Start with Why: The Golden Circle, Celery Tests, The Split & More

1 September 2023  —  ⏳ 15 min read
Image module
By @estyhimself

I’ve recently finished a book and I knew I had to write a blog about it immediately. 🤣

Ever wondered why some leaders inspire us, while others just make us hit the snooze button? Simon Sinek’s “START WITH WHY” is here to answer that question, and it’s not just about charisma. It’s about leadership, trust, and something called the 🌱 “Celery Test.” Intrigued? Let’s dive in! 🤿

🟡 The Golden Circle: A Recipe for Success

The Golden Circle is like the ultimate recipe for leadership:

  1. Why: Your core belief. It’s why Apple believes in challenging the status quo.
  2. How: How you fulfil that belief. It’s how Apple creates user-friendly products.
  3. What: What you do to fulfil that belief. It’s what Apple does by making cool gadgets.

Sinek’s central concept is the ‘Golden Circle’ – a model that places ‘Why’ at the core, surrounded by ‘How’ and ‘What.’ The ‘Why’ represents your purpose, cause, or belief. It’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning and why anyone should care. The ‘How’ and ‘What’ represent the ways you realize your ‘Why’ and what you do to bring it to life.

🧠 The Brainy Part: Neo-Cortex vs. Limbic Brain

Sinek talks about the brain, but don’t worry, there’s no neuroscience degree required. It’s about connecting emotionally (Limbic Brain) rather than just throwing facts (Neo-Cortex). It’s like dating; you win hearts with feelings, not pie charts.

The human brain in two parts:

The Neo-Cortex: Responsible for rational and analytical thought.
The Limbic Brain: Responsible for feelings, such as trust and loyalty.

He argues that communicating from the inside out of the Golden Circle (starting with “Why”) speaks directly to the limbic brain, connecting on an emotional level, which is more effective in inspiring action.

Golden Circle model: Sinek's theory value proposition : start with why

Make sense now, right? 🤏 #barras

Understanding the ‘Why’

Sinek argues that organizations and leaders who start with ‘Why’ are more successful and better able to inspire others. They create a sense of trust and loyalty, leading to long-lasting success. This approach is not about manipulating people but about establishing a deep, emotional connection with them.

Southwest Airlines is another example of a company that started with ‘Why.’ Despite Herb Kelleher initially calling Rollin King’s idea “foolish,” he was eventually inspired by King’s vision and agreed to help get the airline off the ground. Their ‘Why’ was to bring short-haul flights to Texas, and this vision has guided their success.

Finding Your “Why”: Your Inner Compass 🧭

Finding your “Why” is about understanding your purpose, cause, or belief. It’s the essence of what inspires you. Without “Why,” any attempt at authenticity will almost always be inauthentic.

Sinek emphasizes that “Why” must come first. It provides the context for everything else and has a profound and long-lasting impact on the result. Starting with “Why” is what inspires people to act. Your “Why” is your purpose. It’s what drives you, inspires you, and makes Monday mornings exciting. It’s the compass that guides you, even when the GPS is yelling, “Recalculating!”

The Law of Diffusion: Spreading Ideas Like Butter 🧈

This law explains how ideas spread. Innovators are the early birds, Early Majority are the fashionably late, and Laggards are the party poopers. It’s about knowing your audience and serving the right appetizers.

The Law of Diffusion of Innovation explains how ideas spread. It’s divided into categories of adopters:

  • Innovators
  • Early Adopters
  • Early Majority
  • Late Majority
  • Laggards

Understanding this law helps in targeting the right audience and creating a movement that aligns with your WHY.

We can help you

Get in touch for a free consultation. Our team is excited to hear about your project and help you creating products and brands that leaves a lasting impact.

Photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a group of people behind him

Inspiring Action

The goal of “Start with Why” is not to provide a step-by-step action plan but to offer a cause of action. It challenges leaders to inspire others by sharing their ‘Why.’ When leaders start with ‘Why,’ they can inspire others, both inside and outside their organization, to help advance their vision.

Martin Luther King Jr. is a powerful example of a leader who started with ‘Why.’ His ‘Why’ was not to end segregation, but to ensure equal rights for all, regardless of race. His ‘Why’ inspired millions to join him in his cause, leading to significant changes in civil rights laws.

Trust and Decision Making: More Than a Handshake

Trust is a central theme in “Start With Why.” Simon Sinek emphasizes that trust is not just about relationships between people but also about the relationship between leaders and followers, companies, and customers. He argues that trust and loyalty should be the norm, not the exception.

Sinek illustrates this with examples like Southwest Airlines and the leadership of John F. Kennedy. He explains that great leaders trust their gut and win hearts before minds. They start with “Why.”

He also highlights how decisions are often emotionally driven, citing former secretary of state Colin Powell, who said, “I can make a decision with 30 percent of the information… Anything more than 80% is too much.” Trust plays a vital role in decision-making, and it’s about degrees of certainty and trusting ourselves or those around us.

Trust isn’t just for secret handshakes and spy movies 🤝. Sinek says it’s about gut feelings and winning hearts. It’s like choosing a shampoo; you don’t need a spreadsheet, just trust your gut (and your hair).

A man shopping in a bustling grocery store, navigating through aisles filled with various products, including books, under a vibrant lamp.

🌱 The Celery Test: Your Decision-Making Filter

The Celery Test is a metaphor used by Sinek to illustrate how knowing your “Why” helps you make better decisions.

Here is the short version of the example Sinek uses which is amazing: Imagine you go to a dinner party and somebody comes up to you and says, “You know what you need in your organization? M&Ms & Oreos. If you’re not using M&M’s & Oreos in your business, you’re leaving money on the table.” then somebody else comes up to you and says, “Celery & Rice Milk. You’ve got to get into these.”

You get great advice from all these highly accomplished people. Now, what do you do?

You go to the supermarket and you buy everything. You may or may not get any value from some or all of these products; there are no guarantees. Worse, if you’re budget-constrained, you had to whittle down your choices again. And then which do you choose?

But one thing’s for sure: when you’re standing in line at the supermarket with all of these items in your arms, your celery, rice milk, Oreos and M&Ms, nobody can see what you believe. What you do is supposed to serve as tangible proof of what you believe, and you bought everything.

Wait? But what if you knew your WHY before you went to the supermarket? What if your WHY is to do only things that are healthy? You’ll get all the same good advice from all the same people, the difference is, the next time, you’ll buy only rice milk and celery. Those are the only products that make sense.

When you know your “WHY” you can filter those choices by applying the Celery Test. f something aligns with your “Why,” you take it. If not, you leave it. It helps you make decisions that are consistent with your core beliefs and values.

Measuring Success: More Than 💰Dollar Signs

Success isn’t just about the cha-ching. It’s about fulfilment, impact, and aligning with your “Why.” the high-five at the end of a project, not just the paycheck. It’s about creating long-lasting success that requires the aid of others.

The Split

The Split is when you lose sight of your “Why.” almos forgetting the recipe halfway through; the result is a mess. Stay true to your “Why,” or you’ll end up with metaphorical burnt cookies.

An example of this can be seen in the story of Rollin King and Herb Kelleher, who started Southwest Airlines. They were opposites in many ways, but King’s vision inspired Kelleher. However, losing sight of that vision could have led to a split in their partnership and the company’s direction.

START WITH WHY” is more than a book; it’s a philosophy, a guide, and a friend that doesn’t borrow money. By understanding your “Why,” building trust, and avoiding the metaphorical burnt cookies, you can create a legacy that resonates.

So grab your compass, your core beliefs, and maybe a snack (no celery required), and let’s start with “Why.” It’s the beginning of something great, and no, we’re not just talking about this blog post.

BUY the book here or if you can’t afford it right now, grab a pdf here thanks to

About the author

Image module

Esteban Garcia Romero

AKA @estyhimself

The 🇳🇿 New Zealand-based 📱product designer, 🎨 graphic artist & 🏔️ adventure seeker from 🇨🇴 Colombia. Esty is the product design lead for the data science company Parrot Analytics. He’s also the director of Neziak Design Studio and artist & curator for Neziak Creative Collective.

Other Blogs
The Future of Product Design: Unveiling Technological Marvels & Apple Vision Pro

Embark on a journey into the future of product design, exploring the impact of emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Gen Z Playground: Branding & Product Design that Wins Hearts

Dive headfirst into the colourful world of Gen Z consumers, uncovering their desires, preferences, and secrets to capture their attention.