Through these lines and his famous TED talk, Simon Sinek literally shook up the business world.
For millions of people, his talk and book “Start With Why” were major eye-openers on how to think in business and life.
Sinek convinced us that why we do something is more important than what we do and how we do it.
He is a leadership expert, bestselling author, and, most importantly, a passionate entrepreneur teaching the world how to build businesses that change people’s lives and last for more than just a few years.
I read three of Sinek’s books and watched many of his talks and interviews, and I’m convinced there’s a lot we all can learn to build lasting businesses, strong relationships, and happier lives.
Here are only some of the many lessons we can learn from Simon Sinek.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
This one is probably the most famous quote of Simon Sinek. It’s the core of his brilliant TED talk and sums up the whole idea of why we need to take care of why we do something before doing it at all.
With so many businesses being started and a greater profusion of products than ever before, differentiating ourselves from the competition and winning loyal customers is more important than ever before.
According to Sinek, a big vision and the clear communication of that vision is the most effective way to persuade people to buy your products and do business with you.
In his talk, Sinek continued his famous quote by the following:
“…If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”
Businesses these days are barely about products and features. It’s much more about experiences, connection, and a sense of belonging.
No single human on planet earth would wait in front of an Apple Store for hours to buy the new iPhone because of its features. But thousands of people every year are camping in front of the shops to buy the feeling of being the first ones, and a sense of belonging to the early adapters.
They buy Apple’s, or Steve Job’s vision, not the features of a brand new smartphone. Seriously, nobody needs more fabulous displays, even better cameras, etc., we buy luxury, status, and a sense of belonging, not the product itself.
So many companies are producing phones. But no other brand provides the special feeling that Apple succeeds in creating for decades. That’s why people camp in front of Apple stores every year.
“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”
So many inexperienced entrepreneurs hire their first employees way too late. They do anything themselves and avoid the vital step of delegating work.
And once they decide to hire the first people, they look for the most skilled people believing these would do the job well.
Yet, acquiring skills is much easier than sparking an inner fire.
If you find people who are motivated from the inside out, they’ll be able to learn anything and master any challenge that might occur.
Motivating skilled people to give their very best, however, is a lot more complicated and time-intensive.
“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.”
If you need to choose between a very skilled and an intrinsically motivated applicant or potential team member, take into account that skills can be acquired, an inner fire, however, is hard to light up.
“Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.”
I guess we could even expand this lesson and say: Let us all be the employees, partners, parents, and customers we wish we had.
We’ve all heard this beautiful lesson before:
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
That’s probably one of the universal rules since humankind exists, yet, we still fail to apply it properly as our ego often holds us back from treating others better than we were treated.
However, in business, just like in life, being the leader, partner, employee, or friend we wish we had, will not only lead to deeper relationships but also to better results and eventually to happier lives.
“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.”
This is one of the five quotes on my wall at my workplace. It’s actually one of my core principles in life and in business: I don’t want to do business with anyone who doesn’t believe what I believe.
Our world is oversaturated like never before: We have more of any product and service than we’d ever need. That’s why it’s crucial to have a unique vision, something that differentiates you from the rest of the world.
I sincerely believe the moment you start doing business with everyone who simply needs what you have is the moment you begin losing passion and vision.
Of course, that’s not true for companies that produce products we all need anyway, but I’m convinced it applies to services designed to transform lives.
Let’s say you’re a coach, for example: If you start coaching anyone who simply needs your service without talking about your values and the way your business works, you’ll sooner or later lose your bigger picture and start doing work that doesn’t fulfill you anymore, and that’s not the point of starting your own business at all.
“If you can clearly articulate the dream or the goal, start.”
So many people have great ideas and even plans on how to execute but keep waiting instead of taking action.
They often wait for all the odds to be in their favor or for a special event or day to finally get started to live their dreams.
Yet, here’s what happens in 99% of these cases:
That particular day or occasion never arrives. And while waiting for these unique moments, most aspiring entrepreneurs lose their vision and slowly start lacking the motivation to get started at all.
If we’d be more courageous and simply started instead of making endless pro-contra lists, thousands of additional amazing businesses would be serving their customers every year.
Don’t wait for a particular day, event, or weather condition to follow your dreams. Just start.
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it.”
The whole work of Simon Sinek is dedicated to teaching how to inspire people.
In fact, inspired people are those who deliver excellent results. Intrinsically motivated people are the ones who create fantastic products, offer outstanding customer service, and, eventually, build lasting businesses.
However, it also works the other way: You can inspire people to buy your products and work with you.
Inspiration, at its core, is the primary driver of significant relationships in business, but also in other parts of our lives. We invest in our partnerships when we feel inspired by those around us. We invest in sports clubs when they inspire and motivate us, no matter if we’re on the field or just watching.
Through modern marketing techniques and the application of psychological models, it’s easier than ever before to manipulate people. Yet, to build lasting businesses and relationships, all we need is inspiration.
And I sincerely believe that businesses who operate through manipulating people sooner or later fade away anyway. You can’t build a strong company and reliable relationships without a solid foundation.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”
Many people start their own businesses thinking they’d work less if they are the boss.
Yet, most of the time, the opposite turns out to be true: If you’re passionate about your business, you’ll work even more, probably much more, than in a 9-to-5 job. And the funny thing is that it won’t even feel like work because it will be fun.
I started my entrepreneurial journey at the age of 19, and I was lucky to start it together with my boyfriend.
90% of our first 100 dates were hustle dates dedicated to building a business that would later allow us to live our dreams.
Now, I’m 22 years old, and I bet I worked more during the past three years than almost anyone my age.
But I never had to.
I’m doing all the work because I’m passionate about what I’m doing and because I love the hustle.
Of course, I also need to get shit done that I’m not passionate about but if you love the majority of the work you’re doing and more importantly, if you know why you’re doing it, getting some annoying things done every now and then doesn’t matter that much.
“Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.”
If I’d read that quote before starting my entrepreneurial journey, I probably wouldn’t have started at all.
I hate uncertainty. I love plans, strategies, and tactics. And even though these are important, they are often redundant.
In entrepreneurship, just like in life overall, you can hardly plan ahead.
Just take the COVID-19 pandemic as an example: So many businesses went bankrupt, people lost their jobs, and families are struggling to pay their bills. Life is not predictable, and doing business is even more unforeseeable.
Make plans, know your numbers, be strategic but always be ready to pivot once things don’t go as planned.
“If you want to achieve anything in this world, you have to get used to the idea that not everyone will like you.”
So many new entrepreneurs and especially creatives, get discouraged once they start getting negative feedback.
I experienced the same myself: The more I succeed, the more negative voices I hear, and admittedly, it’s not always easy to ignore criticism. But sometimes that’s the only way to keep going.
Not all feedback is valuable feedback. Some people, especially in the online world, just want to leave negativity everywhere they go. It’s not understandable, but it’s the sad truth.
If you have a great vision and want to achieve some big goals, you need to ignore these voices.
Already more than 2,000 years ago, Aristotle stated the following famous quote:
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
Don’t try to avoid criticism. Practice self-reflection, know your goals and values, and just accept the fact that great ideas and people attract haters and criticism, no matter how good you are.
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