Start With Why
A 3 minute synopsis of Simon Sinek’s ground-breaking book

At Glued, we often refer to author and speaker Simon Sinek’s work ‘Start With Why’ because the theory makes absolute sense to us. The theory states that our values, beliefs and purpose; our Why, echoes our limbic brain (responsible for decision making). Businesses may broadcast the benefits their offer, but we are driven to want to do business with those that share our world view, that reinforce our sense of identity and belonging.

The first step in Glued’s three step approach – research, design and marketing – is all about Why. Gaining absolute clarity enables your business to develop the language and symbolism that helps people identify whether your Why chimes with theirs – and therefore opens the door to growth and long-term customer loyalty.


In case you haven’t read the book – or would like a refresh, we’ve summed it up in a 3 minute read for you below.


Chapter 1: Assume You Know

How our assumptions impact our actions. There are two types of leaders, those who manipulate to get a desired result and those who start with the desired result in mind.


Chapter 2: Carrots and Sticks

Most sales tactics used today are “carrots”, e.g. price, promotion, aspiration, peer pressure, novelty and fear.. These are short-term solutions which will ultimately negatively impact long term success. The ‘other way’ is revealed in next chapter.


Chapter 3: The Golden Circle

Core concept of the book = Start With Why. The circle has Why at centre, followed by How and then What.

Why – understand what is the purpose of the company, why it exists – answers like ‘to earn a living’ are insufficient as these are results not reasons.

How – this is your process

What – this is your product

The idea of working from the centre of the circle outwards is that clear purpose informs how and what you do as a business = authenticity which sets you apart and attracts loyal customers.


Chapter 4: this is not opinion, this is biology

Human desire to belong. We seek ‘tribes’ who share our own ‘Why’. The golden circle echoes how our brain works.

The limbic brain = ‘Why’. Responsible for our feelings like trust and loyalty – where decision making happens.

The neocortex = ‘What’ level – responsible for rational thinking and language, it can process huge amounts of data, facts and figures. But it’s the limbic brain that drives behaviour.


Chapter 5: Clarity, Discipline and Consistency

Elaborates on the golden circle and how it works when used in the right order with discipline and consistency. This gives the emotional context and confidence behind decisions. Businesses should be focussing on people who believe what they believe, rather than serving just anyone who wants their product or service.


Chapter 6: The emergence of trust

We begin to develop trust in companies that appear to be driven by a purpose that aligns with our Why, rather than the more self-serving What. In fact companies that are simply producing commodities based on ‘what’ people want, have to work harder and harder to differentiate themselves from the competition – lower prices, more features etc.


Chapter 7: How a Tipping Point Tips

Sinek looks at the law of diffusion of innovations, Everett M Rogers. This is a bell curve of early adopters and laggards. He discusses how getting to know your customer’s Why and finding like-minded ones will bring more early adopters.


Chapter 8: Start With Why But Know How

All great leaders have charisma because they have a clear ‘Why’ which is a belief or purpose bigger than themselves.. Sinek goes on to say that behind every ‘Why’ leader is a ‘How’ type that makes their vision happen.


Chapter 9: Know Why. Know How. Then What?

The founder’s role changes as a company grows, they represent the ‘Why’.

Companies need metaphors, imagery, symbols to communicate this ‘limbic brain’ Why of the business – this is where marketing comes in.

Chapter 10: Communication is about Listening

Symbols turn the intangible into tangible. A logo only has meaning because we give it meaning. E.g. the Harley Davidson logo embodies an entire value set.

The celery test: If you were told that to grow you need to buy cookies, Nutella, celery, ice cream and fruit – you would filter this through your own ‘Why’. If your Why is to be healthy, you would only buy the celery and fruit. So when you filter through your ‘Why’ you save time, money, and stay true to your cause.


Chapter 11: When Why goes Fuzzy

When companies lose sight of their original ‘Why’ – it is bad for business. Eg Walmart was started with the idea of helping people and communities by providing products at low prices. However, eventually forgot about helping people and communities and ended up becoming a cutthroat business towards its employees, suppliers and the communities it was a part of.

The hardest part is having the discipline to stay true to original cause or belief.


Chapter 12: Split Happens

At the beginning ideas are fuelled by passion. Passion needs structure to survive. Most companies fail because Hows and Whys need each other,


Chapter 13: The Origin of a Why

Why is a process of discovery, not invention – not born out of market research. It is within you. The hardest part is remaining true to it.


Chapter 14: The New Competition

No one wants to help us when we are competing against the world. When we are competing against ourselves everyone wants to help us. We are our own best competition.

Glued interpretation of Simon Sinek’s why

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