Simon Sinek on How Parents Support Career Change Decision

In Chapter 1 of 16 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, author and public speaker Simon Sinek answers "Where Has Your Family Been Most Supportive in Your Career Development?"  Sinek talks about his time studying law in London and deciding to drop out of law school for a career in advertising.  He notes that while his parents did much to influence Sinek to stay in school, ultimately they gave him space to make his own decision and, once decided, supported him in that decision.  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:  Where has your family been most supportive in your career development?

Simon Sinek:  When I graduated college, I went to law school. And after not quite a year of law school, I realized that I didn’t wanna be a lawyer. And so I decided that I was gonna drop out of law school. And I never fought so much with my parents than during this time and to make it even worse, I was living in London, going to law school there, and so they—I didn’t see them everything was over the phone, and I remember my parents tried everything. They played good cop-bad cop. They tried bribing me. They tried saying, we’re your parents and you’re gonna do this. They tried being my friend like, look, just get your law degree, then you can do anything you want. I mean, every strategy that exists, they tried, right? They tried ganging up on me, they tried leaving me alone. I mean, everything. You name it.

And my dad came to—And at the time I wanted to go in to marketing. I wanted to go into—join the ad world, right? And my dad was in England on a business trip, at about the time that I had to re-enroll, and he sits down with me, and says, so? I remember it. We were sitting in our friend’s house, a mutual friend of his, we were sitting in their house in their living room. I remember this scene exactly. And he says to me, so? And I said, I didn’t re-enroll. And the first words out of his mouth were, right, let’s get you into advertising then.

My parents were 100% against me until the decision was made, then after that point they’re 100% supportive and never, ever, ever raised it ever again. They never said, wouldn’t it have been nice or I guess this was—they literally never mentioned it again. And so I have to say, my—I’ve been very lucky in my life which is my parents will give advice, my parents will give strong advice, my parents will try and push and move you know where they would like their children to go but ultimately, once the kids have made the decision they’re 100% supportive. And so I’ve been very lucky.