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Image of Chip Walker, a man with black rimmed glasses and white hair looking off-camera as if listening intently.

Episode 3: Chip Walker

Head of Strategy, Partner at StrawberryFrog

Leaders everywhere are stepping up to take a swing at purpose, but something is missing: a framework to move from words to impactful action.

Full Transcript

Narrator: Purpose Haze, a new series featuring Scott Goodson. Founder of StrawberryFrog together with New York Festivals. It will de-fog purpose through in-depth interviews with those at the forefront of purpose driven companies.

Narrator: Watch what happens when the smoke clears.

Scott Goodson: Hey Everyone, welcome back to Purpose Haze And we have a really great show today. We're going to

Scott Goodson: Navigate right through that big, thick fog of purpose with one of the most interesting, brightest minds in the space. Chip Walker, who has worked at a number of

Scott Goodson: Companies both inside of the advertising world and the change management world, but also in large organizations like Bloomberg and is now the head of strategy at Strawberry Frog and has worked with this topic of purpose for many years. Welcome to the show.

Chip Walker: Thank you, Scott. It's great to be here.

Scott Goodson: So the theme of the show, as you can tell, is insights that help us penetrate this wall of fog. So what do you think are the most important insights when it relates to purpose?

Chip Walker: Well, I think some of them are super obvious. And you would think that they would go without saying. But but apparently not. And I'd say things like, you got to do something with it, which again, you would think obvious, but harder than it looks.

Scott Goodson: People just come up with a purpose and then what they expect it to naturally just grow.

Chip Walker: Yeah.

Scott Goodson: Yeah. Like magic beans that just automatically grow.

Chip Walker: Exactly. I think there's often a lot of excitement within especially a large organization around developing a purpose, and you can get a team together to figure it out, and then you announce it and you put the sign up and make the coffee mugs and the t shirts and it's great. And I think there's often an expectation that something's going to happen, especially if a lot of employees say they're excited about it.

Chip Walker : But so often, you know, purpose tends to be lofty by nature. So a lot of times people aren't really sure what they do next. So six months will pass, a year will pass and nothing really happens. And then the leaders are left wondering why. So that's a biggie. There are I mean, there there are others. There are times when employees, for example, in particular or consumers too, that they just they they don't get your purpose.

Chip Walker: Sometimes it's because the purpose maybe is a little up to sorts, but more often than not, they just don't have any context.

Scott Goodson: But is it I mean, purpose must be pretty hard. I mean, these CEOs and CMO's and other leaders, they have to almost get into a different space with their brand. They have to get into that sensitive, you know, empathetic space where you're trying to empathize with what's going on in the world. How a tough is that, do you think.

Chip Walker: It can be really hard. This is something that they didn't teach in business school. Now this is kind of a new thing. Yeah. And I think it's it requires a little bit of a different mindset. As you said, more of an empathetic mindset. It requires you to think about stakeholders above and beyond the ones that you're you're normally taught to think about, like shareholders or employees or suppliers.

Chip Walker: You've also got to think about the community. You've got to think about the society. You've got to think about your impact on the planet. So, so that's new. But but as I said, I do feel like you see a lot of leaders rising to that challenge. They're jumping on the bandwagon and doing that kind of thing. And you see it all the time.

Chip Walker: You hear folks from CEOs of BlackRock and other major companies.

Scott Goodson: So it's a hot topic

Chip Walker: Yeah, It's I don't think it's a mystery the way that you've got to think to do it. It's new. Yeah but again, as I said, I do feel what is missing is a very easy sense of what do we do next once we have a purpose.

Scott Goodson: So you wrote a book called Activate Brand Purpose.

Chip Walker: with some guy.

Scott Goodson: And it was it, I don't know, some floozy. Anyway, the book is all about activating a purpose.

Chip Walker: Yeah. Which is why we wrote the book, because we thought we found it was a big problem.

Scott Goodson: So I have a question for you about the book. Why is there a coffee mug on the book? I guess it's a coffee mug.

Chip Walker: There was a haze. And I think I don't know, it just sort of came through it. No, I'm kidding. I think, you know, when you think about action and activating and getting your energy up, you know, the A cup coffee like have a cup of coffee rest, get ready. Let's go do something very nice.

Scott Goodson: And in that book, you, I guess, address the point you just made, which is it's hard to do purpose. There's certain things that you should do. Can you talk about some of the highlights in the book that you think are really important you talked about doing rather than just being that's, I guess, philosophically a big thing, but do you have specific steps that leaders should take if they want to sort of take that purpose and let it hunt, as they say?

Chip Walker: Sure. Sure. Well, and, you know, there's the whole topic of just just developing purpose and articulating purpose, which is important. And I don't want to make it sound like it's not that's not really what we were dealing with in the book. And so it's a separate conversation. I actually don't think it's that hard to figure out what your purpose is, but we were focused more on activating it, and I think a lot of times what needs to happen, we find, is that you need to kind of put purpose through a lens to make it super actionable.

Chip Walker: So if you hear a purpose like, you know, one of our well-known clients that, you know, lighting the way to financial wellbeing was a client that we'd had who had as a purpose, which is great. Lovely purpose. It sounds good, but you don't necessarily walk away knowing exactly what to do with it.

Scott Goodson: If you're a front line employee, what do you do with it?

Chip Walker: Yeah, I mean, it may make you feel good about working at the company, which is great. But again, what do I do?

Scott Goodson: So what do I do? That's something that leaders should think about. We got to give people something to do it.

Chip Walker: Exactly. If people do not know how to take action, your process is likely to sit on the shelf in the about section of your website. And increasingly you start getting accused of things about like being inauthentic or doing purpose washing, which I think is so often unfair because it's that sort of signals that there was bad intent on the part of the leaders trying to do this.

Chip Walker: And I don't find often that that's true. What I find is that they had really great intentions. They just didn't know how to make it actionable. So getting back to your question, what can you do? One sure fire way that we found. There's not only one, not only one, but one that we've found works really well, is this thing that we call movement thinking.

Chip Walker: And the whole idea is that people can't necessarily join a purpose, but they can join in and act on a movement inspired by your higher purpose.

Scott Goodson: Yeah.

Narrator : Anyone can build a brand and change the world. No, seriously. All it takes is one person to make one idea happen in one corner of our hyperconnected world and an entire global cultural movement is ready to go by the next time Zone Sunrise. In fact, it's happening right now. Culture is changing as we speak in ways that you might not even notice until BAM, it's changed.

Narrator : Look around you. Most likely all you see is the past brands yelling at the world. It's a dancing chicken. Look at me. But ideas can be more than just temporary, and brands can be more than just one campaign from obscurity. When you have a movement, all of a sudden we're not just asking to be noticed. We're deciding to be part of something.

Narrator: We're igniting passion. We're revolutionizing hope. We once again think differently. And brands need that more than ever. Because when you connect people together around what they deeply believe in, it's a powerful thing. They won't just change a brand. It will change things for good. StrawberryFrog Cultural movement makers.

Chip Walker: So for the example that I was giving earlier, it was for SunTrust Bank. It was you know, they had a purpose of leading the way to financial well-being, which is great. Launched it, announced it. But we ended up creating this thing called the on up movement to activate the purpose. And it was really all about placing ourselves in the shoes of everyone who was living through financial hardship, financial anxiety, the things that that, that everyone deals with in terms of their finances on an emotional level and trying to help people become more financially confident.

Chip Walker: So it was a way of framing, lighting the way to financial well-being in a way that we said, you know what, We're going to challenge all of our employees and ourselves to make all Americans more financially confident. That's what leading the way to financial well-being really means.

Narrator: Hold your breath. Hold it.

Narrator: Hold it. Keep holding.

Narrator: At first, you feel fine. Then panic sets in. What you're feeling now is just like the financial stress that millions of us feel. It's like you're drowning. Meanwhile, big things, little things. The moments that matter slip away. SunTrust is about to help America catch his breath by lighting the way to financial confidence to help you make smart choices, to move forward.

Narrator: Onward and upward. So now let go and breathe.

Narrator: Feel that relief. Take the first step. Join the movement. At

Scott Goodson: That feels like a bigger idea than a bank mission. So is does a purpose the movement make it a nobler cause? Does it make. Is it kind of make the heart beat faster? Do you feel yourself part of it? Are there elements? What do you need to make that movement become motivating and galvanizing and mobilizing of people, consumers and employees and all that?

Chip Walker: Right. Well, I think really strong purposes are often emotional, but I think a movement can even ratchet up that emotional factor even further. And the reason for that is that it puts it in terms of thinking about what we as a company and a brand as organization are for versus what we're against.

Chip Walker: What is it that we're railing against out in the world, given what our purpose is? So in the case of SunTrust, if we're really about lighting the way to financial well-being, what are we railing against? What would we fight over? And really, this notion that people are sitting there with financial anxiety was was was a real enemy that we could attack.

Scott Goodson: So you're not talking about fighting against your competitor?

Chip Walker: No.

Scott Goodson: No. You're talking about a bigger idea in culture.

Chip Walker: Exactly.

Scott Goodson: A monster out there.

Chip Walker: There meaningful to folks. And that gives you a sense that really, really brings that sense of mission and purpose down to a really granular.

Scott Goodson: Something that people are going to run home. Pick up a pitchfork and go and fight.

Chip Walker: Well, I mean, in an ideal.

Scott Goodson: Not talking about January sixth, I'm talking about like, you know, yeah.

Chip Walker: There's something about.

Chip Walker: It's something that we would fight over that we believe in strongly enough as employees and as the organization that it's an enemy that we want to vanquish.

Scott Goodson: But I mean, I joke about January sixth, but in effect, that's kind of what they did, kind of take a stand against something and then for something and you really polarize people. Right.

Chip Walker: Well, you know, I mean, the downside of polarization is what we see in our society. But having a four and against actually can heighten the emotional impact of almost everything we do, which is kind of the idea behind movements.

Scott Goodson: Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. So the examples like the environmental movement, right, they have a for and against their we know what Greta Thunberg is fighting for and what she's fighting against. When you mention these words and immediately think of movements. Okay I get it. So you're I mean that's a pretty controversial idea to take a social movement construct and apply it for the purposes of marketing.

Chip Walker: But it's also very.

Scott Goodson: Business transformation.

Chip Walker: Idea. It's a very it can be a very practical idea when we think of the smart car example that we worked on a strawberry frog. Yeah, it made a lot of sense because it was smaller at a time when people were looking to save money. It's probably cheaper. It uses less gas, it's easier to park, it's more convenient.

Chip Walker: So a lot of like rational reasons to want to buy a smart car. But I think what we landed on in thinking about a movement for the smart car and making them a more purposeful brand is the fact that you know, the urban landscape had become really kind of blighted by things like gigantic SUV's taking up the road, causing air pollution and making urban life the landscape kind of drab and sort of over overcrowded.

Chip Walker: So, you know, we could have tried to sell the smart car on being faster, cheaper, more convenient. But I think we identified this this enemy of kind of a decimated urban landscape due to these giant SUVs and this notion of could we actually try to help restore the urban landscape to a more pristine state so that life is better in cities for people

Scott Goodson: So you get a clear enemy and who you're for and what you're against and so forth?

Chip Walker: Exactly. And you're just saying that it's really controversial. I don't feel like that's controversial. Is it better to sell this car based on convenience or the impact it's having on people's lives in cities? That seems like a much a practical idea and a smart idea.

Scott Goodson: So I guess in a way, you could say it elevates marketing from being manipulative science to somewhat manipulative, manipulative still, but for a greater good for, you know, I can.

Chip Walker: Say for a reason that that benefits everybody. Everyone okay, that's the idea.

Scott Goodson: Yeah. Okay. And when you sit with leaders, CEOs, CMO's and so forth, do they get it? They see how they can play a role in the world other than just making better widgets?

Chip Walker: Yes, I think it's one of the reasons that we wrote the book is we were having so many and this is 2017, 18, 19, having so many top leaders coming in and saying, Well, we've developed now our third purpose and didn't know what to do with it when we introduced them to adding this lens of movement thinking, I think a lot of times it clicks for people.

Chip Walker: It makes it a lot easier to execute on.

Scott Goodson : In your career, you've probably come across purpose statements that are pretty, you know, mediocre at best or at worst. They're copies of other companies that have the same, you know, our purpose is to do good or something like that. So the movement in effect takes that doesn't say that's a horrible purpose, it just takes it and makes it it it activates it.

Scott Goodson: So that becomes a movement.

Chip Walker: Yeah, I think. Yeah, you do run across sometimes, especially in certain industries. I mean, the purpose statements of the leading competitors aren't radically different, right? And it's just kind of how you execute. Yeah. But when you put it through that lens of what we were for and what we were against, you start to have many more opportunities to make something that's not not only emotionally more resonant, but distinguishing for the company.

Scott Goodson: Do you feel like and I would assume on a purely executional level, when you think about activations, if you're activating on a product level, you can be humorous, you can kind of be cheeky and creative to get attention, but in the purpose you use the movement, maybe there's more depth, there's more to work with, maybe. Do you think the creative tends to be better with movement, a bigger palette, a bigger canvas, or do you think it's smaller?

Chip Walker: I think it tends to be always more emotionally resonant. But I think what's important to point out, and the Smart car example is a great one of the movement that we developed for Smart Car was called against Dumb, Smart Car. It's called aAainst Dumb. And it was kind of playing up all the kind of craziness with the giant SUVs and all that kind of stuff.

Scott Goodson: Mass overconsumption.

Chip Walker: Mass overconsumption as dumb and smart philosophy as, you know, the smart way to go.

Narrator: Why do so many smart people do dumb things? We buy stuff we don't need left and right. That's dumb. We buy things without the least concern for the planet. And that's even dumber. We buy stuff from a sky store catalog. Dumbest move ever. Dumb events when dollars is plenty dumb requires multiple remotes damage two for one when all you are is one.

Narrator: Dumb is eating anything bigger than your head. Dumb things 12 MP Change is A-OK when it comes to consuming things. America's got a fever of 100 and dumb and there's only one prescription to get smart about our stuff by having just the right stuff, not all of it. By buying more, we need borrowing what we can. So long battery operated paper towel dispenser we don't need you anymore.

Narrator: Come to think of it, we never did. Let's put an end to mindless consumption. Let's take the junk out of our collective trunk. That's the whole idea behind Smarter. We're against dumb, come join us! smart.

Chip Walker: And it was a somewhat humorous campaign. And I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I think movement thinking makes marketing activation, I think more emotional and more important. But it doesn't have to be serious. Sometimes it is and sometimes it's not.

Scott Goodson: So it can be funny and quirky and.

Chip Walker: Whatever. Yeah, yeah. I guess it can actually lead to very distinctive and differentiating kinds of creative.

Scott Goodson: Yeah, against dumb is kind of quirky and funny, but at the same time, you definitely know if you're a smart car driver, what you're for, right? You're not for this, you know, McMansions and hot dog roasters that are 2026 across. So yeah, that makes sense. Do you think that every brand deserves a movement?

Chip Walker: Every brand deserve a move?

Scott Goodson: Can any brand do a movement?

Chip Walker: I think it is. It is possible for any brand to do a movement. Is every brand ready to do a movement? Maybe not.

Scott Goodson: Okay. What about purpose fails? Can you talk about where, you know, obviously there are successes and movement is one way of solving that. How do most failures not how do they happen? But what are the big purpose fails?

Chip Walker: Well, we talked about the PR, the leaders don't know what to do with it. So we talked about that. Yeah, we talked about the average person, whether their employer or the public just doesn't get it. You see that sometimes. But the one that probably drives me the most crazy is when the purpose doesn't seem to have any connection to the company's business.

Chip Walker: The example I frequently use and I hate to pick on people, but I'll do it anyway. My favorite.

Scott Goodson: Drumroll.

Chip Walker: Yeah. Yeah. My favorite example was from three or four years ago when it was a part of the Planters brand. It was called Nut-trition. Anyway, I think it was a better for you nut brand, right? And they came out with this purpose that was all around promoting equal pay for women, which is great. And they did a whole campaign about it.

Chip Walker: TV ads, everything. And they were pressed once, I think by Ad Age or somebody like, why is this relevant to your brand? And they said it was because not paying women equally is nuts.

Scott Goodson: So pay quality for a nut snack.

Chip Walker: Yeah, it then it didn't work out for them. So that's just like.

Scott Goodson: Why should a nut snack be advocating? I mean, obviously that's equal pay is great, but why would a nut snack be the relevant brand and talk about it?

Chip Walker: And I think that's where all these issues with things like inauthenticity and purpose washing just get exacerbated when people are like, why? Okay, interesting idea. Why are they saying it? That is an extreme example. But you do have folks saying the same kinds of things. Even for a great brand like Nike that was doing all the work in and around Black Lives Matter, I mean, there's some people who, I don't know they ever really got like why they were doing it.

Chip Walker: So I think there are times with nut-trition where, for example, they probably needed to rethink that purpose. There are other times where I just think brands like Nike just they could probably help if they were more explicit about doing this.

Scott Goodson: I think the biggest criticism that I'm if I'm remembering this wrong, I don't know. But I remember the case of Nike, the advertising felt like it really sort of leaned into the the culture of America in terms of black culture and sports culture. But in reality, none of the vice presidents were black. They're all white men. I know that the new CEO that came in focused on that as a main issue, and I believe there's been some change.

Scott Goodson: But I guess when you hold yourself up against that yardstick, you really do. Or meter stick depending on what your part of the world you're in. When you hold yourself against that measurement, you can't just advertise it. You really need to have it in the center of the company. Like how important is purpose activated at the core of the strategy of the company?

Scott Goodson: How important is that versus just a marketing campaign?

Chip Walker: Well, it is of vital importance. And you were talking about purpose fails and that's yet another one where your purpose ends up living in the marketing department as a marketing strategy and informs, say, campaigns and that kind of stuff, but really is not adopted throughout the rest of the C-suite and is not really driving business strategy, things like hiring and promoting. Chip Walker: And it's a lot of hypocrisy. Yeah, yeah. And I don't as I said, I don't think a lot of it's intentional. I just think this is still.

Scott Goodson: Thought about Yeah, yeah.

Chip Walker: Exactly.

Scott Goodson: So in a good way it's driving positive change throughout the business world, at least large portions of it. There are still places that use purpose in a different context because you created something called the Purpose Power Index, which is the world's biggest or first empirical study of measure of purpose brands. And there are brands that are on the right politically, their brands are on the left politically, and their brands in the middle.

Scott Goodson: Can you talk a bit about that? Sure. And where people could find the Purpose Power index?

Chip Walker: Well, it's easy to find. It's just The power index being one one word. You can read about it. We've done three waves of it. So it's a fairly large scale study. Each wave is five or 6000 people in the United States. And we really ask people, we developed a way with research company.

Chip Walker: We developed and validated a way of determining the degree to which the average person thinks a particular company is, is has a greater purpose beyond making money four questions, we ask people to figure that out, and it never really been done before. And we did it in 2019, 2000, 21, 2022. And I think what we've seen over time is, yeah, you're right, there are brands on the left, brands on the right, but I think some of the strongest brands don't really skew left or right.

Scott Goodson: Can you talk examples of which ones are at the top on the left and which ones not necessarily left, but those spectrums.

Chip Walker: And every year we've done it, it's gotten broader and more mainstream. The brands that people at the public considers to be purposeful, let's say the first year, a lot of times it was more social good brands like seventh generation, you know, environmentally conscious brands like Methods the cleaning products, Ben and Jerry's, which is has a history of doing social good.

Chip Walker: So these were social good born brands, even brands like USAA, which is just really always been for veterans. So these are social good by nature

Scott Goodson: Insurance company, Rite.

Chip Walker: Aid, financial Service.

Scott Goodson: Financial.

Chip Walker: Services. So it's not to be honest, it's not surprising people would do those brands. It's purposeful and that's great. What we've seen in the past couple, three years as CEOs have gotten much more interested in purpose. It's a lot of established and larger legacy companies are getting a lot more credit for being purposeful. So this is companies like Truist, a large bank which has made purpose at the center of everything it does.

Chip Walker: This is companies like UPS, which has really doubled down on purpose in many ways under their new CEO.

Scott Goodson: So those are the mainstream. Which ones are on the like left and the right.

Chip Walker : The left and the right.

Scott Goodson: Like big left one. Well, Patagonia.

Chip Walker: Yes, Yes. Well, obviously.

Scott Goodson: In Europe that would be considered mainstream, but that's here in America. But it's good to tell it like it's left here. And then the right would be something. Like what?

Chip Walker : Well, I mean, I don't know that they would like to say that they are on the right, but but who've been considered on the right or brands like Chick-Fil-A.

Scott Goodson: Okay.

Chip Walker: Considered fairly purposeful but probably lean a little bit more on the right side. Got it. Okay. Brands like Hobby Lobby, they've often been put on the right side and their skin is at least somewhat purposeful. On the on the left hand side, you have brands like Patagonia, Ben and Jerry's, obviously brands like The New York Times really lean much more in that direction.

Chip Walker: But I got to tell you, the very strongest brands at the top of our list, I don't feel like lean politically left or right.

Scott Goodson: To sort of the center judge.

Chip Walker: I think a lot more on what they're saying and what they're doing. And great example of a purpose success story is Pfizer. Over the last three years, in 2019, they were near the bottom of our list of over 200 brands. Of course, the pandemic happened. They had a very, very strong response to it in developing the vaccine that they did.

Chip Walker : And listen, I know there are probably a lot of issues with it, but the public really took notice. I think they were now the number 11 brand in 2020 to 20 2022 out of over 200, based on, I think, their actions. I mean, pharmaceuticals are hated. So I mean, so to me what that says is that it's a very dynamic EQ topic purpose that you can go from zero to hero in a very short amount of time based on how you act, what you do and what you say.

Scott Goodson: And I suppose the opposite right? You can go from here to zero.

Chip Walker: Yeah, we see some examples.

Scott Goodson: You don't have to get into names, but okay, what sectors? I mean, I would assume like technology probably. I mean, they started in the good, you know, the box of good social media. Social media, they were kind of seen as helping democratize the world and I guess over time, they're now seen as the naughty, naughty ones.

Chip Walker: Well, several of them were low in 2019, and they stayed low. And some of them took up took a big, big, deep dive. So social media has suffered a lot. I'd say there's some brands and financial services that have suffered somewhat in the past two or three years. So you're right. You know, you can go up in the ranking, but there there were some brands that went down, unfortunately.

Scott Goodson: In terms of purpose today. And clearly there is a lot a lot of different opinions about purpose and there still is a lot of different interpretations about purpose. Some leaders think it's a mission, some things purpose, How how do you see it? Do you think it's going to be easier in the future for people to understand what a purpose is and how to do it?

Scott Goodson: Is it just a matter of learning and doing and getting better and training? Do you think that's it or is there some other issue?

Chip Walker: You mean like leaders or managers inside companies?

Scott Goodson: Yeah, well, everyone, every practitioner, whether they're on the inside the organization or outside working at an agency or some kind of partner. Do you feel like there's going to be a common vocabulary, a common way of understanding and doing purpose? Because it seems that it's still really new that a lot of people like it's the talking item everyone's talking about, but doesn't seem that there really is a lot of clarity about what it is and very few people very I think it was less than 25% of the CMO's are actually activating purpose.

Scott Goodson: Do you feel like they're we're going to get to a point where we understand what purpose is and how to do it or is going to take a long time or is going to be relatively fast.

Chip Walker: I think due to the proliferation of media and social media that it's it actually is moving pretty fast. Okay. I mean, I mean, just think about what it was like even five or six years ago when you went in to talk to clients. Chances are they weren't talking about things like purpose. At least they weren't. They weren't. They weren't for me.

Chip Walker: So I think it's moved very quickly that this is front and center for many, many, many clients. As I said, I think the outages that they still don't know how to do it yet. But in terms of like the vocabulary and the definitions and that kind of thing, it is still fuzzy. I think it will get clearer with time.

Chip Walker: So if you take particular think about the marketing world where there are certain concepts that anyone in and around, whether you work in marketing or not, you just kind of know you just got to focus groups of regular people. They'll talk to you about your brand's demographics and its positioning and its personality and all that mean that everyone in America, at least probably in the Western world, knows a lot of those terms.

Chip Walker: I think probably within five years we'll start to get that way with the purpose world where people understand the difference between a company's purpose, its vision and its values. For example, those are three biggest purpose purposes, why it exists. Vision is where it ultimately wants to go and values this kind of what are the gods for the way it behaves.

Chip Walker: So I think at some point those will be a lot clearer to people.

Scott Goodson: And you're doing a service by writing books about it, so that's a good thing. But getting back to the corporations, companies today, so CEOs or CMO's or whoever launches the purpose and they hope it's going to, you know, be just a euphoric response within everyone's going to applaud and it'll grow and automatically take root.

Chip Walker: At the town hall meeting.

Scott Goodson: To have a town hall meeting. Can you talk I know you've written about something called a purpose gap. Can you talk about what that is and how do you how do you solve for the purpose gap?

Chip Walker: Yeah, purpose gap is a big topic and there's some different ways to define it. And unfortunately, there's a lot of gaps in the world of purpose. So I'd say the biggest one we've uncovered that it's just very kind of tactically concerning is last year as part of the Purpose Power index research. We, we polled company employees at all levels, a representative sample of several thousand employees.

Chip Walker: So, you know, all the way from frontline workers to managers all the way up to top, top of our company, top leaders. And what we found was that there was a huge gap in both understanding of and engagement with company purpose. And the gap is most notable between, say, frontline workers or specially junior employees and senior management. Senior management tends to be on board, engaged, understand it, love it.

Chip Walker: The lower you go down the food chain in an organization

Scott Goodson: Where you Surprised by that?

Chip Walker: You know, I guess not in theory. I was surprised by how extreme it was. It's almost as if folks in senior management, when it comes to purpose, are living in a very different world than folks who are frontline workers or especially junior workers. And when you think about it, I guess it makes sense. But as I said, I was surprised by how severe it was and that, you know, folks in senior management, you know, they can go to a cocktail party and say, well, I work for X, Y, Z, and we're changing the world for the better by doing whatever.

Chip Walker: If you're a frontline worker, you know, you're probably not having those conversations and you may not get how your company is changing the world.

Scott Goodson: Do you have creative examples of how you've solved that issue where people like, say, the employees hard to reach employees are being reached by being creative and how you reach them or something like that.

Chip Walker: Yeah, Yeah. Well, there's how you reach them. I mean, there's first and it gets back to what we were talking about with the movement is that you got to find a way of talking to people and activating people in a way that's easier for them to understand. So let's just say you've done that. We talked about that already.

Chip Walker: Then you've got to find a way to reach people. And having a single town hall is typically not enough. So we've worked with companies like we worked for a very large retailer where it was very hard to reach frontline workers. You know, you can't just email them or text them. They're, you know, in, you know, on the front lines and harder to reach.

Chip Walker: So we've done all kinds of creative things, everything from just doing training, making it easier for managers to have critical conversations about purpose and what to do with it all the way through to certain media choices. We actually ended up using paid media for a particular retailer in that we were able to geofence their stores and identify their employees and able to to get them the adequate messaging to help them understand what they were supposed to do.

Chip Walker: And this was centered around purpose and well-being. But we're able to finally kind of reach them an environment where it was hard to do so for that.

Scott Goodson: So geofencing, the stores tracking their mobile phones. Delivering messages through their social media so that they hit. Was that successful?

Chip Walker: Yeah, it was. Okay.

Scott Goodson: So you can be creative in the message, You can be creative in the media choice. It really challenges you purpose to really think differently about solving some of the issues. It actually seems like it puts a spotlight on where there's real failures inside corporate messaging and corporate engagement.

Chip Walker: You know, we do a ton of work inside companies helping them engage their teammates, their employees. And what we find is just a truism, and it's true across every industry, every company, almost every person we talk to, people seem to almost have an allergy to internal communications for their company, especially if it's about things like corporate wide initiatives like purpose or things like benefits.

Chip Walker: You would think they would want to read the news, but they just won't. Right? So actually getting in front of people as you go from middle management down through frontline workers is a real challenge.

Scott Goodson: So so I mean, I'll just we'll end our conversation on this last point, which is it seems like creativity is moving from creative as a message to creativity as a problem solver, you know, we think about the evolution of the creative services industry from advertising agency, communications agency, to creative solving problems. Some of the problems you've identified here, it seems like it could be the new frontier for for agencies to use creativity and strategy to help solve some issues.

Scott Goodson: Because you have the consultants on the one hand who are very good at strategic ideas but don't do the execution. And now you're talking about people that actually do creative activation.

Chip Walker: Well, yeah, that's an interesting area, so I'll just give you some reactions. I'm hoping that will make sense. Yeah, I just feel like when you think about what we've done in creative industries, historically, a lot of times it has been skewed more towards marketing. Yeah, or at least towards brand. And the model was really about trying to be different in a competitive environment and using things like messaging to do that.

Chip Walker: So what's your most creative Super Bowl ad that you can do to make your potato chip seem crunchier than someone else? So we've all been trained that way. I think particularly as we move into purpose world, we're moving above that. The problems that we're dealing with are broader and bigger. They're at the heart of the company is not just what you're saying in your Super Bowl commercial, it's the hiring you're doing.

Chip Walker: What is the makeup of your senior management? It is how are you treating your employees? What is your employee wellbeing? It's everything inside and outside the company that impacts all the stakeholders. So I do feel like as we move more into this purpose world, that it gives creativity a broader sort of palette of problems to potentially solve.

Scott Goodson: Well, Chip Walker, it's been a pleasure having you on the show, Purpose Haze. I know you had some he was the focus group of one and had some feedback on the name of the show.

Chip Walker: I just didn't know if I would you moving into a haze. But you've told me we're actually breaking through the haze. We're breaking through the haze.

Scott: And you did that today. You're a haze breaker. So thank you for being a haze breaker. And I hear you're writing a new book now, which hopefully, once that's done, we'll have you back on.

Chip Walker: Okay. Wonderful.

Scott Goodson: Thank you for being here. Thank you for being here, I should say.

Chip Walker: Thanks a lot.

Scott Goodson: Thanks for joining us again, Another great show. And stay tuned for our next show. See you soon.

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