State and Corporate Purpose: The new asset of Greece to attract foreign investment

Panel discussion during 3rd InvestGR Forum — Athens, July 16th, 2020

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1. How do you perceive purpose in any organization beyond the obvious and primary mission -of any company- to satisfy its customers and stakeholders? Can you give us some examples of purposeful companies?

My definition of purpose is quite simple.

PURPOSE IS THE IMPACT WE WANT our PRODUCT or SERVICE to have on people’s lives.

When we talk about corporations this definition goes beyond the obvious pursuit of output at a profit.

Purpose is the trail we leave in the world, and the new direction we want to nudge it in.

My recently published bookTHE GIFT OF CRISIS, is very relevant to the circumstances we are now going through.

In it, I lay out a model for dealing with crisis through purpose:

STEP1. You can use a crisis to surface, recommit to or re-invent your purpose. This can happen in an organization or a nation.

STEP2. If you want to think big, then develop this new purpose from one of the Global Problems facing the world today.

In my analysis, there are 3 main categories of such problems

A. The destruction of the planet

B. Health and

C. Inequality and injustice.

Ironically, B & C visited us already through COVID and the Black Lives Matter Movement

STEP3Integrate your purpose with your strategy and business model

STEP4Innovate vigorously in white spaces. This often involves using high-end technology sometimes, in new ways.

The likely result of those 4 steps is gaining competitive advantagesustainable growth (sometimes exponential), and the most important of all a BETTER PLANET.

Companies that have followed or following such a path are giants like

· TESLA, through solar power, to reduce emissions — problem A

· Niketaking a stance on Inequality — problem C

· INTEL, creating world’s changing technology to enrich people’s lives — e.g. they train refugees to become coders,

· Danoneafter years of sensitivity to social and environmental issues they declared their intent to become a certified B Corp / for-profit business that must reach a minimum score on an independent assessment for their social, and environmental performance

· SALESFORCEwith 1–1–1 model 1% of revenue, 1% of their employee time and 1% free product donations

and smaller ones like

· Beyond Meat, replace the animal with a plant-based protein

· Patagonia apparel, one of the biggest corporate activists for Climate change

· and designers like Stella McCartney who stopped using animal leather in her creations (it is called Vegetarian Leather)

Some numbers:

· 60% of consumers are belief-based while making buying decisions;

they are not buying the promise of performance or dream or luxury only.

They are also buying an idea

· Companies pioneering on DIVERSITY (an element of Global Problem C) exhibit +36% more ROE

· Employees of organizations that take a stance and follow a broader purpose are 4 times more engaged (more productive, more innovative, more useful, and happier)

2. In the current circumstances which are the areas — even niches — in which Greece can set a national purpose and score high? Is it possible, using such ideas coupled with an action plan, to make foreign investors come, try, and thrive?

Purpose can also be applied to States or Nations as part of their Global Strategy or Appeal.

The Purpose of a country, like in an organization, can be defined as the impact the country or Administration wants to have on others.

It is a credible narrative any country should develop.

Primarily of course this means its citizens.

Living abroad while still remaining strongly connected with Greece, I am amazed by the way our country performed in the last 6 months and showed maturity, decisiveness, and effectiveness in handling 2 crises in a row.

I believe now we have an opportunity for Greece to reinvent its purpose.

Imagine, for instanceour purpose is to enable people to live happy and productive lives in Greece? What can be the key elements of the offering?

  • Health

The Administration would need to communicate this Offer to its people, construct precise plans, and follow-through while measuring the progress along the way.

How do you create, and persuasively “sell” each and every aspect of this product called Greece for Greeks?

If we talk about investments, i.e. Greece for Others, I would follow a slightly different method.

Take a piece of paper and draw 3 columns:

Column #1. What are our genuine, intuitive strongholds?

Sun/Sea, Renewables, History/Culture, Minerals, Innovative mind/Resourcefulness, etc.

Column #2. What have we learned in the last 6 months?

· Together we can do miracles

· The role of Public Health is immense

· We can leapfrog on digital and jump over a lost decade

· etc.

Column #3. What can we offer people and the world that other countries cannot? What are the opportunity corridors?

How can we attract people to visit, stay, work, retire, produce, base their operations in Greece?

PUT our NEW PURPOSE on the table and be CREATIVE.


· Remote living and working, offering world-class technological facilities

· Retiring here, offering top Health Services at livable expenses or Real Estate prices they can afford

· Specialized health Services and therapies combined with the Mediterranean diet and sourced from organic farming.

Make a plan and put incentives in place to develop the Infrastructure and attract Customers.


Build those sectors you select for at least a DECADE.

And something else.

Don’t incentivize everything everywhereMix and Match geographies and scopes. And then Scale.

3. How do you see purpose as a fertilizer to grow talent and how this can alleviate help brain drain?

It is true. Many talented people have left the country in the last 10 years. Of course, many have also remained.

A new national purpose can alleviate, and even reverses the underlying reasons for brain immigration.

Issues like taxationliving standardssigns of economic growthstabilitysafetymeritocracy are some of the ingredients such a purpose should incorporate.

The world is practically transparent and news travels with light speed.

A movement to bring Greece back to prominence will not take long.

This can create a halo effect for other aspects of the Greek economy, society, and position in the world.

After all, the quality of people, and their skills, passion, and imagination, are the true competitive advantage of any organization, nations included.

Talent attraction will further fuel the economy. #

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