Sarah McGowan Dear

You Down with PoP? Yeah You Know Me…

In Business Therapy, Clients on June 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Cocktail napkins make very good charts | All content © 2012 MAC+COB

It seems like another lifetime when I worked in the non-profit sector running programs for at-risk youth. Even though it felt really good doing so much good, long hours, lots of coffee and more than occasional heartbreak were but par for the course.

On the days when it got really tough, my mentor and friend, Jo Ann Allen, always managed to have a few sparkling words of wisdom to quell the rising tide of exhaustion and exasperation. One of my favorite Jo Ann-isms has stuck with me all these years, proving true in so many situations: “Purity of Purpose” … just three little words that mean so much and continue to frame how I go about my work.

Purity of Purpose (PoP) is especially salient when it comes to branding. If you know what you’re doing and why, it’s easy to stay focused and dare I say realize your dreams. If you don’t, you risk meandering around in the ethers until something happens to you. Knowing and believing in your PoP allows you to be proactive. Not having it means the best you can do is react to environmental forces beyond your control.

Though the process of really boiling it down can be daunting, it’s always worth the effort. If you truly know your marketplace, you understand your space, challenges and opportunities. When you fearlessly explore market perception, you gain insight into how you’re seen by others and identify where you might need to switch gears. By refining your vision and mission, you can get clear about how you do what you do and why, which creates the space to develop the new roadmap for where you need to go and the action plan for how you’re going to get there. By embracing your evolving identity, you resist staying stuck and actively have a hand in dreaming up your future.

Getting to your PoP can be a journey, especially if your business or organization is evolving. Last week, Helen and I met with a few of the key stakeholders and founders of the Altadena Urban Farmers’ Market to facilitate an exploration of their past, envision their future and get to the heart of their brand essence. Above all, they’re about community and creating the space to explore, share and thrive together. We’re thrilled that they “get it” and can’t imagine a better PoP for an organization looking to shatter stale paradigms (more on that later).

At the heart of “Purity of Purpose” is courage: the courage to review, re-imagine and recommit to the values that brought you to your work in the first place. PoP allows you to see opportunity over roadblocks, strengths rather than weaknesses, and forge partnerships that others might think impossible.

My mentor left me with my second favorite quotable that I’ve passed on many times over the last decade and that certainly applies to the hard work we see the AUFM putting into their exploration: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” It’s a can-do attitude that serves fruitful community-building and a powerful mantra that always brings me back to what’s most important, both in life and in the work that I do: the power of teamwork, the freedom of creative expression and the joy of transformation.

MYM is the brainchild of Sarah “Mac” McGowan of MAC+COB Business Therapy and Helen Kim of The Think Farm.

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