BizNotes for:
Start With Why
How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By William Poundstone
Penguin Group, Copyright 2009
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This book is about: a way of thinking, acting and communicating that gives some leaders (and their companies) the ability to inspire those around them. It all starts with “why” – your purpose, cause or belief.

You should read this book if: You want to learn how to inspires others (your peers, your employees your customers) and effectively build and manage a business that results in loyalty. It all starts with Why - a higher cause or purpose meant to inspire employees and customers alike.

Selected Highlights (paraphrased from the book):

  • The fundamental difference between companies like Apple and everyone else is that they start with "why."
  • There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.
  • Typical manipulations include: dropping prices, promotions, fear (the most powerful), peer pressure and aspirational messages. When companies don’t have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely disproportionately on manipulations.
  • Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.

The Golden Circle

  • Inspiring leaders think, act and communicate the same way – from the inside out. They follow a naturally occurring pattern called The Golden Circle.
  • WHY means what is your purpose, cause or belief. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? WHY should anyone care?
  • “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
  • It’s the cause that is represented by the company/brand/product or person that inspires loyalty.
  • Part of brain that controls feelings (Limbic Brain) has no capacity for language, making it hard to express feelings with words.
  • Differentiation happens in WHY and HOW you do it.
  • Products with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe.
  • HOWs are your values and principles that guide HOW you bring your cause (WHY) to life (systems & processes).
  • Never veering from your WHY, to hold yourself accountable to HOW you do things; that’s the hardest part.
  • WHY is just a belief. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. WHATs are the results – everything you say, do or make (products, services, marketing, PR, culture and whom you hire) – this is where authenticity happens. A proof of WHY.
  • Authenticity means your Golden Circle is in balance. WHAT & HOW you do things must be consistent with your WHY.
The goal of business should not be to do business with anyone…it should be to focus on the people who believe what you believe…when we are selective about doing business only with those who believe in our WHY, trust & loyalty emerges.
  • A strong brand starts with a clear sense of WHY.
  • Loyalty is when people are willing to suffer inconvenience or pay a premium to do business with you.
  • Great leaders have the ability to find people who are good fits – employees who believe in the WHY.
  • Our marketing, branding, products and services are how we communicate our WHY to the outside world.
  • If people don’t know/believe your WHY, you must compete on price, service, quality, features, and benefits alone.
  • Success can dilute your WHY. A growing company becomes driven by measuring WHAT and the WHY can get fuzzy.
  • WHY is your vision statement; HOW is your mission statement.
  • Passion (WHY) is not enough…it needs structure (HOW).
  • The founder’s WHY must be extracted and integrated into the culture of the company.
Questions to help find your WHY:
  • What activities do I get passionately lost in and lose track of time?
  • What energizes me and I can’t get enough of?
  • What difference do you want to make (for others, for your community, for your customers, in the world)?
  • What is the greatest value you can share with people?
  • What are the core values of your company?
  • What would make you the most proud of your business?
  • What does your business stand for?
  • What is the purpose, cause or core belief of your company?
  • Why does your company exist, and why should anyone care?
  • If your company (or product/service) disappeared tomorrow, would anyone care and why?
  • What do you represent that others want to be a part of?
  • Additional Resources:
    Simon Sinek's Website
    Simon Sinek's TED Talk