Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last: Notes on Teams


I’ve said a couple of times before that I’m really inspired by Simon Sinek’s Tedtalks and other interviews. I’ve read one of his other books titled “Start with Why”, but found it to be a little too long and repetitive for my taste. I’m happy to say that this book “Leaders Eat Last” is a little bit more enjoyable and informational than I felt his other book to be. However, if you’re not much of a reader and would prefer to watch his talks online, below is a Talk about the information within this book. I will say that I will probably forgo the rest of his books and just continue to watch his videos since they are more concise and easily digestible.

Still, I wrote a few notes down that I felt were important that I thought I would share with you all!

leaders eat last

I’m mostly going to put these points into bullets, so it’s easily digestible for you guys. If I feel like something might need an explanation I’ll insert it along with the bullets and I’ll label these in chapters in case you all happen to read the book as well and want to go to specific pages.

chapter 1
  • Organizations must have empathy
  • HayssenSandiacre Company in South Carolina had a line between freedoms for floor and office workers.
    • Management didn’t trust their employees
  • The ability to transfer PTO between employees when coworkers were having hard times creates empathy and friendships.
  • Psychologists notice that people separate work and not work and they want employees to enjoy themselves at work as much as they do when they’re at home. (In this example they noticed coworkers laughing and talking at the water fountain, but when work started they became somber, as if they couldn’t enjoy themselves).
  • If you try and protect yourself from your other employees the whole organization suffers.
  • 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs.
    • A leader is like being a parent of the company.
      • Leaders see money as a commodity to be managed to help grow their people.
chapter 3
  • There has to be a circle of safety in an organization.
    • Unified team is the strength of a company.
    • Leaders are gatekeepers to organizations (both wide and small, you can only let people into your organization that will improve it and support one another).
    • Employees need to be valued and cared for by supervisors.
chapter 4
  • The price we pay for the perception of stability comes at a cost.
    • Job stability is a myth.
    • Health levels at a bad job are the same as if you are unemployed.
    • Stress and anxiety usually have more to do with management then the job.
    • The lower you rank in the workplace, the greater the stress because you have less sense of control.
    • 1/3 of employees won’t leave a job even if they hate it.
Chapter 5
  • We only survive in life because we cooperate.
  • Endorphins and Dopamine get us to where we need to be.
  • Seratonin and oxytocin are incentives used to work together. 
    • They create selfless chemicals by helping each other.
    • Dopamine makes us goal-oriented and gives us bias for progress.
      • You get a biological reward for accomplishments
      • Dopamine is highly addictive
      • But social media can cue this as well, when we check our phone every morning, so could not be positive.
    • Seratonin makes us feel pride and respect.
    • Oxytocin come from friendship, love, and trust.
      • Long-lasting, good to have at companies.
      • Employees pay it forward.
chapter 7
  • Cortisol is not really useful in civilization anymore. It protects us from threats.
    • Fires senses to threats and helps us find the source.
    • We feel safe at home but not at work, it causes a coritsol imbalance.
    • Useful in day when we fought lions but not when we work at companies.
chapter 8
  • Companies are like tribes and have culture.
  • Alphas get certain advantages and status symbols
    • Leadership also applies to entire companies.
    • If they’re offered higher ranks (money) they should protect employees lower than them in return.
  • Unless someone is willing to make personal sacrifices to earn their place, then they’re not alpha material. 
  • Things you receive are for the position you hold, not necessarily you as a person. (You only get the front parking spot because you’re CEO, not because you are Jane Smith).
chapter 9
  • It’s the responsibility of leaders to teach rules and trust.
    • You should not trust rules, but the people you have.
chapter 10
  • Boomer generation was raised that the government can’t be trusted.
  • 1976 was the “Me” Decade according to NY Magazine.
  • Everyone became wealthier BUT
    • Disposability became an indicator of wealth and a symptom of excess.
    • Soon, people became disposable too.
chapter 11
  • You can’t protect commerce before people.
  • We’re not people to companies, we are consumers, shareholders, employees, profiles, etc. to be tracked.
    • Humans are becoming virtual.
  • Milgram Experiment.
    • Volunteers were asked to deliver shocks to other volunteers at certain levels dependent on their authority figure (scientist), from minimal to fatal.
    • Experiment found that most people would give fatal shocks if told by their authoritative figure. But also dependent on whether they could see the volunteer reacting. (Shocks weren’t actually given, the other volunteers were actors) .
    • Seen as cruel experiment for obvious reasons, but still interesting.
    • People are an abstract concept sometimes.
chapter 14
  • Profit over people and laws.
    • The Titanic was found not having enough lifeboats for every person onboard, but still followed the “rules”. Resulted in catastrophic deaths. “Cutting corners”.
  • An example was apple’s tax evasion.
chapter 15
  • Numbers of people are a statistic, not people.
    • Thousands of refugees dying does not strike as hard as hearing a more in depth story about a single person.
  • Online bullying is abstract because you can’t see it.
    • Online friendships are not valid until met in real life. (I could disagree with this one).
  • Leaders need to personally know their works.
    • CEOs rely on hierarchies to do this.
  • Bringing customers into bank and explaining loans have a greater effect than any other form of communication.
  • Adam Grant, a management professor surveyed thousands of executives and only 1% said that managers should show employees how their work makes a difference. 
  • Money gifts are abstract to actual work. 
    • We put premium value on those who give their time and energy more. 
    • Energy – actually paying attention – not using your phone in a conversation.
chapter 17
  • In a weak culture we do “the thing that’s right for me” not, “The Right Thing”.
  • The more leaders focus on their own wealth and power, the more they become like tyrants.
    • Causes eventual collapse.
  • Give authority to those closest in an organization.
chapter 19
  • Integrity – owning ones responsibilities.
  • Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. 
  • Incentive structures promote dopamine.
  • Instead of making news interesting, make interesting news. 
    • The drive to wind should not precede the desire to take care of the people we serve.
      • Clickbait articles, overdramatic, fake, or exaggerated news stories.
  • Boomers made their children distrust and believe they deserve everything.
    • Gen X & Y believed they could have everything they want.
    • Y is better at distraction.
    • Confuse real commitment with symbolic gesture.
      • Example: 1:Face, where you buy items in representative colors to “raise awareness” and “drive conversation”, instead of actually dedicating money or time to the actual cause.
    • Best days at work are when we overcome hardship.


I bolded the parts above that I felt were the most important and some which I have seen in my own career or even outside of my job. I don’t hold a high position at my current job, but I take pride in it and I find that I’m allowed and encouraged to enjoy it as I would my time at home. Myself and my coworkers take care of each other, and help each other across the board, but I find there is still a bit of stigma when it comes to our management, or a disconnect.

It’s not necessarily one that I feel or agree with, but can see it from time to time and understand my coworkers position and thoughts and this book gives just a bit of insight into that. Regardless, I wanted to go just a bit deeper into some of my bolded parts.

  • Disposability became an indicator of wealth and a symptom of excess.

This is a fairly common practice that happens in our society today and really sticks out to me as I make my journey into the zero-waste community. This isn’t just with material goods, but as Sinek points out, with people as well. I think this is even moreso relevant today as we continue to wreak havoc on our planet with disposability. This also lends to the idea of people and our planet being abstract. Throwing out and using as much plastic as we do, we don’t see the immediate result of our actions. We have landfills that we can’t see, and while we do feel a bit of the global warming, it’s not enough to change the actions of most people.

  • Confuse real commitment with symbolic gesture.

This is one of most annoying issues that I seen nowadays and even growing up. My favorite go-to is “Save the Boobies” in middle and high school where boys would buy the bracelets just because it had the words “Boobs” on them without caring about the necessary cause behind it. Or buying license plates in pink or posting stickers on your facebook wall without even donating. Another thing it reminds me of is the ALS ice bucket challenge a few years ago. A good idea, but it was making its rounds as either having to donate or dump the ice water, when in reality you should be donating anyway and still doing the ice water to get more awareness. It was a fad and less about the actually issue than the fun behind it.

  • Energy – actually paying attention – not using your phone in a conversation.

I may take it back and say that this is one of the most annoying issues. Not necessarily within leadership, but with the public in general. I’m obviously guilty of using my phone at dinner or at a movie, but an excess really makes me feel like my time isn’t valued. I try to keep my phone in my bag when out with friends at dinner, or when I’m sitting down to watch a movie with everyone. Sometimes I’ll see someone spend an entire movie on their phone and I wonder what the point of sitting down to enjoy the movie together was for if they weren’t going to experience it with me.

extra info

If you guys are interested in anymore of Sinek’s work, I highly recommend his youtube channel HERE.

And if you all are interested in any of my other book reviews you can check out DEEP WORK: NOTES ON FOCUS (my personal favorite non-fiction book) or FOLLOW YOUR PASSION? (Another Cal Newport Book) or BEFORE HAPPINESS (Shawn Achor, who has my favorite tedtalk here).

If you guys have read this book or any of Sinek’s, let me know down below what you think!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *