Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Obviously, I just finished this book last night. Start with why is not the first book that I read, but it is going to be the first book that I write here in my blog, simply because the idea really resonates with me. If you never came across with the work of Simon Sinek and the concept of WHY, the title of the book does not sound appealing. But, I would say the cover design is quite interesting, a big ‘Start With Why’ written in red color with a hint of metallic effect.

The whole book almost serve like a semi-autobiography of Simon Sinek’s journey. Throughout the process he found something, what he called ‘golden circle’ in which he shared in his book using various real-life examples. If you are not aware, Sinek is a public speaker that appears in TED talk and his episode was ranked as the second most watched TED episode at the time when TED talk was not as big as it is today. Because of his nature as a speaker, the book he wrote is probably most suitable to read while imagining that he is actually talking to you. There are lot of short sentences and sometimes it feels so raw. However, I believe that’s what makes the book unique.

The Golden Circle concept talks about three layer that exist in organisations and in our personal career life. These three layers consists of: What we do, how we do it, and why we do it.



When all three pieces in balance, people will say with absolute clarity and certainty, “We know who you are” and “We know what you stand for”.

However, Sinek pointed out, most people and organisations absolutely know what they are doing, and some know how to do it, but there are few that understand why they do what whey do.

The what level represent, for an organisation, the products or services they offer. For individuals, it represents their job titles and roles. The how level for organisations and individuals is knowing how they do what they do. They may call it “differentiating value propositions”, “proprietary process”, or “unique selling propositions”. These hows set organisations apart from their competitor. For individuals, it makes them feel special or different from everyone else.

The why level located in the center and the most important part of the circle. Very few people and organisation can articulate why they do what they do. Why is a purpose, a cause or belief, it provides a clear answer to the question “Why do you get out of bed every morning?”. By why, it does not mean a profit. A profit is simply a result of what we do. The why is about our contribution to impact and serve others. The why inspire us.

Sinek mentioned that people certainly made a decision based on their assumption of what they know and understand. In a world that does not start with why, manipulation is used to influence our assumption and at the end articulate to our decision making. Manipulation techniques such as; price, promotions, fear, aspirations, peer pressure, and novelty, are used to influence our behavior. These manipulations worked well for the short-term gain at the cost of long-term sustainability. Manipulations can lead to transactions but will not inspire loyalty.

When started with why, organisations or individuals will be inspired to do something that is beyond profit and revenue. The why can become a statement that clearly express your unique contributions and impact. The impact reflects the difference you want to make, and the contribution is the primary action that you take towards making that impact. When combined, these two elements will serve you a purpose when you wake up every morning.

If Apple Inc does not started with why, their marketing message might sound like this:

We make great computers.

They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.

Wanna buy one?

Compare when Apple Inc started with why, their marketing message would be:

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.

And we happen to make great computers.

Wanna buy one?


See the difference of the same company but one example does not start with why and the second example started with why.

You can get the full text of the book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

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