Here at Y Scouts, we employ purpose as a leading factor in everything we do. Even our podcast is titled “Built On Purpose” — and we interview leaders, CEOs, and other high-level folks who share engaging stories of embracing a purpose-driven life. In this article, we spoke to a variety of business leaders who do the same — and their industries range from a coding bootcamp to an Uber for lawn mowing.
Question: What’s power of purpose at your organization? How does purpose drive what you do and how does it also play into your company culture?
The Purpose Of Purpose
Walking With Meaning
VEERAH is a women-led company crafting luxury footwear that is made responsibly with cruelty-free materials and mindfully designed for the modern woman. This purpose — basing our goals based on positive impacts on society, community and the environment — is the entire driving force behind our company. That’s why we are proud to also be a Benefit Corporation.
– Melinda Richardson, VEERAH
Infusing Purpose Into Multiple Businesses
Purpose becomes more of a factor in my business all the time. That’s been somewhat true since I started my business in 1981, but in the past two decades or so, it’s become central. And not by coincidence, with each leap toward higher purpose and domination by purpose, my business gets stronger.
These days, I’m a profitability consultant for green and social entrepreneurship businesses — and author of 10 books (endorsed by Seth Godin and others). I show businesses how they can go beyond mere “sustainability” (keeping things the same) to develop and market profitable products and services that turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.
This has been a gradual evolution, starting as a term paper typing service, then moving into marketing for individuals (resumes), marketing for small business/nonprofits/book authors, marketing for green businesses, and now working with businesses attempting to achieve sweeping social change.
– Shel Horowitz, Green/Transformative Business Profitability Expert
Promoting The Purpose In Family
My husband and I own a company called Homegrown Traditions. We share inspiring family tradition ideas and tips on how to create a happy as well as functional home.
Research has shown that strong family connections lead to increased health, less mental illness, lower stress, a happier life, and good habits, among other things.
I owned a women’s swimwear business for seven years, but my husband and I were looking to start a business related to something we could both be passionate about. The idea arose to use our biggest passion, promoting families, as a starting point. We’ve since launched holiday pillowcases for kids, birthday plates, birthday shirts, and chore charts on our website. We also offer a lot of free content, like parent-child date cards, birthday and thank you cards, etc. Although we do need to make money to support our business, or primary driving force in all our decisions is to make sure we’re promoting the importance of families and enforcing the idea that they are the most important thing in life.
– Brittney Hanks, Homegrown Traditions
Hey There Beautiful Inc. is a New York-based 501(c)(3) not for profit organization whose mission is to empower women and young girls to live their dream through education, motivation, self-awareness and self-development.
The power of purpose at our organization drives the passion behind Board of Directors. The power of our purpose allows others to believe deeply in the mission which drives the mindset to do whatever it takes to make things happen. We are all philanthropists at heart. Giving back to our communities gives us a sense of purpose and in turn then motivates us with power to give back tremendously.
Being able to change lives for young girls, women, mothers, fathers and the world motivates us every day. This creates a culture of empathy, love and support that allows us to thrive in out daily lives. Personally, I like to see the Board of Directors flourish and live their own dreams. We have created a system together to support, build and grow both personally and professional. This creates the teamwork attitude and “I will never give up on you” stance we have for each other.
It is about ensuring that your company is empowered and inspired so much so that they in turn can naturally affect others in a seamless way that is part of their everyday life.
Like my father who recently passed once said, “When you do everything with love and from a place of love, everything will fall into place.”
– Dailisha Eve Rodriguez, President & Founder of Hey There Beautiful, Inc.
A Mission In The Sports Arena
Sport Graphics, the firm behind the décor and experience at many of the country’s largest sporting events, works hard to ensure that each of our 120+ employees feel a sense of purpose. No, we aren’t solving world hunger, eradicating homelessness or bringing about world peace, but we are serving a mission. Like most, it’s easy to lose sight of the objective and then focus solely on the deliverable (some really incredible graphics, a killer design package or the installation of the world’s largest tournament bracket).
We take on the mindset that we’re part of the client’s organization. We aim to feel what they feel, see what they see (and more) as well as challenge ourselves to deliver something worthy of their reputation. At the same time, our staff — at every level – has a sense of intrinsic pride in the quality of work we put out. Our gut check: Would you show your parents, friends and professional peers what you just created? The answer has to be ‘yes.’
In order for purpose to become part of our culture, we each had to commit to being driven by it. We also had to challenging one another to do the same.
“Work with purpose” isn’t something scrawled on the wall. Rather, it’s something we re-commit to and bring with us each time we step through the door.
– Trena Roudebush, Marketing Director of Sport Graphics
Coding Bootcamp Gives People Purpose
I work at Wyncode Academy, a coding bootcamp in Miami. In a community with high unemployment, particularly for the large number of discriminated-against groups and minorities in our city, teaching adults to code is entirely purpose-driven.
Coding proves one of the most in-demand and highest paid skills in the job market. We have helped hundreds of individuals gain this skill. We also pay special attention to women and minorities through targeted scholarships. These groups typically end up left out of this lucrative career. This is especially fulfilling as most of our students choose to attend in order to leave lackluster careers that were not setting them up for a bright future. We have helped these individuals, anywhere from age 18-55, turn their life around to create better opportunities for themselves.
Our co-founder actually attended a coding bootcamp himself in Toronto, and then saw the world of opportunities that was opened up to him professionally and personally by learning this skill. It prompted him to start Wyncode. This purpose drives our company culture because it creates a community where making space to learn is key, and people are super supportive of those around them, even when they are in direct competition.
– Jocelyn Caster, Coordinator at Wyncode Academy
Purpose: The Daily Roadmap For Employees
GPS Trackit is a telematics provider supported by a dedicated community of employees. We’ve been in business for over 17 years.
People are the lifeblood of any organization. Thus, without a strongly communicated and perpetually reinforced company purpose, those people are left without direction and a sense of fulfillment with the work they produce. This can lead to work produced without passion and dedication — something no customer will stick around for.
Basically, a company’s purpose should act as a daily roadmap for all employees, driving everything they do throughout the workday. This fosters a community of devoted, satisfied employees who feel confident in both their work and their employer.
– Hannah Steffensen, Media Relations Manager at GPS Trackit
Helping Veterans Pursuing Entrepreneurship
I retired as a consultant from the Chicago office of the McGladrey accounting firm in 2006. Then, I started my own firm in Chicago, which helps veterans who want to start their own business. I bootstrapped this business from my own savings. I am also a former U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lieutenant, who fought in the Vietnam War. I created the concept for an incubator for veterans who want to start their own businesses, now called Bunker Labs.
Later, I worked with an organization to start a support program for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs in North Carolina, VetStart.
I was raised and educated to be of service to others. Now, I have channeled that effort into helping veterans who want to start their own businesses. While my business didn’t start out with that in mind, I found that helping veterans was my true calling.
– Paul Dillon, Bunker Labs
Immigrant Employees Delivering Meaning
GreenPal is best described as Uber for lawn mowing.
I’ve been in the landscaping industry for 15 years. I started cutting grass in high school. Over the 15 years I grew that business to over 100 people and sold that company last year.
What has worked for me and my best advice to leaders on building a strong team of loyalists is to rally everyone around the central “Why.”
Why does our company exist?
When I was running an organization of that size proved it was daunting, however, creating something bigger than myself was a fulfilling experience. Our company created prosperity for our people and that’s why we did what we did. Much of our operating core was comprised of Guatemalan immigrants and these were the finest people I have ever known. Typically, they would come to the United States for several consecutive lawn mowing seasons. They would save as much money as they could to improve the lives of their families back home by building homes, ranches, and setting up farms stocked with cattle.
This became our company’s purpose, our Why. In weekly meetings, we would get progress reports from our men on how projects “back home” were coming along. In the halls of our office and in the shop we displayed picture collages of all the homes, farms, and business that had been established by our people in Guatemala. Celebrating these victories gave us fuel to get through the tough times, particularly when economic recession that began in 2009.
– Bryan Clayton, CEO & Co-Founder of GreenPal
Doing Well Through Doing Good
GoodWorks Insurance, an independent insurance agency founded in 2006, uniquely gives half of its profits to local nonprofits throughout the Northeast. It’s the firm’s recipe for success, driving everything it does.
“We do well because we do good,” says CEO Chad Yonker. “Deserving local charities get much-needed funds. We reap goodwill that helps drive our growth.”
“We believe in a purpose beyond profit. Communities profit as our business grows. Our socially responsible business model and commitment to community truly distance us from the competition. We give at least 50% of our operating profits each year to nonprofits supporting local education, health, and safety programs.”
GoodWorks Community Grants go to nonprofits that support education, healthcare, public safety as well as community development in the places GoodWorks does business.
– Chad Yonker, CEO of GoodWorks Insurance
So, what’s your purpose? We’re curious — let us know!
Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.