How Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle generated over 38MM+ views?

Brian Stanton
Jun 25, 2018 · 4 min read

Recently, I met someone who had never seen or heard of Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on the Golden Circle. Imagine how jacked-up I was to pull it up on Ted.com and show them, as if in doing so, some of Mr. Sinek’s brilliance was rubbed off on me.

As I did, I noticed something. It had generated 38million views. As I’m writing this it has reached 39,153,255 views. Wow.

I decided to watch with purpose and analyze the way he presents his insights to understand how this video went so viral.

Here is what I came up with.

  1. Grabs attention

First Simon Sinek grabs everyone’s attention by asking a provocative question. He posses the question: Why are some things successful and others aren’t? He adds to the intrigue by bringing in a brand everyone respects. Why is Apple so innovative? A question we all want to know so we can add that formula into our own lives.

He follows that up by acknowledging an epiphany that has changed the way he sees the world.

I’m all like, “what did you discover Simon? Tell me more.”

Then he aligns the question to the audience and implies everyone has the same potential. He’s hinting its possible for us all, just by reversing conventional behaviour.

In the end the audience is caught on his every word.

Then I’m all, “You mean I could do this? Tell me how Simon.”

What’s the lesson here?

Get the audience locked in by figuring out what is important to them and get their attention with it.

If you’re looking to understand them more, ask them a question about something critical to them. If you’re setting up your solution for them, start by acknowledging the problem it solves, the change impacting them, the burning question they have.

2. Focuses on a key concept step-by-step.

Next Sinek shows us his epiphany. Not in a slide deck or in a series of bullet points. Not in a video montage or a slick image.

The man says 4 words: “The Golden Circle”, then draws 3 circles. One inside the other each with the corresponding question. 3 Steps to get across his key concept, the point that successful organizations start with why.

He explains it using brands we know juxtaposing Apple’s successful purposeful approach vs. the failed product first approaches of brands like Dell & Tivo.

All the while he’s pointing at each part of the circle. Directing our attention to exactly where he wants it. Why, How, What.

He goes on to talk about how the biology of our brain supports this theory. Again, using the very straight forward 3 circle diagram to align to the human brain.

Then finally departing from this game-changing bulls-eye he draws a graph to talk about the Law of Diffusion of Innovation. Explaining how the early adopters you need to embrace your vision do so because they share your beliefs. Again, not a slide or even a graph with any actual data on it. Just a crude image, Sinek directing our attention to different areas with his marker, keeping the audience focused on the visual supporting his point.

This is something companies like StepTree.co focus on. The step-by-step breakdown of your story highlighting the key points to reinforce them just like Sinek does with his marker.

What’s the lesson here?

Less is more. Focus on the a key concept or point you want your audience to take away.

Design simple visuals. Sinek’s entire point was conveyed with 3 circles and 3 words.

Limiting your visual to core supporting content allows your talk track to carry the presentation. Keeps your audience from reading on ahead or interpreting your data before you can position it for them.

3. Provide Relatable Evidence ie; Proof

Sinek uses compelling examples to tell his story and get the audience nodding in agreement.

He not only uses familiar brands and figures like Apple, the Wright brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, but he tells us something we didn’t consider about them and their competition. For example, I knew the Wright brothers invented flight but I had no idea who Samuel Pierpont Langley was and I had never considered how the motivation to fly would shape the outcome for both of them.

This juxtaposition of familiar people and concepts with a new perspective captivates audiences and positions Sinek as a maven.

What’s the lesson here?

Seek out relevant examples for your audience that they can relate to and then offer a new perspective that supports how they can benefit. This positions you as a credible resource. The maven they can turn to for new perspectives.

Bringing it all together

When it’s all said and done 38MM+ views comes from this presentation being applicable to the mainstream. Anyone who believes in purpose driven organizations or desires to emulate successful brands and figures.

There are definitely tactics we can all embrace to capture attention, keep that attention and establish the credibility needed to bring a new perspective forward.

  1. Get your audiences’ attention by acknowledging their priorities and asking provocative questions.
  2. Focus your audiences’ attention with simple visuals, step-by-step.
  3. Gain credibility with proof by offering new perspectives on relatable examples.
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