Rebranding Purpose

Having lived on the West Coast for several years now, I’ve gotten used to being asked things like “What is your calling?” at dinner parties. These questions used to always take me aback; I would awkwardly stand and swirl my wine around in circles trying to come up with something bohemian, yet coherent, to say.…

Reclaiming Aging

Finding Purpose in Later Life  By providing us with a healthy orientation to the future, a sense of purpose increases wellbeing – especially in later life.     Purpose Increases Health in Later Life Retirement age is often experienced as a time of loss. Not only of the opportunities of youth, but also of a…

The Illusion of Value

When Your Purpose is Actually Meaningless Nothing you do is valuable. Prove me wrong on that, but for just a short while, I want you to entertain the idea that everything you work so hard at and believe so strongly in simply carries the illusion of value. I want you to challenge yourself to that…

The Business Case for Purpose

In business, “purpose” is the new black. 
It has become very fashionable for consultants and business professors to encourage companies to ask “why” they are in business. What is their raison d’être, beyond just making money? Or is that all there is? After almost 40 years of neoliberal economics, the prevailing and very entrenched answer…

Play To Transform

Will Playing Make AI More Human? On March 15, 2016, Google’s AI program, AlphaGo, beat world champion Lee Sedol four-to-one in one of the most complex strategy games ever devised – the ancient Chinese game of Go. Since that historic match, Google has released a new version of its AI agent, called AlphaGo Zero, which…

Life With Death

Surviving Mortality and Overcoming the “Crisis” of End-of-Life Care   When was the last time you thought about your own death? Not because the possibility of death was imminent – rushing toward you on a busy highway or following you too closely on a deserted street – but because you were interested: feeling curious or…

Something to Believe In

Purpose is the Driving Force Successful Brands Need Successful businesses are built on the efforts and choices of two types of volunteers, both of which play very different roles in the ecosystem that nourishes
 an organization. These two types are more commonly known as “employees” and “customers”; however, categorizing them this way does not capture…

Invisible in Plain Sight

More than the sum of our parts. People are complicated. How we socialize, how we develop our cultural and political institutions, and how our individual
 and group identities powerfully shape all of those processes is complex. We are never just one type of person presenting ourselves to the world according to a single script. Nor…

The New 40

Supporting the Sandwich Generation of 2020 I remember my father’s 40th birthday well. My parents had just finished renovating our suburban house, and they decided to have a party to celebrate and use the new space. It was 1990 and I was ten years old. I spent the evening trying to keep up with my…

When Everything is Meaningless

Why Your Company Needs a Purpose Business is about making profit and creating shareholder value. Though there is nothing wrong with this statement, it does not cause conflict when companies put some profit toward charitable causes and social impact. But today, capitalism is having a mid-life crisis. Where do we go from here? Forbes proclaims…

The Purpose of Work in the Digital Age

Everyone, whether they’re 21, 41, or 81, shares many similar motivations for working. We work to put food on the table; to buy nice things that improve our circumstances and lifestyles; to wield power and gain status; to enjoy physical or mental pursuits; and, of course, to maintain our own identities. This last point is…

Performance Needs Purpose

This article originally appeared in the LSE Business Review. We’ve all met the eye-rollers. The leaders who say “business is business” and “people work to get paid.” The ones who leave “pastoral care” to the HR team down the hallway because there’s work to be done and money to be made. When it comes to…

The Challenge of Applying Science to Purpose

The concept of purpose is abstract, and it could very well be perceived as being at odds with science and its relentless pursuit of causal relationships. Indeed, in biology and genetics (my original field of study), purpose usually refers to some feature 
that has evolved under evolutionary pressure. The purpose of opposable thumbs is to…

If You Build It, They Will Care

Designing Empathetic Spaces and Objects 
for the Future of Caregiving “There is no doubt whatever about the influence of architecture and structure upon human character and action. We make our buildings, and afterwards they make us. They regulate the course of our lives.” —Winston Churchill, addressing the English Architectural Association, 1924 “It doesn’t
 make you…

Why We Write

Exploring the Innate Purpose of Language   “There are many people thinking overmuch about the encroachment of colloquial and slangy speech upon good English.” — Arthur G. Kennedy   The frustrated voice of Arthur G. Kennedy echoes through time, space, and the pages of the journal American Speech. His essay, “The Future of the English…