I first learned about Simon Sinek from his TEDx video that I saw it back in 2014 and added this book Start with why to my reading list then. I cannot understand why some people didn’t like this book. It talks about communicating beliefs and values as a way to attract around you people who look in the same direction. I agree, it works.

We all love authenticity. In my opinion it’s the only thing that explains why some brands, people or ideas get a cult following.

The Apple example is great. Imagine if they communicated with an outside-in message. It would go something like: “we make great computers they are beautifully designed and userfriendly, want to buy one ?” It’s not compelling. But now think about what they are actually saying. Their inside-out message version has much more impact: “In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and we believe in thinking differently. The way we do it is by designing great products that are beautiful and user friendly. We happen to make great computers. Want to buy one ?” Not bad no ?

Here are some of the notes I took when I read it in October 2015:

  1. We all love to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It is not about rationality. It is about faith. Belief. Dream. A product speaks to others about its owner, who they are and what they believe in. This is what brand building is all about.
  2. Trust is the bedrock of our civilisation. What is more important? Resume and experience or making sure someone fits, our values, our community and our culture. The latter of course. First because many things can be learned on the job. Second because values allow to build trust and hence the right amount of risk taking. This in turn advances, the culture and organisation as a whole. If you don’t trust that the people around you will protect you when you fall, then you take less risk. It was true thousands of years ago when we were hunter gatherers. It remains true today in business organisation. If you remove the net, if you don’t show trust and protection, people won’t push themselves for the organisation.
  3. Energy motivates. Charisma inspires. Charisma is clarity of why. Charisma is clear vision and belief. The cause of the work we do inspires us. We don’t want to simply build walls we want to build cathedrals. Those who lead give the destination, and let the best specialist drive.
  4. There are people who lead because they have the power and there are those who lead because they inspire. That’s why Warren Buffett’s, Steve Job’s, or Elon Musk’s followings are so strong.

What other details I liked ?

I liked the description he made about people’s character types in business. There are the “why types” and the “how types”. It’s so true. Most successful entrepreneurs are “how types”, making processes. But to reach billion dollar status you need a partnership between the why and how. Someone who knows how to get things done (e.g: Steve Wozniak) and someone who knows why doing it matters (e.g. Steve jobs).

I liked the paragraph about Sam Walton and Wallmart. I had no idea he was this visionary and had such a high integrity and purpose. Respect and service people and they will make you flourish. That reminded me about the book Acres of diamond. The people around us have needs and demand to be serviced. It is our role to listen and respect them.

And I loved the story about the job advertising for tough work in the great north. An adventurer wants to hire somone for a perillous expedition. How should he write the ad ? “We are about to embark on an adventure, great dangers, and hard weather are expected. The return likelyhood is hazardous. But if we succeed, fame and glory await us.” Only survivors will apply to such an ad. So it achieves its purpose. The goal is to surround us with those who fit our beliefs and vision. Because they are less likely to abandon when adversity comes.

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