Ignite your work with purpose, no matter what job you do.
Ignite your work with purpose, no matter what job you do.
In this interview, Bea Boccalandro and I discuss the importance of finding purpose in your work. It's not just a feel-good concept, but it has a significant impact on your success and well-being.
Research has shown that having a sense of purpose in your job drives productivity, engagement, and even career advancement. When you feel like you're making a meaningful contribution to the world through your work, you're more likely to enter a state of flow, make fewer mistakes, and take fewer breaks. Plus, you'll feel happier about your job overall.
But how do you find purpose in your work? It's not always easy, especially if your job is seemingly mundane or disconnected from societal causes. However, there are plenty of examples out there of people who have found purpose in unexpected places. Take Leroy, a parking lot attendant who noticed that many people had bald tires and started checking them and letting the owners know. He's now making a real difference and feels great about his work.
Finding purpose in your work is not just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have for success and well-being. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to find your one true calling in life. Instead, focus on making small contributions to others and you'll still reap the benefits of having a sense of purpose. So, start looking for ways to make a meaningful contribution through your work, no matter how small they may seem. You'll be happier, more productive, and more likely to advance in your career.
Bea Boccalandro is the author of Do Good at Work: How Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing
Bea has been published in Harvard Business Review, The Boston Globe and other major publications.
As founder and president of the global purpose advisory firm, VeraWorks, Bea has two decades of experience helping businesses make customer interactions more human, products more inclusive, operations more environmentally sustainable, marketing more charitable or otherwise make work more meaningful.
Bea also has 15 years of experience teaching corporate social purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Georgetown University, Boston College and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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3DWE 203 - Bea Boccalandro SQUARE MASTER (Edited)
[00:00:00] Wade Galt: Hi everybody. Welcome. I am excited to have, be boro with us today, or as we say in the Latin American country's be, I prefer the more passionate version. We're here to talk about doing good at work, how to make your work feel good by doing good and by connecting with your purpose. Thank you so much for joining us today, Bea.
[00:00:19] It's my pleasure to be here, Wade.
[00:00:22] Wade Galt: Awesome. So be or Bea, as those of us with Passion Prefer is the author of Do Good At Work, how Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing. Her Resume is, you can read more of it on the website. I can't read all of it. Yeah, exactly. It's this right here.
[00:00:39] Her background is ridiculous. I'm gonna read part of it because I. Messed things up after a while. She's been published in Harvard Business Review, the Boston Globe, other major publications. She's the founder of a global purpose advisory firm. Vera Works two decades of experience helping businesses make customer interactions, more human products, more inclusive operations, more environmentally sustainable, and making more charitable marketing, more charitable or otherwise more meaningful.
[00:01:07] She is just awesome. She has taught at Georgetown, Boston College, university of Nevada Las Vegas, and she is an awesome surfer, though, she'll tell you otherwise. At least it sounds so, it sounds good. Veia, tell us a little bit, share a little bit about your story, what got you into this work. I've been reading your book, which truly is awesome and such a great perspective, but I wanna split for people.
[00:01:33] What got you started in this and share a little bit about what it means to you to make work feel good by doing good.
[00:01:40] Bea Boccalandro: Thanks, Wade. I would say I'm an awesome surfer if you like humor. So that, just to correct that I, so I've been helping companies for about 20 years do good.
[00:01:53] So big brands like PWC and Toyota and FedEx be greener, be more charitable to their communities. And one time I went to a meeting at Toyota headquarters here in California, actually they've moved since, but it was a meeting for their top executives are top several hundred executives.
[00:02:17] And my charge was to convince them that basically doing good at work was a good idea at the end of the meeting. I was walking to my car and it was very far from the building because I wasn't driving a Toyota. So I parked my non Toyota really far so that no one would see me in my non Toyota car.
[00:02:45] And I was halfway there. I was pretty far from the building and I heard these footsteps behind me. It was a mid-level employee we'll call him Alex, and he said b I saw on the meeting calendar that there was a meeting about doing good at work, about how Toyota could be a good citizen. And I snuck in.
[00:03:15] I didn't realize it was only for senior executives, but I sat in the back and they probably figured I was catering or something. And I know you weren't speaking to me, but you spoke to me. What can I do? And what I realized was there are probably a lot of Alex's out there, there are probably a lot of people within these big brands or maybe small entrepreneurs or mid-sized businesses, people at all levels, at all types of organizations that are thinking I want to do good for more.
[00:03:53] But I'm I don't want to wait until my executives decide that we should be, zero, zero carbon footprint or that we should really take diversity, equity, and inclusion seriously and do something about it. So I started looking into this and low and behold, as you know from reading the book, there's over a hundred examples.
[00:04:14] Not only are there are tons of Alex's that are interested in doing this, in fact, the vast majority of. Workers want to sit down on Friday and say, I did something meaningful. But there's actually a lot of Alex's that are already doing things on their own. And so I wrote Do good at work to equip any worker in any job to be able to do their own version of a meaningful contribution to the world through whatever work week they have.
[00:04:55] And there are like, just as an example of how someone can do this, there's an example in the book of a parking lot attendant, and you'd think how much authority does a parking lot attendant have to be able to do anything meaningful at work? Like a contribution out there. This parking lot attended Leroy.
[00:05:22] He noticed that a lot of people's cars had bald tires and he thought this is dangerous. And what if I just measure tire tread? Doesn't, it takes a just a few seconds for every car, and if any tires are balded, I will let the owner know. And he has gotten, he says he is gotten hugs from single mother saying, I didn't know I was driving my three year old in a dangerous car.
[00:05:50] And it has changed his whole relationship to his own job. Now he knows that, he's doing something of value to others from the job that he currently has. And I've named that practice of making a meaningful contribution to others or to a societal cause as part of your work week job purposing.
[00:06:16] And The book is to help anybody, job purpose, all the Alex's out there.
[00:06:22] Wade Galt: Awesome. One of the things that has been interesting to me is when I watch people who are doing work that is meaningful and they don't realize it. So I come from the insurance field and most people, like any field, there's, there's great examples of awesome people in the field and there's great examples of not so awesome people in the field.
[00:06:44] And my father, most of my father's in that field. And so growing up in the field with a parent in it, so I guess sometimes in a way, I was a little bit blinded to how meaningful it can be when it's done right. And when I finally started realizing how meaningful it was, I then started realizing that so many of the workers, they weren't connected to that.
[00:07:02] And the analogy I used, it's almost like as if they were giving to a charity, but as if it was set up on auto pay and they never remembered again. So they never even got that. Like dopamine hit or feel good feeling of Hey, I just gave to charity. This is awesome. It literally just went, so they were paying the price, but they weren't getting the feedback, they were doing the work to help the people and they weren't making a difference, but their inability to connect with their purpose and realize what they were doing was making their job feel less purposeful.
[00:07:36] And so then in essence was real to them in that way. So you,
[00:07:41] Bea Boccalandro: oh, sorry. Go ahead. Yeah, you, no, you are so right. So Adam Grant, he's a professor at Wharton and he's a four time New York Times bestselling author. And of course he's a complete genius cuz he endorsed my book, as you can see on the cover.
[00:07:59] But he did research that shows exactly what you just said. So he these were Basically telemarketers raising funds for scholarship. And he said, I wonder what would happen if we brought a scholarship recipient to talk to them. And so they had this one young scholarship recipient talk for 10 minutes, very short presentation.
[00:08:28] And he basically said, if it weren't for this scholarship, I probably wouldn't have gone to college. I'm a first generation college grad. You have no idea how much difference this has made. The increase in productivity, because that's the thing, purpose drives productivity was 181%. After they brought this gentleman in to talk, it was so off the charts that Grant said, this can't be right.
[00:08:59] And so he said, maybe it's because the scholarship recipient was. Really eloquent. And so then they chose they, they repeated the experiment. Another group of telemarketers that were raising or fundraisers for scholarships. They brought in a woman who basically talked to her shoes.
[00:09:19] She was so shy you could barely hear her and the same results. And he still thought, no, that it can't be, it can't be that. Just understanding that your work has made a positive contribution out there, or that your work week has made a positive contribution out there has this big an effect. He could, he didn't believe it.
[00:09:39] So he replicated it six times and then he finally said, okay, you know what? This is happening. And you know that research has unleashed a whole bunch of other research that has only confirmed it and. So I think really often people don't realize that they're making a contribution out there and then they don't benefit from the benefits of job purposing, which by the way, that productivity gain, which there was 181%, there's lots of other studies that find that productivity goes up.
[00:10:18] But what also goes up is engagement. You're more likely to enter into a state of flow. So your day goes by more quickly. You are less likely to make mistakes. You take fewer breaks, you you're more likely to get a raise and you're more likely to get promoted. So it really helps your career essentially to have a job that is purposed.
[00:10:46] And all of this is subconscious. When Grant went back to those scholarship recipients and said, Hey, isn't this amazing that your productivity went up? Hundreds of percent? Be just because you talked to a recipient. They were like, oh, no, that's not why, that's not what happened. So this happens without our cognitive brain even catching on.
[00:11:12] We might do something in the morning that that we realize is a contribution to someone. It can be something very small. It can be bringing them a cup of coffee and they go, oh, thank you. You have no idea what this means to me today. I, I'm having a hard week. That interaction happens the rest of the day.
[00:11:31] You're in flow. You produce more. You. You feel happier about your job and you don't connect those two things. You have no idea that's why you think it's it's because I got a full night's sleep last night, or it's because it's a project I like, so it's se it's subconscious, but it's real.
[00:11:51] Wade Galt: That's one of the things I've, I forget if it was a study or a thing I read or, so I won't say it's a fact cause I'm not sure, but it, so it's anecdotal, but first of all, I've just met so many people who just believe that karma is real. They might not have the same religious beliefs, the same views about the world.
[00:12:09] I do remember this, there was a little short clip on a TikTok video. Someone was asking Taylor Swift, what has she learned in her whole journey as a musician? And this is somebody who has been to the heights of Success, and has probably seen a lot. And she's, I think, what in her mid or late twenties now.
[00:12:26] So also I don't know. To be, to speak in medical terms, her prefrontal cortex is formed so she can actually, it's not like she say, okay, she's 10, she doesn't know what she's saying. And she said I've learned that Karma's real. She's okay, so people believe this on one level, and yet on a, it's almost yeah, but it doesn't apply to me.
[00:12:44] Or, or maybe we just, like you said, we can't see how it ties in. Whereas if we say, okay, I'm going to, lose weight, okay, I'm gonna get on the treadmill or I'm gonna do pushups or whatever. And so consciously I see I'm doing this, and so it's real to me. And if it's not, though, it doesn't seem to be real.
[00:12:59] Taking a step back, and you address some of this a little bit, but how would you describe to somebody, if somebody says, okay, purpose maybe doesn't have to do with success. What is, what are the mechanics of that? Or what does that look like as far as why it has something to do with a person's success?
[00:13:15] Is it just a. The world's a happy-go-lucky place and somewhere maybe there's a God or maybe there's a not, or is there something more for that person says, no, I need something that's a little more tangible than, than, good things happen to good people.
[00:13:27] Bea Boccalandro: Yeah. I can tell you what science says.
[00:13:30] So what science says is that if we feel that what we're doing is important to others, which whether we s we have this mindset or we don't, our physiology puts that at the top level of importance. So if something is of value to others, our physiology tells us that is more important than something that is of value to us.
[00:14:00] It's has, Maslow's hierarchy, right? If our bodies know that what we're doing. Is going to help a coworker or help a customer or, reduce plastic in the oceans. Physiologically, we are stronger. So first of all, our cortisol level goes down. That's the stress hormone. So now we're calmer, our oxytocin goes up.
[00:14:31] So this is the warm cuddly, I feel great hormone dopamine goes up. So the feel good hormones go up. The, our performance therefore improves and we are in a better state because we are not no longer stressed. And so that is what purpose does to us. Now let me. Let me dive into just a little bit what purpose means here, because especially in the US we have this idea that everybody has a purpose in life and it's up to us to discover it.
[00:15:17] And then once you discover it, everything goes better. There is truth to that, but I wanna set that aside because there's a lot of us who are like I don't know what my purpose is. And, I've tried, I've read books and I've, I've meditated and I can't find my single purpose.
[00:15:37] So if that's you, that's absolutely okay, because everything that I'm talking about you can benefit from. It turns out that. Again, if we do something that is a contribution to others, even if it has nothing to do with our singular purpose in life, we will benefit in all those ways that working with a sense of purpose does.
[00:16:06] So notice that the, like the Adam Grant research that I talked about, I don't think that all of those fundraisers, the purpose in their life was to give a college education to people. Most of them were probably students and they had their own career ideas and they were gonna go off and do other things.
[00:16:29] But because that was a contribution to others or to a societal cause, it shows up in our life as purpose. And literally we feel the uptick of. Walking around of working, of, doing whatever we're doing with a sense of purpose just because we are making a meaningful contribution to others or to a societal cause, which is why I call that action of doing whatever you can during your work week so that you're contributing job purposing, because it, that does give you a sense of purpose.
[00:17:09] So in a sense, job purposing can be seen as a hack to getting all the benefits of having a life purpose, but really not identifying that singular life purpose. And so that means that you might maybe you're working in insurance for example, and you thought I never really thought that the purpose in my life was to, to sell people insurance or even to protect people from risk.
[00:17:41] That doesn't feel like the main purpose in my life. That's okay because if you are protecting people from risk, or if you're helping them to go to s sleep calmer at night and have less fear in their lives, you are going to benefit from having a sense of purpose. It's just the purpose of contribution instead of the singular life purpose saving the whales, for example.
[00:18:11] Like some people are, do have a singular life purpose. But if you don't, that's okay. You can benefit from all of this as well.
[00:18:21] Wade Galt: Wow, that's awesome. And I, in my experience, I've done a lot of reading. I've met very few people that only have one life purpose. And I remember there's there's this quote, or this concept or this question.
[00:18:35] What would you do if you had, let's say, a huge amount of money? So let's say a hundred million which is huge for most of us in the bank, which means, in other words, you wouldn't have to work, you could do what you want. And the people that sometimes would ask that would say, that's your, that's your life purpose.
[00:18:52] No, to me, that's not your life person. That's your ideal lifestyle. I would do this. I'd order in I'd, I dunno, I'd hang out on the beach or whatever. To me, life purpose or any part of it has something to do with what do you do even if you don't get paid for it. So if you have children, will you change the diaper in the middle of the night?
[00:19:08] And that might not be your only life purpose. But I definitely think to your point, there's a lot of people trying to, not trying to, but they're, it's almost like they're giving it too much weight. And it's almost okay I'm gonna wait. It's gotta be my life purpose. I remember telling my mom that I was, yeah, quitting insurance to go move to India to help people.
[00:19:26] And she just looks okay, tell me what you do. Okay. I was a claim representative at the time for people who were injured. And she's okay, so they get hurt. They need somebody to walk 'em through the process, right? She pulled these answers from me, I'm doing, giving you the short version.
[00:19:39] Okay? So they're feeling uncertain, like they might get taken advantage of. You're helping them, right? And you're getting paid, which means you can pay your bills, which means you're not becoming a burden upon society, which means, go get your butt back to work. And if you want to go fly to India, cuz yeah, okay?
[00:19:52] That's where you'll help people is if you can't help people, in your immediate neighborhood. But it was this sort of, and I was, I'll give myself a pass. I was 22 or 23 at the time. So it was this sort of grandiose vision that was just sensational and it would, would've made a great TikTok or YouTube video.
[00:20:08] But at the end of the day it was like, okay, it doesn't necessarily perhaps have to be that dramatic. And like you say it almost robs us of joy to say I'm not leaving that, so I'm not gonna, it's almost like I'm not gonna allow myself to feel purposeful or as if I'm even remotely important in the world unless I'm doing Mother Teresa's work, which is sadly with a great motivation is such a, almost a hurtful thing to do to yourself.
[00:20:36] It would seem like. When you look at that, how is that, when people talk about life purpose, passion, how do those things play together and maybe what are some distinctions that might help some of the people listening?
[00:20:48] Bea Boccalandro: Yeah, so your point is spot on. There's research done in Canada and they found that five minutes, a donation of five minutes, $5, triggered all these positive benefits of purpose.
[00:21:11] And what was amazing was that two weeks later they were still benefiting from it. So we are exquisitely sensitive to any actions that we make to help others. We don't have to be Mother Teresa to feel fulfilled, to have a life that feels meaningful, that we sit down on Friday and go, wow, I'm proud of what I did.
[00:21:47] Like literally five minutes, $5 donation will do it. And we haven't even gotten, we've talked about the benefits that it has in the workplace. So you're more, you're more productive, you're more engaged, more likely to be in flow, to get promoted, all those things. But. Again we are designed to be so sensitive to acts of social purpose, to contributions to others that there are also health and happiness benefits.
[00:22:21] So literally, we're less likely to suffer from a heart attack. We are, our immune system goes up. So they did research on, in, on Harvard students actually, and they measured their T-cells, their immune response, and it actually goes up after you do an act of social purpose. After you make a contribution to others, you're less likely to suffer from dread or depression.
[00:22:49] You're, so the health benefits are huge. In fact, they're so big that they add up to reducing your mortality in any given year by 24%. If you feel like you are making a contribution to others or to a societal cause and your happiness is also higher, so start small and if the only thing you can think of doing or you can take the time to do, is to check in with a coworker and just say at the end of the call, Hey, do you have another five minutes?
[00:23:28] I, I know that you had a death in the family, I just wanted to check in with you. That's huge. You can, that if that's all you have time to do that. Or if all if all you can, let's say you work in retail and you decide every interaction I have, I'm just gonna give them a compliment.
[00:23:47] I'm just gonna say something nice to them. Do that. Believe it or not, that's probably enough to trigger all of these benefits and to change their day, to change, to make, to actually have someone else's day be a much better day. I, one of my favorite examples of job purposing is a TSA agent in Dallas, and I was in line to get a, to get through tsa and I heard someone saying, happy Birthday Lee.
[00:24:22] Really in a syncopated, modern, cool way, just a few measures. And I thought, huh, that was cool. Then I realized it was a T s A agent and it, when I got up there, I started talking to him and basically what he said was, my passion is music. I play music in a band and I one day I just to be.
[00:24:45] Funny or whatever, just to be, I don't know, alive. I decided to sing a few measures of Happy Birthday to someone whose birthday it was because I was looking at their license. And I did that off and on for a while. And then one, one day a gentleman, it was towards the end of the day and a gentleman, and the way he said it he, that he clearly had mobility problems.
[00:25:13] After the TSA agents saying the few measures of Happy Birthday, he looked at him and he said, thank you. You were the first person to acknowledge my birthday today, and you have no idea how much it means to me. And the TSA agent said, okay, that's it. I'm. Doing it in every single case. And while I'm talking to him, another t s a agent, a woman said, you wouldn't believe how happy this makes people.
[00:25:43] He's not Mother Teresa, he's not giving up his entire, all his belongings and, drinking green tea and, instead of the floppy latte, he is, but he's making a contribution to others and he found a way to do it that works for him. What's your version for doing that?
[00:26:03] Like how can you fold something in like that into your everyday work?
[00:26:11] Wade Galt: Wow, that is so cool. This is the thing that's, it's interesting to me. I'm very fascinated by first of all I just love, thank you, by the way. I feel like I, I wish I had a personal assistant who knows what you know, but I could just say stuff that I think is true and then they could be like, yeah, so there was this study that was done and da.
[00:26:30] So thank you for that. I'm a nerd.
[00:26:32] Bea Boccalandro: Yes.
[00:26:33] Wade Galt: No, that's I'm a different, I'm a different type of nerd. I'm just some of the stuff you're mentioned, I'm like you, so that, so thank first of all, thank you for that. And this is one of the things I remember Wayne Dyer saying this work, we talked about having an appreciation for people's gifts and being able, he talked about how he watched an architect and how the architect, and this is before, this is 20 years ago.
[00:26:54] This is before all the technologies the architect could, withdrawing something. They were designing something from the house and the architect in his mind could turn things around and 3d. And he's and he's I can't do that. Yeah I can't do that. I don't have the focus.
[00:27:04] I don't know what it is, but I can't do that. So first of all, so thank you for that.
[00:27:07] Bea Boccalandro: I can't either. I started off in engineering and then switch cuz I couldn't do that.
[00:27:11] Wade Galt: Yeah, no, the details stuff for me gets to be much. So when people talk about purpose a lot of the times, and you already addressed some of this people thinking that they need to, oh, sorry, you, you have something you wanna say tell me.
[00:27:27] Bea Boccalandro: There is a difference between purpose and passion, which I think is helpful to know. Okay. And we get it confused all the time and it doesn't serve us. Morton Hansen, here I go nerdy again. A professor at Berkeley. I'm glad you appreciate it Wayne. He so his definition, which, I think is accepted by, basically all psychologists out there is passion is do what you love and purpose is do what contributes.
[00:28:01] What's interesting is that if you have a job where you have both, you love what you're doing, let's say you are, that doesn't matter. You love what you're doing and you feel like it makes a contribution out there, you, on average, will perform at the very, at the top third of performance 80 something in the 80th percentile.
[00:28:30] So Linda, you're really lucky, right? But if you have to choose between passion and purpose which do you think is more important?
[00:28:41] Wade Galt: I've been taught that passion is more important, but as I've gotten older, I've come to believe its purpose, because purpose has a way of sneaking up on me with benefits that I didn't realize were there.
[00:28:54] That I was too, yes, too shortsighted to see.
[00:28:57] Bea Boccalandro: Yeah, so you're actually the perfect case study cuz we've been taught that it's passion. It's follow your bliss, just if you love it, then you're, it's not gonna feel like work. So if you only have purpose but you don't have passion, you do take a hit in performance.
[00:29:18] So you go from the 80th something to the 60th, so you're still in the top and you're in the top half still, you're performing better than average, but you've gone down to the, like somewhere in the 60 percentile. If you only have passion, so you are doing what you love, you're designing those dresses, you are flying that plane, whatever it is that you just love doing, but you have that sinking feeling that it's not making a contribution to the world.
[00:29:51] You're not benefiting from a sense of purpose in it. You dropped down to the bottom third. So now you're in the 20th. So most of us have this reverse the way you, you did, you've gotten wiser, but you, we have this reversed. It's whoa. You know what? What's most important in order for my job to like my days to go by quickly, for me to perform well, for, my work, to not feel like work is actually passion is me enjoying the job.
[00:30:25] And that's not true. What's most important is purpose. So that means that whatever job you have right now, if you're selling insurance, or if you're parking cars, or if you're a TSA agent and you're like, frankly, the tasks of this job are not that enjoyable, there's hope. Because if you fold purpose in, you will give yourself that boost that you think you will get only from passion.
[00:30:54] And actually, if you change jobs and you go to a job that you love, but it doesn't have purpose, then you're gonna find yourself going what is wrong with me? I thought I'd really like designing dresses. There's something wrong with me now. Maybe I don't need to design dresses. Maybe I need to, design in household interiors.
[00:31:15] And you go from job to job trying to find what you really love doing when what's missing is contribution in your work.
[00:31:26] Wade Galt: Wow. I think of that in the way I've heard different people talk about this. I think Deepak trope was one of the people that simplified it most, from my understanding is, Internal versus external sources of approval, validation feedback, whatever it is.
[00:31:42] And it feels to me that purpose is something that is more, and maybe I'm getting metaphysical, so maybe there's not science behind this, but it just feels that purpose is something that's more true, if that makes sense. And passion is something that's more like fleeting. Like it can change. Today I'm passionate about this tomorrow, I'm passionate about that.
[00:32:05] And I dunno, passion just almost to me seems like ice cream. Like I love ice cream, but first of all, after a certain amount of ice cream, you get that diminishing return where you're like, okay, it's only, it's not as yeah. As awesome as it was, as opposed to something that is truly fulfilling for you.
[00:32:22] And I know when I watch people who, just as somebody who loves watching sports, And so many of us, we go nuts about the, the famous musician or the athlete who had it all, they were doing, their most famous athlete, most famous musician. They're making all the money. They have all this freedom.
[00:32:41] They're getting to do their passions, their joys, their whatever they wanted to do. And it's that almost hole in the stall as if, again, as if it's out there somewhere or as if it depends on some external, as if it depends on doing, this is the word I was looking for, as opposed to something that Noah's already here and I've at least experienced as a parent, that if you were to look at what have I done, or at least my understanding of what I've done best as a human being on this planet, one of the top things is I've done my best to be a great dad.
[00:33:17] Maybe I have or haven't been a great dad. That's a different conversation, but I've done my best to do that. And I can honestly say I've not held back on anything. I've not said, okay, I'm not willing to do this. I've not whined, I've winded, I've definitely whined. But at least I've done my best.
[00:33:34] And so I have that good sense of, you know what, whoever, however my children grow out into the world, I will be able to say, you know what, at least based on what I had available to me, I did my best. And that feels more internal as opposed to did they get a good job? Did they this, did they, that's some other external, and it feels that the purpose has something that's more, more true as opposed to jumping from job to job based on my title or some other external.
[00:34:03] Okay. Help me with this. I just babbled for a little bit.
[00:34:06] Bea Boccalandro: Yeah, no, I think that's exactly right, that passion. Passion is important. Purpose is important. No question about it. But one of them just runs deeper, it runs in our bones and it's it, we are fundamentally designed for it.
[00:34:26] And the other one, it, it's more at the skin level. I think that's a really nice image to capture what we know at this point. And we've been taught the opposite. Yeah. And then I think for the last 30 or 40 years at least. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:34:48] Wade Galt: And then we get that, then you say, okay, yeah.
[00:34:50] So again, the ice cream, it'll go away. The better meal's gonna help me feel better. And like you said, we've been told, and I think a lot of this is, it's funny, my wife all the sudden, she's you're so precise with words or you try to be so precise. Not that I'm all, I'm like, yeah, but because there's words that sometimes sound alike, like purpose and passion.
[00:35:09] And we think they're synonyms and maybe on a kindergarten level or a lower level, yes, they're close enough, but they're not close enough. The same way brotherly love versus, romantic love. They're very different and loving pizza are three very different things. And yet in, in the us you and I were talking about this before the interview, the difference between some of the languages even of, sometimes in English we'll use the same word for many things and it almost seems simpler, but perhaps isn't as precise.
[00:35:38] So then for that person who says, okay, I want to have a sense of purpose, but I can't change my jobs right now, b i, that's not an option. I've got family bills. This, that. So while as I, I will do my volunteer work on, and maybe in my mind, and I think of how I was, how I took in things like, okay, on the weekend I'll volunteer or do different things and that's over there and that's in this box.
[00:36:04] But in this box I've got my work and I still, I've gotta go there 40 hours a week or whatever it might be to pay thing to, to make things. And you've shared a couple examples. What does it look like then to that person to say, okay, how do I change my job to work with a purpose and maybe even a follow up to that versus what job maybe do I need to leave?
[00:36:26] And I'm thinking of extremely I know I couldn't be in a job that I knew was, really hurting people. I think most people have that okay, extreme examples, human trafficking, drug trade, where people would say, no, I, I can't do that. I like, I don't care how passionate I am about it.
[00:36:41] I'd have to know okay, I can't do that. What can what can a person work with that's practical and what maybe might be a sign that, hey, it's time to, to move on.
[00:36:50] Bea Boccalandro: Yeah. So there's many reasons to leave a job and many legitimate reasons. But there are many people leaving jobs because they don't have a sense of purpose.
[00:37:09] So we know for example, this great resignation, right? We know that there's been an a significant uptick in people resigning, and we know Edelman research. We know that the main reason is people are catching on to this. And so the main reason is that that they don't have a sense of purpose.
[00:37:28] That's actually the number one reason according to Edelman research. It's more important than lifestyle. So it's more important than I really don't wanna commute, or, and it's more important than compensation and career. Purpose is the number one reason people resigned. Lack of purpose. Now there's research showing that especially in the younger generations, a lot of people are regretting having resigned, and so I think this might be an indication of that hopping to the job that feels right, but looking for all the wrong things in the job.
[00:38:10] So we think, again, that it's just it, I'm not doing what I love doing. Instead of thinking of looking at one's job and saying, okay, barring, just horrendous things happening on the job that, unethical or on, just safety reasons. You should heed and leave, right? So let's take that off the table.
[00:38:37] But if your job is just feeling dull and it's, it's just hard to get up in the morning and jump into it, then probably the first step before you think of looking anywhere else is do a practice for two weeks. This, there's a fuller version of the practice in the book, but I'll give you the short version so that people can follow along in a podcast.
[00:39:03] Set a timer at two random times in the day while you're at work. And when that timer goes off, ask yourself two questions. What did this timer interrupt? What was I doing? And of course, if you're driving heavy equipment or something, don't do this right. But keep yourself safe and. Is there a way to do that task in a way that is more charitable, in a way that is more environmental?
[00:39:35] Is it in a way that is better for the world? So let's say the timer goes off and I was I'm an administrative assistant and I was ordering supplies, and timer goes off and it's can I do this task differently so that it's actually a contribution? And it's heck yeah. Why aren't, why?
[00:39:54] Let me look into buying green products that don't have a negative impact on the environment. Or maybe instead of purchasing the supplies the way I always have maybe look at minority owned businesses. That's the first question. Whenever task I was doing, can I do it in a way that is a contribution?
[00:40:15] The second question is, who was the last person I interacted with and how are they doing? Do I even know? And so that might be like yeah, I just had a one-on-one with one of my direct reports. And they seem, they seemed fine, but I didn't really check in with them. And then does that inquiry open up some possibilities and go what am I thinking?
[00:40:44] That's a new team member. They just move to the area. We're still remote. They probably completely lack, social interaction. I should just call them and ask them if if they. If they wanna join this event, then I'm going to this charitable event that I'm going to and see if they're interested, just to get to meet people or something.
[00:41:09] So does those two inquiries. If you do this for two weeks, you will see opportunities just like the T TSA agent did, just like leroy did for making small adjustments to your job that, aren't gonna reduce your productivity or anything like that. But we will bring some sense of contribution and purpose into your work.
[00:41:35] And also if you're really if you're really stuck or if you just wanna see what it comes up with. I actually have a purpose generator tool. So if you go to doGood@work.com, it's free. You don't, you just spend three minutes answering questions about your job, just so we know the context. And then we will give you an idea for Job purposing.
[00:41:58] So you'll get us a custom idea for you to consider. And so just go to doGood@work.com and use the free purpose generator. That is
[00:42:11] Wade Galt: awesome. Thank you. So one of the other things that you and I talked about in the pre-interview that I thought was so interesting was the idea of having a sense of her purpose being a human need.
[00:42:27] And as somebody, so I was what, born in 71. Raised during the time of the seventies, and everybody wants to help the world and save the world. And the Coca-Cola commercials, teach the World to sing and all this other stuff. And then you get the backlash of all these damn tree huggers and they just, that kind of a thing.
[00:42:43] And so there are a lot of people that think, okay, your sense of purpose, blah, blah, blah, you're, all these things there. They're softer things. They're for people who are, who are weak. They're for people who are weak minded. They're for people who are too, they're too prissy. They just don't want to do things or they're just too demanding of life.
[00:43:01] What have you found, or what does the research show around having a sense of purpose being a human need and perhaps what does it look like in the workplace, in their lives when it's there versus when it's not there?
[00:43:14] Bea Boccalandro: Yeah, so there is there's a cardiologist who. Roski Dr. Roski, and he actually says, when he looks at all the data, he says, purpose purpose is actually the greatest driver of wellbeing.
[00:43:39] That's how important it is. So if we lack purpose it's almost like being anemic. And we don't know. We are anemic. So we don't know that it's, we're lacking iron in the blood, right? And we're just stumbling around week after week, feeling lethargic and not very excited and probably not producing a lot.
[00:44:08] And we think this is normal. And then you go to the doctor and the doctor said, oh my God you're anemic. Let's let's fix that. Let's bring your. Iron levels up and you go, this is what life was supposed to feel like. I was supposed to be energetic. So purpose is very much like iron. We, most of us lack it.
[00:44:32] So depending on the study, it's the majority of workers in every single study don't benefit from a sense of purpose. Now, it's completely different if you go to the nonprofit sector, but, and even government benefits from a sense of purpose. But in corporate jobs, the majority people lack a sense of purpose, and they don't know that there's this critical element that's missing.
[00:44:57] And so studies find that they'll produce about a third less be like 10% less likely to get a raise, be 30% less likely to get a promotion. So it is very costly in the workplace, but to Ros's quote, it's also very costly to our health, like how anemia is. And so it, it actually increases our chances of ending up in the hospital and it increases our chances of being ill including mental illness.
[00:45:39] So a lot of, the talk right now about mental illness in the w workplace or mental health issues in the workplace, even if it's not full-blown illness, the bringing in a sense of purpose will help with that. We think, we actually, our gut reaction is usually if, if Leroy is now going to worry about people's, likelihood of getting into a high.
[00:46:09] A highway accident and maybe, a fatal accident, then you're putting more stress on him. And so he is now more likely to burn out. He's more likely to have that mental health issue. The exact opposite is true. So when we are contributing to others as part of work, actually we are more resilient to burnout.
[00:46:34] We are less likely to suffer from burnout than when the job is just simply a way to make a living and pay your rent and really makes no contributions beyond the sell. Yes it is. There's very little doubt and really all the research from psychology, from medicine all the, like the neurological studies.
[00:47:04] Looking at brain imaging and all of that, they're all reaching the same conclusion, which is what you said. Yes, purpose is a human need. It's feeling like we are contributing to something greater than ourselves is a human need. And in most cases, it appears that for that human need to be met, the contribution can't just be our spouse and our 2.4 children.
[00:47:34] It actually has to be the broader community. And that is a need for us, which there's so many forces working against this, especially in the US where we're so individualistic. And I know you had a prior guest that talked about this, about cultures that are more community minded and individualistic.
[00:47:58] And w one of the reasons, anyway, this is a whole other topic, but if you're listening to this and you're in America, just know that there are a lot of forces working against you on this because you're, the air that you breathe the blogs that you read, everything is infused with this individualism in the us.
[00:48:22] Like what you need to be happy is to individual, as an individual, be successful as an individual, be healthy as an individual do something important. You probably need to bring in a sense of purpose, of contribution into your work more than anybody because you're starting off in a hole in a sense, just.
[00:48:49] And I love being American, but it does have its it does have it, its headwinds. Let's put it that way.
[00:48:57] Wade Galt: One of my mentors who was actually in the US military had a mindset of teamwork and duty and how things worked together. Always talked to me about survival, success, and significance. And his analogy was, it was kinda like a child versus a teenager versus a mature adult.
[00:49:14] And his concept was, survival was all about they, and I need them, or they're doing something. To me, success was obsessed with I, and I do this and I can do that, and almost to this sense of invincibility, like I can do anything. And he said, wait, there's this other stage where you realize that there's we and there's other people who need you and you need to contribute.
[00:49:33] And so for me the passion feels a little bit more like that independence and the purpose seems more like that significance. And I think they're great. They're both great. But like you say, mistaking one for the other perhaps can be not such a good thing. Question for you your closing thoughts on, for the person that wants to get started, they might be listening, saying, be saying it's as simple as just looking for more meaningful things to do and moving from there.
[00:49:58] And I know from your book there's a lot of depth you give to that goes well beyond that. But for the person who's just, let's say listening and maybe isn't yet looking to go deep into it, is it that simple to just start looking out for how you can be more helpful and contribute more?
[00:50:13] Bea Boccalandro: Yes. So it's simple but not easy.
[00:50:19] Experimenters did these, the study on basketball playing. So they had two teams. One team was dressed in black and one was dressed in white. And the, there was a basketball being passed all over between the teams. It was a video and they asked people to count the number of times that a certain team grabbed had the ball.
[00:50:44] In the middle of this video, it took short video. It's not 40 minutes or anything. I think it's a minute or somewhere around a minute. In the middle of this video, a gorilla, a woman in a gorilla suit, prs onto the court, pound her chest a few times, and then prs back out. They asked people, what did you think of the gorilla?
[00:51:12] And about half said, what gorilla? So this is called now. These are normal people. This is us. So you would've seen the gorilla. I'm. Almost certain I would not have. It's called inattentional blindness and we all have it, which means that our mindset determines what it is that our brains perceive. So there's inattentional because if we didn't, if our minds didn't filter what was coming at us, we'd go, our brains wouldn't be completely fried.
[00:51:48] We'd be like, oh, the ceiling is white. The ceiling is white. There's still, my book is open on this page. My, it's just way too much information. Most of it is irrelevant. So our brains filter it out like the gorilla. So this is what is happening at work, because we've been told that work is about going, getting through the to-do list and meeting those quarterly targets and.
[00:52:16] We need to do all those things for sure. But if we broaden our mindset a little bit so that we're looking for the gorilla being opportunities to contribute, we will start seeing it. So that's why it's so hard, because we don't go into work with that mindset. There's, so my suggestion is, again, that exercise of two times, a day, stop what you're doing and ask yourself those two questions, what was I doing?
[00:52:46] Is there a way to do this that is actually more of a contribution? And then the last person I interacted with how are they doing? There's a more complete version of that exercise in the book for those who have the book. You can go do that. So if you do that exercise, what it does is it starts to broaden your mindset and then you're like, ow.
[00:53:08] Why didn't I think asking the janitorial staff to, instead of throwing out the toilet, half the rolls of toilet paper, cuz they switched them out at half at the halfway point to just give them to me and I'll drop them off at the homeless shelter on the way home. All of a sudden you'll see those opportunities if you move one, if you do this work to move your mindset.
[00:53:32] And then again, so one of the reasons, like you said in the, my book goes it's much more than a, like a tactical how-to, although the how-to is in there and there are, a dozen different tactics to job purposing as when there are over a hundred examples. But one of the reasons it goes into more is because the idea is that after someone has read the book or listened to the book, it will have shifted their mindset.
[00:54:02] And I know that it is working for many people because for example, I've gotten, I got an email from these two construction workers and they said, we spend a lot of time driving around in our trucks and we decided to, we listened to audiobook, so we listened to your audiobook. And we realized, but it wasn't until we were listening to your audiobook that we drive by.
[00:54:31] We we drive a road very frequently that has illegal dumping on the side. And so we thought we are, we're always taking coffee breaks because we're gonna be too early to the next appointment or so on. Instead of a coffee break. Why don't we have a truck. We're a construction company, so we know how to get rid of waste.
[00:54:51] Why don't we just stop and then throw in whatever we can, whatever we have time for. The TV and one couch and the truck. And and now by the time they wrote the email to me, they're like, we have clean 12 miles of road. The Ronis Pristine. Everybody's thinking, our company, and now other, other people at the company are helping out.
[00:55:11] They're like, when you show up with that solid waste, we'll take it from your truck so that you don't have to go to the dumper whenever. So now it's turning into this collaborative thing. But the thing is, I think they needed to live in that space for a little bit, that conversation of contribution to, to, they've been driving this road for years and it never occurred to him, so to them, so any way that works for you, the listener, to move into that space of a mindset of.
[00:55:46] Essentially contribution. So it can be the exercise, it can be, reading the book. It can be, maybe something else that you come up with. It can be going to the tool as, as well will help you go from simple but difficult to simple but obvious, right? So that's why it's so hard to come up with ideas.
[00:56:09] But luckily there's a solution for it.
[00:56:12] Wade Galt: Awesome. Thank you so much, Pete. I think what I love about our conversation is I think you've really helped for those people who are looking for the practical reasons, the perhaps more metaphysical or are they more, purposeful reasons.
[00:56:24] There's so many reasons to do this thank you for that. Where can people and we'll put the links and stuff you mentioned the website. Where can people find out more about your work and the assessment and the book.
[00:56:35] Bea Boccalandro: Yes, so the best place is the website. doGood@work.com and you can find the assessment there.
[00:56:44] And there's all sorts of tools if you want to. A lot of teams use the book as, as a and group thing, so you know, the whole department reads it. So there's a, there are tools, like questions for book groups. There's tools on how to job purpose in specific situations. There's a blog, so there's all sorts of resources there.
[00:57:07] And I'm pretty active on LinkedIn and on Twitter as well.
[00:57:13] Wade Galt: Awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. For sharing your insight, your wisdom with us, your research and helping me feel smarter about things that I thought and me not having to do the research. So I really appreciate that. And for those you'll listening, hope you'll got a lot from this.
[00:57:29] Definitely. Like I said, I'm really enjoying the book. It's got real solid substance to it, and I'm definitely benefiting informant and I'm gonna be sharing it with more the people I work with. So for those of you listening, as always, I look forward to helping you impact more people and make more money and less time.
[00:57:44] Do what you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends, and your life and enjoy some purpose along the way. Thanks for listening.
Author, Do Good at Work: How Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing
Bea Boccalandro is the author of Do Good at Work: How Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing (New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2021), which Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author Adam Grant named a top 2021 book and Midwest Book Review recommends it as a “life changing, life enhancing read.”
Bea has been published in Harvard Business Review, The Boston Globe and other major publications; and has been featured on Forbes, FOX TV and other media outlets.
As founder and president of the global purpose advisory firm, VeraWorks, Bea has two decades of experience helping businesses make customer interactions more human, products more inclusive, operations more environmentally sustainable, marketing more charitable or otherwise make work more meaningful. Her clients include Aetna, Bank of America, Disney, Eventbrite, FedEx, HP, John Hancock, IBM, Levi’s, PwC, TOMS Shoes, Toyota and Western Digital.
Bea also has 15 years of experience teaching corporate social purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Georgetown University, Boston College and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
She lives in San Clemente, California, with her husband. She is also a proud Rotarian, Venezuelan-born Latina and comically bad surfer.