Operating from your center leads to a purposeful life. The same applies to a business. To be operating from your center all your life – is highly unlikely. Often, it isn’t until having enough experiences over time that some of us can find our life’s purpose. It doesn’t have to be that way for a business. The purpose is your “Why.” The purpose may have originated from an unpleasant customer experience, the inability to get a product on time, exorbitant prices for a particular service, or, as the founder of a safety and traceability software company for the administration of outpatient chemotherapy cycles says, “there has got to be a better way.
“The founder was a cancer patient and an engineer at Kraft; working on the EDI codes for safety and traceability for food. He went for his 3rd cycle of chemotherapy, and upon seeing handwritten notes that the treatment he was to receive was usually reserved for a 4th cycle, he stopped the nurse and said, “There has got to be a better way.”
He adapted and built code for individualized cytostatic treatments, with safety and traceability from the manufacturer to the hospital to the patient. He then developed a bedside app for the nurses who were administering the treatments. The end result being: No adverse reactions or deaths from medical mistakes in treatments and a 20% savings per year in hospital procurement of cytostatic drugs.” “The Why of your business is your True North.” -Brenda A. McCabe
In my experience, successful business owners are more likely to achieve their purpose by operating from a center of authenticity. They are willing to learn (and unlearn). They experiment- all while not losing their True North; The Why. When I work with clients – I ask them what company or CEO they admire, or who they aspire their company to emulate.
Recently, the CEO and Co-Founder of Wholefoods, John Mackey, announced his retirement in September 2022, after 43 years at the helm. In an essay he wrote called “Creating the High Trust Organization,” John stated: “The single most important requirement for the creation of higher levels of trust for any organization is to discover or rediscover the higher purpose of the organization. Why does the organization exist? What is it trying to accomplish? What core values will inspire the organization and create greater trust from all of its stakeholders?”
He goes on to share Purposeful ideals and companies’ business models that emulate these ideals:
- The Good: Service to others–improving health, education, communication, and the quality of life (Southwest Airlines, Nordstroms, The Container Store, Amazon.com, and Joie de Vivre Hospitality are examples of this great purpose).
- The True: Discovery & furthering human knowledge (Google, Intel, Genentech, and Wikipedia all express this higher aspiration).
- The Beautiful: Excellence & the creation of beauty (Apple and Berkshire Hathaway share this ideal in their own unique ways).
- The Heroic: Courage to do what is right to change & improve the world (Grameen Bank and the Gates Foundation express this higher purpose in their actions).
Board and Executive Appointments
Whole Foods’ Co-Founding CEO, John Mackey, to retire
“Whole Foods CEO John Mackey on Thursday announced he will retire in 2022 and be succeeded by current COO Jason Buechel, reports CNBC News (Sept. 30, Palmer). In a memo to staff, Mackey stated that he is “ready to pursue some of my other life passions” after more than four decades at the Amazon-owned grocer. He wrote: “I’ve decided that it’s time to begin to transition my role as CEO to the next generation of leadership. I have thought long and hard about this, and while it is still surreal to write, I have decided to retire on September 1, 2022.”
Whole Foods is a company, operating in a large market; they found an unmet need and started with a purpose. This is what John Mackey had to say to his employees about his purpose in life: “Many people can go their entire lives without ever discovering their higher purpose, but I was lucky enough to discover mine back in 1976 when I was living in a vegetarian co-op named Prana House in Austin–two years before we first opened Safer Way” How basic can grocery shopping be? Whole Foods was born with the purpose to provide natural, nutritious food.
Three tenets help along the journey of honoring the True North in my work when working with founders and owners of businesses:
- A large addressable market: Keith Rabois once tweeted: “Formula for startup success: Find large highly fragmented industry with low NPS (net promoter score); vertically integrate a solution to simplify value product.”
- Early team members, maybe a cofounder, who also share the Purpose and advocate this among team members as the company scales.
- Good communication – transparent and focused- say what you mean and mean what you say. You will attract the talent that shares your Purpose. “Attention equals belief.” By William James
If you are authentic; willing to learn and experiment I would be honored to serve you.
Brenda A. McCabe