“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – Howard Shultz, Chairman, CEO of Starbucks

Years ago when I first heard people talking about business purpose and core values I used to think it was fluff – and genuinely a waste of time.

The truth is, for most companies it is. What they say is their purpose and mission is mumbo-jumbo – just trying to sell more stuff. And their core values end up as interesting ideas they’re not accountable to.

Twenty years later I now see why I was so cynical about purpose and core values. It’s because the examples I witnessed weren’t authentic, heartfelt and connected – they were just marketing,

Purpose can’t be dictated. It has to be clearly articulated at the top – and needs to pour out of the DNA of the company. It has to be inside you. It’s about soul and culture.

Save the Potato. Feed the World, Better

I’ve been really fortunate to work with some amazing companies that genuinely try, through their purpose and values, to articulate the truth about who they are and what they believe in.

One example I’d like to share with you is the Little Potato Company. Angela Santiago and her dad started their company because of a passion for potatoes – and a belief that if they showed the world what potatoes used to look like and taste like, we’d love them again.

This may sound funny to you but I’ve been in meetings when Angela and her executives talk about potatoes – and I’ve felt emotional. Seriously! I didn’t grow up on a farm, nor are potatoes one of my passions in life – and I wanted to be a part of what they were doing – to be around people who felt that way about anything.

Angela’s been working on the idea of purpose – on crafting their story – for more than five years – and now it’s masterful. They really believe in their purpose, and put a lot of effort into making sure it’s clear in their company – that everyone understands it. So they recently created a company purpose video to encapsulate what they stand for and believe in, as a company.

The video is 100% true and authentic to them, so are the conversations in the boardroom – that often include many of the people in the video; not actors – family, employees and growers.

I’ve witnessed that, in her heart and her family’s DNA, potatoes are an important part of this world. They truly believe that this delicious, nutritious and efficient food crop is one of the ways we can feed the world better.

Business Becomes Easier

Once you articulate what’s in the heart and soul of the entrepreneur who started the business – what they’re trying to achieve – business, through this filter, becomes easier.

Decisions are obvious.

People become aligned.

You hire people who connect to it.

Your company comes to life, as employees understand their part in a greater good.

You likely have an equally powerful story – and it’s a shame if you’re not telling it.

I hope Angela and the Little Potato Company inspires you. In an upcoming post Angela Santiago talks about finding their purpose and the difference it makes in her company.