Start with “Why”: the Golden Circle Concept

“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.”

― Neil Gaiman, Stardust.

Inspiration is the outrunner of revolutions. But where to find its source and make it efficient? According to the Golden Circle concept, the greatest motivations come from true belief in visions, the core ‘why” of their existence. Let’s figure out how this theory works and can be applied in ideas generation with Inite.

The Concept in Brief

All about Biology

The human brain, regarded from the top-down, is divided into three major parts that perfectly correlate with Sinek’s Golden Circle. First, our new Homo Sapien brain, or neocortex, is related to the “what” level. This part is responsible for the rational, including analytical thought and language. The middle two sections are our limbic brains. They are in charge of our emotions and feelings, embedding trust, affection, and loyalty. These parts of the brain account for human behavior and decision-making but have nothing to do with language.

Consequently, when people are provided with rational information, only the neocortex level is engaged, with no behavior to be provoked. The fact is that humans can be given detailed data and correct numbers, but they say they still don’t feel right because the language and the soulless evidence is not about the core. Alternatively, we directly influence their behavior when we apply the inside-out strategy and start with the “why”. For example, when somebody says he is moved by his heart, in reality, his decisions come from the central part of the brain.

Golden Examples

Sinek illustrates their marketing success by a reversal of logic. If Apple started with the conventional “what,” its promotion would sound: “We make great computers. They’re user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?”

With facts put on a silver platter, don’t you find such an offer a slush?

Fortunately for their wealth and reputational health, Apple formed a message deriving from “why”: “With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” Sounds alluring, don’t you think so?

Do you know the idiom ‘to buy into the idea”? It perfectly fits the Golden Circle concept. The goal of Apple was not just to sell people its products but to sell the idea. Though the conventional recipe of a commercial failure consists of the three aspects that include the lack of finances, wrong people, and bad marketing, the belief is what rules the world.

Well-funded companies with brilliant minds and nurture marketing conditions fall flat because they seek fame and fortune. They gain customers who want an ultimate result once and forever and, consequently, are lost in the pages of history. The possessed nutballs from garages, such as Apple and Google, work blood, sweat, and tears, not for the sake of cash, but to change the industry. They gain consumers who want to consume and preach their ideology, and, as a result, they become immortal.

The Vicious Circle

Language designates thinking, and here is the first problem. The blind disciples of the Golden Circle tend to feel safe and sound in every situation they can question with “why”. Meanwhile, Sinek writes that many of “why” questions start with “what”: “By “why,” I mean:

What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?” So, not to get trapped in the wrong meanings, you should follow the correct sense of a word.

The second problem is that people overplay their hands by making all their communications based on ‘’why’’. In reality, efficient orators and brands apply this pattern only in certain places and for specific events. For example, Apple, which Sinek widely uses to illustrate the efficiency of the Golden Circle, writes simple things on its homepage: ‘’Say hello to the future”. Communication should be balanced and follow the Pareto Principle with 80% of common sayings that make the space for the efficient ‘’why’’ 20% of statements. Otherwise, the magic of the word is lost.

The final problem is the lack of focus on product quality. People like visions, but this vision should be supported with a solution. Nobody will like a brand if it is just about flowery words with nothing significant to offer. If Apple made low-quality items, nobody would trust their innovative approach. What you do should prove what you believe.

So, to take the concept correctly and to make the most of it, you should dig into the core of ‘’why’’, apply it moderately, and have something marketable to advertise with your ‘’why’’. For this, you should learn to believe in your ideas and generate them efficiently.

The Art of Believing

Devour Information

Let the Weird in

Don’t Stay Silent

Imply the Circle


Concerning the inspirational part, try to put your concept in a motivational speech instead of a plan speech. Watch: are your listeners ready to follow you for themselves or for your offer? If they listen for the result only, you should master your idea and the way you explain it to others. Don’t forget that, as the market figures show, humans are divided into three categories of idea consumers: 2,5% are innovators, 13,5% are early adopters, 34% are the early majority, 34% are the late majority, 16% are laggards. So, before speaking to a big audience, find your focus group of innovators and early adopters who will be happy to listen to your concept.


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