A Tactical Approach to Finding Practical Purpose by Lauren Sheehan

Automatic Summary

A Tactical Approach to Purpose: Revealing Key Insights with Lauren Sheehan

Participating in a worldwide conference, Lauren Sheehan, a partner at global boutique consulting firm Cordera, shares her approach to finding purpose; a mix of her life, her habits, her passion, and her pursuits. Lauren, hailing from Chicago, Illinois, leads the experience design practice at the firm, and shares the ways she finds practical purpose in her everyday life. She provides a perspective not only on her professional life, but also gives a glimpse into her world outside of work, such as her love for running and her family.

Let's Start with the Basics

To kick things off, Lauren discusses her hobbies, which include running, cooking, and baking. She also describes her family life, showcasing her two daughters each possessing their own unique character—one resembling a Muppet's energy, and the other channeling a Billie Eilish vibe. She encompasses her life as pretty crazy and admits to finding humor and purpose in everyday objects, like a coffee mug that transitions to a wine cup, accurately capturing her hectic lifestyle over the past few years.

Unveiling a Significant Epiphany

Through years of introspection and self-talk, Lauren encountered moments when she felt overwhelmed with the concept of finding her big life purpose - a cause she could shout to the world. However, it was after turning 40 that she recognized that she may not need a single, all-encompassing purpose to lead a fulfilling life. According to her epiphany, your purpose could lie in the value you add to your life each day or in the activities you partake in that contribute to a bigger picture.

The Four Ps of Purpose - A Practical Framework

To guide her decision-making process, Lauren introduced a framework known as the "Four P's of Purpose." These include Profit, Passion, PR, and Partnership.

  1. Profit: Essentially, examining whether an endeavor will fuel financial growth for the company or person. The specific cause may not be glamorous or exciting, but it supports financial stability, which can create freedom in other areas.
  2. Passion: The project or initiative may not be financially rewarding but if it fuels the interest and energy of the team, making work engaging and enjoyable, then it has a role to play in shaping purpose.
  3. PR: This examines whether the activity will help a company or individual become known for something. This could be through earning media attention or promoting a particular skill or knowledge.
  4. Partnership: This criterion looks at whether the activity will build connections and trust with others in the team, the company, or even in a personal context.

The Four Ps in Action

Lauren shares practical examples from her personal and professional life, applying her framework in each situation. She emphasizes that not all activities will touch on all Four P's, but any feature within this framework can guide your decision-making process. The Four P's—Profit, Passion, PR, and Partnership—may not capture a singular 'capital P' Purpose but embracing these elements allows us to live purposefully every day.

Concluding Reminders

Lauren concludes with a call-to-action for everyone to be okay with not having a singular, capital P purpose. Becoming aware of our intentions and identifying the value we add in our lives, could indeed provide us with the sense of purpose that all seek.

Video Transcription

Thank you so much for joining this session. My name is Lauren Sheehan. Um I am a partner and I lead the experience design practice at the uh global boutique consulting firm Cordera.I'm located out of Chicago, Illinois and I think it is so cool to have so many people from around the world joining um joining in this conference and just all these conversations that we're having. It's been fantastic so far and I'm just so happy to, to be a part of it. So what I'm gonna talk about today is what I call a tactical approach to finding practical purpose. And I know we all, you know, are, are longing for that and searching for that. And so, um I just want to share my story. I just wanna be real raw with you and let you know how I try to weave that in to my day, but to kick things off, I want you to know a little bit more about me. Uh get a glimpse of my world. Um Just we have a short time together. We may as well get to know each other a little bit better. Um First up that picture over on the left. I absolutely love to run. That's, it's kind of my, my saving grace. Um, fun story right before COVID.

Um, years ago I was doing a race circuit with some girlfriends and we would get up every month, one day a month to go out and run some crazy race somewhere out in the middle of Illinois or in the middle of Wisconsin. Um, which was crazy. I mean, we would do this in January and February, you know, from Chicago. Um It was nuts but I will tell you getting up super early in the morning having that, you know, those dark dawn hours with some girlfriends and driving out somewhere. Um really was one of the best ways I could connect and get to a deeper level with some of my friends and so I highly encourage finding moments like that. Um And you get some really cool compression socks out of it too apparently. So those look, those are great. Um Next up in the middle, that's me and my family. Um I have uh two girls, one I would say spirit animal is Muppet or is, is um is animal from the Muppets. And the other really channels the Billie Eilish Vibe. So you can, you know, kind of understand what happens what me and my husband deal with under our roof on any given day. It's uh it's pretty crazy but we love it. Um I also, I love to cook. I love to bake. I love pretty things. So that picture up in the top, right is one of my creations. I think it was a, a pomegranate orange rosemary tart.

Um totally instagrammable and, and had to share that because I, I love things like that and then I don't know about the rest of you all, but I, I am a sucker for a good gift. This one literally every day with the the coffee cup, passing the baton to the wine cup. Oh my gosh. That, that pretty much epitomizes my last few years here. So I know we're all, you know, we're all surviving in our different ways. That one gave me a chuckle and I feel like I should make a T shirt out of it or something like that because that, that is me. OK, let's, let's get into the meat of this to start this off, this discussion off. I really do want to come clean about something. Um Before I, before I dive in and, and tell you all about, you know how to find how to find purpose for yourselves. The truth is um often in my life when I've been asked about my purpose or you know what drives me um like big life goals, I get incredible anxiety. Um I don't know how to answer it. My palms get sweaty. Um The truth is I don't have this awesome crystallized answer that I can just shout out to the world and sometimes, you know, over, over the years I've thought about why that is like, why do I struggle with that so much?

Um You know, sometimes I wonder if, you know, is it just my life experience? I haven't had anything so crazy or so life changing happened to me that would really trigger me to dedicate my life to something with intention. Um You know, I, I don't feel like I've got this insatiable hunger for anything like that. You know, I definitely support causes and I love to get into that. But in terms of finding that thing to my core, it's, it's been a struggle and for a long time that has really, really freaked me out, like really freaked me out. Um Not feeling like you have a Y or a North Star that is valid enough to share publicly is something I'm not comfortable. And of course, when I looked around at all my friends or colleagues or family members, of course, all of them, they had it all figured out, they, they knew exactly what their life was gonna be for, what they were dedicating it towards and they were working on that. And so I was kind of left to ask, you know, what was wrong with me? Why couldn't I do this?

And so then of course the self talk starts, um I'm not worthy, I'm so lame and this would go on and on and on and it would fester and it, you know, it was just that horrible voice on, on my shoulder. And what's worse is I really didn't have an excuse for it. I mean, I had a pretty strong, you know, history of success. At least I thought so. You know, I made friends easily. I got decent grades. I got good grades, played the sports, got into the college I wanted to graduated, got a good job. Um, you know, I, I started my own business, I built a life for, for me and my family and my business and my, my business family and, and it was great, you know, and I even sold that business like everything laddered up to success on paper. I had the goals, you know, I had a good set of goals and I achieved them and mom and dad were proud and I felt pretty good. Things were, things were smooth. I mean, sidebar, there were tons of things that did not go smoothly in that. I'm just kind of scrubbing, scrubbing my life story here, you know, to kind of make a point, there were plenty of, of hardships and, and things that did not go the right way. We're gonna leave that out of the story and just focus on this.

I, I really did have no excuses for why I couldn't find, find my purpose. And still I had this monster and anxiety always with me about my lack of, you know, for lack of a better word, intentional capital p purpose. So where was my big aha moment? I wanted that kind of, you know, soul nourishing, all inspiring. I'm gonna give up my coffee. I've got so much natural energy I can just face the day I wanted that kind of intentional purpose and I didn't have it. And then I had an epiphany after I wanna say after I turned 40 could officially call myself wise. Um I realized that in my angst of not, you know, feeling like I had a purpose that was valid enough to make, you know, my official life headline that I had actually missed the point that maybe it's ok to not have that big exciting single hero purpose, but to consider all the things that I did choose that I did purposefully add into my life or take part of or contribute to.

Maybe all of those things were making up something bigger. And even though I hadn't put a label on it yet or put a pretty bow around it, those things were still really important. And so the first thing I want you to think about and kind of internalize for yourself today during this discussion is, you know, we're presented every single day, every single day by the moment. Um, things that we can choose that will either add value, add purpose to ourselves to our business, to our life or not, and we can choose to bring them in or we can choose to walk away. So we can find this hypothesis, we can find and choose this. We can choose this every day if we're intentional. And if we just kind of take that extra minute to think about it. So today I'm gonna share a framework I use. Um this is something that my husband and I started um oh my gosh, it was when we were in business together. We're trying to figure out how, um how to decide if we're gonna do, you know, take a bit the client on or um you know, are we gonna do this project even though maybe it's not paying great, like, what are the reasons for this?

Um So I've, I've got this rubric, I've got this framework, I feel like that is always like, you know, big and exciting. I had to put it in bright pink, you know, just to kind of wake you guys up here on this presentation and, and just have some fun. Um But when we decide to do something, there's a framework that we can use if it's worth our time, if it's worth our energy and if it's worth our, our heart and our passion and any other blood sweat and tears we're going to put towards something, there's a way to decide and it works for, it works for business and it works for your personal life.

So here it is, I call it the four pieces of purpose. The first one is profit. The second one is passion. The third is pr and the fourth is partnership and I'm going to unpack these and um just kind of go through them, you know, explain how I bring them into my decision making process, both for business and work and show you, you know, share with you some examples along the way.

So first up profit, this and this again, it comes from a business orientation and we're trying to, you know, grow a business for a thriving business. But, you know, the first question is, does this help, you know, it's pretty straightforward. Does this help fuel financial growth for the company while taking on whatever the initiative is, whoever the client is, is it going to help us from a financial perspective? Um be good bread and butter for us, you know, and, and maybe I think the thing to remember here is sometimes you take on work that's not the most glamorous that maybe, you know, it's not gonna be the most fun. It's really gonna be a, a mess you're gonna be in the trenches or it's just not exciting. It's kind of, you know, just kind of that ho hum, just keep hitting the button type of work and, and that can be draining. But at the same time, if you are looking at it from a financial perspective, it can also be very important to bring into the picture as a revenue source. Um, this one for, for me anyway, is usually pretty easy to suss out, right? You put a proposal together, you look at what, um, what needs to go into getting the work done and, and can the client, client pay that or not? And is it worth, is it worth it?

Um, the thing that's important about noting this and kind of taking a pause to make sure you get it right? Is that down the line when you've got teams working on things and they're just like, oh, this is not the work I want to do or oh gosh, this is just I'm just in the tedium, you know, the trenches of tedium. How, how is this helping me? How is this helping me grow all that you can point back and say, hey, listen, this was about financial growth. This was not about, you know, crazy new skills maybe or maybe it wasn't about like, like I said, having the most glamorous project on your plate, but it does help keep the lights on and that's important and framing it that way and reminding people of that is important because it, you know, that financial growth may help you have freedom in other ways.

But how about the personal lens? Um sometimes it depends on your personal, you know, financial situation for sure. Um So this is all relative, but if you need more money for whatever reason, you're trying to go on a great vacation. You've got cost racking up for your kids and, you know, you, you just want to splurge on something or you just want more money in your pot using this and kind of thinking on it is really helpful. Um, you may decide to do something even if it's not your, your favorite thing. For example, one thing for me in my personal life, I absolutely hate posting things on Facebook to sell them. I hate it. It's like a huge time suck of my day. Um But I've actually paid for kids camps and other things by doing that. So to me it's worth it. I, I spend a little extra time on that and it's something that I can do. So I, I've made that choice in, in terms of making some money on my old stuff. And I should also say this doesn't have to be for your own bank account, right? Like you could, you could take on, you could add your time or your value or your heart and passion to something to help the financial situation of, you know, uh uh maybe somebody else, you know, a community group or your school or your church or whatever it may be.

Um It, the question is, are you going to invest your time for a financial reason? Is it worth pursuing from that angle alone? OK. Next up, let's go into the next one passion. If something is not worth going for for a financial reason, maybe it's still worth it. Um If it brings a lot of passion out right in business, if something's not gonna make money, um, usually the choice is to skip it like it's not worth the time, it's not worth the resources. No one wants to lose margin, right? Um But what if the project is just super awesome and fun? Like, you know, the team is gonna thrive in it, they're gonna make new connections, they're gonna have a great time working on it and that, that bubble of a project or that client is just gonna infuse your team or your business with new energy. Um It may not be a real revenue maker, you know, you may even, you know, hit even, or maybe you even even lose a little bit on it, right? If you really did the math, but if the teams have a chance to work on something that's gonna really connect them and give them that spirit and that energy, it's going to be a culture builder. It's just gonna be freaking fun.

That's, that's value that is in my mind. Gold. Um In my design career, we'd often take on smaller clients, you know, no names, things that where they really didn't have the money, maybe they were nonprofit, um Maybe they were just starting out and the idea that we could as creatives come in and have that green field to go out and do what we wanted and try new ideas so much easier than a big, um, you know, kind of baggage laden enterprise business.

I mean, that was worth it. Having that mix was, was definitely worth it and, and brings a ton of value on the personal side. This was kind of easy, you know, we tend to have an easy time saying yes to awesome and fun things in our personal lives. Um, so maybe you change the lens a little bit and it's more about just not feeling guilty about doing those things about taking the time or spending the money or doing the things that fill, you know, fill this area of your heart because it is worth it. Um You know, I signed up for a platform tennis team two years ago, 2.5 years ago just wanting to have some extra things to do and something to kind of hold me accountable for getting out of the house. It was in the beginning of COVID and now it's like two years later, I'm playing competitively on a league. I've got all these other connections and friends. Um It really is just great and like, listen, it's not cheap. It's not exactly great in my schedule or my family schedule, but it's, it is awesome and fun. So I do it and I find purpose in that. The next one up is pr and we, we're kind of getting to the end here, but pr um in business think of it. This way, we'll take, we're taking whatever it is on, give your company or your team or even yourself an opportunity to become known for something.

Get some earned media, get some buzz and time in the spotlight. Um You know, in our crazy world, it's really hard to do that, to carve that space out and to have somebody look at you and really say, oh she's known for that. So if doing something gives you that extra case study or that extra set of creds, um maybe you get an article written up about you or whatever the exposure is, that's worth it. It may not be for money, it may not be for passion. But if you can become known for something because of putting your time and energy and heart into it, it may be worth it, open that door up a little bit more. And then on the personal side, I think about it a little bit differently, but it's still in the same vein. Does it help you whatever it is again, help you become known for something. So what do you want to become known for as a person, as an individual person outside of business? And you should take some time to think about that and write those words down, kind of have them as your mantra. Um You know, I I for myself want to be known as someone was kind and engaged and dependable. And so during the work day when I've got, you know, run and take time out of my day to, to help volunteer at the second grade, lunch duty.

That's a pain in the butt. Right. Like, I don't like doing that, but I like being a part of the community and the school story and I like that. Parents and teachers know that, hey, she's going to show up. So that's one little antidote there. Um, the other thing, uh Well, let's just move on because I, I'm running out of time now, the last one partnership. So does it build connections to others, you know, does the thing that you're considering doing or taking on the client or the initiative? Does it help build connection to others and at work your team, you know, maybe this is about your team taking on a certain client or project because it allows you to partner with new technology or get new tools under your belt. Maybe it helps you become, you know, someone on preferred vendor list or maybe you're even coming in as a superhero for another team or another department where things haven't gone well, and they are turning to you and you can decide to help them out and if you do, you're gonna build that incredible connection of trust and, and just dependability, you're gonna be their partner and that's, that's the kind of stuff that lasts, right?

Um So even if you have to jump in and deal with a hot mess. Sometimes that is worth it. If the thing it is allows you to meet new people, build those connections, establish that trust, all of that is so, so p purposeful. And then on the personal side, the same thing goes, right? So does leaning into whatever you're considering, help you deeply connect with other people, to your family, to your community. Um Does it create new connections? I mean, we are human beings, we thrive by making connections.

It's, it's hard to escape that. Um So if something comes up and it's not completely obvious, like, is this gonna make me money or is this worth it financially? Do I have heart for it? Is it gonna get me known for something? Think of this last one partnership. How does it help me build connections to others and really think about how those dots are formed specifically so quick recap profit passion pr partnership. Just use these things to help you evaluate or, you know, turn the words into whatever, you know, makes more sense for you.

Obviously, this is just kind of a a framework. Um And the great thing is sometimes you run into areas where things kind of check the box for more than one thing like in business. If you have profit and passion and pr and partnership, that is, that is amazing, right? That is golden. If you have even one or two of these things, that's great. Um And so that's awesome. You know how to go forward and sometimes you may only have one thing, but the one thing has so much meat to it is so important that you just decide to go for it, even if you might lose a little money or even if you, you know, it's not your favorite thing to do. Um, it's still worth it and sometimes things fail all four. And those are the ones that I want you to feel confident saying no, this does not fill my cup. This is not something that I should spend my time in and I know why, because I've run it through this framework. So these four elements, they really do. Um you know, they give you energy, they give practical utility, they give positive emotion, they support that positive, you know, self image. And for me, that's all very, very important, right? That's how I fill my cup.

So even if I decided, even if I never land on articulating kind of that singular, you know, capital p purpose of, you know, saving lives or coming up with cures or fighting for some social injustice, whatever it may be, I'm gonna be OK, we're all gonna be ok even if we don't have those things.

Um Just knowing that we've taken the time to kind of intentionally put our, our work and the time we spend and where in place we put our heart on things. Um We, we think about those intentionally and that's what gives us purpose. So, thank you everybody.