Start with Why

Start with Why – Simon Sinek

This is a book that I picked up after really enjoying the TED talk on the same issue.

Simon Sinek presents a compelling argument about how we need to structure our approach to our work.  We need to start with the “why”, build to “how” and then build to “what”.  He bases his theory on an examination of what makes a marketing success after examining many different stories.

He argues that if we start with “why” (and return to it with discipline) we won’t be taken off course by the distractions of “what” we do and “how” we do it.

I think that the argument makes sense and the book goes some way to articulating the power of this vision.

In my own work, the book challenged me to think more often about the “why” behind some of my requests and more importantly, to communicate them.  The bigger context means that you open yourself up to the possibility of getting more than you ask for – “You asked for x but based on the reason you wanted it, I have also included Y which seemed more appropriate to the context.”  In addition. there is much greater chance that more strategic connections can be made on seemingly discrete types of work.  For example: Instead of saying, “I need a more client-service friendly example for this note,” you can say “The Deputy has returned the most recent batch of notes with a number of questions about the client service lens in our program changes.”

Overall, though I thought the book had an interesting central thesis, I thought that it worked a bit less well for me over the long haul.  For example, it read like a love letter to Apple and though I am writing this on a Mac, I think the book would have been stronger with a more diverse set of examples and would have felt less repetitive.

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