The speaker had begun at Proctor and Gamble and is now, as I mentioned, a consultant in the field. She's written books and travels across the country helping to train sales people (I gather).
The conference was for non-profit organizations, so that was her audience that night. The next day at lunch, I sat with a planned giving officer from a college in the Midwest. He shared that he was offended (my word) by the keynote speech the night before. I was shocked because I thought it had been a great talk. What was offensive about it?
He did not think the work we do should ever be compared to selling soap. Personally, I think he missed the entire point. She wasn't equating non-profit work with selling soap. She was saying that whatever we are doing - spreading the good news about the mission of a non-profit, raising children, teaching Bible Study, and even selling soap, will be done better if we have a passion for it. The key to having a passion for something is seeing its purpose, I think.
The biotech salesperson the consultant used as an example was inspired by someone telling her that the product the salesperson is selling changed the patient's life. The salesperson always remembers that what she does improves people's lives. Non-profit work isn't selling soap; the point is that selling soup can have the same passionate mission as non-profit work.
I think the lesson for me is that whatever you are doing can have a God-given purpose that will inspire you. And when you are inspired, you will do a better job, because you believe what you are doing matters.