Start with why — how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound

Start with why — how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound


Translator: Capa Girl
Reviewer: Wendy Morales So, where do you start when you have a program
that’s about integrating lives with passions? Well, you start with “why.” Why? And that kicks us off for the first speaker
tonight – Simon Sinek and his talk “Start with why.” Simon Sinek: We assume, even, we know
why we do what we do. But then how do you explain
when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain
when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they’re more innovative
than all their competition. And yet, they’re just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access
to the same talent, the same agencies, the same consultants,
the same media. Then why is it that they
seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King
led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered
in a pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t
the only great orator of the day. Why him? And why is it that the Wright brothers
were able to figure out controlled, powered man flight
when there were certainly other teams who were better qualified,
better funded — and they didn’t achieve
powered man flight, the Wright brothers beat them to it. There’s something else at play here. About three and a half years ago
I made a discovery. And this discovery
profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked, and it even profoundly changed
the way in which I operate in it. As it turns out, there’s a pattern. As it turns out, all the great and inspiring leaders
and organizations in the world — whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King
or the Wright brothers — they all think, act and communicate
the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite
to everyone else. All I did was codify it, and it’s probably
the world’s simplest idea. I call it the golden circle. Why? How? What? This little idea explains why
some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person,
every single organization on the planet knows what they do.
100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it
your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations
know why they do what they do. And by “why”
I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result.
It’s always a result. By “why” I mean:
What’s your purpose? What’s your cause?
What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Well, as a result,
the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate
is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing
to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders
and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size,
regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate
from the inside out. Let me give you an example. I use Apple because they’re easy
to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them
might sound like this: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed,
simple to use and user friendly. Wanna buy one?”
“Meh.” And that’s how most of us communicate. That’s how most marketing is done,
that’s how most sales is done and that’s how most of us
communicate interpersonally. We say what we do, we say
how we’re different or how we’re better and we expect
some sort of a behavior, a purchase, a vote,
something like that. Here’s our new law firm. We have the best lawyers
with the biggest clients, we always perform for our clients
who do business with us. Here’s our new car.
It gets great gas mileage, it has leather seats, buy our car.
But it’s uninspiring. Here’s how Apple
actually communicates. “Everything we do, we believe
in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge
the status quo is by making our products
beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen
to make great computers. Wanna buy one?” Totally different right?
You’re ready to buy a computer from me. All I did was reverse the order
of the information. People don’t buy what you do
they buy why you do it. People don’t buy what you do
they buy why you do it. This explains why every single person
in this room is perfectly comfortable
buying a computer from Apple. But we’re also perfectly comfortable
buying an MP3 player from Apple, or a phone from Apple,
or a DVR from Apple. But, as I said before,
Apple’s just a computer company. There’s nothing that distinguishes them
structurally from any of their competitors. Their competitors are all equally qualified
to make all of these products. In fact, they tried. A few years ago, Gateway
came out with flat screen TVs. They’re eminently qualified
to make flat screen TVs. They’ve been making
flat screen monitors for years. Nobody bought one. Dell came out with MP3 players and PDAs,
and they make great quality products, and they can make perfectly
well-designed products — and nobody bought one. In fact, talking about it now,
we can’t even imagine buying an MP3 player from Dell. Why would you buy an MP3 player
from a computer company? But we do it every day. People don’t buy what you do,
they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody
who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people
who believe what you believe. Here’s the best part: None of what I’m telling you
is my opinion. It’s all grounded
in the tenets of biology. Not psychology, biology. If you look at a cross-section
of the human brain, looking from the top down, what you see is the human brain is actually
broken into three major components that correlate perfectly
with the golden circle. Our newest brain,
our Homo Sapien brain, our neocortex,
corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible
for all of our rational and analytical
thought and language. The middle two sections
make up our limbic brains, and our limbic brains are responsible
for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for
all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity
for language. In other words, when we communicate
from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts
of complicated information like features and benefits
and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior. When we can communicate
from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain
that controls behavior, and then we allow people
to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from. You know, sometimes you can give somebody
all the facts and figures, and they say, “I know what all the facts
and details say, but it just doesn’t feel right.” Why would we use that verb,
it doesn’t “feel” right? Because the part of the brain that controls
decision-making doesn’t control language. And the best we can muster up is,
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.” Or sometimes you say
you’re leading with your heart, or you’re leading with your soul. Well, I hate to break it to you,
those aren’t other body parts controlling your behavior. It’s all happening here
in your limbic brain, the part of the brain that controls
decision-making and not language. But if you don’t know
why you do what you do, and people respond
to why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people
to vote for you, or buy something from you,
or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of
what it is that you do? Again, the goal is not just to sell to people
who need what you have, the goal is to sell to people
who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people
who need a job, it’s to hire people who believe
what you believe. I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job,
they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people
who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you
with blood and sweat and tears. And nowhere else is there
a better example of this than with the Wright brothers. Most people don’t know
about Samuel Pierpont Langley. And back in the early 20th century, the pursuit of powered man flight
was like the dot com of the day. Everybody was trying it. And Samuel Pierpont Langley had,
what we assume, to be the recipe for success. I mean, even now,
when you ask people, “Why did your product
or why did your company fail?” And people always give you
the same permutation of the same three things: under-capitalized, the wrong people,
bad market conditions. It’s always the same three things,
so let’s explore that. Samuel Pierpont Langley was given
50,000 dollars by the War Department to figure out this flying machine. Money was no problem. He held a seat at Harvard
and worked at the Smithsonian and was extremely well-connected. He knew all the big minds of the day. He hired the best minds
money could find and the market conditions
were fantastic. The New York Times followed him
around everywhere, and everyone was rooting for Langley. Then how come we’ve never heard
of Samuel Pierpont Langley? A few hundred miles away
in Dayton Ohio, Orville and Wilbur Wright, they had none of what we consider
to be the recipe for success. They had no money,
they paid for their dream with the proceeds from
their bicycle shop, not a single person on the Wright brothers’ team
had a college education, not even Orville or Wilbur, and The New York Times
followed them around nowhere. The difference was, Orville and Wilbur
were driven by a cause, by a purpose, by a belief. They believed that if they could figure out
this flying machine, it’ll change the course of the world. Samuel Pierpont Langley was different. He wanted to be rich,
and he wanted to be famous. He was in pursuit of the result.
He was in pursuit of the riches. And lo and behold,
look what happened. The people who believed
in the Wright brothers’ dream worked with them with
blood and sweat and tears. The others just worked
for the paycheck. And they tell stories of how every time
the Wright brothers went out, they would have to take five sets of parts, because that’s how many times they would crash
before they came in for supper. And, eventually,
on December 17th 1903, the Wright brothers took flight, and no one was there
to even experience it. We found out about it
a few days later. And further proof that Langley
was motivated by the wrong thing: The day the Wright brothers took flight, he quit. He could have said,
“That’s an amazing discovery, guys, and I will improve upon your technology,”
but he didn’t. He wasn’t first,
he didn’t get rich, he didn’t get famous so he quit. People don’t buy what you do,
they buy why you do it. And if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those
who believe what you believe. But why is it important to attract those
who believe what you believe? Something called
the law of diffusion of innovation, and if you don’t know the law,
you definitely know the terminology. The first two and a half percent
of our population are our innovators. The next 13 and a half percent
of our population are our early adopters. The next 34 percent are
your early majority, your late majority and your laggards. The only reason these people
buy touch tone phones is because you can’t buy
rotary phones anymore. (Laughter) We all sit at various places
at various times on this scale, but what the law of diffusion of innovation
tells us is that if you want mass-market success or mass-market acceptance of an idea, you cannot have it until you achieve
this tipping point, between 15 and 18 percent market penetration,
and then the system tips. And I love asking businesses,
“What’s your conversion on new business?” And they love to tell you,
“Oh, it’s about 10 percent,” proudly. Well, you can trip over
10 percent of the customers. We all have about 10 percent
who just “get it.” That’s how we describe them, right? That’s like that gut feeling,
“Oh, they just get it.” The problem is:
How do you find the ones that get it before you’re doing business
with them versus the ones who don’t get it? So it’s this here, this little gap
that you have to close, as Jeffrey Moore calls it,
“Crossing the Chasm” — Because, you see, the early majority
will not try something until someone else
has tried it first. And these guys, the innovators
and the early adopters, they’re comfortable making
those gut decisions. They’re more comfortable making
those intuitive decisions that are driven by what they believe
about the world and not just what product is available. These are the people
who stood in line for 6 hours to buy an iPhone
when they first came out, when you could have just walked
into the store the next week and bought one off the shelf. These are the people
who spent 40,000 dollars on flat screen TVs
when they first came out, even though the technology
was substandard. And, by the way, they didn’t do it because the technology was so great,
they did it for themselves. It’s because they wanted to be first. People don’t buy what you do,
they buy why you do it and what you do simply
proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things
that prove what they believe. The reason that person bought the iPhone
in the first six hours, stood in line for six hours, was because of what
they believed about the world, and how they wanted
everybody to see them: They were first. People don’t buy what you do,
they buy why you do it. So let me give you a famous example, a famous failure and a famous success
of the law of diffusion of innovation. First, the famous failure. It’s a commercial example. As we said before, a second ago,
the recipe for success is money and the right people
and the right market conditions. Right?
You should have success then. Look at TiVo. From the time TiVo came out
about 8 or nine 9 ago to this current day, they are the single highest-quality product
on the market, hands down, there is no dispute. They were extremely well-funded. Market conditions were fantastic. I mean, we use TiVo as verb. I TiVo stuff on my piece of junk
Time Warner DVR all the time. But TiVo’s a commercial failure. They’ve never made money. And when they went IPO,
their stock was at about 30 or 40 dollars and then plummeted,
and it’s never traded above 10. In fact, I don’t think it’s even traded above 6,
except for a couple of little spikes. Because you see,
when TiVo launched their product they told us all what they had. They said,
“We have a product that pauses live TV, skips commercials,
rewinds live TV and memorizes your viewing habits
without you even asking.” And the cynical majority said,
“We don’t believe you. We don’t need it. We don’t like it.
You’re scaring us.” What if they had said, “If you’re the kind of person
who likes to have total control over every aspect of your life,
boy, do we have a product for you. It pauses live TV, skips commercials,
memorizes your viewing habits, etc., etc.” People don’t buy what you do,
they buy why you do it. And what you do simply serves as
the proof of what you believe. Now let me give you a successful example
of the law of diffusion of innovation. In the summer of 1963,
250,000 people showed up on the mall in Washington
to hear Dr. King speak. They sent out no invitations,
and there was no website to check the date. How do you do that? Well, Dr. King wasn’t the only man in America
who was a great orator. He wasn’t the only man in America
who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. In fact, some of his ideas were bad. But he had a gift. He didn’t go around telling people
what needed to change in America. He went around and told people
what he believed. “I believe, I believe, I believe,”
he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and they made it their own,
and they told people. And some of those people
created structures to get the word out to even more people. And lo and behold,
250,000 people showed up on the right day, at the right time
to hear him speak. How many of them showed up for him?
Zero. They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel
in a bus for 8 hours to stand in the sun in Washington
in the middle of August. It’s what they believed,
and it wasn’t about black versus white: 25 percent of the audience was white. Dr. King believed that there are two types
of laws in this world: those that are made by a higher authority
and those that are made by man. And not until all the laws that are made
by man are consistent with the laws that are made by the higher authority
will we live in a just world. It just so happened
that the Civil Rights Movement was the perfect thing to help him
bring his cause to life. We followed, not for him,
but for ourselves. And, by the way,
he gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. (Laughter) Listen to politicians now,
with their comprehensive 12-point plans. They’re not inspiring anybody. Because there are leaders
and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position
of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations,
we follow those who lead, not because we have to,
but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them,
but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with “why”
that have the ability to inspire those around them
or find others who inspire them. Thank you very much.

100 Comments

  1. Who else think why Elon Musk is most followed Enterpenure. He believes Cars should look good, it should be clean.
    He believes Humanity should Get to Mars.

  2. Torrent of low-effort BS directed at inflated midwits. Everyone should watch Sam Hyde's Tedx talk. Sinek's thesis is very similar to "sell the sizzle, not the steak" which is quite old now. Many of these faddish ideas about business have floated by. They are all unverifiable and unfalsifiable. He claims that Apple is more "innovative" because they're a "why" company. He fails to ask if there are "why" companies that aren't innovative, or non-why companies that are innovative. He claims that Apple can cross over from computers to consumer elex because they're a "why" company. Again, he doesn't rigorously check that idea. Just another business fairy tale.

    I don't think he can provide an acid test for a "why" company since all big companies claim to be one.

  3. Ok so this is weird..at 10:29 he said " the wright brothers took flight" just as he is saying this you can hear a plane fly by in the audio..as I was watching this a plane flew by my home…chills..

  4. I enjoyed listening to this TED Talk! I agree when he said, “People don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it.” Appealing to the emotions of your audience has a better chance of generating expected outcomes vs just presenting something without any meaning. Like Simon mentioned, I feel people become more interested in a product or idea when they can relate to it and have found meaning of it within themesleves as well.

  5. This is a perfect example of how to make a public speech. Thought provoking, long enough to make the point and short enough to not bore the audience.

  6. In this TED Talk, the diffusion of innovation theory is very well described! Not only is it explained, but examples are used to describe how it is used for businesses and marketing of products. I enjoyed the way Sinek used examples and stories of those like the Wright Brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in order to demonstrate his points. I found this TED Talk informative and inspiring!

  7. "The goal is not to sell people what you have, but to sell people to believe what you believe." What a profound statement. SO many things we do throughout life with the idea of an end goal. Get a job. Raise a family. Make money. But we too often get lost in not knowing WHY we want to do it. Asking yourself what is your "Why?" in life I think is what sets apart leaders from great leaders.

  8. This TED talk was truly inspiring. I am entering a season of my life filled with uncertainty and doubt looking for what I am going to do post graduation, who I am going to work for, and ultimately the type of person I want to be. Along with that I am saying goodbye to an organization that has been a leading cause for why I have been so happy here at CSU my sorority of 70 women Alpha Delta Pi. As I enter my senior year in the sorority I want to bring in girls that will continue to set a good example on the campus, who will work to better those around them, and who ultimately want to make a difference on the campus and in the world inspiring others. As recruitment is approaching I feel I can take a lot of lessons from this short 18 minute long video. "Why" do I do it, well thats easy because I wanted to be apart of something bigger then myself, I wanted to make genuine connections with like minded people, I wanted to be held accountable, I wanted to make a difference. Now how did I do it, I not only joined the sorority but I became an officer holding a leadership role, and got involved as much as I can. What do we do, well we have philanthropy events, weekly meeting, a set of rules and standards that govern us, and a lot of fun events as well. When you switch from that standpoint it really makes a difference. The comment that stuck with me the most was “if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire someone who believes what you believe they work for you with blood sweat and tears” As I go out in to the real world I want to work for someone who inspires me, and I want to recruit girls who will inspire me and others.

  9. Awesome speaker! He talked about the diffusion of innovation theory and understanding how people think. I really enjoyed his explanation using examples of Martin Luther King and the Wright Brothers. For public health, it is important for program coordinator or HES to ask why certain behaviors exist, figure out innovate ways to change the behavior, and believe in that change in order to get others onboard.

  10. He makes a great point by saying that people don't buy what you do, but why you do it. If you are driven by a belief, you will be more successful. Focusing on the purpose of your company is key.

  11. The brain is such a beautiful, God created design! I found it very enlightening that the three sections of the golden circle correlated with the three horizontal sections of the brain. Everything Simon said kept me saying "wow," it all makes so much sense, we do tend to base our purchases on what makes us feel good and if something "doesn't feel right" if we don't have that "gut feeling" we tend to turn the other way. "People don't buy what we do, they buy why we do it!" Perfect example of "Dr. King," we share in what others believe, leading us to want to listen more, to inspire us to want to learn and listen more, it wasn't a "I have a plan speech" but a "I have a dream speech!"

  12. I really liked how Simon broke down how the "what, how why" into examples with Apple to really drive his point home. Simon got his point across with the having a purpose in why you do things. Making sure you believe in the things you do will make you go farther in life. I definitely think everyone should hear this. It is great for explaining how to market and draw people into what you are selling or believe in. You have to be that 2% "the innovators" to be first.

  13. I like how he mentioned that great leaders are inspirational to those around them. I also like how he mentioned that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Very well spoken!

  14. The first controlled man flight was by a engish army officer,the first powered man flight was claimed by many nationalities,the first controlled man powered flight to navigate a course and be registered in american law was the wright brothers. A quirk of american law only.

  15. 진짜 미안한데 너보다 내가 더 고수다. 사이먼 시넥 당신은 중요한 걸 놓치고 있다.

  16. I agree 55%, I believe many will buy primarily on price as a survival mechanism. He does a good job driving his points consistently though.

  17. Great message. The appeal of strong-men (Dictators) could be seen from this lens – an empathy with the beliefs being espoused by the leader. Hard for an average technocrat to compete where they can't inspire. Both a positive, and risk, for any democratic system.

  18. 0:35 Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year after year they are more innovative than their ccompetitions …

    Oh boy this video aged really badly 😁😁

  19. "Trying is the first step towards failure. You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” -Homer Simpson

  20. This is such an inspiring video. Everything what he said makes sense and I am going to use this way of thinking in my life. Thanks Simon!

  21. Leading with your heart is absolutely possible. Our heart has its own life. It can survive without our head brain. Neuroscience shows us that there's a "heart-brain."

  22. This was great and I agree with the concept 100% but I had to laugh when talked about the approach being "grounded in biology," explaining that our "limbic brains have no capacity for language." But his part of the brain that has "no capacity" for language is what we talk to when we explain why. lol. It was an unnecessary distraction from a great talk.

  23. The part talking about Samuel is not true. Samuel tried to contact with Wright Brothers after they had created a first airplane. But Wright Brothers rejected him politely. He quiet because he was old enough and had no power to do any experiments anymore. He passed away in the last couple years since the first airplane had been created. Samuel’s dream was to fly in the sky since he had been a little kid. He didn’t need to use it to get fame and money because he had had them already. It doesn’t make sense. Who would raise your rest life, fame, money on something unknown and may not be successful during your life? Especially you don’t have much time for living. Of course the true love and a person who is passionate about it. I don’ t like the speaker want to emphasize his theory and deny the contribution of Samuel.

  24. My mission statement is private and the world does not need to know. I can tell you that my financial goal is to make $40,000/month within the affiliate marketing industry.

  25. Thanks Simon Sinek you have unravelled the mystery going inside me from last 2 years. After watching this video, at least now i know the exact problem and it is a lot more easy if we can find what the problem is. Peace.

  26. Go to Google and search for the global truth project and read the
    book named The Present so you will discover all the answers of the big questions of life ⬆️⬆️

  27. Not the be contrary, however…
    Samuel Langley tried to meet the Wright brothers when he heard about their breakthrough, but the Wright brothers declined to meet with him. Moreover, Samuel didn't quit when he heard about the Wright brother's success, but continued for another year and only quit after two major crashes. He was a successful inventor of other devices and was remembered to refuse payment when he found out his accountant embezzled money. Was it because Samuel's heart was not in the right place? or because Samuel was researching in the wrong direction? I am certain both inventors were driven by the desire for human advancement, however, the Wright brothers had it right, Samuel did not.

    Also, howmuch sense does it make to compare Apple with the Wright brothers? one pair invented the future of aviation, but what did Apple invent? There were many MP3 players before apple introduced the iPod that were better. Apple didn't codify the MP3 file, didn't invent the concept of an mp3 players and didn't create the customer experience. Same thing for the iPhone. full touchscreen smartphones existed before the first iPhone, as did the classical smartphone menu environment introduced by Nokia through Symbian.
    Apple was able to time the release of their products at the exact right timing (disdain for current players (Microsoft), and the proliferation of status consumerism) when the technology was at the exact right maturity.
    Moreover, Apple understood WHY their clients use a product. WHY the iPod resonated with the public and the RIO300 or 500 did not regardless of being a better product. Diamond – the people behind the Rio500 – created a device from the love of music, with extraordinary sound quality, but did not understand WHY consumers use an MP3 player. Arguably, Diamond adhered to the WHY, Apple adhered to their bottom line. Apple understand why their customers use their products, diamond did not.
    — don't get me wrong, I respect Apple, and I honestly believe that there attention to customer experience in the later years is exemplary for many companies today, something Microsoft – even today – simply does not get. I believe that Apple is great at interface, interaction and marketing and quite a lot less with innovation.

    Finally, Apple is NOT like any other computer company. Their closed systems make them a very unique

  28. TED talks have always inspired me.

    Thanks TED organization for finding all these successful or if not but still talented people to teach us with their experiences and ideas.

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