Sam Conniff: giving young people and brands purpose

Dots speaker Sam Conniff is founder and chief purpose officer at Livity, a youth-led creative network. Livity give ambitious young people access to opportunities that help them create culture they love, whilst growing brands and charities.

In 2017 Sam was awarded Global CSR Leader at the Global CSR Awards, previously being named on the Maserati 100, the Happy List, Nesta’s 50 New Radicals and EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year. We spoke with him about the inspiration behind Livity, and asked what it means to be a chief purpose officer.

What was the inspiration for Livity?

Livity was an experiment. I wanted to know if ‘ethical marketing’ was an oxymoron, or if you could actually bring the budget and influence of brands to focus on meaningful issues, whilst still delivering on business objectives in a happy sustainable marriage of mutual benefit. Or, to put it another way, could you re-educate brands to grow their business by seeing young audiences as their responsibility, not just their opportunity.

What is your career highlight so far?

I am very lucky to have literally thousands of career highlights. We’ve seen so many thousands of young people come through our doors, take on some of what it means to be Livity, and then go on to change their world. At the moment I’m immensely proud of Sian Anderson, who I met as a teenager ten years ago. She is now a successful DJ, entrepreneur, mother and mainstay of UK grime culture. She’s just launched Floor Sixx, a program to help other young people into the industry. She’s 24, the age I was when I started Livity. Keep an eye on Sian, she’s going to go so far it will make your head spin.

What does it mean to be a chief purpose officer?

It means that ‘purpose’ is as important today as technology was 20 years ago (or whenever we started having chief technology officers). A business in 20 years time without a purpose-optimised strategy will be as unthinkable as a business today without a mobile-optimised website.

What can we expect from your talk at Dots?

At the end of my first talk at Dots, two years ago, the audience voted on what I would do next in my career. It is not an overstatement to say that moment has defined my life since. So, I’m coming for round two, expect nothing less than life changing stories, a chance to change the world and a moment you’ll never forget.

Where do you see the role of chief purpose officer going in the next 5 years?

If successful, the Chief Purpose Officer will become redundant within 5 years. ‘Purpose’ will become a really naff term; a bit like new media was by 2005 (again to use a technology metaphor). However, the need for it will be greater than ever. That’s when the purpose crash will take place, and like the dot.com and financial bubbles before it, ‘popping’ will help purpose evolve from business phase to business fundamental. My guess is we’ll probably be calling it transparency by then. So I might have to become a CTO. Oh, no wait, that’s taken…

To hear more from Sam, as well as the other fantastic speakers, join us for Dots on Friday 29th September – get your ticket.