Answer to all your Whys

Nidhi Gupta | April, 2012

Newton was the greatest genius who ever lived and he started his theories with a three letter word called “WHY”. Footprints on the sands of the time are not made by sitting down. Lot of hardship, pain, dedication makes you to reach to the top. But why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

This book by Simon Sinek, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”, answers all the above questions in the most convincing manner. The book is insightful yet often repeating the same examples many times over to make precisely the same point as the first time the example was used. On the hindsight, one would be inclined to think that virtually everything Sinek wrote could have been stated in a 20-page article without leaving out anything important and that’s the beauty of this book. It is astoundingly powerful.
The plethora of business and leadership books indicate a desire by many to improve either themselves or their business. However, Sinek begins by saying what he has to offer does not attempt to supplant others, nor will he fix all the things that do not work. Instead, he notes "I wrote this book as a guide to focus on and amplify the things that do work."
"Why" is the essential question in the book. His premise is that companies which do well focus on their "why" while many companies which fail are generally found to have lost that focus altogether. Sinek believes that if customers understand the why of a company, and they believe in the why, they will naturally end up buying the "what". In other words, people like companies with a vision which matches their own. Sinek's ideas about why customers (and employees) become loyal to certain companies and not others is not only fascinating but has been presented in completely new hue. He explained the same by giving example, Volkswagen has been the automotive equivalent of peace and love since the VW van ruled the 1960s. They put a vase for flowers on their Beetle's dashboard! So when they introduced the Phaeton, a high-end luxury car, it failed. Volkswagen’s engineering is legendary and the critics loved the Phaeton, but it did not represent the "why" of Volkswagen which has attracted so many people. Why is Southwest Airlines successful? Why did Walmart lose its way. The book explores why people buy into an organization or a leader. People do not care about what or the how. 'Start With Why' is a very practical guide which explains why some companies became and some didn’t become successful. Organizations need a leader who breathes the “WHY” message. In addition, many other people in the same company work out the “HOW” of this “WHY” message. This is usually not the work of the leader. Steve Jobs at Apple was a good example of a “WHY” leader. Apple computers are more expensive than PCs, have less software available to use on them, and at times are even slower than the competition. So why do people buy them? Because they buy into Apple's "why". Apple has from the beginning marketed itself as the rebel, the individual, the unique voice. They market themselves that way because that is how they envision themselves. People who buy into that vision will pay more for a computer that reflects their values. By focusing on their why, Apple has also been able to easily branch out from computers and develop the iPod and iPhones. Those products fit their image as the rebel. Sinek says their products may not even be the best or first on the market, but they quickly emerge as the leader.
Sinek explains how each of us can achieve greater success and satisfaction by inspiring others through a shared sense of purpose – as opposed to more commonly used tactics of coercion and manipulation. “If you follow your WHY,” writes Sinek, “others will follow you.” It’s a refreshing redefinition of what constitutes true leadership, and a great tool for re-infusing your own work with purpose-centered passion. This book is impressive, practical, credible, simple, clear and compelling. 

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