Simon Sinek on How Growing Up All Over World Shapes Family Values

In Chapter 3 of 16 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, author and public speaker Simon Sinek answers "What Childhood Experiences Have Been Most Fundamental in Shaping Who You Are Today?"  By the age of 10, Sinek had lived on four continents - North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.  Moving frequently, Simon and his sister do not develop traditional roots and friendships.  Instead, Simon and his family become very close and learn to rely on and support one another.  Simon Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people.  His goal is to "inspire people to do the things that inspire them" and help others find fulfillment in their work.  Sinek is the author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action".  He works regularly with the United States Military, United States Congress, and many organizations, agencies and entrepreneurs.  Sinek is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and an adjunct staff member at the think tank RAND Corporation.  Sinek earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Brandeis University.


Erik Michielsen:  How are your family relationships changing as you get older?

Simon Sinek:  My sister and I are adults now. And so we have adult conversations, we will ask each other all kinds of advice that we used to ask our parents about, career advice, relationship advice, things that we used to go to our parents, you know, we go to each other now. And also you know on some level, there’s a click when you grow up at home, you’re at home, from you know, zero to 18, and then whether you go to college or go on to do something else. You leave.

And the problem is, is you keep growing up, or at least I can speak for myself, I kept growing up, but my parents knew me from when I left the house at 18, and so they would still treat me very much like the 18-year-old even though I was still growing up. And they would give me some credit as I sort of entered the workforce, you know, but they still treated me like the person they knew very, very well, even though things had changed, I’ve matured in some ways and—less mature in other ways but the point is that for a good chunk of time most of my 20’s I would say they kind of had a little warped vision of who I was because they’re treating me like the thing they knew, right?

And so I think what has happened now is it’s evened out, which is my parents are still my parents, and there’s that wonderful dynamic but we’re peers much more now. And we treat each other as peers, which is nice. It’s an amazing experience when your parents come to you for advice about something that they’re dealing with, or that my dad and I will have a business conversation, it’s just not me asking him for advice, it’s now him asking me for advice, and that’s been sort of incredible to be able to have that kind of dynamic with my parents. Yeah, huge respect, huge mutual respect. And not sort of the traditional sort of parental respect, oh, you’re my parents. But respect for each other for who we are, not just for the role we play.