Reading Book: Start with Why?

It has been a long time since I have posted anything in this blog. Lot of things are going on in my life – managing the new startup, moving my family from Geneva, Swiss to India and setting up a new team in India. The blog has taken a backseat in the middle of all these changes. Once in a while, I think of something interesting to post on the blog, but never got around to doing it.

Around 2 weeks back, one of my clients has recommended me to take a look at a book called ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek. There is a short TED talk here that explains the entire book in a nutshell. I watched that video and was hooked onto the idea and I bought the book. Now, I am reading the book and finding it to be quite insightful in a number of areas. In the coming days/weeks, I will share with you the ideas that I found useful in that book.

The crux of the book is this:

When we communicate an idea, most of us start with the most concrete aspects of the idea: the what level. Then, we move on to the How level in which we talk about how we implement the idea or what makes us different (the USP – Unique Selling Proposition). Then, very rarely, we go to the why level in which we talk about the purpose behind the idea and our beliefs. As per Simon, the belief is the key ingredient in motivating people to take action. Simon Sinek calls these 3 levels the Golden Circle as you can see below.

For example, if you are in charge of selling the Apple iPod when it debuted, you would say that you have an MP3 player with 5GB storage, etc. Here, at the what level, you would talk about features of the product. Then, you would talk about how this iPod is different from similar products: the ease-of-use and the asthetics. And rarely would you talk about why this product was made.

In comparison, the way Apple communicates the message is to start from why and move towards what as you can see below:

The book talks a lot about Apple and its style of communication. But it also talks about great leaders like Marthin Luther King and the Wright brothers who invented the flying machine against all odds.

Please check out the video/book and let me know whether you find the idea worthwhile. I have already implemented the idea in a product launch that I have done 2 weeks back. I was quite happy with the presentation and the audience received it very well. A great recommendation by my client at the right time. I am grateful for the recommendation.

2 thoughts on “Reading Book: Start with Why?

  1. sundar December 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm Reply

    I’ve not gone through the book, but have gone through Simon Sinek TED talk , I think this was one of most watched TED talks all time. This WHY->HOW->WHAT approach has helped me in my Technical pre-sales presentations with my Customers

    • Siraj Samsudeen December 8, 2014 at 2:46 pm Reply

      Hi Sundar, I am happy to hear that you have already used it in your presales presentations – Excellent. Yes, buying the book is not necessary for everyone. I bought the book because I wanted to internalize the message much more deeply by reading more about it. I felt that the video was very short.

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