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Handout 1: The Purpose Economy

Handout 1: The Purpose Economy
Handout 1: The Purpose Economy

Excerpted and adapted from The Purpose Economy: How to Create Purpose in Your Work by Aaron Hurst (Elevate, 2014) and from videos on The Purpose Economy website (

The emergence of purpose as the new organizing principle in our economy is a product of our current moment. It is based on where we stand in history today: our current culture, values, education, technological abilities, social organizations, political realities, and the state of our natural environment. Each part of our world has gone through a radical transformation in the last few decades, and they are now converging into a new set of processes to change the way society operates.

…To understand The Purpose Economy, it is critical to understand purpose and how it is created for people. There are three well-researched, core categories [of purpose]: personal purpose, social purpose, and societal purpose.

Personal purpose: We find purpose when we do things we love, attempt new challenges, and express our voice in the world.

Social purpose: We find purpose in relationships and connections between people, expressed in shared work.

Societal purpose: Purpose comes when we know we have done something that matters—to others, to society, and to ourselves.

Notes from the video “Aaron Hurst on the Purpose Economy” (5:10)

Common threads of the purpose economy:

  1. Focus on community, a more localized economy
  2. Move from consumption to creation—desire to have experiences and to do it yourself
  3. Disintermediation—removing the intermediaries in finance, health care, and other fields

Notes from the video, “Aaron Hurst Speaking at AshokaU” (3:01)

What is the meaning of work? Two things generate purpose in work:

  1. Our psychological approach to our work
  2. How we structure the work we do:
    1. Serving something greater than ourselves
    2. Working in relationship as part of a team
    3. Growing personally; investing, challenging, and expressing ourselves

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