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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.
Sinek relies on tired adages from Apple, Microsoft, Southwest, etc. The book is mostly made up of tired old tales, instead of unique and actionable ideas. The parts of the book that offer insight could be summed up in a small pamphlet. The book doesn't talk about HOW leaders start with why, it's just a collection of the same three examples over and over.
Don't waste your time on this book.
Let's start with why. Sinek is an awfully repetitive and, frankly, unskilled writer. He lays out his thesis and then repeats it like a rower repeats his stroke. As he drags out the book to whatever number of words he needed to fulfill book contract, he re/illustrates his thesis with different examples. This would have made the book slightly more tolerable, except the examples are so ordinary and well known that they will put you to sleep. Apple, Disney, JFK, Hitler. Yawn. Even that might be fine if he had spent five minutes on Wikipedia to research less-known stories about them, but it doesn't look like he did.
This book should have been a column in a weekend newspaper, or, at best, a chapter in another book about leadership. Not worth your time.
Simon is dead on with his idea though. Our business accelerator class ALWAYS makes us start off with the "Why" before ever moving forward with a plan. This is a great book to read to make you say "WHY" am I doing this? Once you read this you will know your "Why." Great quick read!
Rarely do I get only part way through a book before recommending it, but this one is an exception. I warn you to forgive any of its apparent redundancies and reiterations and instead weave them into the fabric of the overall picture. You will find yourself seeing more vivid colors as the image emerges.
As I read it, it elicits flashbacks of my first-hand and second-hand experiences in business, or rather managing, leading, and leadership; three distinct roles. And the reason for the distinction is simple if you ... start with why. At Apple we called that Passion.