Mark Havenner


Why 'Purpose' Has Become My Fundamental Business Driver

September 27, 2022

By Mark Havenner

Although I had a very good and stable executive position in a prominent PR/Marketing firm, I was deeply unhappy. I explained it away in many ways—I wasn’t happy with the work culture, I wasn’t happy with the industry, I wasn’t happy with the clients. The list goes on.

Much has changed since I left. Even though I work harder, longer, and with far more intensity than ever before, I’m deeply happy. That could also be explained in many ways—I’m charting my own course, I have dominion over what I work on, I have freedom.

But none of those things are true indicators to why I was unhappy and why I’m now in a better place.

Three years ago I quit drinking.

I don’t think on anyone’s scale I would have been considered an alcoholic, but I was certainly on the path. I was using it as a form of medicine. I drank to deaden the deep sense of being trapped in a rut and unable to escape to do what I truly wanted to do.

During this time I contemplated everything I dreamt about coming true. I looked ahead to getting out of the rut I was in, no longer bound by the agency and instead free to do whatever I wanted. I asked myself, what do you do next? I tried to visualize my office, my day-to-day, what I would be working on. Eventually I asked myself the most fundamental question of all, who are you?

I had no answer for myself. I absolutely had no idea what would happen if I were to leave the agency. 

Because ‘escape’ can’t be the goal. There had to be a vision about where I want to land.

That was the moment I quit drinking. I quit self-medicating.

The clouds cleared shortly after and I had a renewed focus and clarity. I found myself searching for deeper meaning in my daily life. Then, when I settled on my purpose, I absolutely knew where I was heading. While I was still in the same place, doing the same thing, all of the things that made me unhappy didn’t bother me anymore. Because I had direction. I had a rudder.

That rudder wasn’t anything metaphysical, nor was it aspirational. It was simply a sense of purpose. I knew what I needed to do and with that rudder, I was able to navigate a number of storms, know the right answer to questions, and reach a state of contentment.

And what was my purpose? It’s really so simple and now that I look back, so obvious. But not having this purpose was the source of everything, from drinking to unhappiness. For not having a rudder. And having this purpose has meant everything, from my drastic lifestyle changes to the drive and ambition I now experience every day.

My purpose is simply to do work that matters.

And it doesn’t even need to be world-changing, but amen if it is! It just needs to have an impact. It must make a difference in the lives of the people I work with, it must help their business. My business needed to be about the success of other people. It needed to be about something more than myself.

And this mindset fundamentally changed everything for me. Now I would automatically reject any marketing or communications tactic that I knew was ineffective. It meant I would speak up to clients about strategy when I knew they were off course. It meant I would choose partners and clients that fit my fundamental vision to make everything better. 

It meant that I would never waste my time on something that didn’t matter.

This rudder. This sense of purpose has dramatically changed me in the past two years and I’m deeply happy with who I’ve become, the direction I’m going, and the world I see on the horizon.

Drinking may have been a problem, but it wasn’t the problem. Unhappiness with my work life may have been a problem, but it wasn’t the problem. The fact I spun off on my own and co-founded a business may have been a solution, but it wasn’t the solution.

It all comes down to purpose.

That’s why purpose is my fundamental business driver and that’s why we have incorporated it as a value pillar of Renovata.

A wiser person than myself once said, “I know you were only doing what you believe in, and that’s all any of us can do, it’s all any of us should.” (Captain America)