The Power of Purpose with Former EY Partner Ian Cavanagh

The JUMP Halifax group had the pleasure of welcoming Ian Cavanagh at our last event on March 21st. Ian spoke on The Power of Purpose in Business and Life.

Ian’s definition of purpose is: an aspirational reason for being that is grounded in humanity and which inspires a call to action.

Purpose endeavours to explain the "why" in our lives as opposed to the "what" and "how." Simon Sinek's TED Talk, "The Golden Circle," provide an excellent overview of this and comes highly recommended by Ian. The Golden Circle focuses on how some companies first define their "why" and then move on to the how and what (i.e., Apple or Nike) while other companies define the what and move inward to the how and why (i.e., Dell or Adidas). Using these brands examples, Ian provided a powerful analogy about how two companies that provide extremely similar products yield drastically different results in terms of their ability to connect with their customers and ultimately engage and connect with customers on a more powerful level.

Ernst and Young facilitated a discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos on purposeful transformation with a distinguished panel of global CEOs like Arianna Huffington, Antony Jenkins and Richard Branson. Slowly but surely companies are recognizing that purpose translates into the bottom line.

Organizations that embody Purpose see significant results, for example:

  • Employees are 1.4x more engaged and 1.7x more satisfied
  • Attract, retain and engage customers with 89% if clients believing a purpose driven company will deliver the highest results
  • Increase returns for shareholders by 10x(outperformed the S&P 500 between 1996 and 2011)

Ian encouraged BU Jump members to reflect on their personal and professional experiences to determine the following:

  • Do you have clarity regarding your own personal purpose?
  • Do you personally embody and live your purpose? Are you perceived as a personal leader?
  • How well defined is your organization's purpose?
  • Is its purpose message cascaded throughout the organization and applicable to all?
  • Is your organizations purpose activated through your processes, systems, products, services, and decisions?
  • Do you have the courage to lead your business through the lens of purpose?

If you would like to learn more about the power of purpose, please reach out to for the slide deck used during this discussion and a copy of the business case from Harvard Business Review on "The Power of Purpose."