People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

1 Sentence Summary

In “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” Simon Sinek presents the idea that great leaders inspire others by putting the Why (the purpose) before the How (the process), & the What (the product).

3 Main Takeaways

  • Inspiring people requires a real purpose, a Why.
  • A clearly expressed Why helps separate you from the rest.
  • People follow leaders and those who inspire not because they have to, but because they want to.

Personal Takeaways

Whenever you want to sell something, e.g. when pitching your idea to potential investors, you often start from outside in with the What & How, e.g.

  • What? — We make great computers.
  • How? — They are beautify designed and user friendly.
  • Why? — Do you want to buy one?

Instead, you should start with the How and go from there, e.g.

  • Why? — Everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo; we believe in thinking differently.
  • How? — The way we challenge status quo is by making our products designed and user friendly.
  • What? — We just happen to make computers, do you want to buy one?

Following this principle improved a lot how I communicate ideas to others, most recently in successfully pitching the idea of our latest Co-Venture movingto the jury of the Health Media Award.


Simon Sinek’s talk “How great leaders inspire action” can be found on YouTube (I’ve embedded the video below), his book on the same topic “Start With Why” is available on Amazon.