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Must read posts about purpose (5 essential insights)

The idea of purpose continues to expand with a wide range of thought leadership emerging on the topic. Here are five sources that offer some helpful insight into the movement.

1. The age of brand activism

An article in Fast Company outlines the new purpose of brands in today’s world. It is a role that goes beyond just representing products and services. Here’s a bit from that post:

We are entering a new age of brand activism where corporations must lead and inspire their consumers in a world where all others have let them down. Trump’s anti-immigration policies caused a backlash among brands and prompted CEO’s to step up to defend their employees from feeling alienated. Finally, in this maelstrom of world upheaval brands can prove they can add true authentic value, beyond token sponsorship, or ingratiating affiliation. Charitable partnerships can move beyond mere mass market manipulation. Brand ideology and activism can and must restore faith in a beleaguered consumer.

2. Purpose is a timeless principle

This is a throwback from John Gardner. Going all the way back to 1990, it reminds us that purpose is not a trendy, new fad. It’s a timeless principle. Here is an inspiring part of that post:

Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”

3. Purpose helps you achieve both financial and social returns

Here is another Fast Company post that exams the growth of social impact investing and the belief that the future lies in pursuing both profit and purpose. Here’s an excerpt:

According the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), an industry group that’s tracking market trend, impact investment has grown rapidly. In its network alone, there are over 2,500 different investors contributing to more than 400 funds, which have grown in size from $15 billion in contributions two years ago to more than $77 billion in 2016.

4. Consumers expect us to have a purpose

A post highlights recent research that shows that people have an increasing expectation that companies should embrace a larger purpose. Here is a piece of the insight:

The trend of consumers expecting companies to take stands on issues has been on the rise for some time, with “brand purpose” increasingly taking on a higher profile in their minds. A survey by Havas found 75% of consumers expect brands to make a contribution to their quality of life, but only 40% believe they do. Yet make no mistake that doing so pays: The survey found the stocks of “Meaningful Brands” more than double the performance of stock indices on average.

5. Profit and purpose as force multipliers

While this is an opinion piece, it is very well supported and offers a unique look and the symbiotic relationship between profit and purpose. Here is a taste:

Profit and purpose are force multipliers that reinforce each other. Two synergistic halves of a whole where the sum is greater than the parts. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, says profit is structurally tied to LinkedIn’s mission to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter and founder of Medium, unapologetically wants both to change the world and to make money. In his view they are clearly complimentary. “It’s strange that people see them as a dichotomy,” he says. “It’s best if you have both. It would never be satisfying to me to build something that was successful in either of those dimensions, but not both.

Dan is the creator of the Big Audacious Meaning. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life. He regularly shares his insight here on Linkedin and at

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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