Typically, our Business Impact Workshops focus heavily on the “business.” But our latest installment centers squarely on that second word: Impact. During our conversation with Matt Emerzian, founder and CEO of Every Monday Matters, and David Angelo, chairman and founder of David & Goliath, statistics and percentages never made their way into the discussion.
It was all about people -- because while we often focus on the people who buy our products, the consumers, we tend to think less about the hardworking people who power our brands and propel our businesses forward.
Matt’s innovative nonprofit aims to help people understand how much and why they matter in this giant world of ours. Powerhouse advertising firm David & Goliath has embraced Every Monday Matters and folded it into their internal corporate communications, fostering a sense of purpose, meaning and positivity in and out of the workplace.
We started off by asking Matt to explain how EMM works. It’s heavily based on two strikingly simple concepts: Monthly themes and weekly focuses. With each week comes a new opportunity to focus on personal betterment, and with each month comes a new overarching umbrella that frames the perspective.
The team asks everybody -- friends, family, strangers -- what words they believe their lives need more of, eliciting answers like “kindness” and “empathy” as well as more out-of-left-field responses. The EMM crew then takes a look at all of those words to find the most relevant and applicable ones, which help them shape the next calendar year.
“That’s the first part of it,” Matt told us. “The second part is we help people see the world through three perspectives: I matter (the good, bad and ugly of me), you matter (how do I impact those around me), and we matter (what can I do as a larger fabric of humanity).”
EMM combines the “I, You, We” with the monthly themes and weekly focuses to create “programming that can be consumed by different audiences. That’s how we move people along this experience and journey of why they matter to themselves, others and the larger world.”
Although the outside news is admittedly often depressing, Matt said those headlines only encourage him to keep working toward the goal: Bettering lives. “We have a reason to exist,” he said. “We always have more work to do and more messages to share.”
And on the receiving end of those messages are employees of companies like David & Goliath. For David, the effect has proven genuinely life-changing. He explained that he thinks of business-building like constructing a house: It requires a strong, solid foundation. You can’t just jump to the first floor.
“It starts with a firm belief in who the brand is and what they stand for, whether it’s a person, organization, company, bar of soap, a social movement,” he said. “Once you have that truth of who you are, you create a blueprint. You start with the foundation … that enables you to build first, second, third floors. Then you have to be protective of that blueprint everyone is building and contributing to.”
David emphasized that truth and vulnerability start from the top. Motivational messaging will feel fake and hollow if C-suite executives aren’t openly living those truths. It may prove a bit painful to realize that some execs don’t actually subscribe to the values your company promotes, and that can be a real problem. Employees and consumers alike can sense disingenuity.
As a CEO, David readily acknowledges that “advertising is not an easy business.” So he can’t discount the business advantages to helping his staff better themselves. “If we can make a difference in corporate culture and inspire people inside that culture to give their heart and soul toward everything they do there, the byproduct is going to be better products, services, relationships, and a stronger bottom line.”
In keeping with his own mantras on living authentically, Matt referenced his own struggles with anxiety and depression, battles he didn’t expect to face but he eventually was forced to confront head-on.
Understanding the gravity of those internal monologues, which privately plague more people than we can possibly imagine, helped Matt realize the importance of communicating with others, and with ourselves, in a meaningful way.
It’s a particularly important point for those who work in high-pressure industries. As sobering as it is to consider the numbers, we can’t pretend they don’t exist. Suicide rates are disturbingly high across the board, affecting men and women who work in healthcare, manual labor, media -- the list goes on.
At the executive level, whether you lead a giant company or a relatively small one, you likely don’t realize the personal issues people are attempting to handle while also juggling their full-time jobs.
Perhaps the most powerful part of this Business Impact Workshop is when Matt talks about the remarkable perspective he’s developed toward the concept of “corporate responsibility.” It’s not a responsibility, he said -- it’s an honor.
“These people come and work for you. Forty, fifty, sixty hours a week -- most of their waking hours are spent with you. And yes, you pay the, but wouldn’t it be amazing to help them grow as people?” he posed.
“They could change their families and their communities? That’s the opportunity you’re sitting on. You can change lives if you embrace that honor. I don’t see it as a responsibility, it’s a privilege.” He continued, “If you help them achieve that, your company is gonna thrive, and the world is gonna thrive.”