Start With Why?

This article is part of a series of blog posts reviewing our list of top non-fiction titles. These are the books that are being read by large groups in The Pigeonhole’s Company Book Clubs (click for more information). Our carefully curated list includes titles on technology, wellness, psychology, politics, geopolitics, the workplace and the economy. Expect a new post showcasing our ever expanding list twice a month.

The Relevance

A blind acceptance of the status quo, or at least a very short-sighted acceptance, has historically been endemic. This is not so surprising: in the post-Kuhn world of thought, we can recognise without difficulty the fact that views, once established, are tenacious. The company or individual that can rise above this, however, enters a world of opportunity: it is at this point that Simon Sinek enters.

The Story

Sinek –fittingly— was brought to prominence by his TED talk ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, which has now been viewed nearly forty million times. This is fitting because TED is, after all, a platform designed to shake things up: it aims to encourage reconsiderations of established thought. In Start With Why, Sinek takes the idea that reconsideration of the status quo brings opportunity— and, through a plethora of examples, illustrates that great leaders are those who are willing to both reevaluate the paradigm, and to inspire others to follow them in seeking opportunities previously thought impossible.

Drawing on a raft of anecdotes from across the industrial and historical spectra, Sinek ensures that Start With Why is not only a deeply engaging read, but is also a book which contains insight relevant to every profession and every stage of life. Sinek’s terse but often humorous prose, in which points are quickly delivered, evidenced and concluded, makes it ideal reading for those wishing to learn but without a great deal of time in which to do so. His observations are timeless: he understands the workings of both the economic system and of people’s motivations, and blends the two in a way that now frequently appears prescient.

Great leaders, according to Sinek, don’t manipulate: they inspire. Rather than seeking solely to win their own ends by appealing to others’ ends extraneous to theirs, they are instead able to explain their own goals and excitement in a way that makes others want to be a part of their project. To do this, their explanations must start with WHY: it is the WHY that defines the project, not the WHAT of which the project consists, or the HOW by which it happens. In a manner both aesthetically and argumentatively compelling, Sinek walks you through the ways to start with why. There are few books better able to catalyse a re-envisioning of how you describe and manage your company, your projects, and your foundational ideas.

The Creator

Simon Sinek is the embodiment of the modern multicultural thinker. He has lived in London, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and the United States, and his academic background, having studied Law at London and Anthropology at Brandeis, has given him an ideal standpoint from which to analyse human interactions and systems. He has experience at Ogilvy & Mather, has taught Strategic Communications at Columbia University, and has also consulted for Disney, Microsoft, Pfizer and the US Military. His TED talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action, viewed nearly forty million times, is the third most popular of all time.

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