Inspiration to ignite your creative life

Book review – Start with WHY– how great leaders inspire action

Book review – Start with WHY– how great leaders inspire action

Editors note: New guest blogger and minihub member Fola Ekundayo reviews Simon Sinek’s latest book. Some really good advice – don’t lose sight of your WHY!

Simon Sinek is a zealous man on a noble mission. Simon Sinek is on a mission to inspire as many people and businesses to do what inspires them, and build successful businesses, organisations and a better world. His stirring and passionate message is to START WITH WHY and in caps, yes lots of caps – more of that later.

You might have already watched Sinek’sTed talk – it’s currently the third most popular TED talk and has been seen by about 23 million people.

Sinek has studied the great and successful movements, companies and ideas. He found that amongst other things, they continually focus on their WHY – their core purpose and inspire others with the WHY of their organisation.

What’s in the book?

The book starts out by illustrating two ways to motivate people to buy products and ideas – the stick and the carrot. ‘Sticks’ include; promotions, innovations and aspirational marketing and may boost sales and interest for a while but have limited effect. Sinek contrasts this with the ‘carrot’ of inspiration which he says in the long term has more effect. How do we inspire people?– the golden circle theory.

Sinek proposes that because we make more decisions from our ‘gut’ rather than the rational/logical part of our brains – heart rather than the head we should start with the why of our product rather than what it does or how it works. This mirrors how our brains work and can be seen at work in a number of successful companies including Apple, and Walmart.

Once this is explained he goes on to describe what else is needed to use this model, how to build a following and what happens when companies lose sight of their why. He also outlines what can happen if charismatic visionary leaders – eg Steve Jobs leave a company and the company loses sight of its raison d’etre.

So why should you read the book?

If you’ve studied marketing at all you may not find anything particularly groundbreaking here. He articulates some basic business and marketing principles in a new way but I found it a bit of a broad brush. What he is good at is inspiring people and the book is full of inspiring stories.

My only slight criticism would be that in his obvious excitement and passion he over-emphasises his message – for example he uses CAPITAL LETTERS EVERY TIME HE USES THE WORDS WHY WHAT and HOW. It got very repetitive by the end.

My main takeways were that:

  • success isn’t down to being the best or the smartest, but depends more on the integrity of sticking to your vision and making sure everything you do is consistent with it
  • serving other people is important not just looking at the numbers
  • clarity of vision, discipline in the way it’s deliver and consistency in producing your product are important
  • legacy is important – consider how things will continue without you if you are the main source of vision and inspiration for your organisation

Although it’s pitched as being for everyone, the focus of the book is more on businesses and corporations.

The book does though succeed in its mission – it is inspiring and you’re not likely to forget to start with WHY once you’ve read it.

Find this post useful? Subscribe to our Curious newsletter.
Stay up to date with unmissable doses of inspiration straight to your inbox.

I’m a muser, writer, editor, poet and problem solver with an enterprising streak learning to reign in my multiple enthusiasms. These include: creative community work, prayer and meditation, street art, and nature photography. I get paid to write, edit and manage web content and have been self-employed for 3 years. 

Related Posts

Guide to running an effective event

Guide to running an effective event

Staring at a blank page

How to recognise creative burnout

Are happy people more productive?

Are happy people more productive?