Ep. 204 Making a difference

making a difference

In this week’s podcast, Anna looks at making a difference in your work.


There are so many different ways in which you can make a difference. Get creative and think about how you can make an impact in your immediate team, in your broader organisation, and in your community.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The Outsiders Business Incubator – A year-long business incubator for experienced corporate professionals who want to translate their skills and passions into a profitable and fulfilling business. onestepoutside.com/9to5

Making a difference

Welcome back, and we were talking last week about being bored at work. 50 P, my mum used to charge me when we said bored or boring, and how good is the enemy of the best. Now, another of the phrases I hear coming from prospects and clients again, again, is I want to make a difference. How can I make a bigger impact and this is something I think is perhaps human nature. But it comes back again and again. Right? It comes when we’re leaving university first coming out of school. What’s it called bushy tailed, and innocent and naive and exciting, wide eyed and bushy tailed, I think is the expression. When we’re coming out of uni, and we’re thinking I want to change the world, I’m going to do this something other, it can come about, again, when we’re feeling a little bit, oh, I’ve been in this job so long, I don’t feel like I’m really seeing the success that I want. Or at least I have the success in fact, but it’s not as meaningful as I thought it would be. When we have children. As we get a bit older, we might start thinking about the legacy we’re leaving to future generations.

So this idea of making a difference is massive.

And, of course, unless you’ve lived in a dark hole, for the last years, you will have heard all the talk about purpose driven businesses, and impact driven, you know, these words are really becoming quite all pervasive in the corporate context, as well, some of whom are of course, only paying lip service to the concept, but really want to make a difference. Now, when I worked in the corporate world, the message from the company was all about the consumer, and it was about the end consumer and touching lives, improving life. And that was the bigger meaning and of course, a company can have that bigger purpose. The question is, are you connected to hat purpose until you feel that makes a difference. So when you’re feeling that you can’t wait, you’re not making a difference. Rather, when you’re feeling a bit trapped, you’re thinking I’m not making a big enough difference. There could be a few reasons for this right? One could be the nature of the work now I was working in the so-called ivory tower of the Global office. So I’m super strategic and visionary. And that’s really my strength. And I love that kind of work. However, I was really far removed from the local teams, let alone from the end consumer, right, we do some store checks, as we call them, I’d meet some of the local offices, we deploy our strategies, but then ultimately, they’d be in charge of getting the product on the shelf and doing focus groups and so on.

So the nature of the work could be that you feel really far removed from the actual difference that your product is making. Another element that could be driving this is the industry right now. I always have to say this with no judgment of other people who can find meaning in this because it is so personal. For me there came a point when selling what somebody once called smelly water for spotty teenagers pretty offensive all around selling luxury perfume and beauty products to well off people in northern Western Europe, America and so on. felt disconnected, right, it didn’t feel like I was making a difference. did the world need another 300 perfume launches, which we had every year and so on, right. So, in particular, for me again, coming out of university, I had that very naive belief, having studied international relations, and developing economics and politics and so on, of wanting to make a difference. And it’s such a vague idea that we have, having had such clear cut definitions of careers when we’re younger, right, you can be a fire, fire, man, I’m going to say because that is what the identity was when we were growing up, you can be a nurse, you can be a vet, you can be an astronaut, they’re very clear cut. Of course, in the real world, that’s not the case. And even so, making a difference to me, I put that into black and white box of I have to work at the UN I need to work in a charity.

So I applied to lots of jobs, in different UN organizations, NGOs, internships, and so on right and charities, and so on.

What I want to challenge you on though, if you need this, I certainly need this is in getting creative about how you’re going to make that difference. Because we don’t have to and perhaps that’s obvious now at our mature age, we’re wiser than we were we were 20 Odd. We don’t have to work in a charity or be very wonderful to do so. A very admirable. It doesn’t have to be changing to an industry that fundamentally does create a product that is going to solve a world problem. Don’t write doesn’t have to be it can be. And hopefully some people are doing those things. By the way, one thing that I didn’t have in my notes that comes to mind is there’s a book and there’s an organization called, I want to say 80,000 hours, which is a couple of Oxford graduates who have really looked at how can you make the biggest impact. And as far as I remember, their recommendation was actually get a job, any job that’s well paying, and then give 10% of your money to charity. Now, of course, we can’t all do that. But the message they were giving was that you know, one person becoming a doctor, you can only help the people that you happen to work with, in your practice.

On the other hand, if you become rich, and then a philanthropist, let’s take a Bill Gates, you can have a lot of money to set up foundations and to cure malaria and so on. Right. So it’s an interesting perspective. Now, that wouldn’t, I mean, that would involve you postponing, I guess your desire to make a difference, it means that in the meantime, you’re going to be just pursuing your goal of getting rich, which might not even be a goal. And it also feels a little far removed in that if you really want to work with people on a day to day basis and make a difference in people’s lives, then, you know, just giving your money to an organization isn’t going to cut it. But again, there are so many ways to make a difference. And I’m trying not to add any value judgments here. Because it’s really up to us, as individuals and my perspective be very different to yours, I’m sure. But think about this, you can make a difference by being an incredible inspiring role model leader for your team, right in your current organization. Even if you’re disconnected from the end consumer, you don’t feel engaged with the industry anymore, you can be an amazing leader for your team, you can be a fantastic manager. But above all, you can role model and be that leader mentor for your younger individuals in your team, you can really foster talent management, and training and mentoring and so on. That’s a huge way of contributing to the future workforce, to future generations and leaving a legacy.

You can be a visionary in your industry, whether you’re at work in a an organization, or you’re on your own as a solopreneur or as a business owner.

This is where your personal branding and thought leadership comes into it. But you can really speak up about the things that matter, I follow a couple of incredible people now in different industries, for example, in recruitment, and really speaking out on how messed up the system is at the moment, giving some pretty provocative views on this and really making a difference, of course, for the individuals that they’re working with, helping them get their dream job and so on. But also communicating these really important messages to a broader audience. So you can be a visionary for industry, write a book, launch a podcast, interview, people post things on LinkedIn, you know, travels, speaking, telling people, your truth, and so on seeing what you see predicting the future, whatever it is that your skill and experience allows you to do. But you can really make a difference by driving the future direction of the industry.

If you see a problem that needs solving, then put that out there and start working on trying to find a solution.

Of course, you can also make a difference in a voluntary capacity right outside your job. So maybe you can volunteer at your your children’s school, you can train up their sports team, you can help out on the boards and so on, I haven’t gotten to this age yet, we’ve got the kids at nursery at the moment. So I don’t know the exact ins and outs on this. But I know my sister was very involved, I named my aunt has been very involved as well. So there are lots of things you can do, of course, why your children as well bring your talents there, you can have a so called Side Hustle side hustle kind of makes it sound a bit dirty and hard work. But it could be a project alongside your full time job that allows you to express more of your creativity, work more closely with individuals work more in that kind of zone of genius. So if you’re a little bit bored and and disconnected with the values and message of your day job, then by all means start something again, speaking of LinkedIn, where I’m spending quite a bit of time at the moment, somebody was saying how much they have learned from starting a small business alongside of their job, it doesn’t mean you have to quit and go all in on that business. But it’s an incredible learning opportunity, meeting people super rewarding, again, making a difference.

And of course, there are opportunities perhaps to be on a board, you can be a fractional CMO, CFO, there are so many ways in which you can make a difference. So of course it all comes down again to what’s your definition of making a difference. What does that impact look like for you? What is that legacy and on whom that’s really important. One client I spoke to about this said, You know what, my my legacy, the impact I want to make is on my immediate family, that’s what matters. And that’s beautiful. And that’s incredibly meaningful. Someone else might have bigger goals of really being that visionary for the industry. You want to have people know who you are. We’re when you die, you’re on the you know, think of the obituary, you want people to write for you in the future. You want something really tangible left as a legacy, whether it’s in the form of books that you’ve written, or messages that you’ve spread, and so on, right.

So that TED Talk, of course, hopefully can live on for a long time. What’s your idea worth spreading? So Really think about how can you make a difference. And by the way, at the micro level two, we can make a difference in every day of our lives, right with every person we meet, I have, of course, moved away from my naive notions of having to work at the UN to make a difference, to now trying to make a difference in my clients lives, helping them find a way to make a difference. Rather than me just going off to work in a charity, I’m now helping much larger numbers of individuals go off and find their purpose, I’m helping them as individuals. But I’m also, again, some humility here, but I’m taking some pride in this and some ownership of this, that I, I’m also helping people that they’re helping, right? Because the fact that I’ve helped this person come to a space where they’ve identified their incredible idea, they’re reaching more people and so on, that means that my message in my work is being amplified, and going out into the world, right, which is incredibly meaningful. And again, it’s every day in your life, can you be kind to a stranger?

Can you be a better partner, parent, friend, daughter, we can make a difference is a really different way. So I encourage you to really reflect on what what is it that’s missing for you? What is the difference you want to make? And then, and we’ll talk about this another week, be flexible and how you get there. It’s the one that’s important, right? It’s feeling like you’re making a difference each and every day. In fact, I was chatting to a client about this and in one of our coaching sessions, and we were saying, you know, what, if your definition of success, your bigger purpose is to help someone every day. And of course, it was more specific than that, then ask yourself at the end of the day, have I helped someone? Yes or no. And that is your metric for success. Right? That is if you’re making a difference in one person’s life every day, what does that mean? What does it look like? So I’ll leave you with that for now. Making a difference.

Let’s get creative about what that means. If you feel like you want more meaning more impact and more difference in life, what is that? What does that mean to you? What does it look like? Who is it that you want to impact Who do you want to work with in what capacity and let’s get really creative about how we can make that difference in our lives, but most important a in other people’s lives. Thanks so much for listening. I hope that was useful, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now. Thanks for listening to reimagining success with Anna Lundberg. Before you go make sure that you subscribe to the podcast so that you never miss an episode. I’ll be back next week. I’ll see you then.

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