Start With Why Book Summary - Start With Why Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Start With Why summary

How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

4.6 (1238 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

Start With Why by Simon Sinek is a leadership book that explains the importance of identifying the purpose behind our actions. Using real-world examples, Sinek argues that successful individuals and organizations always begin by answering the question "why?" before moving on to "how?" and "what?"

Table of Contents

    Start With Why
    Summary of 3 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 3

    How to inspire . . . and how not to

    All right! The goal here is to turn you into an inspirational leader – if you aren’t one already. Before that can happen, though, you need to understand what inspiration actually is and how it works. And to understand inspiration, it’s best to first understand its opposite.

    Sinek identifies two main ways to influence the behavior of others, whether they’re your employees or customers: inspiration and manipulation. And while companies want to be inspirational, many of them are actually manipulative. 

    Mind you, “manipulation” here doesn’t mean brainwashing people into buying products or anything; it refers to a strategy of laying out incentives. Basically, it means the carrot and the stick. Just think of the plethora of marketing messages you’re bombarded with every day. Half off, for a limited time only! Supplies limited! Buy two, get one free! These are anything that pushes consumers to buy – think clearance sales, advertising hype, and appeals to authority with claims like “Four out of five dentists prefer Trident.” Manipulation is a popular strategy – and it’s effective, too. The only problem is that it doesn’t work over the long haul.

    That’s because manipulation doesn’t breed loyal customers. When you manipulate your customers, they come to you for the good deals, not because they like you. This becomes painfully visible in tough economic times; when you have to raise your prices, your customers will desert you for a better offer, because they never cared about you or your product in the first place. And why would they? You didn’t inspire them. You just incentivized them.

    Okay, now let’s shift to the other side of the spectrum and talk about an inspirational company – let’s talk about Apple.

    Apple presents us with a very interesting example – almost a mind-boggling one. Because, on the face of it, there’s really nothing special about the company. Apple is a corporate structure like any other. It makes computers, just like Dell and Toshiba do. It also makes phones, but so does Samsung. Sure, its products are beautifully designed and work seamlessly, but so do products that other companies make. Sometimes Apple does well, sometimes not so much, and when it comes to its products or business operations, there’s plenty of criticism out there. Maybe the most noteworthy knock on Apple is that it doesn’t really offer any good deals on its products. For $1000, you could get the new iPhone . . . or you could have two brand-new Samsungs that do almost exactly the same things – or even more. But look closely. Apple doesn’t pull any carrot-and-stick trickery. It doesn’t offer any incentives. But when a new iPhone is released, what happens? People go crazy for it. They don’t do that for Samsung’s phones. 

    It’s fair to say that Apple’s customers are so committed to their brand that they behave irrationally. So the big question here is: How does Apple pull that off?

    The short answer is that Apple is inspirational. And here’s the somewhat longer one: customers deeply care about Apple because Apple starts with why. Or, as Sinek put it in his now-famous TED Talk, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Let’s dig a little deeper.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Start With Why?

    Key ideas in Start With Why

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Start With Why about?

    Start With Why (2009) tackles a fundamental question: What makes some organizations and people more innovative, influential, and profitable than others? Based on best-selling author Simon Sinek’s hugely influential lecture of the same name, the third most-watched TED talk of all time, these blinks unpack the answer to that conundrum. As Sinek’s examples show, it’s all about asking why rather than what.

    Start With Why Review

    Start With Why (2009) by Simon Sinek is a book that explores the power of purpose and the impact it has on individuals and organizations. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents a compelling argument for why starting with the "why" is crucial in inspiring others and driving success.
    • By showcasing a range of real-life examples from successful leaders and companies, the book demonstrates the effectiveness of the "why" approach.
    • With its thought-provoking insights and practical strategies, it generates a sense of curiosity and inspires readers to take action.

    Who should read Start With Why?

    • Managers and team leaders 
    • Entrepreneurs building their brand 
    • Self-starters in need of a bit of inspiration

    About the Author

    Simon Sinek is a self-professed optimist determined to create a better and brighter future for humanity. An influential speaker and coach, Sinek has helped organizations around the world, such as Microsoft, American Express, the United Nations, and the Pentagon, inspire their employees. He is also the author of Leaders Eat Last and Together is Better.

    Categories with Start With Why

    Book summaries like Start With Why

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    32 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Start With Why FAQs 

    What is the main message of Start With Why?

    The main message of Start With Why is the importance of finding your purpose and inspiring others to follow it.

    How long does it take to read Start With Why?

    The reading time for Start With Why varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is Start With Why a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Start With Why is worth reading as it provides valuable insights into the power of purpose and how it can drive success. It offers practical strategies for inspiring others and creating a fulfilling work environment.

    Who is the author of Start With Why?

    The author of Start With Why is Simon Sinek.

    What to read after Start With Why?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Start With Why, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
    • Find Your WHY by Simon Sinek
    • Good to Great by Jim Collins
    • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
    • Leadership Is Language by David Marquet
    • The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • Drive by Daniel Pink
    • How Highly Effective People Speak by Peter Andrei