Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

what-does-your-business-believe-inI found this great 18-minute video by Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, on communicating what you believe. Here’s a quote from Sinek’s talk that got me thinking:

“Now let me give you a successful example of the law of diffusion of innovation. In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed up on the mall in Washington to hear Dr. King speak. They sent out no invitations, and there was no website to check the date. How do you do that? Well, Dr. King wasn’t the only man in America who was a great orator. He wasn’t the only man in America who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. In fact, some of his ideas were bad. But he had a gift. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around and told people what he believed. “I believe, I believe, I believe,” he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and they made it their own, and they told people. And some of those people created structures to get the word out to even more people. And lo and behold, 250,000 people showed up on the right day at the right time to hear him speak.

How many of them showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel in a bus for eight hours to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August. It’s what they believed, and it wasn’t about black versus white: 25 percent of the audience was white. Dr. King believed that there are two types of laws in this world: those that are made by a higher authority and those that are made by man. And not until all the laws that are made by man are consistent with the laws that are made by the higher authority will we live in a just world. It just so happened that the Civil Rights Movement was the perfect thing to help him bring his cause to life. We followed, not for him, but for ourselves. And, by the way, he gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech.”–Simon Sinek

You can watch the video here.

Elizabeth Alexander’s Prep for Inaugural Poem

Yale poet Elizabeth Alexander will give the inaugural poem at President Obama’s swearing in. She spoke on the Lehrer NewsHour about her preparation:15-alexanderforweb

“My parents were very committed to civil rights, worked their whole lives toward the goals of the civil rights movement. And, so, of course, they took me when I was a baby to the March on Washington.

And to think that here, in — in that same space in Washington, D.C., we’re going to be at a quite different moment, that in some ways is the civil rights movement coming not to total fruition, but at least coming to a moment where we can stop and say that some remarkable progress has been made, is a beautiful circle.”

Watch the video here.

“I think that poetry, cross-culturally, is one of the ways that people tell the story of who we are, of who they are. So, if you look at praise songs in various African countries, if you look at “The Canterbury Tales,” if you look at “The Odyssey,” these are all ways that people have said in verse: This is who we are. This is our story. This is how we came to this moment.

So, I think that’s one of the eternal purposes of poetry. And I think, also, hopefully, what poetry does is distill language with a kind of precision that reminds us what it means to take care with the word, that the word has tremendous power, that each word matters, and that we — if we are mindful with our language to speak to each other across the many differences between us, that that is the way that I think we’re more able to communicate precisely with one another.”