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Episode #29: Andre Beaupre

Episode 29

How can companies work towards more than just a profit?

Andre Beaupre explores that question in his book, “The Purposeful Nine and Soulful Advantage,” which showcases nine companies integrating socially and environmentally responsible tactics into their everyday work.

Andre, who also founded the strategic consulting firm Soulful Advantage, talks with David about the movement within the corporate sector to “do good” while remaining financially viable. He touches on the importance of a top-down approach when it comes to mission, why purpose helps companies recruit and retain talent and how he became interested in values-based business.

Featured Guest: Andre Beaupre

As a purpose-centered strategist and author, Andre partners with founders, executives and nonprofit leaders to authentically improve workplace culture, sustainability and social impact.

He is the author of The Purposeful Nine and Soulful Advantage (2021), which tells the stories of nine inspiring founders who share why they became more purposeful, what they did and how it created remarkable competitive advantage. Unlike other business books focused on large consumer companies and well known brands, the book spotlights a fresh, diverse group of successful organizations that have been authentically – and quietly – purposeful for 20-50 years.

Across three decades as an entrepreneur, Andre measurably increased purpose, credibility, belief, support and valuation for hundreds of Beaupre & Co. clients within technology, B2B, education and nonprofit sectors. Nearly 50 of his clients were acquired in M&A deals by such industry giants as IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, HP, Verizon, Symantec, Canon, Saint-Gobain, Computer Associates, Lucent and Dassault Systemes.
Beaupre & Co. was acquired by Brodeur Partners and Omnicom, Inc., a New York Stock Exchange traded Fortune 500 company. At Brodeur, he provided strategic purpose-driven counsel to nonprofits as well as technology and global consumer companies.

In 2017, he co-founded Soulful Advantage, a strategic consultancy at the intersection of purpose and profit. The firm helps businesses expand social impact, increase stakeholder support, gain competitive advantage and meaningfully communicate purpose.
Personal social cause passions include sustainability; reducing food insecurity; improving the lives of service members and veterans; advocating for children and youth; and supporting entrepreneurs in developing nations.

Andre’s Board experience includes the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute Advisory Board; NH Hunger Solutions; Granite State Children’s Alliance; Operation Hat Trick; NH Kids Count and the University of New Hampshire Foundation. Earned third party results validation includes Engage For Good (www.engageforgood.org) HALO cause marketing, as well as Silver Anvils, Super Bells, SABRE and Bronze Anvils.

David Reiling Headshot

David Reiling

David Reiling is an innovative social entrepreneur focused on empowering individuals through community banking and financial technology. David is the Chief Executive Officer of Sunrise Banks and has been in the community development banking industry for more than 25 years.

Featured Music

Luna Wave

"New Generation"

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Episode Transcript

0:00
[MUSIC PLAYING]

0:01 – Andre Beaupre
I think this Gen Z alignment in particular, this emerging majority of the workforce, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there. These people want to see the values that they believe in reflected in the companies that they work for.

0:20 – David Reiling
Welcome to the NextGen Banker podcast, where we explore what’s next in banking and talk with the innovators responsible for creating positive change in the financial sector. I am your host, David Reiling, and I’m very excited to welcome Andre Beaupre today. Andre, thank you for being on the NextGen Banker podcast.

0:37 – Andre Beaupre
Thanks. Thanks for inviting me. I’m looking forward to chatting.

0:41 – David Reiling
Sounds good. Before I get started, just a reminder to our audience of our musical feature at the end of the episode. It’s become very popular. And so, the NextGen Banker episode showcases a new artist from somewhere around the world and in a wide range of genres. So, check it out. It’s pretty cool, and you’ll be surprised I think with the talent that’s on there.

1:03 – David Reiling
So, Andre, I want to tell our global audience a little bit about you before we dive into our conversation. So, you’re an entrepreneur, an author, a communications strategist, and purpose consultant. You are the founder of the Soulful Advantage, a consulting firm helping businesses forge a connection between purpose and profit, the author of The Purposeful Nine and Soulful Advantage, a book highlighting nine business leaders and the way they became purposeful in their work and which has led them to become more successful.

1:36 – David Reiling
And it seems like you have many passions, Andre, including sustainability. You’re on multiple boards of nonprofit organizations around New Hampshire where you live. So, with that background, I’m dying to kind of jump into Andre. How did you become passionate about purpose? Where was that aha moment in your life that it kind of rang that bell?

2:00 – Andre Beaupre
I guess there are two answers to that question, Dave. The first one would be the origin of my first company Beaupre and Company, which is a communications firm, a national communications firm. And we were working with venture-backed companies, a lot of companies and technology, business to business focused companies. And these were the days when purpose wasn’t really discussed at all. In fact, it was still the era of Milton Friedman with stakeholder not really existing, but shareholder being the sole purpose of a company.

2:39 – Andre Beaupre
But I had the good fortune days in those early days of working with impressive visionary founders of these companies that I mentioned, B2B and tech, and I’d say mid-tier companies, $50 to $100 million up to $1 billion in size. And even though the world wasn’t practicing purpose like we know it today, these companies that taught me how to run a better business were highly influential. So, I saw the way that they treated their employees. It was a two-way street.

3:11 – Andre Beaupre
They cared about how they felt about the businesses that they work for and they embedded within those cultures, a mission-aligned philosophy that got people personally involved with the company and with the communities and with making the world a better place. And again, this was at a time when it really wasn’t due rigor, if you will, for a company, especially a non-consumer company to do that.

3:35 – Andre Beaupre
And I’d say more recently, when I started Soulful Advantage, a consultancy focused on helping companies embed purpose authentically within their organizations, that was 2017, and I had just come back from several weeks in Peru and had visited the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and we, as part of that venture, had gone into school systems and helped work with the local kids and brought them all kinds of goodies that they never would normally have to make the school experience better and did some programs with them. And that really sort of lit the fire for me and got me on the road of wanting to really pursue purpose as a business focus.

4:17 – David Reiling
So that’s fantastic, Andre. And I love the fact that you dove into it face to face, as what I would say, in Peru, in your service there. When you think about a business, let’s say in the United States particularly where that shareholder and the immediate profit seems to be ever looming over the shoulder of a CEO, we talk about purpose. And is there a way to define it? Is there a way to say this is the secret sauce or the alignment that you’re looking for? How do you describe purpose when you’re talking to a CEO?

4:51 – Andre Beaupre
Well, I would talk about it in the sense of creating a loop, I guess, a loop. And by that, I mean– and you talked about this with me when we wrote the book. Sunrise Banks really creating a mission-aligned culture that was really driven toward making the world a better place. You have value aligned, and you created a high-performance workplace culture, so people-first environment.

5:22 – Andre Beaupre
So, I would describe words like that to describe purpose. But by the loop, I mean the more good you do, the more it comes back to your organization. And the purposeful nine companies in the book, there are nine different companies of all different types, didn’t really do it to create competitive advantage for themselves or really to have any self-focus.

5:43 – Andre Beaupre
A lot of the people described why they did it, Dave, as it just felt like the right thing to do. And what they found out over time is that doing the right thing with authenticity comes back rather quickly and creates a better organization internally. People are more loyal, they believe in the purpose of the actual company they work for, they see their own values reflected in the type of company that they’re working for, and they’re seeing the impact of that in their local communities and in the world around them.

6:15 – Andre Beaupre
So, the big benefit and the alignment I make in the book is the correlation between being more purposeful, authentically being more purposeful because it’s the right thing to do and seeing a return in the form of competitive advantage creation. And each of the purposeful nine– and I would argue every company that’s authentically purposeful and is working to become a conscious capitalist, if you will– they’re seeing the benefit coming back to them in terms of competitive advantage. And when I say competitive advantage, I’m talking about things like recruitment and retention impact, which has never been bigger than it is right now with the great resignation of so many people looking for other types of work. But a definite impact, first and foremost, in recruitment and retention, top and bottom-line impact. In the book The Purposeful Nine, these companies talk about the impact that it’s had on their bottom line and their top line in a very measurable way, not in a qualitative, subjective way, but in a very measurable way. There’s a company in Houston called BMC Software whose CEO talks about it at length in a very pragmatic way.

7:28 – Andre Beaupre
I would talk about other things in the area of competitive advantage including measurable sustainability gains, environmental gains for the planet to make it a better place, positive new business development as a company in the book called TerraCycle. And that was one of the big derivatives of being more purposeful, is just being able to have conversations with the biggest companies in the world, there are recycling company in New Jersey. Being able to have these conversations with the highest-level people in the biggest organizations and seeing an interest in their company because these larger companies believe in the value system that TerraCycle represents. So, it is a direct alignment with competitive advantage, which wasn’t pursued as a strategy, but it ended up being a reality of making the world a better place.

8:19 – David Reiling
Yeah. Correct me if I’m wrong, in reading the book and in my own experience with Sunrise is when you have that, I’ll call it values alignment that purpose alignment, there’s a tendency that everybody is rowing in the same direction. There’s this consistency. And so, I think the speed picks up in the boat, the more aligned people are in terms of the purpose of what they’re doing. And I think the energy raises the more values align you become, the more purposeful the company is. Because you feel the good that you’re doing, and it’s really quite energizing.

8:57 – David Reiling
But let’s go back for one second because it is such a big topic today of recruit and retain. Let’s think and talk a little bit, did you have any insights in regard to how do these companies’ onboard people? How are they finding these people that are values aligned or purpose aligned? Were there any nuggets there?

9:16 – Andre Beaupre
I think that the relationships that they’ve built with partners, and in some cases NGOs, and local community, and relationship building, which when I think about Sunrise Banks, and I think about was the founder and the CEO in the early days with the Hmong community. You were getting out there like rolling up your sleeves and you’re still doing that I’m sure, meeting with people and trying to create authentic deep rooted relationships because you cared about that community and that ended up paying back in spades for Sunrise Banks. So, I think relationship building gets the word out there and it creates a buzz if you will about Sunrise Bank and any purposeful company, being a great place to work.

10:04 – Andre Beaupre
And I think this Gen Z alignment in particular, this emerging majority of the workforce. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there. These people want to see the values that they believe in reflected in the companies that they work for. So, I think, they’re looking for that more and more, I mean there was a time when it was, what salary is it? What’s the benefits program? And how far is it that I have to drive to work? Things like that were the top of the agenda, right? For how I choose a company but now it’s increasingly, it can I work for this company? Who’s leading it? What do they stand for? What have they done? And they’re trying to see the reflection of their own values, like I said, in the companies that they’re considering working for. And then when they work for them better deliver as a company because they’re expecting that. And their involvement will be great because they believe in it when they see it.

11:02 – David Reiling
Yeah. I would agree. I have a couple of kids in the Gen Z.

11:06
[LAUGHS]

11:07 – David Reiling
And we talk about this regularly, and their philosophy is really grounded in that purpose driven. Maybe I had a little influence in that, but you can only tell your kids so much until they grasp on to things. And so, it’s been quite an interesting journey there. So, there’s an attraction there. And let’s go back to the ethical leaders of these companies and other companies that you’re seeing. Are there any insights? Are there any differences when there’s a leader or a set of leadership teams that are in a purposeful company versus one that’s not? Is there some unique characteristics or insights there?

11:50 – Andre Beaupre
Oh, absolutely. I’d say that the alignment or the impact of the visionary founder, and in some cases the leader, is the number-one walk away from The Purposeful Nine, the book that I wrote. Of the nine, eight companies were founded by people like yourself, Dave, who started it from scratch, and grew it, and embedded their own mission and values within the organization. BMC software in Houston, which is a couple of billion probably in revenue private, is the only one of the nine in my book, that wasn’t still being led by a visionary founder. They’ve been around for 40-plus years. And they’ve had probably, in fact, some good long leadership stints of 10, 20 years but probably had, in all, four or five different CEOs over that -40-year span. So, the visionary founder is absolutely key in creating a connection.

12:57 – Andre Beaupre
I think all of these companies began like you did with writing down and creating and forming a set of values that represent the organization. Not top down, but sort of bottom up creation of this kind of mindset. And at Sunrise Banks, I just love the way that you express the values of the company. You just say cool things like, these catchy values bigger than us, do the right thing, step up big time, woo hoo, so have fun in the workplace, because we can, blind spot awareness for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Just an expression of alignment with people that work for you and choose to work for you.

13:49 – David Reiling
Yeah. And thank you for calling those out. Those are very important to us and very integrated into really everything that we do, including in the recruiting and retain side of things. We interview and talk to potential new employees around the values, orientation is about values, performance views about values. So, it’s kind of its way throughout the organization. So, it is also really interesting to hear, and I think it’s beneficial to hear, that a company doesn’t necessarily have to be a founder visionary in terms of the company although it seems predominant in the book. There are examples of companies that have leaders and maybe multiple leaders, like you had mentioned that can bring the purpose driven culture and focus of the company in and really develop it. Now, I’m sure that company has, and that CEO has supported the board and its employees. When we think about the role of an employee in this particular case is there any way that an employee within an organization can spark the purpose driven flame if you will, of a corporation?

14:57 – Andre Beaupre
Yeah, definitely. I mean, that’s the goal right to get not just a mindset connection between personal values in the workplace value system but to make everything actionable. So actionable purpose I would say in ways to do that. I think you start with the people that you hire, right? I remember with Sunrise Banks when I ran over, you talked a lot about people being hired and fired in large part based on corporate governance, and the values that they have, and that they exhibit. So, you want to create committees and have committees being self-formed that are associate driven, you want to have a volunteering structure in place, paid time for purpose activities, community service, things like that. And I’d say the more that it’s bottoms up driven versus top down, the much more successful that program and that effort will be internally because people will just believe in it.

16:04 – Andre Beaupre
We have many of the purposeful 9 companies, created programs that reflected this type of bottom up involvement by employees and by associates.

16:16 – David Reiling
Definitely. So, two more questions for you, Andre. One, let’s go macro for a second. When you look at the purposeful companies that are out there, is this a is this a growing trend, an authentic growing trend, or is there greenwashing, how would you kind of look at the state of purpose driven companies today?

16:37 – Andre Beaupre
Yeah. I was trying to think before this interview like, this when did this all start? And I think there were seeds planted. The first point I can think of was probably Newman’s Own, which is circa 1982. A real purpose pioneer, Stonyfield Farms on the consumer side probably in 1983. Those were

16:58 – Andre Beaupre
Founder-driven. But then I think of President George H. Bush with his 1,000 points of light. And I think of other companies that in some cases were not founder driven but yet we’re able to embed that. I think it definitely; it isn’t essential that the founding visionary be alive and be actively involved still in the organization. The purpose and the values that are embedded within the organization can live on, but it has to live on through the new regimes of leadership that are created and that are put into effect by the organizations themselves.

17:39 – Andre Beaupre
So, I would agree that it’s not a case of having to have the visionary founder. There were probably even more examples of companies that have created cultures that are archetypes of purpose that have not done that previously.

18:00 – David Reiling
So, when we talk about that perpetual purpose. And so, beyond the founder if you will in the embedding the purpose into the culture of the organization. Delivery the NextGen banker question here. So, when you think of banks and bankers if you will, in which to perpetuate a good mission, what does the Next Gen banker look like to you?

18:25 – Andre Beaupre
You know, I think of the Global Alliance for banking and values. Now when I wrote the book it was around 70 different financial institutions holding over $200 billion in assets under management. And I bet it’s grown quite a bit since you’ve taken over as chair. But I look at those types of banking institutions as independent organizations committed to advancing positive change in the banking sector. Is that typical? I’m guessing it probably isn’t. I’ll pause here and let you jump in.

19:00 – David Reiling
Yeah, and I would say, no, it is not the norm today. But I would say the strides are coming. And it’s interesting to see the development of, you can call it sustainable banking, socially responsible banking, environmental banking. So, it’s the movement is coming, if you will.

19:19 – David Reiling
Now, like all of those types of movements, there is a bit of green-washing that happens in the space. And we’re experiencing that around the world. But the movement in the conversation really is around a purpose-driven bank and the ability to do good and really impact change in communities, whether it is in the US where we’re talking today, whether it’s in Bangladesh, whether it’s in Asia somewhere. And so, it’s that, what is appropriate for that culture, that place and space where that bank is operating? And so, the philosophy though is really taking hold and becoming very popular.

19:58 – David Reiling
And so, it is in its development, and it’s growing nicely, and which is great. And so, from that standpoint, the NextGen banker, and bankers are out there, really, the purpose of this podcast is to find those and to continue to encourage those in the industry as well as out to join and do good within the context of the financial services industry. Because the power of capital in terms of dollars is so powerful in both the social as well as in the environmental aspect of the purpose that we’re looking for, so.

20:33 – Andre Beaupre
I love that. I mean, I just think the NextGen banker shifts from being sort of an aberration with a small percentage of banks being socially responsible to maybe a dominant. I mean, this is my aspiration, right? That they become a dominant case where that philosophy, that mandate, that mission, is admired and pursued by the majority versus buying it by a smaller minority. I think these are values based banks that are part of what you’re talking about, not just focused on serving the top of the pyramid but serving the needs of real people, like you’ve done at Sunrise Banks in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and that they’re really trying to deliver and measure themselves against sustainable economic, social and environmental development, as a mandate at the highest level, not just serving shareholders.

21:30 – David Reiling
Exactly. And as your book points out, you can do well and do good at the same time. They’re not mutually exclusive. And so, I think with that Andre, I’m going to give your book definitely a plug. The purposeful 9, and soulful advantage. It’s worth a read, great examples of nine companies out there doing well and doing good. Andre, thank you so much for being on the NextGen banker podcast today always great to connect with you.

21:56 – Andre Beaupre
My pleasure. Thanks, so much for inviting me. I enjoyed it very much. All the best.

22:00
[MUSIC PLAYING]

22:02 – Becca Hoeft
For this episode’s musical feature, we’re showcasing Luna Wave. Luna Wave is a collaboration between Aaron Sprinkle and Jessie Villa, that creates EDM and indie pop music. This is New Generation by Luna Wave.

22:15
[MUSIC PLAYING]

23:04 – Becca Hoeft
That was New Generation by Luna Wave. Find more the band’s music on Spotify. If you would like your music featured on the NextGen Banker podcast just email David@nextgen-banker.com with a link to your music and website. Thanks for listening to the NextGen Banker podcast. We’ll see you next time.

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