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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  72,542 ratings  ·  3,960 reviews
"A powerful and penetrating exploration of what separates great companies and great leaders from the rest."
-Polly LaBarre, coauthor of Mavericks at Work
Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?

In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon
Paperback, 246 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Portfolio (first published October 29th 2009)
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Dustin Certainly - although you'll miss some great flavor! I personally found this to be a pretty quick read. To shorten it up, you could focus on the first…moreCertainly - although you'll miss some great flavor! I personally found this to be a pretty quick read. To shorten it up, you could focus on the first 100 pages and skim the rest - although be sure to read the bit about his "celery test" in chapters 9 and 10. Also the afterward is a good description of what leadership is. Honestly, Simon's talks are better than his books - watch some first, get a feel for how he thinks; if you enjoy those, you'll enjoy the book. (less)
Ryen I think you need to decide first what you aim to get out of the book - the principles are great and it's backed up by decent anecdotes. The Golden…moreI think you need to decide first what you aim to get out of the book - the principles are great and it's backed up by decent anecdotes. The Golden Circle theory has a whole range of applications - but the effectiveness is decided by you.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.07  · 
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 ·  72,542 ratings  ·  3,960 reviews

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Sean Gibson
Me: “I’ll take ‘Books That Should Have Been Long Articles or Essays Instead of Books’ for $500, please, Alex.”

Alex Trebek: “This book takes hundreds of pages, including at least 4,398 references to how great Apple is, to make a fairly simple (albeit important) point, and was likely written by someone from the Department of Redundancy Department.”

Me: “What is ‘Start With Why’?”

The idea at the core of this book—that successful companies can clearly articulate WHY they are in business (beyond makin
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great TED Talk, but not enough to carry a book.
The author utters the same platitudes over and over. The main concept is that persuasive argument starts with connection, then emotions, then facts. This goes back to Aristotle and is nothing new.
The plus-value here would come from present real world illustrations, but this is where he trips himself up in self-contradictions.
For example, Apple Inc. is great because they are so original, i.e. they don't just copy and refine, they truly "innovate."
Jesse Field
Stuart Sinek gave a really great TED Talk that summarizes the argument of this book: when we get caught up in the details of HOW and WHAT we are working on, it is very easy to forget WHY we are doing it.

For example, at the turn of the 20th century, the Wright brothers were trying to build something that would fly with no support and very little money of their own. Meanwhile, Samuel Pierpont Langley was given full government subsidy to solve the problem of flight. But the Wright brothers got the
Avolyn Fisher
Feb 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, 2014
I am only on page 90 and this book is driving me nuts. I usually don't review a book or make a comment before I have finished reading it but I have to get this off of my chest so I can power through the rest.

First of all, I agree 100% with Sinek in that a company has to have an established vision and mission in which the company culture hinges upon with a unified purpose. I believe that it is important to hold yourself and your company to an ethical standard. However, beyond that I think Sinek
Loy Machedo
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Start With Why by Simon Sinek

TED Talks is an incredible platform for someone to either make it or break it. And in the case of Simon Sinek, the 5 Million plus views he received on his talk not only must have catapulted him to the ‘Management Guru’ status, it also ensured his book became a New York Time Best Seller.

But here let me surprise you – The book is Great and then the Author & Book Publisher Mess it up badly.

Lets start with the fundamentals.
What made Simon
Henry Manampiring

I was lured by this book because of Sinek's TED video. Great video and idea, and I should have stopped there.

I feel that the book can be cut by 75% without losing its message. What's really annoying is the overuse of Apple as a example. Like, really? There are other examples in the book, the massive use of Apple story is just irritating.

Borrow the book and skim through it. But it is not worth buying. Watch the TED video for fre
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, goodgift
The author wants us to communicate from the inside of the golden circle, not from the outside of it.
He believes that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

"People don’t do business with everyone who has what they need.
They do business with people who believe in the same thing they believe in."

more @
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Simon Sinek presents a compelling vision of how companies, organizations, and individuals can achieve success. His simple message? Start with why. Which is to say the guiding principle of our endeavors should be based not on what we do or how we do it, but rather on why we do it. According to Sinek, those agencies that can effectively articulate their "why" (or purpose) are most likely to develop loyal followers and long term success.

Sounds great Jeff, so why just two stars? Well, there's a num
Jason Boling
Feb 02, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Using selective facts or analogies to suit an assertion, gratuitous statements often contradicting other assertions, and selective use of parts of a bigger story while conveniently overlooking others in the same context are among the reasons why I found this book to be of no value in leadership development. The author works backwards in that he has a belief in his view of what makes great leaders and selects biased or incomplete data or uses unsubstantiated hyperbole to set about making the case ...more
Jurgen Appelo
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
One good point, offered with endless repetition, extreme oversimplification, and annoying inconsistencies, in a bad writing style.
Lili Manolache
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simon Sinek describes in his book "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" how leaders and companies should work as a series of circles, i.e. "The Golden Circle" - the why, how, and what. This idea explains why organizations and leaders inspire the others. Everybody knows what they do, some know how they do it, very few people know why they do what they do. The way we communicate, think and act is very easy: we go from the clear things we know to the more fuzzy ones. T ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever noticed that books written for entrepreneurs or other tech-bros love to write about Shackleton? Am I the only one who thinks the dude put himself and his crew in a pickle and then gets lauded for getting them out of the self-imposed pickle? Anyway, they also love to talk about the Wright brothers and Steve Jobs.

The thing with these books is that they can't prove that these people succeeded because they had a WHY. In fact, I've seen those stories used to prove a whole bunch of diff
Abo Ahmad

هذا كتابٌ اسمه أكبر من محتواه.
الكتاب نُشر عام 2009 يعني ليس حديثاً، ولبّه يُختصر في 3 أسطر:
لكي تنجح في حياتك الشخصية والعملية والمهنية، على مستوى الأفراد أو المنظمات أو الشركات الكبرى فعليك أن تركّز على [ لماذا ] بكل تفصيلها، والتي تعني بشكلٍ من الأشكال الغوص في العمق لمعرفة أسباب العمل الذي تقوم به بدلاً من السؤال عن [ ماذا ] ستفعله، و [ كيف] ستفعله.
الكتاب من 6 فصول رئيسية يندرج تحت كل فصل أبواب فرعية، تدور أغلبها عن قصص وخبرات لشركات كبرى نجحت وأخرى أخفقت، مع إيضاح أنّ سبب النجاح فيها هو الترك
William Aicher
I get the message and agree that "why?" is probably the most important question any leader should be asking... and answering. The book was inspiring, to be sure. But it also felt full of speculation as to why certain companies succeed and others don't. It wasn't that what Sinek says is wrong, but it's based upon a lot of assumptions and relationships why little empirical evidence. Carefully chosen examples that tend to confirm his theory, but still anecdotal at best.
Experience Life
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are easily caught up in the details of what we want to do, and how we are going to get it all done. Communications expert Simon Sinek argues that we’d be far better off if we more regularly focused on why we’re investing all that effort and activity in the first place. It’s the WHY, after all, that inspires action, that galvanizes people and keeps them going when the going gets tough. Embodying our WHYs and effectively communicating them to anyone who will listen, asserts Sinek, is crucial to ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was alright, for non-fiction, I guess. It’s hard for me to gauge, given my intense loathing for non-fiction books. They’re so unenjoyable.

Sinek writes decently enough, and I totally buy what he’s dishing out, but I gotta say, by the 9th time he uses Apple or Southwest (or etc.) as an illustrative example, I’m a bit “I get it already!” It seems a bit...convenient.

He also contends that finding the WHY is not the hard part - it’s sticking to your WHY that’s difficult. If this is so true…w
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Start with Why is one of my all time favorite Ted Talks. This book is a longer version of the same concept. For the first few chapters, I did not feel that I was really getting any new information. However, the latter portion of the book went in to more specific examples of how great leaders have changed the face of their companies by focusing on Why.
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Interesting ideas, poorly presented, with 90% of examples being white men in tech. Try harder.
Leah Nadeau
All in all a good book. Basically base your product/service/business around WHY, more so than what or how.

- "There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.... Typical manipulations include: dropping the price; running a promotion; using fear, peer pressure or aspirational messages; and promising innovation to influence behavior—be it a purchase, a vote or support."
- price/promotion play is not good for the brand and playing that game will
Mohit Pahuja
Apr 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewing a book before completing it isn't a great idea usually, but I completed only 30% of the book and it's just too much fluff. The idea is simple but explanations are redundant. Simon's Ted Talk was great but I don't think it's enough content for a book. He doesn't support his theories with enough evidence. Sometimes, I could think of the counter examples very easily. That made me doubt the author's credibility. And the concept of Golden Ratio that he introduced to give legitimacy to his c ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I read in my list. Simon Sinek, the author of the book, narrated very clear how great leaders started with WHY and inspired people.

The best part of this book is 'The Golden Circle', which has three layers of WHY at the core, followed by 'HOW', followed by 'WHAT', and which is very much similar to the biological arrangement of human brain of limbic and neocortex. If we have the clarity of WHY we do, know the HOW we can do and maintain consistency of that WHAT we do,
Karen ⊰✿
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookiam, uno_2018
Having read Leaders Eat Last, and watching and following everything Sinek does, I thought it was about time to go back to his original book.
With a basis in anthropology, but a strategic marketing mind and experience, Sinek has created a great argument for why "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". Work out your own personal "why" and you will be successful provided you stay true to that "why" AND make sure others in your organisation also understand and believe in that "why".

Chad Warner
Jun 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chad by: Barbara Littles
This book explains that people buy from a company because they believe in its values, not because of the quality of its products or services. In Sinek’s words, “People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” Customers and employees want to be part of a higher cause (your WHY), so you need to share yours and show how your products or service advance that cause. If you watch TED Talks, you’ve probably seen Sinek’s 2009 talk, How great leaders inspire action, which this book expands on.

Chad Kettner
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Simon Sinek offers a life-altering and business-changing message: "Start with Why". Why do you do what you do? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should people care?

The golden circle - the "why, how, and what" - is grounded in biology. If you were to look at a cross-section of the brain from the top, you’d see that it corresponds perfectly.

Starting at the top, our ‘newest’ brain, our homo-sapien brain (also called our neocortex) is our “what” and is responsible for all our rationa
Annemieke Windt
In his book Start with Why Simon Sinek makes a case for companies to have a clear Why as the underlying principle for doing business. Using the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King and Apple as primary examples Sinek states that companies that are clear about why they are in business have a better chance of loyality from costumers, even when the company experiences setbacks.

Sinek claims that companies that only have What they make and How they make it at the heart of their business will suffer di
Ricardo Sueiras
I got this book via a recommendation from a friend, so I was probably one of the few that had not seen the TED talk which contains much of the information within this book.

I was interested in this book as I thought it would provide some useful insights and background into helping understand the critical success factors into driving change. I am pretty passionate about a lot of tech stuff, and looked at this book as perhaps revealing how others translate passion into action, and how these compare
Fred Leland
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very well researched and written in a way that indeed gels with the Author Simon Sinek s "WHY" of inspiring others. The book is based on the premise of most people know what they do. Some know how to do WHAT they do. But very few know WHY they do what they do. Most think from what to how and then on to why. Simon Sinek submits...start with WHY and the how and what will come naturally. By WHY he means whats our purpose,and beliefs behind what we do? The book provides great examples ...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
I read this book after having seen Simon Sinek's TED talk: It turns out, the TED talk is really all you need to watch. This book does little more than repeat that exact same message again and again.

Don't get me wrong: that message is extraordinarily important. It's something I keep in mind every single day as I build my company, as I work on talks, when I write blog posts, and so on. The talk conveys 99.9% of everything you need to know about this messa
Andrew Anderson
Oct 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crap, management
The cover of this repetative slog is "How great leaders inspire everyone to take action", which sounds interesting and perhaps even useful. Unfortunately what is between the covers is the same useless "case studies" (I hesitate to grant them that much weight) repeated again and again for more than one hundred and fifty pages.

None of the material supporting the book's main thesis past the first is particularly insightful. It's just the same stuff over and over again; a blunt hammer approach to wh
Nov 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book.

It is overly simplistic, repetitive, has little merit into the real world and was annoying to read. This book could have said everything in 20 pages but instead dragged it out to 200. the examples (in my opinion the only part of the book actually worth reading) are too far and between to make up for the fact that the book is just annoying and repetitive. WHAT WHY HOW, these 3 words were capitalized almost every time they were used and placed in every non example part of the boo
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Simon Sinek is an optimist. He believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together.

Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. With a bold goal to help build a world in which the vast majority of people go home everyday feeling fulfilled by their work, Sinek is leading a movement to inspire people to do the
“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” 226 likes
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.

For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea - we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.

Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order.

Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.

You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.

Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.

Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down.

All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”
More quotes…