FEMINEST BOOK CLUB: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Wanna join the Feminest book club? Of course you do. ;)

The first Tuesday of every month, I'm selecting a feminist, business, or self-help book to review for that month. And, rest assured — if I'm featuring it — there’s something you oughta know! 

Last month I covered White Hot Truth: Clarity for Keeping It Real on Your Spiritual Path from One Seeker to Another by Danielle LaPorte. It is the highest review I've given so far!

This month I'm covering Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. I choose this book for a couple of reasons. One, because I've seen and heard it referenced a lot of podcasts and articles. And two, whenever I tell people in my coaching that I start with your "why," a lot of times people respond with, "Oh! Like Simon Sinek". I started realizing that I needed to figure out what he was all about so I could understand people's point of reference.

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Takeaway #1 - Obsession with leading and leaders

I thought the book was going to explain how to get to the core of why you do what you do, and to figure out your why before your business begins. But right away Sinek talks about leadership. I feel like Americans have this obsession with being a leader. Maybe I just associate someone who wants to be a leader as being power hungry and the INFJ in me immediately rebels against anyone who seeks authority. But because I just don’t care about power in the traditional sense, I immediately became skeptical. 

Takeaway #2 - Confusing innovation with novelty 

He's pretty critical of companies that just keep producing novel ideas and products that aren't innovative. He gives the example of Colgate's 30+ options of toothpaste when all they're doing is adding sparkles to one, infusing a blue stripe in another, and creating another that stands upright.

Innovation is Apple changing the phone industry by telling the phone companies what the phones will do, not the phone companies telling the device creators what they will do.

Novelty is adding a camera to the phone. Innovation is changing an industry standard. 

Takeaway #3 - Apple is a god apparently and Dell sucks

Sinek should have been renamed the book "How to be like Apple."

We get it. As much as I love Martin Luther King Jr., Sinek uses him, Apple and Harley Davidson for the heroes and Dell as the chumps wayyyyyyy too much. He's so repetitive and what was said in 247 pages could have seriously been written in 100. 

Takeaway #4 - But wait, how do you figure out your why?

He spends a helluva long time praising Apple and Southwest and trashing Dell, Colgate, and Tivo for not having their why. But what should their why be? Who decides what the why is? 

I will say, even though he doesn't give any tools or exercises to help you figure out your why I was able to think of one that really resonated with me just out of hearing about it over and over and over. So I made this quote and felt like a badass:

Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists.
— Thomas L. Friedman

Overall, for the time commitment this book was pretty disappointing. I had fairly high expectations because of how much I'd heard about it - and was let down. Maybe in 2009 these critiques of companies were innovative and eye-opening but it seems very dated now. I wish he would have spent way more time helping companies get to their why instead of telling them how desperately they need one. 

Rating: 2/5

I wouldn't suggest anyone invest their time reading this. Just watch his 18 minute TedTalk instead:

Alright, let me hear what you have to say. Am I crazy? Did you like it? Has he helped you in your business?

Have a book suggestion? Let us know in the comments section below!

Next month I'm featuring The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson ! Read it with me!