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Start With "Why"

Simon Sinek started a consulting business in 2002. Very quickly he was depressed, going out of business, ran out of passion and hit rock bottom in 2005. Simon wondered why some leaders and companies are successful while others are not and thought about what made him happy.


Simon concluded that inspirational leaders identify a purpose and follow it. The actions are secondary to achieving the mission. Simon called this process the “Golden circle” and it starts with a vison (the "Why”), then moves onto the implementation (the "How") and then thinks about the product/service (the "What”). He noted that most people think about this the other way and focus on the product, price, quality and features first and then about the Why. Simon Sinek's book Start with Why provides recommendations to executives, managers and leaders who wish to re-discover their passion.


  • Inspirational leaders identify their purpose, cause or vision first

  • They follow the the “Golden circle” principle by starting with establishing their mission in the centre the Why and then moving outwards towards the How and What

  • Why stems from your core purpose the reason you get out of bed in the morning

  • How explains the way your product or service is unique and desirable

  • What defines the obvious aspects of your product or position within the firm

  • Most companies start from the outside and work their way in in what how why

  • Successful companies and leaders work from the Inside Out Why - How - What

  • People don't buy what you do they buy why you do it

  • Visionary leaders rely on their gut

  • Do business with those who share your you're a beliefs

Inspirational Leadership

Great leaders know the reason behind what they do. They follow their passions and have a vision which they can articulate. In December 1903 the Wright brothers made their dream come true. They started with their Why (their purpose) and inspired others around them. “There are leaders and those who lead”. Those who lead are more common but real leaders motivate and inspire you.

Sellers manipulate rather than inspire through a variety of techniques such as leveraging price, promotions, apply peer pressure, fear, novelty, and aspirations. Such manipulations harvest short-term transactions and do not earn long-term customer loyalty. In reality companies don't often know why their customers act the way they do, instead managers make assumptions which they use for fundamental decision making. For example merchandisers routinely drop their prices and give offers like two for the price of one. Many ads use fair based messages which is the most powerful manipulator. Peer pressure marketing preys on emotions and fears.

Aspirational messaging and Innovations are more subtle forms of manipulation. Fear focuses on the negative and aspirations focus on the positive or something you may desire, for example, if you do x in 6 weeks you can be rich.

In a fast-paced market Innovations don't stay unique for long firms should aim to achieve loyalty instead of using manipulation techniques to gain repeat customers.

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle starts with a small bullseye with “Why” in the centre.

For UpTicker, “the Why” was I wanted to list my activities and do them consistently because I want to feel the satisfaction of knowing that everything I want to do to increase my chances of success to the maximum we’re being done consistently and consecutively.

The “Why” is then surrounded by a larger circle labeled “How” which is surrounded by a bigger circle labelled “What”.

Most companies can define what they do and they can articulate how they do it and the different USPs, however only a select few can identify the “Why”.

When it comes to marketing most companies use the standard what-how-why approach. They should reverse that order and explain the Why and then their How and then their What.

If Apple were a typical company, it's ads may read, we make great computers. They're beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Want to buy one?

A more realistic Apple add would read “In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

Apple resonates with customers because they appreciate its vision.

Gut Decision

Customers want to do business with those they trust and seek companies that share the same values and beliefs. These companies make shoppers feel part of something bigger than themselves and people make instinctive decisions based on emotions. The limbic brain makes gut decisions before the higher-level, more rational deducted neocortex comes into play. When people make complex decisions they tend to dismiss facts and figures and rely more on instinct.

Richard Restak, a neuroscientist who wrote the Naked brain said that when people are forced to make decisions solely based on data they take more time and usually overanalyze. He says that gut decisions tend to be faster and higher quality decisions. Choices that aren't rooted in emotion can lead people to doubt whether they made the right decision whereas those who made decisions based on gut feelings seldom second guess.

Building Trust

Building Trust has two elements. Firstly build trust with employees and secondly back your words with action. Gordon Bethune, the CEO of Continental Airlines, did away with locked doors on the executive suites at their corporate headquarters and made himself accessible to employees, he worked alongside them and instilled a team oriented culture. Tesla employees have said that day regularly see Elon Musk on the factory floor and anyone who has the guts to approach is free to do so.

People perform at their best when they're part of a culture that fits their values and beliefs and great leaders find good matches and hire people who believe in the company's core purpose.

In 1914 Ernest Shackleton set out to reach the South Pole. The crew became trapped in ice for 10 months and some of his men travelled 800 miles in a small lifeboat to bring help to the rest of the crew. Nobody on his crew died or tried to overthrow him as his news article read “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long 9 months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition incase of success” Shackleton found people perfectly suited for the job.

Tipping point and Bell Curves

The law of diffusion of Innovations follows a bell Curve where to 0.5% of people are innovators, and on one end of the curve. 13.5% of people are early adopters and the majority fall in the middle with 34% adopting new technology early and 34% adopting it late. The final 16% are referred to as laguards. Innovators and early adopters push us and are the first to try new approaches, ideas and technologies. They trust their intuition and take risk recruit innovators and early adopters who believe in your product and mission.

Finding your True Believers

Your true believers are out there, you just have to find them. These action-oriented people make your vision a reality. Where would Steve Jobs die without Steve Wozniak or Bill Gates without Paul Allen or Walt Disney without Roy Disney. In each pair the visionary leader defines the “Why” and the second person implements to hell. Inspirational leaders the wipes steady how types to keep them grounded.

“You don't hire for skill you hire for attitude you can always teach skill” Herb Keller

Walt drew cartoons and dreams of making movies his brother had the idea of licensing and selling merchandise. Walt admitted he never knew how much money was in the bank, but Roy always knew.

Great leaders inspire people to act those who truly lead create a following of people who act not because they were suede but because they were inspired

Reflecting Back

A true sense of why you do what you do comes from looking inside yourself and reflecting on your life. Think about where you been and how your purpose can lead you and where you want to go. Sinek discovered his why and “set out to inspire people to do the things that inspire them”.

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