“Start With Why” Summary

Quick Fix Summary: Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” propounds that successful organizations and leaders inspire others by putting the ‘why’ (their purpose, cause, or belief) before the ‘how’ (their process) or the ‘what’ (their product or service).

Our Summary of “Start With Why”

“Start With Why” by Simon Sinek is a highly influential book in the realms of leadership and business strategy. Its ideas have transformed the way many leaders and organizations think about their purpose and how they operate. Here’s a sneak peek into what the book covers:

  • The core concept revolves around ‘Why’ – the purpose, cause, or beliefs that are the foundation of all inspiring leaders and organizations.
  • It introduces the Golden Circle model which illustrates how different organizations operate based on ‘Why’, ‘How’, and ‘What’.
  • A deep dive into the role of leaders who ‘Start With Why’ and how they inspire those around them.
  • The sustainable success that comes to organizations which prioritize their ‘Why’ above all else.

This summary will delve into these key takeaways without revealing any major revelations from the book. Let’s get started!

Key Takeaway #1: The Importance of ‘Why’

The cornerstone of Sinek’s message is that the most influential organizations and individuals operate from an internal ‘Why’. This ‘Why’ isn’t about making money—that’s a result. Instead, ‘Why’ refers to your purpose, cause, or belief:

  • It’s the very reason you exist or why your organization was created.
  • It’s the difference you wish to make in the world, or the unique value you bring.

In Sinek’s perspective, starting with ‘Why’ is crucial because it taps into human emotions and our innate desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a powerful motivator that inspires action in a way that discussing ‘what’ you do or ‘how’ you do it can’t match.

Remember, ‘Why’ does not come from looking ahead at what you want to achieve and figuring out an appropriate strategy to get there. ‘Why’ comes from looking in the completely opposite direction—from where you are right now to why you are here in the first place. Understanding ‘Why’ you’re doing what you’re doing is the foundation of inspirational leadership and sustainable success.

Key Takeaway #2: The Golden Circle Model

In “Start With Why”, Sinek introduces a model he calls The Golden Circle to explain how different organizations communicate and operate. This model has three concentric circles:

  • The innermost circle is ‘Why’: This is your purpose—what your company believes in. It’s the reason your organization exists beyond just making a profit.
  • The middle circle is ‘How’: These are the things that your organization does uniquely well to realize its ‘Why’.
  • The outermost circle is ‘What’: This is what your organization does—the products it sells or the services it offers.

Most companies start from the outside of the circle and work their way in—they first explain what they do, then how they do it, and might never even mention why they do it. According to Sinek, inspiring companies and leaders communicate in the exact opposite way—they start with why and then move outward to how and what.

The central idea here is that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. When you communicate from the inside out, you’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls emotions, behavior, and decision-making. This allows you to connect more deeply with your audience, whether they’re customers, employees, or stakeholders.

Key Takeaway #3: The Role of Leaders

The role of leaders in creating and maintaining the ‘Why’ of an organization is a significant theme in Sinek’s work. He believes that the leaders who’ve had the largest impact in the world all think, act, and communicate in the same way—and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Here’s how these leaders function:

  • They are the ones who can clearly articulate the ‘Why’. They set the direction and create a vision based on this ‘Why’.
  • They surround themselves with people who believe in their ‘Why’ and can bring it to life in the ‘How’ and ‘What’ they do.
  • They create an environment in which trust and cooperation are paramount.

Sinek believes that leaders who start with ‘Why’ have the unique ability to inspire those around them. By putting the ‘Why’ at the forefront of all communication, these leaders can rally their teams around a common purpose, fostering a culture of trust and cooperation that leads to exceptional results. In the end, they create more than just loyal employees—they create passionate individuals who contribute to the organization’s cause as if it were their own.

Key Takeaway #4: Sustainable Success

One of the powerful insights from “Start With Why” is that organizations which start with ‘Why’ enjoy a level of success that is sustainable over the long term. Sinek argues that:

  • When organizations and leaders operate from a well-articulated ‘Why’, they tend to outperform others in their field.
  • This is because their ‘Why’ acts as a filter for decision-making, ensuring they always work in service of their purpose and values.
  • When employees, customers, and stakeholders understand and believe in an organization’s ‘Why’, they become loyal advocates who contribute to its enduring success.

‘Starting with Why’ is not a way to sell people something, it’s a way to build an organization that can inspire, weather change, and maintain success over the long term. This is because they’ve built something that people truly believe in, not just a product or service with a temporary market advantage. Sinek suggests that the ‘Why’ is the ultimate tool for attracting customers, employees, and partners who share your beliefs, and this creates the foundation for long-lasting success.

Who Would Enjoy “Start With Why”

“Start With Why” is a must-read for a wide array of readers:

  • Entrepreneurs looking to build a business with a clear purpose and vision.
  • Established business leaders wanting to redefine their organization’s path.
  • Employees seeking a deeper understanding of their company’s direction.
  • Individuals interested in personal growth, leadership, and making an impact.

Essentially, anyone looking for a fresh perspective on leadership, strategy, and communication will find value in this book. Sinek’s focus on starting with ‘Why’ offers a simple yet profound framework that can transform how we think about our work, our organizations, and our lives. It’s a tool for those wanting to inspire others—or find a leader to inspire them.


“Start With Why” is a revolutionary look at what it truly takes to lead and inspire. This book’s key messages underline the critical importance of:

  • Identifying and staying true to your ‘Why’.
  • Communicating from the inside out.
  • Being a leader who inspires others by embodying your ‘Why’.

In the end, the lasting message of Sinek’s work is simple yet transformative: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Whether you’re a leader seeking to inspire, an employee looking for direction, or an individual trying to define your personal ‘Why’, this book offers invaluable insights.

Remember, starting with ‘Why’ is not a tactic, it’s a way of thinking, leading, and communicating that can profoundly alter the way we work and live. So, no matter where you are on your journey, remember to always start with why.

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