Change / transformation Leadership Management / Strategy

Want to succeed? Stand for something.

What’s your purpose?

Put another way: Why are you in business? And don’t tell me the answer is, “To make money.” That’s not the truth. I’m talking about your fundamental reason for being — what Simon Sinek would call your “why.”

“People don’t buy what you do,” Sinek has said so often we know it by heart. “They buy why you do it.”

Why do you do what you do?

Want to know what a company that’s dedicated to its purpose looks like? Look no further than CVS.

The “pharmacy innovation company” says its purpose is to “help people on their path to better health.” You could argue that all pharmacies do that, but CVS has taken it a step further. They’ve used their purpose to figure our what they shouldn’t do. Namely, the pharmacy chain has decided it must stop selling tobacco products.

It takes guts for a retailer to turn its back on a product that generates $2 billion in annual sales, but that’s what CVS has done. They’re doubling down on health. Want to get healthy? Come to CVS. Want a cigarette? Go somewhere else.

That’s getting clear on your purpose. That’s telling your clients what you stand for. That’s giving your customers a reason to buy your “why.”

And it might even be working. CVS has released data that indicates sales of cigarette packs across all retailers have fallen since the chain stopped selling tobacco products. In short, CVS executives claim the move has already improved public health.

That’s debatable. What’s not is that your purpose, your passion, will fuel passion and loyalty in your clients … and that will drive your bottom line.

“When you pursue your purpose, you find enormous growth,” Xero Chief Marketing Officer Andy Lark told the crowd at Xerocon 2015 in Denver. “If you're clear on your purpose, you fundamentally change the way your clients feel about you. … Powerful brands get built through what you do, not what you say you do.”

In other words, walk the talk. Find your purpose and follow it at all costs.

Those costs will come back to you exponentially.


William D. Sheridan