If you do any work on developing vision, mission…or purpose, it would be a good idea to pick up a copy of It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For by Roy M. Spence, Jr.  I first ran across Spence when I read Mavericks at Work and GSD&M, the Austin based marketing and advertising company he serves as chairman and CEO, was highlighted more than once as an example.

I asked for a review copy when I noticed the subtitle: Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven By Purpose.  Believe me, I was not disappointed.  This is a great read and packed with lots of ideas, principles and practices you can use right away.

There are several very important features with this book.  First, it opens with three very important chapters on distinguishing purpose from mission or vision, how to discover your purpose and how to articulate your purpose.  I loved the fact that all three of these chapters were very practical and included tips and exercises designed to make it happen.

Second, going far beyond discovering and articulating purpose, in Part II and III Spence wrestles with building an organization that makes a difference and becoming a leader of great purpose.  One of the coolest things about these sections of the book is that they’re heavily seasoned with stories from some of the most dynamic purpose-driven corporations (including Walmart, AARP, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, and Charles Schwab).  You’ll come away with many, many stories that will inspire you to think differently about the task at hand.

Finally, Part IV provides a detailed examination on the subject of bringing purpose to life in the marketplace.  Covering corporations (Walmart, BMW, etc.), membership organizations (AARP), nonprofit organizations (American Red Cross), higher education (Texas A&M), and sports (PGA), the case studies in this section provides extensive detail of the strategies (marketing, human resources, business objectives, etc.) that brought purpose to life.

While Roy Spence is clearly a brilliant and very successful marketer, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For is not a book about marketing or advertising.  In fact, in one of my favorite quotes from Part IV he writes that “the more an organization understands its purpose, the more it can create products, services, and experiences that will create a strong brand in the marketplace.  Truth be told, advertising is very far downstream in the process of building truly great brands (p. 156).”

This book is about discovering and learning to articulate purpose.  It’s about building an purpose-based organization.  It’s about becoming a purpose-based leader.  Sounds like the kind of thing all of us could use more of.  This is a great book and I’ll be recommending it to many of my consulting clients.

It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For