PR Legend, Patrice Tanaka, on Why Impactful Leadership and Living Your Life Purpose Go Hand in Hand

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About This Episode

Serial Entrepreneur and PR legend, Patrice Tanaka, knows how to achieve the most impactful leadership style possible. In our final episode of our Leadership season, she shares how defining her life purpose and pursuing it with courage not only influenced the evolution of her leadership style, but how it’s essential for all of us in order to become the best leaders possible in our work and lives overall.

About Patrice Tanaka

Patrice Tanaka is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded three award-winning, PR & marketing firms, including the largest, employee-owned PR agency in the U.S. Her agencies have been recognized as the “#1 Most Creative,” “#1 Most Esteemed” and among the “best places to work” in PR. After a successful, 35+ year PR & Marketing career Patrice started Joyful Planet, a Business & Life Strategy Consultancy, working with individuals and organizations to discover and actively live their purpose to unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their personal lives, in their professional lives and in their communities. Life purpose and organizational purpose are the subjects of Patrice’s best-selling books, Beat the Curve (2016), co-authored with renowned management consultant and coach, Brian Tracy, and Performance360(September 2018), co-authored with visionary entrepreneur Richard Branson and other leaders. Patrice has been honored by many organizations, including PRWeek (2016 Hall of Fame inductee), PRSA Foundation (Paladin Award), Public Relations Society of America (“Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service”), The Holmes Report (“Creativity All-Star”), New York Women in Communications (“Matrix” Award), Association for Women in Communications, Asian Women in Business, Working Mother magazine (“Mothering that Works” Award), Girl Scouts of Greater New York (“Women of Distinction” Award), University of Hawaii (Distinguished Alumna), among others.

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In her words…

What I’ve learned over the years of leading- being a bad leader, bad manager, and evolving into a better one- is to take care to find the very best talent that you can. Not just people who have the skills, expertise and talent to do the work, but also people who are very purpose-driven in their lives and know that what they want to do is leverage their talents, their expertise, and their passion, in service of other people and our planet. So, if you can find those people, you have a much better chance at doing great work together. What I’ve learned later in my career, is once you hire really great people, then you kind of want to get out of their way, and not micromanage and allow them to really grow in the work they do, and to have ownership and to innovate, and to get excited, and to inspire. That’s where the greatest work is going to be done.”

“Purpose for me is about leveraging your talent, your expertise, and passion, in service of other people and our planet. It takes time, work and thought to determine what your individual purpose is. Everybody agrees, that yes, I should know my life purpose, but most people also procrastinate about determining what that is. They somehow believe that knowing their life purpose is a good to know, but not a need to know. I consider discovering and having the courage to live your purpose is the single most efficient and powerful thing that we can do to unleash our leadership potential, and greater success, fulfillment, and joy.”

“If high school students, from juniors on up, and certainly college students, were informed by their purpose in life, it would inform everything for them going forward, including what their major should be. What they might want to do as a job, or a career, or what groups they might want to get involved with, just to see if it’s a fit. And their purpose at that particular time in life, when they’re the most vulnerable and susceptible to influence by other people who want the best for them, is really key. Because a lot of times, if you don’t know your own purpose, it’s easy to be persuaded by people who love you that say you should do this, even though it’s not really what you really want to do in your heart of hearts.”

“When you say to someone ‘what is your life purpose,’ or ‘have you thought about your life purpose?’, they immediately gravitate to their job, or career. Purpose isn’t merely about your job or career. A life purpose overarches your entire life. You live your purpose, in part, through your job, or your career. But it’s only in part, because you can live your purpose- and you should be living your purposep- in your whole life. So, I would caution people who immediately think that ‘life purpose’ means ‘what am I doing in terms of my professional life.’ It’s not limited to just that.”

“I want people to not be scared about discovering their life purpose- thinking they might have to quit their day job, and limiting a life purpose to just what their job is. I want them to think more about a life purpose as something that will help you accomplish what’s most important to you to accomplish in your life, whether you live for another six months, or another 60 years.”

“I’m somebody who, if I’m in, I’m all in. I believe in being all in, in whatever you do. Same as your job, be all in. Bring your whole self to the party. Especially in our industry, in PR, there’s so much we can leverage in terms of life experience, knowledge, the research that we do. If we bring it all into the workplace, and not just bring our professional selves in. Women do this more than men. It’s like we want to be purely professional. So we only bring the professional me to work, and we leave home the personal me that has a lot of richness, and flavor, and experiences, and fabulousness. We leave that at home. So we’re actually bifurcating our power by bringing only half of ourselves to the office and contributing only with half of our superpower. Bringing our whole self to work is our superpower. Don’t we gravitate to people who we see being their authentic self?”

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