Client Story - Teach Starter's Purpose Journey

This article was written by Scott Tonges from Teach Starter documenting their purpose story.   Full story here

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As Simon Sinek would say, “it starts with ‘Why’.”

At Teach Starter the ‘What’ is evident in our work. What we do is create the best teaching resources for primary and elementary school teachers around the world.
 
But the ‘Why’? Well, that’s a tougher proposition.

The ‘Why’ inspires us. It’s our purpose. It gets us out of bed every morning to do what we do. It brings our team and our community together to share in a common goal.

To find our ‘Why’, we had to dig a little deeper…

The Story So Far

Like seemingly all modern-day startup stories that emerge from humble beginnings, so too does Teach Starter.

Perched high on a hill overlooking the Bli Bli valley on the Sunshine Coast, was my grandparents’ home. Taking refuge from Queensland’s famous summer heat,  Jill and I sat under four great mango trees that lined the perimeter of the property’s western fence line.

A month earlier, the idea for Teach Starter began coalescing after I had helped Jill create a customised sign for her classroom, using Photoshop. Her colleagues soon requested their own versions.

Under the mango trees, Jill and I spoke at length about what other resource options were available. We concluded that we could provide quality, well-designed teaching resources that children and teachers alike would love to use in the classroom.

We spent the next six months creating resources to send out to our small but growing subscriber base, in a free monthly email. Our website was nothing more than a landing page, encouraging other enthusiastic teachers to sign up for free resources.

By January 1, 2013, we were ready to launch the Teach Starter website with over 200 pages of teaching resources (we now have over 40,000 pages). For a small fee each year, members could download all of the resources we offered. To our surprise, someone signed up on the first day.

Over the next four and a half years, Teach Starter grew from a team of two (Jill and I) to over a dozen talented, creative and unique individuals.

The Moment of Clarity

I think all along,  Jill and I have known our ‘Why’. We have just had difficulty articulating it. From what I have read, this is not uncommon. After a number of failed attempts we knew we needed help converting our thoughts into words.

For us, business has always been about more than the bottom line. Revenue is essential for the sustainability of a business; however, it shouldn’t come at the expense of all else. We have a responsibility to our team, our community and to those without the means to seek our help. It was with this in mind that we embarked on obtaining our B Corporation certification.

As described on their website, “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee”. It is a rigorous assessment of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

We had found our people!

A few weeks ago, Jill and I were invited to attend a B Corp morning tea to find more information about the assessment process, and hear from other certified B Corps within the community. It was at this meeting that we met Tim O’Brien.

Tim helps to build and transform businesses for positive impact, through his company Hatched.

Tim was the spark we needed to pull our ‘Why’ from the clouds and share it with the world. We spent three intensive days talking through all aspects of Teach Starter with Tim and our team, and at the end of it, were left with this…

Our impact model:

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To say I am proud of this sprawling scribble is an understatement. It is Teach Starter. It is the summation of five years of incredibly hard work, late nights and tough conversations, mixed with good times, milestones and ‘pinch-me’ moments. It brings a tremendous sense of clarity.

It is our ‘Why’.

The Future

Jill and I have always had grand ambitions for Teach Starter. Now we have a north star to lead us on a journey of purpose. We have our ‘Why’…

Our purpose is to make every classroom buzz.

We help children and teachers experience that state of happiness from being deeply engaged. We help teachers to feel that positive energy radiating from their classrooms when their students have had an ‘aha moment’. We want to encourage a love of learning.

Our vision is to inspire every child to build a purposeful and happy life through learning.

When we thought deeply about why we do what we do, it came down to our impact on the future. By providing equitable education for all, our dream is that more children will lead purposeful and happy lives, and this will flow on to future generations.

So why am I documenting and sharing our story?

As part of our impact model, we identified five key items we need to implement. The first item on that list is Storytelling.

I’m a huge believer that if you’re not producing content for social, your business is invisible. At Teach Starter, we are building a content team with the mandate of providing as much value as possible to our members, with no expectations in return. In order to prevent my own hypocrisy, it’s time I start being visible — one piece of content at a time!

So this is me, telling Teach Starter’s story in my own words, starting with ‘Why’.

Sinek would be proud.

- Scott Tonges from Teach Starter

Purpose Washing.....is it a thing?

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As Hatched hits the 18 month mark it has got us thinking.  Something keeps popping into our thought bubble.   Something is starting to unfold.  Something is up with purpose.  

Just like green washing was a thing, is purpose washing about to be a thing?    Are companies going to be, or are already, spending more time talking about their purpose as opposed to living their purpose?

Recent interactions with our amazing clients have this thought continually popping up:

·      Some of our clients are seeking to find another word for purpose, something different, even asking what happens beyond purpose?  

·      There is a bit of a joke i.e. not another one, going around the US at the moment for the 1-for-1 models i.e. you know the buy one of our products, we’ll give one to a person in need.  A wave of new start-ups are pushing this as a marketing exercise instead of leading with an exceptional product/service and it being a heartfelt added bonus.

·      Then the tricky one, some of our clients have undertaken purpose work prior to calling in Hatched.  What we are finding is purpose and impact are constantly getting confused as branding and another communication tool, as opposed to organisation design or redesign.

It is really exciting to see many companies are starting out on the purpose pathway.  Purpose-led companies should not be an exclusive thing, it something open to all businesses and is becoming a prerequisite for doing business.

Going on the purpose journey is actually really hard work.   It’s also the most exhilarating and rewarding thing you can do for yourself and your business.   It’s not something you can fake or only put one a toe in.

It takes a powerful yet vulnerable leadership, and collective self-awareness.  You need to uncover everything about yourself and discover the best form of yourself.  You need creativity, courage, willingness to commit, hard conversations and a little bit of magic.  

Defining your purpose and impact model is a human process.  There are isn’t a playbook.  If someone tries to sell you one, then walk away.  It’s about creating the right conditions for purpose to emerge through empathy, collaboration and connection.

So with this in mind here are seven tips for those on the purpose journey:

1.      Authentic: everything you do needs to be you. You must walk the talk all way through your business.   Once your purpose is defined, call out what doesn’t align and address it.  Include all your staff.  Trust me, these hard conversations are powerful and transformative.   Customers can sniff an inauthentic company a mile away.

2.     Integrate:  sounds boring yet this is where the power of purpose lies.   Companies get pretty excited about defining the why of their business and quite rightly so!  However, doing the work doesn’t stop here.   You actually need to integrate everything around your why, which creates the purpose.  This includes integrating the way you work, the meaningful experience your customers have, your core values and impact you have, including any impact initiatives. 

3.     Outcomes:  all of this work needs to actually deliver something.  A lot of people forget this bit.  Purpose work is practical work.  It needs to deliver outcomes, it needs to further your business objectives i.e. make you money, and it needs to elevate the impact you choose to have.

4.    Embed: one of Hatched’s two principles for implementation.  To be authentic you need to embed purpose into the everyday. It almost needs to become unremarkable, invisible, something that just is, everyone knows it and does it.   When customers interact with it they feel it.  This is what creates great companies.   Every stream of work you do needs to have purpose at the core.

5.     Connect:  the second of Hatched’s principles. Purpose doesn’t work unless every single one of your staff understand it and their own purpose is connected to it.  Involve your staff in the process of forming your purpose and following its creation, ensure everyone goes on their own personal journey to find this connection.  Support them through conversations and developmental experiences.

6.    Conflict: should be embraced.  Don’t shy away from the hard conversations, the opinion of others that do not align or the big decisions.   Ask the hard questions and repeat left field comments to find the meaning in it.   There will inevitably something that needs to be addressed, make it everyone’s responsibility, call it out and act on it.  Conflict enables creativity and clarity.

7.     Humble:  tell your story your way.  Make sure you actually tell your story (many of my clients are so humble they prefer not to).  People want to know what goes on behind the scenes.  Create a storytelling approach that is a natural extension of your purpose and personality, and you’ll see a huge impact.

Hatched is looking forward to the next 18 months to continue to partner with its clients rewrite the rule of business and grow their impact.   On this note, there is another tip which is critical.  Find someone who can guide you through this process.  It is intimate work, so find someone you trust and knows their stuff.

All the best for your purpose journey.

Hatched xxx

 

Oh so for those still contemplating the question, what is beyond purpose?   I’ll leave the detail for another post but the next evolutionary step for business is likely to be contentment and meaning.  We might need to redesign our whole economy to make this possible but it is exciting!

Hot House

In collaboration with Monica Bradley (innovator, board member, occasional ABC national rock star) Hatched is launching The Hot House.   A free, no-strings attached fast, fun and ferocious 3 hour session to support hot business solving wicked problems.  

Are you an impact entrepreneur looking to ignite your business?  Well enter the Hot House by emailing hothouse@hatched.io.  Appearing the last Friday (or so) of every month.  Applications now open for Brisbane.

Hatched is a B Corp

Hatched B Corp

After opening its doors one year ago, Hatched announced today that it has become a certified B Corp joining the movement across the world using business as a force for good.

Reflecting on the announcement founder Timothy O’Brien shared “we are proud to become a B Corp and join a network of diverse businesses who are redefining what it means to be successful. B Corp’s have an ability to solve complex problems in a creative way and uniquely support each other.  B Corp’s continue to demonstrate greater levels of profitability, customer and staff engagement, along with growing investor interest.  It is now a case of not if, but when other businesses will start to follow”  

Timothy goes on to share why he started Hatched “my desire was to help business leaders connect to something more meaningful and build their business to be a better form of itself, not only for it to be more successful, but ultimately something that they can be proud of.  Importantly, we seek to create a deeper connection for staff and customers, and once you get this mix right something magical happens”

Hatched’s own magic is a mix of a human and creative approach that connects with individuals across each organisation to build a compelling impact model and then using this new platform to tell stories, innovate and creatively solve problems. 

Hatched has been working with start-ups, scale-ups and those more established to either build or transform their business to have an impact in the world.  This means designing and implementing a model that goes beyond just business to impact. It includes defining its purpose and values which translate into an internal and external meaningful experience.

Timothy continues “it is my belief that many businesses are using outdated practices in the face of growing competition, complexity and global uncertainty.  Key to continuing to navigate this is knowing yourself better and having clarity, once you have this it is amazing what flows”

“Not only am I proud that our work has helped our client’s businesses become stronger it is also about the impact we have achieved. Hatched has an impact sharing model with our clients and we have contributed to helping get people in 3rd world countries out of poverty, putting farmers back on the land by giving them a fair go, and helping local communities become more resilient”

Hatched continues to grow through increasing its associate network which brings in individuals with unique skills for exciting projects, and will soon launch an advisory and mentor subscription based service.  For more information visit www.hatched.io or email hello@hatched.io

Perspectives

We have been encountering some tough yet powerful conversations of late - which is just the way we like it!  They range from implementing a company-wide diversity approach, designing a coaching program, initiating collaboration for system-wide textile recycling and thinking through how to shift customer’s perspectives for the benefit of the wider community.

Whilst very different conversations there was something similar in each.  They started from an intention to use standard business practice e.g. frameworks, policies, quotas and metrics, to achieve each outcome.  Whist potentially helpful in some way, shape or form this was not the right conversation, at least initially.  What became very clear is that in order to achieve each intention you must first start with the individual.

Let us explain a little more……

Occasionally at the airport we browse the magazine rack a pick a few random ones to read on the plane (this is a very useful habit given that you normally read the same papers, blogs and watch TV shows which reinforce the way you think)

One of the magazines we picked up today, amongst a selection of mostly celebrity gossip or high end fashion (very revealing!), was Rhythms - Australia’s Roots Music Magazine.   Flicking through we came across an interview with Ian Brennan an American producer/author who travels to remote places in the world to find new bands and artists who have never been heard before.  It turns out he produced one of our favourite albums Tinariwen’s Tassili album, a Sarahan Tuareg band. 

Now check out this exert from his interview where he talks about accepting a Grammy Award on behalf of the band:

“This award means a lot to them (Tinariwen) because it means they are being heard. The entire album was recorded outdoors in the biggest desert in the world.  They began their career over 30 years above making free tapes for their friends, and playing on broken homemade instruments….Music unites us and music saves lives.  When we listen to each other, we know there’s the potential to understand each other.  When we understand one another there’s the potential for empathy. And where empathy exists, hate cannot continue, and there’s a chance to rise above it”

He also goes onto make a simple point about non-English speaking bands:

“….if people think its too hard to understand lyrics in other languages, they should realise it’s a small mental change, an adjustment of attitude.  And we should also remember that it’s an adjustment that the whole rest of the world makes everyday to our English.”

Whilst listening to the rest of his recordings (go check it out - http://ianbrennan.com) it made us reflect on our recent conversations.  It is a powerful example of taking time to seek out other people’s worlds and perspectives, and how something so simple can create change.   The specific point that hate cannot continue when empathy exists is significant given the world is getting smaller and things are getting a little tense.

At Hatched we believe this understanding can be cultivated if businesses start simply with the notion that their role in “developing people” is simply to help them be good humans.  This can be achieved through setting the right rhythms where individuals can grow, connect with each other, and share perspectives - especially on topics not directly related to work.  This is mature leadership that is soft, yet strong and transformational.   This could simply be creating new rituals allowing some space for this to happen e.g. taking time once a month to learn about and from each other, or potentially more challengingly - to engage leaders in role modelling this behaviour by being more vulnerable and human so people can understand and connect to them.  Those few companies who have got this right, have achieved extraordinary results, just take a look at Bellroy.

We believe for true change to happen and to tackle issues like diversity it starts with investing in human goodness.    Borrowing the words of Ian Brennan, “it’s a small mental change, an adjustment of attitude. 

Would love to hear your perspective…..get in touch

 Hatched

    xox

Profitability

At Hatched we are getting serious this week.  We are going straight to the big issue, MONEY!

The number 1 question we get ask is does doing good actually make you money?                       To which we respond……of course.                                                                                             To which we typically get someone leaning in and whispering oh come on, really……you can tell me……we know it feels nice but does it really make money?

Let’s just visit a traditional successful business check list:

  • Better stock market performance and financial results
  • Resilient to unstable economic conditions
  • Lower cost of accessing capital
  • Consumer trust, preference and loyalty
  • Growing interest with investors
  • Innovation

There is overwhelming evidence emerging that shows good companies are proven to outperform the competition in the areas listed above.   Some people see doing good as a distraction when it facts its attractive, its serious and its a competitive advantage.

Don’t be fooled by our corporate hippie appearance, we are actually very practical people at Hatched.  We take pride seeing our clients outperform the competition in terms of profits, share price and any other metric you’d like to throw in.  Making money matters, it verifies that your business is sustainable and ultimately enables you to have an even greater impact in the world.  Good businesses are proven to be more resilient, productive and ultimately more profitable.  It is an absolute no brainer. 

In case there is still a sprinkling of doubt in your mind, we are going to take you on a quick tour of the facts:

  • The Good Company Index ranks the Fortune 100 companies in the US based on a number of criteria that they consider makes a company good. The latest report can be found here.  The team at Good Company Index compared the stock market performance of those scoring higher on the Good Company Index with their competitors.  The results showed Good Companies outperformed their competitors by over 40% points.  
  • Similar findings exist if you just take those companies that have been listed as the Great Places to Work, better companies had lower turnover and better financial performance see link
  • A similar pattern was also revealed by a local Australian investment advisory agency who said their internal analysis verifies that those companies that go far beyond compliance have significantly better stock prices and profits (hopefully they'll share the evidence soon!)

Better stock market performance and financial results TICK!

  • A 2013 Cone survey of 10,000 people across 10 countries explored companies with a social and/or environmental benefit
    • 96% of global citizens have a more positive image of that company
    • 94% are more likely to trust that company
    • 93% are more loyal to the company (i.e. continue buying products or services)
    • 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality
    • 92% would buy a product with a social and/or environmental benefit if given the opportunity, and more than two-thirds (67%) have done so in the past 12 months
  •  2016 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals
    • 80% of people agree that a company should take specific actions that both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community it operates
    • 8 in 10 people agree that CEOs should be personally visible in discussing societal issues
    • 50% of people who believe trust is falling in big business say so because it fails to contribute to the greater good

Consumer trust, preference and loyalty TICK! 

  • During the financial crisis, B Corps were 64 percent more likely to survive than traditional businesses  

Resilient to unstable economic conditions TICK!

  • Between 2012 and 2014, global assets of socially responsible investing in the US rose to $21.4 trillion, from $13.3 trillion—an increase of 61 percent, which outpaced the growth in total professionally managed assets

Growing interest with investors TICK!

  • A study by Deutsche Bank revealed:
    • 100% of the academic studies analysed in the report agree that companies with high ratings for CSR and ESG factors have a lower cost of capital in terms of debt (loans and bonds) and equity
    •  89% of the studies we examined show that companies with high ratings for ESG factors exhibit market-based outperformance, while 85% of the studies show these types of company’s exhibit accounting-based outperformance

Lower cost of accessing capital TICK

  •  The 2014 Profits With Purpose report by McKinsey revealed that companies pursing purpose and sustainability opened up new value creation opportunities.  The image below outlines the possibilities (big warning on the green sales and marketing, this can go badly as it needs to be done with authenticity and elegance) 

Innovation TICK!

So there you go.   The last thing we wanted to share is that we’ve had some unexpected conversations of late with CEOs and/or Company Founders who are openly admitting to us that they are no longer waking up in the middle of the night concerned about how much money they are going to make but what legacy they are going to leave and what impact they can have in society.   Business is changing.

Being Good Is Serious Business.

Hatched xox