The holiday season is upon us, which means individuals may feel encouraged to give more freely to their favorite charities. We love this generous end-of-year spirit, but we’re also committed to giving back to our local communities throughout the rest of the year. Which is one reason why we are continuing our 12 Months of Giving program in 2018.
Each month next year we will provide a Northeast Ohio nonprofit with:
- Three (3) hours of free strategic consulting on a current challenge
- Promotion through Prosper for Purpose’s website, social media accounts and various other channels
During our 2017 program, we have had the opportunity to work with some amazing organizations such as the May Dugan Center, Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Would you like to add your name to this list and prosper with us next year?
Just complete and submit this entry form to be considered for our 2018 12 Months of Giving program. Or, tell your favorite Northeast Ohio charity to apply!
It’s important to us to work with purpose-driven clients in both the business and nonprofit sectors. When our clients do well, their communities prosper. So, join us as we do well by doing good together in 2018.
How we help our people, our clients and our company prosper
Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing how we #measurewhatmatters at Prosper for Purpose. I’ve referenced our quadruple bottom line as people, planet, prosperity and purpose. This week, I write about prosperity.
I chose the word prosperity rather than profit, the term used by most other organizations, because profit is only one part of prosperity. At Prosper, we view the notion of prosperity as inclusive of health, happiness and economic stability—in other words, general well-being. Why? Because an economic-focused view of prosperity will inevitably compete with health and happiness.
Causal effects between economic prosperity, health and happiness have been studied and documented. One famous study that advances the holistic definition of prosperity to which we at Prosper subscribe is the Legatum Prosperity Index, an annual ranking of 142 countries, developed by the Legatum Institute. The ranking is based on a variety of factors including wealth, economic growth, education, health, personal well-being, and quality of life.
Surveys have shown that increases in income do not lead to increases in happiness.
For example, moving up the corporate ladder may lead to an increase in economic prosperity, but the longer hours spent working may encroach upon time formerly devoted to exercise and family. In this way, economic prosperity is potentially achieved at the expense of health and happiness. That is not the kind of prosperity we want (does anyone?).
To ensure Prosper supports our team’s prosperity, each employee completed a personal development plan (PDP) this summer. The leadership team then reviewed the PDPs with each employee and made a commitment and a plan to move them forward.
Because we also care about the prosperity of our clients, we measure that too. From our kick-off session through planning, ideation and implementation, we tie our milestones and measurables to the overarching goals of the organization. In other words, we’re not happy unless our clients are successful. We work by choice with purpose-driven clients in both the business and nonprofit sectors. This means that when our clients do well, their communities prosper.
Finally, we care about the prosperity of our company. We do well by doing good. And the more we prosper, the more good we can do.
Want to help us #domoregood? Then tell your favorite Northeast Ohio charity about our new program, the 12 Months of Giving.
What’s at the heart of fulfillment, the key to managing your time and secret of owning your life? Purpose. With purpose, life feels more meaningful, time is more focused and life proceeds in the direction of your dreams. And while much can and has been said about purpose, here’s a very personal account of how I found mine, and a few exercises to help you find – and get fueled – by yours.
Step 1: Find your purpose.
Remember the story of the professor who illustrates the importance of priorities using a jar and some rocks? Let me refresh your memory.
A professor stood in front of his class and said “Time for a quiz.” He had everyone’s attention.
He pulled out a mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Next he took about a dozen rocks and, one by one, added them to the jar. When no more rocks would fit inside, he asked the class, “Is this jar full?” Everyone answered “Yes.”
Next, the professor reached under the table and pulled out a container of pebbles. He added the pebbles to the jar of rocks, shaking the jar and causing the pebbles to fill in the spaces between the rocks. Then he asked his class again, “Is this jar full?” Now the students weren’t so sure. Again, the professor reached under the table and, this time, brought out a container of sand. He poured the sand in, shaking the jar so that the sand filled the spaces left by the pebbles. Once more the professor asked, “Is this jar full?”
By this time the class was on to him. The professor lifted a pitcher of water and began to pour the water into the jar until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and explained that the jar represents life. The rocks are the truly important things, like family, health and relationships. If all else was lost, life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are other things that matter, like work and school. The sand represents the small stuff and the water is symbolic of the things that get in our way. The professor said, “In life, remember to put the rocks in first or you won’t have room for them.”
I first heard this story at a time when I was questioning my goals in life. Some I had achieved, but others were less measurable. I wanted a successful career, but I had not found fulfillment from positions that ‘looked’ successful. I wanted to make a difference, but donating and volunteering didn’t feel like ‘enough.’
And so I created my own interpretation of the rocks story. I began to think of the jar not as my life, but as my life’s purpose. I asked myself the following four questions:
- What was I passionate about?
- What did I feel I was really good at?
- What does the world ‘need’ that I can give?
- What are the skills I have that I can use to make a living?
It was at the intersection of these four answers that I found my purpose: to have a positive impact through the field of communications. I stopped looking for the organization that would fuel my purpose and decided to build that organization instead. In January 2013, I founded my company, Prosper for Purpose, on the concept of doing well by – and for – doing good.
With my jar as my purpose, and my company as the real life representation of that purpose, I carefully selected my rocks. First in the jar were my values, because when we don’t put our values in first, we may find there is no room for them later. This can lead to compromises we’d rather (and should not) make. You can read about Prosper for Purpose’s values here. Next came my goals, because goals provide direction.
My pebbles are the people and organizations I choose to work with. If an opportunity presents itself that doesn’t fit in with my values, it doesn’t go in the jar. This has translated into people I have chosen not to work with and paid opportunities I have chosen not to accept. Sometimes a pebble has made its way into my jar, but over time I see that it really doesn’t fit. That pebble goes.
It is not easy to say no to revenue-generating opportunities. It’s even more difficult to part ways with a colleague. But it’s my jar. And I can only fill it with the rocks and pebbles that fit my purpose.
The pebbles currently filling my jar are gems. They are the people and the organizations with whom I work. They shine and enhance my values. The sand is the work that we do together, and the things we do to keep us charged and focused. Some of these pebbles will leave the jar; employees may move on, client projects will end. These pebbles will carefully be replaced by other pebbles. And the water, when it gets in at all, finds that there’s not much opportunity to move me from my purpose.
So, now it’s your turn. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are YOU passionate about?
- What do you know you are really good at?
- What does the world need that you can give?
- What are the skills you can use to earn a living?
Step 2: Manage your time.
Annie Dillard, in her book The Writing Life, says, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” When we focus on time in terms of days, we manage ourselves hour by hour to see how efficient we can be. We judge ourselves by how much we accomplish in a day. This is tragic. Hours, days, even years can be spent doing things that don’t further our purpose.
But when we look at our time in terms of our lifetime, we are better able to invest in activities that fuel our purpose. With purpose, goals are easier to set and measure. With purpose comes direction. Purpose helps us set goals and priorities and, in turn, manage our time.
Once you’ve identified your purpose and your values, set your goals and only ‘pick up’ pebbles that will help you fuel your purpose. This means there will be many pebbles you don’t pick up. Just as I learned to say no to people and opportunities that didn’t fit my purpose, so can you. Time is precious. Make it count.
A great thing about the purpose exercise is that it can also be used at work. If you are fortunate enough to work for an organization that is true to its mission and values, the jar is the mission (purpose) and the rocks are the values and goals. The pebbles can be the people and tasks you do to further that mission. Choose them wisely.
Step 3: Own your life.
I started my company nearly four years ago. My life is busier than it has ever been, yet I feel more excited and engaged than ever. Purpose provides me with energy and inspiration.
You don’t have to start your own company to live your purpose. Most people don’t. Instead they have jobs that enable them to find purpose through their work.
Occasionally, very purposeful people work jobs that don’t fuel their purpose directly, but instead enable their purpose. Some of these people are coaches, others volunteer walking dogs or feeding the homeless. Some earn a stipend, others nothing at all. Many retired adults attest to finding more purpose in their volunteer efforts than in their former jobs.
In the end, what is important is that you find and follow your purpose. Honor your purpose by choosing the rocks, pebbles and sand that belong in your jar.
You’ve just launched an incredible new product—your brainchild that you’ve been dreaming up for years—but instead of feeling successful and proud, you feel defeated and confused. Inventory isn’t moving like it should be. But your website hasn’t crashed from a sudden influx of online sales. And it’s not that your product isn’t great—because, let’s face it, it’s perfect and you should be proud—so what is it?
Or maybe this sounds familiar: You’ve just graduated from college with a hard-earned degree. You busted your behind to master the subjects and prove that you are ready to further develop your education as a professional in your chosen field. You’ve carefully constructed a witty yet intelligent cover letter, spent a little too much time analyzing the font in your email signature and applied for dozens of positions, yet you haven’t landed your dream job. It’s not that you aren’t qualified—your degree and that perfectly punctuated cover letter prove you know your stuff—so what is it?
In a world where we’re routinely flooded by classified ads and perfect jobs are few and far between, there’s a secret sauce that can help differentiate you from the competition: networking. It seems so simple, but networking can help your personal brand grow exponentially in a variety of ways.
Now, for clarity, when we say brand this could refer to a company that sells a product or service, or it could mean you as a professional. Either way, networking provides the same benefits to individuals and organizations and is something we should all spend more time doing.
So, first things first: Grab a cup of coffee. (A blog post should always be read with coffee.) Now, prepare to learn how networking can help your brand grow.
- Connections. You hear it all the time: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. While nothing can replace having the appropriate knowledge, experience or skill, the reality is that people recommend people they know, like and trust. In fact, many of the best job opportunities are never advertised to the public, but are instead shared through networks. Having an ‘in’ can open the door to your dream job or create a new line of opportunities such as client leads, speaking and writing gigs, joint ventures and partnerships.
- Promotions. Having a solid foundation of people who like you and your brand is invaluable. Your network is your brand’s cheerleaders and they advocate for your success among their other networks. With their help, your brand receives a boost in reputation or sales, and ultimately your circle of influences widens.
- Resources. A network of like-minded professionals gives you access to a directory of amazing resources—for free. Your contacts become your advisors, offering information and advice you would normally have to pay a consultant for. They can keep you on track or share how they overcame challenges similar to those you’re facing. And, on the flip side, you can build a reputation as a knowledgeable and supportive resource by returning the favor.
- Friendships. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have someone who understands what you do. There are proven psychological and emotional benefits to having a friend in the business. In addition, a friend in your field can serve as a sounding board for new ideas or be there for a much needed pep talk. Plus, there’s an added bonus to having work friends: You have someone to take coffee breaks with during the day!
“But I don’t have time to go to networking events.” No problem! Not all networking requires attending an event. Social media platforms make for a simple and effective way to network not only with other professionals or audiences, but also with other businesses, making the possibilities of new connections endless. Five minutes and a few messages a day can get you in touch with individuals who can provide a wealth of knowledge and, of course, more connections.
You did your research, you nailed your interview and you were offered your dream internship. Now what? How can you ensure you have a successful internship?
Follow these five tips to impress your supervisor and optimize your time as an intern:
1. Treat your internship like a real job
2. Set goals
3. Ask smart questions
4. Get to know your coworkers
5. Challenge yourself
Treat Your Internship Like a Real Job
Above all else, acting professionally should be your top priority if you want to leave a lasting impression. This includes being punctual, dressing appropriately and following proper office etiquette. Being professional will show your supervisor you’re taking your internship seriously. It can also lead to a killer letter of recommendation (a powerful tool that can help you stand out when searching for a full-time job).
It’s also crucial to always, always, always turn in projects and assignments as if they were going directly to a client. Don’t expect your supervisor to check your grammar and spelling for you.
When we begin working with new clients, one of the first things we do is set goals and review expectations. An internship should start the same way. Meet with your supervisor to review your personal goals and clarify expectations. What is expected of you? What would you like to accomplish during your internship? This is the time to let your supervisor know what projects you’re interested in working on during your internship (Tip: think about what you would most like to showcase in a portfolio).
Ask Smart Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions (preferably ones that can’t be answered with a simple Google search). Asking questions shows you’re engaged and eager to learn. So speak up!.
Get to Know Your Coworkers
Take the time to get to know as many of your coworkers as possible. Networking is invaluable when it comes to searching for a full-time job. Building strong connections can also help when it comes time to ask for that invaluable recommendation letter. Learn about other positions, ask your coworkers how they got to where they are now and inquire about what else you can do to make yourself more marketable to employers.
The goal of your internship should be to learn and gain valuable real world experience. Don’t waste your time – or your employer’s time – texting your friends or scrolling through social media. Truly focus on developing your skills. Take on new projects, introduce yourself to someone in a different department or make a suggestion at a big meeting. Great things can happen when you step outside your comfort zone.
Looking for more advice? Check out our blog to see what two former interns had to say about their experience at Prosper for Purpose.