Media Spotlight: Start With Why by Simon Sinek

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Everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time. We naturally look up to certain people who inspire us, usually people who have done wonderful things and create success that we would like to re-create ourselves.

Start With Why is about just this. How do we create long-lasting success and use inspiration from others to aid this?

Sinek begins the book by using examples of some inspirational people, in particular Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the creators of the Apple brand.

When Wozniak first created the Apple I in the 1960s, the computer was seen as something which was only suitable for businesses.

However, Wozniak’s vision was to get this computer in to the hands of the average individual. His best friend, Steve Jobs, had a vision of creating a successful company and saw Apple as the tool to do this.

Sinek explains that Wozniak and Jobs were not the only people looking at a computer revolution and they didn’t actually know a lot about the computer business at all. But the fact they still developed such a fast growing company which is one of the biggest technology names in the world today means that Apple inspires us.

In a chapter titled ‘manipulation vs inspiration’, Sinek talks about why some companies are successful compared to others.

He raises an interesting point that the majority of companies can’t actually say why they are successful compared to others and their business decisions are based on flawed assumptions about what is driving them. This is what leads many businesses down the manipulation route.

Sinek talks about manipulation in terms of price and promotion – How many times have we seen ‘closing down’ posters in shop windows for stores that haven’t actually closed down and signs that say ‘Everything must go’?

One interesting manipulation strategy is that of fear. Sinek uses the example of advertising slogans from companies such as ‘Every 30 seconds someone dies from a heart attack’ and ‘Life insurance…before it’s too late’. The consumer purchases these products due to a manipulation of fear as to what will happen if they don’t.

He explains that these type of manipulations have become the norm in today’s industries, but there are some that choose to inspire rather than manipulate, and he argues that this is the road one should follow.

Sinek uses a strategy called the ‘golden circle’. This is business strategists asking themselves three questions. Why, how and what? Sinek says that the majority of companies can identify what they do and how they do it, but they need to identify why they do what they do and make this a focus to present to the consumer.

He uses the example of Apple once again, which he says is an inspirer as opposed to a manipulator, purely because it communicates with the customer and identifies the customers’ needs as to what they want from a product. This is how they are able to consistently create new products which aren’t dissimilar from the previous, such as the iPhone 5, and still generate high sales. People believe in the product.

He then adapts the ‘golden circle’ to the human mind in terms of the way one communicates. We need to know why we do what we do in order to communicate this to others so they believe in our strategies. Once we can identify that, we can work on how we will do it.

An example of Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is used. Sinek says although Gates’s business skills and management style were important to the success of Microsoft, the main reason for his success was because he embodied what he believed through his ‘everyman should have a PC’ approach.

Sinek uses examples throughout to illustrate his points, but he continues to return to the same examples of Apple, Martin Luther King and Microsoft, which at times makes you wonder whether the book is sponsored by them.

Overall, although an interesting read, it failed to leave me feeling inspired. But if you want to know the history of Apple, then this is the book for you.