In this episode of the Purpose Podcast I share a couple of stories about how my expectations influence my experience in hopes that you will see something for yourself and your entrepreneurial experience.
I then interview Karen Wolfgang, Owner and Manager of Portland, Oregon’s Independence Gardens. A Portland native, Karen earned a BA in Anthropology and Environmental studies from Princeton and an MA in Educational Leadership from Portland State. Independence Gardens helps people create better relationships with their natural and built environments.
This episode’s interview is likely to be one that we look back on and see I’ve referred to it often. Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Ann Arbor has a unique way of growing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Ari Weinzweig, co-founder, tells us about how they started 32 years ago with Zingerman’s Deli. The idea was that it would be unique, have food and service and be a great place to work. Unique means not copied from something else in New York, Chicago or Detroit and also that there would be only one. They’ve now grown to 9 Zingerman’s businesses (deli, roadhouse, creamery, coffee, training, etc.), 625 staff and about $50 million in sales this year.
The training company came from their core competencies (my word, not his) in customer service and vision-creation. They’re part-way through their 2nd 15-year vision and have a methodology that works for them that they love to share with others.
When I asked Ari about purpose, I was surprised that he wasn’t super clear. He referred to the Zingerman’s Experience from their mission, and then ultimately settled on the idea of leaving everybody better for the interaction with us than they were before they entered.
We share the Zingerman’s Experience
Selling food that makes you happy
Giving service that makes you smile
In passionate pursuit of our mission
Showing love and care in all our actions
To enrich as many lives as we possibly can.
Just as I would never advise anyone to have 10 core values, though that many works for Zappos, I would never advise anyone to have such a long mission, though it clearly works for Zingerman’s. If they weren’t so successful with that they have, I’d recommend they simplify to something like To enrich as many lives as we possibly can. Perhaps such a simplification would help their people be even more clear than they already are?
Buy the Change uses Trade for Better Lives for Women in the Developing World. Co-founder Kari Hughes invited me into the world headquarters (her home) for this interview about why they are, how they got started and why they do what they do. Buy The Change is a Certified Benefit Company (B Corp) (as is TedSarvata.com) committed to being part of the solution to the issues faced by women and girls around the world.
She mentioned a couple of books that were instrumental in her development: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn and Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide by Stacey Edgar.
They measure impact by how many dollars are we able to put into the hands of women in the developing world. We talked about the potential conflict between purpose and impact, the pendulum, as it were, that swings between focusing on short term benefits to their suppliers, women in the developing world, and more focus on the long term impacts, or more short-term focus on developing markets for these products. After the interview I reflected on the Duncan Berry (Fishpeople) interview on episode 30: https://purposepodcast.com/030. Perhaps that episode will be helpful for Buy the Change. What do you think?
Metropolitan Group’s purpose is “to build a just and sustainable world”. Laura Dellinger, President and Principal tells us about this Portland-based Strategic Communications agency that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary as a social-change agency.
Laura has deep expertise in the use of community engagement to mobilize stakeholders in community-based solutions to social and civic issues, is board chair at Trillium Family Services among many other current and past nonprofit board positions and recently was honored by the Portland Business Journal as Executive of the Year at their Women of Influence Executive awards.
The Power of Voice
Voice is a critical catalyst for social change.
Who has the power of voice and who does not often determines:
Who has access to decent housing, fair wages, safe food, clean water, and quality health care
Who is safe, and who feels safe and able to express their views
Who has the resources to advocate for their beliefs and rights
Who has their perspective accurately portrayed in mainstream media
Who votes, who influences and makes policy
Who has the ability to make change within organizations and communities
If you want to change the world, what should you do? On one level it’s simple, really. Get clear on your purpose and then take action. That action, driven by purpose, is what creates impact: Purpose Drives Impact. This is simple cause and effect, really. Clear purpose leads to impact. Purpose without action is simply dreaming (You can prove this to yourself by pulling out an atlas – remember those? – or Google Earth and look up a place you’ve always wanted to visit. See? You’re dreaming), while action without purpose is running in circles (To prove this, turn on your GPS without a destination and go for a bike ride. See where it takes you. No helpful voice in your earbuds.). read more
I would encourage all business owners to do some exercise … [to identify your company’s top core value]. — Su Midghall
Su Midgall of DHM Research elaborated on her purpose of Making An Impact this way: Making sure the values of our community are accurately communicated to decision-makers in government, private businesses and non-profits. We take numbers and convert them into data that contributes to better decisions and better policies that impact our communities.
In the HBR article by Clayton ChristensenHow will you measure your life? (paywall) he asks, “How can I ensure that my relationship with my family proves to be en enduring source of happiness?” I talk about this question and the article to kick off this episode of the podcast.
Ryan Buchanan shared with me eROI’s purpose: Asking why drives us toward what we need rather than what we want. Listen to the episode to find out why Ryan and the eROI team ask Why so much and what I think of that question.
Ryan tells us: “Growth for growth’s sake is not a real purpose.”
Ryan’s advice to entrepreneurs:
You’ve got to start somewhere. The beginning of next week, I encourage you to adopt some of the Rockefeller Habits, adopt the daily standup and in your first hour-long weekly meeting, discuss your values and your purpose. Start this Monday.
Before today’s interview I talk about Blueprint of We, a collaborative framework and document that I’m looking forward to trying. The idea if agreeing together how we’ll handle conflict, before we’re in the middle of a conflict, is very compelling.
Duncan Berry, CEO and Co-Founder of Fishpeople shared with us about his love for fish, Oregon coastal communities, and making an impact. He described their purpose (paraphrased) as being a company that successfully balances our bottom line with heath and growth of the communities on which we depend and long-term, smart use of our natural capital.
His parting advice to entrepreneurs is to make sure that solving a problem for your customers is intimately linked with you accomplishing your purpose. De-link them and you’ll be less successful. Link them and you’ll have a powerful engine for change.
Fish People Shared Purpose Statement
NOURISH our customers with delicious & healthy food from the sea.
RESPECT our fellow supply chain members & pay them well.
Sharon Soliday’s purpose (her “Why”) as owner of The Hello Foundation is to build bridges. What does that mean? She and her team of speech language pathologists help people communicate, and “hello” is the foundation of communication. She serves a wide range of clients including kids with autism, law enforcement personnel seeking to minimize accents so as to be better understood on the radio, people recovering from stroke, etc. Every bit of new communication skill acquired by a client is a bridge that allows connection for the rest of that person’s life, including opening up other avenues leading to new bridges.
When you think of an urban core, what do you think of? Traffic? Congestion? Noise? With Franklin Jones’ vision for B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery, it doesn’t have to be that way. (See also my earlier episode featuring Rob Sadowsky of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.) B-Line uses these amazing human-powered (electric assist) tricycles to make the “last-mile delivery” for their customers such as Portland Roasting Coffee, Dave’s Killer Bread, and Office Depot. Instead of these companies needing to use huge gas-guzzling trucks that end up empty (and thus just taking up space) most of the time, these companies drop shop to B-Line’s warehouse where their goods are re-packed into these vehicles:
Benefits to this model:
Less congestion because the vehicles are smaller and can often use bike infrastructure instead of car/truck infrastructure.
Less pollution because these are emissions vehicles. They also use far less energy than an electric-powered truck would.
Stronger community because these riders are interacting with the public. You can talk to them as they do their work (if you’re walking or on a bike).
Lower delivery costs because now smaller deliveries can be make economically.
In addition, they also pick up food that would normally go to waste from Whole Foods (using unused tricycle capacity that would normally go to waste on the way back to the warehouse) and deliver it to organizations serving hungry people.
I start this episode talking about how I hate the term work-life balance. Is your work not part of your life? Just because people think of work as being 40 hours per week (or 60, 70 or 80 for entrepreneurs), does not mean it has to be that way. You can create your life. I give some examples. Then I introduced my guest this week, Sabrina Parsons.
Sabrina Parsons is the CEO of Palo Alto Software, based in Eugene, Oregon. Palo Alto Software is focused on helping entrepreneurs and small business succeed. The business mission is to provide high quality low cost tools to small businesses.
Sabrina blogs at Forbes.com and MommyCEO.org and is the President of the Princeton Entrepreneurs Network. She balances her business life with her husband and 3 sons.
During our conversation she talked about one role of the CEO as Kool-Aid dispenser (develop and share a vision in such a way that people buy into where the company is going).
Do you have to pretend you’re sick because your child is sick? At Palo Alto Software, no one has to pretend anything.
We focus not on hours or minutes in the office, but instead on productivity. That means we need to spend more time and energy defining, “What does success look like?”
When I asked Sabrina about purpose, she first answered: “My ultimate purpose is always going to be to be the best person that I can be.” Then she went further to say it is to be a successful person and be a person who lives by her moral values. This means that when she’s a mom, she’s 100% present and working to be the best mom possible and when she’s taking on something at work, she won’t do it unless she can give 100% to it.
After the interview I related how systems can help reduce the hourly requirement. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits is a book by Verne Harnish that lays out such a system. I can help you implement or customize your practices to dramatically reduce the day to day requirements on your executives, helping you maximize the impact you’re making per unit of effort.