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Start With Why

SIMON SINEK
2009

These notes were taken from a number of Simon's popular online videos.

Brain Chemicals and Leadership
  • Happiness, joy, and love are chemically produced feelings from four main drugs:
    • Endorphines
    • Dopamine
    • Serotonin
    • Oxytocin
  • These chemicals are designed to help us work together.
  • Endorphines are designed to mask physical pain, and can be addictive.
  • Dopamine is triggered when a goal is accomplished. It is addictive, and is behind addictions such as alcoholism and also frontal lobe disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorders. It is dangerous if un-balanced.
  • Serotonin and Oxytocin are not as “selfish” as Endorphines and Dopamine. These help us feel safe.
  • The job of leaders is to build an environment of safety, so that as we stand together we can face the dangerous outside us.
  • The first job of leaders is to determine who gets in the circle of safety, what are our values and goals. Secondly, to decide how big the circle is.
  • Serotonin is the leadership chemical – of pride and status, public recognition, and forms an important part of relationship building.
  • Serotonin has been tricked in our society and forms the basis of materialism and status. These are not truly satisfying as these do not generally foster relationship.
  • The benefit of status is that the “alpha” male gets the best food, and the opportunity to mate with the “alpha” female. These are survival strategies. We have no problem giving the best to the “alpha”.
  • Leadership comes at a cost – when danger threatens, the leader is expected to run towards the danger. To put others before themselves.
  • Oxytocin is the feeling of love, trust, friendship, the company of others. This can be triggered by physical human contact, and also by acts of human generosity. Oxytocin can also be released by witnessing acts of kindness.
  • The more Oxytocin in the body, the more we want to do more acts of kindness. It also inhibits addiction, boosts immune system, and enhances creativity.
  • Cortisol is the feeling of stress and anxiety. It is designed to keep us alive, the first stage of fight or flight.
  • Cortisol shuts down unnecessary systems such as growth and the immune system to increase energy to handle the situation. It is supposed to be temporary.
  • What makes one a leader is putting oneself out to make a safe environment for others.
  • To beat a Dopamine addiction, help others to beat it. this releases Serotonin and inhibits Dopamine production.
How to Find Your Why
  • You are a leader when you have one thing – followers
  • To have followers you either manipulate them or inspire them.
  • Plenty of marketing use manipulation, but this does not engender loyalty.
  • All companies know “what they do” – the services and products they offer. Most know “How they do it” – value proposition, IP, things that you think make you stand out from the crowd. Very few organisations know “Why they do what they do”. What is the purpose?
  • Standout companies work from the “why” and inspire.
  • To make this work companies need to know clearly the “Why”, they need discipline and accountability to implement “How”, and consistently prove the “why” through everything they do – authenticity.
  • Authenticity is important because when we are authentic, we attract like-minded people.
  • Trust is important for survival, so we are hard-wired for it.
  • The Law of Diffusion of Innovation: The innovators (0.5%) and early adopters (13.5%) are a minority, but they are comfortable buying a new product based on their gut feeling. The rest of the population are more cynical or practical (34% + 34%). So to get to long term success, a product should appeal to the early adopters. If it reaches this 15% tipping point, the mass market will take hold.
  • If we do not know the “Why” for a goal, we can get caught up in the route.
Know What You Want
  • Entrepreneur: Sees what they want and sets out to get it. A non-entrepreneur sees what prevents them from getting what they want.
Life is an Infinite Game
  • Game Theory has two games: finite and infinite. A finite game (like baseball) has known players, known rules, and known goals. An infinite game has known and unknown players, the rules are changeable, and the goal is to perpetuate the game.
  • There are no winners or losers in an infinite game (eg Cold War). Players drop out when they lose the will or resources to continue to play.
  • When a finite players plays an infinite player (Vietnam) the finite player ends up in a quagmire and drops out of the game.
  • The goal of the infinite player is to outlast the competition by being the best they can. They are not focussed on the competitors.
  • Most organisations play the finite game.
  • Great organisations make value-based decisions, then the finite interests come into play. By looking at the tangible interests, we should be able to see the values behind them that support the “Why” of the company.

Find out more at startwithwhy.com


© 2020 Cedric Joyce