Start with Why by Simon Sinek

· 4 min read


Start with Why by Simon Sinek is a book where Simon explains what he means to “Start with Why” (if you have not seen his Ted Talk on Start with Why, I highly recommend you check it out).

Through examples, he explains why leaders and companies that “Start with Why” are so successful, while leaders and companies that don’t “Start with Why” will eventually fail.

Key Takeaways

Inspire or Manipulate

There are two ways to lead (get people to take action); inspire through Charisma/Why or through manipulation(s).

Inspiration builds trust and loyalty. While manipulations create stress and is transactional.

Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is made of 3 circles. The inner most circle represents the Why. The middle circle represents the How. And the outer most circle represents the What.

Simon asserts that the Golden Circle can be mapped to the human brain. Where the inner most and middle circles corresponds to the Limbic Brain (the part of the brain responsible for all our feelings, such as trust and loyalty). And the outer most circle corresponds to the Neocortex (the part of the brain responsible for rational and analytical thought and language).

A Balanced Golden Circle

For the Why circle to be in balance, the Why must be clear. i.e the clarity of Why determines the balance of the Why circle.

For the How circle to be in balance, the organisation must have discipline. i.e. the discipline to adhere to the standards set out, the discipline to stick to the company’s Why and stay true to the company’s values.

For the What circle to be in balance, there needs to be a consistency of What. Everything you do and say must reflect your belief (Why).

Only when the Golden Circle is in balance, can one be authentic.


The Golden Circle is actually three-dimensional, in the shape of a cone. With the Why at the narrow end.

Correct way to express values

Values should be expressed as verbs and not nouns. They should be actionable like telling people to “always do the right thing” vs “having integrity”.

Source of Charisma

Charisma comes from a clarity of one’s Why.

Celery Test

You are given a whole bunch of advice from a whole range of people on what to buy from the supermarket.

If you don’t know your Why, you will buy everything recommended. However, if you know your Why. You will only buy those things that fit your why. I.e. you filtered the purchases using your Why. By doing this, it not only helps limit buying everything. As a side effect, this also allows others to see your Why.

The Split

When a company loses its Why. All of its focus is on its How and What.

School Bus Test

If the founder or leader embodying the company’s Why was hit by a school bus, can the company continue to flourish as if the founder and/or leader was still at the helm of the company.

Extra Notes

Find your Why
Simon has released a book called “Find your Why”, dedicated to helping one find their Why.

Get the Book

  • Any good book store.

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