“Leaders Eat Last,” an Incredible Tale by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek was the keynote speaker for the first morning of #Inbound2014, and needless to say I was beyond inspired. images

We are social animals and we respond to the environments we are in. 

This is especially true in the workplace. When we trust people we are with, we trust that the work will get done. Trust and cooperation are feelings that are directly born out of the environment. It is not about the people. It is about the environment of the situation.

If we want to direct the behavior of the people inside of an organization, you have to offer them an incentive.

These incentives can even be chemical:


  • Endorphins mask physical pain
  • The human animal is made for endurance
  • Endorphins are produced when you do extreme exercise. (Runner’s high)


  • Dopamine is the feeling you get when you accomplish something. (When you cross something off of your do to list)
  • If you don’t write down your goals, you may not achieve them.
  • Dopamine can be HIGHLY addictive
  • If it is always about the metrics, you can addict people to performance.
  • This is not a healthy environment. It encourages team members to stab each other in the the back.
  • Like all addicts, we will stop at nothing to get what we need.


  • Serotonin is the feeling of pride and of status. (Public recognition)
  • When we are recognized publicly, we feel our value go up.
  • Serotonin is very closely tied to self-confidence.
  • Serotonin is attempting to reinforce the relationship between the person who sacrificed for the achievement and the person that achieved.
    • Even parents get a shot of serotonin when their child is recognized for something.
  • A leader (or parent) wants to prove that the sacrifice they made was worth it.
  • As social animals, we don’t want to be around animals that are selfishly driven, we want to be around those that are selflessly driven.
  • Serotonin is the leadership chemical- A leader will sacrifice for you and expect nothing in return.
  • Leaders will go first. They will be the first to experience the “danger”
  • We are inherently hierarchical animals. We are perfectly comfortable with hierarchies.
  • The cost of leadership is self-interest.
  • We as the group are not stupid; we give all of the preferences to the alpha because we expect the person who is better fed, stronger, and more confident to run first into danger.
  • When a leader is not willing to sacrifice their perks, this is when problems arise.
  • Great leaders would sacrifice the numbers to save the people
  • Numbers will never come to your rescue, people will.
  • When we are willing to sacrifice for our people, our people will be willing to sacrifice for us


  • Oxytocin is everyone’s favorite chemical. It is the feeling of love and trust.
    • Physical touch reinforces a relationship – reinforces trust
    • Acts of kindness- expect nothing in return
  • Business is about human beings looking for others around whom they can feel safe.
  • Business is human because WE are human
  • We as human beings place value on people who are willing to give up something that cannot be redeemed.
  • When someone gives us their time, it makes us feel unbelievable.
  • In order for the sacrifice to count, you have to give up time AND energy.


  • Cortisol (The big C) – the feeling of stress and anxiety. Designed to keep us alive in the sight of danger.
  • If we are constantly stressed in our environment and constantly feel unsafe, the cortisol will continue to drip into our system.
  • Long experiences of cortisol can hurt your health.
  • If you run an organization, you are not responsible for the numbers, you are responsible for the LIVES of the people who work for you.

Leaders are for the people; the people are responsible for the numbers.

Do you throw yourself on top of your people? That is true leadership. In hard times, you can’t manage your way out of a crisis; you can only lead your way out of a crisis.Do little things with no expectation of anything in return. This comes at great sacrifice and is really hard work.

How do you create a circle of safety in your work environment? 


One thought on ““Leaders Eat Last,” an Incredible Tale by Simon Sinek

  1. I was at #Inbound14 as well in Boston this year, and I saw him speak a month earlier as well at an private and small scale invited event on leadership. He has changed the way I look at management and made a profound impact in my personal life as well with my family. He was absolutely, “hands down” the best option for the keynote speaker this year in Boston! I was so pumped that 14 of my employees came to Boston to see him speak as well for Inbound (as I had been raving around him a month before) after his talks on Leaders Eat Last and How Great Leaders Inspire Action. In my opinion, he could be the single most influential person in marketing today. Just my 2 cents :).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s