We’re busy wrapping up more than gifts here at Prosper for Purpose — we’re also wrapping up the year. Our offices will be closed Christmas week so #TeamProsper can spend time with loved ones. But before we go, we want to share what we’re grateful for this year.
Our clients inspire us whether they’re transforming their communities or changing the world. They are purpose-driven people leading companies and nonprofits, consultancies and educational institutions. We choose our clients carefully and they, in turn, challenge us to bring our best each and every day.
We continued to live our motto of using ‘communications for a better world’ by helping these clients achieve social and environmental impact by building relationships that matter. In 2017, these relationships were built through strategic storytelling, branding and fundraising, mixed with social media, event management, and much, much more.
While the U.S. and the world saw some setbacks this year in terms of global sustainability and social justice, we are encouraged to be part of a rising tide of business as a force for good. We believe any setbacks are sure to be temporary as we raise our voices and increase our efforts around issues that matter.
As a two-year member of the B Corp community, Prosper is proud to be one of more than 2,300 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and more than 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business in terms of people, planet and profit. We at Prosper have added a fourth term: purpose.
At Prosper, we practice a servant leadership model of management because we know the best leaders are those who help others be their best. In the day-to-day, this looks a lot like friendship. Everyone has a seat at our table, everyone has a voice. We were honored to receive “Team of the Year” award at the PRSA Cleveland Rocks award banquet earlier this month. We can’t wait to see what is to come for our team in 2018.
We recently completed our annual PDPs (personal development plans). As we plan for 2018, we will be figuring out how we can best support and empower each other to meet our goals, both inside and outside of work. To us, Prosper for Purpose is not just a company, it’s a mantra.
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.
Amanda Gorman, the first U.S. youth poet laureate, opened the 2017 Social Good Summit with a powerful poem that included an inspiring message: “Here, in this great gathering, we do good so that the world might be great.”
Her quote perfectly sums up the mission of the Social Good Summit, an annual event held in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly week. The summit brings global and community leaders together to create innovative solutions to world problems. Passionate activists foster vital conversations to unlock fresh ideas on how to combine new media and technology to improve the lives of people around the world.
I had the opportunity to attend the Summit this year and hear world leaders discuss the progress being made to solve pressing issues, including global warming, education, refugees, violence and healthcare. Global citizens and activists focused conversations on the advancements needed to make the world a better place by 2030. Being a social activist, I was excited to engage in such powerful conversations with passionate individuals who are making a large scale impact.
One of the most inspirational speeches I heard was from two volunteers of the Syrian White Helmets, Khaled Khatib and Mounir Mustafa. The White Helmets consists of nearly 3,000 volunteers, both men, and women, who risk their lives every day to save citizens affected by barrel bombs in the war-torn nation of Syria. The organization has lost 200 volunteers since 2013 amid rescue attempts but has saved nearly 99,000 Syrian civilians. The White Helmets released an Oscar-winning documentary on Netflix last year, which provides an inside look at the devastating reality of Syria. You can watch the moving trailer for the film on YouTube.
I also had the opportunity to meet Yulu PR Founder Melissa Orozco, who Team Prosper has been working with to promote Impact Relations, the newest sector of PR based on sharing stories to help organizations create positive social or environmental impact.
Overall, the Social Good Summit ignited a passion inside everyone who attended to follow the Global Goals to make #2030NOW. Now is the time for organizations and activists to create purpose-driven dialogue to solve international problems. Feeling inspired? Check out the recorded conversations from this year’s Summit to learn more about joining the world together.
The idea of a purpose-driven brand is nothing new. But over the past few years the idea of creating a culture that gives back has enjoyed a strong resurgence. And for good reason: A company’s commitment to doing well by doing good is a defining advantage in today’s competitive marketplace. Blending for-profit motives with nonprofit values is essential for:
- Employee recruitment, motivation and retention
- Supplier and investor relations
- Market differentiation
- Customer engagement and retention
Studies show 90% of U.S. shoppers would switch to a cause branded product. When it comes to contemplating where to work, 64% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments. Simply put, people want to support brands that have a purpose.
Just like having a mission and values, possessing a purpose is a vital component of any business. That’s why Prosper for Purpose was established around the idea of using our time, talents and profits to help address social issues and make a difference in the world.
Since our inception, Team Prosper has been committed to giving back to our clients and local community. In 2015, we began The Prosper Project to provide pro bono work to a cause or nonprofit each year. In 2016, we became a Certified B Corporation, joined One Percent for the Planet, and rolled out our 12 Months of Giving program as another way to provide our services to local nonprofits.
We’re proud of our commitments to being both socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. Our efforts connect and bond us to communities of like-minded people, raise awareness for worthy causes, increase team morale, and make a positive impact on people and the planet.
If giving back isn’t ingrained in your company’s DNA, don’t worry—it’s still possible to make a difference. The first step is to choose a worthy cause that supports your mission and values. Then make a long-term commitment to that cause, not just a fleeting sponsorship. Keeping your mission front and center for employees, partners and customers to see will help your efforts feel more authentic and allow you to make a significant impact.
By making your mission matter and creating a culture of purpose, you’ll be on your way to doing well by doing good.
It’s 4:30 p.m. and you’ve been relentlessly working all day to finish your client project by the 5 p.m. deadline. You’re tired, you’ve given everything you have: your heart, your soul, your mind. You can feel your heart rate increasing as your deadline approaches and as you zero in, you clear your mind and focus. This project, this deadline, becomes the only thing that matters in the world at this very time and place.
This is a person who has purpose in the workplace. A person who believes in their workplace mission. A person who has motivation. Purpose is the stuff that keeps you going when stress is high, and deadlines are fast and furious.
If you’re giving your energy, your blood, sweat, and tears for your job, it is vital to find meaning and purpose in your work. In the U.S., most of us work at least a 40-hour work week—that’s the majority of our time. Work is our life, and life should be full of positive energy and happiness. Believing in and loving our work allows us to be happy. It helps us find the drive to sit and pour over lines of data, or try again to find different solutions to problems.
It’s a slow-growing trend, but hashtags like #purpose and #loveyourwork are becoming mainstream. There are blogs about happiness at work, articles about purpose-driven work and studies about purpose in the workplace. There are even organizations dedicated to teaching companies how to help their employees find purpose and happiness at work.
People want to be happy and have purpose at work.
I personally find purpose at work in several ways:
- I know that my job is helping me reach my career goals.
- The companies I work with as a member of #TeamProsper, as well as those I volunteer with, are positively impacting in the world.
- Knowing that the work I do is making a difference helps me find value, happiness, and meaning.
What’s your purpose at work?
Over the past three weeks, I’ve explained the Prosper for Purpose approach to business. I have written about the first three components of our quadruple bottom line: people, planet and prosperity. This week, I conclude our four-part blog series discussing how we #measurewhatmatters by focusing on purpose.
“Why did you start your own company?” is the question I’m most often asked. “What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?” is a close second. You would think by now I would have a simple answer to those different ways of asking the same essential question: “What was the motivation that created Prosper for Purpose?” As I approach the end of my company’s fourth year, I think I can finally answer that question. But the answer is not so simple.
I didn’t become an entrepreneur because I wanted to start a business. I became an entrepreneur because I want to make positive impact, and believed starting my own business could be my pathway.
Throughout my career, I had chosen positions in the nonprofit sector, followed by the for-profit sector and then back again. The missions and (most of the time) the cultures of the nonprofits resonated with me, while the ability to quickly put ideas into action in the corporate world also appealed to me.
And then, one day, my daughter asked, “Why don’t you start the company you want to work for?” It was the right time for that question. I was extremely unhappy in my job. For the first time in my 25-year career, I had neither a healthy culture nor the ability to put ideas into action. And I wondered, “What if I could have both?”
I spent two months planning Prosper for Purpose before it launched. I had never really been interested in becoming an entrepreneur, and I certainly didn’t know how to run a business. But I did have a purpose. I wanted to do well by doing good. And by naming my company Prosper for Purpose, I made a declaration.
I consider myself an activist at heart. I care about social justice and human rights; preserving our planet and protecting animals; securing various types of sustainability. Those concerns were top of mind when I started my company.
Siiri Morley, a founding partner of Prosperity Candle, wrote about achieving ‘social good’ impact. She said that “Business can create this type of impact, but it doesn’t do so naturally. Businesses need to be purposefully designed to consider their social and environmental impact as a key priority.” That is what I sought to do, and what I and the other members of #TeamProsper commit to continue.
In 2012, when I was planning Prosper for Purpose, there wasn’t a lot of public discussion about purpose. Now the word seems to be everywhere. And while I certainly encourage and applaud those who authentically pursue the principles of purpose, I wanted to take extra steps to differentiate my company from the others who might see purpose as nothing more than the latest trend to grab onto.
In January, Prosper became a Certified B Corporation. Last month, we joined One Percent for the Planet. We’re proud to make these commitments to be both socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. Joining these organizations not only helps validate our claims of prioritizing people, planet and prosperity, but it connects us to communities of like-minded business leaders. A community committed to using business as a force for good.
Running a business that measures impact in these ways is not easy. But it is important. And that is why we #measurewhatmatters.
So why did I start Prosper for Purpose? To build a company that could do well by doing good. Perhaps the answer is simple after all.
In last week’s post, we talked about a disruptive approach to business; one that embraces social and environmental factors along with economic ones.
Why do we measure these things? Because at Prosper for Purpose, we are all about impact. Impact that enables us to do well by doing good. We measure impact in four areas: people, planet, prosperity and purpose. We call it our quadruple bottom line.
This week, we look at planet.
Walk into our office and the first thing you may notice is the absence of trash containers. No wastebaskets under desks. In fact, there is only one wastebasket in the entire office and it’s at our print and coffee station. We fill and empty it only once a week. How? Well, we work towards a goal of being a paperless office. We share and store our files online. We print contracts for signatures and documents for meetings and that is, essentially, it for printing.
But that’s not all. Here are some other things we do to measure our impact on, and stewardship of, our planet.
The Prosper for Purpose Planet Strategy:
- We recycle. Our single garbage can contains two bags: one for trash and one for recycling. Nearly every Friday, both are emptied, meaning our recycle to trash ratio is roughly 1:1. We’re working to improve that ratio.
- We use a programmable thermostat.
- We work at desks and tables made from reclaimed wood.
- Each desk has a high-end LED desk lamp that uses minuscule amounts of energy.
- Our main walls are made of glass, allowing for natural light throughout the day. Not only is natural daylight a free source of lighting for the office, it has been proven to improve worker productivity and satisfaction (as well as boost sales in retail settings).
- Our flexible environment helps minimize our carbon footprint.
- We’re working with B Corporation to incorporate an environmental management system.
- We became a member of 1% for the Planet!
Because we believe that health and wellness come from the environment, that business is responsible for positive change and that we can leave this big blue planet better than we found it, we joined an organization that is based on these beliefs. As a member of 1% for the Planet, we commit even more to our mission of doing well and doing good. After recently becoming a certified B corporation, this partnership will allow us to amplify our positive environmental impact.
Stay tuned as we share more about our work with B Corporation to create an environmental management system, and our developing relationship with 1% for the Planet.
Next week, we will look at prosperity.
In a business world that measures success by profit, a disruptive approach has slowly emerged. This approach embraces social and environmental factors along with economic ones. It is called a ‘triple bottom line’ and is built on a belief that I embraced when starting Prosper for Purpose–the belief that companies can do well and do good.
The triple bottom line philosophy holds that a company should combine traditional metrics of financial success with those that measure social and environmental impact. It is sometimes referred to as the 3P approach — People, Planet and Profit.
These three metrics are measurable and transparent; indeed, when our company became a Certified B Corporation earlier this year, we shared evidence of our metrics with B Lab, the company that provides the certification.
At Prosper for Purpose, we add a fourth component – Purpose. Less transparent and measurable than people, planet and profit, purpose is, for us, the thread that holds it all together.
Over the next four weeks, I will share how we approach our quadruple bottom line. This week, we look at People.
In addition to being the first component of our quadruple bottom line, People is Prosper’s very first value (you can see all our values here) because, as we say, if you’re not working with the right people, nothing else matters. This value is the lense through which we consider the clients and partners we work with and, perhaps most importantly, the people we invite to join #TeamProsper.
The first half of our mission statement is devoted to our team, “To grow a company dedicated to the development of our people.”
We look to hire incredibly talented people who also happen to be passionate about making a difference and believe that work is a great place to start. It’s that shared philosophy that inspires us to transcend traditional approaches, blending innovation into best practices and throwing in a generous dash of audacity.
This is our culture. Here are just a few of the programs it inspires:
The Prosper for Purpose Work/Life Integration Strategy:
- Our employees can work away from the office when they need to. This ‘need’ may arise from caring for children, travel, or needing a quiet space in which to write, plan or think.
- Team members stay home when they’re ill because sick time is given as needed. Those paid days off do not count against PTO.
- Speaking of PTO, ours starts at three weeks. We also throw in 10 holidays. All of this time out of office is paid for our full-timers.
Training and Personal Development: As a commitment to our value of lifelong learning, we provide ongoing training opportunities to all members of #TeamProsper. From association memberships to access to webinars and conferences, we are committed to the personal and professional growth of our team members.
Future Prosperity: We help employees save for their future through our Future Prosperity retirement program.
Parental Leave: A company that is truly committed to its employees must demonstrate commitment to their families. That is why we added a parental leave policy to our employee handbook earlier this year.
Purpose in Action: Prosper is committed to supporting activities that serve and enhance the communities in which we live and work. Therefore, employees are encouraged to become involved with local community service efforts. Each full-time employee is entitled to three days (24 hours) paid time off per year to volunteer their time to a nonprofit organization of their choice. Each part-time employee is entitled to 1 ½ days (12 hours) paid time off per year to volunteer.
In these ways and many others, Prosper fosters change that cultivates wellness and abundance through relationships rooted in shared vision.
I sought to create the company I wanted to work for. The result of that effort is the team of people I am grateful to work with.
In our next post we continue to #measurewhatmatters with Planet.
Think you might like to work at Prosper for Purpose? Go here for more information.
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.