Let Go & Lead
Simon Mainwaring Brand Strategist
Social Entrepreneur & Bestselling Author

On being purposeful in the marketplace (2:09)

MARIL MACDONALD:
You have talked a lot about authenticity, about purpose, and about meaning. Talk a little bit about competition.

SIMON MAINWARING:
Competition between brands is a delicate issue particularly for leadership right now. More and more brands are realizing that there are certain issues that are larger than themselves. This plays into this purpose discussion.

For example, brands like Starbucks or Patagonia or Nike are working with other companies to solve issues like climate change, obesity, or sustainability. Why? Because they realize that brands cannot survive in societies that fail. They realize that the scale of the issues we face is now sufficient that we all need to work together. We are smarter together. In one sense, to be more competitive you need to be more purposeful in the marketplace. At the same time, by being purposeful you need to work with each other. I think in a larger context this should be viewed in terms of government and philanthropy — the two traditional custodians of social change.

Government all around the world has historic debt right now. Everyone is aware of that. Philanthropy is stretched and under-resourced. In this case consumers are looking to brands to play a more positive role in social change. They need to do that individually and they need to do it collectively. Leadership needs to sit there and go great; we want to sort of out-purpose our competitor. We also want to work with them in some way. I believe that this is the defining leadership of the next ten to twenty years. It is those who recognize that by serving and solving a problem larger than themselves, they will actually be serving their own self-interest.