GA 076 | The Courage to Lead with Simon Sinek

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Today’s episode is one of our most exciting yet. I had the privilege of interviewing Simon Sinek, whose 2009 TED talk has been viewed over 23 million times. Author of two best-selling books, Simon provided some truly life-changing insights on lean, human behavior, marketing strategy, and much more. This is definitely an episode to share.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here or you can also access the interview via the video below.

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 In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How Simon prepared for his famous 18-minute TED talk (3:19)
  • What problems Simon is trying to solve (4:01)
  • How Simon came up with the concept of the “Golden Circle” (5:19)
  • Why Simon started studying brain science (6:21)
  • All about “Whys” (8:06)
  • How Simon’s work applies to more than just knowledge workers (10:17)
  • The problem with the term “lean” (13:13)
  • What Simons finds the most interesting about people discovering their “Whys” (19:30)
  • Why people need to be reminded to start with “Why” (20:51)
  • How to make employees feel safe during times of change (22:34)
  • Simon’s advice for those on a lean journey (25:10)
  • The book Simon has written that he is most proud of (28:45)
  • What’s next for Simon (29:54)
  • Simon’s final words of wisdom (30:57)

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Full Written Transcript

Gemba Academy Podcast Episode 76

The Courage to Lead with Simon Sinek

Ron Pereira:  You’re listening to episode 76, with Simon Sinek.

[background music]

Announcer:  Welcome to the Gemba Academy podcast, the show that’s focused on helping individuals and companies achieve breakthrough results. Using the same continuous improvement principles leveraged by companies such as Toyota, Del Monte and the US Department of Defense.

Now, here’s your host, Ron Pereira.

Ron:  Hey there, this is Ron Pereira. I’d like to welcome you to another edition of the Gemba Academy podcast.

As always, thank you so much for taking time out of your day and your week to listen to the show. And for watching our Lean and Six Sigma training videos over at gembaacademy.com.

We definitely appreciate each and every one of you.

[background music stops]

Ron:  Now then, I’m so excited for today’s show, since I was fortunate enough to recently interview Simon Sinek, who you may know is the man behind the famous “Why?” video, as you’ll hear us talk about.

This particular 18‑minute TED Talk video has been viewed more than 23 million times. Heck, I bet I’ve watched the video more than 50 times myself.

Simon has also written two must-read books, “Start With Why,” and most recently, “Leaders Eat Last.” We’ll link to these books in the show notes, and we’ll also link to Audible, where you can access these books in audio format, if that’s how you like to consume books. Just go to gembapodcast.com/76 to get those links.

During the show, Simon and I cover lots of ground, which includes Simon sharing a rather strong opinion about the term “lean” itself. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so you’re going to have to listen to the show to hear what he said.

Now, we talk about many other things, everything from that TED talk video to how he discovered certain things about the various books and talks that he’s given. Simon’s just a fascinating guy and I just know you’re going to love the show. Please buckle in and be sure to listen to the whole thing.

Lastly, I’d really appreciate it if you could share a link to this particular episode with at least five other people, since Simon’s message really needs to reach as many people as possible.

The show notes for this episode can be found over at gembapodcast.com/76. That’s seven six for 76, so gembapodcast.com/76.

Enough from me. Let’s get to the show.

[music]

Ron:  Simon, thank you for taking time to come onto the show. I know you’re very busy, I really appreciate you taking time to visit with us.

Simon Sinek:  Oh, my pleasure.

Ron:  Yesterday, I was finalizing my notes for today’s call and I jumped over to TED.com and I looked up your famous “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” video. I think I’ve watched it a few thousand times.

But I saw that it’s up to 23 million views. That blew my mind a little bit. I’m just curious, could you have ever imagined when you did that 18‑minute talk, that it would go on to be one of the most watched Ted Talks of all time?

Simon: No, of course not. Nobody can plan for that. People ask me all the time, they’re like, “How are you going to do another Ted Talk as popular as your first?” And the answer is I’m not. [laughs]

I didn’t plan for that to happen, so I certainly can’t plan to beat it.

Ron:  I’m curious, how did you prepare for that talk? Had you done that particular talk before?

Simon:  I had been giving that talk in an hour, an hour and a half version for about three years prior. What I didn’t think was possible was to communicate the message in 18 minutes.

Ron:  [laughs] Yes.

Simon:  When they asked me to do it, I thought, “That’s not possible.” Of course, that’s not an option. Yeah, I guess it works.

Ron:  It definitely works, yeah. It’s one of my favorite videos of all time. Actually, we saw you at the AME Conference last year in Florida. That was brilliant, as well.

I don’t know if you remember that, but that was great. The first question I have for you is I’m curious, as it relates to your work, what problems are you trying to solve?

Simon:  The discovery of the “Why,” for me, solved a very personal problem. I’d lost my passion for what I was doing, and the process of discovering my “Why” restored my passion to levels I’d never experienced before.

It was only in learning more about it and the biology of human decision making did I realize that this is not some management idea, but this is literally the biology of how our brains work, how we make decisions, how we live our lives, how we run organizations.

My work all contributes to this idea that we’re all entitled to be passionate about the work that we do. Fulfillment, inspiration is not a luxury but a privilege. It’s not for the few people who get to say, “I love my job,” and the rest of us go, “Oh, you’re so lucky.”

Everybody gets to say that, and we get to demand from our leaders that they provide environments that we want to come and work in and feel inspired to work in every day.

Ron:  I can’t help but think of Barry‑Wehmiller as one of the best at doing exactly what you just said. Perhaps we can explore that later in the show.

First, I want to talk a little bit about the golden circle, Simon. You first shared the golden circle in that Ted Talk that I mentioned earlier.

You taught us that while knowing what we do and how we do it is important, the most critical thing we can understand is why we do what we do. I’m interested to know, how did you arrive at the idea of the golden circle? Was it through research or some sort of self‑discovery?

Simon:  It was an evolutionary idea. It’s not like I sat in a room and just popped it out. It originally began as an idea where I wanted to understand why some marketing works and some marketing doesn’t.

I came from a marketing world, and I was always astounded by how I could take the same team and put them on one client or a different client, and we’d have completely different results, even though, I had the same brilliant people working on it.

I realized there was a pattern to how good marketing works, and I wrote it down, and it was that order.

It wasn’t until I started to learn about the biology, which came a little later, did bells and lights start flashing. I realized this wasn’t about how marketing works, this is about how we live our lives, and that’s when things started to make sense.

Ron:  In “Leaders Eat Last,” you explored a topic of brain science and why things like dopamine and oxytocin play such a critical role in human behavior. How did you come to study this?

Simon:  I’m not a researcher, per se. I’m not an academic, but I am a little kid. I have an insatiable curiosity to understand why things work and why things do the things they do, in all aspects of my life. I get on a plane, I want to understand how a wing works and a jet engine works. It’s just how I am.

I went on a trip to Afghanistan as a guest of the United States Air Force, and everything on our trip went wrong. It was a very intense experience and would observe these remarkable human beings around me who trusted each other with their lives.

As I like to say, we give medals to people in the military who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain, where in the private sector, we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that we may gain. I realized it was completely different to the world I was brought up in, in the private sector in business.

It was no other reason than I just wanted to understand where trust came from. Are they actually more trustworthy people? Is that really what it is? That doesn’t sound right.

When you start asking these questions about why trust exists in some organizations and not others, it necessarily takes you back to our anthropological beginnings and makes you forced to understand the environments for which we were designed to survive in.

That’s where it all began. It came from my desire to be around more people to trust. Like I said, all my work is semi‑autobiographical, it was my own struggle.

Ron:  Yeah, I hear you. Obviously, you teach the importance of understanding our “Why.” In other words, what’s our cause? What’s our purpose? Why do we do what we do? My question is, is any “Why” okay, or are some “Whys” better than others? In other words, is there a North Star that should be guiding us?

Simon:  No, because it’s subjective. All “Whys” are positive. People say, “That guy’s a negative ‘Why.’” Nope, all “Whys” are positive. The other thing is all “Whys” have nothing to do with the product or service that you sell or offer, and you only have one. People are like, “We have four ‘Whys.’”

I’m like, “No, you don’t. You have one ‘Why.’ It’s the sum total of who you are, how you were raised, the lessons you learned as a young person, and the rest of your life simply serves as an opportunity to either live in or out of balance with your ‘Why.’”

It’s the same with an organization. A “Why” is why was the organization founded? What problem was it attempting to solve? The founders, what vision did they have? It’s an origin story. There’s no such thing as a North‑Star “Why” objectively. This is why a “Why” is important, because your “Why” may resonate with some people and not others.

That’s the point of stating and knowing your “Why,” which is you want to attract the people who believe what you believe, and you want to be attracted to the people who believe what you believe. That’s why when we listen to political races, we want our leaders or our would‑be leaders to tell us what they believe, not just what they’d do.

When we hear what they believe, we want to align ourselves with those who share our beliefs and that we trust that they will do the things to uphold those beliefs. The same is true in a company. We want to know what the company stands for, why they do what they do so that we can devote ourselves and our energies to helping them advance that cause.

Otherwise, it’s just a job, just a series of transactions. I do work, you pay me money. It’s a transactional relationship.

Ron:  If you could just take a rough swag at a percentage of companies that have done a great job of identifying their “Why,” what would you think it would be?

Simon:  Under 10 percent.

Ron:  Really? [laughs]

Simon:  Yeah.

Ron:  Wow, that’s pretty scary, really, isn’t it?

Simon:  I see opportunity. [laughs]

Ron:  You have job security, Simon, I guess. [laughs]

Simon:  That’s depressing, isn’t it? I’d like to work myself out of a job. I talk about trust and cooperation. There should be no demand for my work.

Ron:  That’s true, yes. How does your work apply to people who, let’s say, aren’t knowledge workers, or perhaps they’re not even leaders of people?

In other words, say, some person listening to this right now hates their retail job or their factory job. Can they get value out of the golden circle and finding their “Why” just as individuals?

Simon:  Oh my goodness, of course. It has nothing to do with the work that we do. It has to do with the people with whom we work. We are social animals, and we respond to the environments we’re in. You take a good person, you put them in a bad environment, they’re capable of doing bad things.

You take a person that maybe others have given up on, they may have even performed bad acts, you put them in a good environment, they’re capable of becoming remarkable human beings.

I think people in the knowledge business world suffer from hubris and terrible ethnocentrism, that, “I can’t imagine someone who works in a factory would actually be happy.” That’s because they think happiness is equated with the work that you do, which is nonsense. Happiness and joy are equated with the people with whom we work.

If we feel trusted then we love going to work, regardless of the work that we do. We’ve all helped our friends move, and it’s been a joyous experience. Lifting boxes, carrying them, and putting them on a truck is not a joyous experience, but serving and taking care of our friends is.

We’ve all been on our hands and knees trying to help someone build IKEA furniture. It’s a pretty awful job, it’s a pretty awful task, but we enjoy it and we say yes because of the joy of helping our friends or having the joy of our friends helping us. It’s terribly, terribly pompous to think that because the work is unglamorous that you can’t have joy.

I can tell you, I’ve met factory workers and people who are in the stone crushing business who were way happier, way more inspired, and way more fulfilled than somebody who works for a tech company or a bank.

Ron:  I don’t know how much you’ve studied the Lean movement that we work in, but one of the principles that we teach is Respect for People. What you’re saying is so true. It doesn’t matter if you sweep floors or you’re the CEO, we all have inherent respect, and we should all take care of one another and help each other.

Simon:  We’re all cogs in a machine. Some of them have a more visible role, like the hands on the front of the clock, and some of them are more hidden, but every piece in that machine needs to work and feel valued and valuable. Otherwise, things break. That’s just the way it works. That’s why we refer to companies as “well‑oiled machines.”

As you know from the Toyota experience, Lean has nothing to do with efficiency. Lean has everything to do with people. The biggest mistake the Americans made bringing the Toyota process to America was calling it Lean.

Ron:  [laughs] I didn’t know how much you really knew about the Lean movement, Simon, I have a whole new army of questions for you. I’m fascinated to hear you say that.

Simon:  Americans turned it into a tool for efficiency, and that’s never what it was supposed to be. There are zero, zero examples of an American company successfully implementing Lean when they do it as a tool for efficiency. Zero. How good can a process be if there are zero examples of success?

When it’s used as a people tool, it’s used for a tool for helping people respect each other, and helping each other, and kaizen moments where you can help someone else solve the problem that they’re suffering. You can take an accountant, and ask them to look at this machine, and say, “Do you see something that I’m not seeing?”

It’s about cooperation, not efficiency. Efficiency may come out of the cooperation, as will profit and innovation, but the motivation is human. It’s not a metric.

Ron:  Back in the ’80s, when Dr. Womack and these guys were traveling around Japan, and it’s actually John Krafcik who coined the term Lean.

If you had been sitting in that room, and you were on that research team working around and looking at why are these guys so good, and you’re trying to come up with a name to call this, what would you have said?

Simon:  This is the challenge when you have economists and these guys doing the research, because they’re looking at the results. If you had social scientists and anthropologists doing the research, they would have named it something else.

They would have called it teaming, or they would have called it cooperation, or they would have called it trust, or they would have called it community, because that’s how Japanese companies operate. You give your life to the company, but the company offers you equal loyalty to them.

Ron:  Have you been to Japan?

Simon:  I have.

Ron:  What do you take from their culture, versus, say, the traditional Western culture?

Simon:  Look, there are things that work in their favor, and there are things that they will struggle with.

There’s no such thing as a perfect system. Every system is balanced and has its strengths and has its weaknesses. Some of our strengths are their weaknesses, and some of their weaknesses are our strengths.

Europe is the same way. One of the things that I love about America is we have an entrepreneurial spirit that Europe doesn’t have. For example, if you start a business in America and you fail, there’s no humiliation in that. Everybody’s like, “Cool, nice try. Way to go.”

In Europe, if you try to start a business and you fail, it comes with humiliation and maybe even get ostracized from a community simply because you’re viewed as a failure.

You look at the number of patents and crazy innovations that happen in America. It’s because this culture is less afraid of trial and failure as opposed to other societies. Again, it’s not a better or worse thing.

America has its other weaknesses, which is sometimes we go too quickly, and we’re blazing a trail, and we’re not looking where we’re going. Being comfortable with those kinds of things comes with its own set of liabilities that the Europeans don’t have. They have an element of stability that we don’t have.

My point is to compare one culture to another and ask which is better or worse is a fool’s errand. To find out why they do what they do and the natural strengths that align themselves with one culture to another, I think it makes us better qualified and better able to choose where we want to live, and where we want to work, and how to operate in those societies.

Look at the industries that a certain country will dominate if you want to understand their culture. The Germans, it’s all about engineering. Not a lot of passion there, but my goodness, things work well. The opposite is Italy. Oh my God, it’s passion up the wazoo, but things don’t always work that well. It’s not better or worse.

A Porsche is different than a Ferrari. One is an engineering marvel and the other one is a marvel of, or a Lamborghini, of passion and love.

What you’re putting your finger on is the importance of understanding why, because then, we can understand how to work with these organizations, work with these people, work inside these countries. Also, better direct our own careers so that we will live and work in a place in which we can naturally thrive.

Will you naturally thrive in Los Angeles, or will you naturally thrive in New York? That same obvious question, because you understand the culture of New York versus LA, is true from company to company.

Will you natural thrive in the culture of company X, or will you naturally thrive in the culture of company Y? It’s not a better or worse thing, it’s just a different thing.

Ron:  How much have you studied the whole Toyota production system or the Lean movement?

Simon:  I would call myself a neophyte. I’m a beginner, and I probably understand things superficially, especially, compared to you and your community.

Ron:  It’s always fascinating, though, just the fact that you got the whole respect for people part.

I would say, sadly, a large percentage of my continuous improvement friends may say that, but they don’t always have that.

Simon:  There’s a lot to be said for marketing, and I wish they’d never called it Lean. It really has done huge damage to the value that the idea actually offers.

Ron:  I actually interviewed James Womack and his guys a few years ago, and they actually basically said the same thing.

If they had to do it over again, they probably would have chosen a different name, especially, when the word “manufacturing” is put at the end of it.

Then it’s like, “Well, I work in an office so these principles don’t apply to me,” or, “I work in a hospital,” and of course the principles apply to anyone no matter what kind of work you do, to my wife who stays at home with my children. These principles of respect, and helping, and finding value in things is…

Simon:  It needs to be re‑marketed, right? My friend Bob Chapman, who runs a company called Barry‑Wehmiller out in St. Louis, $2 billion company, 8,000 employees, they’ve implemented lean and they’ve done a very, very successful job of it, but they call it Truly Human Leadership.

Because they’ve re‑branded it, it is basically a lean journey. Everybody who learns the principles understands that it’s about helping each other, and it’s not just about metrics so that is a successful example of the implementation of lean, but they didn’t call it lean.

Ron:  Exactly. What’s the most unusual or surprising why that you’ve ever encountered?

Simon:  None of them are unusual or surprising. I tend to have a very agnostic view of these things.

The thing that is more interesting to me is how people react to it, and when you’re working with especially high‑performing organizations that have a lot of stuff already figured out, and they learn their why, and you see all the light bulbs start to fire and all the pieces click into place.

You literally see it on their face. You see click, click, click, click, and in an instant, they understand why things that worked worked, and why things that didn’t work didn’t work, and why frustrations happen. It’s an amazing thing to be in the room when it happens. You watch someone have an epiphany.

It’s a beautiful thing, especially for the very leader‑minded people out there. It super charges them and gives them this incredible sense of calm. It’s an amazing thing to see, quite frankly.

Ron: Yeah I recently gave a talk where I told the story of a man who experienced one of these same awakenings during a weeklong Kaizen event. It’s so humbling to witness one of those situations.

Simon, why do you think we need to be reminded to start with why? Shouldn’t it be common sense?

Simon:  I think one of the biggest liabilities to “Why” is those who know it think everybody else understands it as clearly as they do, and those who don’t know it don’t know to stop and look for it.

At the end of the day, we wake up every day, and we go to bed every day, and it’s what happens in between that seems to preoccupy our attention.

At the end of the day, we don’t wake up in the morning and say, “What does five years look like from now?” We’re visual animals, and we’re often motivated by short‑term gains, and that necessarily forces us sometimes to take our eye off our long‑term goals and visions.

I think what why does is it keeps up focused on the whole picture. The way I like to describe the why is when you do a jigsaw puzzle, the first thing you do is you lean the box against the wall, and then, you start putting the pieces together.

Now, you could do the jigsaw puzzle without the box against the wall, but it’s much more difficult, and it really is, on a short‑term basis, each piece connecting to each piece.

That’s about as good as you can do. What the why is, it’s the picture on the box, and sometimes, you put your head down, but every now and then, you have to look up, and you double‑check the short‑term gains you’re making to the bigger picture. The “Why” is the picture on the box, that’s what it is, and the what is putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

What we often do is go to work to put pieces of puzzles together with no concept of the picture that we’re trying to build.

Ron:  In addition to all the “Why” work that you’ve done, you’ve also spent a lot of time, especially recently, I think, on the importance of making people feel safe.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on how leaders of people can create this circle of safety in a work environment, where perhaps there’s restructuring, or business transformation, or maybe process changes that could be brought on by things such as continuous improvement.

How do we go about that when things are changing within the organization, not necessarily headcount reduction or anything like that, but change is difficult for anyone, so how do we go about that?

Simon:  I’m tired of listening to people tell me that people fear change. No, they don’t. What people fear is sudden change, what people fear is big change, what people fear is change without context, so effective change, it’s about evolution, not revolution, because revolution is sudden, and violent, and there’s always a counter revolution.

Evolutionary change is sticky, and it lasts, and that doesn’t mean it has to decades, but it can take months instead of days. Change that has context, which is everybody understands the “Why,” everybody understands the vision, everybody understands the picture on the box and understands that we have to make this change in order to get closer to the vision that we have, and everybody goes, “Oh, I see. No problem.”

People are very comfortable with change when, A, they have context, B, it’s not sudden and unforeseen, and thirdly, when they feel safe within that change.

I think one of the main reasons people fear change in a modern business context is because layoffs is so heartily embraced as a means of balancing the books, people fear that any kind of change puts their job at risk.

Whereas, if we worked in an environment where we felt safe, where we felt that our leaders would sooner sacrifice the numbers to protect the people and never sacrifice the people to protect the numbers, if we worked in an environment where we felt that our leaders cared about us as human beings, they didn’t engage in conversations about head counts, because they viewed heart counts.

This is what Bob Chapman does. He thinks about heart counts. It’s hard to reduce a heart count, and if we worked in that environment when our leaders say that there’s going to be change, we say, “How can we help?” rather than hunkering down. So change is only negative, and only bad, and only faces resistance when we don’t understand the context and we don’t trust the people.

Ron:  There’s a lot of continuous improvement practitioners listening to this podcast right now, and I’m curious from you, you gave us some great advice on the name, that’s duly noted, but what other advice do you have for us people who are out trying to do what Barry‑Wehmiller and these organizations have done, but perhaps we’re not as far along on that journey?

Simon:  It takes courage, and the courage of leadership is the willingness to do the right thing, even though there’s no guarantee that there’s going to be success. For example, somebody on this journey would never say to somebody, “I will give you more responsibility if you prove to me that you can handle more responsibility.” That’ll never happen.

In an organization that undertakes this journey, just like a parent who says, “You know what? I think you’re ready to take the training wheels off,” even though the kid may be too afraid, a good leader looks at their people and says, “You know what? I think you’re ready for more responsibility even if you don’t think you’re ready for it.”

They just let the person try, and sometimes, it doesn’t go right, and sometimes, we gave them too much responsibility too soon, and that’s on us, not on them, but no person should have to prove that they’re worthy of trust, for example. Leaders simply extend trust.

The example that comes to mind is, again, Bob Chapman. When he bought a new factory and he started implementing some of these things, he recognized that the way they treated the people on the factory floor and they way they treated the people in the management office were different.

If you wanted supplies and you worked as an accountant, you just went and opened the supply closet and took out whatever you needed. If you worked in the factory and you wanted supplies, you had to go to the locked cage and have somebody else who works in the cage sign out the parts for you.

He thought that was ridiculous, he took all the cages down and got rid of all the locks, got rid of the person who works in the cage, and now, if you needed something, you went and signed it out yourself. He made no grand pronouncements and he asked for something in return. That’s called leadership.

I think, quite frankly, the single most important…I get asked this all the time, “What are the qualities and characteristics of all great leaders?” “Charisma. Vision.” I know some great leaders who aren’t that charismatic, and I know some spectacular leaders who don’t have big Steve Jobs‑ian visions. They have maybe much smaller visions, but they’re still great leaders.

One thing I can say without a doubt that all the great leaders that I’ve ever met all possess is courage. It’s really, really hard, and the risks are real, and if you stand up and say, “I’m going to lead properly,” that means you have to give away credit when good things happen and you have to take responsibility when bad things happen, and that’s not for everyone. That’s a huge pill to swallow, and it can only be done when you have somebody who’s got your back.

Leadership is a very, very, very lonely, lonely experience. It can be anyway, and when you go on the leadership journey, I strongly recommend going on it with someone, whether it’s someone inside the organization or outside the organization and you choose to go on it together, let’s do this.

Let’s both learn how to do this, and when you have a mom and a dad, when you have a Roy Disney and a Walt Disney, when there’s that George Balanchine, Lincoln Kirstein, whatever your combination is of the visionary and the builder, and they trust each other, and they care about each other, and they go on the journey together, that’s how you implement these big transitions.

That’s how you go on the lean journey. You can’t do it alone.

Ron:  I have a few just random questions that I’ve got to ask, because I don’t know if I’ll get to talk to you again, Simon, to be honest.

Simon:  Go for it.

Ron:  What Simon Sinek book are you most proud of?

Simon:  I am very proud of “Leaders Eat Last.”

Ron:  I didn’t want to say it’s my favorite, but… [laughs] I also…

Simon:  “Start With Why” is simple and elegant, and it’s a foundation, but “Leaders Eat Last” is really a mature…I find it to be a mature, much more…it’s a much deeper piece of work, and it was much, much, much more difficult to write. “Start With Why” I had to just get out of me, but “Leaders Eat Last” was an extraction. It was…I’m proud of that work.

Ron:  My story with Leaders Eat Last, we were actually on a long road trip, my family and I, and I’ve got a bunch of kids so it gets a little noisy, I put the headphones on and I listened to it through Audible.

The beginning, when you’re telling the story of the fighter pilots and all this, oh, it was so incredible, Simon, and then I read it, because I actually prefer reading over listening, but I also read it. Very good. Very good work.

Simon:  Thank you.

Ron:  One last question, you led on to it, is what’s next for Simon? Do you have more books in the works?

Simon:  Yeah, there’s another book in the works. It’s coming out next April. The working title is “Together is Better.”

Ron:  “Together is Better.”

Simon:  “Together is Better.” It might change, who knows, but that comes out next April and I’m really excited about that.

It’s going really well. It’s a really beautiful piece of work, and we’ve designed it to be delightful. That’s what we want it to be. We want it to be delightful, so that’s happening.

Really, I’ve spent the better half of 10 years preaching this thing called the “Why,” and talking about purpose, and really creating demand for these things, and now that there’s demand for it, I’m looking to partner with people and working with people to now bring product to bear so that people can actually implement this stuff.

Now that people know about it, and want it, and understand the value of it, now people are saying, “Well, how do I do it?” We want to answer that question, that’s really exciting.

Ron:  Wonderful. I can’t wait to read it, and listen to it, and all the rest of it. Simon, I could talk to you for hours, but I want to be respectful of your time.

Let’s just go ahead and wrap this show up with perhaps you just sharing some final words of wisdom, and then, why don’t you tell people how they can connect with you on social media or any other website that you have?

Simon:  Sure. Thanks very much. This is a very personal journey for me. These ideas that I talk about and write about, as I said before, are things that help me better understand my position in the world, and the way in which I operate in the world, and the way in which I interact with people, and what I learned was that the solutions I came up with for myself worked for others, too, so I made the choice that I would share them with as many people as who would listen.

Leadership is a thing about giving. Leaders are the givers, not the takers, and every single one of us has the opportunity to be the leader we wish we had, and it’s the most remarkable journey.

Sometimes it’s thankless, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s lonely, and like being a parent, the joy you get from being a leader is seeing that your people grow up to become something bigger and more than you ever could have imagined you could have done for yourself, and you sit back, and you say it was all worth it. I want as many people as possible to experience the joy of that journey.

It really is amazing, not to mention the remarkable world that we can build around us when we ask others to help us. It’s people like you who I consider we’re all working from different sides of the same coin. I’m out there. My job in the metaphorical jigsaw puzzle is to point to the box and remind people to keep looking at the box.

“Hey, guys, don’t forget the picture on the box. Hey, guys, don’t forget the picture on the box.” What you’re doing, by teaching people about Lean and the Lean journey, is a way to do the jigsaw puzzle. The companies that are actually doing it well are pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that are making our picture come to life, and we all play a role.

It’s important for us to work together, shoulder‑to‑shoulder, to build that vision that we all share. Thanks very much for giving me a forum to share my ideas, and I’m proud to march shoulder‑to‑shoulder with you.

Ron:  Thank you. How can people connect with you?

Simon:  All the usual places, Twitter, Facebook. Our website is startwithwhy.com, and we have a bunch of free stuff on there and a “Why” Discovery Course on there.

We have these little things called “Notes to Inspire” that you can sign up for to get a little dose of inspiration in your mailbox every morning. Lots of fun stuff to help advance the cause.

Startwithwhy.com is the place to go.

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Ron:  Thank you again, Simon. I really appreciate it. You’ve made a huge impact on my life. Not just as a business professional, but I feel like I’m a better husband, and father, and friend because of you, so thank you.

Simon:  That means a lot. Thank you, Ron.

Ron:  Take care, and hope to meet you in person one day.

Simon:  I look forward to it.

Announcer:  Thanks for listening to the Gemba Academy Podcast. Now, it’s time to take a free, no‑strings‑attached, fully‑functional test drive of Gemba Academy’s School of Lean and Six Sigma over at gembaacademy.com.

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[music]

 

What Do You Think?

Based on this introduction to Simon’s work, what do you think your “Why” is? What does the picture on the puzzle box look like for you and/or your organization?

1 Comment

  1. Karsten

    September 19, 2015 - 9:42 am

    Thank you so much, Ron, for bringing on Simon!

    I am deeply impressed and inspired by his teaching and how he keeps his curiosity vividly alive!

    You reminded me to pop his books onto my Audio book stack. Now I can’t wait for the next travel.