By Christopher Zacher
How Larry Kesslin Helps Others Find Their Purpose
Throughout Larry Kesslin’s life, he’s found himself continually reconsidering his definition of the word success. When he worked at General Electric in the early 90’s, success was a monetary value. After leaving the company to start his own consulting firm, it became more about freedom and mobility.
“My definition of success was having the ability to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it,” he says, reflecting on the ideas of his younger self. But even as his business grew and he found himself traveling the world with his family, Larry felt like his work lacked purpose. He knew deep down that life was about more than simply not having a boss to check in with.
It was in 2012, nearly 20 years after he left his job at GE, that Larry had the revelation that would alter the course of his career. Interestingly enough, it came at a time when he was at his freest. Sitting in JFK where he’d just arrived after a family trip to Africa, Larry silently contemplated the direction of his life. “I realized that I was no longer chasing my idea of success because I was already successful,” he says, explaining that his moment of clarity led to further evaluation. “I came to the conclusion that I was done with success and it was time to be significant.”
From Success to Significance
Significance, according to Larry, has nothing to do with who you work for or how much money you have. It has much more to do with interpersonal relationships and a desire to connect with and help others. It is significance, and not success, that drives his work today. “My new definition for success is being able to do what I want, when I want to do it, while being a part of something greater than myself,” he says.
This outlook has been the catalyst for a number of different creative and entrepreneurial projects. He’s written a book entitled Success Redefined. He’s delivered countless keynote speeches and a TEDx talk at San Diego State University. And he’s founded several socially driven businesses, most notably 5 Dots, a consulting outfit that helps companies to connect with prospects who share a similar sense of purpose.
At the heart of all of his work is a desire to facilitate deep connections between people and the world around them. “We need to stop connecting at the surface level, which I think the majority of our population does,” he says. “We need to start connecting at the purpose level, which I think is missing.”
Toward Purpose-Driven Business
The terms socially conscious and business consulting might not seem compatible to many of us, but Larry believes they can be. “There are more ways to make money without being socially conscious than there are being socially conscious,” he says, “but if you’re a good business person, you can do good things.”
He cites the hiring process, one of 5 Dots’ fields of expertise, as something that can be approached in a socially-minded manner. By encouraging his clients to define their non-financial values, he helps them to find candidates that share similar goals and ideals. “If I can find people of shared purpose, I can find any skillset I want,” Larry says.
To Larry, facilitating substantial, purpose-driven work relationships is a small way of creating a sense of connectedness among fellow human beings. Ideally, it pushes his clients to start thinking about their business as something other than just a money-making opportunity. “[They] stop looking at people as what they can do for the company and start looking at them as humans, as individuals,” he says. “They start to look at the company as a vehicle to affect the community as much as it is to create wealth for those people involved.”
So, while business and activism might not appear to go hand-in-hand, Larry’s work proves otherwise. “You can do things that are right, that are just as beneficial for society as they are for you,” he says, offering advice to business owners seeking their own sense of purpose. “And you can bring along others of the same mindset. You can make just as much money and probably more.”
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