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Volunteering to Make a World of Difference

This week is National Volunteer Week 2019, and this year’s theme is ‘making a world of difference’. At WBGS volunteers are integral to our events and the social impact that is a direct result of our events.

WBGS Volunteers

From the very beginning, volunteers have been integral to the World’s Biggest Garage Sale. Some amazing connections, experiences and even marriages that have come from volunteering at our events! These volunteers, many who have come to help year after year, really have been ‘making a world of difference’.

Some of our international student volunteers from WBGS 2018

 The World’s Biggest Garage Sale Events are hosted, organised and run by volunteers from the local community. Our goal is to connect the community and activate them in sustainable consumption while raising funds for much needed causes. And the engine that drives the setup of events are the volunteers – real everyday heroes.

In QLD alone, volunteering is worth an estimated $11.6-billion to the economy, with 95% of volunteers reporting their volunteering activities are linked to feelings of positivity, happiness and increased well-being.

Benefits of Volunteering

So if you’re sitting there:

  • watching issues in the world or seeing problems that need to be addressed, or
  • maybe you want to learn something new and build some skills or
  • you’d like to meet some new people while engaged in a worthwhile activity

 

then volunteering for a cause that you care about can tick many of these boxes. Interestingly volunteering was associated with less work–life conflict, burnout and stress, and better positive mental health, according to a study from researchers at the University of Zurich. So if you’re pondering “Why would I give my time to something for free?” the rewards appear to outweigh the time invested.

Volunteering with another group outside of your normal activities, in tasks that you may not regularly perform, can offer perspective and variety, which can be rejuvenating. If it’s tied to a cause that you care about, the benefits will multiply.

Corporate Volunteering

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale time recently took part in Global Payments Inc. #DayOfService at their Brisbane HQ. We spent time cleaning the streets with the Brisbane City Council Litter Prevention group, who provided some wonderful education on changing habits to keep our city cleaner! And the Global Payments team are a great example of a corporation that integrates volunteering into their ethos.

The WBGS Team at Global Payments ‘Day of Service’

If you care about sustainable consumption and want to help raise funds for much needed causes, then volunteering at one of our World’s Biggest Garage Sale Events would be a great fit. We welcome anyone and everyone and can find a role or task that you would enjoy – from department manager, to catering, to driving a forklift!

It can be a great team building exercise for companies aswell. According to Romualdo Ramos, one of the authors of the University of Zurich study “It does seem to be the case that people who volunteer are in their paid work more engaged”. Seems counterintuitive but companies like Global Payments and CISCO have caught onto the value of volunteering.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we celebrate our own wonderful and valuable volunteers over the next week, who have helped make a world of difference!  

RiverPitch – A fantastic journey!

The WBGS team is only just coming down from the epic time we had in Sydney for the #RiverPitch finale. There was incredible energy on the day – all of these businesses have amazing founders and proven market worth and I look forward to seeing everyone’s continuing journey. I’ll be able to say, “I knew you when…”

Some of the WBGS team with Peta Ellis of River City Labs & Harley Weston, Managing Director of Solaire Properties

Founder Sharing

Preparation and filming for the grand finale offered all teams a rare chance to spend a high-energy day with other awesome founders who have embarked on the same journey emotionally. We’re all going full tilt, all-in towards our dreams. 

Your 2019 #RiverPitch Contestants!

So spending time together with this wonderful team we couldn’t help but feel like our own team at the end of it, developing a strong sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.

James Fielding from Audeara,

Lucinda Hartley and Jessica Christiansen-Franks from Neighbourlytics,

Carolyn Mee from Sound Scouts,

Hanno Blankenstein and Jason Grier from Unleash live, and

Tony Wu from Weploy

 

StartUp Mentoring

Yas & Steve Baxter behind-the-scenes

Once again I was grateful to spend more time with mentor Steve Baxter, someone who knows what it takes to grow and scale a business. The opportunity to benefit from his experience is immeasurable. It was also brilliant to meet and learn from the other fantastic mentors Sheona Devin and Peter James who have been equally awesome with their teams. All helped me hone my pitch even further. And overall the RiverPitch journey been a great process for gaining pitch clarity and business focus.

Finale Questions

So when it came to Q&A time from the judges (Yohan Ramasundara, Siobhan Hayden, Andrew Johnson and special guest judge Duncan Davidson) I felt well prepared for the challenging questions that came my way! I say challenging with love, because I absolutely want hard questions. They help us find the gaps, holes or potential issues that lie ahead for us when scaling. It’s the only way we can grow successfully and be ready for what’s to come.

#RiverPitch Art Imitating Life, Yas watching herself pitch on the big screen!

And although we weren’t the winners on the night – congratulations to Weploy!! – we really can’t put a price on the experience we gained and the connections we’ve made by being part of the show. A huge thanks to ACS, River City Labs and Your Money for bringing the show together.

It has been an inspiring journey and one I am so grateful to have been a part of. If you haven’t yet had a chance, you can catch-up on #RiverPitch at Your Money. Take the time to check-out the amazing Australian #tech #entrepreneur #startup space – we’re worth it!!!

 

Radical Generosity is Creating a New Playing Field 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 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.

 

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. 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

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!

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

 

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 SheEO #radicalgenerosity 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

Circular Economy Brisbane Innovators in our Midst

Monday night was another fantastic Circular Economy Futures Meetup for Brisbane. We discussed ‘waste to wealth’ and explored innovative and sustainable solutions for building a Circular Economy. There are some excellent businesses in Brisbane doing some really great work, tackling different issues. From prolonging the life of industrial equipment, to creating useful products from waste, Brisbane has seem real innovators in its midst.

 

Brad Parsons, CEO, MOVUS

Harnessing the Circular Power of AI: ‘Turning Dumb Machines Into Smart Machines’

Our first speaker, Brad Parsons, CEO of MOVUS, discussed how they’re helping to bring sustainability to industry. MOVUS’ world-leading Industrial IoT (IIoT) solution FitMachine® transforms dumb equipment into ‘smart equipment’. It enables this through consumer styled simplicity combined with world-class artificial intelligence. MOVUS’ FitMachine proactively monitors the condition and operating performance of industrial equipment.

Brad challenged us to look at the ‘way’ we live. Their work really fits into the inner circle of maintain/prolong within the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram. Their devices improve asset management and lifecycle optimization, with maintenance teams proactively monitoring and maintaining equipment, rather than reacting to failures or following OEM preventive maintenance schedules. The overall outcome being waste reduction, increased efficiency and empowered people. There was some really great discussion around prolonging the life of machines and keeping them in good working order for as long as possible.

 

Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager, Closed Loop

Trash to Treasure: Innovation in Recycling

Our second speaker, Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager of Closed Loop, showed us some of the great work they’ve been doing. Very much focused on creating sustainable solutions within existing business models they are finding useful products from waste. Their work sits on the outer arm of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram looking at recycling. With their Simply Cups coffee cup solution they’re providing an excellent mechanism to ensure the excess of 1 billion disposable coffee cups avoid landfill in Australia. They’re collecting the coffee cups and transforming this trash into treasure with several innovative products emerging, ranging from coat hangers and bricks to pallets and even a keep-cup the rCup®, made from the disposed coffee cups. If that isn’t circular, then I don’t know what is!

They’re also tackling food waste, by providing customers with commercial on-site composting units recycling organic matter, with the capacity to reduce food waste volume by up to 90 per cent in 24 hours. This is some seriously impressive technology, with the machines taking food and organic waste throughout the day, including fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, fish, poultry, eggshells, crustacean shells and liquid. Within 24 hours, the original material is transformed into a concentrated compost ready for the garden!! Significantly improving on allowed inputs and time of home composting.

Highlighting MOVUS and Closed Loop on the Circular Economy Butterfly Diagram – Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, SUN, and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment; Drawing from Braungart & McDonough, Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

 

Our First Youth Speaker: Activating the Sustainable Development Goals

Finally, we heard from Sarah and Simeon, co-founders of Illuminating Distractions, a mother and son team working together to educate and engage people on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Illuminating Distractions is a start-up supported by St Paul’s School Centre for Innovation (CIE) and Entrepreneurship. With a passion for the world and a desire to make sure people are educated on sustainable practices, Sarah and Simeon created a fun and interactive card game to teach players about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And we’re big proponents of SD12 Responsible Consumption and Production, where Circular Economy practices will really come to the fore to address this goal. They’ve already sold over 100 units including some to the United Nations! Our future is in good hands with young leaders like Simeon leading the change.

 

Slide by Illuminating Distractions, Sarah & Simeon Gover

 

The event has really grown over the last few months and the energy on Monday night was fantastic – plenty of robust discussion and connection before and after the talks. It’s a really innovative, encouraging and supportive group proactively bringing the Circular Economy to life in Brisbane and Australia, all with solutions that have the potential to go global. If you have ideas or really care about the Circular Economy, come along to our next Event Wednesday, April 24 to learn and share.

 

Volunteering for WBGS: Empowering individuals, corporations and the community

Volunteers are the backbone of WBGS — without them the show simply wouldn’t go on. Volunteering is a great way to feel more connected to your local community and to contribute something positive and meaningful outside of your normal week. It’s also a great way to help grow and support something new in your community — like the World’s Biggest Garage Sale and help people feel like they’re doing something to turn a problem around i.e. tackling waste.

Australia has a rich history of volunteering. Many iconic organisations that we know now and take for granted were started by a group of volunteers who saw a problem that needed to be addressed. For example Surf Life Saving Australia, the Endeavour Foundation, Clean Up Australia, and most recently Orange Sky.

The personal empowerment that comes from volunteering is immeasurable. Individuals can:

  • gain experience and new skills (especially when you’re studying, or formal work might be limited), bolstering confidence and leading to a sense of achievement and accomplishment;
  • socialize, meet new people and expand their network of contacts, which improves wellbeing;
  • help grow a worthwhile activity that is addressing a real-world problem and give back to the community and feel hopeful and empowered as a result.

Not only is volunteering great for an individual, it’s also great for companies. Instead of expensive Corporate Team Building exercises, organisations could consider Corporate Volunteering and work with a local not-for-profit or profit-for-purpose organization. Volunteering Australia highlights that Corporate Volunteering provides companies “with the opportunity to develop staff skills, build teams and bolster your reputation within your local community.”

                                              Mark Simpson, Performance Business Director of News Corp Qld

Some of our Corporate Partners who have volunteered time and effort are News Corp Australia and CISCO Qld. Mark Simpson, Performance Business Director of News Corp Qld stated, “it’s all about connection with community, that’s what we do, day in and day out with our content…talking to over 80% of Queenslanders every month, so what better way to connect with community than by working with the World’s Biggest Garage Sale”.

CISCO Qld are taking 50 people out of their office for a full day to help support the WBGS this year, and Michael Reid, State Manager said “by taking our staff out of the office for a whole day and giving back to the World’s Biggest Garage Sale, the impact that they feel walking away is incredible. It actually brings our team together, it’s a team building event for us, we make it a big celebration and we hope it makes an impact at the other end.”

So next time you’re sitting back worried about the growing waste problem in Australia and climate change, rather than feel frustrated, consider volunteering with WBGS. Because the truth is, your contribution really does matter and makes a big difference. In the words of Margaret Mead,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Come and volunteer with WBGS. We are a fun, passionate and committed group wanting to grow the circular economy, reduce waste and help the environment by promoting sustainable living practices. There are several ways you can get involved, such as Department Manager where you can develop your leadership and management skills, Drivers, Caterers and Retail roles.

And last but not least, a big shout out to all our individual and corporate volunteers. Thank you so much for all your support, enthusiasm and hard work — we can’t do it without you!