appreciation for people who are passionate about what they do, bring a good idea to their management team, and get the support for it. there’s no equality in working together as a collective, as a team -- ONLY if the leader of a company MAKES it so. the employees themselves have zero power in this entire narrative.

he tries circumventing this later in the book by making the whole why+how+what into somewhat of a personality type, by claiming that leaders are why-people who need how-people and what-people behind them to make an idea work.

and i’m sitting here like, “hold the fuck up, i thought the golden circle was a way to frame and approach business, life, and concepts, but now you’re telling me that the why-people are bad at the how and the what, so we need what-people to consistently produce the ideas of the why-people without ever contributing ideas themselves??”

somehow, this is worse. redundant pop psych telling you you’re not a leader but a hower or a whatter. whose fate is to mass produce like a drone for the rest of your life for a whyer. sinek literally says: “most people in this world are howers and will never change the world”.

sigh. i feel like i’m regressing with every sentence i write.

also, i will never EVER feel bad for a group of millionaires literally sobbing because even though they rake in money with their successful companies, they lost their WHY in life. and therefore feel the need to cry, together, during a series of business seminars. because it just HURTS so bad.

i’m just -- i’m OUT, this is it.

conclusion: Book Is Bad. and i need to stop it with the business self-help books.

if you legitimately want to know more about consumer psychology and how decision-making ACTUALLY works, i’d advise you to pick up kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. which is evidence-based, clever, and still current in this day and age.

0.0 stars.
Profile Image for Liong.
147 reviews116 followers
December 30, 2022
I will start asking myself WHY am I doing this now.

Why did I want to read this book? Why did I do that? Why? Why? Why?

This book inspires me to think creatively by asking why.

After we know why then we ask how and finally what.

I rated it 3 stars because I found too much-repeated information in this book.

Profile Image for Loy Machedo.
233 reviews195 followers
June 27, 2012
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Start With Why by Simon Sinek

TED Talks is an incredible platform for someone to either make it or break it. And in the case of Simon Sinek, the 5 Million plus views he received on his talk not only must have catapulted him to the ‘Management Guru’ status, it also ensured his book became a New York Time Best Seller.

But here let me surprise you – The book is Great and then the Author & Book Publisher Mess it up badly.

Lets start with the fundamentals.
What made Simon Sinek famous?
It was his 20 minute TED Talk.

And obviously, for those who have spoken on the TED Talks stage, you are not allowed to speak beyond your allotted time. Tony Robbins was the only exception to this rule as he very intelligently saved the best story for the last – and then got his extra few minutes of fame.
So in the case of Simon, in those amazing 20 minutes, he not only impressed the audience with the simplicity and powerful message, he created a fan follower. The examples were of Apple, The Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King were used.
I became his instant fan after the video and that is why I was desperately waiting to get my hands on the book.

Now the book goes down the same path with a few more examples – Sam Walton of Walmart, Herb Kellerman of SouthWest Airlines and Bill Gates of Microsoft. But this is where he goofs it up. He repeats the same examples and phrase “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it” so many times, you become sick of it. For instance, if he would pay you a dollar for every time he repeated that phrase, I think you could buy yourself 3 copies of the same book.

I remembered the overly used example (I think it was a Chicken Soup for the Soul – please correct me if you do find the right reference) – The example where a Priest roused the congregation to donate money for the new building. The author immediately took out a dollar from his pocket – which was quite a lot for those days. And as he held on to that dollar waiting for the collectors to come and collect the money, the priest went on bombarding the audience with his oratory. And he went on so long, that finally, when the collectors came, he had irritated the audience so much, the author in anger, took out money from the collectors box instead of putting the money in.

This is exactly the effect Simon Sinek had on me. He irritated the bananas out of my head.

So overall, what would I say?
Simon’s book is a Good book with a Great Sugary Concept. However, too much of Sugar is bad for taste and health. So, if you can bear an overdose of sugar for once in your life, go ahead and buy this book. However, if you just want a gist of the book, watch his TED Talks video. That’s about it.

Overall Rating
10 out of 10 if he didn’t repeat himself so madly.
7 out of 10 because of his continuous blabber, fluff and unwanted number of extra words.

Loy Machedo
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,650 followers
December 31, 2018
Have you ever noticed that books written for entrepreneurs or other tech-bros love to write about Shackleton? Am I the only one who thinks the dude put himself and his crew in a pickle and then gets lauded for getting them out of the self-imposed pickle? Anyway, they also love to talk about the Wright brothers and Steve Jobs.

The thing with these books is that they can't prove that these people succeeded because they had a WHY. In fact, I've seen those stories used to prove a whole bunch of different things. I mean Robert Greene uses each of those stories like 5 times in his Encyclopedias of Being an Asshole for Techbros. There is a lot of luck involved and there are lots of other market factors and just plain numbers. So how do we know that Southwest succeeded because they had a why and then it failed because they lost their why? I mean, there are HBS studies on southwest and none of them mention the golden circle, but they do talk about stuff that matters like competition, etc? As Karl Popper said--the scientific method requires that a hypothesis be disproved. This one cannot be. And so you're going to have a bunch of failed Shackleton and Jobs wannabes out there looking for their why and blaming their failure on not finding it as opposed to say, the coming tech bubble.
Profile Image for BookCrazyBaldy Ammit P  Chawda.
72 reviews17 followers
November 9, 2021
4.75 ⭐


This is another book Suggested to me by my good ol friend Mr. Aditya Salvi, we were having a discussion about business & Aditya pointed out this book saying it's a great book to read for people interested in Business to which one of my other friend replied "Start with Why" the title itself tells you what will be inside the book and actually i also had the same kind of perception about this book but my mind always kept telling that there something more in this book and the Title is definitely deceiving.

About the Book :- The author has given a very in depth analysis & explanation about the driving forces of a successful business for instance Why = Belief/Vision/Purpose, How = Actions and What = Results of Actions. Now this ain't it!!!, there is much more than what I have tried to explain about this book and to know more please take the pain of reading it 😀.

Definitely a must read for all those who are interested in working out their own business and even the others who are struggling with finding stability in their lives and things around them "Start with Why" definitely has a lot of Answers.

Disclaimer - you will repeatedly find examples of "Martin Luther King" and "Apple" however I still loved the book.

Thank you ✌
Profile Image for Danielle.
831 reviews450 followers
June 7, 2023
I believe this is my second go-round with this one. I believe I read it for work around 2010. 🤓 Reading it this time around as a now small-town-business-owners-wife, it definitely hit different. 🤔 I feel like this is a book that can adapt to your situation- if you’re open to the concept. 👍
Profile Image for Bharath.
643 reviews475 followers
April 10, 2021
I have watched and liked Simon Sinek’s TED talk on the subject and also his talk on the millennial generation (available on youtube), both of which are excellent. This is a nice book – the premise is vital and critical, and the coverage is unambiguous to reinforce the point. That said, the examples repeat and subsequent chapters after the initial ones incrementally introduce only little further depth to the concept.

Purpose is central, and a strong ‘Why?’ statement when aligned to the company’s ‘What?’ and ‘How?’ is a winning combination for success. The successful companies start with ‘Why’ which is authentic, permeates the company culture and is visible externally – that is what customers really buy. The examples which are discussed in a good amount of detail are Apple (finds the most coverage), Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King, Southwest Airlines. There are others such as Walmart, Microsoft & Starbucks which find briefer coverage as companies who lost their ‘Why’s and are in the process of rediscovering it. The examples are easy ones to relate to, and all of whom I respect very much as well.

The concept is powerful and important for companies to inculcate. The examples are repetitive though and at times simplistic. The loyalty which Apple inspires is certainly phenomenal (I am an Apple fan too!) and yet the book does not fully explore how customers evaluate value. There is also an inherent confirmation bias in seeking out a few successes and narrowing down to ‘Why’ statements as the predominant reason in their success – there are a number of factors which need to come together. Also, if you can recall or pull up the discussions which were prevalent in the early – mid 90s on the technology industry, there was concern even then on companies using brute force tactics to crush competition. The marketplace is far more complex than what the book makes it out to be.

A book which should have been a lot crisper, but the matter is certainly important.
Profile Image for ScienceOfSuccess.
110 reviews192 followers
April 2, 2018
The author wants us to communicate from the inside of the golden circle, not from the outside of it.
He believes that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

"People don’t do business with everyone who has what they need.
They do business with people who believe in the same thing they believe in."

more @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Eui...
28 reviews1 follower
February 2, 2015
Using selective facts or analogies to suit an assertion, gratuitous statements often contradicting other assertions, and selective use of parts of a bigger story while conveniently overlooking others in the same context are among the reasons why I found this book to be of no value in leadership development. The author works backwards in that he has a belief in his view of what makes great leaders and selects biased or incomplete data or uses unsubstantiated hyperbole to set about making the case for that view. It is easy and academically lazy to decide what you believe and then to set about finding examples of supporting evidence while simultaneously omitting examples of things from those same sources which would contradict the view you are attempting to convince the reader is valuable. The only real benefit I can see to this book is seeing how using management speak and lazy manipulation of data can let one manager or business person sell to another. For the rest of us who are the actual customers of the companies the author uses as examples, this is at best detached and at worst condescending popular psychology without the merit of peer review. Your money is better spent reading "You Are Not So Smart." Even the editing is poor. For example, the last time I checked, data was plural and the author refers often to "the data" as if it is singular. It is, start to finish, lazy hyperbole and more of the same fist bumping "you're number one baby" so called "leadership" slang that business people often spout to one another to convince themselves how masterful they are at understanding the customer and what it is they need to hear. This is almost surrealistic in its similarity to "The Emperor Has No Clothes." How can anyone buy in to this meaningless chatter?
Profile Image for Umberto.
59 reviews18 followers
March 19, 2013
I hated this book.

It is overly simplistic, repetitive, has little merit into the real world and was annoying to read. This book could have said everything in 20 pages but instead dragged it out to 200. the examples (in my opinion the only part of the book actually worth reading) are too far and between to make up for the fact that the book is just annoying and repetitive. WHAT WHY HOW, these 3 words were capitalized almost every time they were used and placed in every non example part of the book.

This book just made me mad and I am glad to be done with it
Profile Image for Sophie.
165 reviews188 followers
December 13, 2022
As with many pieces of self-help literature, Simon Sinek's Start With Why is a collection of uplifting anecdotes, hokey stories, and pseudo-intellectual ramblings that attempt to inspire the reader but ultimately offers little real insight. It reads like something penned by an inmate running the asylum — trying to define their own reality through some form of delusional thinking.

Take the modern workplace, for example. All too often it feels like inmates are running the asylums. Companies prioritize revenues over employee well-being, leading to long hours and low pay. Those who don't suffer from burnout usually find themselves stuck in what author David Graeber calls "Bullshit Jobs". These are jobs that offer little value to society but still require workers to show up for eight hours every day at their employer's behest.

The modern workplace also tends to reward busyness rather than productivity; rather than getting meaningful work done during their workday, employees feel obligated to fill their time with pointless tasks just so they can boast about how busy they are on social media or in the office breakroom. This results in a culture of superficiality where having an enemy and a jam-packed calendar is considered a badge of honor instead of something that should cause concern.

Start-ups aren't much better either. They may offer perks like ping-pong tables, free food and hammocks, but these paltry bonuses do nothing when compared to the basic security of salary and benefits that a more established firm might provide. And when things go south--which they often do--the employees always suffer while those at the top look down on them with smug satisfaction as if it were all part of some game they were playing with each other..

It's clear then that simply starting with why won't solve our problems; only real solutions will do that--solutions like increased job protections for workers, better pay for all employees regardless of seniority or position, fairer taxation policies for businesses large and small alike and government regulations which encourage responsible business practices instead of encouraging reckless growth at any cost . Until we start taking these steps towards real change , Simon Sinek's words will remain nothing more than empty platitudes meant to inspire but ultimately impossible to implement in practice .
Profile Image for Jeff.
223 reviews15 followers
August 6, 2014
Simon Sinek presents a compelling vision of how companies, organizations, and individuals can achieve success. His simple message? Start with why. Which is to say the guiding principle of our endeavors should be based not on what we do or how we do it, but rather on why we do it. According to Sinek, those agencies that can effectively articulate their "why" (or purpose) are most likely to develop loyal followers and long term success.

Sounds great Jeff, so why just two stars? Well, there's a number of reasons. First, the redundancy of Sinek's message played a role. I'm not sure I got much more out of the book than I'd gotten previously from his 18:00 minute TEDtalk. Second, Sinek overreaches a bit when he tries to connect his Golden Circle to both our brain structure and the Golden Ratio. I understand the intent ("See? This is universal! This is big picture stuff! The fabric of the universe!") I just find these connections suspect at best and specious at worst. Finally, the evidence Sinek presents is all very anecdotal. Sinek provides maybe a dozen or so examples (from Henry V to MLK Jr to Apple), but really just focuses on a few cases that neatly fit the narrative of success he's constructed. And that narrative? Well as Andy points out in his review (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...), it's all a bit circular. Apple is successful because they start with why. How can we tell they start with why? Simple, it's because they're successful!

Addendum: Here's a link to Sinek's TEDtalk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6kbcE.... And in fairness there were a few other nuggets in the book worth considering. I appreciated the discussion concerning the idea that "What gets measured gets done". I also thought the distinction between achievement and success was helpful.
3 reviews2 followers
April 8, 2013
Simon Sinek describes in his book "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" how leaders and companies should work as a series of circles, i.e. "The Golden Circle" - the why, how, and what. This idea explains why organizations and leaders inspire the others. Everybody knows what they do, some know how they do it, very few people know why they do what they do. The way we communicate, think and act is very easy: we go from the clear things we know to the more fuzzy ones. The WHY theory gives us the ability to communicate why we are doing certain things, helps entrepreneurs take better decisions, as well as individuals in the every day life.

All in all, the most important fact Simon Sinek is trying to point out is that the way something is communicated must be believed in, explained, and people accept it for themselves, because THEY believe in it. It is a very inspiring, enlightening and insightful book that I would recommend to anyone!
4 reviews
April 20, 2018
Reviewing a book before completing it isn't a great idea usually, but I completed only 30% of the book and it's just too much fluff. The idea is simple but explanations are redundant. Simon's Ted Talk was great but I don't think it's enough content for a book. He doesn't support his theories with enough evidence. Sometimes, I could think of the counter examples very easily. That made me doubt the author's credibility. And the concept of Golden Ratio that he introduced to give legitimacy to his concept of Golden Rule is outright stupid. Not worth a read. Just see his Ted Talk, it's great.
Profile Image for Michael Cabus.
79 reviews12 followers
April 13, 2019
If you work in the corporate sector, it is almost inevitable that you will be invited to a corporate re-branding meeting.

At first this sounds like fun, creative; you think it may do with the logo, or maybe color schemes. You are surprised, though, when you go to the first meeting and encounter a team hired to do more than a logo, but to define the company's purpose. There are a series of meetings, in which the rebranding team tells you what you should value, interviews your customers to show you they are right, then they go away, and come back with their handiwork. New logo, new tagline, and...viola, new purpose.

If this sounds familiar, you may have also had a feeling something is amiss: who are these people to say what one should value? Why is it that the head of marketing, your internal creative person, has decided his functional duty is to hire some team to be creative for him? Why do they always have a CEO who likes to talk like he's saying something profound all the time, like he's watched too many Matthew Mcconaughey car adverts and taken them as an ethos? And, most importantly, why do they like to say phrases like 'fun fact..", and then what they say is almost never fun.

It may sound like I am disparaging a whole industry, and that's not exactly what I want to do (I am a user experience designer, after all, we also have seemingly lofty goals), but rather I am disparaging particular approach of an industry. Because often the distillation of these experiences is not a cooperative exploration of meaning-making, one in which organisations and marketers define purpose, but rather it produces statements like "be more authentic." As this book points out, you can't become authentic by hiring a marketing firm to tell you to be so.

This approach can't be blamed; as Sinek points out, defining real purpose asks a lot, emotionally; in fact, Sinek points out there are few people that possess the charisma, the discipline, and focus to be that person (dividing people into the dreamers and the doers, who form a sort of symbiotic relationship), and few organisations that can do it. Most often, businesses become about discounts, promotions, what Sinek calls 'manipulations', and, as he points out, this never lasts, as it never results in true customer loyalty but rather providing a customer convenience, one they will replace if something ever becomes more convenient.

The reward for finding the why of your organisation is that people will pay more for the services; elements like loyalty, personal connection and perceived alignment with an individuals lifestyle can make a brand become iconic and sought after even if it costs more than competitors. Phrases like "solving the world last planning puzzles" or "the 3d experience company" are examples (being a bit biased with those), which define why not what. They communicate values.

What's great about this book is that it provides a path at the individual and corporate level for growth; it starts with defining personal and corporate values, and then finding branches or new industries that are related to those values. It's important because this is one of the hardest things we do in our professional lives: how should we focus on personal growth (individual level), and what new product should our company take on (corporate). But those are action; and what we want to find is our 'why'. He illustrates ways to do this, not just why its important, and finding your why is the first step to finding happiness.

That may sound like hyperbole, but there are corollaries in all aspects of life that are about finding our 'why': philosophy, religion, reading, even playing sport, all these can be about pushing boundaries, and getting into the sense of who you are; they aren't necessarily rational activities in that they don't provide an immediate value, yet we do them by instinct, at least those of us who are interested in personal growth. It is so refreshing to read these things in a management book, as well to read advice like, focus on being your own competition, take on clients who you know value what you do (and don't take on ones that don't), that competing on price is not the obvious or best way to create or do things that will change the world.

For those who feel like they are here to 'put a dent in the universe', this book is for you; but not just this book, a certain experiential life is for you, and this book will re-affirm that commitment. If that resonates with you, as it does with me, read this book.

Profile Image for فادي.
544 reviews818 followers
September 11, 2018

هذا كتابٌ اسمه أكبر من محتواه.
الكتاب نُشر عام 2009 يعني ليس حديثاً، ولبّه يُختصر في 3 أسطر:
لكي تنجح في حياتك الشخصية والعملية والمهنية، على مستوى الأفراد أو المنظمات أو الشركات الكبرى فعليك أن تركّز على [ لماذا ] بكل تفصيلها، والتي تعني بشكلٍ من الأشكال الغوص في ال��مق لمعرفة أسباب العمل الذي تقوم به بدلاً من السؤال عن [ ماذا ] ستفعله، و [ كيف] ستفعله.
الكتاب من 6 فصول رئيسية يندرج تحت كل فصل أبواب فرعية، تدور أغلبها عن قصص وخبرات لشركات كبرى نجحت وأخرى أخفقت، مع إيضاح أنّ سبب النجاح فيها هو التركيز على [ لماذا ] وسبب فشلها هو الابتعاد عن نهج [ لماذا ].
الفصل الثالث فصل لطيف ويغنيك عن قراءته حضور هذه المحاضرة ( مترجمة )
أفضل فكرة يمكن أن تخرج بها من الكتاب هي فكرة [ الدائرة الذهبية ] والتي تقول إنّ الشركات الناجحة والأفر��د الملهمون ليسوا با��ضرورة هم الذين يكونون أكثر ذكاءً من غيرهم بل الأمر كلّه متعلق بكونهم بحثوا جيداً عن سبب فعل الأشياء وفعلوها بطريقة مغايرة " هنا يضرب مثال حقيقي عن شركة آبل وكيف أنّ هذه الشركة أصبحت أكثر من مجرّد شركة تقدم خدمة هواتف حديثة لزبائنها، بل أصبحت "أسلوب حياة" وضمنت ولاء عملاءها بسبب حسن استخدامها للسؤال الأهم وهو: لماذا؟
Profile Image for Viktor Stoyanov.
Author 1 book166 followers
July 14, 2020
Книгата съдържа много добра идея, която може да се разкаже за 15 мин.
Всъщност, той точно това и прави в този TED talk:

Да не кажа, че може да се разкаже и за 10 и за 5 мин. без да изгуби от ефекта си.

В продължение на цялата книга Sinek е разтегнал толкова много маркетинговия локум (освен, че е повторил всичко от презентацията си), че може спокойно да кандидатства за най-дълга баница с локум в света на вдъхновяващите бизнес книги. Безбройни примери за една и съща идея - от древността до любимия му пример с Apple. Да, ако ви е наистина трудно да схванете нещо от два примера - ще ви се стори полезно да го разгледате през призмата на 2222 примера, уплътнено с добро количество маркетингови мантри, които вече сте чували от всеки.

Сериозно - гледайте TED и това си го спестете.
Profile Image for Natalie.
29 reviews
December 1, 2014
Start with Why is one of my all time favorite Ted Talks. This book is a longer version of the same concept. For the first few chapters, I did not feel that I was really getting any new information. However, the latter portion of the book went in to more specific examples of how great leaders have changed the face of their companies by focusing on Why.
Profile Image for Hà Khuất.
115 reviews3,564 followers
November 30, 2019
uhmm..... quite knowledgeable.. but the ending chapter is dragged a lion too much
Profile Image for TheBookWarren.
435 reviews101 followers
July 25, 2021
4.0 Stars — Explaining the proverbial “Why” is something I’m an avid believer in. This is top-of-his-game Simon Sinek here and it is a book that is a genuine must-have for anyone whom leads people and or teams in business or even social or sporting climates. The ‘Why’ showcased here, is absolutely infinite in its application — making it applicable to — through One’s life, be it personal, professional or six of one half a dozen the other. Sinek does as superb job explaining what he means by ‘WHY’ — breaking it down until its clear & paramount for the reader to discover the ‘how’ — A smart, valid & conscionable build up that pulls the reader — unrelentingly — through to the meat & potatoes of the boom.

Sinek’s tangible applications & elegant prose combines to give thought provoking and genuinely productive cogitating of ones actions as a Leader, but doesn’t shove things down the readers throat. He rather lays out the foundations and the potential results and outcomes via ROI that can be measured and applicable whenever called upon. Such value and viable strategic tools on hand here that are more relevant each passing moment.

Simon Sinek is an extremely talented & has a knack for helping others find their inner-best-leader with almost intimidating regularity. This is fact as a opposed to being my opinion. However, it is my opinion of him to say that I believe he has recently now become almost a caricature of his most renowned self. By this, I mean that he can — At times — Come across as though he’s constantly talking to the large crowd at a packed auditorium, irrespective of the situation — It paints a portrait of him that I experience in violently-jarring way, such is the propensity for grandiose diatribes full of platitudes, greeting-card-tag-lines & reverberated star-sign psychology! As opposed to being the disparate, striking, motivational & learned logician that we saw in years gone-bye.

Irrespective of the above personal notion, Simon Sinek in Literature — at least for now — remains a quintessential voice for those searching for inspiration, structure or guidance in the form of leadership, self-awareness, self-discovery, or just to up-skill their production as pertaining to their career.
Profile Image for Malleswari.
12 reviews10 followers
February 5, 2015
This is one of the best books I read in my list. Simon Sinek, the author of the book, narrated very clear how great leaders started with WHY and inspired people.

The best part of this book is 'The Golden Circle', which has three layers of WHY at the core, followed by 'HOW', followed by 'WHAT', and which is very much similar to the biological arrangement of human brain of limbic and neocortex. If we have the clarity of WHY we do, know the HOW we can do and maintain consistency of that WHAT we do, that's enough to be successful in any work we do. Examples of great companies, like Apple, SouthWest Airlines, Walmart, Harley Davidson, Microsoft, and people like Wright brothers, Dr.Martin Luther King inspires the way they changed the world. They succeeded because they were crystal clear of WHY they do things and people who know HOW to do had followed them.

I agree with the author's point of Manipulations and energy will bring the customers but that will no longer work. Instead, Inspirations and Charisma will have longer impact, when people believes what we believe they will be with us for long time.

Finally, I learnt, before start doing anything, just to think WHY to do that, then HOW and then WHAT.!!!

Profile Image for Morgan Blackledge.
621 reviews2,033 followers
February 24, 2017
I'm approximately the ninemlionth person to review this book, so I won't bother going into too much detail.

So why am I writing a review at all?

I'm glad you asked.

I'm writing this because the central message of the book is (in my humble opinion), spot the fuck on.

The core message of the book is essentially: if you want to create extraordinary works, focus on the deal not the thing.

So what's the deal with the thing and the deal?

I'm glad you asked.

The thing is what ever you're making (and selling).

The deal is the real reason why you're making things in the first place.

If you're an artist, let's say a painter, the product i.e. the actual finished painting is the thing. The transformative flow state that you enter when you're alone painting, and the rich, meaningful journey of self discovery and mastery that you undertake in order to creat these extraordinary things is the deal.

If you're a painter and you can give your patrons a little window into the magical world that you enter when you paint, if you can allow them to go there with you, then you're selling them your deal. And that is something that is actually priceless.

It took you 20 years and over 10 thousand hours to get there. Giving someone (like an accountant) a portal to enter into that world is literally a deal at any price.

When you begin the entrepreneurial process focused on "what" you will offer, you are making and selling things. And according to Sinek, "people don't buy things".

When your focus begins and remains on "why" you're creating the things you offer, your selling the deal. And according to Sinek, deep deep down, people buy the deal. That's what people buy.

His go to example is Apple computer. Steve Jobs set out to change the world by creating beautiful, simple, functional, easy to use technology. That was his deal. That's what people are buying when the lay out way too much cash for a super skinny laptop or more recently, a fuckin digital watch.

In reality, The real deal Steve Jobs was creating was a "simple, beautiful, creative and inspiring user experience". The real thing that set Steve Jobs apart was that he took the time to get into our heads. He wanted the experience of using Apple to be wonderful. Unlike the autistic creators of Windows, who expect, nay demand that we conform our creative processes to their virtual Procrustean Bed.

Steve Jobs asked "what is the most creative environment that I can create and share with people, so that they can create and share their deal with other people".

Even though Steve Job's was by many accounts an incredibly difficult person to deal with. He focused on us and that was his deal. i.e. we were his deal.

I'm a psychotherapist. In my world I refer to starting with why as "values clarification" and "valued action".

Values Clarification means to become crystal clear about the qualities of your life and work that are genuinely spiritually enriching and that give you vitality, meaning and a sense of purpose and connection.

Valued Action means simply taking steps in the direction of your values i.e. In the direction of a richer, more meaningful life.

Goals are things. Values are the thing behind the thing. Values are the deal. Your values are your why.

A goal is "do your laundry". Important to be sure, but insufficient as a guiding principle of on going action. Goals are the things you do, not the reasons that you do them. Doing your laundry is the thing not the deal.

The values behind doing your laundry are perhaps; self-care and pro-social self presentation (therapy speak for wanting to smell nice so people don't think you're a hobo).

Self-care and pro-social self presentation are (ostensibly) why we do the laundry. Self-care and pro-social self presentation are the values behind the goal of doing the laundry. They are the deal behind the thing. They are the why.

So why is it so important to start with why? Can't I just do my fucking laundry and be done with that?

Again I'm glad you asked.

Because goals (i.e. doing laundry) are like, you do them and you're done. They are accomplishable, but they aren't generative.

Values (your why) are generative, meaning they continue to guide you on your path.

After your done with the laundry, there are infinite other ways to pursue self-care and pro-social self presentation.

For instance, I don't know, you could like go on a hike with a friend or something.

By focusing on your deal of self-care and pro-social presentation, and expressing that value by doing your laundry, you made it possible to further pursue your deal by spending quality time with a friend, or who knows, maybe even helping out a hobo while you're at it.

Starting with why is a process that begins with deep, personal exploration, leads to authentic personal growth along the way, and in the end, is all about being of service to others.

When people buy why instead of things they are really buying a sense of belonging and connection with shared set of values. And as Steven Covey (the other rad Steve) famously said. That's a win-win. And it has to be a win-win or no deal!
Profile Image for Chad Kettner.
41 reviews
June 21, 2012
Simon Sinek offers a life-altering and business-changing message: "Start with Why". Why do you do what you do? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should people care?

The golden circle - the "why, how, and what" - is grounded in biology. If you were to look at a cross-section of the brain from the top, you’d see that it corresponds perfectly.

Starting at the top, our ‘newest’ brain, our homo-sapien brain (also called our neocortex) is our “what” and is responsible for all our rational, analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains – which is for feelings, trust, and loyalty; and it’s also responsible for human behavior and decision-making, though it has no capacity for language.

In other words, when we communicate from the outside-in, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information, features and benefits, and facts and figures… it just doesn’t drive behavior. This is where gut decisions come from – it’s the reason you can give someone all the facts and figures and they’ll say that they understand it all, but it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right. That ‘feeling’ happens in your limbic brain.

If you don’t know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get someone else to buy into it and be loyal, or want to be a part of what it is that you do? The goal isn’t just to get people to buy that need what you have, but to believe what you believe.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about your beliefs, you will attract others with the same or similar beliefs.

Sinek shares several powerful examples, as well as a few other important concepts to really drive the point home. And while this is one of the most powerful, practical messages I've read in a while, my one complaint is that the book faces the same challenge that a lot of other business books seem to have... in that it's a great idea with powerful concepts, but it becomes unnecessarily repetitive beyond 100 pages.

I'd recommend listening to Sinek's TED talk first:

And I'd still recommend buying the book to drive the points home with a bit more depth. But just realize that it does become repetitive.
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