Patrice Tanaka, Founder & Chief Joy Officer of Joyful Planet LLC, interviews people who are actively living their purpose and contributing to a more joyful planet. This interview spotlights Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications and podcast host of “Women Worldwide.”
PT: Deirdre, what I love and admire about you is how you’re following your passion and living your purpose in both your personal and professional life. Can you share your life’s purpose with us? I define a life’s purpose as one that leverages your greatest talent and passion in service of people and planet.
DB: Thank you, Patrice. It’s professionals like you who inspire me to fulfill my life’s purpose and passion. I’ve spent an entire career longing for the time when I was able to focus on being the “ultimate educator” and the “trusted connector.” My purpose is two-fold. First, being an ultimate educator comes in the form of different learning opportunities … consulting, training, teaching, mentoring, writing, and podcasting. Then, to complete my purpose and passion, as I continue to cultivate relationships in my network, I look for the greatest connections between complementary parties. The goal of making these connections, whether it is my clients meeting influencers or an introduction between like-minded peers, is for others to create great work together.
PT: How, when and why did you set out to discover your life’s purpose? Was there a triggering incident?
DB: Part of me feels that my life’s purpose has been building for many years, at the same time there were two defining moments. The first was my transition from marketing and PR agency owner to consultant. When I owned my agency there was no time to breathe. Between employees, customers, vendors and sharing the business with partners, there was little time left to foster my ultimate educator purpose. This is not to say that there weren’t great elements of my purpose being formed along the way. The second defining moment was when I started the Women Worldwide podcast network in 2014, meeting incredible women who have interviewed with me on the show and who have shared their stories, ideas and challenges in business. Our discussions are meant to impart advice and to help listeners work through their own challenges and to find their inner strength. At the same time, this wonderful network of women can now connect through me and a strong growing community to create new opportunities together.
PT: And once you determined your purpose did you find yourself begin to actively live it? How did you begin? What did you do?
AH: When I took the tremendous leap from marketing communication agency owner (of 14 years) to communications consultant, my ability to educate and connect increased dramatically. The move allowed me to share more knowledge and experiences in many different ways. Not only with my consulting clients and training/speaking events with different organizations, but also to take on a larger teaching and mentoring role with students and professionals. I’ve forged wonderful relationships with educational institutions including FDU, UMASS, NYU and Rutgers, teaching on the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as becoming a PR Certificate program instructor. Many people ask me how I’m able to manage all of the “pay-it-forward” activities, and the time I spend with students and professionals. My answer is simple. When you are fulfilling your life’s purpose and career dreams, nothing feels like work, and the time is just there for the taking.
PT: Did this/how did this change what you do in your professional life in any way? And, in your personal life?
DB: Education and learning is food for the soul. It makes us move forward and to grow in so many ways. For me, the opportunity to educate also means I’m learning simultaneously. There is always two-way educating and mentoring. For example, I recently met with a James Madison University senior. She asked me many questions about the skills she needed upon graduation and what agencies were looking for in young professionals. Then, the tables turned, and I was learning from her about Snapchat and live stories. She shared her perspectives on brands on Snapchat and how they can capture the attention of Millennials and Gen Z. It is moments like these that make me feel more in tune with professionals, whether they are entering my field or the seasoned executives who are navigating new opportunities and challenges.
PT: Please share with us how it feels to be living your life’s purpose? Specifically, how would you describe it in terms of the success, fulfillment and joy you experience?
DB: In every case of educating and connecting people, the joy is knowing that I have made a difference in someone else’s life. I’ve been helped by so many incredibly talented professionals over the years. This is my way of giving back. From the passionate initiatives undertaken and the people who tell me that I gave them a great idea or inspired a new start, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing I was a part of their career happiness.
PT: What is the result of knowing and actively living your life’s purpose? Is there a power that comes from knowing your life’s purpose in being able to actively live it?
DB: Yes, the power is a surge of energy and feeling inspired every day. It’s the high or adrenalin you get when you see how your path has helped others to find more opportunity down theirs. When you can create energy and passion in others, you get energy and passion 2X in return. I guess the saying, “when you give to the universe you get something back,” is true and it is even bigger than you imagined.
PT: What are your greatest hopes and dreams for the life purpose you have chosen?
DB: I like to dream big! To expand the education and connections that have been 25+ years in the making and to take what I love to even greater levels, with more writing projects, consulting, training, teaching, mentoring, etc. for another 25+ years, if that’s possible. For every year of educating and connecting, I’m learning and feeding my soul, which is the greatest gift of all, leading me to a much more fulfilled life.
PT: What do you think you would be doing now if you hadn’t determined and then actively begun to live your purpose?
DB: I would still be an agency owner and president/general manager over our finance, HR, technology, and project management departments. There would be very little time for the type of ultimate educating and connecting that I love. I would not have the focus or the time to create great learning experiences and connections to help other professionals excel in their careers.
PT: How important is it for people to discover their life’s purpose? What advice would you give to others about discovering their life’s purpose?
DB: It’s tremendously important for you to discover your life’s purpose. Otherwise, time marches onward and you will continue down a path that may not bring you absolute happiness. People and opportunities are placed in front of you every day. If you don’t know your purpose then you may not be able to recognize the potential of a connection at a professional conference, or what a brief conversation in a social community may lead to in your work or your personal life. Determining your purpose is creating your path and letting the right things fall into place. We only have one life and it is your job to make sure that life is the happiest for the short and the long term.