Start With Why Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Start With Why is Simon Sinek’s mission to help others do work, which inspires them, and uses real-world examples of great leaders to show you how they communicate and how you can adapt their mindset to inspire others yourself.

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Simon Sinek’s first TEDx talk from 2009 is now the 3rd most watched TED talk of all time, sitting at well over 25 million views. I first came across it in 2012 and was instantly hooked on the idea.

The reason his mantra is so magnetic is that it’s incredibly simple, yet very universal. Many of history’s most inspiring leaders seem to have internalized his idea of the golden circle and communicate it the right way.

Here are 3 lessons you should take away from Start With Why:

  1. If you want to inspire others, always communicate your why first.
  2. Excited employees are the best resource for any business.
  3. You don’t need sleazy sales tactics when you start with why.

Buckle up, it’s about to get inspirational!

Start With Why Summary

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Lesson 1: If you want to inspire others, always communicate your why first.

This is Simon’s key idea in a nutshell: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Every company in the world knows what they do, which is why it’s the first thing they tell people about. But rationale is a weak way of trying to get us to make decisions, probably the weakest of them all.

That’s because emotions trump reason every time. When we make a decision based on a strong why, we own it.

Only when we know why we do things, will we feel a sense of belonging. That’s why it’s a much more powerful way of getting us to decide.

Once we are sold on the cause of an idea, we’ll go above and beyond to support it with our money and time. And in the cases of some movements, even with our lives.

Great leaders and companies naturally get this right. They start all communication with why they do things, eventually followed by how they do things. And they reveal what it is they actually do very last.

Apple is a great example. First, they tell us why they’re here to shake things up, then they tell us how (with easy-to-use, beautifully designed products). Finally, we find out what they make: computers, phones, tablets, and mp3-players.

By the time they get to their what, we’re long sold on their cause and are ready to support them in every way we can.

If you want to inspire others, start by telling them why you do things, instead of what you do, and you’ll see a massive change in engagement.

Lesson 2: Excited employees are the backbone of the best businesses.

Which business wouldn’t want their employees to go above and beyond for the company’s success?

To do this, start by building your business around a cause. Then, assemble people who share your why.

Instead of relying on big paychecks, threatening deadlines or highly qualified graduates, look for the people who are already motivated by the same reasons as you are and inspire them even more.

Who would you rather have working for you?

Excel pro Johnny, who’s only here to collect his consulting fee? Or Lisa, who needs some time to learn, but wants to see the world change in the same way you do?

Hire people for their cause, not their craft, and watch your business bloom.

Lesson 3: When you start with why there’s no need for sleazy sales tactics.

Why do companies use sales funnels, red discount signs, limited time offers, and social proof to trick you into buying their products?

Because they work!

But sadly, these kinds of psychological manipulations are just as short-lived as the joy these businesses get from making yet another sale.

They don’t create trust, but evoke skepticism and they sure don’t create trusting or loyal customers.

When you start with why and just communicate from the inside out, you’ll build a group of customers that trust you, true fans, 1000 of which can make your business last a lifetime.

They’ll always prefer the product of their favorite creator or company over cheaper or even better solutions, because they believe in you and your why.

So don’t waste time with sleazy sales tactics, spread your why and let true connections follow.

Start With Why Review

Simon’s TED talk made me question a lot of things. It’s one of the many bits and pieces that got me started on the path I am on today – towards freedom and work I’m passionate about.

So first of all: go watch his talk – it’ll change your life or at least your perspective on it.

After reading the summary of Leaders Eat Last already, this had to get a re-run. The set of blinks is short, and I’m really curious to see more of the examples that were used there and in his talk, I’m very much inclined to get the book.

He also offers a course, which looks interesting and includes a hard copy of the book. If you want to see Start With Why in action, look at the intro video of the course – Simon is a master of communicating his why.

Reading the summary on Blinkist will get you a few extra bits and pieces after watching his talk. But going straight from the talk to the book makes sense in this case if you ask me.

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Who would I recommend the Start With Why summary to?

The 18 year old high school student at the brink of college, who has a chance to start pursuing a great career early once he finds his why, the 48 year old business owner, who wonders why her employees lack drive recently, and anyone who hasn’t found their why.

Last Updated on July 27, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!