Speaker Spotlight – Simon Sinek on the Power of Answering WHY


Ask yourself: Why do we trust? Why are we loyal?  From answering WHY we do things, can we influence others to join us?

The question of “why” is small on its surface, but it invites an infinite possibility of answers.

Have you ever asked yourself why it is you work for the employer that you do? Or asked yourself why you choose a particular product or company over another? Do you work only for a paycheck, or do you believe in “making a difference” or “loving what you do?” Do you spend your paycheck on things that you care little about, or do your purchases speak to your deeply rooted beliefs and reinforce that why you do things matters?


In a 2009 presentation from TED.com, entitled, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek outlines the concept of leading your business strategies with the causes and beliefs that form your reason for doing things — rather than the products or services themselves. He describes how most customers don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.

Sinek frames his concept of WHY to help you take a new perspective on what drives success and meaningful communication. Is it enough to say that you treat patients or develop tests? Per Sinek, thought leaders follow only those individuals or companies they believe in, and belief stems only from sharing in the passion that drives the WHY? Applying the concept to business, Sinek outlines a domino effect whereby early adopters ignite a movement that the masses follow — all based on WHY.

Consider this example.

If you are a medical professional, you’re in it to save lives or to make life better for your patients and their families. The medical center across town advertises the lowest cost and the largest network of providers. Sound good? According to Sinek… not good enough. You save lives while the other place looks to trim the bottom line. You are making people healthy again by caring and tailoring care to patients’ needs. As a business, you also work to have the best costs and network, but the reason people keep coming back is because they want someone who cares about their health as much as they do.

Prometric exists to help you succeed. And we do that by creating and delivering the tests that improve your employees, your business, and your industry.


To illustrate the expansive conversation of WHY, Sinek sketches a diagram of three circles, forming a bull’s-eye he terms “The Golden Circle.” At the center, we have WHY. Rippling out from WHY are HOW and WHAT. Sinek’s advice, focus on WHY you act, and then build around it. How can you make your concept a reality, and what will it take to get there?

Sinek also stresses the power of repetition, of reminding your audience that you care and why. He repeats this key message, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

He provides a historical context and cites successful examples such as Apple and Martin Luther King, Jr., and ties in consumer studies to connect consumer behavior and the feelings associated with making the decision. To gain your greatest success, Sinek says, you must think, act, communicate and perform by starting with the WHY and ending with the WHAT.

After watching Sinek’s video, it’s time to ask yourself whether you believe in the “Start with Why” concept. If you do, can you answer the question?

To learn more about Simon Sinek, visit ted.com/speakers/simon_sinek or startwithwhy.com.