Culture Chat with David Mead from Start With Why

It is always fun to recognize and celebrate others who are out there doing great work in the world. David Mead is one of those people.

It was a pleasure to connect with David and get the chance to talk about so many topics that we both are passionate about—authentic leadership, purpose, and culture.

UnknownDavid is the Chief of What’s Next for Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team. David believes that every one of us deserves to wake up inspired to go to work, feel safe while we’re there, and come home at the end of the day fulfilled by the work we do. He works with leaders to help them create an environment where people show up to work because they want to, not because they have to. Everything David does is designed to propel people toward a better version of themselves so they can more meaningfully touch the lives of others. He speaks and works with organizations around the globe.

A few highlights from our conversation…

Q:  In the highly-distracted times we live in now, what do you see is critical for how leaders operate?images

A:  We live in a world where we often jump to the next shiny object. We need to start with why. When we have a clear vision for the world we are trying to build and then are committed to following up with intentional actions, great things happen. This is key for every group of people. We must start with why.

Q:  We live in divided times in our country and around the world. What opportunities do you see for leaders and organizations to present a different experience for their people?

A:  Labels are everywhere in our world. The labels we put on ourselves are not us. We are not defined by the label of a democrat, republican, singer, CEO, or whatever. We need to shed labels and be able to see each other as unique human beings with differing values and experiences. The best groups honor and see beyond labels and focus on the humanity of individuals.

Q:  You and I have discussed my newest book Thermostat Cultures. From your perspective, what role does a team or organization’s “Why” play in the creation of their culture?

A:  If individuals don’t have a clear and cohesive understanding of their core purpose as a group then they will just scatter off in different directions as individuals. But, when aligned, trust and cooperation is an outcome of a cohesive and inspiring culture.

Q:  Both you and I see many different teams and organizations around the world. What are your observations about the kind of company or team cultures that people want these days? 

A:  Obviously, everyone wants their basic needs and compensation met. But, people want more than that. People are looking for meaning in the work they do. We want to know we do something that matters and others have our back. We want to feel that and see that at work.

Q:  What inspires you?

A:  When I see a leader genuinely leading and caring for their people beyond just the numbers. I love the metaphor you use in your book Step Back from the Baggage Claim. When I see people in real life changing their habits or lifestyle in small ways for other people, it is moving.

Thank you, David for a great conversation and for the work you’re doing in the world!

Travel Gracefully,



Jason BargerJason Barger is the globally celebrated author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim, ReMember, and the newly released book Thermostat Cultures, as well as a coveted keynote speaker and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.

Follow on Twitter @JasonVBarger and learn more at


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