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Start With Why Simon Sinek Summary

What do Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, and the Wright brothers have in common? Not a lot. They worked on different things for different reasons at different times. But if you look carefully, you’ll find that one thing unities all four of them. They all understood that no one buys into an idea, project, or product unless they understand why it exists. In his book, called Start with Why, Simon Sinek says that this is a quality you can find in every great leader. People do their best and inspire others when they know why they are doing what they are doing. But how do you lead in this way? Let’s look at three key lessons that I learned from the book.

Lesson 1: Why matters more than what

When you look at apple, it’s just another company like Dell and HP. They have some systems that work and some that don’t. All of them have equal access to resources and talent. So it shouldn’t matter which company’s product you choose. They’re all pretty decent. But that’s not how it works. People pay more for apple and stand in line for hours for the latest iPhone. Why is that? Most companies state what they do and how they are better than others. If apple were like most other companies, it would say: “We make great computers, they are beautifully designed and user friendly- wanna buy one?” But that’s not what apple says. Here is what they actually say: “Everything we do is about changing the status quo. We believe in thinking differently, and we provide this by making beautiful, user-friendly products. Oh, and we also happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?” This is a great example of starting with why. The key message is that companies like Apple don’t just sell products. They are not telling, you should buy a mac because it’s better. Apple is telling us that if we believe in thinking outside the box, apple is the right company for us. But why this type of message is so persuasive. We need to look at human biology.

Lesson 2: our rational brain doesn’t control our decisions

If I ask you, why do you love your partner? You may say, “well, I don’t know, she is funny or she is smart.” But you know that there are millions of funny and smart people out there. These are not the real reason for your love. They are just attempts to describe something that cannot be described. Why it cannot be described? Because the limbic brain, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions, does not have the capacity for language. That’s why it’s so hard to describe why you love someone. If you want to change the behavior you need to access the limbic brain. For example, for years, American companies advertised that their detergents make clothes whiter and cleaner. Because when they asked people on multiple surveys, that’s exactly what people wanted. But that wasn’t quite true. We assume that all detergents get our clothes clean, that’s just what they do. When we take our clothes out of the machine, we don’t investigate how clean or bright it is. We smell them. Feeling clean matters more than objective cleanliness. The whole detergent industry was acting on a false assumption. That just goes to show why it’s worth starting with why.

Lesson 3: Teams that focus on “what” often fail, while those that start with “why” can achieve great results

Have you heard the name of Samuel Pierpont Langley? Probably not. But did you know that he was going to be the first man to fly? He had a 50000$ research grant from the US WAR department and gathered the brightest minds in America. But despite all these resources, his hard work and numerous attempts could not get him to fly. On the other side of the country, people witnessed a man fly for the first time in human history. This flying machine was built by the Wright brothers and their team. None of them had any college degrees and they didn’t have any funding. Wright brothers were just bicycle mechanics. But how did they achieve what Langley couldn’t? They started with why. Wright brothers were committed to altering the course of history and this excited those around them and filled them with belief and they all wanted to have some part in this revelation. On the other hand, Langley was obsessed with the what. He just wanted fame and paid for people to join his team. That’s the lesson here. Hire people for what they can do for you, and they will work for your money. Hire people who believe in your way, and they’ll give you all their heart.

In summary, every successful business, individual, and movement starts with why. It’s their reason for doing something. This is the basis of every decision they make and every message they give. By doing so, they attract loyal customers and achieve long-term success.

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