By virtue of his original ideas and “innovative views on business and leadership,” Simon Sinek has become a leader in what he describes as the “help others” industry. He is a source of optimism for many, a bestselling author, and a keynote speaker whose first TED Talk rose to become one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time.
In this seminal TED Talk from 2009, Sinek introduced the world to his concept of WHY. In the years since, his fascination with “how the greatest leaders and organizations think, act, and communicate” has blossomed into his life’s work. Inspired by the Japanese design concept of wabi sabi, Sinek and his team of innovators and master trainers continuously improve themselves while leading the movement to build a more inspired and more inspiring world. Specifically, their goal is to build “a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every single morning inspired, feel safe wherever they are and end the day fulfilled by the work that they do.”
While his focus is not directly on career-related topics, Sinek’s gift for articulating simple ideas and concepts in a compelling way is applicable to nearly every industry. Each day, he shares this gift with individuals and organizations around the world through his social media posts, speaking engagements, customized programs, online courses, podcast episodes/appearances, videos, and bestselling books. Regardless of how you choose to interact with his work, Sinek’s ideas are sure to provide a thought-provoking experience that leaves you feeling more optimistic and inspired than you did before!
As an author, Sinek is devoted to building what he calls the “help others” industry. His bestselling titles feature “his unconventional and innovative views on business and leadership.”
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009)
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (2014)
Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration (2016)
Find Your Why: A Practical Guide For Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team (2017)
The Infinite Game (2019)
If you have a question on business or life, Sinek likely has an answer. His YouTube channel is a source of answers and optimism, brought to you in the form of TED Talks, Q&A sessions, podcast episodes, and career insight shorts that cover a range of important topics in business and leadership. Each week, Sinek shares his latest career insights and findings in 3-5 minute videos. With each video, he hopes to “inspire people to do the things that inspire them.” Sample videos include:
Each week, Sinek hopes to leave his listeners with A Bit of Optimism as he talks “with people that inspire [him], about love, life, leadership and silver linings.” Sample episodes include Adam Grant, Brené Brown, and Andy Grammer.
Simon offers online courses in two formats: live and on-demand. His live courses range in length from 25-90 minutes and cover topics such as culture, leadership, team building, personal growth, and purpose. For a schedule of these courses, see here. If you’d rather move through course content at your own pace, consider one of his on-demand courses. On-demand courses currently offered include “Find Your WHY” and “The Art of Presenting.”
The Concept of WHY
Start With WHY
According to Sinek's concept of WHY, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Ultimately, this idea can explain why some leaders and organizations are more inspirational than others, even when the “others” create similar products, do similar work, generate similar ideas, and have access to similar resources as leaders in their fields.
To explain his concept of WHY in more detail, Sinek codified his findings into one simple idea: “The Golden Circle.” Pictured below, “this little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t.”
WHAT: What you do, or what your organization does
HOW: How you do whatever it is that you do, or how you, as a leader or organization, achieve your WHAT
WHY: “Why [you] do what [you] do;” your purpose, or cause; the underlying belief that drives you to “get out of bed in the morning”
In the words of Sinek, every leader and organization know their WHAT, some know their HOW, and few know their WHY. As a result, most tend to communicate from the outside in. But the most inspiring? They “think, act, and communicate from the inside out.” In other words, the most inspiring leaders and organizations are those who start with WHY. To understand what’s behind this phenomenon, you can look to both Sinek and biology.
In his seminal TED Talk, Sinek explains that “the human brain is actually broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with “The Golden Circle.’” The component that correlates with the WHY just so happens to be responsible for human emotion, decision-making, and behavior. This means that when you start with WHY, “[you] are talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then [you] allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things [you] say and do.” Thus, to increase your impact, inspire others, differentiate yourself, and deliver your message to the part of the brain that is responsible for behavior and emotion, you have to start with your WHY.
Find Your WHY
Finding your WHY is a process – one that requires you to reflect, detect patterns in your life, and rely on a bit of help from people who know you well. For Sinek's guidance as you navigate this process, check out the key resources below.
- Book: Find Your Why: A Practical Guide For Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team
- YouTube video: “Find Your WHY | Simon Sinek”
- On-demand course: “Find Your WHY with Simon”
Live Your WHY
Once you’ve found your WHY, you’re off to a great start! However, this is just the beginning if you want to increase your confidence, stand out in a crowd, seize opportunities, attract others who believe what you believe, find work environments that inspire you, and “live with purpose on purpose.” To reap these benefits of finding your WHY, you must put your WHY into action. To do so, practice:
- Articulating your WHY with clarity and confidence
- Repeating and reinforcing your WHY every day
- Bringing your WHY to the forefront when you are faced with decisions
If you stick to this, “your WHY will [eventually] act as a filter for many of the decisions and choices you make.” In essence, you’ll be living your WHY. While this is not easy, you’ll succeed if you are vigilant, disciplined, and dedicated. In the end, you’ll know it was worth it when you are “better qualified and more importantly, more confident, to choose the careers, choose the jobs, and find the companies that create environments in which [you] are more likely to be inspired and feel fulfilled.”
- Publisher summaries for Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together is Better, Find Your Why, and The Infinite Game
- Approved PR and press materials, available on Simon Sinek's website