Purpose – Nikos Mourkogiannis [Book Summary]

by Nick

The book “Purpose” shows how important goals are for strong leadership in the 21st century.

This book explains four different forms of goals that will allow you and your business to flourish, from ethical foundations to their successful use by modern and most influential leaders.

Nikos Mourkogiannis is the world-famous ideological leader and main partner of the elite consulting center Panthea, where he provides expert advice to company executives from around the world. Murcogiannis also held influential positions as chairman of several world-class companies and was an executive advisor on leadership in the global consulting group Booz Allen Hamilton.

This book is available as:

eBook | Print

How Philosophy Can Help Your Business Grow and Succeed

Business is a kind of raw mass for modeling in the minds of many people. Many of us see companies and their leaders as money-obsessed people with the only desire to increase profits. Everything that comes in their way, be it, employees, customers or the environment, is ruthlessly pushed aside. However, this is not necessarily the case.

As the data show, no successful business can reach the top if it does it for the money. The only way to get to the top is to have a set of values ​​or goals that provide willpower and the desire for success.

Most of these values ​​originate from the depths of centuries and philosophical discussions and traditions. To rid you of the need to delve into the works of Nietzsche and Aristotle, this book provides the most outstanding goals and ways to use them by companies such as IBM and Wal-Mart to achieve success.

From this book, you will learn

  • why is not Warren Buffett longing for money;
  • why Henry Ford succeeded in acting like a dictator;
  • why the main goal of many top leaders is the happiness of others.

Having Developed a Set of Moral Ideas to Live and Work, You Can Ensure Your Company Success in the Long Run

Why do some succeed in business, while others do not?

Of course, this has a lot to do with economic splendor and charm, but that’s not all.

The company’s goal is the combination of moral ideas that guide it, which is crucial for long-term success. The goal is moral support: what we rely on when making decisions, be it everyday life or higher stakes. Having a goal, we can distinguish between right and worthy decisions, and those that are simple or technically correct. Let’s take a closer look at this.

Are you sure you want to serve your customers or maximize your income? Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, can answer this question without hesitation. Driven by altruism and compassion, Walton was dedicated to serving his clients.

His determination spread throughout the company. From senior managers to store employees, everyone at Wal-Mart was ready to make customer service a priority. This gave Walmart an edge over its competitors, which the company is ahead of again and again.

In reality, without a goal, you will only make short-term decisions. For example, Enron is a corporation whose collapse was one of America’s largest corporate bankruptcies. They had a strategy but had no goal. All of them were interested in making money and were ready to do everything to achieve this. This led to poor decisions that used dangerous strategies and concealed losses.

Not surprisingly, Enron’s actions finally turned against them, which confirms the danger of using a strategy without a goal.

Leaders Driven by Discoveries Are Responsible for Their Actions and Never Stop

Now you know what goals are and why they are important.

But find them?

The goal has four forms, each of which follows from the ethical traditions that have developed as part of the work of various philosophers from ancient Greece to the modern era. Let’s start with the goal of discovery (discovery).

This goal is connected with the work of the Danish philosopher Seren Kierkegaard and the existentialists with their powerful arguments in favor of an ethical choice. Kierkegaard argued that it makes no sense to hide behind rules and conventions and blame them when things go wrong. Instead, people should be responsible for the choices they make. Kierkegaard used the biblical account of Isaac’s sacrifice to illustrate this principle.

As you well know, Abraham intended to sacrifice his son Isaac when he heard the voice of an angel urging him to do so. Abraham claimed that it was God who told him to do this, but that ultimately the choice was Abraham — he was the only one who could be held accountable. We are also the only ones who are responsible for our deeds.

But what does this idea have to do with finding new discoveries?

The French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre relied on this idea and believed that since we are responsible for our actions, we should constantly ask questions and decide what is best for us. With the goal of discovering as a guide, we must always be prepared for questions in order to create something new and find the best solution for us. It is exactly the attitude that Tom Watson of IBM supported looking for “beyond our traditional beliefs.”

The goals of Watson’s discovery led him and his colleagues to the opportunity to consider the situation from different angles, according to the teachings of existentialists. THINK (think) is the IBM slogan that emphasizes the importance of abandoning the framework and traditions in favor of finding new ways to solve their customers’ problems. IBM even decided to recruit college graduates immediately after graduation in order to be able to constantly challenge the status quo.

Manage Mastery and Cultivate Virtue – This Will Lead You to Your Best Results.

Once you have discovered an innovative way of doing business, you will need to use it to the best of your ability. And here comes the second goal – the goal of perfection.

The ethical connection with virtue was developed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle concluded that a person cultivates virtues in himself as a means to become successful and achieve the desired goal: self-realization. In fact, Aristotle even had a special word to describe the state of self-realization, success, and prosperity – ceremony, and for Aristotle, this was a function of man.

Fulfilling your vocation or role in society to the best of your abilities, you could achieve eudemonia. But for this, you need to cultivate virtues or positive characteristics, such as courage, honor, and wit.

Although the specific set of virtues varies depending on your current environment, commitment is the most important aspect here. Top investor Warren Buffett is a stunning embodiment of the goal of excellence in action.

Throughout his career, he strove to achieve self-fulfillment in society by cultivating the virtues characteristic of the best investors. His role in life is to distribute capital in order to achieve maximum return on equity. To fulfill this role, Buffett has an optimal performance – he does not strive for excellence for profit. He has a rather modest salary compared to his colleagues, for example.

Buffett is committed to a great investment. For example, he hones his arithmetic skills in his mind, which allows him to remember 2,000 annual reports and 7,500 shareholders. Buffett’s excellence goal led him to a fortune of $ 40 billion.

Altruistic Leaders Strive to Create the Greatest Possible Happiness for the Greatest Number of People

Scottish historian and philosopher David Hume is known for his work on the ethics of compassion. This is due to the goal of altruism.

For Hume, the underlying motive of any action is to increase happiness. Although this may seem selfish or hedonistic, our happiness actually depends on how we can make others and ourselves happy.

Hume claimed that we have a natural liking for others. Adam Smith further developed this idea through his concept of utilitarianism, which claims that the right action is what leads to the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number of people.

So, all our actions are determined by the prospect of pain or pleasure, to which others may be exposed. Thus, empathy is central to making optimal decisions, especially in a business context.

In this book, we got an idea of ​​how the goal of altruism helped Wal-Mart achieve tremendous success. Its founder, Sam Walton, acted in accordance with this goal, ensuring that his decisions satisfy customers as much as possible.

Walton grew up in the relatively poor village of Arkansas. His upbringing gave him a powerful sense of empathy, which became the basis of his determination to help as many people as possible.


By increasing access to affordable, high-quality material goods in order to improve the living standards of the population. If his customers receive an exceptionally good deal instead of directly increasing his profits, he will have more customers with all the consequences.

Walton also assured that this goal travels down the company hierarchy: management information systems have been designed so that managers can focus on the needs of local customers throughout the United States. All of Wal-Mart’s action is centered around their customers, making Walton David Hume a modern American business!

Hero Leaders Use Their Vision to Lead Us Into the Unknown

Although many of us may find in the work of the German philosopher Nietzsche thoughts about being “impenetrable”, his ideas contain one of the most useful ethics for business leaders: heroism.

This is not just a desire to win, but a desire to be courageous and dare to do something that no one else can. Nietzsche believed that only a few people are truly free and therefore able to lead. Those who do not have such opportunities should follow those with leadership skills. But those who demonstrate heroism will understand that they must use their influence and take on the role of a leader with ambition.

Henry Ford is a prime example of a hero leader. His goal was to rebuild society through his car, and his ambitions led him to use the company as a means of fulfilling his will. Ford was not interested in standard business practice and flexibility. Instead of asking customers what they needed, Ford gave them what they did not know but needed. Ford with its products will step forward in the firm belief that they will change the world.

But he was interested in increasing his power, regardless of whether it led to changes in the company or affected social security, and sometimes it led him to make risky decisions. He was so determined to revolutionize the automotive industry that he hired an ex-prisoners as workers, partially rehabilitating them and benefiting their production line. Ford went so far as to hire gangsters from Detroit, which led to problems with physical violence among workers.

Thus, heroism is not only a powerful goal but also something that can get out of hand if it is not balanced with other ethical principles. The interaction of all four goals – discovery, excellence, altruism, and heroism – will develop your company in several directions. Read on to find out how!

A goal can boost morale and make your company a great workplace.

As the Prussian general and military theorist, Karl von Clausewitz said, the physical factors in the war are “a little more than the wooden handles, while the moral factors are precious metals, real weapons and finely honed blades”, which is true for business. As a soldier with high morale is more likely to win the battle, companies in which employees have high morale are generally more successful.

In fact, in 2003, a study by Towers Perrin Insurance Company found a positive correlation between strong labor discipline and shareholder dividends. So, the better your employees think about their work, the easier your company will be able to achieve higher profitability. And besides, if workers are wrong to love their jobs, their performance, and companies in general, may suffer: in 2002, a study of Price Waterhouse Coopers found a clear correlation between absenteeism, which is associated with a low level of morality and a decrease in average profit.

But how can you provide your employees with interest and commitment to work? An effective way to do this is to give them good reasons to work with identifying the needs of your company. For example, 3M is an American multinational corporation that is famous for its cohesion. The company’s goal was to solve the problem is what their engineers truly believed in. One engineer, in particular, was so enthusiastic about solving the client’s problem that he created a completely new form of masking tape, which led to the creation of the adhesive tape that is in the drawer of every table today.

Another employee of the same company created a post to solve his own problem without finding the right page in his collection of church hymns. Just having a goal, these employees were inspired to go the extra mile and make a difference in the process of creating products that we know and love.

Goal Shapes and Strengthens Innovation

It often seems that the most successful companies are the most innovative. But while innovation is truly a great competitive advantage, it does not provide lasting success without a goal that supports them.

Booz Global Consultant Allen Hamilton conducted a survey of the TOP thousands of companies with the largest development and research budgets. During the survey, to the surprise of many, it turned out that there was no significant correlation between innovation and the success of the company. So what keeps innovative companies in the TOP?

Many of them use discovery goals to build on their achievements. For example, Sony. Masaru Ibuka founded the company “as a place of work where engineers can feel the joy of technological innovation, be aware of their mission in society and work for their own pleasure”. This clear goal allowed Sony’s first team to freely and creatively begin its journey into innovation, leading to Japan’s first tape recorder.

A clear goal allows innovators to radically risk and changes the rules of industries or enterprises. Wal-Mart’s Sam Walton was guided by the goal of altruism and moved toward radical market changes, driven by his goal of offering fair prices to customers. At the risk of losing employees, but in order to keep prices low for his customers, he allowed him to cut costs as much as he could. Its employees go, and do not take a taxi, and even share numbers. Walton even decided to open stores in abandoned stockyards and factories, risking a less attractive appearance than his rival Key-Mart, but to keep prices competitive at all times.

Goals Make Companies Great Competitors

We all want to know exactly how to get around our competitors. Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula, but one of the best ways for your company to achieve a sustainable market advantage is through strategic positioning.

This means that your company must have certain market positions that cannot be selected or copied by others. True, easier said than done – but it is doable!

It all starts with the development of routines and relationships. By coordinating the activities of people and their relationships, you can unite your companies under a powerful, unique strategy. A company without a goal is most likely an unjustified change in strategy. By switching between different tactical approaches in the hope that they may be what is needed, the company is unlikely to be able to achieve an agreed advantage over competitors.

A company without a clear goal can also adhere to the old strategy, even if it has lost its relevance. For a specific purpose, you can much more easily coordinate activities and relationships in your company. The goals of discovery, altruism, skill, and heroism exist to guide your staff in every interaction and task. Thanks to a reliable, common understanding created through meanings, Warren Buffett was able to manage his conglomerate easily and masterly. He did not have to tell his employees how to act, they already knew the best choice based on a value system.

The goal is a reliable guide for those who make countless everyday decisions that affect the company’s strategic position in the market.

Questions such as “Should we invest in product development?” Or “What should staff train the customer?”

It can easily be resolved when your company has strong goals.


Whether you want your company to be a market leader, a radical innovator, or a great place to work, you will need values ​​that will guide you. Four types of goals – the goals of discovery, mastery, altruism, and heroism – have established themselves as powerful tools for some of the most successful business leaders. So why not start using them in your own vision?

Find the goal that drives you. Is it your passion to discover something new? Or do you want to succeed in something for yourself? Or do you want your decisions to help as many people as possible? Or perhaps you seek to change the world with the help of your courage? Think about the goal that underlies your actions in order to understand how you can direct it to your business.

Why You Should Read “Purpose”?

  • To become the boss;
  • To learn about leadership in the 21st century;
  • To rethink what successful leadership implies.

This book is available as:

eBook | Print