The purpose economy

Published on October 29, 2020   21 min

Other Talks in the Series: The Purpose Economy

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Hi, this is Aaron Hurst. In 2014, I published a book called The Purpose Economy. Today, I'm going to share with you the journey that led me to write this book and what we've seen since then as the purpose economy has gone from a really concepts to actually being the core of the economy as we see, purpose becoming what is creating value for people in the market, both in terms of labor and in terms of consumption. But most of my focus today is really going to be on how the purpose economy has impacted the role of work in our lives and in organizations.
The story begins in 2001, with the founding of the Taproot Foundation. This is an organization I started in San Francisco, California with a very simple mission behind it. The organization was built to enable non-profits NGOs to be able to access the marketing, tech, HR, finance, and other business resources that companies often take for granted. What I realized was, that non-profit organizations doing critical work in our communities need resources like marketing, just like they need legal resources, and yet they're often priced out of that market. So he created the Taproot Foundation, and with funding from Bill Draper, was able to scale the organization across seven cities in the United States, begin to work with the President and the White House to build a national campaign to get CEOs to pledge the time of their employees, not to volunteer, but to do pro bono work, to use their professional skills to make a difference. Ultimately, I was able to partner with the BMW Foundation to bring this model, this idea of pro bono work to 30 countries around the world from China to Costa Rica.
As I was working with these tens of thousands of incredible people, what really stood out to me, was that people said, "I find pro bono work so much more rewarding than my paycheck job, than my day job." At first, this was a great marketing insight to understand how to recruit pro bono volunteers, to be able to appeal to the fact that their work wasn't meeting their needs for meaning in their lives, and to be able to offer pro bono work as a way to solve for that. But what I came to realize, was actually this was operating as a supplement, like a vitamin. It was enabling someone to have a work experience that wasn't meeting their needs, that wasn't giving them the nutrition that they needed and instead offered as a supplement. I started to really wonder, is there another option? Is there a way to actually make all work feel like pro bono work? I'd seen such incredible interests in pro bono work, that it made me realize that maybe there is a shifting appetite to change work itself.