What Apple has that others lack

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question ‘Why?’ His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers — and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.

TED: Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action (18:05):

(Filmed Sept. 2009, Posted on TED.com May 2010)

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Help kill Adobe’s Flash:
• Contact TED.com and ask them to offer embeddable HTML5 video: Contact TED.com.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jigar T.” for the heads up.]


  1. I’ve been using the following, or something similar, for every website that requires me to have Flash to access the full content of their websites. I have it in a note to copy and paste on my iPad, my iPhone, and each of my 3 Macs, and send to Feedback, Support or Customer Service links on those sites. Feel free to use it or adapt it to your own needs:

    Your website requires Flash to be fully functional. Odd, since Flash is anything but fully functional. HTML5 standards and other web technologies are much more stable and efficient and are universal. Tens of millions of online shoppers, like myself, cannot get what you want to give them, because you’re using an old technology that is no longer supported for a growing number of users.

  2. Can you really copy greatness? Whatever process that works in a circle, by the time it is broken down into rules and steps and Power Point slides, it is already become mediocre by the speaker.

    Kind of like the TED conference has become in recent years, no?

  3. Interesting – the fact that Apple has a very strongly-defined “why” for the things they do makes it easier to connect with them on that level. And having Steve Jobs at the helm keeps Apple strongly connected to the “why” behind the products they make.

    And the details he provides on Wright Brothers, compared to their expensively-funded competition, shows how a strong “why” helps companies like Apple to succeed where companies like Microsoft fail. A very convincing presentation from Mr. Sinek.

    The only major “whoops” was when he was listing all the products people were willing to buy from Apple, and he mentioned “a DVR” – poor Apple TV, still unappreciated and misunderstood after all this time…

  4. Oh, and if you go to the TED link provided by MDN, and click on the “download” link under the big “Flash” blob, there are options to download the video – there’s even an option to download it straight into iTunes, which is what I did.

  5. I’ve gotta say, the first few minutes I was thinking he was just mimicking other things I’ve seen. Like a Steve Jobs keynote for example.

    But now I’ve gotta say… Glad I watched that. Something I’ve always known but have never seen it explained so well.

  6. The “why” that Simon talks of is a very deep “why”. The same “why” that Jim Collins calls “Core Purpose”.

    In this clip, Simon talks of this “why” from a marketing or messaging perspective. However, the fundamental precondition is that it has to be worked out long BEFORE any marketing message can be developed as it has to define and inform the development of the offering itself.

    This “why” is the higher calling or ideal that drives first the visionary and then in due course, the organisation that gets created to realise the visionary’s dream. Steve Jobs had figured out his “why” as he and Woz emerged from the garage with the Apple II.

    I came across this and other clips from Simon Sinek some years back and each time I watch, I get something new. This is on account of what he says elsewhere: “that people are attracted to those who have a strong sense of “why” because they have a different presence in the World.”

    We all know that for decades the naysayers have predicted the death of Apple. Yet here it is, stronger than ever at #3 on the Forbes list, because the man at the helm, and the entity behind him, have this strong presence that has survived even in the most adverse of times – the years spent in the wilderness by both the Man and Apple…

    This “why” cannot be copied as it is specific to the individual or the entity. Copying the style of Apple will not result in the substance of Apple. Recruiting the talent from Apple will not deliver success when that talent is planted in an entity that is not, well… anything like Apple to start with.

    Any catches? The obsessive pursuit of a well define “why” will result in an uncompromising approach to innovation, product development and the conduct of business. Tantrums will be thrown to achieve it. Obstructions will be tackled head-on. And competitors will be wrong-footed.

  7. @ HMCIV: if you think this is to do with slogans, think again – you’ve missed the point!

    @ El Guapo: You betcha!

    @ Scubaboy: Thanks for the text – going to send it to my bank

    @ acid: Nope! Yup! Nope!

    @ Gabriel: In the bit about the Wright brothers, they won because their ‘heart was in it’ and it was driven by a powerful core purpose, cause or belief. The other guy didn’t because his heart was in pursuing other things like money, fame, swagger, popularity or just plain ‘ego’. He capitulated immediately the day after the Wrights flew because he had no substance.

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