Simon Sinek: “The Finite and Infinite Games of Leadership: […]” | Talks at Google

SPEAKER 1: Hello, everybody,
and welcome to Talks at Google. Our guest today
describes himself as an unshakeable
optimist who believes in a bright future and our
ability to build it together. A trained ethnographer
and author of three bestselling
books, he has discovered some
remarkable patterns that help leaders
around the globe make an impact on
their organizations. Thank you for coming, and
please welcome Simon Sinek. [APPLAUSE] SIMON SINEK: Thanks. So I thought I’d share with
you some new stuff that I’m working on because it’s
fun, and then we’ll spend most of the
time just doing Q&A because that’s also fun. So I’m working on a new
book, and I’ve recently become completely smitten
by game theory, specifically finite and infinite games. In game theory,
there are two types of games– finite
and infinite games. A finite game is defined as
known players, fixed rules, and an agreed upon
objective, like baseball. We all agree to the rules. We all agree that whoever has
more runs at the end of nine innings is the winner, and the
game ends and we all go home. Nobody ever says, if we can
just play three more innings and then we can come
back from this deficit. It doesn’t happen that way. An infinite game is defined
as known and unknown players. The rules are changeable,
and the objective is to keep the game in play
to perpetuate the game. When you pit a finite player
versus a finite player, the system is stable. Baseball is stable. When you hit an infinite player
versus an infinite player, the system is also stable,
like the Cold War was stable because there cannot be a winner
and there cannot be a loser. So we just try and
keep the game in play. And in infinite
games, because there are no winners and
losers, what happens is players drop out
of the game when they run out of the will or the
resources to continue to play. So technically, the United
States didn’t win the Cold War. The Soviets dropped out
because they ran out of the resources or the
will to continue to play. Problems arise,
however, when you pit a finite player
versus an infinite player, because one is playing
to win and the other one is playing to keep playing. So invariably, what happens is
the finite player will always find themselves in a quagmire. So this was the United
States and Vietnam. The United States
was fighting to win, and the North Vietnamese
were fighting to survive– very different set of standards. This was the Soviet
Union in Afghanistan. The Soviets were fighting
to beet the Mujaheddin, and the Mujaheddin would fight
for as long as is necessary. And invariably, what
happens is the finite player will find themselves
in a quagmire until they drop out of the
game and leave the game, because they run out of
the will or the resources to stay in the game. So this gets me thinking. Let’s look at business. The game of business
is an infinite game. It obeys all the rules. There are known and
unknown players. You don’t know all the
competitors, necessarily, in one industry to another. The rules are changeable. We haven’t all agreed
what the rules are, and there is no winning
the game of business. The game just perpetuates. In fact, the game
of business has existed longer than every single
company on the planet today, and it will outlast every single
company on the planet today. If you look at the Dow Index,
the 30-something-odd companies that make up the Dow Index,
something like 70% or 80% of those companies are
35 years or younger. So it gets me thinking, if
you listen to the language that companies use, they don’t
know what game they’re in. They talk about being
number one, talk about beating their
competition, based on what agreed upon
criteria, based on what agreed upon time frame? Is it market share? Is it profits? Is it revenues? Square footage? Number of employees? Over what? One month, five months, six
months, a year, five years, 10 years, the life
of the company? I haven’t agreed to those rules. And so companies can
arbitrarily declare themselves number one in anything they
want if they set the standards and the time frames. And the only reason we do these
things on annualized basis– we tend to compare ourselves
to other organizations annually– is only because
we pay taxes annually. If we pay taxes
every 18 months, that would be sort of the standard. But again, we still haven’t
agreed what the metrics are to be number one. That means that companies that
are playing the infinite game are playing against
most of the others who are playing the finite game
means those finite companies find themselves in a quagmire. Almost every single
bankruptcy– not almost every, every single
bankruptcy– is a company that’s run out of the will
or the resources to play. They drop out of the game. The game will persist. Another company will
fill their space. It’s not like the business
stops or the industry ends. And the companies that are
playing the infinite game will frustrate those finite
players, which I absolutely adore. So I spoke at an education
summit for Microsoft. I also spoke in an
education summit for Apple. Now, I would say about 70%
to 80% of the executives at Microsoft spent
about 70% to 80% of their PowerPoints talking
about how to beat Apple. At the Apple summit,
100% of the executives spent 100% of their
presentations talking about how to help teachers teach
and how to help students learn. One was obsessed with their
journey, with their vision, with their cause. The other one was obsessed
with their competition. Guess who’s stuck in quagmire? Guess who’s frustrated
by their competition? So at the end of my talk at
Microsoft, they gave me a gift. They gave me the new
Zune, when it was a thing. And I have to tell
you, this was one of the most remarkable,
beautiful pieces of technology I’ve ever used. The UI was gorgeous. The design of the actual
hardware was beautiful. It was logical in the
way I could use it. It was intuitive. It was absolutely fantastic. Now, it didn’t work with iTunes,
which means I couldn’t use it. That’s a different
problem altogether, but this was a magical
piece of technology. So at the end of
my talk at Apple, I’m sharing a cab with one of
the senior Apple executives, sort of an employee
number 12 kind of guy, and I decide to stir the pot. So I turned to him and I said,
you know, I spoke at Microsoft and they gave me the new
Zune and it is so much better than your iPod Touch. And he turns to me and
he says, I have no doubt. Conversation over. Because the infinite
player understands sometimes your product is
better and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you’re ahead and
sometimes you’re behind. The goal is not to
beat your competitor. The goal is to outlast
your competitor. What you find is that the
infinite players don’t actually compete against
their competition. They compete against themselves. The finite players
are the ones who wake up every day trying
to beat somebody else. The infinite
players the ones who say, how can we be a better
version of ourselves, how can we advance our
metrics, how can we make our product more
refined, more beautiful than they were last week. It’s totally fine to
study our competition. Tactically, there’s
nothing wrong with knowing what our
competitors are doing. But the number of companies
that study their competition strategically blows my mind. They look at what their
competition is doing, and they make sudden,
sharp left and right turns to change the course
of their company, based on the movement
of their competition. That’s the point. That’s what wastes resources,
the constant changing of your mind, the constant
going in this direction, that direction, based on the
wind of your competition– assuming that they know
what they’re doing. I find that fascinating. And the number of
companies that play finite is the vast, vast,
vast majority. So it begs the
question, how does one play the infinite game? How does one build an
organization constructed for the infinite game? So up here, you have
the infinite game. This is where the why exists. I talk about the why– the
purpose, cause, or belief– about the organization. This is where our values lie. These are never-changing. They are permanent. They will outlast all of us,
and they should outlast– they’ve been here from
the birth of the company, and they should last the
length of the company. The infinite stuff, the why
stuff and the value stuff, is inherently intangible,
and it’s inherently difficult to measure. Now, down here you
have the finite game, and this is where
our interests lie. This is where what I would
call your “whats” lie. This is where our products
lie and things like that. It is inherently tangible
and inherently very easy to measure. Now, the goal is to run all
decisions through our values, through our purpose or
cause first, and then through our interests. So what is a
values-based decision? What does that even look like? So here’s a
values-based decision. When our military goes into
battle and we shoot a bad guy, we will take their injured body. We will send our medics
onto the battlefield to rescue the injured
body of our enemy. We will put them
on our helicopters, fly them to our hospitals,
put them in our hospital beds. Our doctors will
use our medicine to nurse them back to health. That is not in our interest. However, that’s
kind of who we are. It’s what defines us. In other words, we’re
wasting our resources because our values are
more important than saving those resources, doing something
purely in our interests. It’s like torture. The reason torture
was done offshore and the reason we tried
to keep it a secret is because everybody kind of
knew it violated our values. Because if we were
totally fine with it, everybody would be like, just
do it here, it’s totally fine. Why not somewhere in Wyoming? And that’s the point. So great organizations are
making values-based decisions all the time, and then our
interests come into play. But the problem is when
you’re playing the finite, these things get ignored,
and every time we make a decision we decide
what we do in a vacuum. So your competitor comes
out with a new product. How do we react? Quickly, come out with
something similar. What’s going on with
the marketplace, and make some other reaction. What’s going on in this
particular country? And every single decision
we make in a vacuum seems perfectly good. We’re making rational decisions
based on our interests. The problem is when
we pull back and look at all of the decisions,
all the people we’ve hired, this is what happens
when you only hire people based on their resumes, for example. Smart guy– get that
person on board. When you pull back,
your culture is a mess, and nobody knows
what you stand for. The whole idea of making
values-based decisions is we can look at almost
all of the decisions. Every now and then
one can go sideways. But we look at all
the decisions– the people you hire,
the things you do, the things you believe in, the
things you stand for, anything tangible– and we can say of you
or your organization, I know what you stand for. I believe what you believe. I would like to be a part
of your organization. I’d like to buy from
your organization. This is where loyalty lies. But the only way we can judge
each other is down here. It’s like human beings. We want our friends to act and
speak and do the things based on who they are. We want our friends to be– you
know that word that’s always thrown about– authentic,
which means saying and doing the things we actually believe. That’s what we mean. And the reason is because we
want to know who they are. We want them to be predictable. I can’t see anybody. Can we turn the lights back on? Was that better for you? Oh, sorry. But now you can fall
asleep, because I can’t see. But that’s the idea. That’s the idea. So this is what I’m doing. I’ve become fascinated by
this game theory stuff, and I’m running it through
all kinds of scenarios. I’m looking at relationships,
I’m looking at business, I’m looking at politics, I’m
looking at war and nation states and how this plays
out in the real world. Because the game is the game. We don’t get to
change the rules. Of course, there are
always finite games within the infinite. It’s the difference between
a goal and a vision. A goal is 26.2 miles. Count the metrics,
count the mile markers, and when you reach
the goal the game ends. It’s over. The vision is having a crystal
clear sense of what the finish line looks like far
from the distance, but having no idea
how far away it is– so far away that for
all practical purposes we’ll never get there. Take the United States, the
Declaration of Independence. Here is a nation who declared
why we needed our own country. And it didn’t start off
by complaining or griping about the King
and Great Britain. It started off with an ideal. We believe that all men are
created equal, that all of us are endowed with certain,
unalienable rights, amongst which include
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’ll never actually
get there, but the goal is that we will die trying. And within that
infinite contest, there are many
finite games that we hope to advance that
infinite contest or even little infinite games within
that, like civil rights. We’ve never actually
reached the point where we have
perfect civil rights, but we’ll continue to get
better and better and better. That’s the point. It’s constant refinement. It’s kaizen. It’s no matter how good we
do, we can always do better. But the goal is we
have a North Star. We have a thing to point
us in the direction. It’s not random. So in the United States,
we have civil rights or women’s suffrage or
gay rights or education for everyone or health
care for everyone. What form it takes,
it’s our way of trying to get closer and closer
and closer to the ideal upon which the
nation was founded. I wish all organizations– they
don’t have to be nation states. I wish all organizations did
the same thing– operated not just in their
interests, but also have a sense of code or
values and a sense of purpose and vision. It matters. Because we want to
stand for something. We want to work for something. We want all of our hard work,
the products we produce, everything, we want it to
count towards something, not simply be against
something or make something in the short term. I see this so often
with senior executives, with people who are making more
money than they’ve ever made. They have more
power and influence than they’ve ever had. And yet later on
in their careers, they don’t feel as
successful as they did when they were a junior. When we’re junior, the
first promotion we get, the first raise we get,
the first bonus we get, the first client we
win, whatever it is, it’s all very exciting. We’re living down here and
everything’s very exciting. But after you’ve had
a bunch of bonuses and you’ve won a
bunch of clients and you’ve had a bunch
of product releases and a bunch of promotions,
it’s exciting for a little bit. Go out for a nice
dinner with your family. That’s about it, and
then it wears off. And so what starts to
happen is our work no longer feels like it has
any sense of purpose, and so we default back
to when we were young. We thought, well, when I won
the client, win more clients. And when I reach
$1 million dollars, get more millions of dollars. That gave me the
feeling the first time. You’ll get with
the feeling again. It doesn’t. That’s like winning
one marathon, thinking it’s amazing. You keep running marathons
for the rest of your life, and at some point
you’re like, why am I running all these marathons? They have to contribute
to something. They have to contribute
to something. So I’m fascinated by
the companies that play the infinite game,
because inherently they frustrate their competition. For years, Apple frustrated
Microsoft, especially when it was run by Steve Ballmer. He was a guy who ran the
company based on interests alone versus competing against
an organization that was doing something bigger– Costco versus Wal-Mart,
Southwest Airlines versus everybody, organizations
that seem to not care about what Wall Street thinks about
the quarter of the year. And when you listen to
the language of people like Jim Senegal, who’s the
founder of Costco, he says, I don’t care about Wall Street. Wall Street’s worried about
how my company does in a month or in a year. I care about what my company
does for the next 50 years. That’s the company I’m building. You listen to the language– ones who are focused on
teaching kids how to learn and helping teachers
how to teach, versus how to beat
our competition. It makes for a much
more fulfilling life, and it makes for a much
more realistic existence. When your competition
is slightly ahead, you think that’s OK. I can’t stay ahead forever
based on some arbitrary metrics, anyway. So that’s what I’m working on. I think it’s fun. I think it’s interesting. We made some changes
even in the way we do business based on this. We become more
infinitely organized, which means we are much
more interested in trends than we are in absolutes. Because absolutes exist
down here, but ongoing exists up here. So for example,
let’s say you will get a bonus if you hit a certain
target by a certain date. That target is arbitrary. That date is arbitrary. Somebody made it up. That’s how most of our
bonus structures are built– on arbitrary numbers
on arbitrary dates. And let’s say that that
person is doing good work and building good systems,
but they miss the target. They miss the number. But if you were to pull back and
look at how they’ve been doing, and you see this
beautiful steady line, we can see that they’re
doing good work, that they’re building good systems. There’s huge stability there. They just miss the arbitrary
number on the arbitrary date. Give that person a
bonus, because we want that person to continue
building those systems. And the odds are
they’re probably at the number two or
three months later, which is totally fine because then
it’s going to grow, grow, and grow, versus the person
who stabs people in the back, plays politics. Their performance
looks like this. There’s no stability. It’s all over the place. They happen to meet the
number on an arbitrary date. Give that person a bonus? Why? They’re breaking the
company along the way. The point is the finite
player only looks at these discrete
moments in time, and the infinite player
is much more preoccupied with the trend of things. So in our business,
we become absolutely preoccupied with the trend. There are some
projects that we’ve wanted to implement
that I wish took a year and they took years. And it doesn’t matter
how much I say, I want it done at the end of– we missed it. But you know what? We were building good
systems along the way. We just missed a prediction. And the result is we have much
better systems, much better product, and much
more motivated by it because nobody was penalized
for missing arbitrary numbers on arbitrary dates. So I’m learning how
to build and run a business for the infinite. When somebody asked me
recently in an interview about my competition,
like how do I compete against the people in
my space, the answer is, what– competing against what? What am I competing for? Like, am I going to compare
how many views on TED or how many book sales or how
much my personal income is or how much my
corporate income is? What’s the arbitrary standard? Because I can be ahead on some
metrics and behind on others. I can drive myself crazy or it
can be really proud of myself. Worse, I’m choosing who
my competitive set is. But the competitor set is way
larger than I can imagine. I love it when the
networks declare that they’re number one. You do realize they’re
only comparing themselves to the few other
networks that they want to compare themselves. NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox compare
themselves to each other. They ignore Netflix, Hulu, HBO,
YouTube, and the rest of them. But that’s the point. If you can make your
own competitive set, you will be number one. Everybody will have
their day in the sun. I get a kick out of that. I get a kick out of that. So especially for an
organization like YouTube, the question is, who’s
your competition? The competition is yourself. Wish everybody the best of luck. Let them make their own metrics. Let them declare
themselves number one. Who cares? They’ll fall out of
the game before you. That’s the goal. That’s the goal. Should we do some questions? AUDIENCE: I think
everything you just said is really
interesting, and it hits on something
I’ve been wondering about for a long time. Here at Google, we have a
phenomenal set of benefits, and I think it’s no
argument that we’re looked to as a leader in
kind of creating the utopian workplace for the
smart, creative, or whatever terms you
want to apply to it. And it seems congruent
in a lot of ways– the original founders’ message
with this infinite game and everything
you’re describing. But I wonder, is
this a luxury that we happen to have because
we’re such a phenomenally profitable company
that we can provide all these luxurious benefits
and all these things? And you look at some of these
other companies that maybe don’t have the luxury of those
of these thick profit margins, and they can’t afford to
play the infinite game. And they’re focused
on being tactical. SIMON SINEK: No, no,
they can’t afford to play a strong finite game. They can absolutely
play the infinite game. So if it was based
on your logic, every single company
that’s under-resourced would never make it, which
is just not the case. And people aren’t
loyal to free lunch. I mean, some people are. And you see this
in the tech space so much, which is
people claim, oh, I want to work for a place with
purpose and make a difference. They claim they’re
looking for this, but the reality is they
really like free lunch. And the other company
didn’t have free lunch, so I’m going to take this one
because they have free lunch. In other words, they went
for the rich company, which may last if the company’s
also an infinite player. But if they’re just
a finite player, it’s going to run
out at some point. Because when the company
starts to struggle, guess what things
they’ll start cutting? And like you have, we have
friends in tech companies who don’t work here
who get free lunch– and beautiful offices, flat
screen TVs in every hallway, gorgeous. And yet they were like– you know? AUDIENCE: I mean,
I think you’re kind of cherry-picking a few
different very simple of those benefits. I think a lot of the
things that people herald are, for instance,
long maternity benefits or anything associated with
childcare and things like that. Maybe if you run a
construction company and you have to have people
show up and lift a heavy thing, and it’s potentially dangerous
and you can’t give people flexible work arrangements
where they can work from home and take their kids to daycare
because you have to have the guy driving the crane– I begin to wonder,
is it easy for us– you, me, all of us in here
that sit here and say, oh, we want to focus
on these ideals because the industry
we happen to work in makes it easy to provide
for those ideals? SIMON SINEK: Let us
not confuse feeling like we belong and cushy. I’m not cherry-picking. There are many people
who enjoy the benefits. We all enjoy the benefits. Why wouldn’t we? But does that mean that if
the benefits weren’t there we would immediately quit? AUDIENCE: I don’t know. I mean, I just– SIMON SINEK: And so take
a company like WD-40. AUDIENCE: Sure. SIMON SINEK: Much smaller
than Google, does very well. Their offices are
kind of a dump. The benefits they offer,
they’re nice to their people, and where they can, they
offer all kinds of stuff in education, maternity
stuff, and all of that stuff. But it’s not as cushy as large,
huge tech companies that have huge amounts of extra cash. And the people who work
there love working there and will come in
everyday full of gusto, because it’s the people we work
with, not the stuff we get. The stuff we get, the very
point to the stuff we get, is it runs out. It’s finite. You have to keep injecting it. The people we work with,
that’s the relationships and the infinite
component of the company. So if you love working here, I
would say that if you’re loyal and you really love it– not like it, but love it– I would argue that you love
the people with whom you work. And if some of the benefits were
taken away for whatever reason that you would still come
to work loyally and still love it because of the
people you work with. And if there were only people
who chased benefits from benefits to benefits–
and there are people; that’s like chasing salaries– then there’s never loyalty
and there’s never love. AUDIENCE: Well, I certainly
do agree with everything you just said, but when
you’re talking about, for instance, these
trend lines and being able to miss the
arbitrary number– if you’re a smaller,
scrappier company, maybe you can’t afford to miss
these numbers, whereas we have the luxury of this
big war chest of money that if the goal is missed
by a quarter or two quarters, or in your case these projects
that took additional years, I mean, isn’t that
sort of you are able to provide for that
kind of flexible timeline because you have the
tail-end of success? SIMON SINEK: There are
always finite games within the infinite. Of course. Of course. AUDIENCE: That’s what
I was wondering about. AUDIENCE: So my wife and
I are both military vets, and we work here at Google. SIMON SINEK: Which force? AUDIENCE: Army. Army officers. And I wanted to talk to
you upon your example about the military. In one of your other
talks, you talk about Medal of Honor recipients. And basically, they do
these heroic things, and they say, why did you do it? You say in your talk, because
they would have done it for me. So that mentality
is my question. You also mentioned
in military we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves
for the gain of others, but in business we’re
willing to sacrifice others for our own gain. How do you build
that military mindset in companies like here
or other companies? SIMON SINEK: Leadership. I mean, leadership
creates an environment. And I mean, this
is what I learned. The whole concept of
leaders in those lessons that I learned from spending
time with folks in uniform– it was born out of
my own experience. I was going through
a point in my career, as my career was growing– all of a sudden you
have new friends that I didn’t have before. And that’s wonderful, and
then I learned the hard way that they weren’t my friends. They were playing me. They wanted access or
a deal or something. And I learned it the hard way. And so I retreated. I was like, I want to be
friends with nobody else but the people I knew way
back when, which is also not a good way to live. And yet simultaneously,
I’m spending time with tons of folks
in the military. In business, we have
colleagues and coworkers. In the military, you have
brothers and sisters, and that’s a different
kind of relationship. And as you know, I have
hugged more people in uniform than I’ve ever hugged in suits. I’ve cried with more
people in uniform than I’ve ever
cried with in suits. I’ve stood in the audience
and listened to officers give talks, and I’ve sat
in the audience and cried. I’ve never cried with any
CEO that gave a speech ever. So there’s a different
nature of relationship. And my original conclusion
was they’re better people, that the reason you get
a disproportionate amount of these kinds of behaviors is
because they’re better people and better people are
drawn to a life of service in the military, which is why
we find a disproportionately high number of them there. And the more I started
to learn, the more I realized I was
completely wrong. It’s the environment. It’s the environment. And when the leader creates
an environment in which people feel that someone
has my back, they will do extraordinary things. And what I learned is
that courage is not this deep down
internal fortitude. It comes externally. It’s like a trapeze
artist would never try a brand new, death-defying
act unless they had a net. The courage didn’t come
from the trapeze artist; the courage came from the net. And it’s the same in the
military, especially when you’re in life and
death situations, when you’re in theater. People you don’t like, you
still rely on to save your life, and the reason it works
is because you don’t have to look behind your shoulder. And that mentality–
and you know better than anybody, which is
when you are deployed into dangerous places,
nobody loves deployment but people have warm
feelings towards deployment, which is really strange. And suicides rarely happen
in combat situations. They usually happen back home. And it’s the intensity
of the relationships that create that warmth and the sort
of weird enjoyment of really bad, uncomfortable, and
dangerous circumstances. It’s because we’re human
beings and human beings, as social animals,
feel our safest when we trust each other. And good leaders are
capable of producing that. So great businesses
look very much like well-run military
organizations. There’s poorly run military
organizations as well. But great businesses look
exactly the same, where the leaders give the glory. They distribute authority. They push it down the ranks,
let people make decisions. If they screw up, there’s
no risk of getting fired. If the company misses
its arbitrary projections on its arbitrary date,
we do not use the people to balance the books. We figure out other
ways, or we even invite the people to
help solve the problems. These are the things that
produce that circle of safety that produces the exact same
outcome, where people will love each other,
cry for each other, sacrifice for each other. You see it in business
plenty, but it always boils down to leadership. I mean, I can’t help
but talk about it. Let’s look at United Airlines,
what just happened, shortly. It’s going to come up. Usually, when things
like that happen, that is a red flag that they
have a leadership problem. It’s very rare that you
have something like that just show up out of nowhere. What that probably
is is an environment in which people are operating
in a fear-based culture, where if you don’t follow the rules
exactly as we’ve told you you’re going to get in trouble. And the rule book says,
offer them an incentive. And then it says, if that
didn’t work, it says, randomly pick people. And then it says, if that
doesn’t work, call security. I’m just following the rules. There’s no discretion, where
everybody knows that’s stupid. Like when the CEO announced
that we’re no longer going to forcibly remove– like, why was that
ever a policy? That’s like food companies
saying, now with no chemicals. It’s like, wait, wait, wait,
why were there ever chemicals? But that’s the point, which
nobody has discretion. So I was boarding a flight– I’ve told this story. I was boarding a
flight, and the scene played out in front of me,
where one of the passengers attempted to board the plane
before their group number was called. And the gate agent
literally berated him. Sir, step aside. I haven’t called your group. Please step aside and wait
until I call your group. So I spoke up and
said, why do you have to talk to us that way? Why can’t you talk to us
like we’re human beings? And she looked me
in the eye and said, if I don’t follow the rules,
I could get in trouble or lose my job. All she revealed to me is
that she doesn’t feel safe in her own company,
and her leaders do not trust her to do
the job for which she has been trained to do. And guess who suffers? Us and the company. The reason we love
flying Southwest Airlines is because the
company trusts them to do the job they have
been trained to do, and they use discretion. We don’t trust people
to follow the rules. We trust people to know
when to break them. And the problem is, in
a fear-based society, people fear for their own
jobs more than common sense. That was a perfect
scenario of what happens when somebody
in the company is too afraid to break the
rule, break the policy, use discretion to
find another way– so almost predictable that
something will happen, something will
break at some point. Thanks. How you doing? AUDIENCE: So for some
industries that we’re in, I feel like we’re
doing a really good job of playing the infinite game. We have a set of
values that I feel like we’re very much
trying to follow as we come up with new
products and new features. My question is, after
that’s played out for five, 10 years in
some of these industries, it’s clear we’re reaching
some sort of maximum, where following
those values is only going to get us so
much of the market. And even though we might
not be reactively looking to competitors to see
what they’re up to, we can’t help but notice that
they have most of the pie– and even though we’ve stuck
to our guns for as far as we can get without
doing something different. So it’s of course very
tempting at that point to change and start
emulating what other people are doing to get
that bigger piece of the pie. So how much
flexibility do you see when you’re playing the
infinity game to change course? SIMON SINEK: Depends
on the reason you want to increase
the slice of pie. Just because, or because
you have a message and you know that if you
can get more of the pie that message will reach
and help more people? Is it nobly pursued, or
is it selfishly pursued? And who says the time
frame has to be now? The women’s suffrage movement– pretty important. Get the women the vote– pretty good idea. You know that almost all
the founders of the suffrage movement died before the
first woman ever voted? Because that’s how long it took. Took more than a lifetime
for them to get it. But the point was the pursuit,
the pursuit, the pursuit. Would they like to have had
it happen in their lifetime? Of course, of course. Were they more preoccupied
that it happened? Absolutely. And that’s the point. You build legacy, you build
people who take that torch and carry it without you. So the problem is
that I think vision– here’s a thing that’s
always boggled my mind. Why is it unbalance, unbalance–
not always, but unbalance? Why is it that
small companies tend to be more innovative
than big companies? Small companies that
are under-resourced can’t necessarily get
the best and brightest. They’re going to go out
of business any day, and yet they come up
with brilliant ideas. And big companies
full of resources, full of amazing people buy
the little companies that come up with the good ideas. That’s usually how big
companies innovate. They buy the smaller ones. Why is that? Why is it that the
most-resourced companies tend not to? And I think it’s a
question of reality, and what I mean by that
is small companies, their vision is more
distant than their grasp. They have delusions of grandeur. We’re going to change the world,
change industries, reinvent this, reinvent that. We have no money and
no people, but so what? My point is the grasp is
shorter than the vision. And I think what happens is, as
companies get bigger and bigger and bigger, with more and more
resources, what they start to do is one of two things. Either their visions become
well within their grasp and they don’t
readjust the vision, or they actually
bring the vision back to put within their grasps. Make things very achievable–
difficult, but achievable. For a vision to
truly be a vision, it should feel unachievable. When a small business gets
together and says, here’s our vision, everybody
goes like this. How are we going to do that? In big business,
see, here’s a vision. Everybody goes, all
right, no, yeah, got it. We’ll do a back plan. We got that. And I firmly believe
that innovation is born out of the struggle. Innovation is born out
of the resourcefulness that you are forced
to figure out because, literally, the vision
is way beyond your grasp. Regardless of how many
resources you have, it should always feel
overwhelming and impossible. Take a group of people
with tons of resources to give the vision,
they’re going to go, OK. So I think that’s part of it. I think that’s part of it. So you’ve been at it for five
years, you’ve achieved a lot. Congratulations. So the question is, well, was
the vision not big enough, or you want more
piece of the pie? Or why not just
stay in the game? We have an obsession in America
with growth, not stability– size. We want size and growth. We have lists of fastest
growing companies. We have Fortune lists
of biggest companies. We don’t have lists of
most stable companies– Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Lehman
Brothers, big companies– Arthur Andersen, Circuit City. Remember that one? Right Poof, not like whoo– like pfft. Big, not stable. Fast growth– we
love fast growth. We put people’s pictures
on covers of magazines and say, look, it’s Groupon. Remember that one? Does anyone really care
about Groupon anymore? It was like copy Groupon. They’re the future– for now. And that’s the point. For some reason, we’re
obsessed with growth. And again, it goes back to this. Growth to what end? Here’s how I understand growth. So you see your neighbor
packing up his car across the street from
me, and you say, hey, where are you going? And he says, vacation. Cool, where are you going? He says, vacation. You go, awesome;
where are you going? He says, vacation. So you go, well, how
you going to get there? He says, I’m going
to take Route 95, and my goal is to drive
150 miles an hour. That’s the same as growth. Why does your company exist? Growth. Awesome– to what end? Well, we’re a business to grow. Love it. How are you going to do it? Growth. Good. What route are
you going to take? Our goal is to increase top
line revenues by 20% every year, duh. To what end? And so you get on vacation. Everybody is so
proud of themselves and smacking each
other on the back because we drove 150 miles. We drove 180 miles. We’re above goal. In what direction? And we see opportunities
that actually aren’t good. Somebody offers you a
ride in their private jet. You’re like, ooh,
quicker than a car. Yes, except they’re flying
in that direction, as opposed to somebody who
knows their vision. I want to get to California. How you going to get there? Route 95. What’s your goal? 150 miles a day. And what happens if you drive 30
miles a day towards California? That’s OK. We’re going to find out how
we can take better routes. Well, what if the
highway is blocked? So you’re forced to
go slower, but it’s OK because you know the
direction you’re going in, as opposed to firing off
in all other directions. And when somebody says,
hey, I, got a private jet, you want to fly, you
go, where are you going? Calgary. Not interested,
thank you very much. You get my point. AUDIENCE: Yeah, thank you. That’s very helpful. AUDIENCE: Hi. I just wondered about Apple. You talked about how Apple
beat Microsoft at the time. What’s your observation
of Apple now they’re under the leader
Tim Cook after Steve Jobs? What value do you observe,
or do you still believe that they have– SIMON SINEK: I
figure that if I let you keep talking I don’t have
to answer, which is good. So I tend not to
comment on companies– wait for it– where the founder
leaders are still there. Because people ask me
about these companies, and the answer is, we don’t
really know the kind of culture they’ve built until the
founder leaders have left. Because the founder leaders
tend to be the personifications of the cause, of the values. And you can really
test the quality of the culture of a company
and its stick-with-itness and whether they truly have
imbued into the company the values first after
the founder goes. So Wal-Mart is a great example. Wal-Mart used to be an
amazing company that was all about this, and
then Sam Walton died. And the first CEO took over. Grew up with Sam, so
he kind of got it. And then all of a sudden
it started to go sideways because they became
preoccupied with this and they completely
forgot about that. You see their tagline? Their tagline is save
money, better life. That’s actually in
the wrong order. It should be better
life, save money. That would be a
values-based decision– one of the pieces. So we see this all the time. Bill Gates left, and so
Microsoft went a little bit sideways. Then to Ballmer, but Ballmer was
obsessed with this over this. So this happens also very often
when CEOs leave and replace themselves with
their CFO or COO, because we have a flawed
hierarchy in business. We think CFO or COO
is the number two job, and many CFOs or
COOs see themselves as in line for the big job. The problem is, it’s
not one and two; it’s one and A. They’re
completely separate skill sets. And it’s the
combination– the mom and the dad, the visionary
and the operator, the person who sees
far and the person who knows how to get
there, the person who sees the forest, who
lives above the trees, and the person who’s
down in the trenches trying to figure out their
way through the trees– it’s that magical combination
that makes the business grow. But too often, we
take a visionary and we replace them
with an operator. It happens all the time. Mike Dell left Dell. Mike Dell had to come back. Howard Schultz left Starbucks,
replaced himself by a COO. Howard Schultz had to come back. Bill Gates left. And there was sort of talk of
Bill coming back after Ballmer. Satya was a little
more like Bill. So Tim Cook was the COO. So the problem is we
judge COOs based on what they’ve done in the past. We judge CEOs, a good
visionary, based on how far they can see in the future. And if you look at the
titles that we give people– CMO, CIO, CTO, CEO, CFO– in their title it says what
their responsibility is. Finance, operations, marketing. What the hell is an executive? Chief executive officer. It’s the only job that literally
doesn’t have job specs, and it doesn’t get away. It should be CVO, chief
visionary officer. Because like I said, we
judge somebody like that by how far in the
future they can see, and we want them to
work with somebody who knows how to get them there. These things work
together, not separately. So I have concerns
about Apple, because it is run by an operator–
good guy, smart guy who believes in the vision. But the problem is
he sees problems more than he sees future. These people are
huge risk takers. These people are
calculated risk takers. And so I think we’re
starting to see cracks. Does it mean the end of Apple? No. But we’re starting to
see some of the cracks. They don’t seem to be
leading markets anymore. They don’t seem to be defining
product categories anymore. In fact, a few times
they’ve been the followers. So I make this little joke,
like, your phone doesn’t work. You’re like, eh, ever
since Steve died. You know? There’s politics playing
out in the company. It’s weirdness. Is the end of Apple? I don’t think so. Of course not, but definitely
it makes me interested. AUDIENCE: I’m a weird 21st
century case of somebody for whom Google is my first
and only full-time employer. And we often– I
work in marketing– sort of copy and paste the
company’s value statements into briefs that we
write in a way that feels very mechanical
and not really like, to your earlier
point, I came here and I signed up to
work for this value. Can you speak to, at
the value setting stage, what are the kinds
of questions that you ask when you’re
sitting down to think what do we really stand for? How do I put a few words
to these larger ideas? SIMON SINEK: I’ll
wax philosophical. There’s no sort of answer. So we’re obsessed in our
business with the movement. We obsess about the movement. We never ask ourselves–
literally it never comes up– is that good for the company? It just doesn’t come up. It does secondarily,
but we want to know if a decision we’re
about to make, a product we’re about
to develop, something we’re about to sell– whatever it is, we always say,
is it good for the movement? So what it does is
it forces everybody to put first the movement,
this vision that we all share in our organization. We believe, we imagine
a world in which the vast majority
of people wake up every single morning inspired
to go to work, feel safe when they’re there, and
return home fulfilled at the end of the day. Our goal is to get
closer to that, stand as a beacon that
points towards that, and offers the tools we can and
inspire others to help us build tools to get to that world. That’s what we mean
by the movement, and we’re obsessed with it. Even when we talk
about our P&L, we don’t actually have a line
on our P&L that says profit. It says freedom. Because none of us are
motivated by the abstract thing called profit. We absolutely are
motivated by freedom. Because the more
money we make, it allows us to stay in the game– fuel for the drive. It allows us to
get our message out to a bigger, broader audience. It allows us to
say yes to things that don’t pay and say
no to things that do pay, but we don’t like the people
who are calling us up. It gives us discretion to give
money away to people we like, and it gives us
opportunities that give benefits to the question
before and give freedom. So you’re damn right I want to
have more freedom this month than I had last month. Right So I think it comes from
an obsession from leadership– and not just me, at all levels. And sometimes that
leadership comes from bottom up, where
we catch each other and we remind each other. Because it is tempting
to put all this first, because we can
demonstrate and measure how we can improve or
draw on some metric? And the question I
ask is, to what end? And I don’t mean rationalizing. I mean, explain to me in hard
words how this advances that, not some back-pedalling, which
is very often what happens– and so clearly that
everybody else in the room is going, mhm, not
whatever, if you say that. That’s the funny thing
about these things. We all know what the
right thing to do is, but we like to
rationalize sometimes. So I think there has to be
an obsession with the cause to advance the cause. And it doesn’t have
to be the top person. It can be somebody
who signed up for it. Guys, guys, guys, remember
why we all signed up for this? It’s like the military example. Everybody has the same
flag on their shoulder. And if you’re in the Marines,
Army, Air Force, or Navy, when you’re in a
combat situation the uniform disappears. The only thing that matters
is this and each other. We all signed up
for the same thing. Do you believe in it, or
do you not believe in it? Do you want to advance
this cause or not? Do you care about changing
the way the world works and making it into something
better, or do you not? What can we do in our sphere of
influence– marketing, product, whatever? What can we do in our
sphere of influence? What little bit can we do? What piece of the
jigsaw puzzle do we have to put down to help build
the picture that’s on the box? But somebody has to be pointing
to the picture on the box, and that’s the job of the
leader, whether they have rank or not. AUDIENCE: Thank you. AUDIENCE: So I
manage a team here. I enjoyed your talk. SIMON SINEK: Lead a team. Nobody wants to be managed. People want to be led. AUDIENCE: Thank you. Very helpful. I’ve got a group
of finite players from a personal situation and
definitely infinite players. So they don’t need more money. They’re here for the purpose. It’s wonderful. How do I get a team
dynamic, and how do I get the infinite players
aligned on the vision? They view part of their role
here as to set that mission? SIMON SINEK: So there is vision
at the Google or Alphabet level. And all of the companies
within Alphabet should be working in cones
to advance the bigger vision. And within that, there
should be nested-wise, we would call it, that advance,
whatever– it all goes up. So ideally, your question is,
what did they sign up for? Do they believe
in the big vision? And can they help advance it? And I love that
they’re big thinkers, and you want to combine big
thinkers with big doers– good teams. I love that. What if, going, ooh,
I could do that– somebody else goes,
I can do that. But if they see
themselves as the one who has to come up with the
vision, the question is, but at what point
do we start building? This happens very often
with entrepreneurs– and entrepreneurs are in
big businesses and not; it has nothing to do with
owning a small business– where it’s shiny
object syndrome. Every shiny object is
something they want to pursue. And at some point you’re
going to have to pick one. This is one of the
things I actually admire in the Marine Corps. If you go to OCS at the
Marine Corps in Quantico where they select
their officers, they have something called the– I forgot the term they call it–
but it’s basically a leadership reaction course, the LRC. Basically it’s a mini,
little obstacle courses, like 20 of them,
10 wet, 10 dry– things like take these three
planks of different sizes and lay them on the telephone
poles sticking out of the water and get all of your
people and this ammunition across the water. Figure it out. And they give them
a time constraint. And they have to run it twice,
when they assign the leader and when they don’t. So one of the things that I’m
fascinated by in the LRC, which is they are looking
for the leader to take input from
everybody and then make a decision on the strategy of
how we’re going to get across. But they’re also looking
to the followers, because what they find
is the best followers take advice and then
make a decision. And the best followers
will give advice, but once the
decision is made want to see their
leaders successful– and never, never work
to sabotage or stand on the sidelines because
they didn’t get their way or enjoy the
failure because they say I told you so,
but work tirelessly to see whatever direction
was set is highly successful. So I hope that’s
happening here, too. AUDIENCE: Thanks. SIMON SINEK: You’re welcome. AUDIENCE: Hi. SIMON SINEK: OK. It’s very egalitarian. AUDIENCE: Hello, Simon. Thanks for the talk. My question is, so
what’s the worst thing happening in your life? I’m very interested
in your life story. SIMON SINEK: With regards
to what– my career? My family? AUDIENCE: Your career
or your life in general. SIMON SINEK: I mean,
I stubbed my toe. That was pretty bad. So my whole journey,
this whole why thing, was born out of pain. I owned a small
marketing business and I had lost my
love for my work, and people gave me stupid
advice, like, do what you love, follow your passion. What am I supposed
to do with that? I’m doing the same thing. I don’t love it anymore. And it was a very,
very dark place for me, where I spent all of
my energy pretending that I was happier, more
successful, and more in control than I felt. I was lying, hiding, and
faking every day of my life. And it’s debilitating,
quite frankly. And it wasn’t until a
friend came to me and said, I’m worried about you, that gave
me this courage, the strength to admit that I was
struggling and then to look to find a solution. And that journey pointed me
to the concept called “why.” I knew what I did and
I knew how I did it, but I didn’t know why. And it’s the biology of
human decision making, and I realized there’s
a major piece missing. And so the pain of
that, which I never want to go back to but
I’m glad it happened, profoundly changed the
course of my life and career. And it’s why I’m here now,
is because of the pain that I went through back then. AUDIENCE: Quick question. You opened up this framework
with very notable examples from politics– Cold War, Afghanistan, Vietnam. And then we transition
to business. And it makes sense
that you don’t have to focus on
the competition, but politics, sometimes
you don’t have that luxury, especially if it’s
a zero sum game kind of geopolitical warfare. So if you are facing
opposition that leads with why, has an infinity outlook,
and is intrinsically motivated on that process,
how do you combat them? Is it as simple as you
last longer, more infinity, if there is such a thing? Or is it a certain point where
to engage or not to engage is a more important question? SIMON SINEK: It’s
such a good question, and the answer makes me
really uncomfortable. Because I’m looking at
what the criteria are, actually going through
the necessities of what elements are required to
play an infinite game. That’s what I’m
working on right now. And I’m uncomfortable
with the fact, but I think the fact is you
have to have opposition. And one of the reasons
is having opposition, having an adversary actually
allows for a game to exist, because you can’t play
a game by yourself. Even if you’re playing
like Solitaire, you’re still playing
against the cards. There’s an opposition. And so as uncomfortable as I
am, even in the old Apple days, they still wanted
to take down IBM, and then they want to
take down Microsoft. But having an opposition
on the infinite level makes it easier for us to know
what we stand for, because we can see what we’re against. So even if, in
the United States, we struggle to put
our vision into terms, we could look at the Soviet
Union and say, not that. But you still have
to have the “for.” It’s still going to be
there, because when players drop out and are replaced, you
still stand for the same thing. Because if you’re only against
whatever anybody else is, then you’re not going anywhere. So you still have
to have the for. So the Romans debated on
the floor of the Senate for 50 years whether
they should just flatten Carthage, which
was their not-that, their Soviet Union. And they finally
decided to do it, and they flattened Carthage. And then the Roman Empire
quickly went into decline. That’s interesting to me. So I think you need opposition. I think Apple needed Microsoft. George Lucas talks about this. He says, what do you
do when you become the thing that you hate– the hated? And I think an
adversary at this level, another infinite
adversary, is important. Now, it’s not like
more infinity. You have to keep
the game in play, because we never know
when it’s going to end. Nobody could predict
that the Cold War would end when it ended. In fact, it caught
most people by surprise when the Berlin Wall came down. It sort of happened
very quickly. The point is you have to
maintain a good business so you can maintain resources, so
that you can stay in the game. You have to run
efficiently, but you want to keep people
ideologically invested. You want to find allies. You want to be an
ideological export. You want to preach your
cause, preach you cause, preach your cause, preach your
vision, preach your vision, so that others will go, me, too. And you get allies, other
companies or partners, or vendors, or employees who go,
I’m in, I believe, I’m loyal. I’m never going to abandon you. I’m in. So the adversary makes
all that very easy. The reason we
stand for something is when one adversary drops out. While we’re waiting for a new
adversary, which will show up, we have to know
what we stand for. And if you really want
to get into geopolitics, that was the single
biggest mistake that the United States
made after the Cold War– we’re really going here– which is we declared
ourselves the winner. But that’s not what happened. The other guy dropped out. And then we imposed our will on
the world for about 11 years. Turns out the rest of
the world didn’t like it, and new adversaries
started to show up. Soviet-style communism– we were
both ideological exporters– was replaced by
Islamic extremism. The nuclear power
of the Soviet Union was replaced by North
Korea, Pakistan, maybe Iran. The economic tension
with the Soviets Union is replaced by China. The problem is now it’s
diffuse, now it’s separated, but the Cold War
is alive and well– Cold War 2.0. And we’re still battling life,
liberty, pursuit of happiness. It’s more complicated now,
but we foolishly gave up what we stood for for a while. So I think you need both. And I’m uncomfortable
by the fact, but I think you
need adversaries. You need to have a not-that. We’re clear what we
stand for because we know we don’t ever want to be that. Thanks very much for
your time, everyone. Appreciate it. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]


  1. شكراً جزيلاً أخي سيمون
    على كل فكرة…
    على كل جرعة أمل…
    على كل شيئ…
    و إلى كل متطلع إلى الحكمة
    ( خذ ما صفا و دع ما تكدر )

  2. I like this guy but… sometimes he just says these things and I'm like… c'mon man. Just- that- no- that's the opposite of things that happened…

    " take the
    12:53 United States the Declaration of
    12:55 Independence here's a nation who
    12:57 declared why we needed our own country
    13:00 and it didn't start off by complaining
    13:02 or griping about the King and Great
    13:06 Britain it started off with an ideal we
    13:09 believe that all men are created equal
    13:10 that all of us are endowed with certain
    13:12 unalienable rights amongst which include
    13:14 life liberty and pursuit of happiness"

    it in fact started with complaining. Lots of complaining.

  3. Always enjoyable, and always something to learn. Having worked for many years at Toyota, I realise they have a lot of the characteristics of the infinite company. They have also managed to do what Simon does (or vice versa) take what people think is common sense, and structure it, and apply it in a standardised way so that it really becomes common. My only gripe – was this a men-only event?

  4. James Carse. finite and infinite games (a vision of life as play and possibility). A book I recommend from a philosophical and poetic point of view. Beautiful book

  5. Very interesting discussion finite vs infinite. it makes you think. I have run a business since 1990 and stayed a reservist in the military. It is always been tough to do both. Also, our life's are finite. Difficult to get around that unless you set up a Corporation and put management in place to replace you the founder and owner.

  6. When u mentioned Pakistan and north Korea for nuclear why u forgot to mention India and Israel. Iran does not have nuclear. Pakistan is nuclear only because of India.

  7. "The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence." — Albert Einstein

  8. Great talk! and also agree on the perspective of leadership and management, except one thing, one personal, non-related question shouldn't have been answered, at least in the public. Such as your worst memory in your life or worst business or partner you've dealt with, etc, they are all the signs of attempt to "smell your weak point" personally or in relationship and prepare to find problem on you personally or with your previous "enemy" who you have bad experience with. To all the speakers in the western world, my advice is better not to answer or avoid in public, because it is not relavent to the topic at all. And when a Chinese asks you about China, or to give some advices, no matter in which condition, even thought they "look" humble , the best answer is still not to answer, or always neutral tone. As if you say something too positive, they will exploit you or cast lots of responsibilty or pressure on you, since it is you said it is positive; if too negative, they'll be against you, maybe still with a smile at front. If you're not Chinese, in the art of communication with chinese, it's very hard for you to put the "right amount" they want to hear, (of course not to tell the "real amount"), so better no comment or neutral one.

  9. If Google's vision was to "house the world's information" and now it sees Apple being more profitable, he alludes to changing the vision to be "beyond grasp" (35mins in). Is he suggesting that the vision should change? If that happened would that not also change the purpose too? Be interested to hear people's thoughts.

  10. The US never won the cold war because there was no war to start with. But if we use the same logic the USRR never won the Winter War because Finland just gave up.

  11. Young companies and young people have nothing to loose. So, they dream big. Big companies like older people built something and accumulated responsibility. They are afraid to loose what they have. The truth is that as we grow old/big our vision shrinks. It is safer.

  12. We're talking about the meaning of life stuff. And I believe Simon is heading towards the right direction with a 'Infinite vs finite' perceptions of reality. I can only speculate where a infinite/finite universe, or game, will take us.

    And to point out, very few companies are built upon ideas of infinity. Ideas that are somewhere between immensity and eternity. Google for instance is built upon infinity. For example, Googol (10^100) or a Googolplex is number that so big it can't even be written onto a paper or contained in a data center. Keep searching for those infinities…

  13. You wouldn't think any woman works at Google after hearing all the questions asked in the audience. Are they afraid to ask a question or perhaps they don't need to ask a question.

  14. Sinek failed to give James Carse, author of FINITE AND INFINITE GAMES, credit for the opening premise of this talk. Further, Sinek has a woefully shallow understanding of the concept. I couldn't make it past four minutes. Why would anyone listen to this guy?

  15. Companies don't have values outside of; make money. He just re-labels it as 'freedom'. Even if a company makes up values, you can't get the employess to follow it. Their value is to; make money. Bottom line.

  16. Thought provoking and now I can fuly comprehend why some companies have national anthems. Are you advocating that we be citizens of Google rather than the US? You may not need to make a choice between the two. BUT What if there is a conflict of interest in the values of your company versus the values of your country? Which one should you choose? The company pays you a salary, potentially a good one, your country gives you implicit rewards such as security and sense of belonging, but in an increasingly interconnected world, does your loyalty to country really matter? This is the main problem with these giant global organisations (be it a Google or some mammoth industrial plant in Asia) loyalty tends to shift toward company over country. Dunno if we should advocate for a Google national anthem just yet.

  17. Great talk, good points. But I think he didn't answer the first question from the audience. The audience said that smaller companies can't afford value based decisions because they have to make money and avoid losing money. But Simon answered from the perspective of employees, which is not what the question is about.

  18. NYC Dept of Sanitation Management, is the complete opposite of what he is advocating. Perfect case study of what not to do.

  19. such an engaging speaker, also case in point…

  20. one thing I like to do is to take a vision and then take it one step deeper.  I like to restate the vision into what does that mean to me and my position.  how do I make the the vision a reality.  If I cant find a way to have it guide me then I think to myself…  how does one do "the vision"

  21. You are correct, Mr. Sinek. This country is obsessed with growth. The world is a pyramid scheme. Once everyone has a refrigerator, what do the refrigerator builders do next? Make them crappier?

  22. The CEO isn't the visionary. He is the executive to the Board of Directors. As the name implies the Board of Directors is there to set the direction, to have the visions and so on.

    The CEO or Executive Director as the position is called in some countries is appointed by the Board of Directors to execute their vision of the company.

  23. Game Theory: The Game of WeiQi/Go has almost limitless possibilities and the Objectives change Constantly,
    The Game of Chess has much more limited Objective and Possibilities.
    The Chinese and Asians already understood Finite and Infinite Games Long ago.

  24. If the leadership rules were understood by the uploader, he won't hack anyone phone to beg for recognition of their faith in Christ. These people they can't differentiate failure and successful.

    I don't agree on a full time housewife is considered failure while a non University graduate is considered failure or loser. Obviously the videos were uploaded to earn the popularity of the YouTuber. My phone has been hacked and forced to watched all these videos for the past few years just because I rejected the faith of Christianity. They choose to hack and humiliate me throughout those years until I finally agree to become a follower of Christ. I was wondering what is the meaning of their life limited the usage of Internet access to introduce the speaker for their popularity. They acted no different from gangsters yet they put themselves in the shoes of savior.

  25. Okay, Okay, Okay. I started watching this video expecting to gain new ideas or perspectives from such a talented and eloquent speaker of leadership issues. Don't get me wrong, I am a new fan of Mr. Sinek, (I just discovered his presentations here in YouTube about one and a half weeks ago. But on this one particularly, in the minute 05:16, I thought, I already know the storyline; about 70% of the Microsoft executives spent about 70% of their time planning and talking about how to beat Apple and in his talk to Apple people, is just the opposite, then about Microsoft giving him a Zune player. He have used the same anecdote at least 5 or six times (different videos) that I can remember.

  26. for everyone that likes this, read Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse to see where this story is going:

  27. I like the presentation and premise behind it, but Simon is seriously wrong at 5:00.
    No company went bankrupt because they "gave up".
    They were literally killed, bled out, lost the means to fight.
    Military equivalent of facing superior enemy while running out of ammo.

    That has nothing to do with leaving the game (say poker table).
    Going bankrupt is literally losing a proper, hot war, getting killed or taken prisoner.

    Bankruptcy is literally death of the company. How can you consider that "leaving the game"?!

    Am I getting something wrong (and if yes, what)?

  28. After watching this I realized that the same concepts exist in marriage. My wife tends to focuses on the vision of the future and the values we hold as a family. I tend to focus on the operational aspect of keeping the household afloat making sure we are viable.
    If I believe her vision and values are starting to impact the ability to keep it the household afloat I tend to migrate more and more into the operational aspect of running the house, and that in turn pushes her to focus on the vision and values of the household.
    Since we don't have a board of directors we don't have someone pushing one way or the other so it stays balanced between us– each helping to keep the other in check most of the time. But in a company often the balance between these two positions is upset due to external influences or pressures.

  29. I think some stuff he is talking about is wrong. Dynamic is very important, even the biggest companies are researching smaller ones for innovations and there are some things about game theory he is talking about I do absolute not agree (I work with game theory since about 10 years or so now). The only thing that impressed me was the idea that a company leader should act infinite. Finally, the best plan is pure nonsense if you interact with people because they are acting in a way they are mentally programmed. If you have a good move on your strategy plan, that does not neccessary mean that your plan is being realized because of fear, trouble, blockers and other stuff. .. game theory can be very dynamic if you know exactly the right formula when to change or how to mix your strategy.

  30. question.! Can we try something? Take one Bot name it P1(u&i) its sole purpose is to learn and seek P2(i.e. goal, love, answers to life….)so> [p1 find p2] > if p1 finds p2=😍…got me so far? Now, take a game like #nomanssky and place each at diffrent points. If you dont know what no man's sky is, it's a game that's "vertually" infinite. Much like Minecraft. I wanna know what happens. Oh, and if 💑 then #babies! That should cover the cause and effect portion of the infinite loop, and the baby for the trifecta!

  31. It is about Stress, PTSD, Paranoia, Fear: that drains all Creativity, Energy, Productivity…Bad Leaders impose pressure and punishment…Bad Leaders reward Slaves Obedience…

  32. Great presentation but a tough crowd. However the first guy was a reealist. I work in the construction industry and people dont care about people only getting the project done on time.

  33. I wish the first questioner had been asked what he really means when he says "the small, scrappy company can't afford to miss their numbers…" Small companies might not be able to pay their bills, they might not make rent and get kicked out of their space, but the only reason someone loses a job for "missing numbers" is because of the finite game's arbitrary goals Sinek talks about. The questioner cannot resolve the difference between finite and infinite because his mindset is completely stuck in "finite" — it's difficult to imagine there is any other way to operate. "Missing numbers" results in "shareholder dissatisfaction" results in "board meetings" and the loss of a job. But the company may have done extremely well! They just "missed their numbers." THIS is what Sinek is arguing against — the companies who are focused more on their values, that have values well-integrated with their surrounding culture and society, will outlast those who are making up "numbers" that can be "missed."

  34. I love Simon, few people have done more to break down and simplify purpose and meaning in business….and….the language of game theory is very gendered – the male metaphor for business is team sport, versus the female metaphor is the classroom. The infinite game speaks to always learning, so speaks to the classroom metaphor….so I like Sinek’s metaphor however there’s something not quite working for me. This was further reinforced by the fact that not a single woman asked a question. Are there no woman playing the infinite game at Google or are the conditions not present such that they have a voice?

  35. Hmmm, i get the feeling that his speeches are based on rhetoric. Sure we should look at other ways to balance the books, but to NOT actually FIND WAYS TO IMMEDIATELY CUT COSTS, the company will become insolvent and actually fail. I mean what company HAS THE LUXURY of retaining employees and INVITING them to solve the problem while your accruals and debts up to your eyeballs?

  36. I regret to say that but… in most of the cases discussed in this talk, Google could fit well in the Finite player realm.

  37. No I don't agree with some comments here….. Simon is right Rome compromised it's values when Carthage fell. Do any of you consider the emperor's of Rome a good idea, no matter the achievements of that society they did decline Simon's is right!

  38. I believe everything and in everything you just said: a sense of Deja vu—yesterday once more. Talk to me.

    Here's my story—

    When I founded Ideafarms ( here in India in April 2002, it was because 8 guys showed up at my office (quite a dump it was), and said they wanted to work with me. These were young guys who could have moved to any other job when our division at the erstwhile company was suddenly shut down in response to 9/11. (Context: India doesn't offer any safety nets in terms of social security or unemployment benefits) They were making good money at the time but could ill afford to go without pay for more than a couple of months. But they were adamant on working together to create a company they could call their own. 6 of them didn't have the capacity to invest since they came from lower middle class backgrounds (Average annual income ≤$15K per capita). They insisted that I should lead them and offered to work without pay—they didn't take a single penny till the first revenues came in 4 months down the line. In the next step they agreed to take a pay cut for the whole year till we could get going.
    Therefore what you say is absolutely true. This is coming to you first hand. The founding team have all moved on since, to better opportunities, but our relationships, except for one, endure.

    PS: The reason they moved out was because they saw me falling out of the infinite game and focusing on the finite. Although that was more oversight on my part, than a conscious move to play the finite one. As a consequence, the company's growth got stymied and we are still in he woods for the last 8 years. Totally agree with you Simon. I've seen and lived both lives. How I wish I could turn the clock back!

  39. I love this guy, completely renews my mindset and thinking to complete clarity; ALL the time.


    London, UK

  40. Ok, the answer to the last question was nowhere near the finite/infinite theory. For infinite game you don't really need an opponent. You play just to (continue the) play and not against another player. The examples he brought for confirmation where actually all finite games. And in fact it's not like infinite player always wins over finite player. Infinite player does not win, cause he does not compete. On the other hand Finite player can not win over infinite player, because the later won't participate in a game. But this does not win the finite player can't eliminate the infinite player. Say you are some nation or country, you are playing an infinite game, you play for the continuation of the game and to get better and better. And then comes some other nation and destroys your civilization. Did the later win? No. There was not a game. Did the former loose? No. For the same reason. But the infinite game the former was playing, has ended, cause there is no player anymore. Hence the former should have played a finite game against the later and tried to win the finite game so that he can continue the infinite one.

  41. Tom Brady plays an infinite game against himself. So did Kobe and MJ. Mike trout does too. It’s what makes them different. Sorry just a random thought of other examples in sports. Don’t rip my head off I’m a Bay Area fan but recognizing greatness should be done without bias or loyalty.

  42. Regarding the first questioner: Don't confuse "feeling like you belong" and "coushy." Take away Google's benefits. Would the employees stay? Maybe. But more importantly, would the vision and sense of purpose sustain? It's community and vision that makes an infinite approach, not the thick resources and ample benefits.

  43. 36:15 I gave orders for my horse to be brought round from the stables. The servant did not understand me. I myself went to the stable, saddled my horse and mounted. In the distance I heard a bugle call, I asked him what this meant. He knew nothing and had heard nothing. At the gate he stopped me, asking: “Where are you riding to, master?”

    “I don’t know,” I said, “Only away from here, away from here. Always away from here, only by doing so can I reach my destination.”

    “And so you know your destination?" he asked.

    “Yes,” I answered, “didn’t I say so? Away-From-Here, that is my destination."

    “You have no provisions with you,” he said.

    “I need none,” I said, “The journey is so long that I must die of hunger if I don’t get anything on the way. No provisions can save me. For it is, fortunately, a truly immense journey.”

  44. I've been watched more than 3 videos with Simon and on all of the videos, he told the story of the Microsoft and Apple)))

  45. An infinite game is played to create and strengthen a sustainable relationship between players … A finite game is played to win a goal and strengthen the our own players … An infinite game tends to a Shapely Value .. A finite game tends to a Nash Equilibrium. An infinite game normalizes itself but a finite game ends in an end game scenario

  46. Human innovation in game theory is based on an infinite games where humans will attempt to change the rules of the game over time to optimize and advance and advocate their own self interest….

  47. all finite games are competitive games ..all infinite games are cooperative games …competitive game focus on a payoff or goal and has an end game strategy…. cooperative games focus on relationships that are sustainable….like a marriage. or a friendship

  48. The most insightful of 'The mind of Simon Sinek'.

    I love this more than any other speak I've ever watched.

  49. In 21st Century reality of business finite is limited by capital which start ups generally struggle with. Large corporations have the ability to play the infinite game.
    Similarly, with politics the larger countries can play the infinite, while the smaller are finite limited.

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