Book Club: “Start with WHY”

A recent client engagement prompted me to read the book, “Start with WHY” by Simon Sinek. I enjoyed it quite a bit – more so for the thoughts it provoked around the purpose of my own life rather than for the genius content it contained (trust me, the genius was a tad lacking).

The entire book is based on the principle that businesses are talking about themselves incorrectly. When describing their organizations, people often lead with WHAT Рthe products or services that they offer. Mr. Sinek purports that a more compelling story starts with WHY Рthe driving force or belief that gets you out of bed in the morning.

Throughout the book, he refers to The Golden Circle, which you can see illustrated below.


Start with WHY

Visual articulation by Lynne Cazaly (


In short, here’s a breakdown of the three components of The Golden Circle, and how they work together…

WHY: Your purpose, cause or belief. Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should people care?

HOW: The actions you take to realize that belief. This is your differentiating value proposition – how you bring your WHY to life.

WHAT: The results of those HOW actions. The tangible things you produce through the HOW Рproducts, services, etc.


In general, these are all good thoughts. But they’re kind of common sense, ya know? Maybe I’m a bit miffed that this Simon dude is raking in big bucks just for drawing some concentric circles.

For me, the biggest takeaway here was how damn irritated I got at the application to my personal life. This is going to sound completely ridic, but it’s the clearest example I can think of to illustrate my point…

Take a look at people’s Twitter bios. Chances are, most of them contain a random string of labels used to “define” who they are. Not knocking these people, I’m guilty of it too. In fact, look at my (personal) bio:


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 11.57.21 AM


This has NOTHING to do with the essence of who I am or what I stand for. Good GAWD, what is my purpose?!

It’s a tough question to address. I mean, I believe in God, exercise, clean eating, the power of music and open thought, a delicious Malbec and faith… and so much more. How can I define my purpose when I am a collection of thousands of beliefs and thoughts and feelings and ideas?

Maybe I’m not supposed to have that all figured out. Perhaps life is a journey to understanding it more and more each day.

(I used to think answers like that were a total cop out – a way to get out of taking a stand for something – but in this case, I think it’s quite legit)

So what do you think: why do YOU get out of bed in the morning?


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