What: Slow School presents: Talk on Purpose
Where: Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street Melbourne
When: 17 - 20 November
Tickets: Tickets available now!
We spoke to founder of Slow School, Carolyn Tate, about her total disenchantment with education, working in France and building a purpose-driven career.
You talk about having a purpose-driven career, what was your starting point?
I guess I’ve had two starting points, or what I call ‘awakenings’. The first was in 2001, when I got divorced, shifted house, became a single mum and quit my corporate job all in the space of 6 months. That was when my ‘consciousness’ journey began and I started my business as a small business-marketing expert. It was the start of my ‘purpose’ journey. After 20 years in corporate I had no idea what gifts I really wanted to give the world so I just took action and tried many things (writing books, speaking, running networking groups, consulting, running workshops and starting at least three different businesses). I had another turning point in my purpose journey in 2010.
"I was completely disenchanted with marketing and the whole toxic marketing and advertising world, so I gave up my business, sold my house in Sydney, gave away most of my possessions and moved to the South of France with my 12 year old son Billy for about 6 months."
That was well and truly when my real purpose journey begun. I spent that time in France recovering my latent creativity and spirituality and basically repairing myself. That was the start of something truly wonderful. I came back to live in Melbourne, worked for a not for profit, gave that up and then came to work at the Hub, became a founding member of Conscious Capitalism, published Unstuck in Provence and now Conscious Marketing and just 12 months ago started The Slow School of Business. It has been a haphazard road to finding my purpose, but never ever before have I felt so dedicated to my purpose - bringing this school to life and writing. I have at least 10 more books in me and this school will go global. It is not just a school but a movement. Action precedes clarity, every time! Don’t just stand there, do something. The biggest tragedy of all is not that you failed but that you failed to do nothing. When you find your purpose, you just have work to do. I now have two more books.
Why do you believe it is important to establish and work from your purpose?
Mark Twain said ‘the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’
You spend more than 30% of your life at work, why not make it count and do something that makes you happy and that makes a difference. I believe working from purpose gives you the energy you need to persevere and not give up. The reason so many small businesses fail is that they are not started from purpose, they are started for fame and fortune reasons and when things get a bit tough people give up. Purpose is the fuel you need to engage your team, your community, funders, customers and more. A person and a business that is infused with purpose will attract the very best people, opportunities and awareness. In reality, its an imperative in the world. We need businesses that are not just doing good but that are focused on regeneration and repairing the damage that's been done to humanity and the planet.
The other day I was speaking with the leadership team of a large public technology company. I said to them ‘the biggest disruption in the business world moving forward will not be in advancements in technology but advancements towards purpose.’ I see it and I feel it.
"People won’t buy from or work for companies that are not putting purpose at the heart of their organisation."
Those companies that use it as a marketing ploy will get caught out very quickly.
How do you define your purpose?
My definition of purpose: ‘purpose is about living and working at the intersection of your talents, passions and strengths in service of the greater good. It’s about having a life, a vocation, a business with a goal to do good and leave the world a better place because you existed.'
There is a big section in my book Conscious Marketing on how to do it. Action precedes clarity. You just have to do lots of things. Question everything. Accept nothing. Hang out with purpose-driven people. Volunteer. Journal. Pray. Meditate. Search wide but dig deep. Focus on your emotional and spiritual wellness. Spend time in nature. Get a mentor. Stop watching and reading mainstream media. Read brilliant books. Watch TED talks. Live simply. Consume less. Do whatever you can to extract yourself from our conditioned society. And I have so many other suggestions. My book has a great model and some brilliant questions you can answer to help you get more clarity. The biggest thing is to just know that you will be uncomfortable and confused. Confusion is essential for clarity of purpose. You can’t have one without the other!
How has Slow School evolved over time - what did you start with and where are you now?
Oh boy! Has it evolved! We are now one year old. When we first started I intended it to be about education for small business. Then I realised I didn’t want to teach business people how to blog or build a website – there are plenty of other people out there doing that. I wanted to turn their learning world upside down so they can trust themselves and become what I call free-range learners. One year later it’s all about building a global community of purpose-driven independent educators, facilitators, professionals who can come together to deliver the most kick-arse experiential learning programs on the market. All our learning programs like our Slow Dinners, Talk on Purpose (Inspired by TED talks) and We R One World Game are designed to orient people and companies towards purpose. We run our programs for everyone keen to get tapped into their purpose and connect with like-minded people – students, entrepreneurs, academics, business leaders, government and not for profit. Once they experience our programs they can invite our facilitators in to run these learning programs in their organisations.
How did you use your own learnings to establish and develop the current slow school course?
Secretly Slow School is fuelled by my total disenchantment with education. I am angry about the guru-ism perpetuated in the small business education market – you know the programs that sell the guru’s version of utopia following their 5 step cookie-cutter process to 7 figures. Also MBAs don’t cut it. None of these education programs put the student on the stage.
"The reality is that we are all teachers and we are all students and that we need to totally flip the learning paradigm."
People want to learn with people they know, like and trust. They need to the support to tap into the ‘guide inside’ instead of the ‘sage on stage’. Slow School is about disrupting every single education paradigm there is. Most learning and development in organisations is ineffectual because it hasn’t tapped into the intrinsic motivation of people or understood that real learning happens not in the mind, but in the heart and gut. Plato said ‘All learning has an emotional base.’