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This ex-Googler just got another $30 million to help companies with the 'art and science' of hiring exactly who they want

lever ceo sarah nahm

By 2012, Sarah Nahm, a former Googler who had worked as a speechwriter for Marissa Mayer and a designer on the Chrome team, knew she was ready for something different.

There was no “lightning strike” moment of inspiration, Nahm tells Business Insider. She and two colleagues knew they wanted to start a company together. They all had an interest in recruitment and human resources. They just didn’t know exactly what they would do.

Over the course of nine months, the Nahm and her partners worked their networks and embedded within tech companies including Twitter, trying to figure out what problem they could solve.

To Nahm’s surprise, it turned out that she was in the right place at the right time. At all of these companies, they found the same frustrations. The headaches weren’t over anything technical. Instead, the thing these high-growth Silicon Valley companies had a tough time solving was hiring. They wanted the best programmers and the best talent, but the market was just too competitive.

“You’d expect it to be ‘big data’ this or ‘machine learning’ that, but it’s human,” Nahm says.

And so she and her two partners formed Lever. The software startup, under Nahm’s command as CEO, is designed to help with the hiring headaches she saw bubbling up back in 2012.

It seems to be working. Lever counts over 1,000 customers, including Netflix and Cirque Du Soleil, according to Nahm. Lever itself now has over 100 employees. 

And investors like what they’re seeing from the company. On Thursday, Lever plans to officially announce that it’s raised $30 million in a Series C venture round. That brings the total amount its raised from venture investors to $62 million. 

Nahm says the big question for Lever now is: “How can we connect human potential to meaningful work?

Tools for a changing time

Lever’s launch and growth have come as the very idea of employment is changing, for better or for worse.

Millennials, especially, have earned a reputation for “job-hopping,” jumping from position to position and company to company every year or two as they pursue their own non-linear paths to success.

In Silicon Valley and beyond, there’s a veritable talent war for top-tier engineers. And as software continues to eat the world, even blue-collar jobs like farm work are requiring a growing array of computer skills

“The future of work is changing, and it’s a pretty dramatic shift,” says Nahm. “People are out here looking for a deeper meaning.”

lever hire

Lever’s goal is to give its customers tools to manage that shift. Its service is designed to help HR departments proactively identify the best people for open positions and figure out the best ways to convince those candidates to join their companies. It also is designed to help companies retain their workers by offering recommendations for how they can keep the employees happy.

Through its tools, Lever is advancing the “art and science” of recruiting top talent, Nahm says.

A big enough lever

What really sets Lever apart, says Nahm, is that it makes hiring collaborative. When people in a company identify a potential job candidate, they can use Lever’s service to flag that person for their colleagues. Lever’s tools will also help figure out who within the company would be best placed to reach out to the candidate.

The system is designed to try to find the person with whom the candidate might best identify and who might stand the best chance of convincing the person to join the company. For example, instead of talking to a recruiter, a hotshot programmer might want to hear from another hotshot programmer about what drew her to the company. 

Lever’s analytical tools provide tips to hiring managers about how often they should contact candidates and who on their team might be the most effective at getting through to them. Lever’s service can even give insight on the average time it will take to fill a position.lever screen

The service is a far cry from what Nahm calls the “dark ages,” when companies would post a job listing and just hope that the right person responded — a process Nahm dubs “post and pray.” Lever is built around the notion that with data and better candidate tracking tools, companies can fill jobs much more intelligently.

‘That’s what I live for’

One of the benefits of Lever’s service is that it can be used by anyone in the company, not just the recruiting team. Opening up recruiting to all workers can help expand the pool of would-be candidates for jobs. And it can help yield a more diverse pool of candidates.

That’s a huge potential benefit, particularly in an era when the tech industry’s lack of diversity has become such a hot topic. Lever itself says that its employees are 50% women and 40% non-white. 

Lever plans to use the cash it just raised to make its service even smarter, boosting its analytics and helping companies identify the talent they need, Nahm says. To Nahm, connecting companies to the right people at the right time is a design problem, similar to ones she’s faced in the past.

“That’s what I live for,” says Nahm.

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How to Enhance Your Non-Profit’s Communication Strategy and Achieve Results Like Never Before

It is a well-known and accepted ideology that good communication skills are the key to achieving success in every aspect of life. It is, therefore, no surprise that the same is true for the success of an organization, which can be measured, and quite frankly, determined

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Additions at Mother Jones, Promotions at TODAY, CisionScoops at SELF and More Media Updates

 

Tammy Filler has been promoted to executive producer at TODAY with Kathie Lee & Hoda. Filler had served as a co-executive producer at the show since 2013, and prior to that he was a senior producer there for five years.

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Marketers: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

nice-things.jpg

The next evolution of marketing is upon us.

The sharp uptake in consumer use of messaging apps, the shift in content consumption from text to video and audio, and the finally consumer-ready advancements in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and voice recognition all signal that marketers and consumers alike are in radically new times. Everytime consumer behavior evolves, marketers have new opportunities that were never before available.

I was talking to a colleague the other day about these changes, and she noted how endlessly marketing channels shift. “There aren’t many other fields where the game reinvents itself so often,” she said.

“That’s because we fuck everything up,” I told her.

Let me explain.

Scorched Earth Marketing AKA “Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

There is a desperation at play in most marketing organizations. A low grade panic to solve for short-term needs  —  the lead goal that month, for example, or a choice media placement. Attention is as fleeting as Snapchat videos, and for many companies, grabbing a moment of it can feel like gasping for oxygen. I get it. I have been there myself, so I’m not passing judgement.

The enemy of remarkable marketing is impatience.

There is so much competition for attention these days that the moment a blue ocean channel or new marketing strategy opens up, marketers flock to make the most of it. At the root of the problem is the channel-based mentality that causes us to obsess over hacks and mechanics more than a great message and engaging experience.

Early adoption is a good thing. It can be the breath of fresh air marketers and consumers alike are looking for. And typically the early days leveraging a new channel or format in your marketing strategy are as pure and innovative as they should be.

But then something happens. We cross the line into a sort of scorched earth marketing mentality where we forget the reason consumers were drawn to that channel to begin with — and we beat the living daylights out of it.  We start to solve for our own goals, instead of our customers’.

New channels emerge in part because we marketers ruin old ones.

Our earnest exploration of emerging channels all too often turns into rabid gaming of the system if we aren’t careful. And consumers, exhausted by our antics, are forced to move on to find new communication and content channels free of spam and brands. It happened with email. It’s happening with content. And if we think messaging and video are any different, we’re kidding ourselves.

How We’re Messing Up Content

Remember when content first emerged as the antidote to disruptive advertising and direct marketing? It was eye-opening.

Before content, if you were a marketer you were primarily using email and advertising to gain prospective customers. Those were the channels and, oh, did marketers use them. They so overplayed them that consumers began to adopt technology to filter them out. They blocked ads. They set up inbox filters. They reduced the noise and took control of their own purchase process. Much of that process began not with the company but on Google, where a buyer would do all the independent research they needed before making a decision.

So instead of pummeling buyers with ads or email, smart marketers started to create useful content designed help the consumer rather than sell them. If good and relevant, this content would find its way to the top of the search results page and, without costing the company anything in ad spend, deliver a compounding stream of incoming traffic.

The world of ebooks and webinars took shape in earnest. Let’s offer something of true value that consumers would otherwise pay for in exchange for nothing but their contact details and permission to reach out.

It sounds silly today because of how commonplace ebooks and lead forms have become, but it was genuine and mutually beneficial at the start. It was a new way of interacting with online consumers when quality, trustworthy information was scarce.

But then we (marketers) scorched the earth.

The volume of content went up, the quality often went down. Content farms popped up. And brands started to fund the spread of bad content through paid channels. As content offers increased, they became less valuable, and then they crossed the line into utter noise.

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Good content still exists, but you have to sift through an awful lot of cheap content to get to it. So where did we go wrong?

We over-solved for the long tail.

The long-tail of search was what initially made content so exciting. You may not have had enough authority to win a top spot in the search results for highly competitive keywords, but there were any number of keyword variations you could shoot for.

It was field-leveling. I get it. I pitched it. But the problem with solving for keyword variations is there are thousands of them out there, which means you have to make thousands of attempts to capture that traffic. All of that has lead to high volumes of mediocre content.

We’re guilty of this too. In the past, we created hundreds of individual blog posts mapped to long-tail keyword variations that got repetitive. We didn’t realize how much it would all add up and clutter the internet.  Since then, we’ve implemented a strategy to update old posts with higher quality and updated information instead of launching into a new post and to redirect repetitive or irrelevant content.

On our Sales Blog, we’re focusing on topics over keywords, mapping each new post to a larger topic or pillar page. This creates a more organized site architecture that’s easier for Google to crawl and index and signals our authority on a subject, rather than a bunch of long-tail keyword variations.

While marketers were busy filling the web with content, Google also got smarter about how it handled search queries. Updates to the algorithm enabled Google to start serving up content that better matched searchers’ intent — not just their keywords. With this in mind, exact keyword optimized content only addresses a sliver of the question and isn’t going to help you get found in the same way it once would have back in 2012.

SEO has changed. It doesn’t reward content for the sake of keywords anymore. SEO in today’s world comes down to architecture and quality content more than it does keywords. And this is a very good thing for readers. It means that instead of writing mountains of content, our new goals should be about creating more value out of less content.

How We Risk Messing Up Messaging

Facebook Messenger will be the next great marketing channel, and it is arguably the best way to engage with the Facebook community as a marketer. My first reaction when I started to see messaging rise as a communication channel was, “Thank god you can’t buy Messenger accounts like you can buy email lists.”

This is an important point: You can’t buy and sell lists of Messenger addresses. You can’t be spammy or impatient in the same way that is possible via email.

That said, marketers are inventive. We can still mess up messaging.

We have to resist the urge to treat messaging like email. This is not a mass communication channel. It’s not a high-volume communication channel. Messaging should be reserved for short, on-demand, personalized exchanges. They should be triggered, whenever possible by the customer, not the company.

Email is company driven. Messaging is customer driven.

Even with behavior-triggered marketing automation, email is still pretty much a guessing game of what the recipient will find interesting. Messaging apps and the bots that live within them allow the recipient to pull the content they want from your repository. It can be completely custom. You can and should have endlessly differing content subscriptions with endlessly differing cadences based uniquely on the person at the other end. That is the promise of messaging: A frictionless exchange that gives the user exactly what they’re seeking and nothing more.

As marketers we need to respect Facebook’s ecosystem and the experience of the conversational UI that is a messaging interface. Let’s have bots help us deliver rich, personal, and helpful experiences. Let’s use Facebook Instant Articles to load web experiences within Facebook instantly. Let’s give our prospects and customer exactly what they need and nothing more.

Ok, so lets say we all agree with that in concept, here’s where our resolve will be tested. Messaging conversion rates are incredibly high right now. Like … gold rush high. In early experiments we’ve run at HubSpot, we’ve seen 4X the conversion rate on Facebook messenger versus email.

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HubSpot’s Messenger bot allows prospects to book a meeting with a sales rep.

There’s a reason those conversions are so high right now. It’s because marketers haven’t yet eroded the trust of consumers on messaging. For the sake of everyone, let’s keep it that way.

If appeals for a better customer experience aren’t enough, consider this. At this time there is one company that largely controls messaging. Facebook has the keys to the castle on more than 1.2 billion users. Its primary incentive is aligned with the happiness of those users. So if Messenger gets abused, Facebook could turn around and remove this option for marketers. And they’d be right to do so.

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Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report outlines the potential of messaging for businesses.

How We Risk Messing Up Video

Remember when infographics first became popular? There were infographics on everything.  Infographics on account based marketing. Infographics on geo-political conflicts. Infographics on world octopus day and shades of poop. Some were interactive and meticulously researched. Others were little more than powerpoint slides and poorly sourced. The internet was absolutely littered with them.

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Source: Google Image Search

Infographics became so prevalent over the past 10 years it prompted Megan McCardle, former senior editor of The Atlantic, to call the whole practice a plague, writing:

The reservoir of this disease of erroneous infographics is internet marketers who don’t care whether the information in their graphics is right … just so long as you link it.

We can be better than this. And we have a chance to be. Today, we are on the verge of the same reckless abandon happening with video.

Video, once a resource-intensive format has become vastly simpler to create. Marketers can stream video at the touch of a button, and pre-produced videos can now benefit from everything from free b-roll sources to voice over marketplaces. This democratization of video production has come just in time for a mobile- and social-led surge in video consumption. The combination of the two creates the perfect conditions for marketers to run amok.

I can’t believe I have to say this, but, let’s make video responsibly.

A responsible video strategy starts with being specific about why you’re making a video in the first place.  How does this video fit into your marketing strategy?

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Is it designed for top-of-the-funnel awareness? Build it to be native to Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram (Pick one — don’t one-size-fits-all it). Solve for time spent watching. Don’t try to drive conversions — drive interactions.

Is it designed to inform buyers on their way to a decision? Incorporate it into your sales process. Wistia, Viewedit, and Loom all offer quick video recording solutions to create custom explainer videos for your buyers. Use it as a way to save your prospects time with the basics before hopping on a call. Record a recap video after a demo. Solve for personalization over anything else. These videos should feel like a direct portal into the customer’s sales rep or account manager.

Don’t know? Don’t make a video.

Want it to solve for all of the above? Really don’t make a video.

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HubSpot’s Marlon De Assis-Fernandez puts his cartoonist skills to work in a prospect video.

Just because a format has gotten easier doesn’t mean we should run it into the ground. Videos should be an integral part of our strategy rather than an add-on or afterthought.

In the past, we’ve made videos just because someone said, “We need a video!” It felt flashy and impressive to have a video for a campaign launch. But because we didn’t consider if video was really the right format for a particular story or how someone would actually discover the video, we saw disappointing results and ultimately, decided it was a waste of time.

The problem isn’t that video isn’t effective or valuable. We just didn’t ask the right questions before pressing the record button.

Let’s Save Ourselves From Ourselves

Every time people flee from overcrowded channels into new untouched ones, companies crop up to build on them. But evolving with customers is less about predicting the next big marketing channel and more about seeing through it to the customers on the other side.

It’s time we stop obsessing over channels, and start focusing on the people within them. Because if history has demonstrated anything, it’s that what’s new now may be scorched earth tomorrow. So yes, dive in. Explore every new channel that comes our way. But more importantly, look at the bigger picture of what the adoption of a channel says about how people want to interact with each other and brands.

Let’s make our mark on marketing by doing it the right way.

 

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INFOGRAPHIC: Cision Celebrates 150 Year Heritage

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First, we commissioned some research to look into Cision’s heritage and quickly realized that no one company has been around for 150 years. Rather, our

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Nylon CisionScoop and Media Updates for WaPo, WSJ and More

The Washington Post has named Peter Holley business reporter. He currently serves as a general assignment reporter for the paper covering breaking news and investigative news. In his new role, he will cover business with a specific focus on innovation. He begins tomorrow, July 18.
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12 Truly Inspiring Company Vision and Mission Statement Examples

content-inspiration

Where does customer loyalty come from?

Think about those brands that you purchase from over and over, even when there are cheaper options out there. Do you usually fly on a particular airline? Do you buy your coffee from the same place every morning? Do you recommend a specific restaurant whenever out-of-towners ask for suggestions?

Often, the reason we stay loyal to brands is because of their values. The best brands strive to combine physical, emotional, and logical elements into one exceptional customer — and employee — experience.

When you successfully create a connection with your customers and employees, many of them might stay loyal for life — and you’ll have the chance to increase your overall profitability while building a solid foundation of brand promoters. But achieving that connection is no easy task. The companies that succeed are ones that stay true to their core values over the years and create a company that employees and customers are proud to associate with.Click here to download our ultimate toolkit for social and PR branding.

That’s where company vision and mission statements come in. A mission statement is intended to clarify the ‘what’ and ‘who’ of a company, while a vision statement adds the ‘why’ and ‘how’ as well. As a company grows, its objectives and goals may change. Therefore, vision statements should be revised as needed to reflect the changing business culture as goals are met.

Check out some of the following company vision and mission statements for yourself — and get inspired to write one for your brand.

The Difference Between Mission and Vision

Let’s start with a bit of a vocabulary lesson. A mission statement declares an organization’s purpose, or why it exists. That often includes a general description of the organization, its function, and its objectives.

A mission statement often informs the vision statement, which describes where the company aspires to be in the future. These two statements are often combined to clearly define the organization’s reason for existing and outlook for internal and external audiences like employees, partners, board members, consumers, and shareholders.

So, what does a good mission and vision statement look like? Have a look at the examples below.

12 of the Best Vision & Mission Statement Examples From Real Companies

1) Life is Good: “To spread the power of optimism.”

life is good mission

The Life is Good brand is about more than spreading optimism — although, with uplifting T-shirt slogans like “Seas The Day” and “Forecast: Mostly Sunny,” it’s hard not to crack a smile.

There are a ton of T-shirt companies in the world, but Life is Good’s mission sets itself apart with a mission statement goes beyond fun clothing: to spread the power of optimism. This mission is perhaps a little unexpected if you’re not familiar with the company’s public charity: How will a T-shirt company help spread optimism? Life is Good answers that question below the fold, where what the mission means is explained in more detail, with links to programs implemented to support it: its #GrowTheGood initiative and the Life is Good Kids Foundation page. We really like how lofty yet specific this mission statement is — it’s a hard-to-balance combination.

2) sweetgreen: “To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.”

Notice that sweetgreen’s mission is positioned to align with your values — not just written as something the brand believes. We love the inclusive language used in its statement, letting us know that the company is all about connecting its growing network of farmers growing healthy, local ingredients with us — the customer — because we’re the ones who want more locally grown, healthy food options.

The mission to connect people is what makes this statement so strong. And that promise has gone beyond sweetgreen’s website and walls of its food shops: The team has made strides in the communities where it’s opened stores as well. Primarily, it provides education to young kids on healthy eating, fitness, sustainability, and where food comes from. The sweetlife music festival attracts 20,000 like-minded people every year who come together to listen to music, eat healthy food, and give back to a cause — the sweetgreen in schools charity partner, FoodCorps.

3) Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Patagonia mission

Patagonia’s mission statement combines both the values that bring them market success (building safe, high-quality products) and the values that contribute to a better world (philanthropic efforts to help the environment). For the people behind the brand, “a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them.” In the name of this cause, the company donates time, services, and at least 1% of its sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups around the world.

If your company has a similar focus on growing your business and giving back, think about talking about both the benefit you bring to customers and the value you want to bring to a greater cause in your mission statement.

4) American Express: “We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.”

The tweet above is from Simon Sinek, and it’s one that we repeat here at HubSpot all the time. American Express sets itself apart from other credit card companies in its list of values, with an ode to great customer service, which is something it’s famous for.

American Express Values

We especially love the emphasis on teamwork and supporting employees, so that the people inside of the organization can be in the best position to support their customers.

5) Warby Parker: “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.”

Warby Parker objective

Speaking of quirky, this “objective” statement from Warby Parker uses words that reflect a young and daring personality: “rebellious,” “revolutionary,” “socially-conscious.” In one sentence, the brand takes us back to the root of why it was founded while also revealing its vision for a better future.

The longer-form version of the mission reads: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket,” which further shows how Warby Parker doesn’t hold back on letting its unique personality shine through. Here, the missions statement’s success all comes down to spot-on word choice.

6) InvisionApp: “Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.”

InVision Values

These days, it can seem like every B2B company page looks the same — but InvisionApp has one of the cooler company pages I’ve seen. Scroll down to “Our Core Values,” and hover your mouse over any of the icons, and you’ll find a short-but-sweet piece of the overall company mission under each icon. We love the way the statements are laid out under each icon. Each description is brief, authentic, and business babble-free — which makes the folks at InvisionApp seem like trustworthy, B.S.-free types.

7) Honest Tea: ” … to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.”

honest tea mission

Honest Tea’s mission statement begins with a simple punch line connoting its tea is real, pure, and therefore not full of artificial chemicals. The brand is speaking to an audience that’s tired of finding ingredients in its tea that can’t be pronounced, and have been searching for a tea that’s exactly what it says it is.

Not only does Honest Tea have a punny name, but it also centers its mission around the clever company name. For some time, the company even published a Mission Report each year in an effort to be “transparent about our business practices and live up to our mission to seek to create and promote great-tasting, healthier, organic beverages.”

8) IKEA: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”

IKEA vision

The folks at IKEA dream big. The vision could have been one of beautiful, affordable furniture, but instead, it’s to make everyday life better for its customers. It’s a partnership: IKEA finds deals all over the world and buys in bulk, then we choose the furniture and pick it up at a self-service warehouse.

“Our business idea supports this vision … so [that] as many people as possible will be able to afford them,” the brand states.

Using words like “as many people as possible” makes a huge company like IKEA much more accessible and appealing to customers.

9) Nordstrom: ” … to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”

Nordstrom history

When it comes to customer commitment, not many companies are as hyper-focused as Nordstrom is. Although clothing selection, quality, and value all have a place in the company’s mission statement, it’s crystal clear that it’s all about the customer: “Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.” If you’ve ever shopped at a Nordstrom, you’ll know the brand will uphold the high standard for customer service mentioned in its mission statement, as associates are always roaming the sales floors, asking customers whether they’ve been helped, and doing everything they can to make the shopping experience a memorable one.

10) Cradles to Crayons: ” … provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play.”

cradles to crayons mission

Cradles to Crayons divided its mission and model into three sections that read like a game plan: The Need, The Mission, and The Model. The “rule of three” is a powerful rhetorical device called a tricolon that’s usually used in speechwriting to help make an idea more memorable. A tricolon is a series of three parallel elements of roughly the same length — think “I came; I saw; I conquered.”

11) Universal Health Services, Inc.: “To provide superior quality healthcare services that: PATIENTS recommend to family and friends, PHYSICIANS prefer for their patients, PURCHASERS select for their clients, EMPLOYEES are proud of, and INVESTORS seek for long-term returns.”

A company thrives when it pleases its customers, its employees, its partners, and its investors — and Universal Health Services endeavors to do just that, according to its mission statement. As a health care service, it specifically strives to please its patients, physicians, purchasers, employees, and investors. We love the emphasis on each facet of the organization, by capitalizing the font and making it red for easy skimming.

12) JetBlue: ” … to inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.”

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JetBlue’s committed to its founding mission through lovable marketing, charitable partnerships, and influential programs — and we love the approachable language used to describe these endeavors. For example, the brand writes how it “set out in 2000 to bring humanity back to the skies.”

For those of us who want to learn more about any of its specific efforts, JetBlue’s provided details on the Soar With Reading program, its partnership with KaBOOM!, the JetBlue Foundation, environmental and social reporting, and so on. It breaks down all these initiatives really well with big headers, bullet points, pictures, and links to other webpages visitors can click to learn more. Finally, it ends with a call-to-action encouraging website visitors volunteer or donate their TrueBlue points.

Which company mission statements have inspired you the most? Share with us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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