What do Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, and Walt Disney have in common?
They communicate differently.
According to Sinek, all people know well what they do, some people and companies know how they do it, but only a small percentage know why they do it.
This is where the difference lies.
Those who really achieve success are those who know well the why, and their communication always starts with the why.
The concept of the Golden Circle became known through Simon Sinek and since then, many marketers have used the author’s methodology as a guide for creating companies, ideas, or campaigns with purpose and value.
Starting by questioning why does the brand exist? What is the purpose? What is the cause? What is the dream? This is exactly what will differentiate them from other brands.
This is the basis of the Golden Circle.
Sinek has organised these questions into a very simple graph in the shape of a target, which indicates, from the centre outwards: why, how, and what.
The target shows, very simply, how companies and leaders should always think, act, and communicate from the inside out, starting with the why and ending with the what.
With the Golden Circle, brands are challenged to change how they see themselves and communicate.
The explanation of the Golden Circle is also biological, meaning that the brain has regions, just like the Golden Circle. The neocortex, the outermost part, is the part that concerns language and rational and analytical thinking.
It represents the “what?” of the Golden Circle.
The limbic system, on the other hand, located internally in the brain, is not related to language, but rather to emotions such as loyalty and trust and to decision-making behaviours. Here the “how” and the “why” are represented.
This is the biological reason we make less impact when we communicate from the outside in. We are not communicating with the emotional side first, so there is less engagement and empathy.
Let’s look at the example of Apple that Sinek used in the TED conference of 2009 entitled “How great leaders inspire action” to explain the concept of the golden circle and how he created it.
“If Apple were like everyone else, they would possibly use an advertising message like: “We make great computers with a sleek, user-friendly, intuitive design. Would you like to buy one?”
That’s how most people communicate.
It’s how most marketing is done and how most sales are made.
And it’s how we usually communicate.
We say what we do, how we are different or how we are better, and we expect a certain kind of behaviour, a purchase, a vote, something like that”, Sinek said.
If on the other hand, we say “in everything we do, we believe we’re challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. We challenge the status quo through elegant, user-friendly, intuitive design. We happen to make great computers. Would you like to buy one?”.
What’s the difference? There was only a reversal of the order of the factors. We start by answering the why, then the how, and only the what at the end.
The golden circle applies to your life, whether personal or professional.
Even at the team management level, the Golden Circle concept can be very useful, as it becomes much easier to work with like-minded teams.
In short, by applying this concept, it is possible to create more effective and inspiring communication, encouraging decision making.
“People don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it” – Simon Sinek
Recommended Readings by Simon Sinek:
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Leaders eat last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team
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