Home > Notes > Simon Sinek – Start With Why

Simon Sinek – Start With Why

Simon Sinek, the author of “Start With Why”, teaches leaders and companies around the world how to inspire people. From members of Congress to foreign ambassadors, from small businesses to corporations like Microsoft and American Express, from Hollywood to the Pentagon, he has presented his ideas about the power of why.

Here are the notes.

Entrepreneurial Background

  • Simon started a corporate marketing and consulting company
  • in the beginning, he started off like almost every other entrepreneur, passionate and inspired; but he still had the failure rate of small businesses hanging over his head (90-95% of small businesses fail within their first 3 years)
  • he successfully made it through his first 3 years, but when year 4 came everything was different, he lost his passion
  • from September to December 2005, he was completely depressed; his business became hard work and he had thoughts of getting a job
  • during that time, Simon did some research into how the human brain work and found out that we all do things based on a purpose, a “why”

The “Why”

  • why” is the sum total of who you are, your upbringing, the way your parents raised you, and your life experiences
  • every single person has a “why,” and since people start organizations, every single organization has a “why” also
  • everyone’s “why” is fully developed by ages 19-21

Start With “Why”

  • every person and organization focuses on 3 things: “what you do,” “how you do it,” and “why you do it?”
  • most people and organizations are only aware of the “what” and “how” (strategy and tactics)
  • the great companies start and build with the question “why” – ‘why’ you’re creating it, ‘how’ you’re creating it, ‘what’ you’re creating
  • companies that start with “why” have employees that love their jobs; they are more inspired to work and are ultimately more productive, bringing in better results

Signs “Why” Is Unbalanced

  • the company starts playing the “pricing game”
  • too much time focusing on what competitors are doing
  • stress
  • lost your passion

Motivate With “Why”

  • excessively broadcast your “why”
  • constantly talking about your “why” will attract others who believe in the same thing as you

How “Start With Why” Grew

  • after Simon found his “why,” his passion got restored
  • he realized his “why” was actually helping other people discover their “why”
  • he first started teaching a few friends about “why,” and then other people started asking him to teach them, so he started to charge $100 a session
  • he began receiving requests from more and more people until he was talking in front of a house full of people
  • only 1 year after he discovered “why,” he got invited to speak at the Pentagon, in front of top officers of the Air Force

Case Study #1 (First To Flight)

  • at the beginning of the 20th Century, there was a race to become the first in flight and almost everyone was doing it
  • Samuel Pierpont Langley was the favorite: he worked at the Smithsonian, he was extremely well accomplished, well connected, and well funded, he had a dream team working for him, and he was being followed by everybody, even by The New York Times
  • The Wright Brothers (Orville & Wilbur) were the exact opposite: they lacked adequate funding, connections, and education; most of their team even lacked high school education
  • they also had different motivations: The Wright Brothers were motivated by wanting to change and improve the world, while Langley was motivated by fame and fortune
  • On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers took flight; when Langley heard about it he and his team quit


  • When people believe in what you believe in, they work with their blood, sweat and tears. When they don’t believe in what you believe in, they work for your money.”

Case Study #2 (Volkswagen)

  • when Volkswagen was founded their “why” was crystal clear: they were the “people’s car”
  • their goal was to bring great, high quality German-made cars to the average person that couldn’t afford a BMW or a Mercedes
  • then a few years ago they came out with the Phaeton, a $70,000 Volkswagen
  • the Phaeton got rave reviews from the car experts for being fast, safe, and hi-tech but failed in the market place because people don’t want to pay $70,000 for a car with a Volkswagen logo
  • people go to Volkswagen for something specific and Volkswagen went away from their market


  • The more clear you are about what you believe, the more clear people’s expectations will be about what you deliver.”


  • In order to achieve real greatness you need to know your ‘why.’”
  • Your motivation is never money, money is only an end result. Your motivation is more likely freedom.”
  • Great entrepreneurs and great companies don’t look for market opportunities and they don’t look for problems to solve, they try to solve problems of their own.”
  • Chasing market opportunities won’t last, it will only be a fad, at best.”
  • A ‘why’ is not an invention, it’s a discovery.”


  • Simon’s “why” is to inspire people to do things that inspire them; spreading the “why” is what matters to him most
  • he got to where he’s at by changing the way he defined himself from “what he does” into “why he does what he does”
  • when he discovered his “why,” he quit reading all things related to his industry because that would only make him aware of people doing things he hadn’t thought of; instead he read things that weren’t industry-related so he could bring innovative things to his industry
  • some companies own different brands so they can touch a different market and deliver a different message through them (i.e. Volkswagen owns Bugatti, Disney owns Miramax)

Connect With Simon

Start With Why

  1. Aubrey Graham
    March 2, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Love the case studies!!!

  2. Zundifi Du'lock
    March 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Good work , i love the sight. Keep up the good work guys!

  1. March 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: