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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
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Book Discussions > Start With Why by Simon Sinek - June 2013

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Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments This is our official discussion of Start With Why.


message 2: by Aradia (new)

Aradia | 13 comments I am looking forward to reading and discussing this book tremendously! One of my fields of expertise is Leadership and I am intrigued by Mr. Sinek's premise for this book.


message 3: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Do you know what Enron's corporate slogan was?

"Ask Why?"

One question that no one asked and it was right there for all to see.


message 4: by Aradia (new)

Aradia | 13 comments A-M-E-N!


message 5: by Simon (new)

Simon Sinek | 9 comments Simon Sinek here. Happy to answer questions should anyone have any.


message 6: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Simon and members,

Does "why" only matters in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lack of competition, worrying about "why has gone by the wayside. I think they start with "how" to "squeeze" us even more.


message 7: by Aradia (new)

Aradia | 13 comments Hello Simon, very nice to meet you. I am sure I will enjoy hearing your input as I read your book and am overcome with the urge to discuss it!


message 8: by Aradia (new)

Aradia | 13 comments I am ALWAYS overcome with the urge to discuss fascinating material that I read. :-D


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments Jay wrote: "Simon and members,

Does "why" only matters in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lack of competition, worrying about "why has ..."


Jay, like usual you have me thinking. I think why matters even when there is no competition. I suspect that companies can (and have) gone out of business even with no competition because they never began with why or perhaps because they forgot to keep asking why.


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments I just came back from a run. I always listen to audiobooks when I'm running. How/when do my book group friends read their books?

Anyway, as I read I'm thinking about small businesses. Its easy to draw correlations with big companies like Apple but when I think of small (often local) businesses is the why as important?

I suspect the answer is yes. Anyone care to share an example that comes to mind?


message 11: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments I think people and companies have interests, not loyalties necessarily. People often mix the two. Agree?


message 12: by Aradia (new)

Aradia | 13 comments Not necessarily Jay. I think people as individuals know the difference and do, for the most part, develop loyalties. I do, however, think that companies generally have interests and are adept at presenting them differently (depending on their specific goals) to people who then interpret them as they are guided. The unfortunate side-effect of the rise of advertising and the waning of truth and ethics as guiding principles.


Ariana | 17 comments I'm waiting for my copy of the book, but I have watched (and frequently refer others to) Simon's TED talk. I might have a soap box on this issue, but I believe the "Why" is always important regardless of the size of business or the presence of competition. It is the emotional pull that creates a sense of identity and connectedness that's meaningful rather then superficial. One book worth checking out on this is Napoleon Hill's "Outwitting the Devil" - he talks about definiteness of purpose. This also reminds me of Womack's "So that" test.

Anyway, few years ago I had the privilege of leading the development and implementation of a community outreach program to engage residents in contributing to the creation of one of the world's largest net-zero energy districts (know as FortZED). Up to that point the majority of efforts were focussed on the how and what, the engineers wanted to solve the problem! But without community buy-in and support engineering would only solve so much as behavior is key in these sorts of endeavors. I started every talk/training I gave with my why - I was involved in FortZED because I believed that these efforts made our community a better, more sustainable place to live, and provided an opportunity for us to show the world that Fort Collins is a leader. At the end of the day, I got WAY more buy-in from the community with my why than any engineers got with the how and the what.


message 14: by Kara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kara (KaraAyako) Just wanted to drop in and say, Simon, that I loved this book when I read it earlier this year. Our company read it for our enterprise-wide book club and got a lot out of it.

Looking forward to rereading it with the group.


message 15: by Jary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jary Welker (JaryWelker) | 17 comments I am intrigued by what seems to me to be so obvious in what I have read so far. I have always loved the quote attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, "He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how" and I can see the parallel in what I am reading. I think that the 'why' is, in some ways, even more important in the small business world. I don't think that I know of any successful entrepreneurs who did not first start with the 'why' and then figured out the 'how' and the 'what.' Who wakes up one morning and says, "I want to work 18 hour days, 7 days a week, and maybe even take on a fair amount of personal debt before I make any money." Yet, many will awake to a strong 'why' whether it is to respond to a social or community need, a family crisis, or a simple song of the heart and then do all of the other things mentioned above, the 'whats' and the 'hows', to achieve their 'why.' Where they sometimes struggle is when, over time and even unconsciously, the original 'why' is subordinated to the 'what' or the 'how' and they lose their way. Though the 'why' is not enough either. Some can elucidate a 'why' but they are unable to get the 'how' and 'what' to line up. Anyway, very fascinating reading. I think that I especially love the premise of starting with why because early in my sales career I had a trainer who called me to a three year old because I asked too many 'why' questions. I learned to quit asking her questions though I feel more vindicated now as I read this work. Thank you @simonsinek.


message 16: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Jary,

Good post. Asking why is very applicable to understand things better whether in our life, work or activities.

You will like this blog post in HBR on Five Whys by Eric Reis.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/04/the_f...


message 17: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments For job interviews, I guess the only three questions that really matter are what Simon Sinek talks about in this book.

Has anyone approached a job interview inside out from why, how and what? How did it go?


message 18: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments I got inspired by reading my own comment so I wrote a blog based on what we are learning reading Simon's book.

Blog title: "Ace this interview question: 'Can you please tell me something about yourself?'

Link: http://bit.ly/122ZjJm


message 19: by Simon (new)

Simon Sinek | 9 comments Jay wrote: "Simon and members,

Does "why" only matters in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lack of competition, worrying about "why has ..."


Jay - The Why matters all the time. Weak companies think things like this only matter when they have competition, as if seeing it only as a means to compete. It is much more than a means to compete, it is a means upon which to build a company. In fact, companies with the clearest sense of Why don't really care much what their competition is doing. They are on their own journey, their own train, and they wish everyone else the best of luck.


message 20: by Simon (new)

Simon Sinek | 9 comments Jacob wrote: "I just came back from a run. I always listen to audiobooks when I'm running. How/when do my book group friends read their books?

Anyway, as I read I'm thinking about small businesses. Its easy to ..."


The Why has nothing to do with scale - it matters in all businesses of all sizes. Scale just adds complication because we become physically disconnected from the founder who embodies the Why. What's more, if the founder is no longer there and the founding cause and folklore is no longer talked about, then things start to suffer.

This is most obvious in a large company, but it can happen at any point in the life of an organization. A successful small business owner, for example, who starts to believe it was what they did and how they did it that made the successful will also start to struggle.


message 21: by Simon (new)

Simon Sinek | 9 comments Jacob wrote: "I just came back from a run. I always listen to audiobooks when I'm running. How/when do my book group friends read their books?

Anyway, as I read I'm thinking about small businesses. Its easy to ..."


Companies don't have anything. Companies are legal structures. People have interests and people have loyalties. If those people run companies, then we ascribe those things to the company.

Loyalty is an emotional bond build over time. It requires trust and the confidence that the other party has our interests in mind.


message 22: by Aradia (last edited Jun 07, 2013 10:00AM) (new)

Aradia | 13 comments I beg to disagree Simon. You are forgetting that no less than the Supreme Court (in the Citizens United ruling) holds that corporations are people. Corporate personhood is the legal concept that a corporation may be recognized as an individual in the eyes of the law. The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively. Following that line of reasoning it is logical to say that companies/corporations etc. are indeed people and as such they DO have interests and loyalties. While a corporation is formed as the result of forming a legal structure one still has to understand that these entities are formed of and by people. True it is a collective personhood - but the culture formed by the individuals creating the legal structure then forms the interests and loyalties of the "company" and they are not ascribed to them by outsiders but rather they given to be understood by the company to other people in general.


message 23: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Simon wrote: "Jay wrote: "Simon and members,

Does "why" only matter in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lack of competition, worrying abo..."


Simon says in his reponse the following: "In fact, companies with the clearest sense of Why don't really care much what their competition is doing. They are on their own journey, their own train, and they wish everyone else the best of luck."

Why are companies investing so much in Big Data if they have a very compelling why and don't care about competition? Do you think these companies' focus is misplaced?

Can companies really focus on the "Golden Circle" (inside out) when they have to worry about quarterly Wall Street's reaction?

Thanks.


message 24: by Simon (new)

Simon Sinek | 9 comments Jay -

There is a difference between keeping tabs on one's competition and making decisions in reaction to our competition. How good is a strategy, for example, if it keeps changing as a result of what our competitors do?

The more Microsoft obsesses about Apple and trying to beat Apple at their own game, the weaker Microsoft becomes. The more Boeing wonders what Airbus will do before they make a decision, the weaker the quality of their decision making.

Microsoft should be obsessing about their users. Boeing should be obsessing about their passengers.

As for an obsession with Big Data, I don't think there is anything wrong with competitive data - it depends how we use it. I find so many companies misuse data like they misuse lawyers. They allow their decisions to be made by the data or by the lawyers instead of considering the data as one of the many things they should be considering before making a the decision themselves. If we only relied on data driven decisions, we'd have no Seinfeld or many other things that failed in focus groups, for example.

As for starting with Why when Wall Street's reaction is the concern - it's the same as before. A Why is supposed to help us stay focused on the long-term. It is inherently frustrated by an obsession with the short-term.

Good questions...


message 25: by Simon (new)

Simon Sinek | 9 comments Aradia wrote: "I beg to disagree Simon. You are forgetting that no less than the Supreme Court (in the Citizens United ruling) holds that corporations are people. Corporate personhood is the legal concept that a ..."

Perhaps. But if the Supreme Court decided that a corporation is no longer viewed as an individual, that wouldn't change the argument.

As individuals, we have loyalty to companies and brands the same way we have loyalty to people. Our primitive brains evaluate the information they give us, they way they treat us and we determine if we can trust them or not.

Companies, per say, don't make decisions and don't have feelings. The people who run them do. Though the law may treat a corporation as an individual and afford them all the rights of an individual, the corporation's conduct, for better or for worse, is determined by people.

Your point about corporations being viewed as individuals is indeed a good one and it definitely complicates things like accountability and individual rights.


message 26: by Simon (new)

Simon Sinek | 9 comments Kara wrote: "Just wanted to drop in and say, Simon, that I loved this book when I read it earlier this year. Our company read it for our enterprise-wide book club and got a lot out of it.

Looking forward to re..."


Thanks Kara - I'm glad it inspired you and I hope it inspired the folks in your company. :-)


message 27: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Simon and others,

Simon, thanks for your prompt replies. We like authors who are actively participating in the discussion; it makes the reading experience more enriching.

Reading this book, I realized something that Why is often hard to explain since it requires our having a conversation with others. I think we are becoming more of a sound bite culture rather than a conversation culture; thus, it is much easier to communicate your What than Why. To understand your Why, the neocortex region of the brain has to rationalize that and that part is slow and unpredictable, unlike the limbic region of the brain which can make a snap judgment and does not have to do heavy thinking. Agree?

Also, how do you handle a typical question you get at a party or at a conference when asked, "What do you do?"

Do you start with a Why or lead with a What?

I struggle with this simple question.


Stephen Green | 7 comments Investment in big data can be multifaceted. If you take casinos for instance they use big data on their customers to increase the delight of the customers experience. Big data can be nothing more than another research tool on existing or potential customers versus focus on your competition.


message 29: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Stephen,

Big Data is about manipulation when used by marketing. Instead of advertising, companies now have technology to know what you do. They don't care about why you do it.

Casinos are using Big Data to stop you from losing lot of money not because they care. They have discovered that if you have a bad gambling day, then your wife will not let you visit the casino with the family again. They will provide you a free dinner and a show to stop you from losing more money. The casinos want you to be delighted. They like loyal customers; they are very profitable. They don't want to lose them to competition.

Are you delighted? Yes. Are you coming back? Most likely. Were you manipulated? I think so.
Are you going to go to another casino? Probably not, since this casino made you stop without getting into an argument with your wife. Everyone is happy, thanks to Big Data.


message 30: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments All,

One of the thing I am doing that I want to share with you all is that, while reading this book, I am going to write several blogs related to what I am learning in this book. This is my way of becoming a more active reader. Also I can go back to what I have written in a speech or future blogs.

I have already published one blog; the second one I am still editing; and a third one is at the idea stage.

Also, I want to become a better writer and the only way that is going to happen is by writing more through reading more, and thinking more clearly.


message 31: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments All,

Half way there. Taking my time since I am trying a new approach by blogging along the way. I published my second blog (http://bit.ly/11U1lFE) titled, "Are Your Whys, Hows and Whats aligned with the Employer's" and a third blog (http://bit.ly/1613Vyl) titled, "How a company earns loyalty."


message 32: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jacob wrote: "I just came back from a run. I always listen to audiobooks when I'm running. How/when do my book group friends read their books?

Anyway, as I read I'm thinking about small businesses. Its easy to ..."


I carry boooks with me everywhere and read whenever I have a moment. I also read after work to unwind and especially to keep learning. I think I have bookcases in every room of two homes.


message 33: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jacob wrote: "This is our official discussion of Start With Why."

Just got this book, so I am trying to catch up. Already up to page 55.


message 34: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jay wrote: "All,

Half way there. Taking my time since I am trying a new approach by blogging along the way. I published my second blog (http://bit.ly/11U1lFE) titled, "Are Your Whys, Hows and Whats aligned wi..."


Great idea!


message 35: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Simon wrote: "Simon Sinek here. Happy to answer questions should anyone have any."

Great. Thank-you.


message 36: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Simon wrote: "Jay wrote: "Simon and members,

Does "why" only matters in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lack of competition, worrying abo..."


Seems like why should always matter. That is where the heart it. It inspires committment and dedication and makes it all worthwhile.


message 37: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Aradia wrote: "Not necessarily Jay. I think people as individuals know the difference and do, for the most part, develop loyalties. I do, however, think that companies generally have interests and are adept at pr..."

I agree.


message 38: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jay wrote: "Simon wrote: "Jay wrote: "Simon and members,

Does "why" only matter in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lack of competition,..."


Perhspd you invest in big data to learn your customers "whys"


message 39: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Barbara wrote: "Simon wrote: "Jay wrote: "Simon and members,

Does "why" only matters in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lack of competition..."


Barbara,

Do you think it is difficult to explain one's WHYs than one's WHATs? I have noticed that people always lead with their WHATs.


message 40: by Aradia (new)

Aradia | 13 comments Lol - welcome Barbara! Love you! Looking forward to conversations with you.


message 41: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jay wrote: "Simon and others,

Simon, thanks for your prompt replies. We like authors who are actively participating in the discussion; it makes the reading experience more enriching.

Reading this book, I r..."


It stills seems to me that you start with why. When you talk about why you light up, are enthusiastic and listeners are more responsive. I want to be around people who are living their "whys"


message 42: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jay wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Simon wrote: "Jay wrote: "Simon and members,

Does "why" only matters in business when a company faces competition? Airlines used to care about this but with consolidation and lac..."


Depends upon where you come from (internally). I find it easy to talk about whys. But if it is new to you, it would certainly be easier to talk about whats and that is what people expect as well. Look at this discussion group. Could you tell someone the why of your participation and proactivity? I think so, because what we do here is so interesting. It produces enthusiasm that you want to share.


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments I was at an event last week and I was asked the good ole question, "What do you do?" I opened my mouth to respond and then paused thinking of this book. I then proceded to explain why I do what I do. I started with why and WOW what a conversation that became.

It shouldn't be hard to start with why but I think most of us start to lose our why over time. Part of the whole cycle or beauty of starting with why seems to be that as we think about our why we automatically lead with it. The more we lead with it the more we think about it and so forth.

Jacob


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments For a little practice can I invite everyone to share with us your why? Lets keep it relatively short but I would really like to hear everyone's why... if you have many, pick one.


message 45: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Why- because I can make a difference. I get up every morning excited about what I do, eager to interact with my team, to expand my team, to find new ideas, to create new ways. Why - because I choose to see so much beauty around me. I choose to make it a great day and to encourage others to declare they will also make it a great day.


message 46: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jacob wrote: "I was at an event last week and I was asked the good ole question, "What do you do?" I opened my mouth to respond and then paused thinking of this book. I then proceded to explain why I do what I d..."

Right on Jacob. And that experience is likely to lead you to try that again and as you do, the fear seems to drop away.


message 47: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Simon,

When a person or a company has a brand, does that mean that people viscerally get their WHY? Or can branding be created through PR?


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments I've been going through all my websites and blogs and rewriting the about sections etc to really reflect the why and not the what or how. This includes changes to the 12 Books website. On a personal level, I've just summarized my mission and why on my site here:

http://www.jacobspaulsen.com/more/about


message 49: by Jay (new)

Jay Oza | 137 comments Jacob wrote: "I've been going through all my websites and blogs and rewriting the about sections etc to really reflect the why and not the what or how. This includes changes to the 12 Books website. On a persona..."

The Golden Circle approach makes it much clearer. It is a very good exercise to go through.


message 50: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Caballero | 64 comments Jacob wrote: "I've been going through all my websites and blogs and rewriting the about sections etc to really reflect the why and not the what or how. This includes changes to the 12 Books website. On a persona..."

I like it. Good for you. How does it feel?


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