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Quick Quotes from Start With Why Author Simon Sinek’s Talk at the 99% Conference

Down the road from Obama’s visit to Ground Zero and down the road from Trump’s Tower, a group of fresh-minded designers, entrepreneurs, consultants, writers, and artists met to talk about business in a way that Trump would never understand. Terms like “humanity,” “meaning,” “freedom,” “purpose,” “energy,” and “human-to-human connection” were volleyed so often this afternoon in the Times Center you’d have thought you were at a wellness program at the Omega Institute instead of at a premiere conference organized by the ever clear-minded Harvard MBA CEO-photographer-designer-author Scott Belsky and his savvy, creative action-oriented troupe.

But the first speaker, Start With Why author Simon Sinek, made it clear that he wasn’t here for personal growth. “I hate the self-help industry,” he said. “That industry is all about ‘Seven Steps to Grow Your Business’ and ‘Eight Ways to Make You a Better Person.’ What about ‘Seven Ways to Help Someone Else’s Dreams’?” I wrote in my notebook the phrase “the other-help industry.” Sinek went on to ask how can people in the audience help the human race progress. “I’m serious,” he said. He went on to emphasize that entrepreneurs and designers and whoever is in business must act and talk from their core set of beliefs. “You must do and say what you believe.”

In a nutshell, consistently put put out messages and actions that come from your core beliefs, and people with those same beliefs will find you. Forget the market testing to see if people will respond to your core beliefs. That’s not authentic. More than anything what people want is to trust you, and they will trust you if you act from your core beliefs and do so consistently. People – potential clients, customers, readers of your books, buyers of your art – will recognize their commonality with you accordingly.

Trust and generosity were Sinek’s main themes. “What are you doing for the people next to you?” and “If you don’t understand people,” Sinek said, “you don’t understand business.”

Follow me on Twitter for updates from a talk by Tony Schwartz (The Energy Project) and a Master Class by Chris Guillebeau (The Art of Non-Conformity).

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  1. Jeffrey — This (acting on your core values) is what I’m trying to keep central to my blogging. I’m just vulnerable enough to crave affirmation, so I find myself looking too much at page views and too little at new ideas and connecting with other values-based bloggers like you. Thanks for your articulate voice!

  2. Jeff – On one hand, you don’t want to be oblivious to your potential market, and after a while any writer wonders, “Is anyone out there?” There’s wisdom in SEO, Google Analytics, etc. BUT it’s a trap to get caught up in page visits and Google Analytics, etc. It’s a trap to change your clothes and haircut just to get the anonymous public to like what you have to offer. Put out good stuff from your core beliefs. Do some smart marketing. In that order. Keep the wonder alive, Jeff. And keep sharing it.

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Jeffrey. I was googling for quotes from Start With Why because I only have the audiobook and didn’t right them down. I didn’t find that, but I enjoyed your post, and will share with my tribe. Thanks!

    1. My pleasure, Darla. Simon was among my favorite speakers at 99%. And thanks for bringing me back to this post. He shared some gems worth remembering – and practicing. Thanks for sharing with your tribe.