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This simple human desire is the key to transforming a business

We all need to feel like what we’re doing is valuable.

Nobody wants to slog through the day, feeling like life exacts a heavy toll just so we can have that other half of our waking hours to do what we’re passionate about. And it’s not even half. Because we have to get ready for work. Travel there and back. Fix dinner. Pay the bills. And a whole bunch of other obligations. So we really only get a sliver of our waking hours to do what really gets us excited.

That’s tragic.

It’s not unusual for us to fulfill our need to feel like we’re doing something valuable by joining organizations, volunteering for causes, and more. Of course, that’s with the little bit of time we can spare. But something interesting has been gaining momentum in the past 10 years that is changing that.

We have seen brands start to wake up to this desire we all have. They have started to realize that, by catering to this desire, they can create something irresistible to us.

Some have an easier go of it because of their model (Toms Shoes giving away a pair of shoes for every pair you buy from them.) But that doesn’t mean that industries as mundane as insurance can’t embrace a purpose. They can and have. And we humans have responded, making them more successful for their efforts. They have shown us that they understand that they can make a difference in a life, a community, or even the world (the definition of what I call a Big Audacious Meaning.) In doing so, they create the opportunity for all of us to fulfill that need to feel like we’re doing something valuable by joining them in their efforts. Maybe it is as an employee. Maybe it is as a customer. It has implications for everyone who engages with the brand.

What makes it so irresistible is that we’re no longer restricted to that small sliver of our waking hours. It expands what we believe we can do. That can be truly transformative. For us. And for the organizations that help us fulfill this powerful human desire.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the forthcoming book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. 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.

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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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