What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid it was either an astronaut, football or baseball player. Religious teaching taught us it was our duty to find the purpose for which we were put on this Earth. And I sure tried. I was thinking about all this as I listened to presentations at the CMO Club marketing summit last week in Manhattan. Speaker after speaker delivered innovative ideas that spurred my imagination of what is possible for my pretty cool camera store in New Jersey in this new age of big data, beacons, Internet and social media marketing.
And then our keynote speaker, Vicente Fox, the former President of Mexico spoke. What, I wondered, would his talk have to do with clever marketing?
“There’s no limit to what you can do in your life with a purpose,” he said, “but it is a purpose that has to be for others.” Those last words hit me like a ton of inspiring bricks.
I had an opportunity to speak privately to Mr. Fox and asked how he found his purpose in life. Why did he choose to be President of Mexico?
He told me it is about serendipity and “reading the signs in your life.” He told me started as a delivery driver and ended up as President of Coca Cola for Mexico and then all of Latin America. He decided that it wasn’t rewarding enough. He left Coca Cola, after turning it into the number one soft drink in Mexico and against the pleadings of the board, and went “back to the farm to help the people.” He did not grow up dreaming of being President of Mexico. Rather, he got involved because he had grown so frustrated with corruption and the hopelessness he saw in the people of his country. He won an improbable victory in the 2000 presidential election, that made him the first president elected from an opposition party since Francisco Madero in 1910 and the first one in 71 years to defeat the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
He didn’t have to go looking for his purpose. His purpose found him. “But it has to be for others.”
If I apply that thinking to my life, I know joyfully my purpose is being a single father and sole parent to my five children (and sharing with people what I’ve learned). I didn’t see this as my purpose 18 years ago when my wife, and mother of those 5 kids, one still in diapers, left us for good. I was terrified and thought about running away. I did not sign up for this but fortunately the signs were there to be read and followed in my life. I manned up and chose to care for my children.
Back then, I knew I had five children and like most fathers I loved them, knew it was my responsibility to provide for them and had strategies and data for achieving my goal. But earning money to be responsible and having purpose have taken on two different meanings for me.
Everything I do in my business and in my marketing, whether I am moment by moment conscious of it or not, is first for others. Even though they are now all in their twenties, first always are my children and my purpose is to be their dad.
And it is in knowing for sure now of my own purpose that I have enthusiasm really for all of my life and have the energy and love as well for my business.
And it has to be for others.
Maybe that is the simple core of what really makes marketing work.