Victor Leung
Victor Leung
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Start With Why - Book Review

April 12, 2023

To me, "Start with Why" means that when there is new request coming in, it's important to start by asking the reason behind it. Instead of focusing on the "what" or "how" of the task at hand, I should take a step back and ask myself why I am doing it in the first place.

According to Simon Sinek in the book, when we understand our "why", the deeper motivation driving us, we're better equipped to make decisions, stay motivated, and communicate our message effectively to others. Starting with why helps us to create a clear and compelling vision for what we want to achieve, and it also helps to ensure that our actions are aligned with our values and beliefs.

I believe that starting with why is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth, as it allows us to tap into our deeper sense of purpose and create more meaningful experiences and outcomes in our lives. For example, I can get a software developer in my team to understand why they are building the feature that requested by the customers. At the same time, I can ask the customers why they have such a feature request, and I can discover the deeper motivation, and provides opportunity for the team to propose a better solution.

The "Golden Circle" is a concept that Simon Sinek introduced in the book "Start with Why." It's a framework for understanding how successful leaders and organizations communicate, and it consists of three concentric circles: "Why," "How," and "What."

The outermost circle represents the "What" of an organization or individual, which is the products or services they offer, the tasks they perform, or the goals they aim to achieve. The middle circle represents the "How," which describes the processes, systems, or strategies used to accomplish the "What." Finally, the innermost circle represents the "Why," which is the purpose or belief that inspires and motivates an individual or organization.

Sinek argues that the most successful and influential leaders and organizations start with the "Why" and work their way outward, rather than the other way around. By communicating their "Why" first, they inspire and engage others on an emotional level, which in turn leads to greater loyalty, commitment, and success. In contrast, those who start with the "What" or "How" often struggle to differentiate themselves and stand out in a crowded market.

The Golden Circle is a powerful tool for understanding the importance of purpose and belief in driving success and making an impact in the my company. At Thought Machine, we are building the future of banking, and it is important for my team to understand it and align our goals for it.

Simon Sinek's statement that "People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it" is based on the idea that customers are more likely to be drawn to a company that shares their values and beliefs, rather than just the products or services they offer. While the quality and features of a product or service are important, people are ultimately more motivated to buy from a company that resonates with them on a deeper level.

At Thought Machine, I believe that this statement holds true. For example, we provides cloud-native core banking product, the "what" might be the specific features and functionality of the software. However, the "why" could be the company's mission to create technology that can run the world's banks according to the best designs and software practices of the modern age. If a client shares the values and beliefs, they are more likely to be drawn to us and invest in our products and services.

Similarly, in client services team, my clients are not only looking for technical skills but also for a consultant that understands their unique challenges, has a shared vision of success, and is committed to delivering value beyond the scope of the project. In this sense, the "why" of my team, such as our dedication to customer satisfaction and zero failure in project, can be just as important as the "what" of the services provided.

I believe that Simon Sinek's statement is relevant to my team, where we must demonstrate our values, beliefs, and commitment to the clients to differentiate ourselves in a crowded market and build long-term relationships.

Simon Sinek's ideas about starting with why are closely related to the concept of identity, both on an individual and organizational level.

On an individual level, understanding one's "why" can help clarify personal identity by revealing core values, beliefs, and motivations. By articulating a clear purpose or calling, individuals can gain a sense of direction, focus, and fulfillment in their lives. They can also use this understanding of their "why" to make better decisions about their careers, relationships, and personal growth.

On an organizational level, starting with why can also help establish and strengthen an organization's identity by defining its core purpose, values, and beliefs. This identity can serve as a unifying force that aligns employees, partners, and customers around a shared vision and mission. It can also help differentiate the organization from competitors and create a more compelling brand story that resonates with stakeholders.

Moreover, an organization's identity can influence the culture, strategy, and actions of the organization. It can shape the way it interacts with clients, employees, and partners, and guide the choices it makes about the products, services, and markets it pursues. By starting with why and establishing a clear identity, organizations can create a more coherent and consistent brand experience that inspires loyalty and trust from stakeholders.

Simon Sinek's ideas about starting with why are deeply connected to identity, both on an individual and organizational level. By understanding Thought Machine "why," I can clarify our identity, purpose, and direction, and create a more compelling and authentic brand experience for ourselves and others.

Why: Thought Machine's "why" might be to create technology that can run the world's banks according to the best designs and software practices of the modern age. This why statement reflects the company's vision for creating positive change in the financial industry.

How: The "how" of Thought Machine might involve leveraging cutting-edge technologies, such as cloud computing, to build software solutions that meet the complex needs of the banking industry. Thought Machine client service team may also prioritize collaboration, customer-centricity, and agile development practices to create a culture of innovation, adaptability, and responsiveness.

What: The "what" of Thought Machine would be its specific products and services, such as Vault, our core banking platform that enables banks to create and launch new products and services rapidly. Thought Machine may also offer additional services, such as implementation support, training, and consulting, to ensure that its customers can successfully integrate its solutions into their existing infrastructure.

Starting with why is important for Thought Machine because it allows the company to articulate our purpose and vision clearly and connect with customers, partners, and employees on an emotional level. By leading with its "why," Thought Machine can differentiate ourselves from competitors, build stronger relationships with stakeholders, and create a more compelling and inspiring brand experience. Starting with why also enables us to align our strategy, culture, and actions with its core values and beliefs, which can help foster a sense of purpose, motivation, and fulfillment among its employees. Ultimately, starting with why can help Thought Machine achieve its mission of transforming the banking industry and creating positive change in the world.

I agree with Simon Sinek's statement that we tend to trust those with whom we share common values or beliefs. When we find common ground with others, we feel a sense of connection and shared purpose that can lead to greater trust and cooperation.

In the context of Thought Machine, this principle is particularly relevant. Thought Machine is a company that seeks to transform the banking industry by replacing legacy technology of the banks and financial institutions. In order to achieve this mission, it is crucial that the company's employees share a common set of values and beliefs around the importance of security, innovation, and customer-centricity.

When employees at Thought Machine share these common values, they are more likely to trust and respect one another, work collaboratively towards common goals, and make decisions that align with the company's mission and vision. Conversely, when employees have different values or priorities, it can lead to conflict, misunderstanding, and a lack of trust.

Furthermore, when Thought Machine shares common values and beliefs with its customers and partners, it can build stronger relationships based on mutual understanding and trust. Customers and partners are more likely to trust a company that shares their values and is committed to a common vision.

Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain. When we perceive that someone is genuinely committed to a larger purpose or cause, we are more likely to trust them and feel a sense of connection with them.

As an employee of Thought Machine, I also strive to embody this principle in my own work. I believe that by focusing on the needs of our customers and the larger mission of the company, I can build trust and credibility with my colleagues and with our customers.

In practical terms, this means that I prioritize the needs and goals of our customers when I am working on projects or interacting with clients. I also strive to communicate with transparency and honesty, so that our customers know that we are committed to their success and to the larger mission of transforming the banking industry.

Apple is an example company that starts with why. Apple's focus on innovation, design, and user experience has made it a highly trusted and respected brand around the world.

Apple's why, according to Sinek, is "to challenge the status quo and to think differently". This why is reflected in everything that Apple does, from its product design and marketing to its corporate culture and values.

By focusing on its why, Apple has built a reputation for innovation, quality, and user experience that has helped to foster trust and loyalty among its customers. When customers purchase an Apple product, they do so because they trust that the product will be of high quality, easy to use, and innovative.

Furthermore, Apple's focus on its why has helped to build trust with its employees and partners. By prioritizing innovation and design, Apple has created a culture that attracts and retains some of the best talent in the tech industry. This talent, in turn, helps to fuel Apple's continued success and growth.

Apple is a great example of a company that starts with why and the importance of this approach for building trust. By focusing on its why, Apple has built a reputation for innovation, quality, and user experience that has helped to foster trust and loyalty among its customers, employees, and partners.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling and getting lost with what they are doing. Asking yourself a simple question why is a powerful way to help you identify the purpose of what you are doing.

About Victor Leung

Software development professional with expertise in application architecture, cloud solutions deployment, and financial products development. Possess a Master's degree in Computer Science and an MBA in Finance. Highly skilled in AWS (Certified Solutions Architect, Developer and SysOps Administrator), GCP (Professional Cloud Architect), Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes(CKA, CKAD, CKS, KCNA), and Scrum(PSM, PSPO) methodologies.

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