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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action Paperback – December 27, 2011
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“Start with Why is one of the most useful and powerful books I have read in years. Simple and elegant, it shows us how leaders should lead.”
-WILLIAM URY, coauthor of Getting to Yes
“Start with Why fanned the flames inside me. This book can lead you to levels of excellence you never considered attainable.”
-GENERAL CHUCK HORNER, air boss, Desert Storm
“Each story will force you to see things from an entirely different perspective. A perspective that is nothing short of the truth.”
-MOKHTAR LAMANI, former ambassador, special envoy to Iraq
About the Author
SIMON SINEK, the bestselling author of LEADERS EAT LAST and TOGETHER IS BETTER, is an optimist who believes in a brighter future for humanity. He teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people and has presented his ideas around the world, from small startups to Fortune 50 corporations, from Hollywood to Congress to the Pentagon. His TED Talk based on START WITH WHY is the third most popular TED video of all time. Learn more about his work and how you can inspire those around you at StartWithWhy.com.
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Save your money and (most importantly) your time and just watch the TED talk on YT..
On the other hand, the book is agonizing in its redundancy, often repeating the same examples many times over to make precisely the same point as the first time the example was used. I'm inclined to think that virtually everything Sinek wrote could have been stated in a 20-page article without leaving out anything important. I daresay it might be possible to do it in five pages. That's part of the beauty of the idea: it's incredibly simple while still being astoundingly powerful. But Sinek doesn't seem to have bothered taking the time to distill the idea down into its essence for straightforward presentation in this book. It reads a little bit like he took articles from his blog, stuck them in a large word-processing document, did some minor editing, and submitted the thing as-is for publication in order to create this book.
So, the idea is worth the cost of the book and the time to read it, but the book itself is, in my humble opinion, very poorly organized and needlessly long.
I would advise those who are interested in Sinek's ideas save themselves a great deal of time and a little expense by first watching his TED Talk:
This covers virtually all the core ideas involved. The one thing Sinek never does either in this presentation or in his book is spell out what "HOW" is. It's a bit confusing in large part because it's different for each of the two communication structures. In the "WHAT --> HOW" structure, "HOW" is "how we're different"; for instance, Dell has to argue that its computers are somehow better than (say) HP's and therefore specifies HOW they're better in order to compete against HP. On the other hand, in the "WHY --> HOW --> WHAT" structure, "HOW" is "how we enact our purpose (i.e. our 'WHY')".
As far as I can tell, if you're reasonably intelligent you can glean pretty much everything essential to Sinek's idea based on his TED Talk together with this understanding that "HOW" means something different in each of the two contexts he contrasts.
What you WON'T get from that is his rather in-depth, incredibly clear exposé of why the "WHAT --> HOW" communication pattern requires manipulating people to some degree or another and why that is by necessity unsustainable in the long run. That's not core to his point but it's certainly a nice supplement.
So in short, the book is a reasonable buy, certainly at the Kindle price, but do consider benefitting from Sinek's wisdom for free in 20 minutes first by watching his TED Talk. If you want more details, you can get the book, but understand that you're not likely to learn much more than what you could have figured out on your own between the talk and what I mention above.
I was searching for it also. I found it over the course of much labor, across many other books and a large number of hours of additional research. HOW is only how you deliver your product when you start with WHAT - when you start with WHY, your HOW also changes. HOW becomes how you bring your WHY to life in your CULTURE, not products
So you start with WHY (your purpose). HOW do we deliver a purpose? HOW we deliver a WHY (purpose) is in HOW we behave - through Core Values. With purpose and aligned core values, the broad guidelines for every decision is in place. The validity of every system is obvious. The people to hire are clear. The reasons to fire are even more clear. And every person instantly knows the validity of every decision.
Think about it. Just like the golden circle concept, this fits. You cannot go backwards from WHAT (product) to HOW (core values). You will NEVER have an aligned WHY if you write the core values first. The consistency is immediately obvious. The golden circle must be in balance.
WHY is the purpose, and HOW are the Core Values around which we make every single decision, even in the absence of the visionary. It's HOW we make our WHY come to life every day. Our core values tell us who to hire, who to fire, and which decisions are right on a micro-level. Is that system or that process true to our core values?
Try to create core values. You cannot create genuine, honest core values without first knowing WHY you exist. When you know your WHY (such as apples challenging the status quo), you can then describe the values (in terms of behaviors) that exemplify that WHY. Without a WHY, core values are blatantly phony and greed-serving things. Without a WHY, nobody cares what your core values are, because all we know is your WHAT. If all we know is your WHAT, then the rest just comes down to features and price. But if we know your WHY, we can buy into your HOW (core values), which we see reflected in your WHAT (product)
Look at it in the light of Zappos:
WHY - to deliver the best customer service possible
HOW - CORE VALUES:
1.Deliver WOW Through Service
2.Embrace and Drive Change
3.Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4.Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5.Pursue Growth and Learning
6.Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7.Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8.Do More With Less
9.Be Passionate and Determined
Sure, they sell shoes online. But they dont seek to innovate how people shop online (WHAT-based HOW). Instead, they seek to bulid a culture around core values centered on their WHY. Nobody mentions anything about product until the WHAT.
The constitution is another great example of a WHY & HOW which guides us in an ever evolving WHAT. It doesnt try to make every law, or build every system. The constitution is our WHY, followed by our HOW. The president knows WHAT because he is guided by the WHY and HOW. When one president is replaced after 4 to 8 years, there is no lapse, no lack of clarity as we find in corporations - Tell me why that is? Because we define our WHY (purpose) and HOW (core values) in our CONSTITUTION, as every good company should have. Without a supreme law of the land, nothing stops a CEO from destroying the company when the prior CEO steps down.
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
WHY - We believe all humans have a right to life, liberty, and a pursuit of happiness.
HOW - our Core Values are the values we hold most dear, through which we show what we believe, out of which our culture grows, out of which our laws are defined, redefined, and removed. It does NOT attempt to define every situation, or create every law, or prevent every problem. it is our WHY and HOW, out of which we are left to determine WHAT.
We believe in fair representation of the people
We believe in freedom to defend ourselves.
We believe in speaking out against injustice.
We believe in expressing ourselves as we see fit.
We believe that no individual should hold total power to undo these things.
Hope this helps, or at least stimulates discussion.