Authenticity Brand Loyalty Brand Philosophy Conscientious Capitalism Good Citizen Personal Brand Social Responsibility Strategy

A Purpose Of Your Own Making

June 14th, 2013

“Just because someone will buy it doesn’t mean that anyone should make or sell it.” ~ Gloria Zemer

The Question:

“In a presentation to my marketing class you indicated that we shouldn’t necessarily sell what markets will buy. What exactly does that mean for graduates with no authority? How are we to argue with managements that justify making and selling questionable products and services to remain competitive and in business? Isn’t it true that if one company doesn’t capture and monetize those questionable opportunities, competitors will? How are we to rationalize risking the high road in a global market that isn’t driven by conscientious capitalism? What’s the likelihood that jobs, companies, and the cause will be lost when some companies refuse to make what others will?”

Graduate Student

The Answer:

I respect and appreciate your questions- they are fair and good questions. But, they weren’t the point then and they aren’t the critical starting point now. Not for you. Every one of us should consciously take the time to evaluate what it is that we want to contribute to the world through our work and service. You owe it to yourself to consider who you are and what you want to create through your career long before you are wrestling managers and strategies, which doesn’t mean that you won’t find yourself wrestling managers and strategies.

The most influential people (and the most powerful brands) live by their “own” code. Good, bad or otherwise…they are sold out to a purpose that informs their way of thinking, deciding, working, and being.  Because they know what drives them, they trust themselves; they hold themselves accountable to a higher authority and a standard that is all their own. They set audacious goals that are consistent with and honor the purpose. Their contributions reflect their ideology ensuring they fulfill their focused ambitions.

What I challenged you to do was to be precise about what you stand for and what you believe, to determine what you want to contribute and decide what you won’t do for money. I asked you to identify your code and start shaping your mantra. I encouraged you to exercise your authority to live and decide according to a purpose of your own making. Because I know that we get into trouble when we don’t know who we are as people, leaders, and brands.

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s response on Reddit when asked “What can you tell a young man looking for motivation in life itself?”

Rest of the question (full disclosure):

“I’m not at odds with the ideology or your statement as much as the challenge that it presents. I wish I could have asked in person but we ran out of time. The conflict that my classmates and I have to confront is that we don’t work for people that think like you. It’s likely that there aren’t enough people in leadership positions that think like you. My generation has values. Unfortunately, we are forced to choose our values or a job. You were an awesome presenter. You certainly have spunk.”


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