Start With Why


This is one of those inspirational business books I’ve seen pop-up in a few places, so I took the plunge.

The concept is pretty simple: if you want a project (whether that be a business or something else) to succeed long term you need to have a reason; a core tenet that drives everything else.

The author shows that those businesses that only list a series of features in their adverts fail to connect to consumers and build a ‘cult’ of core believers who will help spread the word.

One of the companies that comes up throughout the book, unsurprisingly, is Apple. It’s not the only one, but seems to be the prime example. The problem I have is that I couldn’t articulate Apple’s ‘why’ when I tried to.

Sure they have adverts that encourage us to ‘think different’ but is that a why? They were led by a couple of counter-culture guys and offered an alternative to the mainstream, but is that a why? The famous advert suggested they would set you free, but is that a why?

Why do people buy Apple computers today? The reason, I would argue, is that they have a reputation for being easy to use for those who want their computers to ‘just work.’ Read Jobs’ biography and it states over and over that he saw himself as sitting at a point where humanities and technology meet. He wanted to make technology accessible to the masses (among other things).

That’s a why, but not one I’ve seen on any Apple advertising, which focuses on the design and engineering.

As such, I found this an interesting, thought-provoking read and there are certainly some good ideas in there. I can see how it could be used to motivate people, to focus minds and even help with recruitment. I can see how it would humanise a business and move the conversation with customers and prospects beyond the bottom line. But it fell a bit flat as the reason a business is successful.

Sinek himself reads the audio version, and does a good job. It seems to suffer the same fate as a few books I’ve listened to lately: random lines will repeat, so you get part of a sentence twice. Not often, but it’s jarring when it happens.

It’s not a very long book, so worth checking out, but not sure I buy this as ‘the answer.’ Apparently his TED talk (which can be found online) covers everything you need to know, but a lot faster.

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This was an copy of the book

Reviewed: 9th July 2016