Manuel Brandt

Book Notes: Start With Why

These are my notes after reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

Here Are My Key Learnings:

  1. Begin with the Reason: The main idea is to first figure out “Why” you’re doing something. This means knowing the purpose or belief behind your actions. Most people start with “What” they do, but the book says it’s better to start with “Why.”
  2. The Golden Circle Model: This model has three parts:
    • Why: This is the heart of your work. It’s the reason your business exists.
    • How: This is the way you bring your “Why” to life.
    • What: This is the actual thing your business does.
  3. People Don’t Buy What You Do, They Buy Why You: The book says that people are more drawn to why you do something than what you actually do. When your reasons connect with people’s beliefs, they become more loyal to you.
  4. The Law of Diffusion of Innovation: The book talks about how new ideas or products become popular. First, a few innovative people get interested, and if they really connect with the idea, more and more people start to like it.
  5. Leaders Need Followers: A leader who knows their “Why” but doesn’t have followers isn’t going to get far. A good leader makes others excited about their cause.
  6. Building Trust and Loyalty: When a company always shows its “Why” in what it does, people start to trust and stay loyal to it. This is good for long-term success.
  7. Inspire, Don’t Manipulate: The book suggests that instead of trying to make people buy things through deals or pressure, it’s better to inspire them with your “Why.” This creates customers who stay with you because they really believe in what you do.
  8. Be Authentic: Being true to your “Why” and really living it makes you stand out. It’s about being genuine in what you say and do.

In short, “Start with Why” teaches that knowing and showing your purpose is key in business. . It’s a guide to building a strong, inspiring leadership style and creating organizations that stand out, remain true to their core values, and this way remain relevant.

It’s another proof that doing the fundamentals right is key, which I learned last year heavily. Focus on the basics, your why, your vision, your audience, the problem you’re solving and how you want to solve it, product-market fit, instead of quick fixes, discounts, e.t.c.

My Favorite Quotes:

“Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit. Those who are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering.”

“If the leader of the organization can’t clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?”

“Though always effective, manipulations don’t breed loyalty and they increase costs and stress for all parties involved.”

“The goal of business should not be to do business with anyone who simply wants what you have. It should be to focus on the people who believe what you believe.”

“All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; and an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves. It’s not Bill Gates’s passion for computers that inspires us, it’s his undying optimism that even the most complicated problems can being solved.”

“If WHAT you do doesn’t prove what you believe, then no one will know what your WHY is and you’ll be forced to compete on price, service, quality, features and benefits; the stuff of commodities.

“Sitting at the top of the system, representing the WHY, is a leader; in the case of a company, that’s usually the CEO (or at least we hope it is). The next level down, the HOW level, typically includes the senior executives who are inspired by the leader’s vision and know HOW to bring it to life. The leader sits at the top of the coneโ€”at the start, the point of WHYโ€”while the HOW-types sit below and are responsible for actually making things happen. The leader imagines the destination and the HOW-types find the route to get there.”

Simply being around a charismatic founder allows that feeling of being a part of something special to flourish.

“Those with an ability to never lose sight of WHY, no matter how little or how much they achieve, can inspire us. Those with the ability to never lose sight of WHY and also achieve the milestones that keep everyone focused in the right direction are the great leaders. For great leaders, The Golden Circle is in balance.”

The only succession plan that will work is to find a CEO who believes in and wants to continue to lead that movement, not replace it with their own vision of the future.

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