It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose
by Roy M. Spence, Jr. with Haley Rushing, Portfolio, 318 Pages, $25.95, Hardcover, February 2009, ISBN 9781591842415
As Todd and I were writing our book, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time
, we discovered some themes that, to our surprise, appeared continually throughout the books we reviewed. One big one was the idea that successful people and organizations define a common purpose for their existence, and that once it's defined, all decisions going forward are based on that declared purpose.
Roy Spence, one of the founders of the famous Austin-based ad agency GSD&M Idea City, believes that passion drives purpose in organizations. In his new book, he details the specific steps that Southwest Airlines--an early client of his firm--and other highly recognizable businesses have taken to create and nurture this purpose.
For example, when Southwest began operations, the airline industry was highly regulated and flying point to point in Texas was very expensive. Because of that cost, only 15% of the people who could fly did. Southwest began flying to three cities within Texas--Dallas, Houston and San Antonio--and offered airfares that would make it cheaper to fly than drive. Every decision that Southwest made from that point on was based on the belief that keeping the costs down would allow more people to afford flying. That was their purpose. Not very complicated, but very
As in all very good books, this book uses stories to teach. And, at the end of the book, the author has the "Key Principles from the Book." As an example, here are the three fundamentals for a high-purpose organization: They are built to make a difference; They are led by leaders of great purpose who act as stewards of their purpose and; They bring that purpose to life in meaningful and relevant ways in the marketplace. This summary section allows you to read the book as a linear narrative, without having to worry about taking notes. In effect, the author does that for you at the end of the book, leaving you free to enjoy the stories he tells.