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The New York Times-bestselling author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, and Together Is Better offers a bold new approach to business strategy by asking one question: are you playing the finite game or the infinite game? In The Infinite Game, Sinek applies game theory to explore how great businesses achieve long-lasting success. He finds that building long-term value an The New York Times-bestselling author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, and Together Is Better offers a bold new approach to business strategy by asking one question: are you playing the finite game or the infinite game? In The Infinite Game, Sinek applies game theory to explore how great businesses achieve long-lasting success. He finds that building long-term value and healthy, enduring growth - that playing the infinite game - is the only thing that matters to your business.


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The New York Times-bestselling author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, and Together Is Better offers a bold new approach to business strategy by asking one question: are you playing the finite game or the infinite game? In The Infinite Game, Sinek applies game theory to explore how great businesses achieve long-lasting success. He finds that building long-term value an The New York Times-bestselling author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, and Together Is Better offers a bold new approach to business strategy by asking one question: are you playing the finite game or the infinite game? In The Infinite Game, Sinek applies game theory to explore how great businesses achieve long-lasting success. He finds that building long-term value and healthy, enduring growth - that playing the infinite game - is the only thing that matters to your business.

30 review for The Infinite Game: How Great Businesses Achieve Long-lasting Success

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I was going to avoid reading this book and I knew I was going to fail to avoid reading this book because these sorts of books are my weakness. I did not like for the same reason I knew I was not going to like it: it's a book full of cherrypicked stories of success and failure that tries to tie up a theory into a neat binary that shows how to fail and how to succeed. In this book, it's about infinite games vs. finite games. And the same stories of success: apple vs. microsoft, Blockbuster vs. Net I was going to avoid reading this book and I knew I was going to fail to avoid reading this book because these sorts of books are my weakness. I did not like for the same reason I knew I was not going to like it: it's a book full of cherrypicked stories of success and failure that tries to tie up a theory into a neat binary that shows how to fail and how to succeed. In this book, it's about infinite games vs. finite games. And the same stories of success: apple vs. microsoft, Blockbuster vs. Netflix, etc. There are a hundred and one reasons that some companies do better than others--maybe it's because Apple was playing an infinite game and microsoft wasn't? But I sort of doubt it? Either way, it's impossible to prove without being totally unscientific. What I thought was really interesting about this book is that it is a book for business people where the author goes against the typical justifications for having a business. Sinek basically says you shouldn't be doing it (or that you won't be successful doing a business) if you're just in it for the money. It should be about something bigger and more world-changing. But actually, I don't know. I mean, sure it makes people who spend all their hours working at a company to believe that they are doing good for the world, but I just think most of that mission stuff is BS. The job of a company is to make money. It'd be great if they could do that without destroying the planet and preying on people (cough...Wells Fargo), but I just am not going to hold my breath and hope that the business community saves humanity with their infinite games.

  2. 5 out of 5

    s e a n

    This is a review of the book and not the concept. And full disclosure: I’m a Simon Sinek stan and I have been powerfully moved by Start With/Find Your Why and it was a catalyst for wholesale review of my leadership approach. Leaders Eat Last was similarly inspiring. The concept of infinite rather than finite games is compelling. The first chapter adequately explains finite and infinite games, explains what a just cause is and how to measure/identify it. This is where the great concept is let dow This is a review of the book and not the concept. And full disclosure: I’m a Simon Sinek stan and I have been powerfully moved by Start With/Find Your Why and it was a catalyst for wholesale review of my leadership approach. Leaders Eat Last was similarly inspiring. The concept of infinite rather than finite games is compelling. The first chapter adequately explains finite and infinite games, explains what a just cause is and how to measure/identify it. This is where the great concept is let down by the rest of the book. The subsequent chapters are a laboured exposition of the ideas in the first chapter and, in my view, unnecessary. The first chapter represents a really great synthesis of many current ideas and practices around psychological safety, vulnerability and authenticity. Many of these things Simon Sinek has written about and speaks about. Unfortunately the rest of the book does very little to add to the concepts in the first chapter. The subsequent chapters take the form of corporate history lessons which, whilst well researched, are rather dry and they don’t generate inspiration. I don’t like to criticise for its own sake and as Brene Brown says, if you’re not in the ring then I don’t welcome your criticism. I offer this review as an honest reflection by a massive fan of his work, purpose and cause.

  3. 4 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    This is a good book which takes the concept of finite/infinite games to organizations and their leaders. While I never felt like putting it down even once, in retrospect, I think most of what Simon Sinek wanted to say, could have been said in less than fifty pages. But I guess that is par for the course. And I am happy I started off 2020 with this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Araújo

    Sinek had an interesting idea, one that is worth exploring: finite VS infinite games. The first chapter covers it. All the rest are stories trying to fit a loose framework built to make it a book. It should be a (very good) medium post, in my view.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bjoern Rochel

    For the first half of the book I thought “a typical Sinek: Good Message but probably could have been half the pages”. Then came the parts where he talks about the negative impact of the „Shareholder value“ concept coined by Milton Friedman and introduces the concept of „Ethical Fading“ that happens on the race to win or to reach short term results/KPIs. (BTW: If you need another reason for disliking Friedman, I can highly recommend Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine) Anyway, these hit home with me, hav For the first half of the book I thought “a typical Sinek: Good Message but probably could have been half the pages”. Then came the parts where he talks about the negative impact of the „Shareholder value“ concept coined by Milton Friedman and introduces the concept of „Ethical Fading“ that happens on the race to win or to reach short term results/KPIs. (BTW: If you need another reason for disliking Friedman, I can highly recommend Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine) Anyway, these hit home with me, having worked the majority of my career in financially driven companies and seen the exact effects he describes. I repeat EXACTLY what he describes with ALL its consequences. I‘ve never been really comfortable with that world view, have been balancing out its effects on an operational level for many years and can honestly say, it disillusioned me quite a bit. It‘s so common, predominant and feels utterly wrong to me. This book would make a lovely present to any C- or VP level exec of a public company.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Florin Roșoga

    It's like a new way of seing my life and my business. I could say that in some way for me is a new mental model, I just incorporated. Anyway, a great read that completed ideas I already had in mind mind, but didnt know how to articulate them and put them into practice. It's like a new way of seing my life and my business. I could say that in some way for me is a new mental model, I just incorporated. Anyway, a great read that completed ideas I already had in mind mind, but didnt know how to articulate them and put them into practice.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Boni Aditya

    So, Simon Sinek decides to publish yet another book about Leadership. No Wonder! His last book - Leaders Eat Last is an epic. His stories reminded of moral science stories that were told over and over again in our childhood. To push us down the path of morality, ethics etc... But there is a stark difference between his previous works and this one, though the content remains the same i.e. Leadership and Professional Ethics! His examples used to be extremely well picked, and apt for the concept bein So, Simon Sinek decides to publish yet another book about Leadership. No Wonder! His last book - Leaders Eat Last is an epic. His stories reminded of moral science stories that were told over and over again in our childhood. To push us down the path of morality, ethics etc... But there is a stark difference between his previous works and this one, though the content remains the same i.e. Leadership and Professional Ethics! His examples used to be extremely well picked, and apt for the concept being discussed, but this book they seem to be repetitive and almost the same examples were repeated over and over. In his previous books a concept previously discussed was never repeated in another chapter, if it was repeated it was done through an example in a diverse field i.e. he got examples from biology, neurology and other to complement professional behavior. But in this book such an attempt was not made. It is extremely clear that the book is a half-baked attempt to publish a book for the sake of publishing it. This is unlike Simon Sinek, for someone who preaches so much conviction and integrity to get one through the publisher and through the audience. Also, the Finite and Infinite Mindset for corp orates is not his original concept. It is directly taken from Carol Dweck's Mindset book - In which she talks about individuals with fixed mindset vs individuals with growth mindset and also talks about organizations with fixed vs growth mindset. I don't understand how Simon Sinek claims it for his own, when she has done so much about it. But, the books seems to miss the scientific rigor that Simon often brings to these discussions, there is now no science or logic behind this except berating a few leaders and their companies and their strategies. Though the concept of Infinite Game and Playing for the sake or playing while protecting the environment hold true, but they are not really as original as his other ideas. This entire book seems to be a derived work. One area of the book that stood out in stark contrast is when the author talks about his rivalry with another author, albeit a self-imposed competition. Nonetheless, the author goes on to reveal his kryptonite in Adam Grant, but what is interesting is that - This has also been discussed at length by another author by name, Joshua Wolf in his book - Powers of Two. Thus, most of his concepts have already been discusses at length by many other author, when he talks about Navratilova and Lloyd, this example has also been discussed so many times that it has become trite! Thus, it is safe to assume that Simon Sinek is losing his charm! But there is some value addition from the book - Yet, again it is useful for leaders - There is another book with a similar context about grooming leaders - "What got you here won't get you there". The book also adds value, by correctly identifing the parasitic nature of Wall Street, this would the second book that I have read in a week, that identifies the toxic nature of Wall Street and its impact on the immediate and NOW greed vs the long and sustaining greed as preached by the Prudent Capitalists. Wall Street is just a growth lusty and growth greedy, demon preying on all the companies at its sight. Any public company that falls prey to Wall Street will likely live under a constant threat of share price blackmailing! Here is a list of books that the author has mentioned in this work: Books: Finite and infinite games - a vision of life as play and possibility.  James p carse Built to last Good to great Wealth of nations The shareholder value myth Dare to lead Winning - jack Welsh Originals Give and take Leaders eat Last Keywords from the Book: North Vietnam infinite war Apples infinite business, Kodak and swiss army knife resilience. Zune vs iPod, urgent vs important Self preservation and self promotion, loss of trust Glasteegle act Vavilov seedbank - Leningrad Nazi sieze - starvation Just Cause - future State 1. Affirmative - for something 2. Inclusive - open to all 3. Service Oriented - contributor should not be the primary beneficiary 4. Resilience - culture, political 5. Idealistic - unachievable Just cause on paper not on instinct. Just cause vs false cause Just cause vs moonshot Bhag (Big hairy audacious goal) not infinite game Just cause is context for finite, infinite objectives and impossible moonshots Being the best is not a just cause Garment dash mountain Just cause should direct the business model not vice versa. Best product is not a just cause. Growth is not a just cause Money is the fuel for a just cause, not a cause in itself Hyper growth becomes a bane. Growth for the sake of growth, will result in eating for obesity. CSR is not a just cause. Charity, walkathon s or give aways are not just causes. Finite leaders vs infinite leaders Mike Duke vs Sam walton John Scully vs Steve jobs Steve balmer vs bill gates Kevin Rollands vs Micheal Dell Robert nordelli at home Depot CVO - Chief Vision Officer CEO - CFO/COO complementary skill sets, not replacements but partnerships Different career paths Milton Friedman shareholder capitalism vs Adam Smith's consumption capitalism Propensity for self interest - the invisible hand. Shareholder primacy theory Finite minded capitalism vs infinite capitalism Capitalism abuse Laws and ethical customs - are exploited by companies. Friedman's standards. Investors and shareholders behave like renters. Larry fink - open letter - black Rock Stakeholder model and triple bottom line Will and resources Leadership priorities: bias for resources Cost of will: Finite view: employers as costs Infinite view: humans with infinite potential Costco and apple 90 percent retention in retail. Container Store - pay cuts and 401k no match Mercenaries vs zealots Shell Ursa oil rig: Rick fox vs claire noya Transactional relationship vs trusting relationships Safe being vulnerable and asking for help. High performance vs high trust Jack Welch Performance vs potential Hire and promote - high trust persons over high performers with low trust Chief coli - CRPD - circle of trust - listening sessions for truth Officer jake coil Toxic culture vs good performers Fear - in face of fear, we hide the truth Malali in Ford - Bpr s - business plan reviews - green - yellow - red Honesty and accountability die before the feeling of fear Culture = values + behavior Incentive trust Responsible freedom Dirt jumps and donuts CRPD infinite war strategy against drugs. In weak culture - people find safety in rules  In strong culture - they find in relationship Training new leaders. LRC - Leadership Reactionary course Marines in quantico Job of leader = build new leaders Leaders are not responsible for results, They are responsible for people Creating safe environments to be vulnerable around each other. Ethical Fading: Wells Fargo - millions of fake accounts Cutting corners is incentivized And integrity penalized Impossible to meet quotas Incentive to cheat to save job Nobody in Wells Fargo went to jail When good people do bad things: EpiPen - extreme allergy for bees,  Mylan bought EpiPen - Monopoly - 22 percent per year After 15 price hikes it went from 100 $ to 600$ Settled with govt for 465 mil for overcharging Zero guilt - defensive and unapologetic Self-deception: rationalization of ethical Fading Words, euphemism, language Torture vs enhanced interrogation Gamification vs addiction Data mining vs tracking Convenience fee vs surcharge Remove ourselves from the chain of causation and blame the system. Blame consumers for consumer problems Don't like it - then don't buy it. Blaming consumer choices Will to do the right thing vs pressure The good Samaritan experiment for priests Legal vs ethical responsibility Slippery slope of ethical Fading Structure replacing leadership Timesheets Leonard Wong - Lazy leadership Trust on process vs people Process to replace judgement Sodiers checking boxes People problem can only be fixed by people, not training, certification or other processes Patagonia - don't buy this jacket Constant improvement and ethical action Patagonia does not exploit loopholes it closes them. Competitors vs rivals Simon sunek vs Adam grant Winning vs improvement Lloyd vs Navratilova Scarcity vs abundance Turnaround Ford - malali Change the way you play the game GM and Chrysler bailouts endorsed by malali Rivals are part of the ecosystems To keep suppliers in business Pc revolution Navy vs pirates IBM vs apple  Welcome to the PC world ad - one page ad Competitors look for customers vs rivals look for followers Apple vs blackberry Disruption is a symptom of a finite mindset Lost sight of their own vision trying to beat apple 99 percent drop in 4 years Cause blindness: Fail to recognize other points of view John Douglas - criminal profiling  Serial killers vs FBI Don't confuse losing a rival with winning the war No winning in infinite game, USA did not win the cold war, USSR drained of will and resources, and dropped out. USA became unrivaled and imposed it's will over the world. Strong players believe they can control the game and other players. Groupon Uber - examples of leaders neglected people and culture. Coldwar 2.0 Single rival improves focus. Internal squabbles arises, as they see each other as existential threats. Republicans vs Democrats FBI vs NSA etc... Blockbuster vs netflix Taxi companies vs uber Sears vs Walmart and e-commerce Infinite player without a worthy rival slides into finite game Existential Flexibility: Walt Disney - existential flex Animated film that could elicit emotions - snow white and seven dwarfs - full feature length Idyllic childhood - Elias Disney - failed farm - move to city from marsilline Roy wanted to take company public. Walt Disney left Disney and formed WED, to built Disney Land Better way to advance your just cause. Strategic shifts might be Reactionary while existential flex is offensive. Shiny object syndrome vs existential flex Protecting the business model (finite) vs the cause (infinite)  Look outside the industry and beyond the horizon. Apple - invest in GUI, change course and build product from scratch. If you don't blow it up someone will Kodak Eastman 1975 - first digital camera - challenged their business model Steven Sassoon - failed to convince the leaders to adopt digital. Reconfigure the company to advance the cause. Short term hell to long term just cause. Nikon and Fuji introduce me fully digital camera 10 years later - 1988 Kodak made billions from patents Strong balance sheet does not make a strong company. 2007 patents expired and Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012 Existential inflexibility. The Courage to Lead: CVS - stopped selling cigarettes losing 2billion in revenue Cigarette sales decreased by 1 percent while Nicotine patch sales rose by 4 percent Other brands are now willing to associate with CVS Pressure to succumb to finite game is overwhelming. Courage to change mindset The power of purpose: America west: Doug parker meets Mary - flight attendant Mid contract raises amid protests from wall Street analysts Wall greens vs CVS  Cigarette sales Leadership courage - integrity not damage control. Companies and leadership straying off course Employees mirror leaders

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mariana Macedo

    “Our lives are finite, but life is infinite. We are the finite players in the infinite game of life. We come and go, we’re born and we die, and life still continues with us or without us. There are other players, some of them are our rivals, we enjoy wins and we suffer losses, but we can always keep playing tomorrow (until we run out of the ability to stay in the game). And no matter how much money we make, no matter how much power we accumulate, no matter how many promotions we’re given, none o “Our lives are finite, but life is infinite. We are the finite players in the infinite game of life. We come and go, we’re born and we die, and life still continues with us or without us. There are other players, some of them are our rivals, we enjoy wins and we suffer losses, but we can always keep playing tomorrow (until we run out of the ability to stay in the game). And no matter how much money we make, no matter how much power we accumulate, no matter how many promotions we’re given, none of us will ever be declared the winner of life”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tõnu Vahtra

    I got the first warning with Find Your WHY that Sinek's "best before" might be passing but I ignored this warning hoping to find something at the level of Start with WHY or Leaders Eat Last, but this book does not reach to that level. I was annoyed by the fact how the author was conflicting with his own preaching (tolerance and seeking synergies) when coming back again and again to criticize Jack Welch (General Motors), Microsoft (while over-idealizing Apple), Collins and others. In some cases i I got the first warning with Find Your WHY that Sinek's "best before" might be passing but I ignored this warning hoping to find something at the level of Start with WHY or Leaders Eat Last, but this book does not reach to that level. I was annoyed by the fact how the author was conflicting with his own preaching (tolerance and seeking synergies) when coming back again and again to criticize Jack Welch (General Motors), Microsoft (while over-idealizing Apple), Collins and others. In some cases it felt that he was just criticizing without really understanding in wider context what he was talking about (i.e. reproaching Buffet and saying that share buybacks are almost always a bad sign). Still, some credit should be given here because the infinite/finite mindset model is indeed a different perspective for mental models and helps to explain some important aspects of sustainability. I did like the discussion around CEO role and how COO or CFO should not be seen as the natural career path to CEO (lacking the vision component) but they should be seen as complementing each other. There is a lot of comparison in this book between the infinite and finite mindset but it is lacking a proper toolset to realize it (like Cynefin). It also argues against Moonshots (or BHAG from Collins) and their finite nature, but you do need milestones to strive towards to make your most fundamental WHY actionable. “The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure.”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Rivas

    This is such a well-timed book for the internship I have right now because I can see how the company is playing the game they are in. All the case studies in this book reinforce the idea of having an approach to the business your in as an infinite game. This goes contrary to what most businesses do and what seems logical, that nothing lasts forever and milk it for all its worth. Plus you add variables like pleasing the shareholders who seek appreciation and dividends on their investments, and th This is such a well-timed book for the internship I have right now because I can see how the company is playing the game they are in. All the case studies in this book reinforce the idea of having an approach to the business your in as an infinite game. This goes contrary to what most businesses do and what seems logical, that nothing lasts forever and milk it for all its worth. Plus you add variables like pleasing the shareholders who seek appreciation and dividends on their investments, and that makes the game more short term and finite. There are also case studies that display the bad that can happen when you play the game as if it is a finite game. Most good advice is contrarian and this philosophy will be something difficult to implement due to it being a long term play. Not everyone is going to want to play the game as if it was infinite. But if the majority of the employees, especially the leadership of the company, approach their work with an infinite game mentality, then you have an advantage. To have a competitive advantage is the holy grail for a company and if a company can sustain that infinite game mentality in an organized way, they will attain the competitive advantage they seek.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Seth Davis

    I'll give this book a rather generous 4 stars. It starts slow and seemingly as pure author conjecture. Basically, the point is that it if you only focus on the near-term results you'll lose over the long term. It's a concept you want to believe in. However, for the first half of the book, there is little support for the case. In the second half, there are stronger anecdotes as evidence to point out why people want to be involved. To no one's surprise Apple shows up large in the long term vision I'll give this book a rather generous 4 stars. It starts slow and seemingly as pure author conjecture. Basically, the point is that it if you only focus on the near-term results you'll lose over the long term. It's a concept you want to believe in. However, for the first half of the book, there is little support for the case. In the second half, there are stronger anecdotes as evidence to point out why people want to be involved. To no one's surprise Apple shows up large in the long term vision category, however they are dropped a bit as an anecdote when it comes to the aspects of the treatment of employees, to be simply picked back up again later. This is the kind of book you want your leaders to read and to believe in. That's ultimately why I give it the extra star. The book itself does only an ok job of making the point. Both of his previous books are ultimately better, however. I'd give this one a pass unless you are a fan of everything Sinek or a potential CEO who wants to think about how to best lead your company.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mihkel Pukk

    I put it down about a 3rd of a way in, didn't finish. I wanted to like it. I like to watch Simon's talks at conferences. I saw him talk about the concept 2 year ago and loved it, still do. But he lost me already on the second paragraph of the book. I like the opposing concepts of infinite and finite mind sets. I like how it adds another layer to the Why. But for some reason he decided that the Why and the 'just cause' (driver behind infinite mind set) are totally different things. I didn't get that. I put it down about a 3rd of a way in, didn't finish. I wanted to like it. I like to watch Simon's talks at conferences. I saw him talk about the concept 2 year ago and loved it, still do. But he lost me already on the second paragraph of the book. I like the opposing concepts of infinite and finite mind sets. I like how it adds another layer to the Why. But for some reason he decided that the Why and the 'just cause' (driver behind infinite mind set) are totally different things. I didn't get that. In one of the pre-book talks he actually said, they are the same, but by the time it went to print, he had changed his mind. It just felt so .. forced, so sucked out of the pen (as the saying where I'm from). Perhaps my expectations were too high, being in the preorder list for what felt like a year. I'd just recommend this video instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_osKg...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Georgi Nenov

    This book is by far the best one coming out of the author. If "Start with WHY" can be summarized in 20 minute video (Check Simon's TEDx video with the same title) "The Infinite Game" is way, way deeper and more meaningful. It hits important ideas like "vision" and "values" from the management perspective. There are no repetitive examples and stories, the summaries are simple and straight-forward and I am simply blown away by the first listen (I'm an audiobook enthusiast), I can wait to start ove This book is by far the best one coming out of the author. If "Start with WHY" can be summarized in 20 minute video (Check Simon's TEDx video with the same title) "The Infinite Game" is way, way deeper and more meaningful. It hits important ideas like "vision" and "values" from the management perspective. There are no repetitive examples and stories, the summaries are simple and straight-forward and I am simply blown away by the first listen (I'm an audiobook enthusiast), I can wait to start over again with a pen and paper as there are plenty of stuff that I need to get my head around written inside. I highly recommend that you read and try to comprehend the idea about "the infinite game".

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Edwards

    Sinek gives powerful and encouraging words to addressing the tension felt in profit driven leadership and argues for a human centered mindset that orbits around vision and mission, what he calls a "Just Cause". This book is for you if you ever longed or dreamed to be a different type of leader who does more than excel at corporate growth, but to be a leader who moves others to the most good. I highly recommend The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. Sinek gives powerful and encouraging words to addressing the tension felt in profit driven leadership and argues for a human centered mindset that orbits around vision and mission, what he calls a "Just Cause". This book is for you if you ever longed or dreamed to be a different type of leader who does more than excel at corporate growth, but to be a leader who moves others to the most good. I highly recommend The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frank Theising

    Of Simon Sinek’s books on leadership, I thought this one worked better as a book than his previous works which could have been summed up in a short article or TED talk. He admits himself, infinite games are not a new idea, but one that he is trying to popularize. This book brings back to mind, compliments, and actually helps to explain in layman’s terms, a more difficult book from my military education called Pure Strategy that similarly argued that the goal of any leader should be continuat Of Simon Sinek’s books on leadership, I thought this one worked better as a book than his previous works which could have been summed up in a short article or TED talk. He admits himself, infinite games are not a new idea, but one that he is trying to popularize. This book brings back to mind, compliments, and actually helps to explain in layman’s terms, a more difficult book from my military education called Pure Strategy that similarly argued that the goal of any leader should be continuation rather than culmination or final victory. I like many of the ideas that Sinek uses throughout the book and agree with most of it. Especially a more conscientious capitalism that cares about employees and communities as well as profits. That said, I hardly see this as a universally applicable way of looking at business. There are some jobs that you simply can’t make seem noble or inspiring and the only reason they get done is pure profit motive. I also tend to think that Sinek has a canny knack for cherry-picking examples that fit his narrative and never mentioning those that might undermine it. Sinek does go on a lengthy tirade against economist Milton Freidman for putting capitalism onto its present course. He builds his argument off a single unnamed article from 1970, where Freidman argues for the theory of shareholder primacy is the end-all-be-all of capitalism. Essentially this one article changed forever the thinking of business leaders so that their focus was on finite minded goals (increasing shareholder value and company profit, at the expense of serving their customers or employees). There is probably a kernel of truth in this, but Sinek tends to blow it all out of proportion relative to the impact Friedman actually had. I find it absurd that one man’s article forever changed the course of capitalism into a self-serving destructive force. If you go back and look at Friedman’s theories on economics, I don’t even see this one anywhere near the top of all the positions he staked out during his lifetime (as of 22 Feb 2020, it isn’t even mentioned in his lengthy Wikipedia entry among any of his theories). Overall, a good little book on leadership with some interesting ideas to tuck away for future reference but one that is not without flaws. I think it is definitely worth your time to give it a read. 3 Stars. What follows are some of my notes on the book: There are two kinds of games: finite and infinite games. Finite games have fixed rules and there is an agreed upon objective that, when reached, ends the game (i.e. football, chess, etc). Infinite games in contrast are played by known and unknown players, and there is no exact or agreed upon set of rules. There may be conventions that govern behavior but players can really operate however they want and can choose to break with convention. Infinite games have infinite time horizons. Because there is no finish line, there is no such thing as “winning” in an infinite game. The primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game (3-4). Sinek took this idea from a treatise called Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility published in 1986 (4). Many of our leaders today do not understand they are in an infinite game. Their language, conduct, and desire to win or beat the competition show they are operating with a finite mindset. He proposes to show how to do so in an infinite game creates problems including a decline in trust, innovation, and cooperation (5). Leaders need to not worry about winning an unwinnable game and think about building organizations that are strong enough to stay in the game for generations (7). In the Infinite Game, the true value of an organization cannot be measured by the success it has achieved based on a set of arbitrary metrics over arbitrary time frames. The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, even beyond their own tenure (9). A finite-minded player makes products they think they can sell to people, the infinite-minded player makes products people want to buy. The former is primarily focused on how the sale of those products benefits the company; the latter is primarily focused on how the products benefit those who buy them (10). A finite-minded leader uses the company’s performance to demonstrate the value of their own career. An infinite-minded leader uses the value of their career to enhance the long-term value of the company. In the Infinite Game of business, when our leaders maintain a finite mindset or put too much focus on finite objectives, they may be able to achieve a number one ranking by some arbitrary metric (market share, units sold, etc), but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing the things necessary for the company to play as long as possible. Five essential practices of an infinite mindset (25): 1. Advance a Just Cause 2. Build Trusting Teams 3. Study your Worthy Rivals 4. Prepare for Existential Flex 5. Demonstrate the Courage to Lead A Just Cause is a specific vision of a future state that does not yet exist; one appealing enough that people are willing to make sacrifices in order to advance it. When there is a Just Cause, people have a reason to come to work that is bigger than any particular win. It makes work fulfilling and meaningful. A Just Cause is not your “Why”. A Why comes from the past, a Just Cause is about the future. The author’s WHY is to inspire people to do what inspires them so we can change the world. His Just Cause is to build a world where people are inspired and fulfilled (33-34). (Not sure I really see any difference…seems like semantics). He picks apart company mission statements that fail to inspire like “we exist to deliver smarter products and new innovations at lower prices” (I get his point, everybody wants to be inspired to come to work. But sorry, life involves toil and hard work and sometimes the hard work is never going to be inspiring no matter how it is spun (janitors, dishwasher, garbage collection, etc…only in our cushy, 21st century life does everybody need to be inspired all the time). A Just Cause must be: 1. For Something – affirmative and optimistic 2. Inclusive – Open to all 3. Service Oriented - For the benefit of others 4. Resilient – able to endure change 5. Idealistic – bold and unachievable (37) A “moon shot” is not a just cause. Being “the best” is not a just cause. Vision statements that place a product at the center of the vision are only useful until something better comes along. For example, in 2007 Garmin had “the best” dash mounted GPS for cars. They failed to recognize that they had a vision statement that put the focus on the product rather than the service and so missed the rise of smartphones that displaced them (i.e. if they had been focused on providing directions instead of GPS receivers, they theoretically could have developed the leading “app” and stayed in the game). In a watershed article from 1970, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman argued for the theory of shareholder primacy where the corporate executive is an employee of the business, with direct responsibility to the owners (shareholders) to make a profit and increase shareholder value while staying within the rules of the game. Sinek goes on to argue that this became the default understanding of business and destroyed previous method of capitalism where companies focused on their customers and employees. This thinking is what has contributed to the excesses of modern capitalism (jacking up prices on epinephrine pens because its “not illegal”, Wells Fargo creating millions of accounts to hit targets, etc). These excesses came from the finite mindset promoted by Freidman. Ethical fading: Retells the story of Wells Fargo focusing too much on new accounts that led thousands of employees to across the country to open accounts fraudulently in order to meet company targets. Ethical fading is a condition in a culture that allows people to act in unethical ways in order to advance their own interests while falsely believing that they have not compromised their principles (132). Organizations with a finite mindset are prone to ethical fading. Companies that focus on short term goals (quarterly or annual profits) place intense pressure to meet those targets and reward those who do, even if corners were cut to do so. Meanwhile, those that acted with integrity are overlooked for advancement. In the military, there is intense pressure to meet requirements, to do more with less. The result is that is commonplace for soldiers to find creative ways to check the boxes at the expense of the intent behind the task (clicking through computer based training without learning the info they are supposed to convey). Rather than see their actions as cheating or lying, many simply see it as checking the boxes or part of the bureaucratic process of doing what leadership asks them to do. When these seemingly minor transactions become pervasive it is a sign of ethical fading. When we apply finite solutions (CBTs) to fix cultural problems, we often only get more lying and cheating. Little lies become bigger lies as they get normalized (148-149). Ethical fading is a people problem and we need people to be the solution. The best antidote to ethical fading is an infinite mindset. We don’t learn ethics from CBTs or because it is company policy, we learn it because we are part of something larger and don’t want to do anything that would detract from the Just Cause (150). He argues to learn from, not just compete with, our “worthy rivals” (another player in the game that we often compare ourselves to): USA vs USSR, Ford vs Toyota being examples. Worthy rivals keep us honest, help us improve, and get better at what we do (163). He talks about being willing to read the terrain and make an existential shift (his big example being Walt Disney leaving his successful animation industry to open Walt Disney World theme park). Existential flexibility is the capacity to initiate an extreme disruption to a business model in order to advance a Just Cause. An example that failed is Eastman Kodak. They had developed digital photography technology but refused to act on it because they made so much profit off of selling cameras, film, developing film, etc. Had they stuck to their Just Cause (making photography accessible to the common man) instead of their product, they could have remained in the game and been a key player in digital photography instead of a niche company for film photography enthusiasts. Facebook was an infinite player that is moving towards an finite path. Founded with the Just Cause to “give people the power to build community and bring the world together,” today they are embroiled in scandals (violating user privacy, tracking habits, disseminating fake news, using data to maximize advertising profit, etc). Other companies (Microsoft, Walmart, Disney, Ford) all did likewise, though these have returned to their stated purpose according to Sinek (216-217). Others failed to think with an infinite mindset and all but disappeared from the game (Kodak, Garmin, Blockbuster, etc). Leaders who prioritize themselves first, breed employees that do the same. Parenting is an Infinite Game that too many parents treat as finite. They stress over their child’s standing or which school they get into more than whether their child is actually learning or growing as a person (222).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Hord

    I don't normally like business inspiration books, but The Infinite Game doesn't hold back. It's not a list of great CEOs, it's a list of the worst CEOs and how we can learn from their mistakes. What a fascinating angle and book. Give it a read. I don't normally like business inspiration books, but The Infinite Game doesn't hold back. It's not a list of great CEOs, it's a list of the worst CEOs and how we can learn from their mistakes. What a fascinating angle and book. Give it a read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maree Kimberley

    Loved the ideas in this book, & plan on re-reading it so I can absorb more. Especially now withbthe climate challenges facing our world, an infinite mindset is imperative.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Pereira

    “When leaders exercise the Courage to Lead, the people who work inside their organization will start to reflect that same courage. Like children who mirror their parents, so too do employees mirror their leaders. Leaders who prioritizes themselves over the group breed cultures of employees who prioritize their own advancement over the health of the company. The Courage to Lead begets the Courage to Lead.” This is one of a few quotes that made me think of experiences I had in past companies I work “When leaders exercise the Courage to Lead, the people who work inside their organization will start to reflect that same courage. Like children who mirror their parents, so too do employees mirror their leaders. Leaders who prioritizes themselves over the group breed cultures of employees who prioritize their own advancement over the health of the company. The Courage to Lead begets the Courage to Lead.” This is one of a few quotes that made me think of experiences I had in past companies I worked in. Before my current company, I worked at places in which the leaders clearly had a very finite view of the game they were playing and that, because of it, the organization was suffering; there was, among other things, a huge sense of distrust between the people working there, which led them to care only about their interests and not advancing the company's cause. You worked for a paycheck and you hoped you weren't fired. In this book, Simon Sinek presents the concept of infinite games, being that business is one of them; there isn't a finite goal of winning because the game is infinite, and we should play according to that. Then he provides a lot of examples of how finite and infinite players run their companies and what are the actions of an infinite-minded leader in the midst of pressures from more finite-minded investors, for example. I really liked this book, I wasn't expecting it to be so much about business (I hadn't really search much about it), but it was a pleasant surprise, because it is an area I wasn't really versed in. I just felt there were some overexplained parts that could be shortened a bit. Otherwise, I recommend it heartily. 4/5 stars

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katerina Trajchevska

    Amazingly inspirational, as everything that comes from Simon Sinek is. All concepts he introduces seem so straightforward, yet it's mindboggling how far they are from the reality we live in. The main idea of the book is that unlike finite games where we fight to win, life and business are an infinite game. There can't be a winner in an infinite game. It's impossible to be the best, you can just strive to continuously become better. The book shifts the perspective from looking at competitors as so Amazingly inspirational, as everything that comes from Simon Sinek is. All concepts he introduces seem so straightforward, yet it's mindboggling how far they are from the reality we live in. The main idea of the book is that unlike finite games where we fight to win, life and business are an infinite game. There can't be a winner in an infinite game. It's impossible to be the best, you can just strive to continuously become better. The book shifts the perspective from looking at competitors as someone who can beat you, to looking at them as the rivals that help you deliver your vision and grow. From this perspective, you can never achieve the end - instead, you keep working on delivering your vision regardless of how the circumstances change. Companies that embrace this perspective become resilient to market disruptions and thrive with every change.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anu

    Read the actual Carse book that this book is based on instead of the mutated regurgitation in this book. The five “lessons” are generic enough to find in any old business book and the examples are retrofitted to each piece of trite advice, whether it makes sense or not.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Helena

    Well written with lots of good advice, as usual. In this book, Simon Sinek is not trying to make a point or "win" the argument, he is simply trying to share with his readers his vision of a world where everyone feels happy and fulfilled. Once he explains what an "infinite mindset" leader is and how she thinks, he moves on to provide several traps and landmines of trying to operate with an infinite mindset in a world that is largely "finite minded". The traps are often set by our own tendencies a Well written with lots of good advice, as usual. In this book, Simon Sinek is not trying to make a point or "win" the argument, he is simply trying to share with his readers his vision of a world where everyone feels happy and fulfilled. Once he explains what an "infinite mindset" leader is and how she thinks, he moves on to provide several traps and landmines of trying to operate with an infinite mindset in a world that is largely "finite minded". The traps are often set by our own tendencies and additions. He provides great examples, some from his own experience, on how a person who wants to have an infinite mindset could reframe their problems and thoughts in order to see them in light of what he calls the Just Cause, i.e. their vision for a very distant future. I wish he could have spent a bit more time explaining how a infinite-minded-wannabe can engage and work with a finite mindset person. The reality for most of us is that we're all surrounded by both finite and infinite mindset people and we can't just stop interacting with the finite minded ones.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    I would best describe this as a whiny rant against the modern incarnation of capitalism and the psycho and sociopaths that run them. Sinek does well to differentiate between the finite game of business with clear cut winners and losers and the infinite game played by long term visionaries who take a more nuanced look at capitalism. Milton Friedman and Wall Street come off roughly as the villians in the new form (according to the author) of share price maximization and management compensation fra I would best describe this as a whiny rant against the modern incarnation of capitalism and the psycho and sociopaths that run them. Sinek does well to differentiate between the finite game of business with clear cut winners and losers and the infinite game played by long term visionaries who take a more nuanced look at capitalism. Milton Friedman and Wall Street come off roughly as the villians in the new form (according to the author) of share price maximization and management compensation fraud that permeates our public companies. As a corporate refugee, I can't disagree with Sinek's assessment. I've always been troubled by Friedman's ethics free approach to business in a world without morals or common cause beyond profit maximization. While Sinek provides an outline for companies to convert to the more beneficial infinite game, he doesn't provide a roadmap. That will be the tough part - convincing capital to invest better and take a systemic view.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sri Shivananda

    I loved this book! Life, business and leadership are infinite games. They are that are not bound by a window of time, players or fixed rules. They are not measured in wins and losses, but, the concept of being ahead or falling behind. Simon talks about playing the long term game with a just cause for which becomes a singular purpose, building trusting teams, having worthy rivals, being strategically flexible and having courage. Gems in every chapter. As I listened, it caused me to pause, smile, I loved this book! Life, business and leadership are infinite games. They are that are not bound by a window of time, players or fixed rules. They are not measured in wins and losses, but, the concept of being ahead or falling behind. Simon talks about playing the long term game with a just cause for which becomes a singular purpose, building trusting teams, having worthy rivals, being strategically flexible and having courage. Gems in every chapter. As I listened, it caused me to pause, smile, express surprise and just absorb it all! I will probably repeat it again soon.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Koberger

    I heard about this a lot on twitter and wanted to give it a try. Like many business books, it uses the formula of taking a simple premise and attributing the success of every successful company to simply following the title of the book. It probably could have been a tweet stream more than a book, but overall it was still a pretty good read (and I definitely like the premise overall, even if it’s a bit simplistic).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Ashenbrenner

    Simon Sinek's books on leadership are the BEST there are. This one is no exception. Any book he writes, I will read. They're all on the top of my list of leadership books, along with John Wooden. Simon Sinek's books on leadership are the BEST there are. This one is no exception. Any book he writes, I will read. They're all on the top of my list of leadership books, along with John Wooden.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maddie Nastase

    It's good to have you back, Simon! It's good to have you back, Simon!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Following in the footsteps of James P. Carse, Simon Sinek calls on organizations to think of themselves as infinite players rather than finite ones in The Infinite Game. I admire much about the call to action, and I am confident readers gathering evidence, rhetorical or factual, against short term thinking will find something of use in the early chapters. I found value in the outline of what are not just causes (moonshots and growth* don't cut it, says Sinek), the explanation of ethical fading, a Following in the footsteps of James P. Carse, Simon Sinek calls on organizations to think of themselves as infinite players rather than finite ones in The Infinite Game. I admire much about the call to action, and I am confident readers gathering evidence, rhetorical or factual, against short term thinking will find something of use in the early chapters. I found value in the outline of what are not just causes (moonshots and growth* don't cut it, says Sinek), the explanation of ethical fading, and the toxic nature of low trust/ high performance team members. The last was especially real to me, but I'd never really outlined exactly why such people are so irksome. I think some may find use in Sinek's distinction between worthy rivals and competitors--the latter motivate us to win while the former motivate us to improve. If these are your axes to grind, you'll find a file here. I often disliked this book in a petty way. Right or wrong, I struggle to look at books with double spaced text as anything more substantial than advertising for public speaking and consultancy gigs. I also rolled my eyes as I turned to the worn out analyses of Microsoft, Sam Walton and Walt Disney. Who is the imagined audience for a book like this that has not heard these analyses a million times? These business success narratives have at some level become a sort of cultural canon, and I speculate that Durkheim's scholarly descendants could find cultural group boundaries emerging around these stories. But I don't find it so worthwhile to annually revisit the rise and fall and return of Steve Jobs' career with new "literary" lenses. I also worry that these stories, though admirable, are kind of tacky when elevated through repeated analyses--not so different from the new gods of the television and interstate highways in Neil Gaimon's American Gods. Ten years ago, it seemed crazy to praise Bill Gates over Steve Jobs, but now I see more content about the greatness of Gates. Isn't the infinite play to moderate our veneration of these titans? Less petty quibbles... First, there is an implicit, sometimes explicit, suggestion that the right reason to play an infinite game is that the market will reward it. I just don't believe we should rely on the market to construct ethical arguments, especially if Wells Fargo (not to mention many other companies and business people...) continues to thrive. Second, I'm sure many finite players are content to make money and cash out. That's a finite game, but it's not obvious to me it's, in the eyes of these finite players, wrong even if it comes across as a bit nihilistic. Sinek describes Steve Ballmer as a finite player, but he seems content and not at all nihilistic to me. Isn't he living an enviable life? Let's ask his great grandchildren as they continue to live life as one percenters on an inherited fortune how they feel. Third, David Brooks argues in The Second Mountain that it's natural for people to focus on building a career and then building existential depth. To me, that sounds like playing out a finite strategy and then hammering out an infinite strategy. That doesn't seem a ridiculous model for both our lives and for businesses. Ultimately, I like the idea of playing an infinite game, and I agree that we'd do well to think more about which "games" in our economy are not only finite but actually destructive to our culture's infinite goals. Sinek is right that the stock market often sets up finite strategies that backfire and crash--and though he does not mention climate change it seems an obvious example of this dynamic. I'm not sure a winning strategy always requires an infinite strategy, however. It can further be admirable to form a team to build a sidewalk and dissolve the team upon its completion; it can be rewarding to build a company and to sell it. I read this as part of an ongoing study into metaphorical games and I recommend reading the opening chapters of Carse's Finite and Infinite Games ahead of Infinite Game. *A convincing argument that growth can be a moral imperative can be found in Tyler Cowen's Stubborn Attachments.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shannan

    3.5 rounded up - I like Simon Sinek’s style, his clear support of the points he makes and his varied examples. Start with Why was my favorite of his business books, and the successive ones have been okay. I just think there was a lot of the same points made over and over for a premise that might not have been worthy of an entire book. Yes, don’t be in business for just the money for yourself or for a short-term closed-ended goal. Look for the greater good, the just cause, the higher ethical road 3.5 rounded up - I like Simon Sinek’s style, his clear support of the points he makes and his varied examples. Start with Why was my favorite of his business books, and the successive ones have been okay. I just think there was a lot of the same points made over and over for a premise that might not have been worthy of an entire book. Yes, don’t be in business for just the money for yourself or for a short-term closed-ended goal. Look for the greater good, the just cause, the higher ethical road. It’s good advice. It’s just not quite ground breaking.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angela's Booked

    Fun story...I read the first sentence of the synopsis and thought this was going to be a psychological science fiction thriller about being stuck in a never-ending game so I picked it up. But no. It’s a nonfiction, psychology/business model strategy book. 🤣🤣🤣 Needless to say, when I realized that I almost returned it to the library. However, I decided to give it a try to ‘branch’ out. And I loved it! Such a good read. And I loved how the author talked about actual companies I’ve heard of and how Fun story...I read the first sentence of the synopsis and thought this was going to be a psychological science fiction thriller about being stuck in a never-ending game so I picked it up. But no. It’s a nonfiction, psychology/business model strategy book. 🤣🤣🤣 Needless to say, when I realized that I almost returned it to the library. However, I decided to give it a try to ‘branch’ out. And I loved it! Such a good read. And I loved how the author talked about actual companies I’ve heard of and how they approach the business world. It was very interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Helen Mary Labao Barrameda

    This is my first Simon Sinek book, and it did not disappoint. It's an inspiring read and it's practically filled with case studies and leadership examples. Sometimes, I just feel like he can get a little didactic or preachy in his method of saying things. There is this slight, lingering sense of judgment when he is putting out cases of bad examples in history to illustrate certain points. That does not diminish the value of the book in its entirety. I just find it occasionally distracting when I This is my first Simon Sinek book, and it did not disappoint. It's an inspiring read and it's practically filled with case studies and leadership examples. Sometimes, I just feel like he can get a little didactic or preachy in his method of saying things. There is this slight, lingering sense of judgment when he is putting out cases of bad examples in history to illustrate certain points. That does not diminish the value of the book in its entirety. I just find it occasionally distracting when I am immersed in his ideas and then suddenly that didactic line comes out here and there. That made me give it a 4 instead of a 5.

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