I need to get back to writing book reviews on this blog as I keep on reading (audio-reading) more books and can’t keep up with my thoughts about them. Need to put it here for both you - my readers and myself… so hopefully more reviews are coming in the next few weeks. Let’s start with the latest book I listened to: “Start with Why?” by Simon Sinek.
Exceeded my expectations - about asking a “different kind of why”
I originally thought this book was about asking more “why” (like the Toyota’s “5 whys rule”) but it’s totally not what the book was about. It was about asking yourself “why” you’re doing what you’re doing and how to keep and maintain this “why” for the years to come.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. says the author.
If people know and align with your WHY, they’re yours for the long-haul
The author gives examples of companies like Apple, Harley Davidson and others who enjoy a cult-like following. He says people are drawn to these companies because they believe what the companies believe. As a real Apple geek I must say it’s kind of true.
Competing against others vs against yourselves
He says many companies are losing focus when they start focusing on competing against other companies and not looking into their true “why” and competing against themselves and their past accomplishments.
I must admit I always felt it was stupid to watch the competition too closely (especially that I have so many direct competitors) but now I know it for a fact - don’t get me wrong, I’m not blind to what my competition is doing but I’m not obsessed about it :-)
Infusing the “Why” in the company
The author mentions companies like Walmart where the original founder was personifying the “why” of Walmart… but the next CEOs weren’t and they lost the cause and eventually the business started to decline - that’s why it’s so important to permeate the company with your why, to make sure it’s not just the founder’s DNA, it’s the company’s DNA.
I must say I’m looking forward to seeing Apple perform in the next few years under the helm of Tim Cook who might not be the “product genius” Steve Jobs was, but he (and the entire company) seems to be living the Steve’s dream and having his DNA. Let’s see. After recent WWDC announcement I must say it looks promising.
The Golden Circle
The key of the book by Simon Sinek is the rule of “Golden circle” where the Why is in the center and then there is How and then there is What. This basically means that you first have to know “WHY” you want to do something, then think about “how” you can do it in order to arrive at “what” you’re going to actually be offering.
The problem is that most companies start with what and work to the why and the author argues that it’s not ideal as it might be OK for the short term, but is not sustainable in the long run.
The “how” and “what” are very important as well. They are the key to succeeding when you know your “why” but when you don’t, these two can’t work long-term.
How Nozbe started with Why
Come to think of it, I started Nozbe because I wanted a better way to organize myself and my projects (WHY) so I decided to do it through a web interface to make sure I can access my data on any computer (HOW) and when I liked my solution, I went ahead and offered it as a product for anyone in the world (WHAT) called Nozbe.
My WHY is to get busy professionals and companies organized every single day. And come to think of it, when I put it this way, I feel inspired myself :-)
That’s also the author’s point - WHY inspires people. WHAT hardly ever does. WHY inspires your co-workers and your customers. WHAT is just that… a “thing”, not a cause.
Go get this book. It helps you clarify your vision and mission - whether you’re working for a company or you’re on your own, it helps you realize that it’s just better to wake up every day and know why you’re about to do what you’re going to do. Again, it’s the “why” that inspires people, not the “what” or the “how”.
What is your why? Do you start with “Why” every single day?