Book Category: Leadership, Business, Entrepreneurial,

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (book summary)

Author: Simon Sinek
Life Changing Principles
Quality of Writing
Overall Value
pros: Memorable, fresh ideas, fantastic advice for brands
cons: Takes creativity to apply
overall rating

QUICK SUMMARY:  In Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek presents the idea that great leaders inspire others by putting the Why (the purpose) before the How (the process), or the What (the product).

Start with Why created waves of discussion and change around our office.  Simply put, we love this book.  In addition, we love the TED talk on this same topic. Watch it below; it is the second most viewed TED talk of all time. Or read the Ethos3 interview with Simon Sinek here.

In summary, we recommend Start with Why to everyone because Sinek’s revolutionary philosophies on leadership can easily be used in any professional and personal situation that calls for inspiration and influence. Sinek is also the author of Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. We can’t wait to read it next.


1. Examples of asking Why:

–  Why does your company exist? (not profits; profits are the result.)

–  Why should people care?

2. To motivate action, you can manipulate or inspire.

3. Manipulation includes: price, promotions, fear, aspirations, novelty, peer pressure (endorsements).

4. Manipulation is best for transactions that will likely only happen once, not building loyalty.

5. Inspiring people requires a real purpose, a Why.

6. A clearly expressed Why helps separate you from the rest.

7. Humans want to belong to communities and culture.

8. Clients identify with brands that articulate a clear Why.

9. Clients cannot identify with the What without the Why.


1. Behavior needs to reinforce the Why.

2. Be authentic. Know your Why and align ALL decisions, actions and communication with the Why.

3. Guiding principles need to be focused around meaningful, action statements, not nouns.

–  Say: find creative ways to solve problems, instead of innovation.

4. Ignore the competition.  Only focus on the Why.


It is not logic or facts but our hopes and dreams, our hearts and our guts, that drive us to try new things.

Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain.

An Apple pitch that leads with Why: 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. Wanna buy one?

When you force people to make decisions with only the rational part of their brain, they almost invariably end up “overthinking.”  These rational decisions tend to take longer to make, says Restak, and can often be of lower quality. In contrast, decisions made with the limbic brain, gut decisions, tend to be faster, higher-quality decisions. This is one of the primary reasons why teachers tell students to go with their first instinct when taking a multiple-choice test, to trust their gut.

“I can make a decision with 30 percent of the information,” said former secretary of state Colin Powell. “Anything more than 80 percent is too much.”

Interested? Buy the book here!