Leaders Eat Last


Leaders Eat Last

Simon Sinek

Understand what a leader is and what it takes to be one.

August 01, 2022

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The Book in 3 Sentences

Leaders are for the people, not for the numbers. We need to make people feel safe and belonged. We lead by example and in hopes of inspiring them to do more. Leaders build culture, culture builds organization. Leaders go, so do the organization.


The book doesn't discuss any theoretical principles. The recurring theme revolves around simple human biology and psychology with real life examples illustrating the effects on human behaviors. The content doesn't only apply to leaders in a corporate setting, but also to parents, couples, teachers, and other people who are part of a community.

Who Should Read It?

  • You want to be a good leader, at least not a bad one
  • You care about the people around you
  • You want to understand how Millennials struggle in the current age
  • You want to nurture a new generation of leaders

How the Book Changed Me

  • It made me think in terms of science to trigger the right chemicals in our body to make us feel satisfied, proud and loved.
  • It made understand a bit more about why Millennials are struggling in the modern world.
  • Found out human aren't free thinkers after all in a sense that our emotions, thoughts and behaviors are influenced by our natural biology.

My Top 3 Quotes

By creating a Circle of Safety around the people in the organization, leadership reduces the threats people feel inside the group, which frees them up to focus more time and energy to protect the organization from the constant dangers outside and seize opportunities.

Trust is like lubrication. It reduces friction and creates conditions much more conducive to performance.

When cultural standards shift from characters, values or beliefs to performance, numbers and other impersonal dopamine-driven measurements, our behavior-drive chemicals fall out of balance and our will to trust and cooperate dilutes.

Summary and Notes

My notes are a mixture of key passages and some personal thoughts.

  • The will to succeed and the desire to do things that advance the interests of the organization aren't just motivated by recognition from above; they are integral to a culture of sacrifice and service, in which protection comes form all levels of the organization.

  • To see money as subordinate to the people and not the other way around is fundamental to creating a culture in which the people naturally pull together to advance the business.

  • Our emotion and behaviors are affected by E.D.S.O (Endorphin, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin).

  • Endorphin: Masks pain with pleasure; Dopamine: Stimulates the feeling of satisfaction when we achieve something. They work together to help individuals survive. They are "selfish chemicals".

  • Serotonin: Stimulates the sense of pride and respect from others which makes us feel strong and accountable for those who intrust us; Oxytocin: Stimulates the sense of love and trust which help form strong social bonds with others. They are the backbone of the Circle of Safety. They are "selfless chemicals".

  • The more we give of ourselves to see others succeed, the greater our value to the group and the more respect they offer us. The more respect and recognition we receive, the higher our status in the group and the more incentive we have to continue to give to the group.

  • We are very visually oriented animals. A corporate vision statement must be something we can see in our mind's eye. That's why it's called a "vision".

  • Cortisol is responsible for the stress and anxiety we experience when we are in a fight-or-flight situation. And it inhibits the release of Oxytocin.

  • Cortisol shuts down unnecessary functions in body and our immune system is one of them. Oxytocin boosts our immune system while Cortisol compromises it.

  • Those who raise their own status simply so they can enjoy the perks themselves without fulfilling their responsibilities are weak leaders.

  • All the perks, advantages and benefits are only meant for the role you fill. And when you leave, someone else will replace you and take away all the goodies.

  • Our motivation is determined by the chemicals incentives inside us. We can create environments in which the chemicals are released for the right reason.

  • We need to find balance in every organization. If Dopamine is the primary driver, we may achieve a lot but we will feel lonely and unfulfilled no matter what. When we live in a hippie community, the Oxytocin gushing without measurable goals won't make us feel accomplished.

  • Neocortex is the part of our brain which separates us from other mammals. It gives us the ability to think rationally and critically to solve problems.

  • Limbic brain controls our feelings, our ability to trust, corporate, socialize and build strong community.

  • The more pressure the leaders of a public company feel to meet the expectations of outsiders, the more likely they are to reduce the capacity for better product and service.

  • Abundance can be destructive because it abstracts the value of things. The more we have, the less valuable things seem.

  • Stanley Milgram, a Yale psychologist did an experiment in testing obedience to authority. Volunteers were ask to shock a person on an electrocution chair. Those who were placed in a separate room where they could not see the actual person on the chair, are more likely to increase the voltage to a fatal level. Those who are in the same room are likely to stop early.

  • The more abstract people become, the more capable we are doing them harm.

  • Trust is not formed through a screen. Bring people together in real life. No technology can outdo human interactions.

  • Dunbar's Number - The maximum number (150) of close relationships you can maintain.

  • No one can effectively manage large numbers of people if there's to be a strong sense of trust and cooperation. This means we need to delegate leadership responsibilities to others in order to have an effective chain of command.

  • Give people time and energy to grow. Money won't be enough.

  • Destructive Abundance - When selfish pursuits are out of balance with selfless pursuits.

  • Integrity is not about being honest when we agree with each other; it is also about being honest when we disagree or, even more important, when we make mistakes or missteps.

  • The more energy is transferred from the top of the organization to those who are actually doing the job, those who know more about what's going on on a daily basis, the more powerful the organization and the leader.

  • Leadership comes from telling us not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. To be true leaders, to engender deep trust and loyalty, start with telling the truth.

  • See shareholder value as an outcome, not a strategy. Your main constituents are your employees, your customers and products.

  • By creating a system in which each group was preoccupied with its own metrics without concern of anyone else's or even what would serve the company best, the leaders had effectively incentivized their people to find ways to cost the company more money.

  • Millennials most significantly as they grew up: over-parenting, ubiquitous technology and greater opportunities for instant gratification.

  • The more extrinsic rewards do not add up to greater inner drive.

  • Rewards for basic participation denies children from learning the important lesson of loss, adversity, and resilience.

  • More young people are developing an addiction to distraction, or rather to dopamine-producing effects of the digital technology and online activities.

  • The biology and the mechanics of addiction are exactly for smoking, drinking, texting and engaging social media. We are conditioned to look for digital hit when stressed.

  • Only roughly 15% of the people who participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge actually donated to the charity. Most people did it for addiction and hope to gain approval from peers and feel good about themselves.

  • Social media is a really easy way to feel excluded. It makes us hyper-aware of the activities we weren't invited to and less on those which are in front of us.

  • Millennials have become well practiced at curating their lives. They know better than anyone how to manage their personal brand and present themselves as they want to be seen, not necessarily as they are.

  • Oxytocin helps fight addiction. It helps us live longer since couples live longer than single people according to research.

  • We generally don't remember the work we did but the comraderies where we came together to get things done. Does this mean Oxytocin overpowers Serotonin in general since we are more fond of the love and trust in groups than the pride in our work?

  • We need to redefined struggle to trigger our survival instinct. Organizations can exaggerate the danger outside. People need to reason to grow and fight.

  • Great organizations create a vision of the world that doesn't exist yet. They frame the challenges so daunting that no ones know how to solve it yet. This helps people to keep pushing to find ways. Like Microsoft wanted to put a PC on every desk. But it's only largely accomplished in developed countries.

Thanks For Reading 😉

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