Charlie Garcia

Leading With Purpose | How to Discover Your Why

TBOP2017 ⋅ 21:52 ⋅ Filmed May 11, 2017

Have you figured out your purpose in life? It’s no small feat. But purpose isn’t something you should just “wing” or “figure out later”. It can — and should — define your personal and professional life.

Take it from successful entrepreneur turned non-profit CEO Charlie Garcia, founder of the wildly profitable Stirling Financial and current leader of the Association of Latino Professionals For America. Recently, Charlie has worked with Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson, whom he calls the Patron Saint of Purpose, to develop a “Purpose Constellation” for entrepreneurs. You could say Charlie’s purpose is helping you find yours — it’s that important.

Listening to the powerful advice his mother gave him years ago, Charlie explains how to find and refine your purpose — taking what could be a lofty, intangible topic and making it real, concrete, and achievable. Purpose, Charlie contends, is what helps us not only achieve greatness, but also survive unthinkable challenges. Using examples ranging from AirBnb to Ernst and Young, from Disney to Procter & Gamble, and playing video of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Charlie builds the case for purpose. Defining purpose can help us guide our personal lives and careers and steer entire companies in the right direction.

So what are you waiting for? Watch this keynote. Figure out your purpose. Change the world.

Further Reading

  • Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
  • Jim Collins, Good to Great
  • Richard Branson
  • ALPFA, the Association of Latino Professionals For America
  • Jim Stengel, Grow
  • Roy Spence, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For
  • Kevin Freiburg, Cause!
  • Ernst & Young


    I guarantee you these next 20 or 30 mins could change your life. And I want you to think about what are the two most important days of your life. The day that you were born and the day you figure out your calling, your purpose, your why. And that's what we're going to talk about today. Everybody with me? Alright.

    Identifying Purpose in Life

    [00:33] Why is it important to have a strong purpose in your life? My purpose is to inspire and connect others to achieve extraordinary things. And I ask myself everyday, who did I inspire? Who did I connect? And who is going to achieve something extraordinary in their life journey because I played a small part in it.

    [01:02] When I was being introduced, [the host] said I had worked for four Presidents of both parties which is true. But I had an interesting experience in that the President of the country I lived in for 20 years, Panama, Mireya Moscoso was in Miami watching TV and I popped up as a crazy this entrepreneur from Panama that she didn't know about. So she asked me to come to Panama and get the key to the city. I went to Panama and I invited my Mom, my wife and my kids went. And one of those strange coincidences that my mother was a 7th grade public school Science teacher for 22 years. When we got cleared through security and went into their version of the White House. There were three ladies of different ages and by coincidence, they had all had my mother as a school teacher in 7th grade. When they saw her, because they didn't know what I was her son, they went nuts like a rockstar just walked in. They started screaming and yelling and immediately went into the President's office and start telling the President how my mother had changed their [lives]. In about 20 mins, knock on the door and all the photographers come in and the President gets up, ‘Well, the key to the city for the teacher’.


    [02:35] It was one of those times where, you know, my ego couldn't have fit into this place here and I was very proud of my mom.

    [02:44] Later, having a conversation with her, she looked at me and said, "Son, this is for you to remember that your life will never be measured by all the money you have, the possessions you accumulate. It's not power. It's none of that. Your life will be measured by how many hearts you touch."

    [03:10] That [was] a turning point in my life. I looked at myself and started a journey around purpose. About being humble. About using my gifts to benefits others. I hope today, that journey will inspire all of you, whether you're an individual trying to figure out your why and your purpose or you’re leading a company or organization that you can put yourself and that organization on a purpose journey.

    Purpose Needs Direction

    [03:46] Your purpose needs to have a direction. Where are you going? We're not hamsters running around and around and around. And if your life seems that way, you need to take a deep look at it.

    [04:00] People with purpose have direction and people with purpose move the world. Think of Mandela, of Ghandi, of Steve Jobs. Think of incredible men and women like Martin Luther King, and what they've done because they've been grounded in purpose.

    [04:18] The research from the medical community shows that people with purpose live longer. If you read the blue zones - seven zones in the world where people live over the age of 100 - the common theme besides what they eat, is that they have a purpose. If you read Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, a gentleman that survived the horrors of the Holocaust, in seven days he wrote why he survived (and others) is because they had a purpose.

    [04:57] The Patron Saint of Purpose is Richard Branson, who has formed a B Team and The Elders and he's catalyzed various groups around the world and he believes that in this world, there can be no real profit unless you have well-defined purpose where companies are stepping into it for the benefit of the planet and the benefit of humanity.

    [05:24] Jim Collins who wrote the book, Good to Great discovered that the greatest companies in the world, in all the research that he did, were companies that had a clearly-defined purpose and they knew what their why was. Why they existed.

    Purpose & Coincidence

    [05:45] I'm living my purpose today in a non-profit called, ALPFA, the Association of Latino Professionals For America. And what we do - we're in 160 universities and growing and 44 professional chapters - is our purpose is to connect Latino leaders for impact.

    [06:07] This heart here, shows the process of how we take these interconnected circles of what you're good at, what your passion is, what you can bring to the world that provides value in your vocation. We look at the centre of it and if you can step into that purpose, you get such energy. And you're in a zone like some of the great hockey players you have here in Canada who said you have to be thinking not where the puck is but where it's going. I don't believe in coincidences, as all those coincidences that happened when I went to Panama. I believe a coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous in our life. And when you put your vibrations into the world from your brain which is a like a radio station that transmits and receives, all these little coincidences are going to happen. One of them happened to me today that I'll talk about.

    [07:13] I've had an opportunity to work with Richard Branson. This is a picture of us in South Africa, where at the end of this year, we're going to be launching a Purpose Constellation to provide the tools to entrepreneurs, to individuals and to large corporations, to step into their higher purpose. The gentlemen [and women] that are behind The Breakout Project have coincidentally designed a technology platform in the cloud with a Toronto-based company that I've been searching for a year! So, we will be collaborating them as well.


    [07:54] You're already having a huge impact and you didn't even know it.

    [07:59] We're trying to spark minds. We're trying to innovate. We're really trying to get everyone to find what is your purpose and step into it. if you get an email from me, you'll often see this at the bottom of the email, ‘Changing the world begins with a small group of people who simply refuse to accept the unacceptable’. And encourage all of you to do that.

    The Power of Purpose

    [08:30] A month ago, in April, I was with Richard on Necker Island where he lives 2/3 of the year and we were having a leadership conference on purpose. Of course, I had to put the picture there so you could see what it looked like from my room because it is so cold here. We're going to do one of these on Necker Island.

    [08:57] One of the individuals I invited is Jim Stengel. Jim Stengel is important because he was a young Marketing Office at Procter & Gamble which is a $220 billion Fortune 50 company and he took a couple of brands and he turned them around by focusing on purpose. In 2000, the company and stock of Procter & Gamble was going south fast. They brought back a CEO, A.G. Lafley and he picked this young man and made him Chief Marketing Office with 7,000 people and $8 billion budget and he said, "Ok, buddy. I saw you do it with those two [brands], try it with our other 20 brands".

    [09:43] What he did over the next 8 years was nothing short of spectacular. He first went to a WPP group company and they did research with a university in California and they researched 50,000 brands in 31 countries [across] 380 different categories. The results were crystal clear. Successful companies that articulate a clear purpose [act] as a talent magnet in bringing resources of people who are passionate about that mission and that company and whose alignment around values also attracts customers. That is the beauty of purpose.

    [10:41] His conclusion was that businesses that have a clear purpose substantially and significantly outperform their competitor and the research shows that there was generally five buckets of fundamental human values that improve people's lives by:

    1. 1. Eliciting Joy
    2. 2. Enabling Connection
    3. 3. Inspiring Exploration
    4. 4. Evoking Pride
    5. 5. Impacting Society in a Positive and Fundamental Way

    [11:15] Jim wrote a book. I want to leave you with some books. I'm a big believer that you should read and learn these things. His book is called, Grow and you can read about the research and also do a dive deep into these companies.

    [11:33] I want to show one of the inspirations for Jim, besides Jim Collins, is a gentleman by the name of Roy Spence. He has a great book that I also encourage you to read and it's called, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For and I would say that this is the basis for the purpose revolution.

    Changing the Paradigm - Purpose & Passion

    [11:58] And then a book called, Cause!. The Millennial generation, 80 million strong in the U.S. and globally much larger, they want to live a life of purpose and passion. I have 3 daughters and a son, I have four young millennials of my own and because they don't want to just come to work and work for money, they want to bring their passion to work, they are forcing companies who need to survive by recruiting Millennial to align themselves with purpose. We're going to talk a little bit more on how organizations are changing the paradigm.

    [12:42] It used to be the paradigm was you're going to have a mission, vision and goals and every year they kind of change the goals. But that doesn't work anymore. What the companies of today whether it's AirBnB, Nike or Apple, they have a purpose. They have an ambition. They have really values, not the same values that every other company [has]. They tend to be quirky and those values act as magnets to attract talent

    [13:17] Then they have a clear strategy, a real strategy. I would say 99% of companies don't have a strategy. A strategy is about making choices and most companies don't want to make choices and they get eaten for lunch. The individual that first came out with values, I'm going to show you a video when Steve Jobs was fired and he came back to Apple. This is a short 2 minute video that I want to show you that he was really ahead of his time.

    (Video of Steve Jobs)

    [13:52] Marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world. And, we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.

    Now Apple, fortunately, is one of the half a dozen best brands in the whole world. Right up there with Nike, Disney, Coke, Sony. It is one of the greats of the greats, not just in this country but all around globe.

    But even a great brand needs investments through caring if it's going to retain its relevance and vitality. The Apple brand has clearly suffered from neglect this area in the last few years.

    And we need to bring it back.

    The way to do that is not to speeds and feeds. It's not to talk about mix and megahertz. It is not to talk about why we're better than Windows.

    The dairy industry tried for 20 years to convince you that milk was good for you. It's a lie but they tried it anyway (laughing). The sales were going like this (Steve motioning a nose dive w/ left hand) and then they tried "Got Milk" in the sales were going like this (Steve motioning a raise in sales w/ left hand). "Got Milk" wasn't even talking about the product in fact the focus was on the absence of the product.

    But the best example of all and one of the greatest jobs of marketing the universe has ever seen is Nike. Remember Nike sell a commodity, they sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike, you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don't ever talk about the product they don't ever talk about their air soles and why there are better than Reebok's air soles.

    What does Nike do in their advertising?

    They honour great Athletes and they honour great Athletics. That's who they are. That's what they are about.

    Apple spends a fortune on advertising. You would never know it (laughing).

    [16:07] It was a grainy video but it goes (and the sound wasn't great) but it shows you the brilliance of Steve Jobs in creating a culture and a movement that attract the best talent in the world.

    Case Study: Ernst & Young | Defining Purpose, Ambition & Strategy

    [16:22] I want to show you a case study, of not an Apple, not an Airbnb. A company that most and many would think of stodgy and maybe a little bit boring, although they're not. And that is an Accounting & Consulting firm called Ernst & Young, EY.

    Phase 1 - Definition

    [16:43] They started on this purpose journey in 2012. This is what their band looked like and their tagline. And they changed it to this, ‘Building a better working world’. That is what they figured a were about and very clearly, they said this is our purpose, this is their ambition and they had some goals that were quantitative and qualitative. And they had a very clear short strategy not everybody could remember and explain

    [17:20] One of the Partners, who had been there for many, many years said, "For the first time in 28 years, someone explain to me on one page where we are, who we are, we're going and how we are going to get there". And that's tremendously inspiring.

    Phase 2 - Internal Focus

    [17:38] Once they knew that, be turned internally and they started talking to their people and others about what they were all about. They took out full-page ads in the Financial Times which was the manifesto of what building a better working world actually meant.

    [17:55] They got creative in all their offices, globally. Anywhere you went, that's what they were talking about and they started talking to their clients.

    Phase 3 - External Focus

    [18:06] In the next phase, which was external, they started thinking about how do we take this message to others all around and make you think better. And what happened, if you look at the the results of actually when people started joining the conversation and they talked about entrepreneurship, about empowering women, people got really motivated to come work at their company.

    The Results

    [18:39] These have been the results which is kind of the proof in the pudding. They were growing at 3-4% to today they're growing at 9%. Their employee base grew from 145,000 to 236,000 in a very short period of time. They are a talent magnet. They were ranked in the 20s, now they're ranked third globally in a group that measures their competition. In terms of best places to work, they went from 59 to 29. That is the power of purpose in a corporation that you wouldn't really think about being on the leading edge.

    [19:19] This gentleman also came. He worked with President Obama — and this is a great book, too — and then the former first lady on what they're going to do for the next 20 years. A lot of what they're doing now, is a consequence of his work.

    [19:38] It's a lot about, for you as you think about your purpose is, how do your unique gifts, talents and passion, answer a personal need in the world and in your community. That is what purpose is about.

    [19:55] Always have fun when you're doing your thing out there. Keep that in mind.

    [20:01] What is your purpose and ambition? What is your strategy make this planet and humanity a better place for everyone?

    [20:11] I want to end with this quote that you will also see if you get an email from me these days. I will leave you with this inspiring quote:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?

    You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

    We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    [21:30] Ladies and gentlemen go find your purpose and make a huge impact in the world. Thank you very much.

    Join the Movement.

    Subscribe to our newsletter to receive event updates, speaker and team announcements, exclusive offers and more.

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.