TEDxMaastricht – Simon Sinek – “First why and then trust”

TEDxMaastricht – Simon Sinek – “First why and then trust”


Translator: Rik Delaet
Reviewer: Diba Szamosi Thank you. Thank you very much. What I love about events like these is that it is not just people coming together to hear ideas. It’s that we all came here for the same reason. Every single one of us came here because we share something, we have similar values and similar beliefs and that’s the reason we showed up. We don’t know each other and yet we know something about each other. Now this is important, you see, because the very survival of the human race depends on our ability to surround ourselves with people who believe what we believe. When we’re surrounded by people who believe what we believe something remarkable happens: Trust emerges. Make no mistake of it, trust is a feeling, a distinctly human experience. Simply doing everything that you promise you’re going to do does not mean people will trust you. It just means you’re reliable. And we all have friends who are total screw ups and yet we still trust them. Trust comes from a sense of common values and beliefs. And the reason trust is important, is because when we are surrounded with people who believe what we believe, we’re more confident to take risks. We’re more confident to experiment, which requires failure, by the way. We are more confident to go off and explore knowing that there is someone from within our community, someone who believes what we believe, someone we trust and who trusts us, will watch our back, help us when we fall over and watch our stuff and look after our children while we’re gone. Our very survival depends on our ability to surround ourselves with people who believe what we believe. I’ll show you an example that freaks me out every time I talk about it. What is our most valuable possession on the planet? Our children, right? Our most valuable possession on the planet are our children. So let’s game out a scenario. Let’s imagine we’re going out on a date. So we require a babysitter. We’ve two options. Option number one: there’s a 16-year old from just down the street from within the community with barely, if any, babysitting experience. There’s a 32-year old who just moved into the neighbourhood — we don’t know from where — but she’s got 10 years of babysitting experience. Who do we choose? The 16-year old. Think about that for a second. We’d rather trust our children, our most valuable possession on the planet, with somebody from within our community with no experience over somebody with vast amounts of experience, but we’ve no idea where they’re from or what they believe. Then why do we do it differently at work? Why are we so preoccupied with somebody’s resumé and where they worked and what they’ve done for our competition. And yet we never seem to consider what they believe, where they’re from. How can we trust them? How can they trust us? The problem with most organizations, believe it or not, whether it’s a community or a culture. What’s a community? What’s a culture? It’s a group of people with a common set of values and beliefs, right? What’s a nation? It’s a group of people with a common set of values and beliefs. And the single biggest challenge that any culture or any organisation will ever face is it’s own success. When an organisation is founded… All organisations are founded on the same basic principle. There’s some sort of measurement, it’s often money but it could be anything. And there is time. And when an organisation is founded what they do and why they do it are inextricably linked. There is usually some founder or some small group of founders, that are able to put their vision into words. And their passion inspires others to come and join them in pursuit of something greater then all of themselves. And they trust their guts and off they go and it is an amazing experience. The problem is, as they grow, as what they do becomes more successful, they can no longer rely on themselves. They have to hire somebody who hires somebody who hires somebody who hires somebody… who has to make a decision. Based on what? And what they do starts to grow. That metric. The problem is why they do it starts to go fuzzy. And this is the biggest single challenge any organisation will face. It’s this thing right here, the thing that I call ‘the split’. Symptoms of the split inside an organisation are when stress goes up and passion goes down. Symptoms of split are things like when the old-timers, the people who were there from the founding, from the beginning start saying things like, “It’s not like it used to be. It doesn’t feel the same anymore.” They can’t quite put it into words, but hey know it’s not the same. Even though the organisation might be more successful than it ever was in the past, it’s just not the same. Other symptoms are when the organisation starts focussing more on what the competition is doing and worrying less about what they are doing. When they start asking outsiders, “Who should we be, how should we talk to you?” At the beginning they never asked anybody, they ran on their own passion, on their own energy. This is what happens in such organisations like Apple. In 1985 Steve Jobs left Apple and the company went like this and Steve Jobs came back. And Howard Schultz left Starbucks and Howard Schultz had to come back. And Michael Dell left Dell and Dell had to come back. Now whether they’re clear on their own whys now or not is yet to be seen. But the point is that these founders, these visionary guys physically embodied the reason, the cause around which people showed up in the first place and it reminds them why they come to work. Now, my fear is that one of my favourite organisations, an organisation that I love may be going through a split. United States of America. Maybe you’ve heard of it. (Laughter) It’s important to study America because like a lot of things happen in America everything there is exaggerated. So we can learn a lot of them and hopefully learn things that we can apply to ourselves. Something started to happen in 1947 that embodies this idea here. My grandparents’ generation was called the greatest generation, that’s what we called them, the greatest generation. Because here was a generation that went off to war to fight this great evil and everybody was united and unified in some sense of common cause and purpose and belief and trust was at an all time high. Even those who didn’t go off to war they were back and buying war bonds and everybody was one. And there were stories of young men who would commit suicide, they’d shoot themselves when they didn’t get called to action. We call them the greatest generation. What do I get? I’m genX, the unknown variable. They get the greatest generation, I get X. My parents are called the ‘boomers’. Why? Because their parents were ‘doing it’ when they came back from war. (Laughter) They get the greatest generation. This sense of purpose, this sense of cause, this sense of why. But then they came back from war and most of them had grown up during the Depression and they wanted now to experience life a bit, they wanted to buy some stuff and sort of, you know, care about themselves a little more. They had been giving so much their entire lives. And so the 1950’s came. And the 1950’s were defined by responsibility. Going out to give the same kind of loyalty to your company as you gave to your country or to the cause. And we know what the fifties were like. Everybody gave and you devoted your life to the company. The problem is, as we started to become more affluent and the wealth of the country started to grow that sense of purpose and that sense of cause and that sense of fulfilment and that sense of trust and that sense of happiness didn’t grow with it. And this is bad. This is confusing. And so, the 1960’s we responded to it. And we thought, “Well, this responsibility thing didn’t work, so let’s try irresponsibility.” Then the hippie movement was born, right? And the reason that the whole hippie movement could exist in the first place is because the country was wealthier, so we could afford for people to drop off the grid and our parents were wealthier, they were more affluent. So they could pay for us to do it. But we didn’t get that sense of fulfilment. So the pendulum swung again. And then we had the 1970’s, the ME-generation. Defined about looking after your own happiness. Everybody had his own guru, starting to become very selfish. That didn’t work either. And again the whole time we were becoming more affluent and more affluent and that sense of fulfilment and happiness and trust is not growing with it. And then the 1980’s. Still that sense of me, but now business was cool again. And in the 1980’s we started to see something that had never been seen before. In the 1980’s we started to see companies using people to balance the books. This has never happened before, where they would use lay-offs to make the numbers work. People to make numbers work. And then the 1990’s came by and dotcom, about the most selfish behaviour you could find. Everyone wanted to get rich regardless of anything else. And again, the split continues. The only thing that happens, the only thing that really grows in organisations and societies without going through a split is that distrust increases. We become distrustful of each other inside our own organisations, we become distrustful of management, we become distrustful of our politicians. And now we find ourselves here today wondering what to do next. How we gonna find a sense of fulfilment, technology is no help. Andy Grove, the founder of Intel said that the only thing that the microprocessor ever did was make things go faster. And he is right. And it is making this go faster as well. Don’t forget, technology is absolutely fantastic. For the exchange of information and the exchange of ideas, technology is absolutely wonderful for speeding transactions, it’s wonderful for resourcing and finding people, but it is terrible for creating human connections. You cannot form trust through the internet. There’s something called a mirror-neuron which they’ve recently discovered that is one of the things that contributes to how people relate to each other and how we empathize. It’s the feeling you get, it’s the same part of the brain that lights up — they did these pictures– they did MRIs. They gave people a picture of someone smiling. And then in our own brain, when we see someone smiling, the same part of the brain lights up when we smile. It’s what creates empathy and it is necessary to create trust. Again this very human bond. This is the reason why the video conference will never replace the business trip. You can’t get a good gut feeling over a video conference. I’m a big fan of the blogosphere. The bloggers think that the internet is the end all be all of the world. Then explain to me why once a year 20.000 bloggers descend on Las Vegas for a huge big convention? Why didn’t they do it online? (Laughter) It’s because nothing replaces human contact. It’s the difference between leadership and authority. Leadership tells us why we’re here in the first place. They remind us why we came here. Authority tell us what to do. Or tells us what goal to achieve. In the 1960’s Stanley Milgram did an experiment that we consider now quite unethical, but the results were remarkable. He invited two people to come to his laboratory. Someone who played the role of a teacher, a volunteer, and someone who played the role of a student who was actually a scientist pretending to be a volunteer. They told the ‘teacher’ to sit in front of a counter that had a button and a dial. And they said that they were going to ask some questions of the student and if the student answers the wrong question, or refuse to answer, the teacher was to press the button and administer an electric shock. And after each shock they would turn up the dial one notch. And the notch said: mild, medium, slightly painful, more painful, very painful, and eventually it went red and said XXX. And what happened was there was really only one electric shock administered throughout the whole experiment. And it was a small shock administered to the teacher so they could feel what it felt like. And so the experiment would progress and the questions would be asked and the teacher would press the button and the scientist, pretending to be the student, would pretend to get an electric shock. What ended up happening was that when the student could see and hear — when the teacher could see and hear the student, they would scream, he couldn’t go very far before he quit, he said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m hurting the guy” and he would quit the experiment. When he could see him but not hear him, he could go further but still not very far before he quit. And the authority figure would stand over him every time he would say, “But I’m hurting the guy”, the authority figure would say, “It’s imperative that the experiment goes on.” And they would say over and over and over in their head, “The experiment must go on.” They said it out loud “The experiment must go on.” And it was like Nazi Germany when people said, “I’m just following orders. I’m just following orders.” And this mantra to justify their behaviour of hurting somebody. And when they could hear them but not see them, they could go further still, but they still couldn’t go all the way. But when they could neither see nor hear the impact of their decision, 65% of the teachers were able to kill the guy. The reason the experiment is unethical is because 65% of these people came to help, thinking they were good people, went home at the end of the day with the knowledge that they could kill someone. Now what’s our mantra of this day and age I wonder? Is it “shareholder value, shareholder value, shareholder value”? What is our mantra that we’re using to justify the decisions we’re making for people that we cannot see and we cannot hear. And we don’t know the impact of the decisions we are making. And you know what the people who had ‘killed the guy’ what their biggest concern was? ‘Is anything going to happen to me? Am I going to get into trouble?’ There was no concern for the person they just potentially killed. Now think how we do business today. We largely do business on screen. There was a time that if you wanted to know what your employees thought about you, you walked out on the factory floor and you asked them. Customer service meant actually talking to the people who came into your shop. Now customer service means getting a reply to your email within 24 hours. I actually saw a bank advertising that you could talk to a person. (Laughter) I fly on an airline and I have miles up the wazoo on this one airline and you know what they offered me, when I reached the highest status possible? They offered me a phone number that I could talk to a person. Since when is a person a luxury? Our very survival depends on our ability to interact with human beings and as growth and scale and size come into play, all of a sudden the humanity of things starts to go away. There is a time when a desktop meant something horizontal. Now it is something vertical. And a folder used to be a picture, is a picture that we used to use. These are fun ideas, funny examples of how technology has co-opted some of our vocabulary. The problem is that it has co-opted some other ideas too. A friend is not somebody you check their status. Your network is not on LinkedIn, your conversation does not happen on a blog and you can’t have a discussion on Twitter. These are human experiences and we need them. We need to learn about each others values and beliefs. And we can’t simply do it through the Internet. These mirror neurons don’t light up when we’re sending text or receiving I.M. messages. What I imagine is the day in which we start to have more human interaction, something that requires this thing, a handshake. A handshake. Imagine that you want to do business with somebody and they’re standing there with you and they agree to all the terms that you offer. 100% they agree. And you say, “Great! Let’s shake on it.” And they say, “No, no. I agree to all the terms you laid out. We can just do business.” And you go, ‘Good, if we agreed let’s shake on it.’ And they say, “No, no. I agreed to all the terms. Let’s just do business.” If they refuse to shake your hand, even if rationally speaking they’ve agreed to everything you want, if they refuse to shake your hand, the odds are you won’t do business with them. And if you do you feel very nervous about it. This is what trust is, trust is human. It’s about human interaction, it’s about real conversations. What we need is more handshake conversations. What we need is more handshake discussion, more handshake debate, more handshake friends, more handshake leadership. If we don’t then we continue to go through this. and we will not find our own sense of fulfilment and happiness and inspiration. It requires being among people who believe what we believe. Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you very much. Thank you.

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “TEDxMaastricht – Simon Sinek – “First why and then trust”

  1. I think a lot of people are misunderstanding what Simon is meaning because they are taking a few aspects of what he says too literally. I see some people have issues with the fact Simon says our mirror neurons light up with human connection, yet uses the example of a 'picture' of a person smiling. The point he is trying to make here is simply that the shift in our society over the years has been geared to allowing people to make important decisions and live a life that is more REMOVED from human connection. So the internet and technology generally doesn't involve seeing a real person, regardless if that is in real life or through a picture. I think he was just trying to point out that we respond most when we have the conditions of real interaction, which most technology doesn't prioritise.

    Secondly, when he says we wouldn't be able to survive without being in a group of people who have the same set of beliefs, again I don't think he means that literally we would die but I think what he means here is more geared to fulfilment.

    We won't really be fulfilled and the harmony between the group won't exist as much if we are not united by a shared idea or belief. That doesn't necessarily mean we all have to believe in the same god, but perhaps it means we all have to believe that having our own religions is a good thing and that our differences don't make us less equal. A shared philosophy doesn't have to mean that we all LITERALLY believe the same exact thing. A shared philosophy can be liberating and uniting while including differences. That's the point.

    The other issue is that, it's not that he is 'using shallow research' – I think the issue is that he has a very extensive background which has led him to having insights into a lot of different areas of human experience which link together. It is difficult to fully explain each of these in a 17 minute video. But if you go and see his other talks, which are more focused on only one specific aspect at a time, you will see that his research is there, and it is extensive as well as relevant and up to date.

    He used the Milgrim thing more for effect, and perhaps the fact that this video was too ambitious for the amount of time he had is what made him unable to go into more of the research. BUT, if you know his background and have seen his other videos, and thus can see that he isn't basing these on 'generalisations', then this talk is very insightful and inspiring.

  2. could have summarized in 5 minutes. be around people who beleive what you believe, very unfocused and random. Didn't answer any questions about our WHY

  3. Haha, right after this video an ad played from a bank. Advertising that they offer me human contact persons 😉

  4. Simon have tremendous understanding of America's present situation. Make him president of states for 1 month. Miracles will happen let's make America great again.

  5. I think he’s doing a great job at pointing out flaws in our thinking. For example he points out that speaking to a person is considered a perk! But when you start to consider that business operates with such higher quantities you really do have to think in those terms. I would like to see him propose, at least in this video, more solutions. Perhaps that is in a different video.

  6. From one o Brein to another — it runs in the fam-know all !! Perhaps if your name was T Robinson i would take you serious –

  7. I am the only one looking at his $/time graph and not making sense of it? It does not tie into what he’s talking about.

  8. "Can't we all just agree on the same thing" – totalitarianism defined. That's why we have market competition. Capitalism is the true potential of diversity.

  9. This is one of the best video about leadership I have ever watched on internet ever. Period.

    This man, Simon Sinek has rare intellect and profound insight about human connection. Bow Down To his Work.

  10. The young adults shooting themeselves for not being drafted is great ? serious ? nothing tragic there ? no better way to contribute ? as for his explanation of the hippie movement, he doesn't have any clue what he's talking about…other big mistakes ….for ex. why you would hire someone based on their resume…well because you trust them thru a third party that you know and trust, university, institution, reference etc…anyway he has the tone right, sound convincing, but don't be fooled by a serious tone and simplistic explanations of a complex world. His other video about the goal being more important than the how is more useful.

  11. This videos stirs many questions in my mind.

    Who believes what I believe?

    If less than 10% of the population believes what you believe, is there any chance of becoming successful?

    And a statement:

    Maybe people should stop believing so much and try to be comfortable with the simple fact that we don't know. And that not knowing is okay. In fact, not knowing is a wonderful thing. It allows for hope and excitement for the future.

    The moment humans believe in something, we have an automatic tendency to ignore or discredit all other possibilities.

  12. Something about how Simon Sinek speaks always inspires me every single time. Thank you for reminding me that humility is decreasing and we should preserve trust, empathy, humility, and true leaders. Thank you very much.

  13. I agree with Simon Sinek that our distrust of each other-in our country/in our jobs/organizations/in our teams has lead to the work stress and dissatisfaction we find these days. Build trust and settle for nothing else-I believe that we can build a country/jobs/organizations/and teams that have more trust with each other and less stress-leading to more production and greater results!!

  14. Leading with WHY first. Seems so easy but yet most are not doing it including myself. It's time for me to test the theory myself. Thank you Simon for your sharing your passion and desire of your life purpose.

  15. This man is the bag. Just a really smart, forward thinking guy with a really good reasoning, heart and mind. All chakras seem to be aligned.

  16. What is a community or nation?

    A group of people who have the same values and beliefs..

    Let that sink in and then ask yourself what is wrong with this country….. hmmmm

  17. People turned the ideal of what they saw as reality enhanced by the media into imaginary America.
    Now, no matter how great everything may be; people keep looking at the past as a model that never existed in reality.

    Like King Salomon said: "No past time was ever better than now." This is the time of our lives and it's our responsibility to turn it into the best it can be.

    Companies who refuse to embrace the new America, are absorbed by an imaginary reality.

  18. @4:15 this is what really happened to Blizzard when they partnered up with Activision, the split. What a tragedy.

  19. People listen to this guy as if he is Jesus without realising he does not have any real data to back up his arguments and there us nothing break through about his thinking . He is just tellling stories and sharing common sense. Lol

  20. While the talk is very inspiring, I have to desagree that trust can't be built over the internet. There are systems in place for trust to be built where we no longer need to rely on the honesty of other humans.

  21. Simon I wonder what you think of the chasm today in 2019 as this was published in 2011! I feel it's widening, certainly, we live in a country and in a time with so much discord and lack of empathy. Could not agree more that this is largely due to lack of true connection. The internet affords the ability to say anything, often anonymously, with no regard to the consequences. We don't see or feel the impact on the other person(s). In the words of Brené Brown, 'it is hard to hate close-up', which is why so many hide behind technology. I think trust CAN be built through the internet. People, myself included, trust ratings and reviews for example, but something feels fundamentally sad, small and lacking in how we humans are going about creating relationships and businesses.

  22. That experiment you mentioned is scary! This is an important reminder in the business world for sure

  23. Initial statement of trust being a distinctly human experience invalidate everything he says. Animals can also trust.

  24. one of the best speakers around. actually connecting with his audience and articulation was perfect with tonage and volume. better than some other speakers who are supposingly speech coaches.

  25. Very well said, since the age on wifi and an Internet connection human contact is starting to disappear, in everyday life. just have a look next time your at lunch or dinner how many people are checking their phones and not even talking to one another. sad but true

  26. The split reminds me of Vietnamese football. In the past, nobody in the world took any notice of it. Even I did. There was no trust, no belief, no passion because we saw the fact. But since the Asian Cup, the soccer team(after much effort has been made – we changed the coaches often ) almost won. Then they started to spend time complimenting us like how we did that, they(the team) got a plenty of trust. When they're given such many responsibilities like that, they start to go down. Even I believe Vietnamese football's future will be bright, the split will come one day.

  27. Same is done with religion if you consider it where people are controlled to blind obedience thru fear and appeals to our personal weaknesses.

  28. Very inspiring talk. Most corporations are too self-centred to care for their customers anymore. They are wholly profit driven. Most people too enter into n sustain relationships only for Their benefit, not for mutual benefits. In anything we do in life, the Why should always be more important than the What n the How.

  29. It makes me happy to click the "like" BEFORE I watch a Simon Sinek video (to make sure I don't forget at the end).

  30. but I wouldn't have seen him if I don't use internet to interact with the world. I think it's about how we use this tool.

  31. Они говорят – доверяйте нам а сами на русском языке пишут заголовок английской передачи, которую ты хочешь посмотреть, заходишь и пытаешься что-то уловить, смотря в плывущие субтитры и сопоставить это как то с интонацией. Сплошной обман!.

  32. Guess what everyone………A group of ex convicts surrounded some police officers in San Deigo and where praying for them. I was like please don't pray for Angels to go to the ex convicts!!! Its like especially now when its dry and going rampid until piping/Fracking happens from a direction nobody knows….making earthquakes/tsunamis/and radiation waste so much more dangerous.

  33. One of the best TedTalks on leadership. Simon very passionately and articulately touches the basis of our problems as the human race with the growing businesses and technology.

  34. That unethical experiment at 13:31 is exactly how these civilian casualties in these wars, drone strikes, and conflicts are just a mere bottom ticker that we read while we cry fawn over the main story about some celebrity's new fashion.

  35. Insightful… but… his voice sounds hokey, melodramatic, fake, contrived.
    Needs psychotherapy. What is he hiding ?

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