Meaning and Work Series: Alex Tourk

Alex Tourk

We begin the Meaning and Work Series with Alex Tourk.

I feel fortunate that I found my niche and that it has tangible meaning and impact.”

What he does: Brings together government, corporations, and communities to solve real problems for real people.

Alex began his career in politics. “The younger me thought meaning was all about public service and government. The older me understands that every sector has to come together if we want change. A circuitous route has led me to bringing the private sector into the conversation.”

How he got there: A crisis, a mentor, and a gap analysis.

A crisis caused Alex to quit his job at the apex of his career as a campaign manager for a major political candidate. He had a few months to figure out what to do. A mentor helped him to identify that his talents could be applied to communications and public affairs. A gap analysis confirmed what Alex had been feeling for a long time. Government is crucial to helping to create a civilized society, but every sector has to come together to create the world he wants to raise his children in.

His work today: Founded and leads a San Francisco based public affairs firm.

Today Alex Tourk runs Ground Floor Public Affairs, a San Francisco firm that brings together government, corporations, and communities to solve real problems for real people. How, for instance, can a major corporate foundation ensure that community and local government informs its philanthropic investments so that they won’t just be “feel good” projects? How does a local community thrive in partnership with a major refinery that creates jobs and and potential health challenges? How can a major technology company help to mitigate difficulties for lower income people affected by higher costs of living contributed to by that company’s presence?

Where he finds meaning in his work: relationships; expertise; making change; having focus; the journey; building something.

  • Relationships, team, people: “Our team is the first thing. We believe together that we can do well by doing good.”
  • Expertise, being very good at your craft: “We didn’t invent this niche, but we know that we are very, very good at it. And that matters.”
  • Impact and change; bringing together business, government, and communities to make positive change for people: “We get to work on real systems change.”
  • Focus, direction, and clarity; knowing what you’re best at and getting things done in that realm: “You have to find your thing. Or your things. If you dabble, you’re never good enough to really get things done.”
  • The journey; enjoying the hunt, the fight, the struggle, the progression, the growth: “The hunt gets me going. Every day.”  
  • Building something: “That’s it. Building something.”

Advice for Meaning Seekers

  • Focus on relationships
  • Get good at something
  • Enjoy the journey

What Alex would do if he weren’t doing this: Make music.

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