Mom and I randomly met motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, and this is the lesson I learned.


It was a cold Thanksgiving morning in New York City. Mom and I were deciding on a place to get breakfast. I proposed to take a cab to a French café we wanted to visit for a while, about 10 blocks away from our hotel. In return, mom offered we save the money we would spend on the cab and rather visit a nearby diner. Since we were not terribly hungry and mostly wanted to get some hot drinks, we chose to go with the nearby diner.

Fast-forwarding 30 minutes, we were occupying a booth near the diner’s window and facing one another. Mom was sipping from her cup of coffee while I was finishing a plate of pancakes. At times, I would take quick glances at people passing the diner. I was about to take another bite when I noticed a person passing by. Without hesitation, my eyes lifted to take a closer look. From the very first moment, I knew that I had seen that man before. While knowing in my heart that I had seen or met the man before, I could not remember under which circumstances we had met.

2 seconds passed since I first saw him. I noticed him distancing himself from the diner’s window. I could not let go of the fact that I knew him. That haircut… Those glasses… That humble look I remember so well…


I yelled inside my head. A second later, I turned toward mom and screamed that name at her. The diner got completely silent and everyone turned toward us to see what was going on. Mom repeated the name in a questionable form,

“Simon Sinek?”

I realized Mom had no idea what I was talking about and told her that Simon just passed by the diner. Being as big of Simon’s fan as I am, Mom did not have the need to ask if it was really him or any other question to make sure that I was serious. Instead, she stood up, while grabbing her coat and immediately ran toward the exit. I followed. All 20–25 people, including guests and employees, at the diner looked lost and could not understand why mom and I yelled at each other and a second later ran out of the restaurant.

When we exited the diner, Simon was about 40 feet away from us. We continued to run toward him. I yelled, “SIMON SINEK!” He immediately turned around with a dazed look on his face. Without another moment wasted, mom jumped in front of him and said that we are his biggest fans. She thanked him for all the ideas he shares with the world and mentioned how his speeches continue to influence both of us. As for me, I was taking as many pictures, selfies, and videos as I could to capture the moment.

We shook his hand, took a final selfie all together and quite unexpectedly Simon asked if we wanted a book of his. He extended his hand toward me, in which he was holding the book. I nodded, and Simon passed me the book, which was a book written by him

“Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration,”

hand-signed by the author himself. Right after we said the final goodbye to each other and parted our ways.

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The whole situation took us no more than 15 minutes, but the emotions that mom and I experienced that day continue to put smiles on our faces and make us want to jump 4 days after.

While analyzing the whole interaction, I realized that during the situation I was able to practice an important leadership technique. Whether this is the first time you are learning about this, or you have already known about it for a while, I hope this article acts as a reminder — you do possess the qualities of a good leader. Check out Simon Sinek’s talks below where he defines the qualities of a “good leader.”


Well… not exactly learned because I have heard of it before.

The first time I approached this leadership concept was while watching an episode of “House of Cards,” a popular TV show depicting the rally for power within the U.S. government. In that episode, Frank Underwood, the protagonist of the show, explains why he often taps his knuckle on wood. Below, you will see a picture which mentions Frank’s direct quote. Frank’s explanation is a metaphor for the process of achieving success, which is built upon a combination of:


1) Preparation — strengthening his knuckles in case Frank ever needed to get into a fight.


2) Luck — being present at the right place, at the right time.

Once I thought of this concept, I was able to immediately relate it to mom and I meeting our idol, Simon.

1. When it comes to being lucky, mom and I could have gone to a different diner or skipped breakfast all together, but we ended up at the right place, at the right time.

2. On the other hand, we faced the preparation factor. I have realized the importance of being ready to act when the “right” moment strikes out.

Throughout most of our lives, mom and I felt self-conscious and insecure about ourselves. Both of us grew up in an environment where we were often told we must do what we are told to without hesitation, without putting up a fight to stand for what we believe is the right. One day, we decided that this lifestyle was not for us. Once we came to the United States, we chose to challenge ourselves and relearn our values and stand strong protecting those values.

One way to overcome our insecurities was to learn public speaking, which each time was likely to be judgmental toward our presence on stage. This experience has taught both of us to avoid paying close attention to certain types of criticism and concentrate on the end goal.

This is the moment of the article when we make a final come back to my story and reflect. Mom and I were lucky to notice Simon walking by us. Yet, if not for our enthusiasm to meet him, ability to ignore the crowd at the restaurant judging us for the way we acted and disregarding a voice in my head which quietly said not to approach Simon because he may just have been too busy to talk to us, we would never have had the opportunity to shake his hand, exchange a few words with each other, and experience an incredible feeling of accomplishment we have as a result.

Preparation and Luck play an important role in our lives. The combination of both has led mom and I to creating memories which will last a lifetime and will continue to influence our choices as leaders.

Thank you for everything you do, Simon. Keep up the good work!



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Below you will find my personal top 3 motivational speeches by Simon Sinek and one present by yours truly. Do you agree? Share with us your top motivational speeches.

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Mikhail GuseynovComment