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It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven by Purpose Hardcover – February 5, 2009

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Every business should strive for more than just profit; it should aim to become an organization of great purpose—pledged to make money, make a difference and make history, cheerleads Spence, chairman and CEO of ad agency GSD&M. The author supplements uplifting homilies with case studies (starring his clients) to argue that a high-concept purpose can bring vitality to any company. Southwest Airlines, for example, worked hard not just to lure customers away from older airlines but to offer affordable air travel, democratizing the skies. Likewise, Wal-Mart brings goods that were once distant luxuries to rural families. Highway littering was rising by 17% per year in Texas until an enterprising politician appealed to state pride with the Dont Mess with Texas campaign. Spence argues that people work harder and more joyfully when they believe they are part of something larger than themselves; he speaks enthusiastically about employees turned into company evangelists and the power of purpose-based leadership. This is a positive reminder of the private sectors potential in making a difference in the world. (Feb.)
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Review

“Roy Spence is a brilliant, sparkling gem. Dedicated to the idea that true greatness comes in direct proportion to passionate pursuit of a purpose beyond money, he has inspired and changed leaders in every sector.”
— Jim Collins, author of Good to Great; coauthor of Built to Last

“If you’re looking for a way to inspire people, mobilize the talent and energy of your organization, and make a real difference, the road map and case studies in this book will help you do it.”
Bill Clinton

“Roy Spence’s instructive book reflects his charismatic genius, his evangelical zeal, and his synergistic understanding of what makes businesses lodge in the hearts, not just the minds, of employees and customers.”
— Herb Kelleher, founder, Southwest Airlines

“Roy Spence’s creative brilliance has been an enormous influence on helping people better understand what the PGA TO UR stands for. The wisdom contained in this book is a great resource for those who want to lead their business with a purpose.”
—Tim Finchem, commissioner, PGA Tour

“Roy Spence has nailed the power of purpose in this visionary book and it will motivate and inspire you to find and fulfill a purpose at the heart of your organization.”
— Jim Stengel, former P&G global marketing officer and President/CEO, The Jim Stengel Company

“At BMW, we live and breathe purpose. Roy’s book and the powerful way he outlines how to bring purpose to life within your entire organization is the clearest game plan ever written on how to win on purpose.”
— Jack Pitney, vice president marketing, BMW of North America

“Roy Spence has a great gift for getting to the heart of the matter. Fearless in questioning the status quo and relentless in rejecting cynical shortcuts, he has his finger on the pulse of America like no one else.”
— Margaret Heffernan, Author of How She Does It

“Roy Spence’s book demonstrates the power of purpose in building successful organizations. He shows how to discover your purpose, cultivate it, and use it to make a difference as well as to make profits.”
— Bill Novelli, CEO, AARP --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (February 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842417
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591842415
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Marion E. Gold on February 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is clearly a critical addition to the bookshelf of anyone who wants to start their own business and also feel they are doing something worthwhile with their lives, in addition to earning a living. The entire concept of knowing your purpose can make the difference between success and failure and is the core element of all 318 pages. In addition to knowing your purpose (which, in essence, is your position in the marketplace), a critical question asked by the authors is would your customers miss you if your company (or your product) ceased to exist? For all the good intentions you may have, someone out there has to be interested in what you are selling - whether it's a product, a service or even a political concept.

PR professionals, especially, should read this book. If the idea behind the product you are selling - or the ideals, beliefs or positions of the person you represent - is not in tune with your own purpose (even your soul), think hard about finding a different client. Being true to yourself, "what you stand for," is step one in truly making a difference in our very complex society. (Reviewed by the author of: Personal Publicity Planner: A Guide to Marketing YOU and Top Cops: Profiles of Women in Command)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Mcpherson on June 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is way better than I expected. I didn't even know you could write a 300 page book about purpose. I really bought it because Amazon had it at Bargain Price. Mr. Spence spends the book highlighting a few companies: Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, Red Cross, AARP, Charles Schwab, John Deere, Whole Foods and others. Yet he clearly shows the correlation between their success and their ultimate purpose. There are many companies that don't have purpose yet they make money and are extremely successful. However, those companies aren't the ones we root for. Those companies are successful at the expense of its stakeholders. The top three things I've learned are:

- Employees need purpose. Many people wake up not knowing why they get up to go to work every morning. If you share your purpose with employees you will become more than just a paycheck to them.

- Defend employees over your customers when necessary. A customer can be replaced but a chastized employee can be a cancer to your organization and make even more customers upset.

- Stick to your purpose and strategy even if competitors are doing something that seems more successful. This is not stubborness, but awareness of the fact that you can't be all things to everyone.

We look at many companies, but I don't think we recognize a purpose in each. He could have added Apple, whose main purpose in recent years has been a kind of anti-Microsoft movement. This purpose moves both employees and customers.

Great Read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. McGrath on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you're a shareholder value evangelist who wants public companies to maximize their financial strength, read this book. If you believe that great companies exist to make a difference for their employees, customers, shareholders and communities, read this book. If you love brands that matter and leaders who inspire; if you believe that businesses can change the world; and if you know in your heart that the future can be better than we can even imagine right now, read this book. Read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Russell Straub on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've been feeling like your work life might be lacking a higher calling or purpose - something beyond simply making money, then reading this book will help you begin to articulate a process for determining and defining that "purpose". Overall the book is excellent, although some of the case study type examples might be hard to relate to, most probably will resonate. We've made this a must read for all the staff at our company and have been using it as the reference material for engaging the staff within the company to seek out and articulate our company's purpose. We now feel like articulating a simple, elegant and inspiring "purpose" is essential to give our staff cohesion, direction and inspiration and prevent us from devolving into a band of individuals - "just doing their job" each day. (We're not done yet - this is a really, really hard process.....but it is inspiring to have Roy Spence's decades of experience as a guiding light!) Plus - this is simply one book among a whole collection of books that are must reads at our company - that have been helping provide us all with a common language and inspiration for continuing to grow the business and keeping it fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. P. Barry on June 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Roy Spence has a definitive point of view on understanding and defining purpose and he explains it in a logical, engaging way using examples drawn from his experiences at GSDM's Idea City. Perhaps because I was already familiar with some of the examples that he used, they were especially relevant and instructive.

I read the book on a business trip (Kindle version) and was sufficiently taken by the concept to apply it at work when I returned. The consideration of how each element of strategy would relate to the group's purpose served to sharpen our discussions and I believe the end product (revised strategy) was considerably improved.

I recommended this book as a useful read that succeeds at both conceptual and practical levels, and which will be relevant to anyone engaged in or wishing to understand strategic discussions.
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