As some of you may know, we’re big fans of Simon Sinek and his incredible book Start With Why (2009), so much so that we’ve published several excerpts from his book on our blog. Which is why, in honour of our 21 years in business this year, we wanted to explore the ‘cathedral’ we’ve been building over the past few decades.
Just like the two stonemasons building a cathedral, we’ve been working towards a vision that is bigger than us. We’ve spent two decades leading with our values of service, empathy and empowerment, and following our purpose to redefine success in business beyond profit to have a positive impact in the world. We’re here to put humanity back into business and the world we live in — that is the cathedral we’re building. But how did we get to this point?
Building a Cathedral
If you’re not familiar with the parable about building a cathedral in Sinek’s book, the story goes that there were once two stonemasons building a cathedral and they were asked if they loved their jobs.
One hated his job because it was a lot of hard work and he didn’t know whether he would ever see the end result, while the other loved his job – yes, it was hard work and he may never see the result of that work in his lifetime, but that wasn’t the point… the point was he was building a cathedral and it was a worthwhile purpose even if he never saw it finished.
The two stonemasons are doing the same job building the same thing, so why does one hate his job while the other loves it? Because the stonemason who hates his job doesn’t see a purpose to what he is doing, he has no ‘why’ and without ‘why’, what we do can feel pointless.
When our actions are driven by a deeper ‘why’ we lead with our values, we follow a purpose towards a goal – even if that goal, like the cathedral, will never be realised in our lifetime.
Start with a Vision – Our Origins
Our story began in 1999 with the Burrell brothers, Luke and Shane. They survived Y2K and went on to develop their vision of a creative consultancy business that was purpose-driven, embodied service and humanity, and was committed to having a positive influence on the world through its work.
Luke and Shane were two creative thinkers with hearts of gold and knew WHY their vision was important, all that was missing was a little more HOW. That changed with the introduction of Nikki in 2005 as a third owner who has brought strategic thinking and human insight to guide us towards our higher purpose. Now, two decades and many remarkable people later – we have grown into a brand leadership consultancy that puts people first and is helping to shape the new future of business. We guide our clients to build brands that embrace their values and purpose, to witness the magic that comes from being loyal to your core beliefs and, together, we move mountains.
Establishing a Strong Structure Through Purpose & Values
As our business has grown, we’ve needed to maintain direction and guide our clients towards a new future while weathering the ongoing change that’s inevitable in business – for this, we’ve needed a strong structure for our cathedral through our why, purpose and values. In Sinek’s book he calls this The Golden Circle – WHY, HOW and WHAT.
The Golden Circle
In order to balance the Golden Circle, you need to build from the inside–out and this reflects the inherent approach of conscious branding and leadership.
Start With WHY
Purpose is your foundation from which you can begin building, it will act as your guide when making decisions and help you navigate even the most difficult circumstances because it is the deeper why that makes your work meaningful and keeps you going.
For Mezzanine, our WHY is to put service, contribution and humanity back into business for the greater good and we’ve spent the last 21 years building our cathedral around this purpose.
Purpose is powerful, it can transform every aspect of your business, your brand and your leadership. Only when you lead with purpose and truly activate it within your business can you have a positive, meaningful impact on the world.
Defining HOW you achieve can be much more difficult than defining WHY, as often those who know why aren’t always best equipped to know how (you can read more on this phenomenon in this Simon Sinek excerpt.)
‘To serve’, ‘contribute to the greater good’, ‘put purpose and humanity back into business’… these are abstract concepts, not actionable directives and in business, you need both. So how do we activate these concepts? How did we apply a concrete process to our ‘why’?
In order to put humanity and purpose back into business, it wouldn’t be enough to harness empathy and empowerment within our own company – we had to help other leaders transform their organisations to become the conscious brands they aspired to be as well. As such, our brand consultancy emerged. The right brand empowers a business, their people and their customers. When a brand embodies the genuine purpose and values of a company, it empowers the growth of meaningful culture and positive change, inside and outside an organisation.
Equipping organisations with the belief, understanding and capacity to have a positive impact is HOW we fulfil our purpose.
A willingness to serve others and contribute to the greater good are inherently entwined with this process. Conscious leadership in business looks like genuinely serving people, adding value beyond dollar signs and encouraging a work culture that empowers a business to exist more sustainably and have a positive impact on our communities and the environment. To this end, we ensure the brands we build are striving to have a positive impact in their small corner of the world.
‘Why’ and ‘How’ Guide WHAT
Once you have a clearly defined WHY and a process for HOW you need to start taking action. But what action do you take? This is where you need to take a step back and let your purpose and values lead the way, they will eliminate pathways forward that don’t align and illuminate the pathways that do.
For Mezzanine, our WHAT is focused on our passion for ingenuity, creative thinking and strategy, building conscious brands that lead with purpose. Over time we’ve added capability in strategy, psychology, human behaviour and marketing to expand into holistic brand builders, delivering the services that businesses need to build and manage every touchpoint of a conscious brand. Our ‘what’ spans from market research and strategy right through to marketing, design, digital and film. Over the years, we have collected innovators, dreamers, storytellers and strategists to help us build our cathedral, developing unique processes and tools that help us and our clients work towards a different kind of business and brands for the future, contributing to the creation of a better world for all us.
Seek Out Your Stonemasons – Working With the Right People
We had a vision for how we wanted to do business, help clients and contribute to leaving the world better than when we found it – but to do that, laying the right foundation is critical.
Mezzanine is the key pillar in supporting our cathedral — a vision of conscious leadership and brands that work to do good in this world, valuing people beyond profits. Our Mezzanine team are a rare breed of questioners, thinkers, empaths and innovators – driven by their values and belief in making a positive contribution to the world. We’ve structured the business to support a holistic approach to brand and marketing, working together to deliver meaning, relevance and impact through brand purpose and strategy, web creation and digital design, digital marketing and communications, content production and media management. Through these services, we help elevate businesses to achieve the change they want make in the word and grow.
INNX was also founded by our Directors, Luke and Shane, and has played an integral role in pursuing our vision of the business for good. INNX is a co-working space that promotes collaboration and creates a network of people that help each other push the boundaries, enhancing our capability and capacity to deliver on our vision. The space is a vehicle for inspiring innovators, creators, leaders and entrepreneurs to come together to create and collaborate.
Stonemason Conscious Brands
When we developed our and Conscious Brand Index Assessment tool in 2015, an entrepreneur by the name of Rob Sinclair was running a business in Canada with the same philosophy – he came across our work and decided to get in touch. We’ve since partnered with Rob and together we’ve launched Conscious Brands (international), enabling us to expand our impact and support organisations around the globe to transform towards a conscious approach to business and brand. Empowering businesses with visibility and awareness around their brand and how to activate their purpose through their people and operations is an integral step towards a new future where business supports a more equitable, harmonious and healthy society and more sustainable world.
Stonemason Conscious Capitalism
Conscious Capitalism is a more sustainable kind of capitalism that reflects our interdependent systems of living. A book on the subject was published by John Mackey, founder of Wholefoods, and Dr Raj Sisodia, an international expert on organizational philosophy if you’re interested in reading about it. Our Directors, Luke and Nikki, attended the very first Conscious Capitalism Australia and New Zealand event when it launched here in 2015. BCorp presented at the event, illustrating the kinds of businesses they worked with – businesses that were “not just the best in the world, but the best for the world”. That phrase resonated deeply with us and the event as a whole was a pivotal moment for us, giving us hope there were others out there that believed business is about more than just making a profit and confirmed there was a growing trend to expect more from capitalism. Since then we’ve been inspired by Mackey and Sisodia, as well as other large organisations like Patagonia, via the impact they have in our world by following their purpose. As a result, we were involved in the CCANZ strategy, brand and marketing, and have now been on the Board of CCANZ for 4 years.
Through collaboration, knowledge and skill sharing, Mezzanine, INNX, Conscious Brands and Conscious Capitalism are catalysts of innovation in their industries and together we’ve pushed the boundaries of what we expect towards a future we all deserve.
How Do You Start ‘Building a Cathedral’?
Use the Golden Circle as a guide:
- Find your WHY – what is your purpose as an individual and in business? What are your values? Why do you want to undertake this struggle? Why you? This will help to guide you and motivate you.
- Decide HOW – how will you work towards this purpose? How will you practice your values in your business and communicate them through your brand? This will form the framework and foundations for taking action towards your purpose.
- Offer WHAT – what do you have to offer that will help you live your values through business and work towards your purpose? What practical, creative, inspirational and personal skills are unique across your business? What can you do that – when combined with your WHY and HOW – no one else can offer? What do you want to lead in? And in what areas do you want to have a meaningful impact?
This is a deep process that requires honesty, self-awareness, creative thinking and empathy, but at the end you will discover deep clarity, around your business which will become the catalyst for creating a true impact and realising your potential.
If you’re looking to gain a deeper understanding of your ‘why’, your brand and how to genuinely serve your community with authenticity and empathy, but need some help to reach your goals, our is free to use for individual assessments or you can learn more with our Brand Clarity + Authenticity Guide (also free to download).
If you’d like to learn more about how you can become a Conscious Brand and start building your cathedral, get in touch via the contact form below!