Purpose News: November 2016

by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip

Here are some interesting developments from around the world on the topics of purpose and social impact...

Three Ways to Find Purpose at Work

Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO of EY, wrote a great article for the World Economic Forum on how to find purpose in your work.

The idea that a company should stand for something bigger than profit has a long history in business. But in the last few years, it’s become central to the public dialogue. In fact, a recent study we conducted with Oxford University Saïd Business School found that public conversation about purpose has increased five times over since 1995.
But talking about purpose is the easy part. Really, it’s just the first step.

Harvard Business Review: The Type of Purpose that Makes Companies More Profitable

We hear more and more that organizations must have a “purpose.” Purpose is on the agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and discussed by celebrity CEOs like Richard Branson of Virgin Group, who has said, “It’s always been my objective to create businesses with a defined Purpose beyond just making money.” Oxford University and Ernst and Young found that public dialog on purpose has increased five-fold between 1995 and 2016.
But is all this talk about purpose actually delivering business results?

At 12th Annual Forbes CMO Summit, Focus On Culture, Purpose And People

Indeed, purpose was a term used repeatedly during the Summit, as all brands acknowledge that we are well past the stage of realizing that authenticity and transparency have become table stakes for successful marketers. Younger generations of consumers and employees, those who have grown up on social media and accessibility, are particularly driving the demand for cultures that foster access, visibility, achievement, ownership, collaboration and communication.

The Motivating Power of a Massive Transformative Purpose

Eradicating diseases, mastering flight, near-instant global communication, going to the moon—humans have developed a taste for making the impossible possible.
Though we still face a daunting list of global challenges, we’ve learned that science and technology can uncover big solutions. But mind-blowing breakthroughs don’t just happen. They take teams of bright and dedicated people chipping away at the problem day and night. They take a huge amount of motivation, toil, and at least a few failures.
To solve our biggest problems, we need people to undertake big tasks. But what drives someone to take on such a difficult, uncertain process and stick with it?
There’s a secret to motivating individuals and teams to do great things: It’s purpose.
Social movements, rapidly growing organizations, and remarkable breakthroughs in science and technology have something in common—they’re often byproducts of a deeply unifying purpose. There’s a name for this breed of motivation.
It’s called massive transformative purpose or MTP.

And finally, coming soon is the movie, A Dog's Purpose. Even dogs have a purpose!

The Future of Career Development: Creating your own Path

By Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch

"For too long, we as educators have told students what to do, what to study, and what to know. We have had all the say in what they learn; but there is another way. We can design learning environments that give young people the freedom, the tools, and the leadership that empowers them to create their own path.”

-Tyler Thigpen, Doctoral candidate in Education Leadership (EdLD) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

When I graduated from college, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  (Sound familiar to anyone else out there?)  I had a lot of interests, but bounced wildly between different ideas.  In fact, I literally had everyone who visited my dorm room pull a major out of a hat, and I kept a tally on the wall.  Seriously, I wish I was joking.

As many do, I took the usual, well-known career assessments.  In fact, I still remember the top career match from one of my reports was “Zoo Director.”  (Which does, in fact, sound kind of awesome.)  However, just because I love animals, does that really mean that I should study Zoology, buy some khaki shorts, and spend the rest of my life running a zoo?  Next, I got a litany of the usual choices – sales, politics, journalism, law, and many others.

The problem with these assessments were that all of them tried to put me in a box. That wasn’t very helpful in 2000, and it’s even less relevant in 2016.

Because here's the deal ---

In today’s economy, most students will change careers several times throughout their lifetime.  And because of technology and innovation, many students will have jobs in the next 10 or 20 years that haven’t even been invented yet.

As we were building PurposeMatch, I reconnected with a college friend of mine named Jenn Calvert.  Jenn is now Dr. Jennifer Calvert, Associate Dean at Stanford University.  Jenn taught us something that really shaped our vision for PurposeMatch.  Stanford had been creating campus-wide initiatives around helping students build a meaningful life.  This work has been greatly influenced by a Professor at Stanford named Dr. William Damon, who in his book, Path to Purpose, defines purpose as “finding work that is meaningful to yourself, and that makes a difference beyond yourself.”  So philosophically, that's pretty much what we’re all about.  But what we hadn’t yet realized, was that in order for students to design careers of purpose, it’s important that they be self-directed, lifelong learners. They needed to learn to create their own paths and be adaptable to whatever the future holds.

Next, I began speaking with another friend of mine named Tyler Thigpen, who’s a Doctoral candidate in Education Leadership (EdLD) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Tyler is an amazing guy – he’s been a pastor, Co-Founded a Charter School, has a Masters from the Kennedy School of Government from Harvard, and for his PhD, he’s focused on building mentorship organizations.

I still remember one of our first conversations about PurposeMatch, when Tyler said that he was particularly motivated to help students discover their purpose. He told me the following ---

"For too long, we as educators have told students what to do, what to study, and what to know. We have had all the say in what they learn; but there is another way. We can design learning environments that give young people the freedom, the tools, and the leadership that empowers them to create their own path.”

That nailed it.

In countless discussions with Tyler, Jenn, others from Harvard and Stanford, as well as my contacts in Silicon Valley, we kept hearing the same themes:

  • More than ever, this generation wants to find purpose in their careers.
  • The future of work is rapidly changing.
  • As a result, it’s important to empower people to create their own paths.

Recently, I met up with a friend of mine named Lisa Calfas, who graduated from Stanford and now works for Google in New York. We talked about what she's learned over the years, including how she's applied what she learned while taking the "Designing Your Life" class with Bill Burnett and Dave Evans when she was a student at Stanford. One thing that she mentioned was that her role at Google didn’t fit “cleanly” in any one category.  On one hand, she deals with a lot of data and analytics.  On the other hand, she works very closely with the sales and marketing team.  All to say, nobody could have told her that this job would be a perfect fit for her.  Instead, the job she has, and more importantly, the career that she’s building, is only found in understanding herself, designing her own path, testing out these different visions for her career, and learning along the way.

This is at the heart of PurposeMatch.  On a deeply personal level, what drives me to build PurposeMatch is what I wanted back in 2000.  Basically, I’ve always lived with a strong awareness that life is very, very short.  And as a result, I don’t want to waste it.  When I’m at the end of my life, what will matter the most is --- did my life and career make a difference?  Did I make a positive impact on people?  Did my life matter?

And the most exciting thing for me, is to know that I’m not alone.  Millennials will be 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and studies show that more than anything else, they want careers that have meaning and that make an impact.  So what we’ve built at PurposeMatch is a tool that helps people discover their purpose, design a vision for their life and career, and take the next steps.  To build careers that solve the biggest problems in the world.  To live in ways that serve others.  And if we do that, there’s an opportunity that together, we can make a positive impact like the world has never seen.

We invite you to sign up for an account on PurposeMatch.com, and would love to hear what you end up doing with your life!