Simon Sinek is almost a household name when it comes to business strategy and motivational content online. First published in the USA in 2009, 'Start With Why - How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action' is his global best selling book. It probably adorns most good managers' office bookshelves.
It's well worth a read if you're feeling bogged down in the day to day of life and want to feel connection to some greater purpose.
What's this book about?
Simon uses a small range of successful businesses (and people) and connects their reason for success to having a strong 'why'. From the outset, people like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and businesses like Southwest Airlines and Apple start from why they do what they do rather than what or how they do it.
He discusses the ways people feel connection to why, through trust, expectation and gut feelings. With a connection to why people will pay more, be loyal and stand up for you even when things don't go as planned. When building any kind of brand or business, threading why into everything you do helps people identify what you value, what is important to you and how you do what you do.
Through his premise of 'The Golden Circle' he teaches that 'why' must be at the centre of everything you do. If why is not at the centre, or it is lost along the way, it is the difference between becoming a household name and falling by the wayside.
Why should I read this book?
According to the back of the book, "this book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or be inspired."
If you aspire to be a leader in any shape or form, then this book is a must read. You should also read this book if you are bogged down in the daily grind of a PhD and can no longer identify with a purpose. It's ideal if you find yourself lacking in fulfilment and/or direction.
If you're looking for something else to read, can I recommend my newsletter?
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How can this book help me in my PhD?
If you read this book, perhaps over an afternoon, then expect a little surge of optimism in why you are doing your PhD. I would almost go as far to say; write out your Golden Circle in the front of your notebook so it is clear for you to connect to your what, to your how, to your why.
Being able to connect your why to the everyday of your PhD work is the thing that will help you make it over the finish line. The why needs to be bigger than your project and connect to the wider purpose of your research and why you are doing what it is you are doing.
What did I think about Simon's book?
Overall, I enjoyed the book. Simon has a good writing style and his overall message is threaded throughout every page. That being said I did skim over some parts as I felt he was repeating himself a number of times. He would probably call it, 're-iterating' which is not in itself a bad thing when conveying a message.
I felt the book could have benefitted from more examples of companies to explain the importance of why. It always seemed to come back to the same few examples. Nevertheless it doesn't detract from the message Simon is trying to convey.
As you have probably gathered the strongest asset to this book is the message Simon is trying to convey. This book is loud and clear, which makes a difference from many books in this genre which try to tackle all the reasons for business success and failure. It is this reason why it is a relatively quick read and didn't overwhelm me with concepts and theories. In fact the title alone 'Start With Why' is what it all boils down to.
It won't help you with finding your why; it's not a workbook, but it will tell you that is essential that you find it and live it in everything you do.
If you are curious, here's the take home messages:
Be sure to read it in full to get Sinek's full inspirational story.
Where can I get it from?
Due to its popularity, this book will most likely be available in a local library; that's where I borrowed my copy from.
Failing that, have a look in your local bookshop or order online:
Looking for more inspiration, try a research communication challenge from a previous book review!