Purpose in the gig economy

Just came across this great read over at Harvard Business Review - The 4 Things You Need to Thrive in the Gig Economy.

The article explains that the most effective independent workers cultivate four types of connections - to place, routines, purpose, and people.

The segment on purpose:

For most people in our study, striking out on their own initially involved doing whatever work would allow them to find a footing in the market. But they were adamant that succeeding means taking only work that clearly connects to a broader purpose. All could articulate why their work, or at least their best work — be it to empower women through film, expose harmful marketing practices, sustain the American folk music tradition, or help corporate leaders succeed with integrity — is more than a means of earning a living. Purpose creates a bridge between their personal interests and motivations and a need in the world. Matthew, for example, said that although at first he felt “a certain desperation around having clients and making an income,” over time his view of success shifted “to one that is a lot about living a life of service to others and making the planet a better place.”

LINK: The 4 Things You Need to Thrive in the Gig Economy

[LINK] Purpose of Lyft

On Lyft’s mission:

Lyft was founded nearly six years ago with the mission to improve people's lives through the world's best transportation.

On vision:

Our vision was to reinvent cities around people, not cars. That vision originated with one of our cofounders, who spent his life in Los Angeles, sitting in traffic and thinking to himself, there has got to be a better way. Our other cofounder truly believed in hospitality and wanted to communicate with and connect people and communities. Together they determined as a human society, there had to be a better way to solve for a traffic pain points and the fact that people sit alone in their cars, travel great distances to work, release emissions and all the downsides of traffic today.

On the subject of Lyft, here are their core values:

  • Be Yourself.
  • Uplift Others.
  • Make It Happen.

Some links referring to their values:

Starting with purpose in a job description

I came across this job posting from Cookpad awhile ago, the leading recipe sharing site in Japan.

I love how the job description starts with their why:

Our purpose at Cookpad is to make everyday cooking fun. Not just because we like food but because we believe that cooking is key to a happier and healthier life for people, communities and the planet.

Everyday, home cooking has a profound impact on ourselves and the world around us: it makes us healthier, connects us with our friends and family, and makes our environment more sustainable. By solving the problems related to everyday cooking and encouraging more people to cook, we believe we can help build a better world.

A great example of how we can start with why in all facets of communication we do.


You do not invent a higher purpose; you discover it.

From the feature article, Creating a Purpose-driven Organization of Harvard Business Review July-August 2018 issue about discovering purpose:

At a global oil company, we once met with members of a task force asked by the CEO to work on defining the organization’s purpose. They handed us a document representing months of work; it articulated a purpose, a mission, and a set of values. We told them it had no power—their analysis and debate had produced only platitudes.

Continuing on how purpose should be discovered:

The members of the task force had used only their heads to invent a higher purpose intended to capture employees’ hearts. But you do not invent a higher purpose; it already exists. You can discover it through empathy—by feeling and understanding the deepest common needs of your workforce. That involves asking provocative questions, listening, and reflecting.

And love this bit on the rising tide of purpose:

Purpose has become a popular topic. Even leaders who don’t believe in it face pressure from board members, investors, employees, and other stakeholders to articulate a higher purpose.

And just one more highlight about the power of purpose:

By connecting people with a sense of higher purpose, leaders can inspire them to bring more energy and creativity to their jobs. When employees feel that their work has meaning, they become more committed and engaged. They take risks, learn, and raise their game.

A wonderful and insightful issue of Harvard Business Review. Be sure to check it out.

And it’s always good to remind ourselves and repeatedly ask ourselves:

What’s our higher purpose?

Key Elements of a Great Vision

"Vision" is the ability to talk about the future with such clarity it is as if we are talking about the past. – Simon Sinek

We all know having a clear image of our goal, a vision, is important.

But what exactly is vision?

What are the key ingredients of vision?

Everybody has a different take on what vision is exactly. Jim Collins, author of the business classic Built to Last, defines vision as:

A well-conceived vision consists of two major components - core ideology and an envisioned future. Notice the direct parallel to the fundamental “persevere the core/stimulate progress” dynamic. A good vision builds on the interplay between these two complementary yin-and-yang forces: it defines “what we stand for and why we exist” that does not change (the core ideology) and sets forth “what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create” that will require significant change and progress to attain (the envisioned future).

Ken Blanchard, author of another business classic Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life, explains:

The three key elements of a compelling vision: Significant Purpose, Clear Values, A Picture of the Future.

These business definitions might feel complicated, so let’s take a look at the dictionary definition:

The act or power of seeing. - Merriam-Webster

In other words, in the simplest terms, vision is what you see if you travelled to the future. The phrase, picture of the future, expresses this well.

The Three Elements of a Picture of the Future
As part of my work as a brand consultant, I had the opportunity to study vision statements as well as helping companies formulate their vision.

I’ve observed that a picture of the future can contain all or some of the following parts:

  1. What do you aspire to be?
  2. How will who your serve (the customer) change or transform as a result of what you do?
  3. How will the world, which you and your customer live in, change due to what you do?

So to have a comprehensive picture of the future, these are the three elements to think about and clarify.

On that note, I end with a question for you.

What does your picture of the future look like?

[REPORT] The Purpose City

Just came across this report from 2014 - The Purpose City: A New Urban Model for a New Generation of Urbanites.

The New Cities Foundation, NBBJ and Imperative convened 50 influential policy makers, scientists, start-up entrepreneurs, business leaders, designers, planners and citizens who, in a mix of debate and hands-on design exercises, discussed and developed new models of urban living for a new generation of purpose-driven consumers, professionals and citizens.

Beautifully formatted with lots of food for thought on how we can turn our cities into hubs of purpose. Plus a look at the workshops and the results.

You can also find a list of reports about purpose including this one here.