Inspiring Success & the Golden Circle

I recently watched a very interesting TED talk given by Simon Sinek, a trained ethnographer and successful author.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would get pass the 1 minute mark. The talk was titled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” – which seemed so bland and generic to me.  But surprisingly, I found quite a few nuggets in his talk and ended up watching the whole thing!

Sinek talks about the concept of the “Golden Circle” and uses it to explain how the world’s greatest brands and leaders are able to inspire and grow success.  The golden circle has 3 layers.  Starting from the outside in, they are – What, How and Why.


What – describes the things that you do.  For a business, it might be the products you make, or the services you offer.
How – describes the actions you take to achieve the “what”. It could be a company’s “trade secrets” on how they make the products unique or turn out the way they do.
Why – the reason or purpose behind everything that you do, the belief and the reason why a company exists.

Sinek states that most people or organizations will communicate from the outside in because the “what” is always clearer than the “why”.  In contrary, inspired leaders know to think, act and communicate from the inside out.  His example on how Apple has adopted this way of communication is truly eye-opening.

“If Apple were like anyone 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? And that’s how most of us communicate, how most marketing is done, how sales is done.  We say what we do, how we differ, how we’re better and we expect some sort of behaviour purchase…. Here’s how Apple actually communicates – Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we choose to challenge that status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.  We just happen to make great computers.  Want to buy one?”

What an amazing concept!  In today’s marketing landscape where options are a-plenty, having a story (especially one that resonates and is meaningful) is so valuable and so important!  I can tell you that when I think of the Apple brand, I know that the quality of their products is only a by product of what the company is about.  I know what the brand is about and I know what they want to achieve.  I can relate to the brand personality… and the brand essence.

What a neat approach to marketing – because at the end of the day, who wants to hear another spiel of why your products are so great, and how they are so different from the competition?  I’ll be sharing this with all my clients for sure.

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