The Primal Key to Persuasion: Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle

Imagine yourself walking somewhere public and a guy hands you a pamphlet saying: “Hi! We got a new theme park at Marksville! It’s called Emerald City! The place is super cool, we got roller coasters and just the best rides! It’s a beautiful sight, the architecture is awesome! Wanna visit?”

After hearing this, you’d probably wanna visit if you’re a hard fan of theme parks.

It’s just that most people today are so used to the fast-paced life that a day in “just another theme park” can be unideal. For these people, they’d be asking “Hmm.. Okay but, why should I?”

Now imagine if the guy said: “Hi we’re the new guys! And we’re on an awesome mission of bringing magic to people’s lives! Because of this, we’re passionate in putting wonder, thrill, and surprises in all our work. We just did a theme park at Marksville as a model for this! It’s called Emerald City! Wanna visit?”

The next thing happening will probably be you asking what rides they feature instead of asking in your mind “Why should I?”

This will likely take place because although not most people are fond of theme parks, people love “magic,” “wonder,” “thrill,” and “surprises,” and that’s WHY they made the theme park. It’s clear, honest, and just what the theme park wants to make you experience.

With the second statement, he’d have a better chance of inviting more people –all because the second statement started with WHY instead of WHAT.

This is one of the key messages from Simon Sinek's book Start With Why, and from the book he described this more clearly through a concept called The Golden Circle.

via Five Thot

What Exactly is the Golden Circle?

The Golden Circle can be illustrated through a simple circular sketch with three layers. Its innermost core has the word WHY in it, the next layer has the word HOW, and the final layer has the word WHAT.

Using this, he made it more easy to describe one very important observation: all of the most successful people and companies communicate their vision, tasks, and even products starting from The Golden Circle’s core, then outward.

via Simpleshow

Pretty much like that of the second example above, these people and companies start with WHY; and this, Simon Sinek believes, is the key to their success in persuading people and creating a massive following.

Few of his examples were Apple, Harley Davidson, Walmart, Martin Luther King, and Kennedy.

He also discussed further that this persuasion key is biological, saying that “if you look at the cross-section of the human brain, from the top down, you see that the levels of The Golden Circle correspond precisely with the three major levels of the brain.”

This is because the newest area of the brain, the neocortex (which is responsible for rational thought, analytical thought, and language), is exactly found within its outermost layer; while the part of the brain responsible for our feelings such as trust and loyalty, is found within the innermost layers. This part is called the limbic brain, and it corresponds to the WHY and HOW levels.

In Sinek’s words, “when we communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls decision-making, and our language part of the brain allows us to rationalize those decisions.”

Now, we can be less puzzled with the reason why most companies find it hard to convince people using merely price and features. As we have learned, price and features can only have an impact on the neocortex. Decision-making happens way deeper within the brain, and to reach this level, the communication must start with WHY.

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