How Much More Meaningful Can Your Job be in 2018?

Abundance Organizational leadership Purpose


Key Point: “Purpose isn’t magic — it’s something we must consciously pursue and create. With the right approach, almost any job can be meaningful.” This is a quote from a wonderful HBR article by John Coleman. You may have read this site and/or listened to our podcasts in which we’ve reinforced the importance of “purpose” in organizations over last few years. The complete magic is when it connects with both personal meaning and purpose at work. From time to time, skeptics have challenged me on the reality or utility in finding that personal meaning or purpose at work. Isn’t a job at the end of the day just that, a “job?” Coleman offers a practical response to that question and a framework to help each of us find more of that personal work connection. He comments:

Remember why you work. Most of us don’t have the luxury of working solely for fun. We may enjoy our jobs, but we also work to earn money and pay bills. For most of us, work in and of itself is a meaningful act of service. Parents often work hard to invest in their children; and those without kids often help support aging parents or other relatives. Those without families often use their resources to support organizations they love in the community or their friends in times of need. It’s rare to find someone working with only their personal needs in mind. Who are you working for? Identify that person or group of people. When the hours are difficult or the tasks are unglamorous, remember that your work is an act of service for those you care about in your personal life. Keeping this front of mind will help you tie more purpose into your work, even when accomplishing the most tedious of tasks.

Coleman goes on to offer a very thoughtful and accessible personal framework:

The following advice on how to consciously endow your work with purpose regardless of your profession.

  1. Connect work to service. When I was in graduate school, I once heard Bill George tell a story about how he’d highlight both patients and employees at the Medtronic annual meeting when he was CEO. He’d invite a person whose life had been saved by a defibrillator, for example, to speak to his assembled colleagues and tell them how their work had saved his life. He’d highlight someone in the Medtronic quality control department and explain how her dedication and rigor were saving thousands of lives. He’d connect his colleagues directly to the people they served.

    While everyone may not handle situations of life and death at work, we each do serve someone in what we do… Who do you serve? Connecting our day-to-day jobs — consciously and concretely — to those we’re ultimately serving makes completing that work more purposeful.

  2. Craft your work – and make work a craft. Yale Professor Amy Wrzesniewski once did an in-depth study of hospital custodial staff to determine what helped certain members of the custodial team excel. Her results (recounted by David Zax) were fascinating. Wrzesniewski uncovered a practice among the happiest and most effective custodians she termed ‘job crafting.’ These custodial workers, focused intensely on serving patients, would ‘[create] the work they wanted to do out of the work they’d been assigned—work they found meaningful and worthwhile.’ One would rearrange artwork in rooms to stimulate comatose patients’ brains; others devoted time to learning about the chemicals they used for cleaning rooms and figuring out which were least likely to irritate patients’ conditions. They were pursuing excellence in service to others and would adapt their jobs to suit that purpose. They enhanced their assigned work to be meaningful to themselves and to those they serve.

  3. Invest in positive relationships. Who we work with is as important as what we do. Psychologist Martin Seligman (among others) has written extensively on the importance of relationships to happiness and fulfillment (it’s a core element of his ‘PERMA’ model for flourishing); and the now famous Harvard Grant Study found that happiness and even financial success are tied to the warmth of one’s relationships, with the study’s chief architect famously concluding, ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be clear on who you’re serving, working for and why.
  2. Become a masterful job crafter, regardless of role.
  3. Love the people you work with.
  4. Connect your personal meaning with the organization purpose.

As always, it’s that simple and that hard. Happy New Year in finding more personal meaning in our work.

More meaningful work in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: This is so true and valuable for a personal and positive mindset. It’s easy to be disheartened about some positions “on paper,” and society likes to say things like “well you’re not curing cancer.” Fine. That is likely the case. But for example, surgeons need coffee too, so even if you’re a barista, your good service (and a smile) might highly impact their performance… The point is, you just never know, your role could matter a lot more than you might think. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Patient Impatience Before the New Year

Abundance Productivity Purpose


Key Point: I am going to share some thoughts that hopefully help us count our blessings while we think about the new year with a sense of focus. The paradox may be patient impatience? Please reflect on the following: (Paraphrased from Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors).

  1. “Most people live for about 30,000 days. How many have you lived so far? How many days left with the people you love most? Make each one count.
  2. In consort with the above, many of us have lifetimes ahead of us. Let’s not worry about our friends ‘beating’ us or ‘getting somewhere’ ahead. Get out into the real dirt world and start failing. Just do stuff and avoid repeating doing the same thing year after year! How are you doing with this? Go do a bunch of things and you will become a unique story.
  3. Do something everyday that fires you up. It’ll keep our soul hungry to create more and to be abundant! How hungry and abundant are you really?
  4. Everything is a process. Love the journey and the process. Look for something where you love the process, and the results will follow! What’s your journey? What are the key processes you’re engaging?
  5. Love to and be in a hurry to advance your learning, not in a hurry to get validation or a promotion. Results come from translating learning into action. How are you at this?
  6. Be present. Use technology as a tool that you and I control versus allowing the technology to control us. Do you utilize the technology around you? Or are you a slave to it? Being present is the gateway to a gratifying future.
  7. Zoom out and in. As productivity guru Gary Vaynerchuk stresses: ‘Have macro patience, and micro speed… Care about the next eight years, but really stress the next eight days. Just friggin execute.’
  8. Some say we’re the average of our five closest friends. We want to put ourselves in an environment that pulls the best out of us. Where are you and I on this? Who inspires us? Who are our loving critics? Embrace them!”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Honestly reflect on the above challenges/reflections. What might you do about just one of them? Maybe two of them?
  2. Don’t try for perfection. On the other hand, be relentless about advancing yourself. You and I are worth it!
  3. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

Patient impatience in Personal Leadership!


One Millennial View: No one really asks Santa for homework over the holidays, but I think really reflecting on this list would be a great holiday gift for ourselves. Even if you make a slight dent on this list while traveling, it could kickstart a great game plan for 2018. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Hawkins Cheezies: Totally Exponential

Abundance Organizational culture Purpose


Key Point: Undoubtedly, my favorite snack is Hawkins Cheezies. No other orange substitute will do. I totally resonate with the following comment by another dedicated customer: “For some reason, a bag of Cheezies (the real, Hawkins kind – they’re Canadian, did you know)? With some kind of big red wine has become my idea of heaven on a Friday night” – @dinnerwithjulie.

Janis Thiessen‘s recent book, Snacks: A Canadian Food History, explores the history of snacks and dedicates a whole chapter to Hawkins Cheezies: “I was not a Cheezie lover until I toured the company and learned about their history. I saw how they operate and actually will now consume the product from time to time out of affection for their work process. Hawkins uses all of the original equipment in a plant within a small-town in Ontario, so you get every size and shape of Cheezie imaginable. It’s a very tiny operation. They don’t work Friday afternoon or weekends. Their evening shifts are only cleaning shifts and they do not advertise because they would have to increase production. There are other options out there, but the difference with the Cheezie is that the process of making them is not computerized.”

Hawkins Cheezies Mission Statement:

We believe that people, our managers, our permanent staff, our temporaries and our students represent the brick and mortar of our company. It is through people producing the finest quality product available, we will continue to forge our future. We will always recognize that our customers are the vital key to our future. We are obligated to our customers to deliver the finest and we have promised to do so in full measure.”

The “history” on their modest website details more, saying “W.T. Hawkins Ltd., a 66-year-old staple in rural Ontario, Canada, is currently led by president Kent Hawkins – grandson of the founder. After W.T. Hawkins passed away in 1961, his son, W.W. (Web) Hawkins assumed control and guided the company for nearly 30 years… Continuing with the basics of family values, fresh ingredients and hands-on management, the Hawkins legend has flourished. Dedicated to quality and service, Hawkins Cheezies® receives loyal support from its customers and continues to perfect its manufacturing success… We have created a family tradition that extends beyond bloodlines. It is a family that has strong ties to the community and one that encourages giving where one can.”

I write constantly about how we have to be transformative and change or someone will eat us for a snack. So I wanted to highlight a company that has and continues to flourish while resisting significant change. As mentioned above, Hawkins Cheezies still uses their original equipment and is so dedicated to traditional family values and fresh ingredients that it refuses to compromise for the sake of growth. It is totally possible to be relevant for the future and very traditional. In the end, the customer has to really value what you produce, employees have to be loyal to your product, customers and purpose, while the company provides an environment where people want to stay and fully contribute. That recipe will transcend exponential technology.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Would your customers take a joy filled selfie consuming your product or service? Cheezies customers do and send them to the company (even though the company has never campaigned for them). How might you make that happen in your organization?
  2. Basics count first! Fancy technology is a means, not an end. Digitizing a dumb business model or poor offering just expedites making more crap. If you want a great culture and loyal customers, make sure your basics are super solid first. (Ideally, in one way or another, it pairs favorably with red wine).

Hawkins Cheezies in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I never buy Cheetos or Cheez-Its, but Hawkins Cheezies are good enough for one to suspect they might be sprinkled with crack cocaine due to their seeming propensity to possess addictive properties. They are notably great. Thankfully, it’s just a tried and true formula backed by time, values, customer loyalty and solid company culture. The same can be said for other companies like In-N-Out and more that haven’t wavered from their original successful recipes.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Missing the Moment… Time that Has Gone 

Accountability Contribution Purpose


Key Point: There is a view that there are few things that one cannot recover from: One is a moment that has passed, and of course another is time that has gone. These maxims are worth reflecting on. 

On Wednesday of this week, I was invited to speak to the college football team I played for 46 years ago. It was a players’ only event sponsored by the team captains. No coaches were allowed, and I was invited as a “distinguished” alumni. They had just finished a very long day of team building, and 80 vibrant young men were chowing down on hotdogs and burgers. What could I say to them that might have any value or interest?

I began my talk by challenging each of them on the notion that this was their moment and time; individually and collectively. There would be no other 2017 team. This moment and time was exclusively theirs to define the “brand” of the 2017 team – and it would last forever. This involves much more that the win/loss record. Yes, winning is important, but it is not everything. What would define the kind of team they would be? Just as importantly, what kind of team would they not be? The choice was totally theirs to make. Of course, coaching and the playbook/program are crucial. However, much of the team’s results and brand would be solely defined by the choice and action of the 80 men in front of me. 

On Thursday, I spent my time with 115 of our new hires at the company I work for, introducing them to our purpose and values. While the context is different, the overall challenge is very much the same. What will they do individually and collectively to advance our brand and be part of a winning team? The moment and time is also wholly theirs as they define their contribution and legacy. 

Too often we paddle through life without pausing to intentionally capture the moment and time. Life slips by us faster than we realize. Before we know it, if we are fortunate, we are in front of younger generations in our advancing years, reminding them of the choices and moment/time they have.

Character Moves:

  1. Be conscious of every key moment and time. Be intentional. Neither can be reclaimed. 

Moment and time in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s almost like this should be a subject taught in high school. Millennials often make excuses for how fast our weeks blow by when we’re routinely doing this-and-that. We say, “30 is the new 20,” and “you’re only as old as how you feel.” That could have hints of truth, but, if we’re being honest, maximum time optimization is not always utilized. Maybe there should be an App that only lets you set your alarm for the next morning if you write down a daily experience that some bots deem worthy of reflecting on.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Determine your MTP: Massive Transformative Purpose

Accountability Purpose Transformation


Key Point: A well-defined MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose) is instrumental in building a different and more valuable kind of company. And most successful new startups these days have this defined before they even kick-start. And an MTP is not primarily about making tons of money for shareholders (although when the MTP is achieved, that’s what happens too). It’s a much bigger inspirational WHY the company exists in the first place.

This past week I met with a 24-year-old Canadian entrepreneur who just sold his first start-up to a global company for $xx millions of dollars. He knows this “take over” company will scale his MTP, and make it a world wide reality. I remember talking to him about his idea a few years ago. There were a number of more prestigious and certainly hipper things this guy could have done in the short run, including but not limited to grad school, high end consulting, big company management, etc. But, he had a massive thought about changing the lives of the elderly incontinent by taking advantage of digital sensors and the ubiquitous wifi/Internet now available to nursing homes. So, what did he do to prove out his thesis that the elderly incontinent deserved the dignity and well-being to live in clean adult diapers? (Not “sexy” at all and for many people his age, well beyond interest, focus or comprehension). Well, he and his team decided to take a minimal viable prototype to nursing homes and learn from there. The entire start-up team stayed at three different nursing homes over a 12-month period. Yup, these 20-plus year olds moved right in to those homes, often staying in sleeping bags on the floor of an unused space, literally living with residents and staff. They knew their technology would work, but to really understand the impact of their product, they immersed themselves in full observation. The result was a dramatic improvement to the prototype, and ultimately a big win for the nursing home residents and their beleaguered care givers… No more middle of the night wake up calls – less sores, infections and indignity. Purpose matters. A massive transformative purpose matters even more. It is really thinking BIG! This mindset applies to our current giant or more modest challenges; from adult diaper wetting to feeding all the hungry. 

So WHY does your company exist? What difference does it make in the world? Simon Sinek talks about the “why.” See the following from an article in Dare2: “Exponential organizations talk about the Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). It is no longer enough just to be in the market to create profits for your stakeholders. Customers and employees are attracted to companies that aren’t purely commercial, but have a greater purpose and communicate this purpose. Zappo’s MTP is ‘Delivering Happiness.’Yeah, maybe on paper they are selling shoes, but there’s a big difference for employees who wake up every morning to sell a lace up shoe in size 8 versus an employee that wakes up to deliver happiness in size 8. MTPs also give companies a much bigger board to strategically play with. Google’s MTP is ‘Organizing the world’s information.’ The breadth of this makes projects like autonomous cars and Google Glass — products that otherwise seem really out of touch with Google’s strategy — fit perfectly because it supports their greater purpose. Even Coca-Cola has an MTP. It’s ‘Open Happiness,’not ‘We are in the market to maximize the benefits for our shareholders and be the leading distribution chain for sugary soft drinks.’ Most startups are born with an MTP. It is their guiding light. The upward bound that holds all their activities together. ” 

When in NYC last week, I heard about an MTP regarding nutritiously feeding the entire world for pennies a day based on open source thinking. A very talented software developer got tired from having to break development activities to eat. So, he quit software development and hacked a basic nutrition formula that would cost effectively provide all of us our daily needed source of nutrition and then open sourced it. It’s called Soylent! Their MTP: “We at Soylent seek to use science, technology, and business as tools to improve the quality and accessibility of nourishing food. We aim to provide complete nutrition to all while reducing the costs of its production. To accomplish this mission, we have focused on creating a line of products to provide affordable, convenient, complete nutrition that is accessible to all. When we say “all” – we really mean all. In the last three months, we have already donated more than half a million meals to food banks around the country, with the goal of donating 1 million meals this year.” Read more on their site.

Character Moves:

  1. Do you work for an organization with a clear sense of WHY and greater good, purpose? And what about an even bigger thought? A Massive Transformative Purpose? Don’t be afraid to be part of thinking BIG. Like Google’s Ray Kurzweil notes, “If you want to be a billionaire, help a billion people.” Why would one want to work for a company or organization that just wanted to make a lot of money for a bunch of rich people? Especially if it diminishes humankind rather than advancing it? Think big, be big for humankind. Now is the time.

MTPs in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Wow, good for those guys! When you hear stories of how entrepreneurs actually get up and DO, it’s always inspiring. That’s why I recently wrote this piece on a guy I admire, Gary Vaynerchuk… It’s people like this that can really fire you up, make you ask how you can better tackle your day, and think BIG, no matter what industry you’re in.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

What If You Were Graduating Now?

Accountability Kindness Purpose


Key Point: It’s never too late to take convocation advice. Across most North American and European campuses this past month, students regaled in caps and gowns have been listening to keynote speeches from distinguished leaders. Each speaker shared their best advice for that long post academia journey. The baby birds are all being nudged from their nests, propped up by the wise words of “eagles.”

My contention is that it’s never too late to embrace the sage insights shared with graduates. For many of us, taking each May as a renewed opportunity to have a graduation “do over,” and step into the world anew, could be a rather refreshing thought. Who says that convocation wisdom should be reserved for the newbies? And what if we intentionally considered every graduating season as a time to consider stepping out again? I’m in my 60’s, and I’d like to be able to think of myself as that fresh-faced beginner. 

Adam Grant is one of my favorite people, and although we’ve never personally met, I think of him as one of my “thrive people.” I get advice from him all the time through the wonderfully connected world we live in. He is an organizational psychologist who has been repeatedly recognized as Wharton’s top-rated professor. He’s also written multiple New York Times bestsellers, including Give and Take – a must read, that makes the scientific case for why giving leads to success. This year, Grant delivered the commencement speech at Utah State University, where he shared some of the lessons from his years of research and teaching. So if you and I snuck into that ceremony, this is what we would have heard from professor Grant: 

  1. Be giving, abundant, generous AND invest in yourself first.

According to Grant’s research on teachers (as an example), the most effective ones were those that “cared deeply about their students but also did what we’re all supposed to do on airplanes – they secured their oxygen masks before assisting others. ‘They made sure to take care of their own needs first (which included identifying their limits and making sure to get the proper rest), then giving when they could. ‘They felt less altruistic,’ said Grant, ‘but they actually helped more. Their giving was energizing instead of exhausting.'”

  1. Apply grit to the right things; it’s ok to go to plan b, c… Maybe even z. 

Grant’s Advice: “Sometimes, quitting is a virtue. Grit doesn’t mean ‘keep doing the thing that’s failing.’ It means, ‘define your dreams broadly enough that you can find new ways to pursue them when your first and second plans fail.’ I needed to give up on my dream of making the NBA, but I didn’t need to give up on my dream of becoming a halfway decent athlete.”

It is important to find your purpose, apply what you’re good at, embrace what you like to do, define and stay true to your values. Those are the things NOT to quit on.

While being inspired by Grant, I thought I’d share this additional perspective to throw into the convocation message:   

  1. Don’t spend your life making up your mind by getting caught in the world of self-imposed “have to’s.”

This message was inspired by an HBR blog:

“Long ago I worked at a job I didn’t enjoy. It wasn’t a bad job; it was secure and pleasant. I was a success, but the job just wasn’t fulfilling in the ways I wanted. I spent my spare time tinkering with the simulations, research, and writing that still fascinate me. And the more I tinkered, the more I chafed at my job.

One day I complained to someone close to me, who gave me the gift of a question: ‘Then why don’t you quit your job and do what you want instead?’ I know the option of quitting seems obvious. It had occurred to me many times. But that was the first time I heard the ‘then why don’t you’ part.

Why hadn’t I quit? Because I’d wrapped myself in a thicket of ‘have to’s.’ I have to have a steady income. I have to have the respect that comes with a business card from a leading-edge company. I have to, not I want to. Assumptions, beliefs, and habits, not wrong but also not laws of nature that I have to obey.

When I noticed the self-imposed have to’s I could question their influence on my decision. I quit my job the next day. I wanted to live my dreams… I can attest that mañana is especially tempting on agonizing decisions. I was stuck for months on such a decision.

Two things got me unstuck. One was reframing the decision before me. I’d tried but just couldn’t answer, ‘What can I do to cause the outcome I want?’ I switched to ‘What are the best and worst out­comes I can expect?’ I answered that question immediately. I knew the answer was true even though I didn’t like it.

But what really unstuck me was advice from my best friend, a man I’d known for almost 40 years. He said, ‘Don’t spend your life making up your mind.’ He knew what he was talking about. It was our last conversation, three days before he died of leukemia.

Character Moves:

  1. Being generous, abundant and giving more starts with YOU first. Are you doing that or are you caught in the well-intended and sometimes disabling dishonesty of being a self-imposed victim and martyr? The test: The act of giving should be energizing NOT exhausting. 
  2. Have grit on the right stuff and have the guts to quit when your life is being sucked out of you… That only one life, I will remind you. Hanging too long on something that you’re failing at or not enjoying is just dumb. Why would you do that? Is that the right way to show grit? 
  3. Get out of the prickly thicket of self-imposed “have to’s.” What are the best and worst outcomes you can expect if you chose “not to” versus “have to?” Do you really, I mean REALLY, “have to?” Or are you worried about how you and others will judge you? How long will you wait? 

Graduating do over, in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: There are some really valuable lessons here, and I agree that we can treat every May or June as if we’re graduating once again when these great commencement speeches surface. As Millennials, we’re probably in our least “have to” states in our lives, and I’m reminded that if I find myself needing to get out of a prickly thicket, it’s up to me to use the sheers to untangle myself. That’s something that I do “have to.”

– Garrett 

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis