Purpose

Most of us are looking for purpose in our lives, but are we also doing it in our jobs? It is one thing to enjoy what you are doing, but why are you doing it? Just for the money? Is what you do good for our planet and society?
I have worked in digital advertising for well over 12 years and while I enjoy the ever changing landscape, the analytical and strategic side and the customer contact, it does not fulfill me anymore. The more I think about what is wrong with this planet, the more I want to do differently. This is why I started leading my company’s green team two years ago as a volunteer.
Still this is not enough. I want to drive change in people’s and companies’ behaviour and make this world a better place.
Looking for inspiration on what 2016 could bring, I came across a conference called Purpose. How adequate and timely. 🙂 And boy was it a great event! I was blown away by the passion in the room of both the speakers and the attendees. Absolutely beautiful!
It was also one of the best organized events I have ever been to with an amazing attention to detail, all planed by Wildwon. From the wooden badges, the pins that spoke to your passion (I chose the wave as I love the ocean), the ask to bring your own water bottle to refill at water stations, the handing out of keep cups, to the packaging of the morning and afternoon teas – all compostable and picked up by a local community garden. Brilliant!
I also loved that the MC Matt Wicking mixed things up by singing, making the whole audience play a rain concert by clapping, drumming and more. Communication and networking was encouraged (‘tell your neighbor how you feel, but do it in a metaphor’) and due to the curiosity and openness in the room, it was much easier to start conversations than at other conferences, even for someone like me who is rather introvert.
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Generally, people were present. Rather than having their heads down and replying to the oh so important e-mails and pretending to be busy, they acknowledged each other’s presence and respected each other. Very remarkable.

So what we’re my main takeaways?

1. The emergence of new business models and ethics like social enterprises, BCorps, conscious capitalism and many more change the traditional world of business.
More companies are acting in the best interest of all stakeholders, not just their shareholders, and while traditional business models don’t fit these new structures, new business models are emerging. It is about doing well as a business because you are doing good, there is no trade-off anymore between business growth and doing good (or at least there shouldn’t be). The community and environmental aspects are absolutely essential for future business success and this is exciting for me.

2. Great design and systems thinking are essential.
A great quote from this session was: ‘All organizations are capable of change, all cultures are.’ (Yvonne Lee) It all comes down to giving your employees the freedom and the authority to drive change. And never forget to talk to the people you are designing for. Do they really want what you think they do?

3. A lesson for marketing (and valid for non-profits, too): Never use guilt to market a product! Suzanne Boccolatte gave some great insights around brands and design, starting with a quote from Dolly Parton: ‘Find out who you are and do it on purpose!’ A brand is not a logo, an identity or a product, it is rather a feeling, a gut reaction and reputation. It is about values and mindsets rather than demographics. Coming from digital advertising where audience data, mainly demographics and perceived interests are used day in and out, I do relate to this. What is the data good for if you don’t understand the underlying values of the people you address and don’t know how to speak their language? Mass marketing is definitely not the way forward.

4. Procurement is an untapped tool for social (and environmental) change.
Some councils and government agencies are leading the charge here and there is a lot of room for improvement for businesses. Currently working for a big corporate, I see this as one of the big opportunities that internal green / sustainability as well as community teams can influence and lead.

5. It is often easier to create a second culture, rather than try to change an existing one if you want to drive change and turn a traditional business into a value-led organization. Jason Clarke brought it to the point: ‘Every job interview is a two-way lie’, the company and candidate only show themselves from their best side. Change takes time, people will follow when the right time comes. When trying to come up with your company’s or organization’s values, make them meaningful.  Rather than using single words, phrase them as imperatives, i. e. ‘Be present!’

6. Policies restrict freedom, so the policy is not to have a policy in order to achieve a great culture. Michael Bradley from Marque Lawyers gave some great recommendations: Trust your team and give them autonomy, encourage sharing of personal stories, and give more to them than you expect from them.

One of my favourite speakers was Dr. Jason Fox with a unique personality, a massive red beard and a very specific sense of humour. His talk about motivation was absolutely fabulous.

So what am I going to do with these insights, new ideas? I want to
– learn more about systems thinking
– dig into permaculture concepts
– explore the new business models
– look for companies who are doing good in this world and learn from them
– divert the washing machine run-off to water my veggie plants and herbs rather than having it go down the drain. 🙂

One Comment Add yours

  1. Luke Freeman says:

    Great post! Very exciting times 😀

    …and I’ll have to investigate the laundry water runoff idea when I’m back home!

    Like

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