The invisible force behind quadrupling our revenue…


Subject: The invisible force behind quadrupling our revenue…

This time of year, I love the opportunity to pause, to notice, and to choose to learn.

When I pause, I notice something: we’ve been blessed, here at xchange.

We love our work.

We love our customers, students, clients, and members.

We love each other, here on our team.

And I was inspired today, to share a simple observation with you.

With the hopes that what has helped us, just might help you.

For context…

Since the start of the pandemic

  • We’ve nearly 4X’d the revenue of our core business
  • We’ve grown from 3 to 14 team members in the same time period
  • We’ve helped over 3,000 change agents from over 40 countries, through our conscious facilitation & leadership trainings, and as members of our awesome global community

Global learning communities like

  • the annual Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit
  • the extraordinary chapter chairs for Women Presidents Organization
  • the great folks at the HeartMath Institute

… continue to leverage our facilitation methodology to create transformational learning experiences.

And to be clear, this hasn’t all been easy. In the same time period…

  • We ran out of cash in 2021, needing short term loans just to keep the company afloat
  • I’ve navigated a divorce, painful disruption to our family, and a shock to my identity like nothing I’ve ever battled
  • I’ve had many, many, many moments, where giving up felt like a much better option than facing insurmountable stress, self-doubt, and uncertainty

So, what is it, more than anything else, that has led to meaningful outcomes, on the other side of obstacles that have felt insurmountable?

It might sound simple, but I’m pretty sure there’s a complexity to this, that is still well beyond my current understanding.

Here it is: the power of a transcendent purpose.

A transcendent purpose is the higher and more profound reason for our company’s existence, beyond merely making money.

It’s about aligning everything we think about, say and do, with a larger, positive impact on society and the world.

Our transcendent purpose at xchange is simple: to unlock potential at scale.

Of course, this means something very specific to us.

And at some point, it becomes meaningful to our students, as they begin to discover the power of our approach to designing and facilitating transformational gatherings.

Helping purpose-guided coaches, consultants, community builders, so that they can unlock potential at scale.

That’s why we exist at xchange.

But even more important, has been the discovery of the invisible influences, and surprising side-effects that have come from the consistent exploration of our transcendent purpose, here at xchange.

Here’s a few of the lessons that have mattered most:

1. We’d rather magnetize, than market

That’s right… a transcendent purpose, when revealed with clarity and consistency, seems to become magnetic.

As one of my dearest teachers, Margaret Wheatley, has reminded me again and again…”

“As teachers, we will attract our students, through the strength of our commitment to our vow.”

I’m still learning the deeper wisdom, and even historical lineage, of this teaching… and it’s a lesson that we try and live out every day.

2. Well-being from the outside in

In 2012, two of my teachers, Ron Fry and David Cooperrider, both of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, introduced me to a theory they developed around transcendent purpose.

They called it “mirror flourishing.”

By focusing our attention on a collective shared purpose, we come alive on the inside, elevating our personal well-being.

There’s a neurological explanation (mirror neurons), as well as a systems understanding (causal loops) that support this theory.

In plain language: turning a group’s attention on the deeper meaning of their shared purpose, consistently, and more naturally, invites them to find deeper meaning in their individual purpose.

3. A basis for belonging

Everyone of us is asking some version of this question, every time we step into a group… “can I be myself, and still fit in, with this group/team/organization/community?”

There’s a biological basis for belonging – our neurobiology has developed to keep us safe.

There’s also a business case for belonging – when people feel like they belong, their capacity for qualities like creativity, generosity, and resilience, become more naturally accessible.

Very few things invite the experience of belonging, the way a compelling, shared sense of purpose will.

And if the collective purpose feels significant enough, there’s room for others to see their purpose unfolding within it.

4. It’s a stabilizing fuel for overcoming destabilizing obstacles

When the why is strong enough, the how eventually reveals itself.

We’ve seen this inside our own business. We’ve seen it with our students and clients.

In times of massive change and disruption… reconnecting to a powerful why becomes a stabilizing force, even when we have to change everything about what or how we do what we do.

A transcendent purpose has felt like a center of gravity, when everything else felt unstable.

5. It’s only a truly shared purpose when it becomes a consistent, collective conversation.

We can publish a purpose on a website. We can tell it to others. We can broadcast our higher purpose.

But this isn’t what actually works – to create a genuine, shared purpose.

Here at xchange, our students have facilitated thousands of conversations that center around connecting to a collective, shared purpose.

It’s about inviting others into the conversation. When we say it, who cares. When everybody else says it, it’s truth.

When we know how to design the question, choreograph the conversation, and facilitate the experience… We can orchestrate moments which become movements.

In organizations, in communities, in any group… shared purpose doesn’t really become shared, until it’s embedded within a constellation of conversations.

That’s all for now.

Gotta get the kids packed. We fly at 7 AM tomorrow, 5 kids, leaving Ohio to California, to see my parents.

Hopefully I remember the kinds of things I wrote in this email, when the inevitable unfolds 🙂

Stay Curious,

Jon Berghoff

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