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on January 26, 2017
As pointed out already, the message is indeed excellent and it got me interested when I first watched the TED talk.. I bought the book waiting for the author to have elaborated more on this interesting idea, with more examples and comprehensive discussion. However, the book is insanely redundant with the same 2-3 examples repeated over and over and over and over again.. The author was trying so hard to make a many-page book out of the message and it was excruciating to go through this repetition..

Save your money and (most importantly) your time and just watch the TED talk on YT..
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on May 28, 2010
I really had to struggle with what rating to give this. Simon Sinek's idea is astoundingly insightful, very helpful, and definitely worth the price of this book let alone the Kindle price. I'm inclined to think that the world would be considerably better off if more people lived by Sinek's simple idea.

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.
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on March 11, 2015
A lot of people are searching for a clearer understanding of what "HOW" is (especially judging by the most highly rated review).

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
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
10.Be Humble

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.

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.
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on January 15, 2018
I've read and studied a lot of material over the last 2 years looking for answers to my life and business. What I didn't realize, is that I was looking for this book. While no book stands alone, this book puts the big picture together for me. Without a why I can find myself drifting from one opportunity to the next, with nothing more than fleeting excitement for a new idea. This book has inspired many thoughts as I read it, but it has helped me to truly put into perspective the age-old advice to follow your passion. It's not enough to follow your passion, you got to know why you're passionate for it. I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling to figure out what they want to do when they grow up. I'm off to read his follow-up book, Find Your Why.
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on January 21, 2017
I read a lot. At least a few hours a day. This book was awful.

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.
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on January 23, 2018
This book is one of the all-time great works in business success and personal development. Simon helped me to find my why with this book and I am forever grateful to him for that. Imagine how great our world would be if more companies really did start with why and build a business from the inside out, consistently applying their why and core values to everything they do? Wow. The thought excites. I've re-read this book 3 times and have highlights everywhere - do yourself a favor, if you run a business or want to discover how to lay a foundation that will last, read this book. Get it, read it, apply it. Thank you Simon for writing this, I am grateful for your sacrifice to bring this to fruition.
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on March 20, 2015
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Every once in a while I will pick up a book, look at the title, and know everything I need from the front cover. When I picked up Start With Why by Simon Sinek, I was certain I figured out the entire book: knowing why you do something is the most important thing. Was I wrong? Not really, but surprisingly I could not put the book down.

Success in the business world is nearly magic. You can gobs of money and loads of talent and still be bankrupt in a year. History is riddled with huge companies failing while small startups become huge successes.

Through his book, Sinek shows us success: Apple, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Wal-mart and others. He explains that these successes were built around great people who inspired others: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Herb Kelleher, Sam Walton, etc. These people may not have been great at business, in fact some did not know how to put together a business plan, but they understood what was most important to them. Once some of these men left their position, their business immediately began to flounder, mostly cause the company and its leader forgot their central purpose.

For a simple concept book, Start With Why was rather fascinating. It prompted me to look at my own work again; to remember why my career and how things will be better if I remember the “why.”

I think this book is a great book for any one in or seeking a leadership role.

“Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.”
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on December 9, 2017
While the majority of this book is about companies and the people who lead them, it is completely relatable to your personal life outside of work. Years ago, I worked for a company led by a man who clearly started with WHY. The company was bought out quite a few years ago, but my former colleagues and I still talk about the founder and the company with love and devotion. We describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that those who never experienced it couldn't possibly understand. My current company, which bought that former company, is much bigger so it's tough to compare, but I definitely believe that the leadership understands WHY as well.

I think everyone should read this book. Understand your company's WHY, your spouse's WHY, your children's WHY...and don't forget your own WHY.

#Farrakhan @simonsinek
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VINE VOICEon June 28, 2016
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
One of my favorite new-to-me quotes when it comes to leadership and business strategy comes from Emma Goldman: "There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another." Another is the classic line from Jurassic Park when Malcolm chastises the scientists for being "...so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." That's why "Start with Why" resonates with me so much, because all too often in business, people focus on tactics or what they can do without considering if they should use those tactics and to what end.

"Start with Why" expounds on that foundational premise that before you start anything, you need to explore and define why you are doing it. What do you hope to achieve? Does it support your mission? Will it move the needle? Is it within your capabilities? It seems like a basic premise, but all too often I see it ignored where people charge ahead or chase after bright shiny objects without considering if why and if they should. Readers probably already realize this, so the book really serves as reinforcement and reassurance that you're not alone, along with giving you talking points to make that argument to others who don't see it so readily. You may be able to capture that quicker in Sinek's TED talk or it may be belabored over 250+ pages, but it's still a quick read and relatively inexpensive, so I don't see it as a waste of time or money even if it is somewhat repetative to drive home the point.
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on May 29, 2017
Unfortunately, some business and leadership books turn out to be either too fundamental or predictable and therefore less informative than I would like. I made a biased error by delaying the reading of this book for so long; it languished on my to-read book shelf for so long simply because I made the assumption, based on the title, that I already understood its prevailing message. Mea Culpa and lesson learned.

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.
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