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3 Key takeaways from the 2017 Cause Conference

3 Key Takeaways From the 2017 Cause Conference

Our Co-Founder and Chief Strategy & Creative Officer Guusje Bendeler was recently part of the “Authenticity in Purpose Storytelling” panel at San Diego’s Cause Conference, held at UCSD on September 8th. The 19th annual conference gathered more than 400 purpose-minded marketers, nonprofit leaders, business executives, and social entrepreneurs to share strategies for solving big problems with purpose-driven solutions.

Alongside Kristin Carroll of Rescue, Aaron Kahlow of Conscious Company Media, and Jessica Moon of Telepathy, Guusje’s panel discussed how authentic storytelling can connect audiences to an organization’s higher purpose, addressing the underlying question – can authentic storytelling initiate behavior change? – which the panel answered with a resounding “yes”.

Below is our perspective on three key takeaways revealed during the panel:


1 – It all starts with purpose.

What is your purpose and why should anyone rally behind it? Authentic storytelling requires a clearly-articulated purpose that is embedded in all dimensions of your business; we like to think of purpose as the “North Star” guiding your organization. The ultimate goal is to shift from siloed efforts of doing good to fully integrated value creation aligned with all stakeholder’s values. People will not buy into what you do, but why you do it. You must make your why compelling and relatable enough in order to inspire behavior change.


2 – Activate from the inside out.

Before you can inspire external stakeholders, real change must happen internally. Bring purpose inside the company first to create internal believers and authentic brand advocates that will make your purpose come to life. As brand consultants, thinkPARALLAX helps several of our largest clients including Southwest Airlines, Scotiabank, Hulu, and International Paper engage employees on the company’s core purpose before bringing their stories to the outside world.  


3 – Create, then activate.

The saying “talk is cheap” rings true when it comes to purpose. Leaders and businesses can talk all they want about purpose, but unless the why is activated and trickled down to every facet of the organization, the storytelling won’t be authentic. After all, you can only tell stories about something you’re actually doing, and people are more likely to change their behavior if they can tell that your purpose is genuine and not just a mere window-dressing or marketing ploy. Activation is key.


A Final Note: Behavior change doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Integrating and acting on purpose is a journey. Work hard, be patient, and genuinely believe in what you’re doing. The rest will fall into place over time.

Thank you to the Cause Conference, American Marketing Association, UC San Diego, the panel moderator Danielle Grassi of American Council on Exercise, and all the event sponsors for having us at this year’s conference. Watch a quick snippet of the panel in the Periscope video embedded below.

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