Season 7 Episode 2 : ‘We really need to invest right now in human skills’ Our special Learning Futures Group-RedThread Research exploration on Purpose continues with global Purpose Influencer Aaron Hurst

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Get a transcript of this episode, and a special bonus debrief episode at the link below.


Purpose has become more and more a key concept for modern organizations: type ‘Purpose in American business’ into Google, and you’ll get 1,740,000,000 responses, for example. But how real is it? Is it the same as CSR or giving corporate money to a good cause? And, crucially, what’s its connection, if any, to L&D? On this special new Season on the podcast, we’re attempting to answer, if we can, these questions under the rubric. Is Purpose Working? As you may know by know we’re doing this with the help of RedThread Research and the support of an Ed tech firm equally interested in finding out an answer, too—NovoEd.

In this second conversation in our season I am joined by RedThread principal analyst Stacia Garr, and someone who just might be the foremost expert on the science of purpose and fulfillment at work—consultant, VC, social entrepreneur and Seattle-based Purpose influencer Aaron Hurst.

In 2014, his book The Purpose Economy Aaron brought widespread attention to the concept of Purpose and its importance for our lives today. Now CEO and co-founder of Imperative, a platform that connects and supports employees as peer career coaches. Aaron describes how Imperative enables video-based peer coaching conversations across organizations that drive mindset and behavior changes that increase leadership abilities, productivity, and fulfillment—work that capped his famous work as the founder of pro bono volunteer channel The Taproot Foundation, which connects talented people with non-profits—and, we heard connects him and one of the other people on the podcast!

Finally, a reminder that all this ‘Is Purpose Working?’ work is set to peak in a live, online gated experience where Dani, Stacia and I will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Aaron. You will also be able to debate with us and get your question asked, but to get your questions in nice and early, lock-in your free place at the webinar over at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, Stick around for a quick three-way debate on what Aaron told us at the end.

You good? Great—so now, let’s hear from someone you might style the Father of Purpose, debating such key milestones of his career and thinking as:

  • how he ended up in Seattle after ‘something of a nomadic career’
  • why the purpose age represents a new economic era and major progress in humanizing work
  • why the non-profit world he started working in frustrated him—and what he did about it
  • why Taproot was just a vitamin, not real nutrition
  • why he wrote The Purpose Economy and how he’s convinced we’re in a whole new economic era fueled by ‘meaning’
  • what last year’s Business Roundtable commitment to Purpose did for a lot of CEOs
  • the role of L&D
  • and much more.


Aaron is on LinkedIn here and his new company Imperative is here

You can check out the incredible work of Taproot Here.

RedThread’s on-going Purpose work is here

The Season’s microsite and online registration for the final webinar next year is over at

Check out the expanded and updated (2019) version of Aaron’s book here:

The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World

(His Amazon author page is also worth checking out)

And last word to our great ‘Is Purpose Working?’ season sponsor, NovoEd. Remember to go to and get your FREE front-row seat at that final discussion. It’ll be worth it—promise.

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