6 Key Takeaways from “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek

6 Key Takeaways from “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek

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After finishing up Simon Sinek’s novel Start With Why, a book on displaying how great leaders lead and communicate to others, I figured I’d share my understandings and takeaways from it. Here are 6 key takeaways from Start With Why.

The Golden Circle

Sinek’s overarching theme for the novel is his built concept of “The Golden Circle”.

The Golden Circle Diagram
The Golden Circle Model by Simon Sinek ; Dave Chaffey Start with Why: Creating a value proposition with the Golden Circle model

3 Areas of the Circle:

  • WHAT: What every company sells or ‘gives’ to consumers. e.g. the product, service
  • HOW: Differentiating factor, USP
  • WHY: Purpose, vision, meaning, Why are you doing this?

The leading notion to take away from this is that leaders should be working from an Inside-Out mentality; not the usual Outside-In that plagues most. They focus on selling to consumers WHAT they sell and sometimes, HOW they sell it. But very rarely is promotion of their WHY on the table. Furthermore, all must be in balance as if the WHY gets disrupted or hazy, the whole business and the view of it can slowly collapse and lose loyalty.

Inspirational vs Manipulative Marketing

Marketing is everywhere and more importantly, it is crucial for a business to thrive and survive. As Sinek explains however, the problem arises when we look at methods utilized by businesses on marketing practice. Most organizations focus on manipulative marketing to attract consumers. This comes in various styles such as below:

  • Price: Reductions, price leadership, etc.
  • Promotions: BOGO, free gifts, add-ons
  • Fear: “Stay away from it because its harmful”, “smoking causes…”
  • Aspirations: “You can do it, were here to help”
  • Peer Pressure: “Oprah does it, why don’t you?”
  • Novelty: “Try our new..”, “The first company to…”

While these all may work, they usually are only effective in the short term. Just because they are driving results (again, in the short term), it doesn’t mean they’ll be effective in the long term. Furthermore, they are missing the most important point; they aren’t building loyalty. This methodology is focused on the WHAT aspect, or strictly what you are selling and nothing more.

Effective marketing comes from being inspirational; a focus on the WHY not the WHAT. When you promote through your reason of existing and your overarching purpose, customers feel more connected and in sync with you, thus building loyalty and long term growth.

The Brain & the Science of WHY

Our brain works similar to how Sinek’s Golden Circle functions.

Sinek's Golden Circle in comparison to our Brain System Concept
The Golden Circle in Comparison to our Human Brain Concept; Anthony Villis FIRST WEALTH’S “WHY” DAY –THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

The 2 areas of focus of the brain here are the Neocortex and the Limbic Brain:

  • Neocortex: Understanding data analysis, rationality and language
  • Limbic System: Controls feelings, behavior and decision-making

The reason it’s hard for us to put our gut feelings into expressible words is due to the fact that both those functions come from 2 separate domains of the brain. But great leaders execute on ‘gut’ decisions, which derive from the Limbic System. As Sinek writes, “Great leaders are those who trust their guts. They are those who understand the art before science, they win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.”

Great leaders win hearts before minds

– Simon Sinek

People Buy the Vision, Not the Product

Sinek heavily utilizes Apple throughout the novel on their organization and their impact of the industry. The reason they are so successful is not from their products alone. Yes, they are high-grade, sleek, modern, etc. but the true value comes from their purpose and why the company exists. Apple wanted to “challenge the status quo & think different” and they then completed this through their HOW and WHAT. When consumers can relate and feel a connection to why a company exists, they are more willing to engage and furthermore, stay with you through the long term. People buy your WHY, your vision and purpose; not your products.

A Dream & A Plan Are Interdependent

As I wrote in my previous article, “What the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Taught Me” , an analysis on Stephen Covey’s phenomenal novel, Leadership and Management are 2 separate entities but they are interdependent. The same concept applies here; the WHY, or the dream, must have a HOW, or a plan.

  • WHY Type: This is the visionary; the charismatic and optimistic leader with overactive imaginations. They focus on things that people can’t see and are not accomplished quite yet.
    • Vision Statements are primarily focused on the this person; the Founder’s Intent.
  • HOW Type: More of an analytical and strategic director. They are more practical and realists. They live in the ‘now’ and focus on tangibles.
    • Mission Statements are the plan to execute the Vision.

Every WHY needs a HOW to succeed. The HOW type brings a WHY type’s vision into reality.

Achievement vs Success

Many people who achieve great success don’t always feel it. Why? Well, because we have 2 differing aspects at play here.

  • Achievement: Something you reach or attain, such as a goal.
    • These are tangible, clearly defined and measurable. It comes from when you purse and attain WHAT you want. But there is no further meaning or emotion attached to this.
  • Success: A feeling, State of being
    • This is intangible and not so easily measurable. It comes from when you are clear in your pursuit of WHY you want something.
    • Much harder to achieve and ‘feel’.

Achievement is What you do, but Success is Why you do it.


I hope you enjoyed reading through and if you feel like you’ve taken something away from this, leave a like and share it around! Give the book Start With Why a shot; you may learn something valuable for yourself! Appreciate you and thanks for reading!

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This Post Has 3 Comments

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    Very good job writing them in this blog article
    Best regards,
    Mead Hessellund

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    Thank you for the article.
    King regards,
    Harrell Henneberg

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