Linking Purpose & Profit
What's more important today, a company's profit or purpose? Are the two mutually exclusive or are they inextricably linked? And where's the evidence to support any argument?
What are the links between the two and why, even in today's more enlightened times, do some leaders still find it hard to get behind purpose just as fervently as they do profit?
In the 50th episode of the popular employee engagement, workplace culture and leadership podcast, Sticky From The Inside, your host, Andy Goram, talks to consultant, researcher, passionate advocate of Purpose and the co-author of Selling With Noble Purpose, Elizabeth Lotardo.
In this episode's conversation the pair discuss the links, the disconnects and the reasons why that might be. They also talk about how the late, Jack Welch's General Electric (GE) reign has a lot to answer for, quiet quitting and the pair share some great examples of exemplar companies who genuinely and authentically use purpose to drive profits and those who really must try harder!
Below is a full transcript of that conversation, and you can also listen here.
00:00:10 Andy Goram
Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition-smashing, consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.
This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.
So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.
00:01:11 Andy Goram
OK, profit and purpose. What's more important? Let me start by saying this is a pretty daft question in my book when it comes to business. Personally, I would say they are inextricably linked.
I'd also venture to say that if you polled a random selection, say, of leaders today, we would probably get a set of responses heavily biased towards profit. Even in these more enlightened times where purpose garners a more favourable position in the tools of successful business, I suspect it will still play second fiddle to profit, with very few people questioned rebutting the question and saying that they're linked. And why is that?
Why are the two seen as either, or, in many people's eyes? Or is that not true? Am I just peddling a position to be provocative? That is not actually about that. It's not reflective of what business leaders believe today. After all, if a guy like Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, one of the largest investment funds on the planet, has issued a letter to all CEOs of companies saying,
“Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers and the communities in which they operate. Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.”
So is the tide changing?
Maybe some of the problem is that purpose itself is conflated. Is it about doing worldly good, or is it just about pursuing a bigger reason behind what you're doing on a day-to-day basis than just making money? Is there a difference? Or is it as simple as thinking about the social impact the business has and what it wants to have going forwards?
Maybe the go forward business Trinity is purpose, profit and social impact?
Well, here with me today to discuss all this and more is Elizabeth Lotardo. Elizabeth is a consultant researcher and co-author of “Selling with Noble Purpose: How to drive revenue and do work that makes you proud.” She has authored over 20 LinkedIn learning courses and works with clients like Hilton, FiServ and G Adventures and I'm really looking forward to hearing her views and advice on this topic today.
Welcome to the show, Elizabeth!
00:03:33 Elizabeth Lotardo
Thanks for having me, Andy. It's great to be here.
00:03:36 Andy Goram
It's lovely to see you. I'm going to say “again” because we've spoken before on another gig, for Engage For Success, where again we talked about purpose, but it was a great conversation and I thought what a fantastic opportunity to get you onto this show.
00:03:50 Elizabeth Lotardo
Well, I'm excited to continue the conversation. And even though I know both of us are like minds on this inextricably linked notion of purpose and profit, I think times have really changed, even in the last several months on how business as a whole views those two things.
00:04:04 Andy Goram
I think that's entirely true, and I can't wait to hear what you've got to say about it and have a chat about it. But just to help the listeners who perhaps don't know as much about you, as I do, could you perhaps just give us a brief, better introduction than I did, into what you do and what you're currently focused on at the moment?
00:04:23 Elizabeth Lotardo
Well, I thought your introduction was fabulous.
00:04:26 Andy Goram
00:04:26 Elizabeth Lotardo
And fun fact for the listeners, I did send over a couple of talking points. So you hit the highlights. I'm the co-author of Selling with Noble Purpose, a sales book on how to both drive revenue and do work that makes you proud. I'm also a LinkedIn learning instructor. I have courses on sales, on leadership, on igniting emotional engagement, and currently I'm working on a consulting basis with a number of organisations. Everything from, “We need a purpose, and we don't have one” to, “We have a purpose. How can we live it, breathe it, operationalize it in an even bolder way in the future?” So that's how I spend most of my days. In addition to talking to fabulous people like yourself.
00:05:04 Andy Goram
Bless you. Well, I mean, that sounds like so much fun and entirely rewarding at the same time, right? Because if you're anything like me, when you're working with clients, either on that discovery phase or in that kind of like embedding, bringing to life phase, there's so much, so much to it, so much depth. And yet at the same time, you're trying to keep things high level and simple so people kind of get it. I mean, that to me is the description of fun work.
00:05:32 Elizabeth Lotardo
Right, and a purpose project, for lack of a better term, should be fun, right? We don't want to approach finding our purpose or activating our purpose in a way that makes everyone tired. That's the last thing people want to feel in the cadence of daily business. So consulting can be pretty granular, but I do do my best to make it fun and rewarding.
00:05:51 Andy Goram
Ah, I look. Absolutely. So, look, let's get stuck into this stuff today, right when we're thinking about this relationship between profit on one hand and purpose on the other. Why is this even a question, right? Why is it a question about either, or? Or are they linked?
00:06:11 Elizabeth Lotardo
Well, I think it's a question for a number of reasons. First our deep history in business leans us towards that profit side of the spectrum. And spectrum isn't even really the right word, because they are linked, but leads us to an overemphasis on profit, right? This is because for so long, centuries even, emotion was stripped out of business. We see it even now on shows like Shark Tank and certain business writings, where there's no need to get emotional about this inherently very emotional thing. And we've done our best as people to strip away any type of fluffy stuff from work. What the research tells us now, is that that was actually a mistake. And that the organisations who harness the fluffy stuff, who use that power for good, who win the hearts and minds of their teams and their customers, they are higher performing organisations than their transactional, emotionless peers. And we've all seen that play out right, both in our own work and in the companies we buy from.
When people really care, the experience on both sides, employee and customer, is drastically different. So, I think historically we've fallen into this trap that profit is the end game of business. That was perpetuated by countless business leaders. The new book about GE, “The Man Who Broke Capitalism”, is a really fantastic account of one example. But now we have this body of research telling us that that's actually not the best course for one profitability, but to the human spirit. So I think the conversation is shifting again, even just in the last year or so.
00:07:51 Andy Goram
Yeah, it's interesting. Is it? Because a few years ago, GE was the story everybody had to kind of follow, you know. If you're going to make money for shareholders, this is the route map, right?
00:07:59 Elizabeth Lotardo
00:08:01 Andy Goram
And nowadays, not so much even, I don't know, it feels like it's even getting back to the pure essence of the service profit chain to me. Which was about happy employees, means happy customers, which then means happy shareholders, right, in that order of relationship. Which feels a bit like the way we're getting today with the addition of what the wider impact is on the Community in which you work, right?
00:08:28 Elizabeth Lotardo
And ultimately that's how GE started. It was a fascinating read for me, this book. If you're listening to this, I highly recommend you read it, if you're into the purpose-profit connection. But GE started out as an employer who was hugely equitable, had a sideline into the communities they operated in. Truly believed that happy employees, created happy customers, created happy shareholders. And only when Jack Welch took reign did that start to erode. And because GE was so massive, it took a couple of decades for it to fully erode.
And what we see now is that organisations who don't have the scale, who don't have the history of delivering like that, they can erode their business in a matter of months by over emphasising profitability.
00:09:12 Andy Goram
Yeah, I think it is... it’s easy to say, but missing out the whole human piece of this is crazy when you say it out loud. Because unless it's kind of a computer to computer, server to server only ever business, it always comes down to people on both sides of the equation, right? And so, it all comes down to connection to something.
And when we come and talk about purpose, do you think that some confusion lies perhaps, in the definition around purpose itself? Or do you think that is really, ultimately, incredibly clear?
00:09:47 Elizabeth Lotardo
I think there's confusion in just about everything in this world we live in, including the purpose space. But I think most of the confusion in the purpose space is well intended.
So, for me and my business, I believe purpose is a function of what you do on a commercial level. Why you exist as a business. The value you add to your customers. What people pay you for?
I think the word “purpose” gets used really frequently in ESG conversations and social governance conversations. Gets used really frequently in philanthropy conversations. Gets used really frequently in diversity, equity, and inclusion conversations. All of those conversations are important, but we apply this word of purpose to mean a whole host of things. And I think that's one of the reasons why so many business leaders today are overwhelmed by the conversation around purpose. There's no clear definition. And that makes approaching it, and more importantly utilising it for employee and customer growth, really challenging.
00:10:49 Andy Goram
Yeah, I mean I think from our previous conversation, we both agreed that one of the issues around purpose is it not being really grounded in the reality of what the business does, right? I think... I think... I think you said something along the lines... if I'm, if I'm discrediting you or putting a phrase that you would never utter, that's my bad memory, right? But I think you said,
“Not everybody's business can solve cancer”, right?
00:11:14 Elizabeth Lotardo
Yeah, that sounds like something I would say.
00:11:14 Andy Goram
00:11:16 Elizabeth Lotardo
We're not all curing cancer. We're not all saving the world. But all businesses have value, otherwise they wouldn't exist.
00:11:21 Andy Goram
100%! So, I think that that's an interesting thing around this definition of purpose. Like, take Patagonia, right. The news just recently around, I mean, he's an amazing guy, right? An amazing guy. He has clearly instilled a huge purpose around protecting the planet within his business, and he's now going to manifest that in the ultimate, I guess, gesture of just giving it away, right now. That's not the same for everybody, right? That statement, that pursuit of purpose, is not all about saving the planet or giving everything away, or in that philanthropic, kind of, driven perspective. To your point, it can be just about
"Oh. What are we here to do commercially as a business that's bigger than just selling nuts and bolts?” Right?
00:12:14 Elizabeth Lotardo
And so many businesses sell themselves short because they think, you know, we're not Patagonia, right? We're not Greenpeace, we're not the ACLU as we have in America. So we don't get to be involved in the purpose conversation. But the reality is, if you have customers who are buying from you, you are adding value. People don't throw money around for no reason at least not for long.
The challenge is to be really clear about the impact you're having on those customers, and keep that impact as the North Star of your daily business. Make it actually real instead of just some copy that sits on a website.
00:12:50 Andy Goram
And I think, this is perhaps one of the issues that makes it difficult for people, I don't know whether making the leap is correct. You know, I sort of said at the start that if I polled an imaginary bunch of people, most people would say profit. I don't know if that's true, right? I have a feeling it's not maybe 100% out of whack, but I don't think it's necessarily as reflective as what the reality of the situation is, right? But I think, is this kind of confusion and this worldliness a problem in actually getting measurable benefit out of what purpose does for business?
Now look, your book, your position will argue that, well, we can find evidence everywhere, right? But I think it's hard for some people to kind of get that grip. You mentioned the word fluffy. It's a trigger for me, 'cause, I think some of those softer human things people wrap up as “fluffy” because they think they're just less important, right? We're not saying, we're not saying that, but how do you think these things all kind of like intertwine and come together and is there the evidence?
00:13:57 Elizabeth Lotardo
So there is the evidence, but the evidence is really specific. I think EY, Ernst and Young released a great piece on this a couple of years ago called, “Is your purpose lectured or lived?” And it speaks to just that, not getting the value of purpose after you make the investment in creating a purpose, finding purpose. You know whatever terminology you want to use there. And what they found was a lot of organisations will hire a really expensive ad agency, or spend a lot of time with a lot of consultants crafting a purpose, right? And that's a good start. And then they put the purpose on a website and maybe you can make some T-shirts about it. That's good too, but when it stops there you fail to reap the economic benefits of it. Your employee engagement doesn't change beyond a near term blip, your customers don't perceive you any differently, and ultimately your growth rate isn't going to be impacted by doing that work.
Where the meat really comes in, is when organisations are able to go beyond just finding the purpose and make it the core of daily business. Where purpose becomes the lens for decision making, be it product development, innovation, hiring, all of those things. Purpose is the NorthStar those decisions go through. Purpose is a real thing in the hearts and minds of employees and they see how their specific job, be it an accountant, a product developer in HR, how their role connects to the purpose. And when purpose becomes hugely evident for customers, which is a result of how you innovate, with purpose in mind. When your customers would nod in agreement that that is what you actually do for them. Not just some copy on a website, right?
We've all been a customer of organisations who profess to be purpose driven and then you call into customer service and your experience as a customer feels far from purpose driven, looking at you AT&T! But I think that's where some of the confusion lies, is we think oftentimes, that coming up with the purpose is the hard work. And while it can certainly be challenging, especially if you have a complex business, it’s only just the beginning of the journey, if you truly want to reap the economic and emotional benefits of that.
00:16:10 Andy Goram
Oh, I love that. I absolutely love that. And this is why, for me... and this comes through sometimes in the client work that you that I end up doing, is this very close relationship between purpose and values.
I mean, the way you describe the purpose piece around, you know, putting some words on a T-shirt or, you know, in a manual, but then it's got no bearing on what actually happens. People in the business cannot see themselves delivering that purpose. It's such the same with sets of values that you know adorn the wall murals everywhere, in every office that you can walk into, but there is no connection to them. There's no ability for the employee to see themselves living those values on a daily basis. They're not talked about, they're not highlighted, they're not called out, you know.
And I love the fact you talk about involving it in decision making. You know, for me the values side of the equation is a conscience, right? It values aren't for when the good times are here. They're there to help you make decisions when it's tough, right? They're that kind of like spine of conscious inside. And this is why I think it's really quite closely related to purpose, right in the same sense. Look! We're here to deliver this. We're here to head in this direction. Yeah, we're going to have to follow that if that's true to us. And so, let's all I mean, get on with it, let's not hide from it. Let’s not bring it out when the sun’s shining and
“Oh, today looks like a good day to deliver purpose stuff. Let's do some purpose.” Vs. “Today? It's a bit hard. We might lose a bit of money if we do that. Let's put it away.” It's a real commitment, isn't it?
00:17:49 Elizabeth Lotardo
It is a real commitment. There's a famous story about values from many years ago. It was when the Enron debacle was first...
00:17:57 Andy Goram
00:17:57 Elizabeth Lotardo
Started to break and Enron actually had their values etched in stone in their corporate headquarters. They etched it in this giant piece of marble that sat in the lobby. And number one value etched in stone? Integrity.
00:18:12 Andy Goram
00:18:14 Elizabeth Lotardo
And I think that just goes to show the words on the page, be them on a website, on an employee manual, or literally etched in stone, are just that without actions. Are just words. And I think, back to the reverse of that, a really powerful example of living our values - Southwest Airlines, right? Their purpose is to “Democratise the skies”. It's a budget-ish airline here in the US.
So 10-12 years ago, I think ,there was a lot of other airlines, Delta, United, Global Airlines decided that they were going to charge for checked baggage, right? There was going to be, you know, even though we've been doing this all along, now it's $35 for you to take your stuff with you on vacation. So a SouthWest group of accountants went to the board and said,
“Listen, if we hop on this train, everyone else is already doing it, we won't be the bad guys because everyone else is already doing it. We can add, you know, several million dollars to the bottom line, of just profit. We have no extra expenses. We're loading these bags anyway. We are just going to charge people for them.”
SouthWest's purpose is, “Democratise the skies” right. This creates a little bit of tension. We're talking about something that would go against our purpose but add a lot of money to the bottom line.
They ultimately decided not to do it.
00:19:38 Andy Goram
00:19:39 Elizabeth Lotardo
Because it was not in keeping with their purpose. They said “It is against our NorthStar to democratise the skies, if we start charging for bags, full stop. We're not going do it.”
Instead, they launched an ad campaign that was, “Bags fly free.” Again, all of their competitors have announced within the span of 8 to 12 months that no longer can you take your stuff with you on vacation for free. You have to pay for it.
SouthWest's true to their purpose is saying, “Our purpose is to democratise the skies. Bags fly free.” SouthWest added $100 million to their bottom line, which pales in comparison to the 10 or 15 they would have added had they started charging for bags. Because their purpose gave them a sight line to differentiation. They said, if our purpose is to democratise the skies, we're going to act like that. And because no one else was acting like that, they were able to capture the market in a way that their competitors failed to do.
So, I think the two sides of that, Enron, right, having those same words “ish”- Integrity – etched in stone in the marble lobby, but not actualising them in decision, versus SouthWest also having a purpose and values and really, living by them, the two could not be more different in terms of result and how we view them today, even a decade plus later from their decisions long ago.
00:21:05 Andy Goram
Absolutely famous examples and great examples of what employer brand and consumer brand do when they match up right and when they don't match up. And you know, the marble, the marble stone thing about Enron is just brilliant. It's classic. It's something I use all the time when we talk about values with clients. Because other than integrity being a trigger for me, which, listeners to this podcast would be bored of me talking about, the fact that it was then etched in granite and then they behaved in a completely anti-values way is just a classic watch-out story.
I'm interested in what you've just said though, reading between the lines maybe a bit. Because there seems to be this other piece of friction between a short-term attitude like the accountants of Southwest who says, “Hey, we can get 10 million dollars on the bottom line if we do this”, versus the long-term view of, “You know what? We might not make the little bits and pieces today, but in the long run we're going to be in a much better situation.” And from my perspective, I think purpose, values, culture focus, they all suffer from the short-term focus and the need to get results now. Whether that's because they are VC backed or whatever it might be, there's a real need for short term, and a reluctance, perhaps, for long-term. Now, in all the work that you do, and the book that you've written, is that right? Is that alive and well, that fight between short term today and long term tomorrow?
00:22:35 Elizabeth Lotardo
That's a fight when it relates to purpose and I think tonnes of other elements in business. The need for short term profitability is real, right? Payroll is due on Friday and if people don’t get paid, purpose isn’t really gonna put food on the table tomorrow. Purpose is a longer-term initiative. That said, there are some real wins for it in the immediate future. Things like recruiting, like retention. They’re really costly short-term endeavours that we know can be made more impactful by something like purpose.
That said, I think we kind of throw our hands up at all of the long-term strategy. We don't have time and to me, long term, that's a moving target. And never has long term been more immediate than now, right? We see organisations or employers getting cancelled overnight. We see people rising to fame in a matter of days thanks to TikTok. So I think, to throw your hands up and say,
“Well, it's a long-term strategy, it's going to take us 18-24 months to get any type of benefit”, that's not necessarily the case.
Don't underestimate how quickly word can spread. And the reality is we have all kinds of examples of people who have harnessed the power of purpose and within a month seen exponential results from it.
00:23:54 Andy Goram
I mean that's entirely true; I think.
There are long term gains, but there can be immediate impact, right. These things do take time to embed. You don't change a culture overnight, but you can impact it and you can set out a stall and you can make change happen, right. It does take longer.
But when you're talking about really good examples of companies that have really committed to a purpose and really kind of seen the benefits, which ones, outside of the ones we've mentioned so far today spring to mind for you, as ones you hold up and talk about to people, and why that is.
00:24:31 Elizabeth Lotardo
There's a lot of commonality in the purpose space. Like everyone thinks, Patagonia, right? Of course, they're in the news for purpose. Everyone thinks, you know, anything in the non-profit space is directly correlated to purpose. But to me, the more interesting examples are how organisations that perhaps more as differentiated or ESG focused have used the power of purpose to create really special places to work in. Really special places to buy from. So, one organisation that I talk a lot about in Selling With Noble Purpose, is Atlantic Capital Bank. Their recently acquired their former name it's Atlantic Capital Bank. But they are a commercial bank. And there's thousands of commercial banks in the United States alone, yeah. And their offerings are not hugely differentiated, right? They're not offering zero percent loans. Their rates are fair based on the market and based on their competitors, but they have harnessed the purpose, “We fuel prosperity” to create a culture that is so magnetic they were one; able to attract employees,that drove innovation, that drove culture, that drove customer growth and customer wins. And two, their customers started to feel the difference. And it leaks out. And I say “leak” in a really good way. In a million tiny, tiny ways, right?
You can feel it when you interact with someone who's all in, from a customer service perspective. You can feel it when the organisation you're buying from actually cares about you, versus, you know, press 18 to talk to a human. So, I think we're trapped in a way by looking to Patagonia, by looking to organisations like here in the US we have Saint Jude, by looking to Tesla even, with their electric vehicles. We’re trapped in this thinking that in order to harness the power purpose, we have to have breakthrough offerings that are completely differentiated and, you know, make a huge dent in the universe from an environmental or social perspective.
And those things are great. But the reality is you can be a bank, you can be a plumbing manufacturer. I wrote about one of them in Selling With Noble Purpose. You can be a travel agent, and don't underestimate the work that you do and the impact that it has. Because when you claim that impact and use it as a NorthStar, it's only just the beginning of what you can accomplish.
00:26:55 Andy Goram
Is there are there any specifics that you could share from Atlantic to sort of why they set themselves apart in a commoditised world really that they operate in?
00:27:04 Elizabeth Lotardo
I think they were able to do that for a couple of really important reasons. First, this sense of purpose was innate in them. It wasn't as clear and defined, but their Founders founded the organisation wanting to make a difference, recognising that the commercial banking space, particularly Atlanta where they’re Home Office is, was really hairy and challenging for clients to deal with and didn't have great solutions. So, there was a true north at the heart of the business from the get-go, which made it a little bit easier. They just didn't have the words to describe it. And I think that's a trap for a lot of organisations as they get bigger. That inherent kind of we're-doing-something-feeling is challenging to scale without clarity of language.
I think another reason they were able to do it in addition to having this NorthStar kind of innate to the heart of the business, is that the market was ripe for it. And again, we think all the time about organisations who are these breakthrough innovators, but in a commoditized space, much like banking, much like manufacturing, these gritty businesses, they're ripe for an organisation to break out and do something differently from a cultural and a customer success perspective.
So, I think the two of those things were big factors and how they are able to differentiate. And the third would be the need for innovation, right, is kind of connected to point #2 in a commoditised space. When you have purpose as NorthStar you’re able to think differently as an organisation. Everything from where you invest in, the types of customers and when how you support those customers over time. That's again that longer term strategy. You really start to see gains there. And all three of those things, the NorthStar at the heart of your business, the commoditised space and a push for innovation, those three work together really well and can make purpose really sticky inside the right organisation.
00:29:01 Andy Goram
And let's maybe take a bit of a leap and think about the internal benefits around purpose, right? So, if we take a phenomenon, I say, I use the word phenomenon, probably incorrectly. But if you think about something like quiet quitting, which is all over the papers over here right now, right. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. There's a bit of me that feels annoyed. And there's a bit of me that feels like a grumpy old man, like, well, we're all kind of here to work. And there's a bit of me that sort of says, it's probably come out of employers taking the Mickey. Like pushing employees too hard, no empathy, no kind of like conscience around it.
But if we think about putting purpose into action, I mean that's not my feeling. I'm interested in your view. My feeling is that purpose driven organisations should, with the right behaviour have less of a cause to worry about something like quiet quitting, right?
00:30:01 Elizabeth Lotardo
I agree. And this quiet quitting conversation bothers me a little bit, because I think we apply that term to too many things that are different, right? So quiet quitting, people mean everything from “I'm no longer gonna check my e-mail at 9:00 PM”, which should be an acceptable course of action in most roles and most organisations, versus,
“I'm not going to care anymore. I'm not going to take on any projects. I'm going to emotionally disconnect from this entirely.”
Those two things are drastically different.
00:30:35 Andy Goram
Massively so. Massively so.
00:30:37 ELizabeth Lotardo
And we use this term... “We”, I guess, like LinkedIn and the world, use this term quiet quitting to apply to both, which makes no sense, because they're drastically different behaviours and results in drastically different outcomes.
So for me, if an organisation is purpose-driven, back to your question, does that make them not immune but less susceptible to something like quiet quitting? I think it does, particularly on the emotional engagement side, and this is what the research tells us, right? When someone is fully, emotionally engaged in their work, they literally use different parts of their brain. They're using their frontal lobes. They're better strategic thinkers. If you give someone whose frontal lobe is engaged a maths problem they are more likely to solve it, than someone who is using the middle part of their brain.
So, certainly we know that when purpose ignites the frontal lobes when we know we're in for something bigger than ourselves, we show up to work differently. That said, I do think there's a flipside to where if you do care so deeply about your work and you don't take time to disconnect, you can become burnt out easily. So I don't think purpose-driven organisations are necessarily immune from things like burnout, but I do think they're less likely to fall into a trap of lack of engagement, which to me is more insidious in the quiet quitting conversation.
00:32:05 Andy Goram
Yeah, the silent majority is where the problem is. I think with this stuff. But I'm 100% beside you on that kind of uncomfortableness with how quiet quitting, in its original essence has been kind of blown out to be,
“I'm just working to rule. It's not in my job description. Forget about it. I'm not doing it and you can't ask me to do that.” I don't think that's where started out. I think that's where it's kind of been taken.
OK. I'm thinking here as well though, that we've talked about benefits, we've talked about some great examples, we've talked about the connection internally, we talked about NorthStar, and everybody kind of like feeling where they're going. In some businesses they're still not connected. They might be there independently, but they're still not connected. From your perspective, from the research that you've done, from the clients that you've worked with, what are the secrets to connecting the two successfully? And what are some of the biggest lessons that we could learn that you've taken from others?
00:33:09 Elizabeth Lotardo
Well, start with one of the biggest mistakes...
00:33:11 Andy Goram
00:33:12 Elizabeth Lotardo
That people make when it comes to connecting purpose and profit. And that is to wait for someone to do it for you. To wait for your CEO to get up there and spell out just how exactly your job connects to the noble purpose, to use my own language of this organisation. Or to wait until there's a big seminar about your purpose. The reality is we are each in control of our own destiny. And finding purpose at work is a choice. It's great if your organisation is championing that. It is exceptional if you have a CEO or a senior leader who messages that on a regular basis. That's what I help clients do. But they're not imperatives. They're not required for having a meaningful work experience. You can create a purpose driven culture inside your own cubicle, or inside your own laptop if you're working from home. It's all about dialling into your ripple effect. How does what you do on a daily basis impact your coworkers? How does it impact your customers and how does it impact the communities you serve?
And it's really easy to sell yourself short here if you're working for big companies. “I just do these reports. I send them to so and so. I don't know where they go. My job is completely mundane.” Don't fall into that trap. A helpful way to look at it is to ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn't do these things? What would happen to my team? What would happen to our customers? What would happen to the Communities we serve, in the short-term and in the long-term?”
When you start to let your brain go there,
“What impact am I having? And what would happen if I didn't do this?”
you become more connected to the purpose of your own work, regardless of what your company is doing. So, don't make the fatal mistake of waiting for your company to have the perfect statement, the perfect message, the perfect CEO. Because oftentimes those things aren't going to come soon. But you cost yourself so much in the long-term when you wait. So, take control of your own mind and don't let yourself again throw your hands up, because it's not perfectly laid out yet. You have the power to explore purpose in your role, just as a party of one.
00:35:28 Andy Goram
I love that, I really do love that. And I don't know whether it's because I'm British and we don't like to sort of like self-congratulate ourselves too much. But I can't tell you how many times when I was in corporate or outside consulting, but it's really hard for lots of people to kind of really see the true benefit of what they do. They’re just head down, bum up, working.
00:35:48 Elizabeth Lotardo
And you don't have to say it out loud if it makes you uncomfortable? I see you, British folks, around here. We're not all “I'm awesome”, as we say in America. But just think about it and even if it feels a little awkward and clunky, you're doing your brain a huge favour when you take it there.
00:36:06 Andy Goram
I think... I think you are. And I think some of the most joyful things I've had the pleasure of helping people with over all the years, is observing and putting forward a hypothesis for what their purpose is or what they actually do, and how it actually does benefit other people. And when you have somebody else talk about what you do in that kind of light, it's just beautiful to watch people's reactions. They kind of like put their shoulders back and their chins a little higher, and all of a sudden they think about themselves in a different way. And even just that physical state change makes amazing things happen. A little bit of self-belief.
00:36:45 Elizabeth Lotardo
A little bit of self-belief. It's like that famous movie, “It's a Wonderful Life”, which comes on every year for the holidays. We're not all going to have that moment. But when you see how what you do on a daily basis impacts the people around you and sometimes really profound ways, it changes you fundamentally as a person, as a leader and as a teammate.
00:37:05 Andy Goram
It's so true. And that's one of the reasons why I love talking about this topic.
I can't not ask you while you're here, Elizabeth. So I love our conversations. I really love this stuff about purpose. For me, I'd love to know what was the inspiration for you, in even putting pen to paper on this stuff. What was it that triggered inside you to say “You know what? I really need to write this.”
00:37:31 Elizabeth Lotardo
Well, Selling With Noble Purpose was originally published in 2012 and I was not a co-author on the original. But when we when we started this conversation, we talked about how much has changed in business over the last year. That's certainly true over the last 10 years. So, when Selling With Noble Purpose was first published in 2012, it was largely anecdotal. We didn't have the research. I say “me”, the founder of our firm, McLeod & More, Lisa McLeod was the original author of that book. We didn’t really have the research to back up our claims that these people and organisations who sold with a sense of purpose outsold their competitors. It was more just anecdotal, like, “Here's kind of what we think.” But in the ensuing decade we worked with hundreds of organisations to make it a reality. So, when we set out to publish the 2nd edition and Selling With Noble Purpose, which I am a co-author on, we looked back at a decade of project work and tracked people results both individually as teams and at larger organisations, and we saw that without a shadow of a doubt, when purpose is made realised when it is truly the NorthStar of the business, not some copy on a website, the results are absolutely incredible, from employee engagement to customer advocacy to again overall organisational performance.
So I think knowing that we had such irrefutable research on this, built the case for “We need to share this with the world.” And I know that tonnes of other books have been published in the purpose space in the last several years in addition to our own, and the collective awakening that has taken place around this topic has been really inspiring to see.
00:39:08 Andy Goram
You know, it's it is a great space. It really is.
Look, we are rapidly running out of time, which saddens me greatly. But before I let you go, we've come to the part in the show I call Sticky Notes, Elizabeth, right? So, what I'm looking to get from you here is your three best pearls of wisdom on how the listeners can forge a closer link between profit and purpose, in this case, that we can fit on 3 little post-it notes that people could take away. So, what would your three Sticky Notes be today?
00:39:37 Elizabeth Lotardo
My 3 sticky notes today would be #1 articulate your ripple effect. How does what you do make a difference?
Secondly, ask yourself, what would happen if you didn't do all the stuff you do on a daily basis. That can help you get clear?
And third, don't create a false dichotomy between profit and purpose. You deserve to have both. We all do.
00:40:00 Andy Goram
Those are three fabulous sticky notes, and I particularly love #2. That question is such a great question to ask people.
Elizabeth, I've so enjoyed seeing you again and speaking to you on this topic. I love the way we find great things to talk about and fabulous examples, and as time goes on we're going to find more, right? More people are going to be doing great things.
00:40:22 Elizabeth Lotardo
Every day there’s a new example of the case for purpose and what happens if you miss it?
00:40:28 Andy Goram
Well, let's both keep our eye on that and and keep talking.
We will put links to the to the book and all the things we've referenced today in the show notes, but just from your perspective, where's the best place to be able to get hold of it?
00:40:40 Elizabeth Lotardo
The best place for people to get hold of it is typically Amazon, but you can buy it at local bookstores as well. The title is Selling With Noble Purpose. Make sure you get the 2nd edition. That is chock full of research and case studies. You can also find me on LinkedIn. I put a new article out and a live show every week on finding your purpose at work.
00:40:58 Andy Goram
Brilliant, Elizabeth, thanks so much for coming on the show today. I Really, really appreciate it.
00:41:03 Elizabeth Lotardo
Thanks for having me, Andy. Great chatting with you as always.
00:41:06 Andy Goram
My absolute pleasure you take care. See you soon.
OK, everyone, that was Elizabeth Lotardo, and if you'd like to find out a little bit about her or any of the things that we've talked about in today's show, please check out the show notes.
That concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.
If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside podcast. until next time, thanks for listening.
Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.