People of purpose

Aside from part-time jobs in a games shop and an apple orchard, I’ve always worked in public and community sectors – so in terms of business savvy, I’m what you might call a babe-in-the-woods. In fact, I have a fairly strong aversion to capitalism because by definition it promotes exploitation (of the earth’s resources and people) and injustice.

However… it’s the system we have, and I am in it, so if I want to make a positive contribution to the world I can’t just hang round on the edges. I must endeavour to use the system against itself. Yeah, it would have been better to have recognised that decades ago.

Ever since I adopted a mission to empower people to sense the connection, I’ve struggled with the business side of the venture – logistically but also… philosophically. (Total woods-babe, see?) So when I heard about the inaugural Purpose do, I was keen to go to see if I couldn’t imbibe a business brain – and philosophical appeasement, to boot – from a crowd of care-ful capitalists.

Seven young women on a stage before a crowd of people. The screen says 'Purpose / #purpose2015' and the staging includes mountains, waves and clouds.

The Purpose crew – the army of volunteers being offstage at this time

And it was good! I have a pathologically low stamina for large-scale events but I felt fine almost all the way through this one. (It wasn’t until I was about to leave the after-party that I lost the power of coherent speech.) I’m not sure what made this conference so easy for me to appreciate. It may have been Wildwon‘s superb, detailed planning (beyond the great program):

  • actually beautiful nametags
  • charming and always accessible volunteer staff
  • music to accompany each new speaker’s approach to the stage
  • perpetual coffee (thanks to this right-on bank) in a reusable gift cup-to-keep)
  • frog and bird calls in the bathrooms
purpose-swag

Swag I actually wanted

Or it may have been Matt Wicking‘s creative audience manipulation:

  • a crowdsourced aural rainstorm
  • metaphorical status updates
  • a two-minute dance party

Or perhaps it was the fact that everyone there was present in part because they care about being a decent human.

As well as enjoying the experience it was a great conference for me in terms of affirming and (the best part) challenging my sense of how the world works. Here are eight lessons I shared over Twitter:

  1. Procurement contracts are a great untapped tool for social change.
  2. Crowdfunding works best where the impact of the work is direct, and its success depends on manyMANY hours of effort.
  3. People don’t want to be weighed down with reason.” They want to *feel good*.
  4. Be 100% yourself.” I think it was the sage who said that.
  5. A bonsai cutting will survive in open ground; but if you replant the whole tree it will die.
  6. In the forced stillness of prison, people learn to perceive anew – to innovate. Take that, .
  7. A gem from : radical trust yields a return that is exponential.
  8. Incentives *contaminate* intrinsic motivations.”

Yep, the speakers were consistently excellent as well. In short, the Purpose do was a beautiful and engrossing cradle for me to grow a little bit, both personally and professionally.

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