There's a new podcasting empire in town and it speaks to the State of the Union of a certain pair of important entrepreneurs.
On Thursday, Spotify announced a deal with Barack and Michelle Obama and their newly created entertainment production company, according to the Wall Street Journal. The popular former first couple will develop and produce podcasts for Spotify. They'll be on at least some of the podcasts themselves in hosting, narrating, or interviewing roles.
This follows last year's deal between the Obamas and Netflix to produce scripted shows, documentaries, and feature films. It makes the Obamas full-blown content creators on their way to creating an entrepreneurial empire. That's about 10 steps above the normal play of former first couples: write a book, do some keynotes, dedicate a library.
The podcast industry is on fire, with U.S. ad revenue from podcasts jumping 53 percent to $479 million last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PwC. While financial details of both deals have been kept private, I feel comfortable saying that the Obamas won't need to borrow money for a Target run anytime soon.
But the size of the financial prize is not what's compelling in this story, nor is the fact that the Obamas have added podcasts to their platform. It's about the why behind the what.
The name of the Obama's company offers the first clue -- Higher Ground Productions. Its purpose? Well, it's about purpose. The former president himself put it this way in a statement when the deal with Netflix was done:
One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience. That's why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix. We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.
Building a business founded on purpose. On purpose (intentionally). One centered around increasing empathy and understanding among and between people.
You can build a business with purpose at the center, too.
I keynote at a lot of CEO executive summits. One of my most popular subjects is how to vastly accelerate business growth using purpose as a driving force. It's why I created my own model to help you drive your business using purpose. I call it the DRIVE model:
You don't invent your company's purpose. You discover it, because chances are good that it already exists. To do so, ask why/who/what questions. Talk to employees and customers and ask why your company does what it does and how can you find common ground on higher ground.
Ask who you ultimately serve in what way? What can you be the absolute best at? The answers to these questions often unearth purpose.
Having discovered your purpose, now role model it. Roll the purpose into your leadership behaviors and vernacular. Keep reminding yourself what you're fighting for and let it help you drive decisions and performance throughout the company.
I lost count of the number of times I went back to my company's purpose before making a vital decision. Purpose is the north star; it gives you something to steer towards and keeps you off the rocks.
You also have to help your company internalize the purpose -- from middle managers through frontline employees (from whom you've hopefully already solicited input on the purpose). Challenge your employees to articulate how the company purpose comes to life in their jobs. Help them draw the connection between their work and the purpose.
I've found that the purpose becomes more than just a statement painted on a fancy mural in your company's lobby when you ask employees to internalize the role the company purpose will play in their day-to-day job.
With everyone enrolled, it's time to walk the talk even more by visibly demonstrating that you value adherence to the purpose. Reward behaviors you see that uphold the purpose. I even created a fund for my leadership team to reward purpose-consistent behaviors on the spot.
The final step is to evangelize the purpose by enrolling especially passionate change agents on the front lines and by empowering employees to reward each other in small ways when they see a coworker living the purpose.
The Obamas are building a business from a higher ground. Doing the same will take your business to a higher ground, too.