Important Work

By Lloyd Graff

Lisa Earle McLeod

Lisa Earle McLeod’s question is a simple one. “Do you have a Noble Purpose? Or do you just sell (make) stuff?”

I talked to her yesterday for quite awhile after she returned home to Atlanta from one of her many speaking gigs. I’m fascinated by outstanding public speakers, partly because I’m a mediocre one myself. I watched Ms. McLeod’s presentation on video and was impressed by her energy and authenticity. I wanted to get her take on public speaking and how it relates to her core message.

McLeod is a sales leadership consultant, whose clients include companies such as Merck, Google and Apple. Her career really started in high school. She was popular and decided to run for senior class Vice President. She had to give a speech to the class before the voting. She gave a great talk, she thought, and then lost the election. She asked a friend about her speech. The friend told her she “had put on a persona” and did not seem authentic. Lisa McLeod decided to learn from her defeat. She studied public speaking. She watched videos of the great ones like Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins and Bill Clinton. She found a professional coach and practiced. She told me you have to believe your own material, put in the time and energy to achieve mastery, and keep some bullet points in front of you, just in case you lose the thread and need a path back to your message.

Frankly, when I first heard of her work, my cynical self thought she was peddling recycled clichés. But after speaking to her and listening to her talks, she came off as real and her message had meaning.

A coal miner

McLeod argues that if you are working just to hit somebody’s numbers, even if they are your own, the work will get stale, quickly. People need to put an authentic human spin on their endeavors to fuel their motivation and be able to connect it to others.

The leader of a group can help the group forge an identity, but the group goal may not resonate with an individual’s purpose.

I have struggled with this notion throughout my career. Making a profit reselling a used machine tool hardly sounds noble to me, even if I spin it like a top and turn it inside out in my head. I’m not curing cancer. I’m not even milking cows or bending steel.

Yet I find myself absolutely engrossed in my game, even after doing it for over 40 years. When I got off the hospital ventilator six years ago, I had no doubt that I wanted to go back to the machinery trading business, and the writing game. They provided the challenge and intensity that I felt I needed in my life. For me, work is my creation. Connecting the dots in deal-making or writing a piece is what makes me feel happy and charged. When I go on vacation I don’t want to turn my juices off. My blogs are my little creations. Are they “noble”? Doubtful. But they give me energy and a reason to get out of bed and create something that did not exist before I applied my effort and frontal lobes to a problem or a blank sheet of paper.

My “Noble Purpose,” Linda Earle McLeod, is “to connect the dots to create value.” It works for me.

What is yours?

Question: Do you do important work?

For more info on Linda Mcleod visit her Web site at

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9 thoughts on “Important Work

  1. Joe

    I would say yes, not because of what I’m doing here at work, but what I am doing because of it. I am raising my children in a loving, Christian environment. Because of the work I do I am able to provide for them and help them plan for their future. I can think of no more important work than parenting!

  2. Emily Halgrimson Post author

    This topic hits home for me. I’ve been trying to find a “Noble Purpose” since I was a teenager. I studied music, that didn’t do it. I moved to Bangladesh to help kids, that didn’t do it. I studied meditation at a Zen Center, nope. Joined the Peace Corps in Africa, nothing. Became a foster parent, hard. Now I work in animal rescue, which is rewarding, but is souring me to people, who can be incredibly mean and nasty. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel the need to have a Noble Purpose. I may be a lot happier.

    1. Emmanuel Gesmundo

      This “Noble Purpose” question was raised even at the beginning of human kind. Another variation to that question is “What is the meaning of life?” Every human has a void and that void can only be filled if that question is answered. Surprisingly, many people ignored looking at places so familiar with them. The answer really is so simple that many people think it is a joke. Anyone looking for an answer just need to have an open mind and a lot of humbleness to understand. The place I am talking about is the bible. Here, you will learn that the “noble” purpose of your life is to glorify your Creator by having a close relationship with Him. How do you do that? Please read the bible and apply what it says on your life….

      1. Emily Halgrimson Post author

        I’m glad Christianity gives you purpose and answers. It’s not my calling, however.

    2. Val Zanchuk

      The noble purpose does not have to be big, earth shattering, or what others think is noble. Look inside yourself and find what is meaningful to you.

  3. Jeremy

    “The more time I spend with people, the more I like cattle”
    -Cowboy/poet Baxter Black

  4. George Newman

    I found my calling late in life. I’m building a community college machining training program which let’s me make a difference in people’e lives as they change careers to something more stable and lucrative.

  5. Robert Levy

    Absolutely. I have a noble purpose. I love what I do and I think that I am good at it. I am in a service business. I feel that I have an important fiduciary responsibility to five groups of people: my clients, my employees, my partners, my buyers and my family. I am most gratified when I can provide meaningful and achievable solutions to the multitude of challenges that each group face. Being an auctioneer is gratifying to me, however what gets me up in the morning and drives me daily is the satisfaction I derive from knowing that as I age and become more experienced and mature, I stand a chance of positively affecting those who are around me.

    I do not believe that sincerity (authenticity) is something achieved through practice but is an innate personal characteristic, and people know the difference. I do however believe that personal values can change through life’s learning, which then can become innate. Knowing, owning, and believing in what you are offering is an absolute must have foundational building block for others to recognize your authenticity.


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