Start with Why

Today I attended “It Takes a Village to Create Change” conference where Simon Sinek did the keynote speech. The first part was basically his TED Talk contents with more emphasis on creating community with people who believe what you believe, and he talked about why you need to start with “why”, and not “how” or “what”. I have seen his TED Talk multiple times prior to today, but I still found it very energizing and inspiring.

The second part was a Q & A session and he became even more lively and engaging as soon as he opened the floor to take questions from the audience. Someone asked his thoughts about President Obama and the recent election results; He won the presidential election two years ago by effectively communicating “Why” with the voters, and yet, it appears that he might have lost his way as evident from the most recent election results. Simon replied that it seems like President Obama does not trust that communicating his “why” is enough. Moreover, Simon speculates that because President Obama, with his college professor-like intelligence and knowledge, likes to try convincing people with facts and figures (which is the “What” in Simon’s golden circle), he keeps getting sucked into the argument over the details. Simon reflected how he would have started out the President’s speech to push through a health care bill. He demonstrated how reversing the order of WHAT-HOW-WHY to WHY-HOW-WHAT, as explained in the video clip above, would have been much more effective in inspiring people to agree with him on his health care plan. It was beautiful and very powerful. Even before Simon finished his spontaneously-created health care speech, someone yelled out from the audience, “I’m in!”, meaning that they are sold on to that idea.

Simon also explained that people need to find a way to put words in their “why” to inspire other people, which is not an easy task. He also added that once you find your “why” and a way to articulate it, it is necessary to surround yourself with reminders of your “why”, because people tend to forget as the time goes by, or the organization or business grows, or circumstances change. After finishing his speech and Q & A session which lasted for over 100 minutes, I was able to speak with him briefly one on one. He kindly agreed to say a few words in front of my camera about his own “Why”.