The economy in America and around the globe is transitioning. Aaron Hurst, award-winning entrepreneur and globally recognized thought and practice leader, has seen a shift in how we do business. Hurst describes how the economy is moving toward the creation of purpose in his book The Purpose Economy. In this interview with Soundview, he describes the elements that combine to form the purpose economy, explains why purpose does not automatically equal a cause to support and
emphasizes turning bright spots into a repeatable success.
Soundview: What elements combine to form the purpose economy?
Aaron Hurst: The purpose economy doesn't describe the macro-economic shifts. [You can see] range of changes often being described as economies even though they are more like markets. One is a sharing economy through the growth of new services and platforms that are around sharing
resources. There's something called the maker economy which is about how people are increasingly wanting to create their own products by hand or partially by hand. That is cropping up in cities quickly. You see it in the local economy, which is more of a trend towards people buying locally,
experiencing locally, et cetera. You see it around sustainability. There's actually a whole market around buying goods and services that are more sustainable.
On the other side, there's a radical change in the work force, a macro trend, especially in the millennium generation. A big part of that is the freelance economy. By the end of this decade, 40 percent of the work force will be de facto freelancers. That's incredibly destructive. It's creating a
very different focus in terms of what employers are having to do to attract and retain talent.
Soundview: Why do so many people view purpose as a noun rather than the verb suggested by you?
Hurst: People tend to be fed a lot by the media that's around people having revelations or finding their cause. Also, social media and other platforms are constantly asking, "What is your cause?" People come to believe that you have to find out what you cause is whether it's
puppies or the environment or health care or education. People really find meaning in their work and their life. You can very simply prove that's not the case by seeing how many people work today with tremendous purpose and have no causes associated.
A lot of people [also] work with causes with no purpose associated. We've been caught up in this idea that to get purpose we need to have a cause. We need to find cause instead of realizing purpose comes every day in our work, if we're aware of it and embrace it instead of trying to look for some
external solution in a cause.
Soundview: In the book, you suggest that one way to move a market is through bright spots. What can be done to leverage bright spots and help perpetuate them?
Hurst: The key is you have to realize that almost any challenge that you see, someone has solved that before. It may be even possible someone has figured out how to do it and done it in some environment. It's a question of now with communication being so easy, how do you go out and
find out where that's already happened and worked? Then figure out why did [the idea grow]?
Don't try to replicate it or think about how to take your shovel, dig it up and then try to transplant it but instead figure out what were the key ingredients? Was it the soil? Was it the water? What was it that made that idea grow in that environment? Then try to replicate those things so that it
fits with the environment you bring it into. If you fundamentally look at a challenge and you say, "I know someone who's solved this before. Who has solved it," and you work hard enough, you almost find someone who has solved it. Just by looking and learning from what they've done. What seems
impossible becomes very doable.