Peppering The Conundrum of Purpose
Most people are obsessed with making money. It seems that much of the world is only concerned with making money and more money. But making money is not, nor should it be the goal of a business.
I know you are thinking, "What is this guy talking about? All of life has everything to do with making money, especially in business!" If you thought that then you are not alone. I have often had my motivations questioned by those whose own motivations are different than mine.
Early in my life, I came to the realization that the core to being successful in life and indeed business was to not to make money, but to produce purpose. My goal was to be happy at whatever I did in life. I instinctively knew that if I did not absolutely love what I was doing that I would not be happy in doing it. My first goal was to be happy. I wanted to increase the quality of my life in such a way that when I walked out the door at 5 p.m. (okay, 7 p.m. in screenprinting!) that I would be able to enjoy my personal lifestyle. I found out quickly that my business life and my personal lifestyle were actually one in the same. The two were actually inseparable.
My personal lifestyle would be affected by the decisions that I made in my business life. That if the goals of my personal lifestyle were not met by my business, I would not be happy. On the other hand, if I was not happy in my business life, I would never be happy in my personal life. I learned that the key to my success lie in choosing to increase the quality of both. And, to do that I had to be happy in both.
So, no, I didn't get into business to make money. I got into business to be happy, to increase the quality of my life. That became my purpose in life and every business venture that I became associated with was started with that foundation - not to make money.
I quickly found that in order to increase the quality of my life, to increase my purpose in life that I needed to satisfy the needs of other people, as that was was what was going to bring in money to support my endeavor to be happy and be successful. In my own naive way, I thought that I had found the answer, but in the end it turned out that my plan was not yet perfected. It seems that satisfying people's needs was not enough. I found that the real path was to give people what they wanted, which is much more in tune with their own purpose.
People buy what they want, much more often than what they need by a ratio of perhaps three to two. The problem became even more exacerbated by the fact that most people didn't know what they wanted. They had the need but did not know the way to acquire it. They wanted the same thing that I wanted - to be made happy - to learn how to increase their own quality of life. And, thus began my journey to cease worrying about how to make money and concentrate on increasing the quality of life for others.
My core business for the past 30 years has been the dissemination of information - epistemology. Since I already suffered from epistemophilia - an excessive preoccupation of acquiring knowledge - it became second nature for me and it satisfied my own needs and wants in a distinctive manner. In 1983, I started Solutions Journal Magazine as a way of expressing my desire to help others in the screenprinting technologies increase their quality of life by giving them what they really wanted - knowledge. We have never accepted advertising during our 30 years of publication, choosing instead to focus on changing peoples lives, instead of making money. "How has that worked out for you?", you might ask. Very well indeed. enough people are willing to pay for knowledge that we have earned a bit of money from subscriptions. Not a lot, but enough to keep doing the research and writing the articles that create change in the industry. And, I like to think that we are the only non-biased trade publication in the industry.
When I moved to Mexico to live full time, my living and traveling expenses were greatly reduced and thus I was able to lower the subscription price on the magazine, which increased subscriptions. Our subscribers are happy and that makes us happy.
Later, I started the School of Screenprinting for much the same reason and as an extension of Solutions Journal Magazine. The School was founded not so much on the basis of making money, but to promote the dissemination of information that people wanted to in order to live the lifestyle of their choosing. To make money, I would have taken on all comers. I would have given the attendees just enough information to satisfy their immediate needs. But, this was not and has never been my goal. Today, we limit the classes to just 5 attendees a month at the workshops, so that each person has the opportunity to acquire knowledge in a small, intimate setting. Our goal was and still is to make people more productive and increase their quality - of their products, services and indeed their lifestyle. In a word our goal was to provide "Purpose!"
During the decades that we have been conducting our workshops, we have never increased our prices. We have maintained the same price, even though the cost of everything else has skyrocketed. How were we able to to do this? Simple - we learned how to conduct the workshops more efficiently and thus lowered out overhead to offset the increasing costs.
Every other business venture that I have started, especially my writing of articles and the many books that I have published, the online social community - ScreenprintGroup.com - and other entrepreneurial endeavors have evolved from the same basic principles...
- Satisfy my own personal happiness to help others
- Increase the quality of life for not only myself, that that of others
- Explain the benefits of doing a thing right
- Promote strategic and positive thinking
I made it my purpose to change the thinking process of those within the screenprinting technologies and improve the lives of those involved in the industries within screenprinting. That has proved to be a lifelong adventure, as most people resist change. Perhaps it was naive of me to believe that I could be instrumental in creating change in an industry that seems hell-bent on making money without the need to be happy. However, after decades of attempting to do just that I measure my success - my happiness - on those lives that i have touched and helped find their own way to happiness. Those who fail to the accept the consequences of their behavior and misplace their values are beyond my abilities.
The lesson learned is that if one creates purpose in their business they will probably make money. If one's only concern is to make money, they probably will not create purpose, nor make money. Without purpose, people have no vested interest in buying your products or services. Without purpose, there is no incentive to give you money.
Thanks for reading,
Publisher, Solutions Journal Magazine