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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 recently read a book that had a simple message that basically could be told in half a page worth of words – and as it happens it actually was. But then the author kept on going and going and going and filled up a book in excess of 200 pages just on the very same idea seen from different angles and with different examples.
In truth I found that book was boring indeed and found I’m, not a subscriber of a book that basically has just one idea.
Now, Simon Sinek’s book “ Start With Why” is actually also about just one idea and like the other book that one idea is really told in less than half a page worth of words and yet this book too extends beyond 200 pages. But this book I loved. It’s a brilliant book indeed. Yes, possibly a little too labored and long at times, but with speed-reading, you are soon past those passages and back into the great stuff again.
The difference is that the book uses so many great explorations of the importance and the applications of his idea. It brings anecdotes and references to stories of successful companies from their usage their “why” and how they turned not so successful when they swayed away from their “why”.
The idea is greatly exemplified in the book by references to Apple and Steve Jobs, to Richard Branson and Virgin, to Helb Kelleher and SoutWest Airlines, to Bill Gates and Microsoft, Walt Disney and Disney, Martin Luther King and “I have a dream”, Howard Schultz and Starbucks, Michael Dell and Dell Computer and several more.
You probably already know the stories of what happened to the companies when Steve Jobs left Apple (was ousted), when Howard Schultz left Starbucks and Michael Dell left Dell Computer – and then you probably know how these companies started to perform again once they came back.
It contains great lessons for the rest of us who hold aspirations of leadership and entrepreneurial success and who are trying to build businesses. In other words this book is a great book along the lines of the best books on Mission and Visions. In addition, however, it also spells of the how and shows the importance of the people behind the visionary leader who have been instrumental in making the how work out for the companies – like Steve Wozniak of Apple and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft just to name two of them.
Then there’s the “what” – which honestly I didn’t focus on too much when reading the book – or was it because the book didn’t focus much on it either? Either way, the why is the important and the interesting part (great to have a good “how” along the way too – as even I have experienced in at least one of my previous companies).
There’s much more I could say about this book, but then I would rather just say: “Just go get it and read it for yourself”.
Too much valuable stuff in there for you not to read it. Especially if you wish to lead people and/or if you wish to build a grand company, cause or spread a worthwhile idea.
In closing, however, I must say, I also love the brutally honest way Simon Sinek shares his thoughts. He even calls Bill Gates a social misfit (but have no doubt, retains utmost respect for him and his brilliance).
Mikkel Pitzner, Serial Entrepreneur, multiple best-selling author and author of forthcoming book: “The Automated Millionaire”.