We’ve all heard the expression – “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This book definitely drives the point home, and it does so with impactful examples, too! Ultimately, the point that this book drives home is that, yes, businesses serve consumers – but businesses are powered by people… and people at the top of their game are powered by their own PASSION.
In Start with Why, Sinek posits that the trap that most businesses fall into is that they emphasize WHAT it is that they do and HOW they do it. Sinek contends that this kind of framing for your business puts it on the fast track to becoming a commodity – with little/no differentiation from your competitors and a guarantee that you will be competing mainly on price.
True differentiation doesn’t happen in the “hows” and “whats” of your business. The key is to be in touch with “WHY” you do what you do. This emotional appeal (your WHY) is what motivates customers to choose YOUR business over others – but, beyond that, it reinforces loyalty for repeat business as well. Sinek’s main argument, backed up with strong examples of recognizable brands and brand positioning, is that a successful business is not the one that makes a decent sales pitch – it’s the one that inspires its customers to act.
One of the aspects of this book that I enjoyed the most was the amount of rich examples highlighted by the author of brands that “start with their why.” Brands like Southwest Airlines and Apple, whose existence and history is rooted in well-defined purpose, are among the examples provided of brands whose messages extend beyond cost and calls to action, providing instead stories that resonate, amuse, and inspire customers. As a reader, I became mindful of the positive internal response and energy these brands elicited in me when they were highlighted in print as examples, reinforcing the point that these brands have already made a successful connection with me as their consumer through their WHY!
If you’re a business owner, this book is worth a read – perhaps to affirm (or get back in touch with?) your WHY. Or, perhaps, it could serve as assigned reading to your leadership team to generate a follow-on discussion on your shared purpose together. And maybe even an interview question could be designed after reading this book that helps to determine how your business resonates with the candidate across the table.
Overall, this is a fantastic read that encourages business owners and decision-makers to think about the big picture when it comes to the messages their company is putting out there. Defining your WHY is the first step to communicating it to your audience and inspiring them to invest in your business.
Book Review by:
Jim McEleney | Business Coach at ActionCOACH Tampa Bay