Start With Why (S. Sinek)

“Asking the wrong questions leads to gathering the wrong answers.” The author opens the book with a strong contrast between Samuel Piedepoint Langley vs. the Wright brothers. How did the Wright brothers succeed in creating an airplane without as much money or a talented team of experts? The answer is simpler than you would expect. Because they were able to inspire those around them. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. 

Those who can inspire people to act, give others a sense of purpose and belonging that has little to do with external incentive or benefit to be gained. Short term incentives such as ‘deals’, discounts, punishments, monetary gain at work, and other tactics are manipulative, they are not inspiring and they lead to transactions not loyalty. Innovation that is disruptive is Inspirational. For Example: take the Iphone who did not let the cellphone carrier dictate what the phone should do like all other cellphone manufacturers (i.e. Motorola). Instead they cut a deal with a single carrier who would support their features (AT&T). Everything that Apple does supports their why, and that is why they come across as authentic. 

We are drawn to companies and leaders who are good at articulating what they believe. Starting with why communicates directly to the limbic system which controls behavior. The behavior side of the brain has no language but decides within seconds things such as trust and safety. 

Richard Nestak in ‘The naked Brain’ says that when you force people to make decisions with the rational part of their brain, they end up overthinking. Companies and people who don’t communicate the why, leaves us making decisions with a rational mind and gets us overthinking about facts and features, which can be overwhelming. 

The limbic system is what we call the heart of gut feelings. It is not possible to win hearts with rational decisions. Starting with why we do what we do, we can innovate faster and align SMEs to think outside the box.

‘If I have asked people what they wanted the would have said faster horses’ (Henry Ford). That is the genius of great leadership, to read what people need and give it to them. There is always a level at which we trust ourselves and other to make a decision even without all the facts. And there are times where we do not trust ourselves to make a decision yet.  Sinek claims that the role of a leader is not to come up with great ideas but to create en environment where great ideas happen. 

Overall I give this book a 8-10 because the content was good but I find it unnecessarily lengthy.

What did you think of this book? Leave your comments below.

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