August 19, 2018

Purpose, Incorporated [Book Review]

John Wood proclaims cause and capitalism are not mutually exclusive concepts in his latest book, Purpose, Incorporated, Turning Cause Into Your Competitive Advantage.

A pioneer in philanthropy who helped define the term social entrepreneur, John Wood demonstrates how to infuse purpose into your company, your career, and your life.

John challenges Milton Friedman’s edict that profit reigns supreme. In today’s marketplace competing for top millennial talent, the philanthropic fabric of a company’s culture matters. The four Ps of marketing (Price, Product, Promotion, and Place) still prevail, but John makes a case for a fifth P, Purpose, that is changing the corporate landscape and transforming the social sector.

A brand that is genuinely mission-driven doesn’t simply host an annual day of service or publish a casual CSR (corporate social responsibility) tweet. They also prove it on a daily basis through its corporate decisions, partnerships, and employee adoption of these values. Savvy modern media influencers are quick to scrutinize brands whose marketing doesn’t match their walk. Same goes for impactful investors who can quickly decipher the true contributors from the takers.

A business established with a mission and a vision based on values will create a workplace that makes the community and the world a better place, for a serendipitous win-win-win. The purpose driven company also attracts altruistic investors. Shareholders profit, the employees are engaged, and a scalable solution to a social problem evolves. Partnering with nonprofits who align with their mission provides one more critical method of engagement.

“The bottom line is this: purpose connects, and connections are good for business.” The B Corp, a company that includes written social and/or environmental missions into its founding articles of incorporation, is here to stay and paving the way.

Work no longer has to be a four-letter word. Hours logged, workspace and labor/life alignment are more flexible than ever before. The choice is yours, and if you choose purpose, chances are you will live a longer, happier, and healthier life.

John Wood chronicled his departure from big business to dedicate his life to a cause he embraced in Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. Nearly two decades later, Room to Read, the organization he created, has helped over 12 million children in 14 countries gain access to quality education and provided secondary school scholarships for 50,000 adolescent girls. www.roomtoread.org

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