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The GenWhy Leaders Podcast

Nov 12, 2020

Kirsten Brown, founding principal of Crossroads Preparatory Academy, reviews the acclaimed book, Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. 

Why this book: 
This book was assigned to Brown in a school leadership program and all the ideas of the book resonated with her as a leader. She believes everyone is a leader and there are so many applicable ideals and principles from this book that could be applied in any field. 

Book Outline: 
From this book, Brown mentions she learned about how to ensure that you are compelling and inspiring so that whatever it is that you stand for/are attempting to do has a following that is sustainable. Your following needs to be people who are willing to support you and the work that you are doing. This includes people that will support your “why”. You need to know the purpose behind the “why” or the purpose of what you do. 

Many organizations have a sense of what they do but the how, the deep rationale and purpose, is often not clear, understood, or even known. The book discusses why the leader must be clear on the “why” as well as why every stakeholder should also know their “why”. 

When there is a deep sense of “why”, more people will be drawn to that organization long-term and will be committed to their mission and vision. People are attracted to belief and if your belief aligns with theirs, you are going to have an opportunity to have a strong influence and will have a strong following. 

Key takeaways: 

  1. A goal should not offer you a course of action, it should be the cause of action (pg. 7). Ask yourself, “What causes you to have that goal?”. The “why” must always come first.
  2. Brown mentions how there are many examples of powerful, sustainable companies in this book. The book also describes the reasonings as to why they are so successful and it usually has to do with the “why” of the company. 

One quote that resonated with Brown about the successful company, Apple:  “It is that clear correlation between what they do and why they do it that makes Apple stand out. This is the reason we perceive Apple as being authentic. Everything they do works to demonstrate their why, to challenge the status quo.” (pg. 43). 

3. On pg. 127, Sinek talks about Martin Luther King Jr. and how he had a deep sense of purpose and his why as well as his large following (or rather a movement). Sinek mentions, “But Dr. King was absolute in his conviction. He knew change had to happen in America. His clarity of why, his sense of purpose, gave him the strength and energy to continue his fight.” 

Call to action: 

To think deeply about what is your why and what is your purpose as a person. What do you believe and how can you use what you do, the work that you do, how you live your life to ensure that it aligns with that why? Think deeply about your why!

Contact information:

If you have any interest in the work Brown does as a school leader or have a purpose to transform the next generation through the leadership of young people, she asks that you please reach out. She would love to connect if you have any questions. Feel free to email her at