Books

The Purple Cow | Why It Matters & Giveaway!

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Do you have a purple cow? While Seth Godin may not be an author you are familiar with, this concept might change the way you think about fulfilling your mission, especially if your organization has been around for years and years. All too often, the experience within the purpose-driven community, especially among nonprofits, is a territorial one. It is a sense  of scarcity. The myth of a limited pie of donations is still strong. Many opportunities are wasted by focusing on what others are doing and how to guard the island of grants we've carved out.

But what would happen if instead of chasing dollars with dollars, after all it does cost money to ask for money, we invested some of that cash and effort into being remarkable.

Literally...remarkable.

As in, "I cannot believe how neat this project is. I want to be a part of this. I can't want to tell my friends and family about it."

The concept of a "purple cow" is just that...it's remarkable, unlike the hundreds of other white or brown or black-spotted cows. What do you do within your organization that is truly remarkable?

Thousands of organizations feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and save the children. What if a new organization opened their doors in your hometown with a remarkable way of fulfilling your mission better, or just differently? What kind of impact would that have?

We have entered an age of social innovation rather than "social work". Social entrepreneurs, benefit corporations, social enterprises, and impact investments are driving forward new ideas and testing opportunities to create a bigger impact.

While the recognition of opportunity within the social sector benefits us all on the whole, the climate is charged with tension. There is a divide between the old traditions - boring galas, silent auctions, and holiday appeals for the broken dishwasher - and the exciting pioneers who are pushing the limits and taking major risks.

Regardless of where you fall on the continuum, you're in a crowded field. What sets you apart? What makes your organization remarkable?

Wouldn't it be remarkable if the local homeless shelter installed a large greenhouse on their roof and the homeless and unemployed could work part-time farming food for the soup kitchen, building their resume and earning income?

Would you talk about a women's empowerment group that sent young women to flight school as a precursor to business school scholarships?

Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective "Earn-A-Bike" Program

What if a bicycle collective taught disadvantaged kids how to build a bicycle and then gave it to them, providing confidence, exercise, and transportation? What if they then hired these youth later on to work as bicycle techs in their shops?

The Green Urban Lunchbox

What if a sustainable farm-to-table organization transformed a school bus into a greenhouse so that kids could actually see and take part in where their food comes from at local schools?

These last two purple cows already exist right here in Salt Lake City.

Could you create a purple cow within your mission delivery?

Since we can all agree that passionate, creative organizations who are excited about solving problems in our community are a more attractive location to invest our dollars, share with us what you already do or could do to stand out.

The purplest commentator by the end of the day Sunday, April 13th will receive a free copy of The Purple Cow. Good luck!

Book Review: Your Mark on the World

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I have been waiting to review Your Mark on the World for quite awhile. Written by a fellow Utahn, Devin Thorpe, the best part of this review is that you can get this book for free simply by subscribing to the Your Mark on the World blog. Thorpe has an extensive background in finance as past CFO for a corporation with hundreds of millions in revenue, a prior boutique investment bank owner, former investment advisor, and former treasurer for a global company, among other roles. However, what makes him stand out among his peers who have also done well in the financial sector is how he has managed his personal finances.

Devin Thorpe

A few years back, Thorpe left his position as CFO with MonaVie unexpectedly. He turned it into an opportunity to spend a year in China with his spouse, giving back. He simultaneously wrote Your Mark on the World to help others take advantage of the same opportunity to make a difference, in whatever way that calls to them.

Your Mark on the World literally weaves together basic, but comprehensive, personal finance principles that many of us never learn with compelling stories of regular people making an indelible impact on the world. It's both functional and inspirational.

Financial freedom is a topic I am personally passionate about (I write about frugality frequently on my personal blog). Without learning some basic rules about money, especially how to dump debt and save for emergencies, myself and my spouse would never have been able to pursue entrepreneurship, which for me includes having a much larger social impact than with one organization.

I am consistently shocked at how normal conspicuous consumption is in our society. It is inherently addicting and almost socially required to engage in behaviors that jeopardize our financial freedom, including our ability to give back. I know from personal experience with credit cards, leased vehicles, and even a fancy car financed over 30 years on a second mortgage.

Because of the painful, but liberating, effort required to dig out of our own hole, I find resources like Your Mark on the World to be a breath of fresh air in a world that is constantly suffocating our opportunities to experience and do more than work.

I do have to admit though that the stories were by far my favorite aspect of the book. Thorpe went to great lengths to include stories that personally touched his life. They are all deeply intimate portraits of everyday people taking up a cause and literally changing the world for the better.

Ranging from China to Cambodia and from leper colonies to orphans, the incredible impact of just one dedicated person is illustrated so tangibly that one cannot read Your Mark on the World and continue to turn away from the immense possibilities for your own legacy.

Drop by Thorpe's blog right now, subscribe, and take the next steps toward leaving your own personal mark on the world.