Quotes from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Simon Sinek ·  256 pages

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“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.

For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea - we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.

Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order.

Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.

You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.

Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.

Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down.

All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action



“Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Some in management positions operate as if they are in a tree of monkeys. They make sure that everyone at the top of the tree looking down sees only smiles. But all too often, those at the bottom looking up see only asses.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action



“Henry Ford summed it up best. “If I had asked people what they wanted,” he said, “they would have said a faster horse.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Charisma has nothing to do with energy; it comes from a clarity of WHY. It comes from absolute conviction in an ideal bigger than oneself. Energy, in contrast, comes from a good night’s sleep or lots of caffeine. Energy can excite. But only charisma can inspire. Charisma commands loyalty. Energy does not.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Great leaders and great organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we would never think of asking for.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Put bluntly, the struggle that so many companies have to differentiate or communicate their true value to the outside world is not a business problem, it's a biology problem. And just like a person struggling to put her emotions into words, we rely on metaphors, imagery and analogies in an attempt to communicate how we feel. Absent the proper language to share our deep emotions, our purpose, cause or belief, we tell stories. We use symbols. We create tangible things for those who believe what we believe to point to and say, "That's why I'm inspired." If done properly, that's what marketing, branding and products and services become; a way for organizations to communicate to the outside world. Communicate clearly and you shall be understood.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Those who forget WHY they were founded show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of to outdo themselves. The pursuit, for those who lose sight of WHY they are running the race, is for the medal or to beat someone else.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action



“Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“This is important because our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Instead of asking, “WHAT should we do to compete?” the questions must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“That’s the problem with love; we only know when we’ve found it because it “just feels right.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action



“Regardless of WHAT we do in our lives, our WHY—our driving purpose, cause or belief—never changes.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“If the leader of the organization can’t clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“As anyone who starts a business knows, it is a fantastic race. There is a statistic that hangs over your head - over 90 percent of all new businesses fail in the first three years. For anyone with even a bit of competitive spirit in them, especially for someone who defines himself or herself as an entrepreneur, these overwhelming odds of failure are not intimidating, they only add fuel to the fire. The foolishness of thinking that you're a part of the small minority of those who actually will make it past three years and defy the odds is part of what makes entrepreneurs who they are, driven by passion and completely irrational.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Innovation is not born from the dream, innovation is born from the struggle.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action



“If they had started their sales pitch with WHY the product existed in the first place, the product itself would have become the proof of the higher cause—proof of WHY.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Studies show that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job. If more knew how to build organizations that inspire, we could live in a world in which that statistic was the reverse - a world in which over 80 percent of people loved their jobs. People who love going to work are more productive and more creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“For great leaders, The Golden Circle is in balance. They are in pursuit of WHY, they hold themselves accountable to HOW they do it and WHAT they do serves as the tangible proof of what they believe.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”
― Simon Sinek, quote from Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action



About the author

Simon Sinek
Born place: The United Kingdom
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