The Power of Purpose

Greetings. In the last few years, I have become enamored with Lush Cosmetics—a British company that sells intriguingly fragrant soap that looks like cheese. Not only have I become a reliable customer for their “fresh and handmade” personal care products, but I also bring groups of business leaders to visit their stores here in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and even Kuala Lumpur. Visits intended to give leaders from a wide range of industries a sense of what it takes to create a business that is loved and respected by almost all of its employees and customers. Granted, many of its customers are relying on their parents to buy their soaps, lotions, perfumes, shampoos, bath bombs, and other products but that’s a different story. What interests me most is the “power of purpose” in this global company that is widely regarded as being innovative, caring, collaborative, customer-centric, socially and environmentally responsible, and successful.

Let’s face it, having a clear and compelling sense of purpose is vital to business success—especially today. Yet too many companies fail or neglect to make clear why they really matter, the core purpose they are trying to achieve, and the role that the folks who work there and the folks who buy from them play in making important things happen. At Lush, they wear their purpose on the walls of their stores and even in the ink that adorns some of their employees. It is a purpose that is all about products that are natural, good for you, not tested on animals, and good for the planet. All made by real people whose pictures and names appear on every package, unless a product comes without a package as a way to reduce the use of unnecessary material that is likely to end up in landfills. And purchased by customers who care about the products they buy and use. It is also a purpose that inspires the company  to invest a significant amount of its proceeds to support nonprofit organizations around the world that are working to improve the lives of children and low-income communities, and the welfare of animals—organizations recommended by employees.

All of which begs the questions:

“What is your purpose as a company, organization, or individual?”

“Is your purpose something that inspires all of your employees, customers, and stakeholders to be passionate and knowledgeable advocates for your brand?” and

“What value do you really provide?”

If your purpose is not as clear or compelling as it could be, you might want to take a field trip to your nearest Lush shop where the colors are intense, the fragrances are strong, everything can be sampled, customers are loyal, employees are engaged, turnover is low, the sense of purpose is everywhere, and the soap looks good enough to taste.

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The Brilliance of New Hires

Greetings.  It’s the start of a new week and, if you’re very lucky, you’ll be arriving at work to meet some brand new people.  Not “brand new” people in the sense that they just arrived on earth, but brand new to your company and organization.  And that is a great thing.  Because new hires are an amazing gift to any organization if we are open to the fresh ideas and possibilities they bring.

Unfortunately, we don’t always see it that way.  Instead, we often look at our new hires as projects, burdens, or even total weirdos.  Folks who happen to show up at our doorstep without understanding the way we do things and are likely to require tons of training, mentoring, hand-holding, and whatever else it takes to get them up to speed.  When we should be looking at them as new sources of information and insight who bring important perspectives from the world beyond our walls and imaginations.

So the next time you have the gift of a new colleague, whether it’s this week or a month from now, try to take the time to welcome them, get to know them, involve them, ask them questions, and find out what they know that really matters.  And try to discover how some of their genius can be used to make your company or organization more successful.

New Hires 

We win in business when we welcome new people and new ideas.  It’s one of the best ways for good companies and organizations to learn, innovate, and grow.