Book review: Start With Why

Start With Why by Simon Sinek book cover

One of the better habits I’ve developed over the last couple of years is setting aside 10-20 minutes in the morning to read. The books I read during this time are geared toward personal development. They are about business, leadership, personal growth, and related topics. As someone told me a few years ago, if you’re able to read 10-15 pages a day, you end up completing a book every month. Over the last two years, I’ve read over 25 books this way.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Start With Why by Simon Sinek ended up as one of my morning reads. It was recommended through Sean Murphy’s blog that I follow, SKMurphy. The book’s also highly rated and has received plenty of positive press since it’s release in 2009. Given the short shelf life of most business books, part of my curiosity was to see if the ideas in the book were still relevant almost 10 years later.

On the surface, it would appear that the primary theme of Start With Why is common sense, that we should start by asking ourselves why we are doing what we do. It sounds so much like the refrain of “follow your passion” that we regularly hear. Sinek takes it a step further and expands upon this concept by making the observation that people don’t buy what you do, the buy why you do it. He uses examples from history through present day to prove his point. He discusses why some people and companies succeed and others don’t.

In my opinion, the ideas Sinek presents in the book are timeless. The book is just as relevant now as it was 10 years ago, and it will be just as relevant 10 years from now. Sure, you could argue it’s common sense, but sometimes these are the ideas that we need to be shown again. Looking at them under a different light or from another angle helps us to grasp them better, which is what Sinek does that makes the book so effective. He does a great job of raising your awareness and bringing the idea of why to the forefront of your mind and challenging you to consider why you do what you do, whether you are running a business, leading a team, or just punching the clock on a daily basis.

Start With Why lands in my Must Read category of books. It has a lot of great information in it. It was thought provoking and pushed me to look at my business, to analyze why we do what we do and think about whether it echoes with people. In addition, I found a lot of the concepts applicable to my personal life as well. In other words, the ideas presented can be applied on both a business and personal level. Overall, it’s one of the more influential business books that I’ve read in the last few years.

I strongly urge you to add the book to your reading list. However, if you don’t think you’ll get to it, I’d highly recommend that you at least watch Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk which he gave just prior to the book’s release in September 2009 (embedded below). Even if you do plan to read the book, the talk will provide an introduction to the concepts Sinek expands upon in the book.