DAY 1 (or “My fingers are prune-like with purpose”)
8:47am Eye-popping shapes on Burton Street’s sidewalk led purpose-lovers to the Eternity Playhouse. Parked out front, the Little Hopper coffee cart featured Joseph at the helm, serving up lattes in Purpose-branded KeepCups. This is starting to sound like the commentary on a horserace, so let’s rewind a little, yeah?
Purpose, a two-day event hosted by WildWon, kicked off this morning in a particularly sunny Darlinghurst. As always, it was a beautiful treat watching humans come together to pull something of this magnitude off. As someone who witnessed just some of the “pulling together”, I can assure you the people behind it are delighted to be in this game.
Also, we can’t proceed without recounting the very moment we learnt Justin Bieber’s newly-dropped album was titled Purpose. “There goes our hashtag,” said everyone. Sure, we played around with sub-par variations (#withpurpose, #forpurpose), but decided that we boast enough rad speakers, attendees and volunteers to help drown out the Beliebers in our feed.
At registration, attendees were given their gorgeous laser-cut nametags, nay necklaces, and were asked to select their choice of “wild” – a cactus, mountain, gumnut, wave or storm cloud. This conversation sparker in the form of a wooden pin was designed to get you thinking about nature; about which landscape most speaks to you. Here’s a peek for those who weren’t there.
9:03am During the opening plenary, we met our host, Matt Wicking – a musician, freelance facilitator and sustainability consultant. He began with an acknowledgement of country and a word of context about why we’d gathered today (to shake shit up and make the world more purpose-filled, of course). Then Wildwon co-founder Sally Hill took to the stage to welcome everyone to the event that’s been a couple of years in the making. “It’s magical to see it here and real,” she said, a bevy of paper clouds hovering above her. “Success is no longer about making money any old how. It’s possible to be extremely successful with values front and centre. It’s about businesses doing it right from the start and not causing harm in the first place.”
9:27am Our keynote speaker, author and accountant Jane Gleeson-White, in Reshaping Capitalism and Redefining Success in Business, outlined different types of capital, giving an example of how traditional definitions don’t quite cut it for a company like Twitter.
1.10pm The insights and Tweet-worthy utterances carried on after a quick morning tea of pastries and fancy pressed juice. In the Commons courtyard, WildWon’s other half, Yvonne Lee, facilitated Keeping Technology Human – a panel made up of a technologist, a computer scientist and a history grad. The crux was that business is changing before our very eyes and that while this seems to stir up a collective anxiety in people, this needn’t be the doomsday outcome we think it will be.
The panel touched on the collective anxiety around the future of work, such as jobs being automated and robots running the world. Brad Lorge explained, “Technology is changing the way relationships work”, citing the example of volunteer habits having changed. He posits that there used to be people keen to devote every Sunday to volunteering. These days, there is no fixed commitment and, instead, participants offer two hours here and an afternoon there. “We’re getting variables and uncontrollable elements. Using machine learning and big data, we can begin to understand these patterns of behaviour.”
1.42pm Imogen Baxter of Sendle soonafter nailed the sentiment of not keeping up with technology with this: “If you’re not sat at the table, you’re on the menu. If profits are all you’re thinking about, you’re kind of f*cked.” She reckons that almost all jobs will experience a technology revolution and thankfully the most boring parts of your job will be the first to change. “These days, it’s the fast eat slow, not the big eat small. It’s not a future we should be scared of, but one we should be pumped for.”
Brad Lorge of Premonition and Foodbank Local agreed. “Technology lets you do so much more. Technology comes hand in hand with progress.”
Meanwhile, directly below this panel in the Commons Basement, Tom Quinn and Felicity Ford of Future Business Council presented The Next Boom and their report of the same name. In their research, data showed that sustainable options outperform the competition. “We found compelling evidence that sustainability should not be seen as a cost, but a business opportunity,” reads the report.
A healthy debate was in full swings, with one participant hungry to know, “What are the values of the future? What things should I weave into my business to future-proof it?” Blogger of Make Do Co Johanna Scott offered her solution: “Can I ask – what are your values? Get clear on those and you’ll attract others who share those values.” Now that’s the business of the future.
2:51pm Post hummus and carrot sticks, Matt Wicking led us in a most excellent rainstorm, with participants clicking, stomping and slapping their thighs at varied intensities. In the words of someone in the back row, “It totally sounds like rain!” (It totally did.)
Post rain, we had the lovely Karen James from On Purpose Hub relay her endless insights, such as: “Purpose without an ethical rudder will steer us into the rocks.”
Later, Simon Griffiths of Who Gives a Crap, told us of his attempts to change the world with beer and toilet paper. We were skeptical too, but his idea is solid – start Shebeen, a not-profit bar in Melbourne that sells beers and wine from all over the world, and what’s generated after rent and staff costs goes to beneficiaries in the developing world. The TP refers to his start-up, Who Gives a Crap, which featured in the venue’s loos.
To risk running long, we’ll wrap with Suzanne Boccalatte, who talked succinctly of the importance of brand. What stuck was this nugget: “Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.” They being your clients and customers. Highlighting the need to articulate who you are and what you are doing.
4.08pm Finally, we can’t possibly tap out without calling out Mark Daniels of Social Traders, who, despite a lack of slides and notes, argued that “procurement can be the greatest agent of social change.” His tale of working on a public housing estate in Fitzroy gave us ample background as to how his sense of purpose took seed. His business now is to ingrain social enterprises into the supply chain.
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