How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Actionable Talk Summary: How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek

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About: Simon Sinek, is a leadership guru, professor at Columbia University and the author of the bestsellers “Start With Why” and “Leaders Eat Last.” This famous talk was recorded at TEDx Puget Sound in September 2009. Length of the full talk is 17:50.

The Core Idea

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Trying to sell your product, or idea, by constantly repeating the features won’t get you far. You need to talk more about what you believe in and why you do what you do. Whether you’re starting a business or leading a company, your main goal is to clearly communicate your why with others. And if your why resonates with other peoples views about the world, they’ll follow you no matter what.

5 Key Lessons

Lesson 1: All Great Leaders and Organizations Think And Communicate The Exact Same Way

Great leaders act from the inside out. They don’t just bombard you with facts and data, they share with people what they believe in.

When people believe what you believe, they’ll embrace your cause and share it with others. They’ll buy from you. Recommend you to others. Forgive you when you mess up. But only if your cause is worthy.

“We follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to.” Simon Sinek

Lesson 2: The Golden Circle is The Reason Great Organization and Great Leaders Are, Well, Great.

Here’s the idea in short. But before that, imagine three circles inside one another:

  • What (the outer ring): Every single organization and person on the planet know what they are doing.
  • How (the middle): Most of us know how we do what we do. What are all the processes involved in our actions and how our business is unique in a world of homogeneous competitors.
  • Why (the center): Few companies know why they do what they do. And that’s the differentiating factor for a successful company. You need to ask yourself: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What do you stand for? Why does your organization exist? Next, make sure you clearly communicate your message – your why – with your audience. Make business decisions based on why you do what you do.

Lesson 3: Your Goal is To Do Business With People Who Believe What You Believe

Yes. You can make few sales if you constantly repeat what you’re doing and what are the included features, but if you really want to make a dent in the universe you need to communicate your why. To share what you believe in.

Because at the end of the day, people buy stuff because of what they believe about the world and how they wanted everybody to see them. If what you believe corresponds with their understanding about the world, you have the perfect match.

Lesson 4: Emotions Control Our Decisions, Not Reason

You can explain all the facts in regards to what you do but if people don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you.

Human emotions drive behavior, not reasoning. Your why, your belief, your purpose, will help you connect with others. Don’t aim to reason others, aim towards connecting with them on an emotional level.

Lesson 5: Find Your Purpose, Your Drive

You can have all the money in the world and still fail. Or worse. Be unsatisfied and depressed about the work you do.

Doing something with the sole intention to gain wealth and status won’t get you far. People who truly enjoy life are the ones with a clear purpose.

Love taking notes? Download the worksheet:

Actionable Notes:

  • Define your why: Why do you do what you do? Why do you exist? Think beyond making money. Think about what drives you. Why do you wake up in the morning? Why your product is better than all the others. But don’t just list features, think about reasons that are more worthy.
  • Why people buy: Why people buy the type of products you’re selling? Yes, there are surely people who will buy only because the price was right for them, but there are others who choose you for another reason. What’s the real reason?
  • Connect emotionally: Improve your message to connect with others on an emotional level. besides people’s basic needs, think about how you can satisfy their emotional needs.

Notable Quotes

If you hire people just because they can do a job they will work for your money. If you hire people who believe what you believe, they will work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. What you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.”

There are leaders and there are those who lead.”

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