A few months back my coworker recommend that I check out Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. I recently finished the book and thought I would do something that I used to dread doing..a quick book report about the book.
The premise of this book is that leaders need to focus on why their company does something instead of how or what their company does. Sinek argues that consumers (or in my case students) don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Throughout the course of the book he uses real life examples of successful products, companies, and people (Apple, Southwest, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers being his favorite) and compares their approach to marketing their product to unsuccessful competitors (Yes the Zune is mentioned).
The basis of his idea is a diagram that he refers to as the Golden Circle. In the book Sinek argues that when the Golden Circle is placed on a diagram of our brain that science can actually prove the importance of starting with why. Sinek argues that the why portion of his diagram lines up with the part of our brain that we refer to as our “gut feeling”.
So how does does the concept of starting with why apply to teaching? When teaching a lesson it is important to let student’s know why it is important to them. The canned answer “It’s on the test” is no longer an acceptable answer. Students’ today are busy and are being bombarded with content. By starting with why when teaching a lesson, you are letting them know that what you are teaching is important and will one day have an effective on them. In my new role of Coordinator of Academic Achievement I plan making sure I focus on the why when it comes to planning PD sessions. By starting with why and showing teachers why the content we are covering is important, I hope to avoid many of the “boring” PD sessions that many teachers complain about.
My biggest issue with this book is the length. On several occasion Sinek repeats himself and several of the chapters are very similar. He uses several of the same examples to make the same point he made the first time he shared the example. I found this at times frustrating and think he could have done a better job either making the book shorter or adding more examples of companies that started with why. I also wish this would have come with some sort of tool kit like Daniel Pink’s Drive did. While I understand the concept and have a good idea of how to implement it, a few guiding questions or other resources would have been nice.
Overall I would rate this book a 3.5 out of 5. If you were a fan of Sinek’s TED talk and are looking for a deeper look into starting with why I would recommend checking it out. If you would like a quick summary of the concept I would recommend checking out Sinek’s TED Talk on Starting With Why.