165. Hubert Joly: Focus on Purpose

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When he was growing up as a child in France, Hubert Joly was helping his veterinarian godfather when he learned an important lesson about purpose – it was important to find one, or someone else’s purpose could inadvertently become your own. 

As his career progressed, Hubert found himself focusing more and more on purpose – the purpose of an organization, the purpose of work, the meaning we find when we are engaged in work, and the importance of putting people first as a leader.

When Hubert was named CEO of Best Buy in 2012, he would have the opportunity to put everything he learned to the test.

Continued below…

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Back in 2012, Best Buy was in shambles. But by focusing on people first, then the business model and then financials, Hubert was able to lead a turnaround that quadrupled the stock price and gave Best Buy a solid foundation to innovate and work from – even as he stepped down as CEO last year. 

Now as he looks to step down from his role as Chairman of Best Buy, Hubert is excited about the next phase and what it will bring. And because he’s always centered on what his purpose is, that won’t be changing much. 

“My purpose doesn't change. My purpose is to try to make a positive difference on people around me and use the platform I have to make a positive difference in the world. I can add my voice and my energy to what I feel is a necessary and timely re-foundation of business and capitalism around purpose and humanity.”

Join us as we discuss Hubert’s journey, from growing up in France to his career as a consultant at McKinsey, to how he led the turnaround of Best Buy and how he would adapt that strategy to the current (as of this airing) COVID-19 crisis.

Listen to the episode in the player below, or download and enjoy it on iTunes. If you’re so inclined, please leave us a review!

Takeaways from this episode:

  • “The purpose of a corporation is to contribute to the common good.” – Hubert believes that the purpose of a business isn’t to generate revenue or increase the bottom line. The purpose of a corporation is to make a difference in the world. To make people’s lives better, and use that platform as an organization to make the world a better place for people to live in. 
  • Work matters and is essential to every human being. After being asked by a friend who was in business school and then became a monk to write an article about the philosophy and theology of work, Hubert came to the conclusion (supported by passages in the Bible) that work is a good thing and we do good in the world through work. 
  • People first. Then clients. Then financials. When Hubert was a consultant for McKinsey & Company, one of his clients shared a framework for how to lead well and how to structure reviews. First, talk about how the people in the organization are doing. Then, take a look at the clients and how they are being served. Then, focus on financials. If you start with finances, you’ll never get to people and clients, and at the end of the day, it’s those two things that truly drive the business. 
  • Focus on people. Hubert worked in some of the Best Buy stores in Minneapolis right at the start so he could hear from the people who were actually working with customers what the problems were. And instead of closing stores and laying off those employees who were interfacing with customers, he made changes at the management level. 
  • When you’re trying to turn around a company, focus on increasing revenue. Hubert took a look at inefficiencies in the way they were serving customers and started fixing those first. They matched prices with other online vendors, improved their online experience. Then, they took a look at where they were wasting money that could be cut – like TV breakage. And third, they looked at benefits to see where a focus on wellness could help increase revenue. Only after those three were exhausted did they take a look at laying off people. In this COVID crisis – Hubert suggests that leaders and CEOs take a look at taking care of their people, then customers and their business model, and then profits.
  • Think about your forward strategy by focusing on purpose. Reset, not restart. 
  • A coach can help you get to the next level. As Hubert said, when he realized that 100% of the top tennis players in the world and football teams all had coaches, Hubert started working with Marshall Goldsmith and started to focus on getting better as a leader.
  • Being a great leader starts with taking care of yourself. Put the mask on yourself first, and use all your gifts as a person. Not just your brain, but your heart, your soul – everything.
  • The quest for perfection – as a leader and as a human being – will get you nowhere. If you’re driven by perfection and working on a team, you’re surrounded by imperfect beings that will get in your way and become obstacles to your perfection. But if you’re not driven by perfection and know that people are more important than outcomes, things will always come out right in the end.

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