What’s your purpose?

Bob Taber at an MBA event.

Bob Taber at an MBA event.

From the editor: Meet Bob Taber, Executive Director of Branding and Communications for the College of Business at CSU. He’s a veteran of national advertising agencies in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver. In today’s blog post, he shares a little about brands and the new campaign for the College of Business. 

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” That’s the essence of Simon Sinek’s New York Times bestseller, Start with Why (watch his TED Talk). Today, brands (and people too, for that matter) seek purpose – values, ideals, causes, or beliefs that are inspiring, bigger than all of us. Purpose attracts like-minded people. As Sinek says, for a job, people will work for money. For purpose, people will give their blood and sweat to work for a cause they believe in.

Purpose is as – maybe more – important for MBA programs. Any accredited graduate school can award an MBA degree. That’s what they do. But ask yourself, why are they doing it? What’s their purpose?

Some MBA programs are known for fueling the funnel to Wall Street; churning out the next wave of wolves. Some are known as breeding grounds for the next tech startup that will produce millionaires and billionaires who are in their 20s and 30s.

But some MBA programs believe in a bigger purpose. They believe that business is the most powerful institution capable of tackling the world’s most pressing human challenges: hunger, poverty, clean water, disease and discrimination. Inspired by the Bill Gateses and the Warren Buffets who are dedicating almost all their wealth to tackling global issues, these MBA programs believe that each of us is capable of making a difference, even in some small way that may make ourselves, our company, our community a better place for everyone.

Oh, I can hear the cynics now. “That’s so idealistic,” they’re saying. And I have to agree. Yes, it is idealistic. But that’s the point. Ideals make us believe we can reach higher, achieve more, and have a lasting effect that goes beyond the paycheck. Chasing ideals fuels our passion and leads to self-fulfillment more than any promotion or gold watch at the end of a long career – as if a gold watch were still a symbol of a lifetime of dedication to a company. But a lifetime of dedication to a cause, a belief, an ideal, that’s truly rewarding. That’s purpose.

“There are a number of ways to find meaning in the work we do and to use the skills we develop,” says Dave Randall (OPMBA ’09.) Though, by day, Randall is a senior managing director for an Oregon-based investment advisory firm, he uses his MBA skills to run a nonprofit foundation dedicated to finding a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The foundation is in honor of Cole Parker Randall, who lived for 76 days.

Dave Randall standing in front of the new brand campaign in Denver International Airport

“For me, there has been nothing more meaningful than starting a foundation in the name of our son, Cole,” Randall says.

So as you’re investigating MBA programs, be sure to ask what their purpose is. Can they point to programs, coursework, new businesses, and alumni that are fulfilling their purpose? Does it align with your purpose?

This blog was originally posted on the CSU MBA blog, and can be accessed here.

This entry was posted in Business Ethics, Entrepreneurship and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What’s your purpose?

  1. Reply says:

    So as you’re investigating MBA programs, be sure to ask what their purpose is. Can they point to programs, coursework, new businesses, and alumni that are fulfilling their purpose? Does it align with your purpose?

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