Aedhmar Hynes is the CEO of Text100, a global marketing communications agency with a purpose to do the most inspiring work for many of the world’s most important brands. She is a member of the Advisory Board of MIT Media Lab and a Henry Crown Fellow at The Aspen Institute. Aedhmar has been named one of the top 50 most powerful people by PRWeek.
I’m often asked, if I could travel back in time, what advice I would have for my 20- year-old self. I could offer myself lots of sage wisdom based on a decades of experience. Yet I would be far more intrigued to learn what advice my younger self would have for me today.
What would she think about how I turned out? Did I become the person she wanted me to become? Did I hold onto the values that shaped her and stand up for them? Did I keep an open mind and embrace new people and experiences as she had hoped? Would she be proud of me?
If I know the answers to those questions – and I believe I do – it is because I still share the same sense of purpose with my 20-year-old self.
What do I mean by that?
In communications, we talk a lot about the importance of purpose-driven companies. A purpose defines the why of a company. How it does business. The decisions it makes and their context in the marketplace and society. Purpose-driven companies make more than money: They make the world a better place.
If being purpose-driven can do that for a company, what could being purpose-driven do for you? Is it possible to explore and understand your purpose and build a purpose-driven career that will be both fulfilling and contribute to the success of your company and your colleagues?
I believe that you not only can do that, but that a purpose-driven career is the only one worth having. It should be an extension of who you are today, and who you want to become in the future – the person who will look back and ask, “How did I do?” Wherever you choose to apply what you have learned so far, and what you will continue to learn throughout your career, should align with your personal values.
I believe following a purpose-driven career is indispensable for those who would work in marketing communications. The profession is central to the development of a brand’s purpose, and communicators are at the nexus of the conversations that matter. This has given us a powerful seat at the leadership table that can make us a company’s most important agent of change. Using our skills to shape the organization’s culture and guide its actions can in turn affect the society we all share.
If that sounds heady, remember this: If we are the closest thing an organization has to a conscience, then a strong sense of ethics must be at the core of our purpose.
As you develop your purpose-driven career, it is also of great importance that you step out of your comfort zone. Do it early, often, and with the same vigor you devote to your career. When you take time out to learn new skills, serve on a board, volunteer, or travel and experience other cultures, you will develop the perspective you need to understand, refine and eventually fulfill your purpose.
Finally, while you may already have a strong sense of purpose, don’t rest easy. Think about who you are today and who you want to become. What is the legacy you want to leave for yourself, your children, and the world they will inhabit? Always strive to become that person, and in two or three decades, you will be able to look back confidently at your 20-year-old self and know that she would be proud of you.
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