Your Business


December 14, 2022

Porpoise or Purpose Conference...let us explain!

Jason Williams

Business Sherpa

Our resident business sherpa Jason Williams packed his backpack for Sydney last month to hit up the Purpose Conference (which was mistakenly heard as Porpoise Conference as well) to learn more about what it means to be a purposeful business leader.

Porpoise or Purpose hear what you want to somtimes! 


Sometimes people hear what they want to hear, and sometimes, I quite enjoy letting them run with it.

Let’s Talk Purpose Conference

… not about dolphins (porpoises), sorry.

What is Purpose?

According to Dr Google, purpose is:

  • “a person's sense of resolve or determination.”
  • “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

For individuals, purpose often involves family, work or throwing a ring into the fires of Mount Doom.

For business, it can be a bit harder to define. A business can have an infinite life and can exist for a purpose greater than the individual. 

Purpose, Vision, Mission. Is it all the Same?

I must admit, in the lead-up to this conference, I thought purpose was just a new word the kids were using for vision or mission. Apparently not.

 I will leave the essay for another day, but in short:

  • a vision statement is what you want to be in the future <what>
  • a mission statement is what you do and for whom <how>
  • a purpose statement is the reason you exist <why>

So what was this Purpose Conference (PC)?

Here’s what the website describes it as:

Purpose is a place where ideas are sparked, community is formed and conversations can help us navigate an uncertain future.

We exist to see the business world transformed to be entirely sustainable, responsible and human and we believe the world’s most urgent and complex challenges can be solved through the power of purpose-driven business. 

We bring together purpose-driven entrepreneurs, teams, agitators and advocates for change for two days of cutting edge content, learning, music, food, art and networking. 

 Who Was There?

There were over 700 people at the conference from a hugely diverse base. Some had a very clear idea of their purpose, while others had no idea, but we were all there for the same purpose … that being purpose.  

Some of my personal favourites include:

  • Commonfolk
  • Heaps Normal
  • Fungi Solutions
  • Big Little Brush
  • Young Folks
  • Zero Co
  • Giant Leap
  • Ben & Jerry
  • Xero
  • Bank Australia
  • Amber
  • Patagonia

Check out a bunch more of those who attend here.

 Why Should You Take Notice?

… because the world and your customers are in an increasing space.

Whether you sell to the government, businesses or direct to consumers, customers are taking notice.

  • If you deal with government, you are already fully aware of the hoops you need to jump through just be considered; purpose one.
  • If you deal with large business, for all public and, increasingly, large private companies, you are likely already aware of the push towards sustainability and impact reporting – purpose.
  • If you deal with or are a small/medium business, you are now here; where do you stand?
  • if you deal with consumers directly, their buying decisions are already being influenced by government and large business. Whether they are conscious of it or not, messaging in their world is already leaning towards influential and conscious buying decisions – purpose.

At whatever level your customers are at, those who operate with purpose will overlook you if you don’t and the reverse unfortunately doesn’t apply - if you operate with purpose, customers will not overlook you because of your purpose.

If customers do not align with your purpose, are they the best customers for you anyway?

The Key Themes of PC

Jump in here to read full details of the key themes of the PC, but these included:

  • Nature x Tech
  • Impact Capital
  • Climate Tech and Net Zero
  • Circular Economy & Regenerative Business
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • First Nations Wisdom
  • Responsible Tech
  • Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

The Breakdown of PC

The conference itself was solid. Lots of things happened on the main stage, on breakout stages, and lots of chats over Heaps Normal elsewhere.

For me, a handful of the many highlights were:

Day 1

  • The Opening – Sally Hill (Founder of PC)
  • The Purpose & Power of the Corporation – B Lab & KPMG
  • Responsible Tech – Chris Cooper from Reset Australia & Andrew Apostola Portable
  • Impact Capital: Exploring Impact Methodology and Investment Strategy – Rachel Yang from Giant Leap and general commentary around the fact that “you can operate with purpose and still be profitable; both can co-exist”.
  • Scale Impact Showcase – conclusion of a program run by EY for the last few months – Goodwill Wine and The Good Box, a couple of standout projects 

Day 2

  • Disruptive Digital Product Design
  • The War on Plastic – Matt Vitale from Birchal and Mike Smith from Zero Co
  • Can Fungi Save The World? – Amanda Morgan from Fungi Solutions
  • The Power of Purpose in Brand and Positions – Peter Brennan from Heaps Normal and Sean Doherty from Patagonia

Others Randoms

  • Heaps Normal – non-alco beers
  • Fungi Solutions – solid/stable packaging made from mushrooms.
  • Ben & Jerry – who know they operate “with purpose”.
  • Zero Co – Mike Smith, the 100YR Cleanup and him in general.
  • Patagonia – the whole USD$3B donation thing.
  • Minderoo Foundation (Andrew Forrest) – developing technology that is aimed at detecting and putting out a fire in an hour; this amongst the $2.6B foundation fund.
  • The Crew – got to hang out with Sam Keck from Commonfolk, Erin Morris from Young Folks, Joel Hanna from Big Little Bush, and Cam Johnson from Purposeful Business.
  • Hotel Hacienda – sweet little hotel in Chippendale; Taco Tuesdays and margaritas.


What Is Your Purpose?

Revisiting the concept of purpose, what will your “bit’ be? How will your contribution make the world a better place?

The whole “world” and “better place” is the key theme here.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Can you afford not to act?
  • What’s the cost of operating with purpose?
  • What’s the cost of not operating with purpose?
  • Who is that guy riding the dolphin? 

Where To Now?

There was so much to unpack from this conference, and now that I’m back to reality, the “where to now” is a big question.

For me, it’s a whole bunch of listening, some reading and chats. It’s revisiting my purpose, which, for all the kids that have read this far, is - “life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them”.

It’s also about revisiting our purpose (Illumin8) and working with those around us (you guys) to develop yours.

If developing a purpose for yourself or your business is of interest, please jump in here and register. If we get a bunch of interest, we’ll develop something to inspire and to assist you with your purpose, to make your mark, to make the world a better place … even if “for nothing”.  

Why did we (Illumin8) go and why does purpose mean so much to us?

We practice what we call purpose based advisory. That's taking the purpose of your business and helping to drive that success. Be it environmental, social or other impact. Conferences like this help us to stay on track with what's going on as well as add an extra feather to our bow when we work with you, our clients, on their purpose.

Thanks for reading.

Remember, you can operate with purpose and still be profitable; both can co-exist.

Peace out.


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