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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.
The book provides a number of well researched industry examples where companies were successful or failed as a result of the leader's ability to create and maintain the vision. It also has some interesting discussions about the difficulty in maintaining a vision especially where the leader becomes the symbol of the message (Steve Jobs and Apple for example).
I enjoyed the book and found the content useful. I only gave it three stars as I found it repetitive and too long relative to the content. This would be a good candidate for an audiobook for the gym or long car ride.
Also, where the video feels primarily like a motivational/inspirational piece that may strike some as offering a suspiciously simple solution to a problem that has vexed marketers and executives for as long as there have been marketers and executives, the book takes a bit more of a dip into the nitty-gritty and acknowledges some of the challenges that remain even for those who are able to get at the WHY (a concept Sinek has chosen to express in full caps) of an organization. Where the TED Talk focuses on the neccesity of leaders with the vision and the ability to communicate what they believe and to bring others on board with that belief, the book at least gives lip service to the idea that vision alone is not enough—one still needs talent that is able to implement that vision at all levels of an organization and, of course, the WHY needs to be something others can be inspired by and be willing to believe in.
I do find Sinek's premise to be convincing, though his approach sometimes feels a bit facile. Obviously, simple ideas can also be brilliant ideas and, sometimes, are brilliant precisely because they are simple. Yet, and perhaps this is just my own particular temperament, I wish he had emphasized the inspirational a bit less (including the numerous repetitions, such as "People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it") and spent more time building a stronger case for his argument. As it stands, his arguments are backed up by anecdotes rather than case studies, and while these arguments are compelling, and the anecdotal evidence to support them is extensive, it seems like it could have benefitted tremendously from a more substantial exploration of the ways in which companies such as Apple and Southwest Airlines go about building entire organizations around the concept of WHY.
Still, the book that Sinek did write is a worthwhile read and it does provide good food for thought for anyone in a leadership position looking to get a better grip on the whole vision thing.
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The print is small making it harder to read. If you have a hard time reading small print this read will be difficult.Read more