“ A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team ”

by David Mead and Peter Docker. NOT Simon Sinek

Book Cover

  • Rating: 2.5 / 5

Note: One thing that really bothered me throughout this book is that it features pro-eminently Simon Sinek as its author, who just wrote the foreword. The book is in fact authored by David Mead and Peter Docker, two of his co-workers. While ultimately it doesn’t matter who wrote it, I found that a crass marketing practice, which prevented me getting into it.

The book is a method to figure what your why is. It is relatively short, which is a plus in my opinion.


Find a partner whom you trust but doesn’t know you too well. Assemble stories that marked you, that had an impact on your life. Present your stories to your partner who takes notes and tries to find themes. Identify what marked you and is driving you. Formulate your why using a format such as “to [Contribution] so that [impact]”. Example: “my why is to bring order to the world so that people can do their best”. Communicate and refine your why - use it as the answer to “what do you do?”. Find your hows: they are the actions you take to apply your why, and can be found in your stories.

Finding a why for a tribe is relatively the same as for a single person, but with multiple persons.


Reminder of start with why. Golden circle. Why > How > What

Gather your stories: stories that marked your life, that were important, where you had deep satisfaction / insatisfaction, that make your who you are

Find a partner. You can’t be objective as per seeing the common thread in your stories. Spend 3-5 hours together in one shot. Tell them your stories. They take notes and question you. The goal is to be specific. Partner gets you to be specific. Ask “what in particular” instead of why. They try to identify a common thread of what drives you and makes you fulfilled. Best partner is someone you trust, but who doesn’t know you too well to avoid being subjective.

Formulate your first why. Why needs to be in the form of “To ** so that ** “. Partner and you formulate one, and spend some time converging. Not too long. The idea is to express a contribution and its impact.

Live with your why for a while and see if you get comfortable. Practice it: answer with your why when people ask you what you’re doing.

Friend exercise: with some of your closest friends, ask then why you’re friends, and get to the bottom of it. Insist, because expressing emotions is hard.

Ask questions with “what” rather than “why” because it’s easier to asnwer (e.g. what makes you feel happy about …)

For teams, finding a why is important because it’s the best way to find compatible employees.

For a team or a tribe, use a facilitator. People from various teams, backgrounds. Don’t reveal structure beforehand to prevent people from overthinking it. Get people to give their stories. Then ask them to summarize company’s impact with just one verb. Then ask to express what makes them proud to work there. Then try to sum up with a why.

Why is not aspirational: it is a reflection of the state of things, not an aspiration for what it should be.

When you have why, find the hows. Hows are themes that you use to materialize your why. Hows can be found in the stories as well.

There is only one why, because why is the thing that motivates and inspires you, and it is the same in all aspects of your life (work, home, …s)


About Reading Notes

These are my takes on this book. See other reading notes. Most of the time I stop taking notes on books I don't enjoy, and these end up not being in the list. This is why average ratings tend to be high.