Book Review – START WITH WHY – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action – by Simon Sinek

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If anything, you can call me an impulsive reader – it catches my attention and I pick the book up – and can read almost anything. But self-help or management or such genres were never on my list. The first time I heard Simon Sinek was in a small video clip forwarded in one of the WhatsApp groups where he talks about the millenniums in the workplace. I just loved it. It had hit it right on the head. Then I got to see a few more video clips, courtesy WhatsApp, and by then I was utterly impressed with the ideas of this person. What I liked most was its simplicity. The things he said did not need us to be a qualified rocket scientist. Au contraire, all it needed is we be true to our beliefs and not delude ourselves. So, when I chanced upon this book by him, there was no way I was going to give it a miss.

Start With Whystarts on a very basic premise – which is most often ignored or overlooked – that we start with the WHY. Every action, every gesture, every thought has a reason for being generated, for coming into existence. So, if we want to do justice to it, we must not ignore the Why. Simon’s examples are such that we can relate to it. Martin Luther King Jr., Apple (as in an organization) and Southwest Airlines. All well-known and famous for their philosophies or thoughts; each one an inspiring leader in its own right. Each was clear about WHY they were doing WHAT they were doing. Dr King knew that for making the civil rights movement a success, his single vision to change the country, he had to inspire people to change not just for the colored but for everyone; Wozniak envisioned the personal computer as a way for the regular man to have access to modern technology and Jobs marketed it as an affordable and simple personal computer; the guiding principles of Southwest Airlines was to make air travel accessible to the common man. They all knew WHY they were doing WHAT they were doing.
Simon feels that only if one has a clarity about the WHY can he be a true leader, an inspiration for the others to follow and emulate. On the other hand, manipulation only leads to short term achievement of goals with no loyalty. He has clearly explained the concepts of WHY, WHAT and HOW using his now-famous theory of the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle helps to locate order and predictability in the otherwise assumed unpredictable human behavior. This concept could be used in a multitude of business and organization scenarios; it could also be applicable to one’s life. He has used this principle to explain some case studies of famous organisations. From Walmart to Costco, from United Airlines to Southwest Airlines, from Apple to Microsoft. Reading about these examples and how they either lost their way up or how they reinvented themselves to stay true to what they believed in, makes it an insightful read. He has not shied away from using himself as an example, which gives the whole principle a lot more credibility and acceptability.  
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There’s no deficiency of inspiration, or of people who inspire. But it’s how the message is conveyed that creates the maximum impact. For one to inspire, one has to be clear about their own beliefs, their WHY, and only then can they inspire others to do their WHAT and teach them HOW to do it. In his words, “WHY is just a belief.…HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions.” The effortless flow of the narrative is what made reading this book a pleasure; it was almost like a conversation – a knock-on-the-head kind of conversation. A must read for all those who seem to be stuck and can’t figure out what they are doing wrong. Truly inspirational.
Some memorable lines/quotes from the book are – “The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great idea can happened.”
 “Money is never a cause, it is always a result.”
“Achievement is something you reach or attain, like a goal…. Success, in contract, is a feeling or a state of being.”

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