BizCraft Episode 37: Interview with Simon Sinek

BizCraft Ep37

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About the Show

This is BizCraft, the podcast about the business side of web design, recorded live almost every two weeks. Your hosts are Carl Smith (@carlsmith) of nGen Works and Gene Crawford (@genecrawford) of UnmatchedStyle.

Episode Overview

In this episode of BizCraft we call up Simon Sinek and have a chat with him about his book, cell phones, the marines to name a few.

Simon Sinek is an optimist. He teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. From members of Congress to foreign ambassadors, from small businesses to corporations like Microsoft and 3M, from Hollywood to the Pentagon, he has presented his ideas about the power of why. He has written two books, Leaders Eat Last and Start With Why and is quoted frequently by national publications. Sinek also regularly shares 140 characters of inspiration on Twitter (@simonsinek).

Here is a general overview of the rhythm of the show:

What was your life like before the Ted Talk and the 17 million views on Youtube?

What is your normal day like now? What is the ecosystem around Simon Sinek?

“Officers Eat Last” Your new book, Leaders Eat Last gets it’s name from the military where officers eat last. With a lot of people pushing for flatter more autonomous organizations, you found powerful information in the way a very traditional hierarchy, the military, operates. Can you share some of that with our listeners?

Interestingly, you also say in your book that those only doing as they are told, always forced to follow the rules, are the ones who suffer the most. That feels like you very much described the military.

You make a strong point that when a team is worried about dangers within they can’t be properly prepared for outside dangers.

When we’re cared for from above (parents, bosses, etc) we feel safe and can excel.

We’re built to look after each other. Whitehall Study, Sopolsky’s Babboons, Kelly McGonigal Ted talk “Building and maintaining Circles of Safety.”

You said “we’re evolutionarily programmed for hierarchies and we can’t get rid of them.” What do you think of a company like Zappos,
traditionally a great innovative culture, who are trying to become a holocracy?

We can trust humans but we can’t trust technology.

Leaders of modern day companies are bad, they are part of a process that took them somewhere they didn’t expect. Layoffs are a new concept.
They way to reverse something bad is the same way it was created. In small steps.

Chemical trigger, dopamine is a major driver.

We no longer talk to customers or employees, they are abstract concepts because we hire consultants. This leads to abstractions.
We need to see each other so we feel. How do we do that at a large scale?

We can only manage knowing 150 people. You care about everyone on the planet… No you don’t. We have to trust and empower the people we
know to trust and empower the people they know, and so on…

Kill abstractions and embrace the tangible. It makes organizations run better.

What if we focus on numbers instead of people? Destructive abundance.

In his book, The Examined Life, Stephen Grosz hypothesizes that people are paranoid because being tormented feels better than being forgotten.
This resonates with something you mentioned around having a bad boss versus an absent one.

Selfish versus selfless. We need to spend time and energy getting to know people.

Addictions to social media, performance metrics, etc. we need a hit. If we continue down this course we will see dramatic increase in depression,
suicide, antisocial behavior. What can we do?

How do you feel about distributed companies? Office environments without phones.

You wrote the book as a warning. Do you think people are heading it?

Drinks from the end of the show

It was fairly early in the day and Simon was in between meetings. So, sadly, we didn’t get that drink.

Giveaway!

We’re going to be giving away a copy of Simon’s book “Leaders Eat Last” to the first 5 people who mention this show on twitter. Go for it!

Author

Gene Crawford

With over a decade of experience in the industry he has overseen the design and architecture of hundreds of web sites and applications. An active member in the design community, he's the editor & producer of unmatchedstyle.com, the ConvergeSE, ConvergeFL, ConvergeRVA and the Breaking Development conference series.