Simon Sinek on Finding Inspiration to Write "Leaders Eat Last"

In Chapter 5 of 23 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, author and public speaker Simon Sinek answers "What Inspired You to Write Your Second Book and How Did the Process Unfold?" After rediscovering his passion by writing "Start With Why", Sinek sees his life become more focused around safety and security in the presence of trusted relationships. Sinek redirects this experience toward an organizational leadership context that becomes "Leaders Eat Last." Simon Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. Sinek is the author of two books, "Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Come Together and Others Don't" and "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action". He is a public speaker, an adjunct professor at Columbia University and a Brandeis University graduate.


Erik Michielsen: What inspired you to write your second book, and how did the process unfold?

Simon Sinek: My books are my journey, and the funny thing is that it’s sometimes not obvious to me. The first book was about understanding why you do what you do and finding your passion. It was born out of a personal experience where I had lost my passion, and that exercise of trying to re-find it became the book. Having had that passion, the struggle has been “Who do I feel safe around?” And my whole life I’ve been a creative misfit, so it has always been a struggle like, “Who can I be completely myself around? And who makes me feel safe and all these things?” And I didn’t realize that, that that was my journey. And a number of books, successful and failed relationships, it makes you realize that that’s all we want, is to come home and feel safe, from our friends, from the people we love, etc. And so, I didn’t realize that that’s what I was investigating because I was looking at it sort of, “What makes great organizations?” And you realize it’s the same thing, which is when there’s a circle of safety that’s drawn around us, when the leaders of our organization commit to keeping us safe, we’ll give absolutely everything we’ve got to see their vision advance. When we don’t feel safe, we will invest more of our time and energy trying to keep ourselves safe internally rather than working together to seize the opportunities or face the dangers externally. The dangers externally are a constant. Changing technologies, or the vicissitudes of the stock market, or your competition, that’s a constant. But the dangers inside the organization are a variable, and they’re controlled by leadership. So the more I started to understand that, the more I started to want to share those ideas.

Erik Michielsen: And how did you get the process started?

Simon Sinek: I went out for dinner with my publisher, (chuckles) I told him what I was up to, and he said, “That’s your next book.” And I went, “Okay.” And the strange thing is it has actually morphed to about two or three times because I then started to learn the subject more. I started to realize it was deeper than what I originally thought, so it has taken a couple of twists and turns, but it was pretty organic.