Organizational success starts with one simple word: Why?

In 2009, Simon Sinek presented a piece in the TED Talks series entitled “How great leaders inspire action.” During his presentation, Sinek questions why some organizations and individuals are more successful or innovative than others, despite having access to similar resources, whether human, material and financial. In some cases, as he points out, organizations with little or no resources have actually proven more successful than others that are rich and well connected. But why?

As it turns out, “why” is exactly the right place to start. Sinek goes on to explain his theory of what dictates an individual’s or organization’s ultimate success or failure, summed up in a simple rule dubbed the “Golden Circle.”

What is the Golden Circle Rule?

While most organizations tend to focus on what they do or how they do it, few are those that try (or know how) to explain why they do it:

This type of communication often falls flat, without creating the desired change in behavior in others. Rather, Sinek maintains that inspirational organizations start off by explaining why they do what they do, only then linking it to what they do and how they do it: in explaining why, organizations successfully attract people with similar beliefs, purpose and motivation. As Sinek notes, “people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.”


Sinek goes on to explain that this rule holds true for all organizations, regardless of their size or sector of activity. In comparing the Golden Circle Rule with the biological composition of the human brain, Sinek convincingly supports the idea that true innovation rests not in action alone, but starts first and foremost with beliefs and purpose.

During his talk, Sinek provides compelling examples of inspirational individuals and organizations, such as Martin Luther King Jr., the Wright brothers and Apple. Through these examples, he demonstrates how beliefs serve to bring people together, expand communications and networks, and ultimately inspire and innovate. So, to inspire those around you, he concludes, always “start with why.”

This is a fascinating talk that will surely have you thinking about why your organization does what it does. It may even change how you communicate your organization’s message. Watch it here: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

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