Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • 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, 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."