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January 11, 2022

Recommendation: Crafting Your Purpose

Circa 2018 I found myself with a brand-new baby, married to someone who traveled frequently for work, all while serving as President of a company.  One evening I came across this article – it was exactly what I needed at that time.  Since then, I’ve been following John’s writing career and can’t wait to read his new book, HBR’s Guide to Crafting Your Purpose.  The book highlights a number of stories of women living with purpose; below is an excerpt that John has kindly agreed to share with the Worthmore community.    

Julissa Carielo loves construction. Julissa’s parents emigrated from Mexico to Texas before she was born, and she is one of nine siblings. She’d never really considered college until, as a 16-year-old, she ended up on a community soccer team with a number of older professional women—lawyers, teachers, accountants, and advertising executives—who inspired her.

Julissa got her accounting degree from St. Mary’s University and joined the finance organization at a construction firm. She rose to controller, CFO, and VP of finance and administration. But in 2006, at 35, she realized she needed a change. With no fallback options, Julissa pulled $75,000 out of her 401k started her own construction firm.

She lights up when she talks about her work, which is about more than buildings—it’s about community service.

I like doing projects that are community-driven. If they’re going to provide a better space for the community, I love those kind of projects. . . . I’m always pushing for the utilization of our local businesses because we need to continue to grow our own here. . . . They’re our neighbors. Why wouldn’t we help them first?

While Julissa loves her work and finds it meaningful, she always felt something was missing. Just as those women from her soccer team had helped inspire her to her dreams, she wanted to help, inspire, and serve other underserved entrepreneurs. In 2016, Julissa used earnings from her successful business to start the Maestro Entrepreneur Center in San Antonio.

[W]hen the company turned 10 years old, I decided to purchase an [unused] elementary school to start a nonprofit—the Maestro Entrepreneurship Center to start incubating and accelerating companies. I started bringing in maestros—who are successful business owners here in San Antonio—to give back and teach. . . . We do a lot of training in that way, and we do it in all industries. The center has a building designated to each type of industry. We have a building for construction. We have one for the culinary. We have one for professional services. . . . We just have all kinds of events that helps our businesses connect to the community and for the community to get to know them. And then we offer small group training sessions and one-on-one mentorship.

The center is dedicated specifically to helping veterans, women, and minorities who are small business owners grow and expand their businesses. Julissa thinks of her construction work as a service to her employees and her community and the Maestro Entrepreneur Center as a way to deepen that service.

Volunteering and community service are part of almost any purposeful person’s life. If you review the list of purposeful, flourishing people you drafted in chapter 2, I’m almost certain that somewhere central to their lives is volunteer work. It may manifest in different ways; hands-on service in places like soup kitchens or nursing homes, board memberships at nonprofits, philanthropy, or simply person-to-person service offering meals to neighbors and a helping hand to those in need. But, in some way, almost every meaningful life contains service.

Active volunteering is associated with decreased mortality and higher self-esteem and happiness.[1] In a survey, 96% of respondents reported volunteer work enhanced their sense of purpose and 94% noted it raised their self-esteem, and the same survey reported a connection between volunteering and better health, low stress, and better mood.[2] Service isn’t just “volunteering”—as we’ve explored you can serve colleagues, family members, your church, or a host of others. But I’d presume those acts of service would yield the same positive outcomes as the types of volunteering these researchers studied.

Shockingly, however, many people silo their lives—seeking their one true purpose in a professional calling while never reflecting on the intense meaning their work in the community can bring. Most people are active in their communities and helpful to friends yet fail to reflect on the importance of that service or relegate it to second class, behind finding meaning in work. For many people, volunteer work, helping others, and investing in friends and family are the primary ways in which they give and receive meaning in their lives. If you’re the type of person who is active in this way, take the time to reflect on the positive impact you are having in the lives of others. If on reflection, you realize you’re not investing much in others, perhaps it’s time to consider how you can consciously carve out more time and energy for service.


[1] Ben Schiller, “Volunteering Makes You Happier,” Fast Company, September 3, 2013, https://www.fastcompany.com/3016549/volunteering-makes-you-happier.

[2] Hillary Young, “Why Volunteering Is So Good for Your Health,” HuffPost, November 1, 2013, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/benefits-of-volunteering_b_4151540.

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