Learn Academic English 4: How great leader inspire action

Simon Sinek – an author, motivational speaker, and consultant provides us with a simple model for inspirational leadership. The video has 11 million views so it is a good testament to Sinek’s speaking abilities.
Yet, I am curious who many of you are convinced by his arguments.


Vocabulary and expressions needed to understand the talk

value proposition – an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a product attractive to customers
proprietary process – a process that others are forbidden to use USP is a feature or characteristic of a product, service that distinguishes it from others
go IPO – an act of offering the stock of a company on a public stock exchange
status quo – the existing state of affairs
reversed – turned the other way round or up or inside out
assume – verb take on a certain form, attribute, or aspect; take to be the case or to be true; accept without verification or proof
defy – verb challenge; resist or confront with resistance; elude, especially in a baffling way

assumption – noun the act of taking possession of or power over something; the act of assuming or taking for granted; a hypothesis that is taken for granted
orator – noun a person who delivers a speech or oration
codify – verb organize into a code or system, such as a body of law
eminent – adj. of imposing height; especially standing out above others; having achieved eminence; standing above others in quality or position; (used of persons) standing above others in character or attainment or reputation
pursuit – noun the act of pursuing in an effort to overtake or capture; a search for an alternative that meets cognitive criteria; a diversion that occupies one’s time and thoughts (usually pleasantly); an auxiliary activity
diffusion – noun the spread of social institutions (and myths and skills) from one society to another; (physics) the process of diffusing; the intermingling of molecules in gases and liquids as a result of random thermal agitation; the act of dispersing or diffusing something; the property of being diffused or dispersed
cynical – adj. believing the worst of human nature and motives; having a sneering disbelief in e.g. selflessness of others
consistent – adj. (sometimes followed by `with’) in agreement or consistent or reliable; the same throughout in structure or composition; marked by an orderly, logical, and aesthetically consistent relation of parts; capable of being reproduced
chasm – noun a deep opening in the earth’s surface
plummet – noun the metal bob of a plumb line; verb drop sharply
permutation – noun act of changing the lineal order of objects in a group; complete change in character or condition; the act of changing the arrangement of a given number of elements; an event in which one thing is substituted for another


Questions for discussions

1. Is Apple really more innovative than the other companies? Why? Why not?
2. Sinek claims that there is a common denominator connecting Martin Luther King, the Wright brothers and Apple. What is it in his opinion on that? Do you agree with Simek? Why? Why not?
3. Sinek says that ‘why’ in business is more important than ‘how’. Do you agree?
4. What does Sinek call ‘the Golden Circle’?
5. Sinek says that ‘every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent’ What are the problems with the message in this sentence?
6. Find examples of generalizations, exaggeration, and unsubstantiated claims in the talk. Discuss them.
7. Why Sinek does not use ‘tentative language’? How does it affect his talk?
8. Sinek proclaims ‘none of what I’m telling you is my opinion. It’s all grounded in the tenets of biology’. Do you trust Sinek on that? Why? Why not?
9. Is ‘the Golden Circle’ supported by scientific evidence?
10. How do you think Sinek wants to come across to his audience? Justify your opinion.
11. What is the purpose of the talk?
12. Is Sinek biased? If yes, how exactly?
13. Why does he use brain research to support his claims? Why?
14. Is there the scientific link between the limbic brain, feelings and ‘all human behavior, all decision-making’ as Sinek claims? 15. What are the positive things about Sinek’s speech?
16. Does Sinek provide any counterarguments and rebuttals?
17. Does Sinek provide more specific information supporting his argument?
18. Did the talk work for Sinek?
19. Is it a successful talk? Why? Why not?
20.  Why Simon gave this talk?

Writing task

Compare in 500 words Tim Urban and Simon Sinek’s talks. Explain who you would trust more and why.