After graduation, the second book I chose to read to continue learning (The Servant was first) was Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. Sinek proves to be a deep thinker and a great analyst when it comes to dissecting the reasons we as consumers feel the way we do about products. Read this book if you want to understand with many vivid stories why you like certain companies and why some companies grow exponentially under certain leadership.
Sinek starts the book by talking about manipulation vs. inspiration, two ways companies can convince consumers to purchase their products. Within manipulation, companies use price, promotions, fear, peer pressure, and novelty to convince consumers to buy. But as he says in the following section, “manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.” Which is how Sinek leads into his argument to Start With Why.
Sinek says it is the inspiration that causes customers to develop loyalty to a brand.
He starts his discussion on inspiration with the illustration below.
He breaks up companies into three sections. Most fall into the outside circle of “what.” These are the companies that simply know what they sell. Some fall into the “how” circle which are the companies that understand what they sell and how it is different. However, very few organizations understand why they do something.
Those that do understand how they can inspire customers with their story.
Throughout the book, Sinek uses real company examples to give vivid pictures of how this principle of starting with why inspires people. He argues that Apple sets itself far apart from all other computer companies because of its focus on the customers who see themselves differently from everyone else. They don’t focus on the product specs (as other companies do) but on the way that their products can change the world through entertainment and education. This inspires creative customers to believe that their success and impact will be linked with one of Apple’s products.
Another example he uses is the way in which Southwest Airlines was born. Its founders Rollin King and Herb Kelleher didn’t start the company because the industry needed another airline. It didn’t. But what the industry did need was an airline built off of unbelievable customer service. And they succeeded in that. Southwest continues to be an airline loved by its customers. Some customers even sent them money after the horrors of 9/11. And Southwest is the only airline to bring in a profit every year, even the years where the industry sees economic difficulty. All because they didn’t focus on just moving people. They focused on moving people with purpose and with a smile.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In my opinion, it is difficult to clearly convey an idea about something that is intangible. Starting with why is an intangible idea, however Sinek uses real-life examples that helped me understand how I can put the principle into practice.
For those starting something new, whether a business or a blog or whatever, I highly recommend this book.