Designer of the powerful concepts “The Golden Circle” and “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek rose to fame with his TEDx Talk titled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” which has become the third most viewed video on TED.com. Born in 1973 in Wimbledon, England before moving to South Africa, Hong Kong, and eventually New Jersey at an young age, Sinek’s early travels gave him a unique perspective on life. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1994 with a degree in cultural anthropology before hopping back over the pond to start working on a law degree at the City University of London, which he never finished.
Fascinated by the world of advertising, Sinek moved from London to New York City to join a number of ad agencies before founding his own company, Sinek Partners. With the famous TED talk, coupled with the success of his first book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Sinek secured his position as globally recognized thought leader in the fields of marketing an entrepreneurship.
Here are some of his most salient ideas on those two topics:
1. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
2. There are two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.
3. You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
4. Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.
5. The most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.
6. We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.
7. 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.
8. Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.
9. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
10. A boss wants to pay for results, an employee wants recognition for effort. If a boss recognizes effort, they will get even better results.
11. Value is not determined by those who set the price. Value is determined by those who choose to pay it.
12. Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones are able to find.
13. It is not the genius at the top giving directions that makes people great. It is great people that make the guy at the top look like a genius.
14. You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.
15. And when a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.
16. You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
17. As the Zen Buddhist saying goes, how you do anything is how you do everything.
18. Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.
19. This is important because our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know.
20. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.
In addition to his speaking and writing prowess, Sinek also spends his time working for the non-profit organization Count Me In, which helps to promote women in business, and teaching graduate level courses at Columbia University.
Which of Simon’s ideas have made an impact for you?