Sprout Cast

Sprout Cast Episode 4

with Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative & Founder of the Taproot Foundation

Published: June 2, 2015

Read Time: 34 minutes

Sprout cast cover art

Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative, Founder of the Taproot Foundation and author of The Purpose Economy speaks about purpose and it’s impact on the non-profit sector, inspiring people in your organisation, the benefit of boards to social enterprises and much more. Whether you’re running an established non-profit organisation or thinking about starting your own, this episode has great insights for either situation.


Speaker 1: Welcome to Sproutcast where we speak with change makers, social innovators and entrepreneurs about how to make the world a better place. Now here is your host Julia Duffy.

Julia Duffy: Welcome back to Sproutcast. My name is Julia Duffy and today we are speaking with Aaron Hurst. Aaron Hurst is a globally recognized entrepreneur who works to create communities that are empowered to realize their potential. Aaron cofounded Imperative, a technology platform that enables people to discover and connect and act on what gives them purpose in their work. He is also the founder of the Taproot Foundation and the author of the 2014 book, The Purpose Economy. Aaron is speaking with us today from US. Welcome to Sproutcast Aaron.

Aaron Hurst: It is great to be here with you.

Julia Duffy: Wonderful. I thought I would start by asking you what your history of involvement with the NFP space has been and I guess where it originated from, is there something that started you off on this path and why were you interested in becoming involved?

Aaron Hurst: You have four hours, is that right. It is a long [crosstalk 00:01:15].

Julia Duffy: I would like to hear the whole story.

Aaron Hurst: I do not know. It is hard question to answer, right. Part of it is family. One side of my family had a lot of family members who were involved in healthcare which in the United States is a very, the nonprofit sector plays a very big role in. The other side were social entrepreneurs, my grandfather developed the blue print for the Peace Corp which is a [inaudible 00:01:41] program of president Kennedy here in the US and that was a major [inaudible 00:01:47] with my family’s legacy and he ran an organization called the Aspid Institute which is one of the big nonprofit think tanks in the US so I was really raised knowing the nonprofit sector more so than corporate sector and my parents both worked.

My mom was a small business entrepreneur but my dad worked in higher education universities that were also nonprofit so I really grew up with that as you call the more comfortable place to operate than in government or in private sector. I actually started my own business, my first business when I was 16 but once I got to the university, started creating social entrepreneurship programs and create a whole program for teaching in prisons. We talked creative writing in local prisons. When I graduated from college, moved to Chicago in the center of the US and worked on intercity education working a curriculum design and teacher funding. I at that point really got frustrated because I found the nonprofit sector had all the right and motivation and working on the right things but weren’t scaling to make the difference they needed to so I quit my job in the nonprofit sector and went and got a job in silicone valley back in 1997 and worked for two different startups that both had strong social missions as part of what they were doing but were very much for profit and some of the scale from, in both cases I was one of the first employees to over 200 people in two years.

I really came to understand what it is that separated the startups from the nonprofits that work with us and part of it was capital, financial capital but a big part of it was they had access to the marketing tech, HR, finance, strategy and other functional skills that nonprofits really invest in and realize that there is a significant opportunity for us to create a market place for business professionals to donate the professional talents to help nonprofits meet these needs so they could better scale and be effective, and that was really catalyst for creating a taproot foundation which was nonprofit organization I started back in 2001.

It was the goal of ensuring nonprofit have access to these resources and really catalyse a movement in the US which by the time I left was about a 15 billion dollar a year market place for [inaudible 00:04:07] services and got to work with also agencies all around the world doing pro bono and working with most amazing professionals from both the for profit and nonprofit sector. I ultimately left a couple of years ago to start imperative which we actually started as a for benefit corp, so it is a corporation, a business, but it has a classification of being first and foremost about social benefit. I am finding just hybrid model to be really, really a great fit for me. Along the way then a part of a lot of different nonprofit collisions I have served on boards, most notably in the board of Board [inaudible 00:04:44] which is for the leading US nonprofit focused on governance and best practices and training and governance. It has been a long and sorted history.

Julia Duffy: Yeah, really it sounds like it and has your understanding or I guess it sounds like your understanding of NFP space where you fit into it has changed over the years. Has that led to the thesis of your book The Purpose Economy? Is that being based or is it background in your journey through the NFP space?

Aaron Hurst: In part, I mean I think the purpose economy book was inspired largely with my uncle’s work when he was an economist at Stanford and coined the term information economy and proved that we had entered into the third economy and history having gone from [inaudible 00:05:33] to the industrial to that information economy. What I saw a Taproot as I was working with nonprofits and business and government was that some of it what he saw when information economy was emerging we were seeing major changes happening and the fundamental priorities of people around what they were spending money on, what they were spending their time on and how they were assessing their careers. This was leading to another major transformation and I believe the fourth transformation of our economy in our history. Our purpose and the need for meaningful relationships making an impact in growing is actually turning into a massive economic force.

Julia Duffy: Is that something that you see as not just shaping the traditional market place but shaping the way that nonprofits are operating or having to operate as well?

Aaron Hurst: To some degree. I mean I think it is doing a couple of different things, and I speak from some global experience but it is pretty US centric which is I guess creating a proliferation people starting nonprofits for one, a proliferation and philanthropy, but it is also creating a lot of competition for nonprofits in that there is a lot more social benefit corporations that are emerging and more and more corporations are taking on this social benefit as a core part of that messaging, so there was a nonprofit monopoly on messages of cause and of impact is running. We are also finding from an employment standpoint that people are seeing that they are a lot of different ways to get meaning and purpose at work and it does not require working in the nonprofit sectors. You have seen a lot of people who are taking to universities about what to make an impact actually then going into the companies because they realize they can do that there and in many cases it is better. It is a pretty big shift there.

Julia Duffy: I am interested in what you are saying just now about individuals contributing in the making a difference of all purpose side of things in operations and not in the traditional realm that we would think of for [inaudible 00:07:41] purpose. Could you talk a little bit more on that and how perhaps someone who is that position could go about contributing in that way.

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, it is almost infinite. I mean you can think about how you contribute. I mean first and foremost no matter what organization you are in, I think the most important form of contribution is to your coworkers. When I have done work with doctors for example they often speak about their relationships with their coworkers even being more important than their patients. The ability to really focusing on building a community being able to support each other regardless of what the mission of the organization is is huge.

Secondly, companies often sit on vast resources and have incredible ability to influence public policy where people buy, how things are made, etc. In many cases if you want to make a really large impact, being able to do that on the platform of the large company is much easier than at a for person nonprofit. A lot of people are seeing that and then you are seeing more companies that in themselves are doing proactive products and services. It that about improving people’s lives, addressing environmental needs, etc. This light is just incredibly blurry and I will go even further.

I am finding the distinction to be less and less meaningful, and I am finding a lot of people working on the profit sector that have very little purpose in their work and finding people in the for profit sector who have tremendous purpose, also seeing a lot of people who are working in small business and family owned businesses that are as passionate and as engaged as the best nonprofits. It is really blurring.

Julia Duffy: Is this connected, and you mentioned earlier about the Taproot Foundation is connected to your purposes resources in a phase and encouraging pro bono, I guess, is that correct?

Aaron Hurst: Yeah.

Julia Duffy: Is that another way that you are finding corporations or for profit organizations contributing more and people being able to find purpose through that work?

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, I mean I think it is more of an individual level you are seeing that movement. It is certainly happening at a corporate level. The thing we are seeing especially with the millennial generation, but it is also happening with boomers and everyone is fundamentally a move from a single full monolithic career to seeing their work as a portfolio of projects, and some of them are within their employer and some of them are outside, and a lot of people are supplementing their work with pro bono work where they are needing to have more direct connection with their community to feel a greater sense of purpose so it is really part of the portfolio approach to work and being able to see yourself as more than a one trick pony.

Julia Duffy: Is pro bono the way you are thinking about it more something that someone would do individually and not organized through where they work or it is something that I think that we do not do as much here in Australia so I was interested to find out more [inaudible 00:10:44] over there I guess.

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, I mean if you look at pro bono in the US the vast majority of it is just people done on individual basis where I am on a board. I need help with a new logo for my nonprofit. I have a friend who happens to be a designer. I just ask you would you be willing to do this for me, right. That sort of casual socially network to ask. That is by far the most common. You see professional services firm so the organizations that are in the business of preventing consulting services end up doing a lot of pro bono because that is what their product is so the donation of it is a national extension and then the small minority but important component as well is a company that is not in the business of consulting that says hey we have got all this amazing talent.

They have been going up and volunteering but that is not really a great use of their time. We do not we have them actually do what they great at and give what they know, and they start to build programs and the majority of Taproot’s revenue and I would argue their impact has been in building these programs for companies because the companies do not have the infrastructure to know how to do consulting work much less pro bono work so helping them that NFPs, helping them scale projects, helping them manage projects, helping them evaluate projects, you find a wide range of needs and Taproot is able to provide those consulting services.

Julia Duffy: I guess that is from the perspective of the people offering the program and services. How much are you involved in the NFP side of organization seeking pro bono. Could you speak on perhaps how someone running a small organization or a new organization would go about speaking these?

Aaron Hurst: Sure, no you studied that a ton at taproot, and I think it is a couple of different key decisions and the most important one though is looking for a one off need or is there something where you want to build into your strategy through an ongoing supply of pro bono services, right. If it is just a onetime thing, I think it is just a question of figuring out who is in your social network, figuring out who has access and we have got a book called powered by pro bono that taproot put out that really goes step by step through that process so you can do it.

To me that is not nearly as strategic as saying hey I actually think that going forward and this is in the US where we found the most successful NFPs do is they say we want 20% of our budget to be pro bono. That requires more systemically thinking about how you structure the organization and that really begins with your board of directors and having your board intentionally recruited to not just be raising money but actually have a role in bringing in pro bono resources from their organizations and their social networks so it is being able to say, you know what we need a senior marketing person on our board and part of their job explicitly is to help secure the marketing pro bono resources we need and really building that into the board’s function.

Julia Duffy: I might step back a bit and ask you how you came about bounding the taproot foundation. Where did the idea come from, and how did you know that you wanted to build something out of it?

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, I mean it came very much out of that experience of having worked in Chicago and seeing those nonprofit struggling and then going to silicone valley and having that insight about what was needed, it would occur to me that it is just that the people I had build relationships with in the business world were hungry to get back but they did not want to do traditional volunteer work. They wanted to do something more strategic. They made a better use of their time, and it started off at first with just a pilot of saying I wonder if I ask my colleagues whether you want to do this what would they say. Without an exception, they are all like awesome, sign me up. Then I hit the harder problem which is I went up to nonprofits and I said hey we got a bunch of folks here that want to help you build a website, do branding and almost without exception they all said no thank you. It was exact opposite of what I thought would happen.

I thought the professionals might say no and the nonprofits would be like clambering, and it is because they have been burned so many times by getting tensions that just did not produce results so the first three years at Taproot our focus was solely on how do we make pro bono a reliable process so that we if award a project to a nonprofit, we guarantee the results, we can really make sure it gets done. It took us three plus years to really work out the science of pro bono to the point where we could have a 95% plus completion rate.

That was really the focus upfront just proof of concept, proof that we could actually make something that people saw the potential but that was broken and make it work and that alone really sparked the whole movement because it took a great idea, but we had many times before but made it viable. That was one part of the strength. The other part was, the funding side which is the inevitable part of any founding story which was I quit my job, basically did Taproot for about 18 months on my credit card.

My only income was that. Selling my car, basically liquidating everything I owned to prove that this was possible. I was so dead set on proving I was a stubborn mental onus and eventually I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Draper Richards Foundation which had just started a couple of months earlier which funds early stage social entrepreneurs, and it was really at that time a new concept, and it was started by one of the top venture capitals in the world and he was trying to apply the same thinking and best practices of venture capital to nonprofits and given my business background it was a really great fit. They were able to fund my side of at least plus an assistant for three years which really enabled us to take it to the next level. I really strongly believe and I think the research backed it up that entrepreneurship is highly correlated with mental health issues. It is not something generally that sane people do. When people say they want to become an entrepreneur how should they do it. I say, “I would not wish that on somebody else.” You have to be very divorced from reality to be able to do it.

Julia Duffy: Okay. It is interesting. Were there any other apart of this grant resources that you quote on in starting up the organization or once that you now know about that you wish you had access to known about at that time.

Aaron Hurst: I think most of it, I was lucking enough to earlier in my life became aware of, although I did not [inaudible 00:17:27] was, but I had a strong learning disability in being ADHD and as a result I always had to seek help from other people to be successful, and it was incredibly helpful to me, and I think it was key to Taproot’s whole model was, Every person that I come across I think of as someone who can help and who gets value I am hoping and that I am not putting a burden on them but it is a gift, and I do not know just spin it that way.

It is a very sincere belief, and I think in terms of resources I just believe that people that are already in our lives everyone is looking for things to do that are meaningful that they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, and you need to activate that to get them involved. People are so generous and so committed that social people ask and actually follow through, so as I think about resources I just think that everyone that you currently know is your best resource. It is not about something outside of your current world.

Julia Duffy: Who is finding the right people to help you really important in this process?

Aaron Hurst: It is critical. It is fine there are people and it is fine there all the wrong people along the way as well, and it is rubbing up against the world and talking to people and engaging them and figuring out by your interactions with them. What are you actually trying to do because they are going to ask you all questions you do not have answers to and it is trying different things. It is seeing always how could you engage people’s volunteers before you have to raise your resources to do something with cash.

It is so critical and it is one of the things that donors I found and foundations look forward and early stage entrepreneurs is how of a network of people have you gotten involved in supporting you. If you basically have been doing on your own haven’t been able to get other human beings to donate their time, and it is probably a sign that you are not on to the right thing or you are not the right leader.

Julia Duffy: Apart from not everyone being really designed to be an entrepreneur and not knowing what they have got themselves in for when they start something, do you think that there is, can you suggest anything that you think founders might not be aware of before they start up an organization, [inaudible 00:19:34] challenges or just how much time is involved. It sounds like quite a lot.

Aaron Hurst: That is right. It is infinite. The piece of advice I give to serious early stage social entrepreneurs, I think one is usually whatever you think you are going to be doing when you start is not the thing that actually matters is the right thing and it is going to with a vision but a lot of flexibility about the how. I think that is the first thing and the second one is we tend to focus a lot as entrepreneurs on solving a problem when in reality what is usually a better model is figuring out what is possible and then inspiring others to come together to solve a problem.

At Taproot I really honestly believe when I started that we would be able to scale Taproot to serve every NFP in the United States and build this massive market place ourselves and realize after a few years when we became the largest nonprofit consulting firm in the country that was a fool’s errand and that even if we became 10 times bigger we would not be even close to big enough, and if we became a 100 times bigger that would not big enough and you realize there is a limitation to how much does a nonprofit you can usually scale on your own.

The key is to do just enough to inspire everyone else to join you and that is the only way you really achieve scale, so I just really pushed entrepreneurs to not think about it from a standpoint of how can I scale to solve this problem but instead what is that I need to prove or inspire people to do that is going to enough to get them motivated to act.

Julia Duffy: What else would you say other than the capacity to scale is it something that would help an organization stand out and be successful in the NFP space?

Aaron Hurst: It really depends on the model and the person etc, and the thing that I found was often NFPs are not willing to position themselves against each other, and I think one of the things that is really new is disruption and being able to clearly stand out and say well all this is good intention. Here is why I believe this is a better way of doing things, and why this old model does not work and being willing to directly confront that. I think often the NFPs, the sector is too [inaudible 00:21:47]. I think that is one key piece. I think the other one is to really differentiate yourself as being more professional in the sense of really having strong marketing materials and having data and really being able to represent yourself like you want to see an organization you want to invest money in. Do not see yourself as a charity. Position yourself as an incredible social impact investment I think is the other main advice.

Julia Duffy: I think funding is something that is really, as you mentioned yourself so important for NFPs and so always playing on their mind, because it is difficult to get it right. What do you think the future is for how NFPs and social enterprises could have tackled this problem?

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, I think you have got the trend happening in the US but more broadly where government is playing less and less of a role in safety nets and that they rely more on citizens and organizations to fill that gap and that has a real impact on the whole issue of financing and funding for organizations because they have been asked to do a pretty much bigger role but the resources are not often there. What we are seeing in the US and we are seeing in other countries as well is just a real move towards having the majority of your programs be fee for service where you are actually getting paid by the recipients in some way or you are getting paid by people who benefit or are invested in our recipients.

Julia Duffy: That is certainly happening in Australia as well because a lot of our organizations were typically in the past funded by government, and there are moving out of that.

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, and I think really pushing towards pay for service and I think the question becomes and this is the question I ask when I started imperative was are we going to primarily rely on charitable donations, and if the answer is no then I am not sure you want to be a nonprofit. I think there are different tax laws in different countries so I do not know in Australia the specifics but there are so many hurdles and challenges to running a nonprofit that you do not have as a company, so I see becoming a nonprofit as a necessary [inaudible 00:24:05] you have to do it, but your default should always be the not to be a company because it is much easier, and there is more access to capital, and there is more access to talent, and your mission can be the same but changing a tax, being for profit as a tax status has a lot of benefit.

Julia Duffy: I want to move on to asking you a little bit about board experience you mentioned that the top benefit you had some board experience. Could you tell me I guess what the different perspective if there was a different perspective that it gave you on how organizations are run?

Aaron Hurst: I do not think that it changed. I think it created a lot more empathy, having my own board of taper and then doing over the board source and just doing work with boards, different capacities through Taproot really helped me understand why at least in the US boards or often the number one cited reason why executive directors as heads of NFPs quit. I think it is an incredibly hard structure to enable an entrepreneurial, nonprofit leader to operate under, because they do not have a clear single manager if you will and at the same time they also have this boards often got a combination of strategy, governance and fund raising responsibility that is just such an incredibly convoluted role that leaves a lot of EDs like a pretzel, completely confused and bewildered and frustrated. It leaves a lot of board members incredibly disengaged and frustrated as well. It is rare to find a board member I find that says that they are well engaged by their organization. They all feel underutilized, nearly all of them so I think my overall, the board structure itself is broken, at least in the US. We have got to find a way to separate out these different functions to be able to provide much more clarity and to remove the conflicts of ventures that happen when you have got people on the board who ask him to give money and also ask them to govern. Yeah, [inaudible 00:26:22] from you to what degree is fund raising a core responsibility of most sports in Australia.

Julia Duffy: It is a lot less, I believe.

Aaron Hurst: That is good.

Julia Duffy: There is definitely not a serious or written down or perhaps even a spoken rule that you should be involved in fund raising or personally give money to better board. I think it is probably connected back to the fact that traditionally and still it is very much still the case a lot of nonprofit organizations get their funding from government and less so from fund raising or [inaudible 00:27:02] and even when you do it is not an obligation as I understand it to personally give.

Aaron Hurst: Now I think it is great to have individuals. I think individual donors are really important for nonprofits but the intersection of the board is really problematic. The other pieces as I look at is really board size is another thing I really spend a lot of time looking at and people that are in the nonprofit boards in the US at least are way too big. I think that is a manifestation if your board is your primary fund raising vehicle you tend to want to be big. As a result you do not end up with good governance because you spend most of your time herding cats instead of actually engaging in a strategic conversation so I think NFPs, I think working with boards helps me appreciate was show the checks and balances where you need a board that slows your process down some, I mean much like the US structure of its government or you have got an executive branch and a legislative branch. You need an executive who is hard charging and executes, but at the same time you need some governing body that is able to really deliberate and make sure that you are moving forward deliberately and effectively. I think a lot of that. For people who are not engaged in that dynamic do not that see that tension that is there. That is healthy. It is frustrating us however but it is very healthy.

Julia Duffy: Aside from completely overthrowing the current system of governance, what can someone who is on a board array or thinking of joining a board but has these concerns? Do you have any suggestions for what they could to improve governance?

Aaron Hurst: I think one is to start a lot with empathy for the CEO or the executive director who runs the organization really taking your cues from them as to what do you actually need, not what should you do but what you actually need. I think really engaging in that conversation whether it is looking at the board or actually currently sitting on the board. The head of the organization serves at the will of the board, but I think the board has to serve the head of the organization as well so just really building more empathy and listening skills there I think it is huge. I think the other one is just real clarity on roles and being really clear on what your role is. What is expected of you and what you expect back is a really important process to go through. I think the third is to really I advocate as entrepreneur to be a voice for taking a risk, and I think a lot of boards become really risk averse and just being able to be on a board and saying what ultimately is at stake here, and do we want to take risks that enable us to have the chance to make a bigger impact or is it more about having a stable [inaudible 00:30:04] and a stable delivery and really being able to raise that question regularly I found to be really important. The other piece of it shares because I spent a lot of time studying what generates meaning and purpose for people in their work and that is the basis for our current services on imperative.com which is helping you determine what generates purpose for you as an individual and I really encourage people who are looking to join boards or looking to take a role in a nonprofit or in general in their lives to take that assessment. It is free. It takes 10 minutes. It really helps you clarify what you are going to need and what you are going to bring to the table so as a board member it will really help you to think about is this the right kind nonprofit for me. Does it have the right focus, engaging in way to be meaningful to me because just because you are on a nonprofit board does not mean that you are going to get any meaning out of it if it is not aligned with who you are.

Julia Duffy: Once you have that worked out and once you I guess made an assessment of what the other dynamics or work on the board are what would you suggest that you do or your organization do to find I guess the ideal board.

Aaron Hurst: The ideal board is only relative to what you are trying to accomplish so it is hard to answer in an abstract. I think the ideal board to me is probably six or seven people who are deeply and strategically integrated in the mission of the organization and who are able to constantly be a sounding board if you will for the leadership of the organization and push and ask questions on how to bring up the best in that person and their team. That to me on the board is most effective. I think the secondary piece is much more the risk management governance which is just ensuring baseline for you to share responsibilities but those are really just, those to me although they are not practiced enough are the baseline, if you are not actually being generative and you are not playing that partnership role with you leadership, you are probably taking more value than you are giving.

Julia Duffy: Do you feel like you are missing out on some of these aspects by having an organization that is a social enterprise or the more business model that would not have a board. Do you find the strategic involvement and can you find that elsewhere.

Aaron Hurst: Absolutely, and then we have a board. We have a board as well as a corporation. I mean we have to look after our investors so we have got a board that is just very small. It is tightly focused, and it is less around the process and more around getting the work done.

Julia Duffy: Would you say it was very different from what you typically think of an NFP board?

Aaron Hurst: It is radically different and I think that most of the NFPs there is a strong sense of what a board should do and a lot of it is like window dressing and the dance based on like the best practices whereas there is a much higher level of pragmatism. Also, one of the key differences is that as a CEO I am also chair of the board which is much more common in for profit environment whereas in the nonprofit you have that division where typically the chair is not the CEO as well. That also just radically decreases the amount of time you need to spend on the board because you do not have these two different people. As you get bigger, it is debate on whether or not that is a good model but as an entrepreneur in the first 5 to 10 years it is really healthy to have I think CEO also be the board chair.

Julia Duffy: My final line of questioning to that was specifically about the role of leadership in nonprofits and social enterprise. How important do you think that is and what role do you think it plays in the success of an organization?

Aaron Hurst: It is everything. I mean leadership what makes people come to the organization so many people stay in the organization and what makes people do their best work. It is what gives us the courage to ask tough questions and have the humility to realize that there is always more to do. There is always more that can be done. Leadership is so vital. I think it has to be balanced with management which is the ability to really build a somewhat more predictability with an organization and stability but leadership is, yeah, I mean it is everything.

Julia Duffy: You mentioned earlier that inspiring people you are working with is important. How do you go about inspiring the other people in your organization?

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, I am not always successful at that. I think the key in my mind is a couple of things. I think one is to always have a long term goals that are bigger than you can ever accomplish to find ways to have short term goals that you can accomplish or you constantly show all signs of progress will be one. I think another one is really meeting people where they are and again a lot of the research behind imperatives purpose assessment tool on our side is recognizing people to get inspired by different things so you might really inspire by stories about how we are going to impact individual lives, but for someone like me that is not that inspiring. I want to hear how we are impacting organizations in front of the people that need to hear how we are going to change society, and that is really easy if you are someone who is motivated largely by societal change to always project that [inaudible 00:35:40] when reality does not, and to really become more self aware about what you are projecting as well as understanding what if someone else is motivated so that you can basically meet them where they are instead of forcing them to try to come to where you are.

Julia Duffy: One of the questions I wanted to ask just before we finish up is what you would recommend for aspiring leaders as first stepping off point for getting involved in the sector at whatever level I think doing that. What would you do to get started?

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, I mean I will guess I would start off the question with one step behind that which is what is the change you want to see in your community or in the world, and it does not have be the one but just see things that you notice as you walk around your community that you just think could be done better and think of what the best way is to contribute to that. It could be a nonprofit. It could be that you just do something as a citizen. It could be through a company. There are so many different ways to solve for it but to think more in terms of the change you want to see in the world versus the sector you want to join I think would be the first thing. I think the second would be to really be clear about what matters to you in terms of purpose. There are three things of generic purpose, it is relationships, it is impact and it is growth and to really evaluate every opportunity and not be doing an assessment based on what the cause is what the mission of the organization is as much as will you be able to develop meaningful relationships. Will you be able to do work that is meaningful and will you be able to grow personally? I mean if something clearly has all three you are in the right place.

Julia Duffy: Well, thank you very much for speaking with us on Sproutcast today Aaron.

Aaron Hurst: It is a pleasure. I am really excited to be out in your neck of the woods this summer and to get to know a lot of you and hopefully be part of your community.

Julia Duffy: Wonderful. Well actually it will be winter here but we are in Brisbane.

Aaron Hurst: That is true.

Julia Duffy: Hopefully, it is going to be warm. As Aaron just mentioned he will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Better Boards Conference 2015. He is going to be presenting on the purpose economy which as I mentioned earlier is also the title of his book, and I think it is your first time visiting Australia, is that correct?

Aaron Hurst: It is. I am really excited.

Julia Duffy: We are very glad to have you. Tickets for the conference are still available. You can register online via the Better Board website which is betterboards.net. Is there anywhere else where people can find you to learn more or get in touch Aaron. You mentioned your …

Aaron Hurst: Yeah, I mean feel free to email me any time [email protected]. Imperative.com is our main website and we also have a website for the book, The Purpose Economy which is easy to find, and I am very active on Twitter and on LinkedIn so if anyone is part of those networks budge or connect there.

Julia Duffy: Wonderful. Thank you again Aaron.

Aaron Hurst: My pleasure.



Better Boards connects the leaders of Australasian non-profit organisations to the knowledge and networks necessary to grow and develop their leadership skills and build a strong governance framework for their organisation.

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