Five Questions with WE

Shelly Cano Kurtz

Co-Founder & CMO,
Giving Tech Labs

As Co-Founder and CMO of Giving Tech Labs, Shelly helps provide technology solutions and Go-To-Market strategy for the public interest, empowering impact and change. She has 20+ years of award-winning experience in leading global digital media campaigns for tech startups and Fortune 500 companies, including NBCUniversal, Comcast, Make.TV, Giving Compass and VidaNyx. As a strong believer in the power of good intentions, Shelly is a passionate cheerleader for making personal connections, creating strategy and having a vision for the greater good.

What should brands consider when
implementing purpose-driven work?

All too often, we see companies working on purpose-driven work for the sake of checking a box or worse, fundamentally using it as a marketing tool. The best purpose-driven work a brand can consider is authentic to the brand, measurable beyond a tax-deduction and creates long-lasting systemic change.

There are also hard questions to ask around building strategy in this type of work. Are we doing it for the right reasons? Does it complement our brand mission and vision? Is it motivating to employees? Is there a measurement of the impact that can be quantified with data?

What does purpose mean to you?

My co-founder, Luis Salazar, introduced me to the concept of Ikigai. Ikigai is a Japanese term that means your reason for being, for waking up every morning. In a literal sense, it means the intersection of your passion, your mission, your profession, and your vocation. It is the answer to the four questions: “What do I enjoy doing,” “What am I good at,” “What does the world need,” and “What can I get paid for?” I have found my Ikigai in building Giving Tech Labs to lead and inspire the creation of technology for public interest. This is how I have defined my purpose.

Why is defining brand purpose important?

You need to define it or someone else will. Don’t wait until your competitors, your product, your employees, your customers or the media beat you to it.

Who is one purpose leader you admire? ​

Satya Nadella. I really like what he has done to evolve Microsoft into a purpose-driven organization through his focus on empathy. He is leading not only a transformation at Microsoft, but in the technology sector at large, using empathy, compassion and technology to empower people and solve the world’s most complex problems. I recently read his book, “Hit Refresh,” and I was pleasantly surprised to see the level of EQ (emotional intelligence) being infused into an organization known for its IQ.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading “The Second Mountain” by The New York Times columnist David Brooks. The concept is that most of us spend the initial part of our lives on the first mountain—climbing the corporate ladder, finding a partner, building a family and doing what others think we should be doing to be seen as being successful. The second mountain is all about living a life of purpose. It’s a nice framework to use when you see people “stuck” on their first mountain. Our vision at Giving Tech Labs is that perhaps there is another way, a single mountain to climb where we can do both: achieve our definition of personal success while also driving positive change in the world by creating Technology for Public Interest (Tech4PI). It is the best of both worlds.

Follow shelly:

“The best purpose-driven work is authentic to the brand and creates long-lasting systemic change.”
– Shelly Cano Kurtz


Leading with Purpose in an Age Defined by It
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