Last week, I attended the February Women Communicators of Austin (WCA) meeting. Bethany Andell, president of Savage Brands, spoke to the group about the importance of purpose in business. If you aren’t clear on what that purpose is, the “why” of what the business does, then how do others build trust with that brand? If employees can’t articulate the behaviors and strategies that allow a business to fulfill its purpose, then how do they invest themselves in jobs?
Andell spoke about the need to determine a purpose word, which she defined as something that “is all about you. If this thing were taken away, you’d curl up and die.” She went on to explain that, once an individual had found the word, then a statement can be crafted. From that comes declaration of purpose comes vision, values, and even a “vivid statement” (she shared Savage Brand’s graphically-oriented purpose statement, “We believe that by helping companies discover and deliver on their purpose, we are revolutionizing corporate America”).
It got me thinking — what is my purpose word? As an independent contractor, I am my own business. It makes sense to hold myself to the same “sniff test” I’d demand from an employer and business.
Who am I? What is my work all about?
The first word that popped into my head addressed several things that are essential to who I am. What I treasure about reading and writing is the way words put people together in an intimate way. It’s the fun behind social media and blogging. It’s what I loved about my position as editor in chief of a magazine — the people I met, the places I came to know, what I could experience and share.
But the more I thought, the more I realized that, while important, connection was not the be-all, end-all for me. I value solitude and individuality too much. It would take me a while to “curl up and die” if connection was removed.
The longer I pondered, the more I leaned toward curiosity as my purpose word.
Without curiosity, there is no connection to be made. It’s the desire to experience, to know, to meet, to discover that drives connection in any form. My favorite articles to write involved new people, places, activities. The best books, movies, TV shows transport me somewhere exotic, strange, or unfamiliar. I always want to know “why”; I never like to go the same route twice; my blog is titled “Enjoying the Journey” because of this emphasis on the experience, not the end product alone.
Curiosity is what leads me to discussing women in the whiskey industry, experiencing the lean behind a MotoGP rider, moving to a new neighborhood, changing careers, and walking up to a stranger to ask questions.
‘The more we do, the better we do’ needs to be balanced with purpose. ‘Why’ leads to ‘plan.’ ~Bethany Andell, Savage Brands
Books to Read
I always love a recommended reading list. Here are works that Andell called out during her presentation on determining the “why”:
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia (available as an audio book)
Start with Why by Simon Sinek (Andell also mentioned this TED talk by the same title)