Start with Why: A Review of How Great Leaders Inspire




Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is an incredibly insightful book by Simon Sinek.

There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it — Simon Sinek, Start with Why

Have you ever struggled to articulate your offering clearly, get people to buy into your vision, or determine the direction of your business? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that this book should be required reading for all fitness business owners.

I first heard of Simon Sinek’s work after watching his 2009 Ted Talk, where he talks about his “Golden Circle” theory.

It was a game-changer…

In the book, Sinek uses companies such as Apple as an example. Apple are just the same as other tech companies, but they are hugely successful, and he asks why this is.

  • Why do they seem to be different from other computer companies?
  • Why did Martin Luther King lead the Civil Rights Movement? Why was he the man that became the face of the movement over anyone else?
  • Why were the Wright brothers’ the first to create a machine and fly, when there were lots of others trying to do the same thing?

Sinek believes that there is something else that contributes to these successes.

He has discovered that there is a pattern to the success of companies, people or movements – they all think, act and communicate in the exact same way, in the complete opposite way to everyone else.

He has worked it out and simplified it.

As I mentioned above, he calls it, the Golden Circle.


Simon Sinek's Golden Circle

Every person and company know what they do and how they do it – but very few know why they do what they do.

It’s not to make a profit, that’s a result, but by why, he means, ‘What’s your purpose?’, ‘What’s your cause?’, ‘What’s your belief?’, ‘Why does the organisation exist?’

Most of us naturally think from the outside of the ring to the inside, but the successful people and companies, all think from the inside out.

Most sales and marketing is traditionally done from the outside of the ring to the inside.

It’s uninspiring.

An excellent example is Apple, who start with Why:

  • Why – Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently.
  • How – the way they challenge the status quo is by making products that are beautifully designed and user-friendly.
  • What – we just happen to make great computers, do you want to buy on?

Sinek has discovered that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This is what makes Apple stand out from other tech companies. People buy products from Apple, even though other companies make similar products that are just as good.

This theory corresponds with the makeup of the human brain, which is similar to the what, how and why sections, which explains why we make decisions on buying this way – it’s why we like businesses like Apple and shapes our gut decisions.

Apple may be more expensive and not necessarily better than their competitors, but our heart or gut makes us chose Apple.

We want to be a part of their tribe, their community and don’t simply want to have their products. People believe in their products, they want to work for Apple because they share the same beliefs.

“If you hire people who can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people that share your beliefs, they will work for your blood, sweat and tears.”

It’s the recipe for success. Simply being motivated by the wrong thing can cause your project to fail.

When asked why their business failed, most business owners of failed businesses stated they failed because of three things:

  • Under-funded
  • The wrong people working for them
  • It was the wrong time

Sinek disagrees with these findings as those that succeed often don’t have any of those things and some that fail did have them.

Wright Brothers understood their WHY
Image credit:

The success stories such as that of the Wright brothers have none of those things, while some of their competitors had it all, yet they went on to succeed.

The Wright Brothers’ were driven by a cause, a belief – they believed that if they could succeed, it would change the course of the world, where competitors just wanted to be rich and famous.

You mustn’t just be in pursuit of the result, the riches.


Start with Why by Simon Sinek

I often talk to my coaching clients about the importance of knowing WHY they are creating their business in the first place.

It keeps them grounded and motivated through the roller coaster of entrepreneurship.

This book takes that idea to a whole new level.

According to Sinek, most leaders talk about WHAT they do – the products or services that make them money.

Some leaders talk about the HOW – the process they use that sets them apart.

Very few leaders talk about (or even know) their WHY – the reason the business exists in the first place (hint: it isn’t money…that’s a by-product).

Sinek argues that when we start with WHY in everything that we do, we inspire action in a way that WHAT doesn’t.

That’s because…

WHY engages our emotions, while WHAT engages our logical brain.

Over the years I have worked closely with hundreds of fitness professionals (personal trainers, fitness studio owners, pilates and yoga studio owners, Crossfit Box owners etc).

When trying to help them stand out from the competition I would ask them which of the following statements sounded more compelling to them:

  • “I’m a Personal Trainer” (the WHAT)
  • “I help people live extraordinary lives by helping and encouraging them to become more active and to nourish their bodies with good wholesome foods” (the WHY and HOW)

The first response feels safer.

But it’s also pretty boring.

The second one is magnetic.

When we try to sell the WHAT, we have to rely on manipulations like price to influence people. When we focus on attracting customers that understand and believe in our WHY, we build trust.

Trust leads to loyalty, and loyalty leads to word-of-mouth business.


By now, I hope you should start seeing the value of starting with WHY. But what if you don’t know your WHY?

How do you go about finding it?

First off, I’d recommend reading the book.

Even though it doesn’t give much of a structure for determining your WHY, it does give some great examples.

Reading about how companies like Apple communicate their WHY will help you articulate your own.

Sinek points out that “Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention”. In other words, most of us already know our WHY at some level; we just have to find it.

Here are three ways you can go about uncovering your WHY:

  1. Look backwards. Think about the original motivation for starting your business. What is the specific problem you want to solve, and why is it so important that you solve it? As the great Seth Godin would ask, “What change are you trying to make?
  2. Look outwards. Ask a close friend why they spend time with you. Or ask a long-time client why they work from you.Once they understand that you’re not being insecure, their responses will give you insight into why people are drawn to you or your business. They will highlight your common beliefs.
  3. Look inwards. According to Sinek, the best businesses have a point of view about the world, a bigger vision that they are contributing to.This doesn’t need to be philanthropic, but it does need to inspire. What commonly held beliefs do you disagree with? What gets you up in the morning? What really matters to you?

If you’re still not clear on your WHY, that’s okay. Like your purpose, passion or niche, your WHY will emerge over time if you let.


So, what’s my WHY?


To unleash potential.

Everything I do in my business aligns with that one purpose.

I believe that untapped potential is one of the biggest tragedies in the world. Before one of my Uncles passed, he told me we only have one life, so live it.

My promise to myself is I didn’t want to ever look back with regret on things that I could have done, businesses I could have started, relationships I could have had.

This promise is what finally convinced me to leave the safety of a corporate job, start my digital marketing and consultancy business and travel to the over the side of the world and back.

The truth is that most people will die with their greatest gifts still inside them. Not our clients. They’re too busy starting and growing epic businesses that contribute to the world.

Entrepreneurship isn’t the only way to unleash potential, but it’s one of the best HOWs that I’ve found. It forces us to be brave and slay our mental dragons.

Plus, success in business is transferable to other domains.

Coaching, writing, and publishing are simply WHATs for meIf I found a better way to unleash potential, I would do that instead. All that matters is that I create a spark.

What’s you’re WHY?

If you are unsure then I highly recommend you grab a copy of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


Building a successful business is no easy feat. It is important for you as a business owner to learn the factors that determine a business’ ability to adapt and prosper long term.

And a great starting point is focusing on WHY you want to start the business. This book, Start With Why will help.

If this post has resonated with you but you still have some questions and might be in need of help in finding your WHY, then why not take advantage of a free strategy call? You can book one by clicking here

About the author, Andrew Wallis

From two decades in the corporate world to finding my freedom in fitness, I'm known as Braveheart—a Personal Trainer turned marketing maestro for Fitness Professionals. I'm all about unlocking potential and empowering Fit Pros to grow their businesses. 'Finding Your Freedom' isn't just a mantra; it's a collective journey I embark upon with my clients.

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