The science of purpose helps you create a more significant impact. Christin Collins welcomes Greg Sloan, the co-founder of Go Beyond™. Greg shares how people who believe their purpose is aligned with that organization’s mission are willing to work for 23% less. But how do you discover your purpose? The first step is to know your identity. Ask yourself the question, “What is it that brings out the spark in you?” Start a new awakening of self-awareness to impact the lives of others. If you want to know more about discovering your purpose, you’ll enjoy listening to this episode.
Listen to the podcast here
Science Of Purpose: Helping Others Achieve Their Highest Potential With Greg Sloan
I’m excited to bring you Greg Sloan. He’s the Cofounder of Go Beyond. He helped me identify my true purpose and how to integrate that into my life, business decisions and community. It’s such a pleasure to be able to dive deeper with Greg in hopes that we can help you find that spark within.
It is an honor and a pleasure in each and every episode to bring forth someone who has impacted my own journey to find that spark within and by connecting in conversation. I hope that you too are inspired and have that satiation to find that spark within. This episode is another gem in my books. I love the opportunity to welcome you my friend, colleague and mentor, Greg Sloan. Welcome.
Christin, it’s amazing to be here with you. I’m looking forward to our time together and continuing our friendship.
Thank you for taking the time. I love how we first met and how you helped inspire me to understand purpose. You and I have selected that our overarching theme is going to be the science of purpose. What you’ve put together as an offering to the globe is in support of helping people understand purpose and the science behind it. Before we dive into that, I would love to start with our authentic connectivity of that purpose journey and start by expressing gratitude to you.
You and I had the pleasure of connecting through LinkedIn and became purpose partners. I was blessed that I was in your neck of the woods and got to connect with you face to face, which quite often in this day and age, we don’t get to meet face to face. I had the pleasure of meeting you a couple of years ago when I was a definite neophyte in the space of the pursuit of purpose. I would love for you to start by sharing with folks how you got your start in the purpose space.
I grew up in Hawaii pretty poor. I moved to Georgia in 1988, went through school, and found my way into financial services. In the summer of 2006, I was working for a division of Goldman Sachs and making more money than I ever thought I could make, but I was miserable on the inside. Outside, my marriage was on the rocks and I didn’t have a great relationship with my kids.
The only thing going right in my life was making a lot of money. I said, “There’s got to be more to life.” I went through this process. I was recommended some self-awareness exercises and a few psychology books. My wife and I went to the mountains of North Georgia in December of ’06 and spent two days. I left that weekend with my personal purpose statement. That was the beginning of my purpose journey.
That’s so inspiring to hear from a society we’re now in that is so consumer-driven. It’s all about what we’re making. The division that it has caused within itself and within the community is something that you know and we are both super passionate about. It can be hard to make an adjustment when you have so many pressures, especially as the male provider in a family. How did you find it and were able to make a shift to be more on point with your purpose when you had so many ties with your very successful career?
Necessity is the mother of invention. Also, pain is the reason why you make a change. I was going through a lot of internal pain, even though on the external, it wasn’t so much. When you realize you have a unique design to make an impact in the lives of others in a unique way, you want to start that new awakening as soon as possible. In January of 2007, I quit my job at Goldman Sachs. In March of 2007, I started my own financial planning firm and started to incorporate some of those exercises and the knowledge that I gained over that weekend.
That’s very inspiring and it gives many of us hope that the shift can happen. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of your family members. Talk to me about the impact that had on your relationships with your family. Was that challenging for them to make the shift with you? How did it impact your relationships at home?
Ultimately, it’s much for the better. I was the typical type-A personality, high D from the DISC profile, left brain, an undergraduate degree in Finance, and a Master’s degree in Finance. I was very spreadsheet, algorithms, cashflow models. If it has got a number to it and a decision to be made, there’s got to be a way to measure that decision, put it in a spreadsheet, and make a decision from that standpoint. By shifting or pivoting on purpose, I started to incorporate the other parts of how we’re designed with emotional intelligence, psychology, even neuroscience.
Fortunately, my kids were young at the time. My son, Jonathan, who’s a partner with me now, was too young to recognize too much of what I was like before. My three kids still don’t remember much about that guy before 2007, which is a blessing. All they know is a dad who has been on purpose for most of their teenage years. It’s something I’ve talked to them about with respect to their careers, college, family, marriage, and all those things.
One of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve talked to other parents and kids in the last few years is not every parent is like that. A lot of children don’t have that direction that my kids have. My youngest son is about to graduate college. Even having all three kids graduate within four years, there’s some intention behind it. It was very purposeful. It has been a blessing.
Purpose is about creating a more significant impact.
Knowing one of your children and seeing how that was actualized at such a young age is so impactful. It’s a breath of fresh air. I congratulate you for making that shift and being able to impact your family that way. It’s not always when one partner is growing does the whole family come on board. That is sometimes a challenge when you see growth for one member. The fact that your family was able to flex with you through your transition is such a great blessing.
I love your story. You were with Goldman Sachs, but you didn’t jump all-in purpose-oriented by leaving the finance world. Instead, you stayed within your space but then you incorporated your passion for purpose. That’s an important differentiator for folks to digest because sometimes we have to blow all that up to go in our new direction. You are a great example of fluidity and I want to get to where you are now, which is very intentional on the purpose space. Take us to that middle period where you had your own entity. What was it like creating your own company with purpose as one of the core lenses?
Most companies start with a vision and create a mission statement, then they have a strategy to execute that mission. Candidly, I wasn’t using the word purpose back then. I may have used a slightly different word but that is what it was now. The purpose is something much bigger than even the mission. It’s how you’re creating a bigger impact. First of all, I started in 2007. We had a crisis in 2008 and 2009. There wasn’t much that I was incorporating in ’08 and ’09. I was just trying to survive. We had more employees than we could afford. I went through the process of having to let people go in such a difficult time. It was tough.
I had a business partner who also was fighting cancer and died in the middle of that. It was a very challenging few years. It wasn’t until 2010 that things started to settle down. I started to incorporate purpose into the financial planning practice and the relationship with clients. There’s a phraseology that I have come up with which is, “Every financial advisor says they can help clients to reach goals. If that’s what you’re pitching, that’s not unique. Most claim to help clients chase their dreams, but only a select few can promise to help clients pursue their purpose. Let’s go beyond planning, pursue purpose, create a bigger impact, and do what we were designed to do.” That’s when I started to add those elements to the practice of financial planning and started to help clients go beyond financial goals.
You don’t have to share names but think about a time when one of your clients popped up because they got in touch with that purpose with your lens and guidance. What were some immediate shifts they made based on the fact that you were helping them actualize?
We don’t believe purpose is one thing. We talk about purpose in the context of your five missions in life. You want to align your purpose with your five mission. We’ve interviewed a lot of people. The five missions that continue to pop up were 1) Family, 2) Friends, 3) Career or company if you are an entrepreneur, 4) Community, 5) Cause or your charitable and philanthropic efforts. If you could articulate your purpose and make sure it was aligned with these five areas of your life, which comes back to Maslow’s work, you live a more fulfilled life. The world smells better and the sun is brighter. You wake up with your feet on the floor and ready to get after it.
I remember one of my early clients. He was an entrepreneur. My job from a financial perspective was to help him position financially so he could sell his business, and shift the purpose from being an entrepreneur more to the community and his charitable effort or cause. A lot of business owners go through an identity crisis when they sell their business because their purpose is the company. We wanted to create separation and say, “We’re just shifting your purpose to these other missions that you have in life. You’re still providing value and still uniquely impacting the world.”
It is a very critical time when you’re making that shift. The fact that you’re able to help someone through the lens of purpose and the five pillars of purpose is impactful. Being purpose peeps like you and I, we’re spending so much time in our day concentrating, digesting and researching this. Take us through your interpretation of Maslow’s Law. How does purpose play into that?
In the early ’90s, I took a Psychology class as most folks did. Were taught that the peak of Maslow’s hierarchy was something called self-actualization, which came from his seminal paper in 1946. In the 1960s, Maslow changed his mind after working with so many people. He said, “I found that self-actualization is not the peak.” There was a higher peak that he called self-transcendence.
Transcendence is a big word. He said, “It means to go beyond the self and to start looking at your contribution. Your decisions are not just self-centered and not just achieving what your highest potential is, but start helping other people achieve their highest potential.” You see it in sports now when a player becomes a coach and is more fulfilled winning a championship as a coach than a player. You see it with parents and their kids because they live vicariously through their kids.
This concept of paying it forward or serving your fellow human beings is what Maslow was referring to in self-transcendence, which is about purpose. I’m going to use Angela Duckworth’s definition. She wrote it in her book, Grit. Her definition of purpose was intentionally contributing to the well-being of others. There’s a choice, intentionality. There’s a recognition that you’re doing something. There’s a recipient or a benefactor other than yourself. That’s how it all ties into what Maslow was talking about in the 1960s. Even if you google Maslow now and his hierarchy, most of what will pop up in Google is self-actualization where it should be self-transcendence.
You can’t make this stuff up. That is an unbelievable representation. First of all, the fact that someone has this very powerful piece of science out there and to come back later and be like, “I’m going to correct myself,” that’s transcendence. The second piece that is so in alignment, and you were a part of helping me discover this, is I love to support people into going inward, understanding who they are, doing the deep healing work, self-love and self-care so that they can show up whole in the community, and transcend to be able to interconnect with others from that place of wholeness. It’s not scarcity, judgment, fear, hurt or past hurts.
The healthier we are, the better we can serve others.
It’s that shift to go to the transcendence part of purpose so that you know your internal purpose and you self-actualize. Therefore, you can transcend to others, including Mother Earth. That was brilliant how you summed it up from a more scientific perspective. That’s not what I bring forth. That’s why I love connecting with people.
I’m still a geek. I love all this science-based because there are facts behind it. We can feel things. There’s one of the ways that I help people understand this, and I’m going to take a little bit of the mystery. Hopefully, people don’t get turned off by this. When you volunteer somewhere, whether in a soup kitchen or wherever, and you leave that event, how do you feel? People say, “I feel great.” If we said, “Give me something scientific that I can measure.” What we can measure is our chemical reaction. If you go for a run, endorphins get released. That’s a chemical reaction.
The same thing happens when you serve others. Your brain produces chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins that cause us to say, “I feel better.” I could easily have said, “Chemicals are being released in my brain.” It takes a little bit of the mystery. I workout quite a bit. I know you do as well. I went to the gym. I didn’t want to go and I only got 35 minutes as opposed to what we get normally because I was tired. I still released some dopamine because I exercised. I accomplished a goal, which also released dopamine. I did it with my wife, so there’s some oxytocin that is being released, and the endorphins from the exercise activity. We are purposeful about it.
How we tie this together with our life purpose is the healthier we are, the better we will be to serve others, live the purpose that we were designed for, make an impact and have that legacy. When we’re gone, other people will say, “They’ve accomplished their purpose.” You look at people like Chadwick Boseman who was the actor that played Black Panther. He gave this amazing speech at Howard University about how people need to pursue their purpose in life. He tragically died from cancer, and everyone looks back on him now and says, “He achieved his purpose. He did leave that mark on this Earth.” That’s what we all humans desire deep down. That’s a human reality.
I love how you and I are able to go into a health space. When you met me, you knew where I was coming from, yet this has so many other lanes it could take. Take me to where you are now. How are you not only living your purpose, but how are you helping others to find, execute and enjoy theirs?
Being a proud dad for a moment, I have to incorporate my son’s story into this because if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we are now. In 2017, when he was going off to college, I said, “Jonathan, don’t chase the money. You’re going to be fine. You’re smart. Figure out why you’re here. What is it that you were uniquely designed to make a difference in the lives of others?”
He went through the exercises. I had the written format. He wrote his personal purpose statement and used it in his college applications. He applied to some great schools and ended up at Vanderbilt University. A few months later, they sent him a letter that said, “We like your profile so much. We’re going to give you a full-tuition scholarship of $200,000.” It was amazing. You couldn’t make that up.
A few weeks after that, he said to me, “Dad, this process that you have written out, we can build some software around it.” I said, “I don’t know anything about building software.” He said, “I’m an engineer. I learned how to build software. Why don’t we do this together?” That was the beginning of what is now a software platform. More specifically, we’re describing it as a talent development platform that combines science and technology to create a more prosperous workforce.
How we’re doing it is we’ve created something called The Purpose Journey, which takes videos plus software. We’re selling it into enterprises or organizations that are struggling now, particularly with this thing called The Great Resignation, which has been written so much. The reality is society and people, particularly here in America, who are coming out of 9/11, The Great Recession, and now the pandemic, we realize life is short. If I’m going to be here and put my blood, sweat and tears into an organization, I want it to be meaningful.
People who believe their purpose is aligned with that organization’s mission are willing to work for 23% less than they would if they’re working for an organization where they’re not aligned. Not that we’re suggesting people should get paid less, but the reality is as human beings, we are being compensated when we’re in a position to serve others.
One of the industries near and dear to both of us was the medical space. Healthcare in particular has significant challenges with the nurses and physicians. I still do consulting work with a doctor who’s seeing a lot of turnover in his staff. He can’t grow his business because his employees are not tied. We’re working with him to create a purpose for the organization, and have his individual employees go through our purpose journey.
That is so inspiring to me. Years ago, back when I met you, I was searching to support that journey. I saw such a disconnect between the employees. It was baffling to me to say if we’re worried about our patient safety or experience scores. When employees are happy and know who they are, are healthy and loves themselves, and the organization provided a platform for them to actualize that and talk about culture, not only do they show up as better employees, but they’re also better at home and in the community. They have great resolve and joy for the company.
Ask yourself the question, “What is it that brings that spark out in you?”
The fact that you and Jonathan have brought this now through the software platform to organizations, and you offering that tool is so well-timed. I’m so grateful for that. If folks are curious about, “I have a company and I would like more information on this platform to help my staff or my company go beyond,” how can folks access that information to learn more?
The website is TryGoBeyond.com. We start every organization with a fourteen-day free trial. We’ll take either 10% of their labor force or up to 25 people in a small cohort for two weeks. We’ll give them a taste of what the purpose journey is like. If it’s something that resonates with them and their people say, “My company is investing back in me because they want to make sure I’m fulfilled.”
When we talk about purpose in the workplace, the key performance indicator is something called fulfillment as opposed to employee engagement. Engagement has been used over the years. I read an article that pushes that term aside. It was a study done by Gallup because there has not been much change in employee engagement in the last few years, even though there has been so much money and tools thrown at it.
It’s not just the tools. We do have a tool. There’s the software behind this. We have content because people need to be educated. We have a learning platform with videos and exercises. The last thing is a community. What we do in our program is we create a small community within the organization so that they go on the purpose journey together.
No one goes on the journey alone. Everyone has what we call a journey partner. It’s someone else in your organization that you share a little more intimate details with your answers and exercises. All of the exercises have some private information there that’s yours to keep. It’s not for the organization, but you get to share that with one person to the extent that you want to share it. There’s a little cohort to create the community. It’s starting from a corporate to a community to culture. It starts to impact an organization’s culture.
Coming from a guy who was at Goldman Sachs to be leading this conversation is inspiring to me, and to see that science-based crossover into Corporate America or globally, into corporations. The time is so critical. The fact that you’re helping people find that spark through their employment is inspiring. Are there tools or tips as an individual? If I’m an individual working in a company, but I’m not plugged into HR or senior leadership, or if I’m an entrepreneur, or if I’m not employed because I don’t want to be or don’t need to be. What are some ways that people can find their spark within and find their purpose?
This comes back to the way you present things and we talked about this. Purpose comes after identity. You first have to understand your identity. When we talk about identity, we’re not talking about your name and where you grew up. It’s those core words that describe you. There are tons of tools out there from StrengthsFinder, Gallup, Myers-Briggs, and all of these other behavioral profiles. We believe very heavily in those. We use a version of that in our platform.
There are other things you can do and a lot of self-reflection. We call it self-awareness or self-reflection. It is asking yourself questions about what brings that spark out in you and that joy that you feel. Seventy percent of individuals at least here in America, when you use the word purpose, they still hear purpose as it’s associated with their career. I did the same. For me, my purpose is pretty highly aligned to how I earn a living with the economic output. I’m also at that age where that’s a big part of my life. That may not be the case when I’m 70 years old. You may see me spending more of my time and energy in nonprofit endeavors, but it all comes back to identity.
For the record, I grew up a math guy. I was 37 years old before I started to believe in this psychology and organizational design and behavior because I thought it was hogwash. You give them a paycheck. You give them skills and tools. Now go out there and do a good job. Until I started hiring people and watching them leave me that I realized, “I’m missing something here.” In terms of emotional intelligence, I wasn’t very high at that point in time. I’m not saying that I am now.
You’re pretty darn high. I said it before and I’m going to say it again, Greg. I applaud and appreciate that you are helping to make that crossover. That’s what it’s going to take to reach a tipping point. Not only are you as an individual helping the corporations, the math people, and the left brain people to get in touch with us, but you are raising children. Jonathan is making a huge impact through your work together and on his own. Those are the folks coming up in the workforce and leadership. By investing in them and their awareness, you’ve done both. That’s very special.
I’m one of the most unlikely people from skills and career history, 25 years in financial services, primarily as a portfolio manager and a personal CFO to executives and entrepreneurs. It was math until I realized math is not enough. You have to understand some of these other skills. I had one client years ago who said, “Greg, you’re not only my financial advisor, you’re also my life coach now.” At the time, candidly, I jumped back. I didn’t even like the description. It bothered me because life coach seemed a little too fuzzy to me. It didn’t have substance to me at that point in time. Now, I see it as a great compliment. Back then, I was still hooked on spreadsheets.
It’s so wonderful. You were so impactful in my journey early on when I was trying to understand purpose and why this matters. You spent hours holding space for me to self-discover that and help educate me. I love that your continued work touches more lives. I hope our conversation here will do the same. If folks would love to stay up on your journey or access information from you, what is the best way for them to plug in with Greg Sloan?
I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. Get in touch with me. I do have Twitter and Instagram, but LinkedIn is still the best way. It’s Greg On Purpose. I want to share one thing about our time together because I still remember that day so vividly in a hotel here in Atlanta. It was so uncanny that our time aligned because people’s schedules don’t align like that. It doesn’t happen. I remember you saying, “I’m going to be in this hotel.” That was about twelve minutes from my office. I said, “I’ll come down. We’ll go hang out in the lobby.” I don’t remember how many hours we spent together. I remember that you have this fuzzy picture up here, but it was getting clearer.
Integrate purpose into your business culture and process.
If there was any part that I played in helping to bring that clarity, I’m honored to be part of that. I also remember your friend who came through there, and it was so cool to hang out. That was right when I was also making a transition. For the audience, I did sell my financial planning firm to pivot again and invest more time and energy into scaling our platform and still providing some consulting. I still do consulting for business owners that want to integrate purpose into their culture and process.
That’s also good to know for folks who are business owners or have access to their business owners, that you can help them incorporate. Being the math guy, making this transition is what it’s going to take to hit a tipping point. You made me reminisce about the Zac Brown concert we were up in Atlanta and the fact that I seem to have a lot of great connectivity in lobby bars, and that multi-hour conversation that we had. What I would like to bring into the space based on that memory is the notion that if you are getting comfortable with who you are, becoming aware of what drives and excites you, what makes your heart explode, and open to what the universe has to potentially help you get there, you are a great example of that for me.
I wasn’t that active on LinkedIn. I happened to download a paper from another colleague of ours. You and I connected because of that connectivity online. You’ve become very pivotal in my journey over the past years. My point of sharing this is that when we are on our journey to knowing and loving ourselves, we’re getting comfortable in our own skin, we cast that vision for who we want to be and what we would love our day to feel like, not how much money we’re going to make, what title it’s going to have, and what city it’s in, people cross your path that escorts you on a ride that’s grander. I know how my life has turned out. It’s been a very windy road like your past couple of years have been. The fact that we let go and live on point, we are gifted with relationships and opportunities. You are one of those gifts in my journey.
You for me as well. We enjoyed having you as part of our little community of CPMs years ago. It was extremely impactful not only for me but also for other members of the purpose mentors that went through the program.
I’m always available to support purpose peeps, and I look forward to the continuation of your expansion in this space. Folks, it was a pleasure bringing you a colleague, mentor and friend, Greg Sloan. Go Beyond is his platform. You can connect with him on LinkedIn. You can always reach out to me, and I’m happy to introduce you to Greg. That happens a lot.
Greg, we look forward to seeing you and your family continue to shine bright and help us all to go inside and find that purpose. Thank you for your time. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for reading. I appreciate your connectivity. I hope this helps you find your spark. If I can be of any service to you, you know where to go ahead and reach out, ChristinCollins.com. Until next time, be loved.
- Go Beyond
- LinkedIn – Greg Sloan
- Twitter – Greg Sloan
- Instagram – Greg Sloan
About Greg Sloan
Greg Sloan spent 25 years as a Personal CFO to a select group of executives and entrepreneurs. During the first 15 years of his career, Greg focused on spreadsheets, algorithms, and cash flow models. He helped his client reach financial goals that did not always lead to fulfillment in life. In 2010, he pivoted to purpose and helped clients move from success to impact. Greg now helps other companies and leaders grow by integrating purpose into their culture and process.
His purpose is to help creative leaders figure out how to leave a mark. His promise is to always challenge you to choose well.
In January 2020, Greg was blessed to sell my boutique wealth management firm, so that he could make a bigger impact by serving other leaders as they serve their people and their clients. Helping leaders make an impact in the lives of their people gives him renewable energy and empowers Greg to wake up each day ready to get after it.
Greg starts by helping them answer the big questions of “Why am I here?” and “How do I leave a mark on this world?”