The Case for Purpose-Driven Employees

Our Innovation Mission trip to Texas this week really emphasized the importance of purpose in the work place. Purpose-driven employees need no further motivation. They will work harder, longer and smarter. They will deliver amazing results and be the best ambassadors for your company.

Every Innovation Mission produces ah-ha moments for me. And while this trip had a few (who knew that Under Armour owns the world’s largest database of recipes at 86M?), I kept coming back to the notion of purpose-driven work.

We know from our many visits to Silicon Valley over the years that innovative cultures are built around strong missions and core values. When employees believe in the mission of the business, the results are amazing.

Taking that concept one step further, purpose-driven people are among the most passionate and successful of all. We witnessed this during several impactful visits on this week’s trip.

No one exemplified this more than Evan Smith, CEO and Founder of The Texas Tribune. This non-profit has raised $43.5 million in 7 years to fund their work. They provide much needed, non-partisan coverage of the state capital and this attracts major donors from both parties along with large foundations and individuals.

Evan’s team is laser focused on the purpose of their work. The events produced by the Texas Tribune (a large part of their business model) focus on government issues and sponsors pay a premium to be affiliated with speaker series, coffee roundtables with elected officials, lunches and more. The team believes in the mission and purpose. They buy into Evan’s vision. Their passion was evident in everything they said and did. And that is why they are successful.

The same can be said for Sarah Harris and her team at Incite, the cause marketing firm owned by Emmis Communications. They create marketing campaigns that positively impact communities. They bring brands and causes together. It was obvious that this work was much more than a job for the three team members that presented to us.

They eliminated the homeless veteran problem in Austin through one of their campaigns. They provided bike helmets to 400 kids in another to reduce brain injuries. And all the while, they grew revenue (and profit margins) for their company. Purpose-driven work is lucrative.

Finally, we saw purpose-driven motives in our opening session with Dan Easton and Jason Holmes from Advocate Digital Media. When they developed their agency, they focused on the client above all else. They are motivated by delivering the best ROI and that often means buying competitive media. They have no problem doing that and they are one of the most successful small market agencies (owned by a media company) that I know.

They routinely buy broadcast, outdoor and directories for their clients. They charge a standard agency fee for this work and handle the creative. “Digital agency will sound silly in a few years,” said Holmes. They put the client first in all they do. Incite also buys competitive media for their clients.

The media industry needs more of this. I have met my fair share of senior-level executives that say things such as, “I just have 5 more years to get through before retirement; hoping to hang on until then.” Hang on? How many media companies are being run by people with this mindset? These folks are the total opposite of purpose-driven employees and they are not capable of transforming a media company.

Look for purpose-driven employees when making hires. Millennials in particular seek purpose over pay. The results will be strong and your business will grow. At LMA, our entire team is driven by our mission (our purpose) to help local media companies discover new and sustainable business models. We want to innovate, educate and inspire. Why? Because we want watchdog journalism to survive. We want newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and more to be around for a long time so they can continue to inform, educate and entertain.

The media industry has such great purpose. It’s time to harness that and hire people that are passionate about what we do.

Do you have a purpose-driven culture at your company? Tell us about it!