In Pursuit of Purpose

We had to see it coming: Aaron Hurst, founder of Taproot Foundation and the guru of the pro bono movement, has moved beyond inspiring us to share our professional skills as a means to social good to building an entire economic sector around doing work that matters.

Aaron’s new gig is CEO of Imperative, a cadre of social entrepreneurs, product developers, economists and all-around brilliant creative minds. They’re on a mission to create a fully functioning Purpose Economy by 2020. The bottom line? Helping people and organizations uncover, activate, and monetize work that leaves a mark on this world — and making a good living doing it.

I got a preview of this big fat idea last winter, when I attended the first-ever Global Pro Bono Summit, hosted in NYC by Taproot. Our last exercise was to figure out – in 15 minutes, no less — how to transform the pro bono marketplace into a $20 billion economy by 2020. We burned up some post-it notes on that, let me tell you.

Those close to Aaron knew he was already at work on the Purpose Economy, writing a book while making the transition to Imperative. Ever watchful for news of the book release, I noted the announcement by Imperative just this past week of the Purpose 100, a compilation of people throughout the world who are deemed to be “transforming our innate need for meaning into the organizing principle for innovation and growth in the American economy.”

In a culture obsessed with the “awards season,” it’s refreshing to see people recognized for their bravery, creativity and tenacity in pursuing something larger than themselves.

I encourage you to spend a few moments with this list and consider the ways in which these remarkable human beings have channeled the talents, experiences and relationships they’ve cultivated in their lives into a force for good.

Then get out a sheet of paper and start looking for your purpose. It’s there, just under the surface, waiting for you.

Riggs Partners Receives Ten Awards at InShow

Riggs Partners Receives Ten Awards at InShow

COLUMBIA, SC (November 18, 2013) – Work developed by Riggs Partners was recognized for the 19th consecutive year at InShow, a juried competition showcasing creative excellence from across the state.

Riggs Partners’ winning entries included:

The agency also received a special judges award for the Palmetto GBA Annual Report.

InShow is presented by AIGA South Carolina, a chapter of one of the industry’s oldest and largest professional organizations. InShow was created 19 years ago by the Columbia Communicating Arts Society to showcase the very best work in the Columbia market. In 2004, AIGA South Carolina took over, expanding the event to a statewide competition.

“InShow is always highly competitive, and we’re so proud of our team for their success in branding, design and interactive for such a wide variety of clients,” said Cathy Monetti, founder and partner of Riggs Partners. “Plus, to receive a special judges award is the cherry on top.”

The value of pro bono

A recent article in the New York Times speaks to the importance of not working for free because it devalues all creative vocations, rendering our work worthless to a culture that often defines value monetarily. As a part-time freelance designer, I tend to agree with this premise in a practical sense. Why should I give my time, effort, and skills to someone at absolutely no cost? For exposure to new audiences? A chance to beef up my portfolio? The possibility of future work? While such offers sound appealing and may at times even benefit the creative, they are ultimately the equivalent of asking for a free 5-course meal at a fancy restaurant in exchange for a positive review on Yelp. Spending all your 9 to 5 efforts on a project for next to nothing in return could therefore be considered an insane waste of time.

Why then do we do it once a year, for 24 hours straight? Because pro bono is not just working for free, it’s consciously giving for free: giving of our time and talents to deserving nonprofits who’s jobs are to give of themselves every day; steadfastly giving back to our communities what they have so graciously given us — a chance to make the world a better place. As I reflect on CreateAthon and all the good that was done last week, I realize that not all work done for free is worthless or a devaluation of our creative talents. Pro bono work can in fact have far greater value when done for the benefit of other do-gooders. It’s this spirit of giving back, this CreateAthon, that continues a cycle of good in our community. This is our ever-so-small contribution to the continuing rotation of the great world around us. And for the joy set before us, we will do it again and again.

10 CreateAthon Secrets Every Volunteer Should Know

  1. Bring PJ’s. When you work all night, changing clothes a few times helps.
  2. Washing your hair at 5am helps you power through the last few hours. Also, your hair may look like you’ve combed it with a porkchop. I know this to be true.
  3. Bring tissues to every presentation. Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, you will.
  4. When you can’t make a decision, get another opinion. If it’s 2 a.m., get an intervention. Remember: “Think about it. Decide. Move on.”
  5. Try to eat healthy. Staying up all night is tough. It’s harder when you’re full of chocolate, cheezy poofs, cookies, Red Bull, popcorn, coffee, doughnuts, peanuts, tiny candy bars and Little Debbie Fudge Rounds.
  6. Deliver the extra idea. There are always extra little awesome details or ideas, make them happen. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many nonprofits. Go the extra mile.
  7. Be flexible. You never know what will happen. Go with the flow.
  8. Have fun. The 24 hours of CreateAthon is pressure packed. Take time to have fun. Stop what you’re doing, have a normal conversation. Hop on Twitter to see what other partner agencies are doing. Hold a 2am all 80’s dance party.
  9. Don’t be afraid. When you leave your last CreateAthon presentation, you will be so energized it’s almost hard to believe. You’ll feel empowered at what you did and gave. It’s a feeling that never goes away and only gets stronger when you volunteer again next year.
  10. Spread the word. There are many areas in this nation where CreateAthon could do 24 hours of good. We’d like to be there. You can help.

Watch the video below to get a sneak peek at the magic of CreateAthon.

How It Feels To See Your Photo In A “Top Ten” Lineup With Alex Bogusky and Dan Wieden

It was very cool, I must say, to be interviewed for the Fast Company 10 Most Generous Marketing Geniuses list. How pleased I am Riggs Partners is recognized alongside MTV and Bono’s (RED) as a championing voice for corporate social responsibility.

(How crazy it is to see my photo next to Alex Bogusky’s.)

Me. Alex. Wow.

I fretted over it all, I must tell you. I wanted to represent our company well, to properly tell the story of CreateAthon and the thousand ways it has impacted our company and the volunteers who are the true heroes of the effort. I wanted to properly express:

        • What a difference the 24-hour creative marathon has made for so many nonprofits in our community  (#famouslyhot) Columbia, South Carolina.
        • How CreateAthon has expanded to become this now international network of agencies working for good all across the globe.
        • How grateful we are to each and every one of those 80 agencies and their thousands of employees and volunteers for believing, for championing, for doing.
        • How CreateAthon on Campus — a model launched at Virginia Commonwealth University now making its way to campuses across the US — is not only helping nonprofits but also providing an invaluable learning opportunity for thousands of advertising, design, PR  and social cause students.
        • How CreateAthon brought RP to sit among the giants as a charter pledge company in A Billion + Change.
        • How we are now connected in meaningful ways to powerful corporate do-gooders like Aaron Hurst and Taproot Foundation; Jennifer Lawson and A Billion + Change;  Jackie Norris and Points of Light Foundation; Rachel Chong and Catchafire; and more.

How a tiny little idea, born right there on Lady Street 16 years ago, is now recognized as a national model for skills-based volunteerism. And do you know what skills-based volunteerism is going to do?

It’s going to change the world.

(So you can see, my friends, why I felt a little pressure to get the interview right.)

It has been a remarkable experience, this spotlight, this 15 minutes of fame. But even more remarkable is the realization that world-changing isn’t limited to rock stars, global corporations, and legendary leaders. World-changing can happen in the tiniest of companies in quiet little markets anywhere in the world. You just need a good idea and the willingness to press on even when it seems too hard.  (Thank you, CreateAthon banner-carrier Teresa Coles.)

It is hard. That’s the truth of it, this business of changing the world.

But boy, is it ever worth it.


If your agency, company or school is interested in learning more about changing the world as part of the CreateAthon network, please get in touch. We’re adding partners every day and we’d be thrilled to include you.