When Tru Pettigrew accepted his first corporate marketing job, he was looking forward to leveraging the opportunity to further his entertainment career. After having some success in the early 90s as a rap artist, his relationship as a brand ambassador for Converse led to an in-house marketing position. He figured the connections he’d make in the course of his work would help to open doors for him as a performer.
But then something strange happened. The longer he was on the job, the more he enjoyed it. He was good at what he was doing. His aspirations began to change. He went from seeing his future on billboards to seeing his future in boardrooms. Pettigrew laughs as he explains, “That’s why I always tell people, don’t allow your gift to relegate you into one niche or category.”
Tru was called on to help corporate executives and brands understand youth, young adult, and multi-cultural audiences. He realized as he was speaking with them, he was using some of the same gifts he had used as a performer. Except now, he utilized a different vocabulary and had a different audience. He was fortunate, his talent and his passion aligned at a relatively young age.
“Once you find the intersection between your gifts and your passions, you’re going to have some level of success,” Pettigrew explains. And that was definitely true for Tru.
But looking back, Tru humbly remembers that the early success was all about him. “For so many years of my life, although I was doing well, making money, having all these things, it was for me,” he admits. He remembers that it felt empty. Now he understands why. He had identified his gifts, was passionate about his work, but he wasn’t serving anyone but himself. He soon realized that he wanted to contribute to something bigger than himself.
The quest to contribute to something bigger than yourself is one thing he really respects about Millennials. He sees that this generation is learning this lesson so much quicker than his generation (Gen X) and many of the generations that preceded it. He’s impressed and inspired by Millennials’ quest for purpose in their work.
He founded Tru Access in 2012 to help individuals and organizations identify a brand purpose. “I saw a need for change,” he explains, “and that change is what Tru Access is about.” Most companies can identify their brand values, identity, and mission, but brand purpose is something that is missing in so many marketing strategies. He recognized that to reach Millennials, purpose is something that must be addressed.
One way that Tru is exhibiting his brand purpose is through Generational Inclusion workshops. The workshops bring multi-generational team members together to talk, learn, and participate in fun but meaningful exercises. The goal is to help participants understand both their generation and their co-workers’ generations better. That mutual understanding helps to close the expectation gap that Tru sees in so many workplaces.
Another way Tru is communicating his brand purpose is by publishing his first book. On October 1st, Millennials Revealed will be available to the public. He hopes it will help organizations connect with Millennials while also helping Millennials better understand themselves and their goals. Writing for two distinct audiences can be a tall order. But after reading an advance copy of Millennials Revealed, I can attest that Tru meets the challenge. He introduces the seven biggest expectations Millennials have of themselves and the organizations they work for — he calls these the seven Cs. Then he takes time to address each audience specifically in each chapter. Rather than being tedious, this gives both groups insight into what the other needs and how the other is thinking.
Tru calls Millennials the Hero generation. He believes their confidence, optimism, and focus on purpose can “save the world.” He hopes that his work and his book will help encourage and inspire them to elevate their leadership to “game-changing levels of greatness.”