Start with Why: Simon Sinek —Summary

A good book is one which teaches something new everytime it is read.

I do not read Business & Management books. I feel they are too preachy and absolutely unfair in a way that they put all obvious worldly knowledge into a few pages and put the onus of realizing everything into their reality or failing to do so on the readers alone.

However this book seems to be different and I’m glad I bit the bullet and chose this book to start with. The author is consistent and clear in his message. So much so, that it’s actually the name of the book. Therefore my job is a bit easier in this one. Should you choose to proceed, here are few gems on why this book exists and what does it say.

Here goes:

‘Why' are you here?-

“Why” you and your business exist- are the core of everything you do.

This WHY needs to be communicated and aligned with everything you do.

If you are not clear on the reason of how/what you do, you will have to manipulate people into partnering with you through price game, promotions, fear, aspirations, peer pressure or novelty. This applies to customers, partners, employees.

Once the price point, fear, aspiration, novelty wears off, your audience will move on to another who offers better.

Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces costs, it provides massive peace of mind. In contrast relying on manipulations creates massive stress for buyer and seller alike.

Inside Out Approach

The Golden circle finds order and predictability in human behavior. It starts from inside out. It starts with Why. Very few people communicate clearly WHY they do what they do. By Why it’s about — Why does your company exist? What is your belief or purpose? Why should I get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care ?

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it?

Ask any iPhone/Mac cult user- why do they buy Apple products? Apple offers lesser features, bad service, is many times more expensive. But Apple loyalists will never be able to properly explain it in words and you will never be convinced. The real reason is not about Apple products. They don’t care about Apple. It’s deeply personal. The real reason is how it makes themselves feel. How they share a feeling of belonging to a certain type of people or belief. That’s why they buy Apple products.

It’s not an opinion. It’s biology.

The newest area of the homo sapien brain is the neocortex that deals with the WHAT of matters. But it’s the limbic brain that houses all our feelings like trust and loyalty. However it has no capacity for language. That’s why sometimes it is so difficult to exactly express our feelings. We try to give some logical explanation around it, but usually that’s not the exact reason. It’s just the WHAT.

Decision making and the ability to explain those decisions exist in different parts of the brain. This is where “gut decisions” come from. This is powerful enough to drive behavior that sometimes contradicts our rational and analytical understanding of a situation. This is what we mean by winning hearts and minds. The ability to win hearts before minds is a delicate balance of art and science. People need to first know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. Once they understand your belief and like it, it becomes theirs too.

Absent a WHY and decision becomes harder to make. Companies will tell you quality, service, price, features. But if you don’t know where they are coming from — what do they want, it becomes that much more difficult to trust them. Even though you may buy that product now, you’re far from loyal.

But when a company clearly communicates why they believe, their WHY, and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives. Not because they are better but because they become markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear.

But HOW? And WHAT?

Once there is a clarity on Why- It should be followed by the Discipline of How and Consistency of WHAT.

HOW- corresponds to your values and guiding principles- the systems and processes. To have integrity in your actions, honesty, innovation etc.

WHAT- is where the rubber meets the road. Your products, features, services, culture, PR, marketing.

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

When your belief system is crystal clear and other similar people also make it their own, you have a loyal following that is not only motivated, but also 'inspired’. When we are inspired, our decisions have more to do with who we are and less to do with the company or the product we’re buying. When our decisions 'feel' right- we’re willing to pay a premium or suffer an inconvenience for those products or services. It’s the opposite of manipulations.

Your people — your employees

Trust emerges when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than self gain. Hence the WHY is so important.

Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. It is this bond that creates camaradarie. And that camaradarie and trust is what brings success. People working together for a common cause. Great organizations become great because people inside the organization feel protected. The strong sense of belonging and culture gives a feeling that the whole organization will look out for them. This results in reciprocal behavior. Individual efforts, decisions and behaviors protect the long term interest of the organization as a whole.

Achievement Vs Success-

Achievement comes when you pursue and attain WHAT you want. Success comes when you are clear in pursuit of WHY you want it. Success comes when we wake up everyday in that never ending pursuit of WHY we do WHAT we do. Those with the ability to never lose sight of WHY and hold themselves accountable to HOW they do it and WHAT they serve as tangible proof of what they believe can inspire us no matter how much or how little they achieve.

For organizations to be impactful enough to shift markets or society, they need to pass the School Bus Test. It’s a simple metaphor. If a founder or a leader of an organization we’re to be hit by a school bus, would the organization continue to thrive at the same pace without them at the helm?

To pass the School bus test, for an organization to continue to inspire and lead beyond the lifetime of it’s founder, the founder’s WHY must be extracted and integrated into the culture of the company.

— — — —

The author goes on to share exciting facts and stories about companies like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Southwest Airlines, Walmart, Dr.Martin Luther King Jr, Bill Gates and many more and inspiring people with inspiring stories. You can read the book to know more.

Hope you enjoyed the 5min summary and it gave a fresh start to your day or helped you to remember what you already know.

Have a great week !

Thanks !

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