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Women’s Leadership

How To Make A Social Impact

It was my great pleasure to be interviewed as a guest on the Stories Behind the Grind podcast recently. Aiden Vuocolo started his podcast so he could quiz the ‘creators, innovators and gamechangers’ on how they manage their successes and failures while working to scale up their business.

I joined Aiden for their 73rd episode – How to Make a Social Impact – I spoke about the principles behind World’s Biggest Garage Sale and the habits I put into place on a daily basis in order to create a profound impact.

Listen to your Gut

I have always been purpose-led, listening to my gut and my heart in equal parts. I believe this is why I’m where I am today. That’s not to say that listening to your head and logic is bad. But when listening to that logic allows fear to creep in and persuade you not to take the plunge…then it’s not ideal. It’s really important to balance logic and pragmatism with emotion and sensitivity. Lead with your heart, follow with your head.

Fail fast

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the failures and the lessons they leave you with. My philosophy is to fail fast and get back up as fast as you can, and don’t look back. When we ran our first World’s Biggest Garage Sale event we ended up giving away every dollar we made, which wasn’t the best business decision. At the end of the day, we need to recoup some profit if we’re going to be able to grow and make a bigger impact for those outside our business. So we learnt a lesson from this ‘failure’ and the next time round we still gave a considerable amount to charity, but we also invested in our future as a business.

Be Authentic

I believe it’s never been more important to be a truer version of you, to lead with being authentic. Authenticity can be a great filter for the people around you – you might not please everyone but the ones who stick with you are like your ‘tribe’. It’s essential to preach the same when operating as a business, no matter what size or sector. Telling it like it is and maintaining transparency in your business and what you do with it, will always benefit you in the long run. To be authentic and function at our best we focus on measuring our impact. It’s our mission to not only be profitable so that we can continue to make a difference for the charities we donate to, but also  to multiply success for all. Money is simply a byproduct when your work is led by a greater purpose.

Pitching World’s Biggest Garage Sale as a female-led non-tech startup was not easy, but leading with transparency and vulnerability has allowed us to create a sense of connectedness within our community. We listen to our customers deeply and coined the term ‘customer intimacy’. As a business, without customers you have nothing. So we take signals from ours so that we can make a connection and make a difference.

Consistency is Key

As entrepreneurs and as people, we need to be consistent and patient. Get up, do what you said you were going to do that day, find your tribe, and hold yourself accountable. Daily life can have us on a phone call, checking social media and eating lunch at the same time. We’re all trying to do so much to achieve more, when the key is to do less to do more. One of my own goals is to make it possible for people to see that they have the power to be everything they’ve ever dreamed of. And I hope that through my actions and through my work, that I am edging closer towards that aspiration – slowly but steadily.

To hear more about the ins and outs of our business journey, listen to the Stories Behind the Grind podcast episode here.

Profit for Purpose – Bringing Heart Back to Business

It’s a confronting and vulnerable experience putting yourself out there on national TV wearing a love heart on your chest and professing your desire to build a business based on people, planet and profit for purpose. Now we are preparing for our seed round this is the perfect opportunity to explore our triple bottom line focus.

Someone recently said to me, ‘oh you’re a not-for-profit’ and I said ‘no actually we’re profit for purpose’ and they looked at me confused, seeking clarification.

Profit for Purpose

To put everyone in the picture a “Profit for Purpose” business is ‘led by a mission to achieve social, community and environmental benefit through trading and by channeling a portion of their profits toward their mission.’ (1)

And this is exactly how we operate – mobilising dormant goods and harnessing the circular economy leading to reduced waste while simultaneously creating profit for purpose for our customers who host events. To cement this even further we are in the process of formalising as a B Corps which means we:

  • Aim to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose and
  • we will use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for employees, communities, and the environment. (2)

But my question to everyone is “when did we start forgetting about purpose and just go full tilt at profit?”. And when I say purpose, that doesn’t include a purpose that revolves around just making profit! In venture capital land the chase is still very much focused on lassoing the next Unicorn. Why is doing good for people and planet, plus doing well financially, considered a crazy far-flung concept?

Borrowing from Ted Rheingold, a common question from investors is:

Q: ‘Why don’t you just earn your wealth first, and then donate it afterward?”

A: ‘Why don’t you want to build a highly profitable business that can provide impact more reliably than your future donations?’ (3)

To the investors out there my question to you is: “Take a long hard look at the why of a company, and I mean the real why (not the ‘to make profit’ why) and check whether they’re trying to make the world a better place, not just disrupt existing systems, gather a whole swagger of followers in a short space of time and make quick gains.”

Businesses Aligned to Purpose

I was really heartened by our RiverPitch experience, particularly when I heard Yohan Ramasundara President of the ACS say “It’s really exciting, startups are exciting and ones (startups) with a purpose are even more exciting (because they’re going) to change the world.”

And what is business really? Businesses are teams of people aligned to a common vision, who provide goods and services, to help others by solving problems. If they’re guided by Milton Friedman’s concept that the ‘only social responsibility of companies is to create profit’ then I think current sentiment would agree they are misguided.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock certainly believes we need to move in a different direction, “As wealth shifts and investing preferences change, environmental, social, and governance issues will be increasingly material to corporate valuations.”

We need to remember that we all spend so much of our waking lives working in business or interacting with business – whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Surely we want businesses to be led not just by profit, but to be underpinned by a basic human decency that requires care (aka love) for our environment and the community.

As the Spellbinder from Robin Sharma’s The 5am Club said:

“The great women and men of the world were all givers, not takers.  Renounce the common delusion that those who accumulate the most win. Instead do work that is heroic – that staggers your marketplace by the quality of its originality as well as from the helpfulness is provides.”

We want to live and breathe this at World’s Biggest Garage Sale and build a profitable business, where people come to work expressing the best versions of themselves while helping others and solving the world’s problems. We want to activate the circular economy and reduce waste and give a large portion of the wealth generated from this enterprise back to the community along the way. And on this journey we want to address as many of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as we possibly can and demonstrate a new type of business model that can help achieve #agenda2030.

Patient Capital

We’re looking for investors who are aligned to our vision, for people who are patient with their capital (not greedily needing a return asap) to be part of a business that aims to provide impact every step of the way. As Vicki Saunders, SheEO Founder says:

“The pursuit of maximizing profit at the expense of everything else has created a global crisis of inequality, environmental degradation and countless critical challenges to humanity.

Only considering financial returns has led to a winner takes all mindset where 5 people have the same wealth as half the planet. This economic model is entirely broken and needs a radical rethinking.”

Profit for purpose diagram showing financial return vs impact

Original Image: Brian Trelstad, Kauffman Fellows

 

With that in mind, the capital we have in mind comes for a person who thinks long term and is comfortable with the following:

  • Longer time horizon for return of capital
  • Forgoing maximum financial returns for greater social impact
  • Unwillingness to sacrifice the interests of the end customer/employees/community/environment  for shareholder gains
  • Greater tolerance for risk than traditional investment capital

This diagram demonstrates our position really well.

 

As a profit for purpose company, we strive for more than just a sustainable business model that creates wealth from waste in the community.  Our passion and purpose is a triple bottom line focus, with community and sustainability (including the Sustainable Development Goals….aka the SDGs or #globalgoals) equal measures in the success of our scaling journey. We genuinely agree with Richard Branson

 

‘The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit’

 

We are excited to be opening our Seed Investment Round. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

 

References

 

  1. https://food-x.com/profit-purpose-business-model-whose-time-come/
  2. https://bcorporation.com.au/about-b-corps
  3. https://www.fastcompany.com/40420834/the-non-paradox-of-highly-successful-profit-from-purpose-businesses

Radical Generosity Creates New Arena for Female Leadership

I’ve just spent the weekend at the inaugural Australian SheEO Venture Retreat, where fellow Venture finalists spent time deep-diving on goals, challenges and visions in a safe and open environment. It was a testament to the power of female leadership and one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When we arrived at the Venture retreat it was clear we were in the midst of something amazing.

 

Happy Hour with Fellow Female Leaders

SheEO Australian Ventures Happy Hour on Retreat!!

What is SheEO?

To set the scene, SheEO is a movement started by Vicki Saunders. It aims to mobilise $1 billion in capital behind 10,000 female-led ventures through the contribution of 1-million activators. It’s a simple formula. As an ‘Act of Radical Generosity’, individual activators contribute $1100 into a perpetual fund to support female-led ventures. Those activators then vote on which of the ventures that apply should receive funding. There is no fiscal return on your investment, it’s something much greater than that. The supreme knowledge and well-being that comes from knowing you’ve helped make the world a better place.

We are not trying to fit into the existing models and systems and level the playing field, we are creating an entirely new field.

First Australian SheEO Ventures

Five Ventures made it through as Australia’s first cohort of finalists. It is an honour to be included alongside this incredible group of women who are recognised for their female leadership prowess. The time spent together at the retreat has led to the most profound web of trust between us. We all know that we are in this together — we’re here to uplift each other. I walked away with four new team members for World’s Biggest Garage Sale and I joined their teams too. We’ve got each other’s backs and will help each other on our journeys.

Leading with Love

We went through some incredible processes, led by the inspiring MJ Ryan (outstanding human being and author of Radical Generosity: Unlock the Transformative Power of Giving), culminating in the final day where the Ventures divided up how the SheEO Venture fund would be distributed amongst each other. Just one of the key differences in how SheEO operate. They support and empower female founders to make critical decisions with trust, love, transparency, and radically generosity.

After the Venture Finalists announcement

After the Venture Finalists announcement

SheEO Summit

Finally on Monday we spent time together at the inaugural Australian SheEO Summit, hosted by the legendary Holly Ransom, where we were announced as the finalist Ventures to all our Australian Activators. To say the energy in the room was electric is an understatement. It was an amazing day sharing our ventures with this incredible room of Activators and meeting so many remarkable people!

Female leaders galore!

Room full of female leaders and Holly Ransom (Super Activator and a rock star – just saying!!)

 

SDGs - the World's To Do List

SheEo selected Ventures that aligned with the ‘world’s to-do list’ aka the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

SheEO Ventures for 2019

All the ventures are led by truly phenomenal women who are tackling really important problems that desperately need wise solutions. Here they are:

  • Jenny Brown from Envorinex who currently recycles 50% of Tasmania’s industrial waste and are seeking to expand this to 100% and include household waste for recycling.
  • Sarah Gun from GOGO events who are creating life-changing paid-work and pathways to employment for homeless people, predominantly women, at events and festivals.
  • Kristina Freeman from Grow Your Mind who are educating young children, their schools and their families about the importance of taking care of their mental health and empowers them in ways they can do this.
  • Lucinda Hartley of Neighbourlytics which is a social analytics platform for neighbourhoods, pioneering the use of social data in cities, giving city-makers real-time insights into the social life of neighbourhoods, transforming the way they plan, design and manage places.

I’m so incredibly fired up about the SheEO #radicalgenerosity female leadership movement and enormously grateful, honoured and indebted to the Australian Activators for selecting our Venture. At World’s Biggest Garage Sale we will use these loan funds very wisely to help us scale and grow. If you have the capacity to, I’d love to invite you to activate too — join the movement http://sheeo.world

Eager to learn more about World’s Biggest Garage Sale? Read all about our story here!

Embrace your inner #Manbassador and show your support!

We celebrated IWD last week with so many great men and women and during the week we stumbled across a fantastic term #manbassador (full credit to Leanne Kemp, Chief Entrepreneur of Queensland). And what an inspiring term it is!

So let’s break it down. We’d be most familiar with political ambassadors who represent their country in another nation and build relationships. According to the Oxford dictionary, an ambassador is also a representative or promoter of a specified activity.

 

Awesome #manbassadors — Harley WestonIsaac Holmyard & Marc Orchard

In the context of IWD and #balanceforbetter, a Manbassador is someone who represents, promotes and supports women in all the arenas that have traditionally only been reserved for men. They’re also the guys who believe our voices, opinions and contributions matter as much as theirs — they recognise that they’re as much on this journey to balance, equality and fairness as any of us women are.

While we’ve come a long way as a society, women still start life behind the eight ball. We’re born into a world where men hold the majority of government and corporate leadership positions — and the reality is, people at the top set the tone for the group and these groups make up our society. Manbassadors can provide a pathway to balance by promoting and supporting the idea of women in leadership roles.

One of the many benefits of balance is diversity and diversity increases a team’s creativity and performance. A balanced group is also more representative of the world we live in and that’s a world I want to live in.

#manbassador Michael Reid from CISCO
Manbassador extraordinaire Michael ReidCISCO, supporting women in the workplace.

My husband has always been an ambassador for women, giving me complete support to live life in the best way for me and us as a family. And with 2 daughters we want to know they will have every opportunity to live the life of their dreams.

We’re still not 100% used to seeing women in leadership positions but both men and women need to embrace it. Women need to be brave enough to be seen as the female at the table and bring our insights, instincts and emotions to the discussion. And men need to get comfortable with it too — showing passion and emotion (including tears!) does not warrant the label of hysterical! Each and every #manbassador can help usher in a change of perception and allow women to be themselves in business settings.

And before I go any further, we want to acknowledge all the hardworking men who have traditionally been the providers — no easy job that comes with significant pressure, ensuring your family is safe and protected, with a roof over their heads and enough food to eat, allowing them to live happily.

 

Yet more awesome #manbassadors — Peter LaurieLlew JuryCristo Pajust

One concrete way each #manbassador can help right now is by sponsoring a woman via SheEO. “SheEO is a global initiative designed to radically transform the way we finance, support, and celebrate female entrepreneurs who are creating new mindsets, new models and new solutions that are benefiting humanity.”

Less than 4% of venture capital flows to female founders. To all the wonderful male champions of change (aka #manbassadors), please consider sponsoring a woman in your family or your office. Alternatively contact me and I will connect you to wonderful women changemakers that you can support. The youngest Activator is 14 and receiving a masterclass in business and investment surrounded by supportive committed mentors.

 

#manbassador Mark Healy from Global Payments
#manbassador Mark Healy from Global Payments Inc.bringing balance on IWD

A huge shout out to Global Payments Inc. who are the first global organisation to activate for SheEO!!

We live in interesting times, with so many inspiring women out there leading the charge and a #manbassador right beside them, not holding their hands, but supporting and encouraging them as equals.

Show your #manbassador pride and support for our cause – shop our merchandise range here!