Title: Start With Why
Plot: Simon explains why some companies thrive despite market conditions while others fail
Note: This is an excellent book and one of my most popular podcasts
Listen to "Start With Why by Simon Sinek [11 Mins]" on Spreaker.
Hey, welcome back!
Today I will be reviewing start with why by Simon Sinek
Since I'm reviewing my favorite books first, you're gonna notice a lot of five star ratings. His book of course gets five stars. It's a great book! And I view it as a must read because of the impact it had on me personally.
But the audience for this book is marketing students, corporate consultants, anyone with aspirations of leading causes saving or starting companies becoming CEO or inspiring others.
I recommend the audio book because his stories make his message memorable. And even if you only remember his main point, it's still the sort of revelation that will change your life.
I rarely ever had to stop the audio and back it up because he keeps his message simple and clear.
Simon Sinek was born in October of 1973, he is a British-American author, motivational speaker and organizational consultant. Start With Why is one of five books he has authored to date. He’s lived in London, South Africa and Hong Kong.
He worked for ad agencies including Ogilvie and Mather and later launched Sinek Partners
Simon gets right to the point. He opens with the basis for his book early in the first chapter. He says there are two types of leaders those who lead and those who inspire.
He assumes the distinction should be obvious and relies on the detail he provides throughout the book to help us see the difference.
After studying successful and unsuccessful companies the conclusion he formed is that we can study born leaders and learn to emulate their success. According to Simon their approach is the opposite of what most people do explaining why there are so few good leaders today.
Simon’s vision is for everyone to adopt these behaviors and he believes that will change the world for the better. He imagines a world where the average employee will be fully committed to their work because they love their job. And this will impact every aspect of their lives.
He then uses examples of people we all know. I’m sure you know the names Orville and Wilbur Wright. But what you may not know is that in the early 1900s they were up against a man named Langly. He had everything going for him: he was famous, he had government funding, his invention would be used for national defense. He got all the breaks and still he lost against two men with no college degree and little money. Simon explains why the Wright brothers succeeded where Langly failed. And this teaches us that throwing money at problems is no guarantee for success.
His stories are worth the price of admission. The way he describes these great leaders makes you feel like you know them personally. And you begin to realize that the difference between them and us is the message that they decided to communicate. They start with why.
When Simon reviews popular companies he carefully examines both sides of the coin. Why was one successful where the other one failed?
He explains concepts he clearly learned from working for ad agencies; for example: how do companies manipulate customers into buying things? Why does that work? And is there a downside?
If you work for a company that’s staring into the precipice of price wars, you need his book. The lessons he teaches can take you out of the price battle and put you in a position where your customers will want your goods at any price.
Simon reviewed the landscape of GM, Ford and foreign automakers. What they did and the cause and effect of their decisions.
I’ll give you three direct quotes:
- Fear, real or perceived is the most powerful manipulation of all.
- We use fear to raise our kids.
- You can get someone to buy a gym membership with aspiration, but getting people to actually go requires inspiration.
Simon makes the very astute point that many people rely on assumption instead of asking questions. And the result this has is that companies assume they know why their customers buy their products. But because they don’t know, they are at risk of changing the thing that makes them successful. And this can destroy a company.
I’ve read books about Steve Jobs and Apple, Bill Gates and Microsoft, Walmart, and many of the companies and people that Simon described, but I notice that his book does a fantastic job giving an overview of those companies and more. Meaning his book summarizes the relevant biographies and business history of the past hundred years without actually re-using information; it’s not redundant it’s enlightening. Despite the fact I had studied those people and companies he told me things I did not know and described how all of these things worked together to explain the results that we see today.
I confess there were times I found myself wondering where he was going, but even though I felt like he went off track for a while, I listened carefully and he later brought it all back together. And then I understood why we went there. It was just over my head.
I loved the Henry Ford quote he used to make a point:
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.
And so we learn that while we can ask people questions and we should, we still can’t rely on them to give the best answer. Sometimes they don't know.
He gave an example of how laundry detergent companies asked their consumers what they wanted and they came back with "whiter whites and brighter colors." But what they observed over time was the first that people did when they pulled their clothes out of the laundry, was not to compare the whites to a new shirt that was white, instead they held it up to their nose and smelled it. And because of that observation they put scents into their detergents and that made a huge impact. And so while they did ask customers what they wanted, they discovered what they said they wanted and how they measured it were different than what they expected.
He explains that the qualities an organization needs for success are often the hardest to explain. And when you can’t explain them it becomes challenging to implement them.
It is rare when all the employees of a company love coming to work. What they need is to be inspired, to be aligned with the companies’ values and a sense of trust and loyalty. But how do you create that? If you want to know, Simon’s book will tell you how.
He talks about hiring. The priority for hiring is the ability to find great fits; not just people who can do the job. And not even the people who are best at producing a specific output, but rather people who believe what you believe. And this is something you can attract.
For example Southwest Airlines discovered the best fit for their company was cheerleaders and majorettes. They attracted them by requiring their personnel to wear Hotpants and Gogo boots. At first it was a coincidence, but then they connected the dots. They realized they were the only people willing to wear those outfits. And then they observed that they were also the type of people who spread optimism, which was perfect for their airline. It was exactly what they needed. And after they noticed the connection, they focused their advertising and further improved their hiring success.
They hired people who were already motivated instead of attempting to hire just anyone and convert them.
Simon said that even when Apple had just 6% of the market. And yet it is the market leader. Isn’t that fascinating? This means you can lead without a majority when you inspire.
You don’t need a majority to lead. But you must inspire a group of loyal followers who will do the heavy lifting without being asked or compensated. Because they believe in what you stand for.
I’m sure by now it’s obvious that Simons’ book is packed with useful information, and it’s a great read!
So I'm gonna go ahead and close this podcast with a story from my own life that supports what Simon said.
I used to work at a grocery store. Once a month the owner called us into the stockroom and we sat on empty milk crates and then he reminded us: guys, this is an ugly store. Our prices are high. The only thing we have going for us, is that we are the only supermarket in town. But people will eagerly drive to the next town to go shopping.
So the way we get our customers is we say hi to everyone who walks in the store. We bag their groceries, we walk them out to their cars and we help them load. And we treat them like they are our best friends.
Now I saw some of you not saying hi. We can’t afford that! I pay you to say hi, to treat them well, and if you’re too afraid to do it, I’ll find somebody who will. Your jobs and our income depends on you following these very simple instructions.
He delivered that same message once a month or every time he witnessed someone failing to comply. And while he ran the business, if I had asked people why they shopped there, I know that they would have said, “It’s because my friends work there.”
The store did well for years while he was there but after he sold it, it went out of business in six months. And Do you know what people said, “That store is overpriced and it’s ugly. Why would I shop there?”
Start with Why is a fantastic book! I highly recommend it. I hope you pick up a copy and enjoy it as much as I did
That's all folks. Have a brilliant week. And y'all come back now, ya here?