April 12, 2016

TED Talk in Two Minutes: Great Leaders Inspire Action

We know you love TED talks, but don’t always have the time. So you don’t miss out on the good stuff, here’s our quick fix.

How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek, who has written two books about what separates the best from the rest, including “Start With Why.”

What makes a great leader?

Simon wanted to know why some people and brands make history over others who may have more money and resources. What are they doing different?

Start by asking why

There are three questions organizations and their leaders need to answer:

1. What do you do?

2. How do you do it?

And (most importantly):

3. Why do you do it?

Most of us know what we do, and a lot of us also know how we do it. But, Simon found that “few people or organizations know why they do what they do.” According to Simon, all extraordinary leaders start with answering the why, and build from the inside out. As a result, the mission-statement—why they do what they do—is hard-coded into the DNA of their work.

The power of why

What difference does this actually make? The answer is… a lot. Simon says, “people don’t buy what you do—they buy why you do it.”

This is the big reason Apple is so successful – its marketing is built around why it does what it does. Apple tells its audience that “we believe in thinking differently.” It’s a message a whole generation has gotten behind. It just so happens that believing in this vision also means buying iPhones, iPads, and iMacs—because what Apple does is sell computers.

Apple’s competitors don’t seem to provide as strong a why. They focus more on what their products are like and what features they have. They also don’t receive the same adoration as Apple—even though their products are as good, and sometimes better.

The response to why

Connecting through why uses a part of the brain responsible for feelings and decision-making. It makes people feel and believe in what you do. Simon notes, “if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.” These are the people you want supporting your company from the start.

When you give people a reason for doing what you do, your vision becomes theirs too. This is how great leaders inspire others to, “be loyal and want to be a part of what they do,” according to Simon.

The takeaway

The most successful brands and leaders, regardless of their industry, communicate their message from the inside out. Why you do what you do should be the basis for any organization, movement, or idea, and the how and what will fall into place—that’s what the most extraordinary leaders do.

So, why do you do what you do? Inspire us in the comments!

Written by Martin Douglas Hendry

  • Wild Jules says:

    ‘Why’ sells our product – CA native wildflower & grass seed balls. Affirmation spurs us on! Thanks!

  • Carsten Lexa says:

    I am a commercial lawyer with a focus on contract design in Germany. Why do I like drawing contracts? Because I am fascinated with finding new and creative ways to express the wishes of my clients with words!

  • Kurt Skoglund says:

    My WHY is to make people successful.

  • Karen Trepte says:

    My favourite talk of all time (second favourite is Amy Cuddy – so we are on the same wavelength Moo!). My why actually is about my staff and not my customers – is that unusual? I want to see my people happy and achieving their dreams (inside and outside the company) Although I also believe that if the staff are happy the customers will be too – so I guess the same end will be achieved.

  • As a start up craft business, this was very insightful. I love making quilts and crafts that make the customer happy. If it’s a quilt I know it’s something that is personal and will get better with use. It becomes a comfort. I love knowing I can provide that to a complete stranger.

  • Deborah coburn says:

    My why is that I love nature color and beauty, and want to share that with others .

  • Yeah, love this TED talk too! I did a small course on Futurelearn.com about branding and I linked to it several times. We emphasized on WHY all the time. The why is in the middle and drives all the forces; the product, where it should be found, the price etc. It so much make sense in todays marketing picture with a totally overload of offerings. People want to feel for their choices, they want to belong to a tribe, they want more meaning! This is also of the reason I have started to like marketing much more. It’s all about the customers.
    I make Girls Clothing in an ethical manner to give a chance for change ( specially as the kids are the future, right). Customers put power into their own decisions today. They are changing the marketing strategies, not us, the companies! So what Simon takes about makes 100% sense. Btw. I think WHY comes first, then WHAT and last HOW.

  • Conni Mainne says:

    I found Simon’s Tedx talk in 2010 and it’s been the most life-changing presentation for me to date. I talk to all sorts of people about it…surprising how difficult it is to come up with a true Why. They need to be fuzzy, vague, and usually a belief….something that What or How you do what you do will fit into, but the Why doesn’t tell others what exactly you do.
    My Why:
    I feel strongly about the positive role artists play in society. I believe in the importance of bringing beauty into the world.

    Ok, you can guess I’m an artist of some sort. I could be doing anything, really. Painting, acting, dancing, cooking even! What I do for a living: I’m a designer/goldsmith. But I live all of my life Starting With that Why. And I get my business cards from Moo, of course.
    Now….Martin…..what is Moo’s Why?!

  • Susan Clare says:

    I loved this TED talk! It really takes some of the mystery out of marketing. I believe that when people feel good they are kinder to themselves, each other and the environment. When you see one of my paintings on your wall, every day, you will get a little lift, like seeing a rainbow, your day just improved!

  • This is one of my favorite Ted Talks. I’m a personal development coach and my WHY is that I believe everyone needs more nature in their lives. It reminds us of our humanity and inspires us to be our best selves and do great things. I love working with clients and helping them to achieve their dreams. We do this work while walking in the outdoors. Natural surroundings and movement amplify our progress and inspire creative thinking.

  • I loved this article. My Big Why is raising people’s vibrations when they wear my all natural perfumes. How do you want to feel today? Joyful, uplifted, loved with your heart open. That is what my natural fragrances offer!

  • I’m a Zumba Instructor and my ‘why’ is purely because I love to dance, keep fit, loose weight and de-stress. It works for me so now I live my passion and pass that on to my clients.

  • Rufus Denne says:

    I love this TED talk, and it makes a lot of sense – especially when you consider that a lot of business leaders have been framing this same concept in a multitude of ways “do what you love” – often a love for something has to start with a why. It’s just great how Sinek breaks it down.

    I’m the founder of a very early stage company making men’s underwear. We’re doing it because: Of all the advancements in processes and design, the laziest of all the industries (in my opinion) has to be in men’s underwear.

    Little has changed, apart from the margins companies like Calvin Klien are making by outsourcing their manufacturing. We’re about making an honest company, with modest branding and 2 feet on the streets. I hope at least some of that message resonates.

  • david says:

    Thanks Rufus! We loved it too, it’s an oldie, but such a goodie. Best of luck with your business – let us know how it goes!

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