Purpose, Vision and Values: Finding Your North Star in Podcasting and Business

When starting a podcast you by default are becoming an entrepreneur. If you are 100% focused on making your podcast successful and profitable, then you must run it like a successful and profitable venture. The best way for you to start with an extremely strong foundation is to develop your organizational or (podcast) purpose.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

The podcast purpose statement acts as the unifying principle that drives everything the podcast business does. It helps guide the business to become what they envision. We will talk about a few examples of organizational purpose statement below. These are from fortune 500 companies but you can apply it to your podcasting business even if it is just you and a microphone.

When an organization finds a way to express the company’s impact on the lives of their customers, greatness ensues. Consumer obsessed organizations that constantly find themselves thinking and doing things that improve the lives of the consumer become the leaders within their industry. Customers do not buy what you do but rather why you do it. Within podcasting, the successful serve their listeners first before anything else. This means developing great content, worthy of your listeners time.

In some cases, businesses may combine their purpose and mission statement into one statement. For others, they may have a purpose, mission and vision statement. Do whatever works for you and your organization. To simplify these concepts, think of them as the WHY, HOW and WHAT statements within an organization.

Your PURPOSE guides you. It is WHY you do what you do.

Your MISSION drives you. It is HOW you will accomplish your purpose and fulfill your vision.

Your VISION is where you aspire to be. It is WHAT you want to achieve in the future.

Southwest Airlines’ purpose is to “connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

When we break this purpose down, we also see that they rolled in the mission into this statement as well.

“To connect people to what’s important in their lives [WHY they do it] — through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel” [This is HOW they are going to fulfill their purpose and vision}

Every decision that Southwest makes comes down to this purpose statement. For example, when a question like, “Should we charge for bags like our competitors are doing?” is asked. The answer is a pretty simple. No. Why? Because charging for bags is not very friendly and it will make it more expensive to travel which in turn will make it harder to connect people to what’s important in their lives.

In other words, Southwest wants to give people the freedom to fly and anything that comes in the way of that, goes against their purpose and vision. Southwest’s vision is to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline. This is where they aspire to be. It is clear, concise and very quantifiable. They will be able to review customer reviews and feedback to see if they are meeting their high standards of being the most loved. They can look at data and compare whether or not customers fly with them more than they do the competition and they can benchmark their profitability comparing it to all other airlines.

Southwest Airlines wants to democratize the skies and give people the freedom to fly. They want to connect people to what’s important in their lives and they do this through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. Their vision is to become the world’s most loved, most flown and most profitable airline.

Let’s look at a few more examples to help this concept resonate a bit more.

Your PURPOSE guides you. It is WHY you do what you do.

Your MISSION drives you. It is HOW you will accomplish your purpose and fulfill your vision.

Your VISION is where you aspire to be. It is WHAT you want to achieve in the future.

Google’s original purpose was to democratize access to information. Their vision was to be able to provide the right answer, at the right time with one search result. Essentially their audacious goal is to answer any question instantly and give you the one right answer. Google is still not quite there but their mission to “organize all of the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” drives them to accomplish their purpose and vision.

Google’s Purpose (WHY)- To democratize access to information

Google’s Mission (HOW) — By organizing all of the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful

Google Vision (WHAT) — to provide the right answer, at the right time with one search result.

In 1980, Bill Gates developed a statement that had their purpose, mission and vision all rolled into one. Microsoft’s original statement was to ensure that the world had “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Just imagine that for a minute. In the 1980’s very few people had a computer in their home. In fact, in 1977 the founder of DEC, whom Bill Gates once idolized as a kid said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

Microsoft’s audacious goal and purpose helped to align the team to accomplish extraordinary results. The statement was clear, articulate and you could visualize and quantify it. However, this didn’t come without its limitations too. Sataya Nadella, Microsoft’s current CEO who started at Microsoft in 1992 as a programmer always thought the statement had a flaw.

He told USA Today in an interview, “When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world, It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Today, Microsoft’s purpose is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” This too will help drive and align the organization forward in an effort to fulfill their purpose.

This purpose statement falls right inline with the TO_______ SO THAT _______ template we will review in future posts. TO empower every person and every organization on the planet SO THAT they can achieve more.

Nadella says this purpose and mission “is ambitious and at the core of what our customers deeply care about. We have unique capability in harmonizing the needs of both individuals and organizations. This is in our DNA. We also deeply care about taking things global and making a difference in lives and organizations in all corners of the planet.”

The impact Microsoft wants to make is to help every person and organization on the planet achieve more. But in order to do that they need to contribute, take action and empower people and organizations every single day through technology.

As Nadella told his team, they need to “build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. Our platforms will harmonize the interests of end users, developers and IT better than any competing ecosystem or platform. We will realize our mission and strategy by investing in three interconnected and bold ambitions.

1. Reinvent productivity and business processes
 2. Build the intelligent cloud platform
 3. Create more personal computing

This is essentially the WHAT they need to do everyday in order to make their WHY a reality.

Jim Collins and Jerry Poras, authors of the best selling business book, “Built to Last,” found that there were a variety of components that lead to the enduring success of some organizations. One of these components is what they call a,”deeply-held core purpose”.

Collins describes this organizational purpose as “the organization’s fundamental reason for being. An effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work-it taps their idealistic motivations-and gets at the deeper reasons for an organization’s existence beyond just making money.”

As a podcaster, how can you identify your core purpose?

Collins shares five characteristics of a company’s core purpose:

  1. It absolutely has to be inspiring to those inside the company.
  2. It has to be something that could be as valid 100 years from now as it is today.
  3. It should help you think expansively about what you could do but aren’t doing.
  4. It should help you decide what not to do.
  5. It’s truly authentic to your company.

When developing your purpose or in our case your podcast statement, first answer these questions to help you articulate your vision, your mission and your organizational purpose.

Why does our podcast existence matter?
What is our most important reason for being here? Why?
What would be lost if this podcast ceased to exist?
Why are we important to the people we serve?

Collins says, “You’ll know when you finally identify your core purpose because it will be accompanied by a strong sense of conviction. Your team will feel a deep “yes!” when it is uncovered.”

Remember, there is no right way to do this. As you can see, companies approach purpose, mission and vision statements differently. Do what is right for you and your podcast. The important thing is to just take immediate action.

You can develop a separate Vision, Purpose and Mission statement, you can use the TO _________ So That________ template or you can do what Southwest did and combine your Purpose (WHY) and your Mission (HOW) into one emotionally charged statement that resonates with you and your team. This will help you make the right decision, motivate you and your team, and inspire you to accomplish extraordinary things.

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