Todd Wright is a passionate, energetic business person who believes in stories, and how they can change lives. In this interview we explore:
- His lifelong commitment to making a difference, and how to come back from volunteering fatigue
- Why making social contribution a key aspect of your business is critical, especially for new businesses
- How to choose a cause that your business can support
- Savvy ways a business can contribute, aside from straight out sponsorship.
Todd will be a Table Host at this years Edge of Leadership Un-Conference, March 28th 2017.
Zoë Routh: Hi. It's Zoë Routh and you're in for a treat today because we have the amazing Todd Wright of Threesides Marketing on the podcast today. He is a remarkable example of a leader with passion and purpose who's doing amazing things in the community. He's got really sound advice for all business owners out there who want more inspiration and actually want better leverage in their business. Here we go.
Welcome to the Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast, your source of strategies and insights to make you a better leader. Influence, improve, inspire.
Zoë Routh: Hi. This is Zoë Routh and I'm here today with Todd Wright who is the co-founder of Threesides Marketing here in Canberra. He is a wiz marketer. Now, full disclosure, I've hired Todd because he is so wonderful to help me promote the Edge of Leadership Un-Conference. He is a guru and I appreciate all of his insights in marketing. Aside from that, he is a great asset to the business community. He is a leader in his own right in his business as well as in the business community and the community sector. Welcome, Todd.
Todd Wright: Thanks, Zoë. Great intro there, but that's the marketing intro, right? Do I have to pay you to say that?
Zoë Routh: No, no, that's me being truly appreciative of you, so a legit, genuine appraisal of your work so far. Tell me a little bit. Are you a Canberra guy? Did you grow up here?
Todd Wright: Canberra-born and bred. One of the things that my friends or family know me for is being one of the most parochial Canberrans you'll ever meet. They say that it's hard to meet somebody that's actually born in Canberra, but I can definitely have that claim to fame. I know that I love the place because I've gone on enough holidays to compare it to the rest of the world and I always love coming home to Canberra. Grew up in Canberra and proud public school education recipient and, yeah, just grew up on the south side, but now living on the north side so I can talk from both perspectives, and if you're truly a Canberran, you'll know what that means. Spent a little bit of time overseas in years of my early career and now, yeah, I have a family here in Canberra.
Zoë Routh: Why marketing? I'm just curious about that because it seems like you've been in marketing forever, right? Is that right?
Todd Wright: I was always not so much interested in the marketing side of things. I was interested in me how to ... I always said to my mum from an early age, I said, "I want to get a job where someone pays me to travel and talk to people." I thought, okay, well, why don't I go and get a job as a Contiki tour host or some thing and then I went on one and thought, I don't think I could survive. Even from an early age, I've always been interested in how to tell a good story, how to influence, how to look at somebody's behaviour through how you can communicate with people more effectively and, ultimately, I've always had a real interest in problem solving. The ability to communicate, communications with problem solving and also for the last nine years, how to do it in a profitable way to run a business. It turned out to be a marketing business that I started.
I actually started at University of Canberra, studied public relations and did anything I could to avoid the numbers. Advertising and marketing involved finance and economics. I avoided that like the plague and then the first year out of my business I realised what have I done? I've had to look at the numbers ever since. Words and numbers, it's what we do in marketing and making sure that one can equal the other for a positive effect.
Zoë Routh: Cool. I like that. I understand the numbers thing as well being a people person and then going into business for myself some time ago. It's like oh, I actually have to pay attention to that detail because business doesn't run with. I think it's a harsh reality for creatives such as yourself and me, too, that we actually need to be pragmatic as well. I think it's a harsh reality for not for profits. I was just speaking with Carrie Leeson, CEO of Lifeline and how charity is very much a business and I think it's a changing paradigm for charities these days that they really do have to operate as a business on equal platform with commercial enterprises and it can be challenging.
I'm curious about your engagement on a personal level with community organisations in Canberra. I know that you have been a mentor at Menslink because one of your mentees stood up at the last breakfast and told his story. Can you tell me what interested you in being a mentor at Menslink and what drew you to that and what have you gotten out of it?
Todd Wright: My involvement in Menslink goes back to when I was a teenager being involved in school. I was always the student that didn't have to try too hard to get okay marks or even good marks. I think it was a little natural talent, but the problem is I just lacked the application because I was always so interested in everything else that was going on at the same time so, all my early school reports said, "Does really well, lacks application and gets distracted very easily."
When I started getting involved, even back in high school when I was about 13 or 14 I was on the student representative council and also after school sports and all of these other things. What I realised is I was actually volunteering my time for a lot of the things that I was doing. I was helping other people at that time, but what was pointed out to me is if you don't input your own time to create these opportunities, no one else is going to do it. If you want to do something fun or if you want to do something interesting or you want to do something worthwhile, why don't you create the opportunity for yourself because if it benefits you, then you're going to be able to have the ability to benefit others.
I actually got involved in some student leadership stuff from an early age, not only with student rep councils, but through the student rep councils then, we would fundraise for charities through schools. There is nothing like receiving the amount of charitable request that a student council receives. We would get probably three or four requests a week, every week of the year from the Cancer Council, Red Nose, from RSL, from all these different things saying, "Would your school like to fundraise for our charity?"
Zoë Routh: Really?
Todd Wright: They absolutely get cained.
Zoë Routh: I had no idea.
Todd Wright: All of a sudden as a Year 9 student or a Year 10 student on this council, we had to sit there and assess what do we want to get involved in? What does the school want to represent? We started off by saying everything. Every week, there would a be a different fundraiser. It'll be Jeans for Genes Day. It would be Leukemia Support Day. It would be Shave for a Cure. It would be all of these things and when you're younger, you want to support everything because everything is worth it and kids can develop a social conscience just through simple fundraising stuff, but it literally got to the point when we're going to college, we got charity fatigue.
As a 16-year-old making decisions on behalf of the student body, what do we believe in? What do we align ourselves in? We actually decided to pick two worthwhile causes to help two causes more rather than help 52 things in a small way. The next question is probably going to be who did you choose? I can't 100% remember, but I remember the process that we went through and we actually asked the student body, what are two causes that you would really like to support? We found one, actually, it was a cancer support charity which was back in the day might have been the Monaro Cancer Support Charity, which was one of the students on the student rep council had been diagnosed with cancer and this was a way to support his family so there was a personal connection there. The other one was a charity that actually helped school kids interstatebecause we had the question, ‘do we want to support globally? Do we want to support nationally? Do we want to support locally? What do we want to do?’ The other thing was supporting disadvantaged school students in other communities.
All of a sudden, we went through the challenge of how do you choose a charity and we went through it at an early age at school and I think there was some of the really most important lessons to learn about what matters? How can you actually effect change for somebody? How do you actually then get involved with getting other people to believe what you're doing is the right thing? It might not be their charity, but how can you get them to find something in them so they're going to donate one or two hours or a certain amount of money? When you're at that age, it's never money that you're donating. It's always time to try and get other people to donate money, a walk-a-thon, a read-a-thon, a skip-a-thon, whatever it is. I think it's a great skill that probably just happens through osmosis in schools, but it would be great if they actually taught the importance and the meaning of charitable contributions at that school level. That's where I first decided.
I then went through and took a few years off while I was setting up my business and I got volunteering fatigue and was on a number of boards and helping a number of youth leadership organisations and stuff I found. I thought I just got to take a break from everything. I stopped putting my hand up for staff and I just started focusing on the business. Two or three years in the volunteering wilderness and then I came back to it. I thought, "Wait a minute, can I help things through my marketing business?" Then the concept of pro-bono marketing support started entering my vernacular and entering our time sheets.
I got initially approached about menslink through a conversation. We're based in Dickson in Canberra and we're based on Challis Street and we're above a café called Trev's Café in Dickson. That's where our office is currently located. I said to Trev, "Do you need any help with your marketing?" He was late to a marketing meeting and he said, "Oh, sorry, I've been at this thing called a business breakfast." I said, "What's a business breakfast?" He goes, "There's this organisation called Menslink and I've been mentoring this young guy," and one thing led to another and he told me about Menslink. He'd been personally involved in it. That's Trevor McGrath, the owner of Trev's. He told me all about his experience. I said, "I'm ready to get back involved in something. That sounds really good."
After that I caught up with Martin Fisk and the conversation instantly turned to marketing. I'm like, "No, no, no, I want to find out about volunteering." He goes, "No, we've got this campaign coming up. We need to give it a name. It's going to be about getting schools involved, having leaders involved from the sporting community as role models," and I got sucked back into the marketing vortex!.
At the same time, the guys in Menslink said, "No matter if get you involved in that, we'll you get you involved in mentoring," and I thought it was a great thing to do. It's something that I would've loved to have had when I was 13, 14, 15 years old. It's been a great experience and happy to share some of the stories today.
Zoë Routh: Yeah. Let's talk about the mentoring first and come back to the marketing piece in just a moment. Young fellows, it's one-to-one mentoring, yeah?
Todd Wright: The mentoring program at Menslink is young guys that are 12 to 18 years old and they are getting involved with Menslink through a number of different channels. So they will get involved with Menslink either their mum might refer them because they're socially isolated. It might be something as simple as their dad's in defence and has been posted overseas and they lack that positive male role model. They might've been referred by the cops because of a mediation program or trying to get them back off the track of more serious crime and they've had a diversionary recommendation. They might've been recommended by a doctor or a counsellor. They might've found the information themselves and rang up and said, "Oh, this sounds really good." There's a lot of different ways for the young guys to get involved.
They're normally at school so, 12 to 18 means that they're going to be Year 6, Year 7, just starting high school right through to college. They might've left school at some point. They might be living at home. They might be living in a relationship where they're cared for by a kin. They might have a different family situation. They might have a different school situation. There's just a lot of young guys that can really benefit from the time spent by older guys that have actually been there and done it. They've been 12. They've been 15. They've been 18.
The older guys get involved for a number of different reasons, either my story, they're interested in getting back involved in sharing an experience or knowledge. They might've had a family situation where they lacked a dad at home or a positive male role model or they came from a broken home or they came from a tough situation. They might've come from a situation where there was domestic violence or mental health issues or anything. They might just be plain old blokes that think that their families' grown up and they think, "I've got some time to offer and maybe I can help a young guy." There's a lot of different reasons to get involved as a mentor. I just put my hand up and said, "Yeah, I'm interested."
There's a training process and then there's a matching process. The matching process is funny because the young guys choose who they want their mentor to be. The old guys just do all the team building and get to know you activities and have to break down some of those professional stereotypes that they might be used to relationships with their other mates or work place relationships. You just gotta learn to be yourself again and introduce and show who you are and it's amazing how good the judge of character these young guys can be.
My mentor match turned out to be a guy called Tyson. Canberra, being the small place that it is, within two weeks of starting our mentoring relationship, I worked out that his mum was in the school the year below me.
Zoë Routh: Wow.
Todd Wright: His stepdad's father-in-law was my boss at University of Canberra. I'd worked with his great grandmother through the ACT Tourism Awards and I knew a number of people that were connected to life. Never met the kid before in my life, but I had three to four strong family connections and nobody knew that these connections existed until we caught up and that's fate. That's the world working, right. Now, we've known each other for probably three and a half, four years. Tyson's now 16 so I think I met him just before his 13th birthday and, yeah, he's had a long story and I've been part of it for the last three and a half years, which has been great.
Zoë Routh: What's the most rewarding part for you?
Todd Wright: The most rewarding of being a mentor, selfishly, one of the most rewarding part is I've never had as many good conversations with total strangers in my whole life with other mentors because it's outside of your own circles. You don't have to filter what you say. You can actually say, "Listen, I'm struggling with this or what about that or I've had this tough time in my life and this is how I dealt with." You can really share who you are without all of the social filters that you normally apply to your life because they're friends or family or colleagues and you can't say things. On that level, I think that's been really great.
Finding out what it's like to be a young guy in 2014, 2015, 2016, the time I've known Tyson, that's been really interesting because I'm so out of touch with that. I'm not old by any stretch of the imagination. I'm 37 this year, but I met Tyson when he was 12 and I was 12 - 24 years ago and some people would be sitting here, listening, thinking, "Oh, I was 12 - 45 years ago." Unless you have your own kids, having that connection to what are the struggles of a 12-year-old, 13-year-old, 14-year-old, 15-year-old look like? I've learned to get a bit of perspective on my problems, which aren't as big as they seem because you've been able to compare it to a 14-year-old that thinks that their problems are world changing and, hopefully, to the point where they're not life ending, but you both give each other that perspective and you both shared.
One of the other outcomes is hopefully the time invested I used to think, "Oh, is it really worth it?" I just see both of us changing and getting older and hopefully smarter and wiser, but we're doing it together. Meeting, pulling my head out of the proverbial, getting out of my own setting and being able to be part of somebody else's life is a real honour and privilege. I truly treat it like a privilege. It's bloody tough sometimes, but I've got to force myself to realise it's not all about me. You can definitely get too involved in your own life sometimes and think that there's nothing else out there and you're doing it tough and it's a beautiful perspective builder. Learning what a mentor needs to do, it's been a really great skill that I think I need to learn more about and that's something that I'm really hungry to learn more about.
Zoë Routh: Fantastic. Coming back to what you were just talking about when you first started your business and you took a time out from volunteering and charity work after you burnt out a little bit on it, and starting a new business is all consuming. It is very much in survival mode. You work with a lot of private sector businesses and you work with a lot of community sector organisations. You can see the crossover often. I would imagine you work with a lot of businesses that support community organisations.
I have a theory that if organisations or businesses stay in survival mode as in how can we just make ends meet and just selfishly look after their own territory or their business that they will do not as well as the organisations like yours that goes, "Hang on a minute. How can my business make more of a contribution?" They incorporate social agenda into their business methodology, their business DNA if you like. I believe that those businesses are more successful. I'm curious about your perspective as someone who is very familiar with the business community and the social community. Is that a true thing? Do you believe that the businesses that do good in a community do better as businesses?
Todd Wright: Yeah. When I first started my business, I genuinely thought that businesses only got involved with charities to make themselves look better. I thought it was a bit of marketing bullshit quite honestly. I thought, "They're only doing that because they're a big accountancy firm or they're big legal firm or they're a gambling company or they're doing things that during the day might actually break up communities and ruin the environment or they're only interested in profits so they have to try to balance it with a 1% or 2% contribution of time or effort to show that they're not all bad." When I first started, I thought that's all that philanthropy and community involvement and support was all about. I was a complete naysayer or a bit of uninformed hypocrite about community social responsibility.
However, I always said, "Oh, no, it's a really good thing and big businesses do it and so small businesses should benefit from it," but I was never practising it. I first thought, maybe it's something you can only do if you can afford to do it and can I afford the opportunity cost of spending two or three hours not making an hourly rate of doing something for someone and doing something for free? Who's going to pay for my time? Who's going to pay for my staff time? Who's going to actually do it?
Then I started saying, "Is what I think the truth is can I actually do this in practice? What would happen if we started donating a couple of hours? How would it affect the business? How is it going to affect the staff? How's it going to affect me and how am I going to feel?" Then I thought, "Wait a minute, I've donated hundreds and hundreds of hours and time outside of my business doing this stuff," and I thought, "Why can't I do it inside my business as well?"
Then I realised, "Wait a minute, I'm in small business. When do you get a life? Why don't I use what I used to do in my personal life, which is contribute and volunteer and donate? Why can't I do that with my business?" and blending the two. I started by saying, "If you can pay me for this bit, can I offer you something extra for free?" That's when I started talking with some not for profit orgs or as I've been told 'for purpose organisations'. Then I started by just like, "Can we shift the bill a bit? Can I give you 10 hours and you only pay for five?" "That'd be brilliant. Thanks. I really appreciate that."
Some organisations actually started approaching me for sponsorship for support and I didn't work out that I needed to find something that I truly believed in to really value it. I think once an organisation finds something that's purposeful and meaningful for them as people, then they need to find out what part of their business can really be purposeful and meaningful to the not for profit or for the for purpose organisation that they're working for. Can their services or can what they do actually help unlock resources that would've otherwise been spent on just getting the job done for that charity or that for purpose organisation, and can actually help them provide more services for the people that they affect?
For example, Menslink, can we help them with their marketing on the left and can we help volunteer on the right, collecting money at a Raiders game or the multicultural festival or shaking the bucket and increasing brand awareness so they can attract a little bit of money. But they can attract more people so it costs them less to find mentors and they find more of the right people. So when it comes to finding mentors for the mentee matches they can actually spend less on marketing because we've been out there shaking the bucket so when they do have a marketing budget, we're actually able to stretch it a lot further because we can start marketing and communicating things that they couldn't normally afford to do because they've got a bit more money.
When my staff turn up and say, "I've got something that I really want to support" and they tell me the reason why, I go, "Great. What's it going to take? Do you need other people involved or is it just you?" One of the staff members said, "Can I do a social media training session for two hours? It'll be after hours. I just need to use the office for a friend who's on the board of the Lyme Disease Support Network." I'm going, "Is there such a thing?" That might not be the right name for it, but that was their interest in and they go, "They just want to know how to set up a Facebook page and manage it better. There's going to be four people from that group come in and I'm going to run a training session for them." I said, "Go for it. If that helps your friend, then that's a great thing to do." Then she turns around and said, "Thanks very much for that."
They're really appreciative and they asked us if we want a certificate or something. No, it's not about the certificate. It's about can you use your skills for good, right?. You can use your time and it's more than just feel good. It's about has our company has been able to effect change and we can make our profits during the day?. We can make our money doing something else, but is it the money that's going to make you feel good or is it the money that's going to change the community? Is it the profits that are going to do that or it's about the enablement factor that your business gives you to also add to those parts of your life which are really going to matter for you? Community social responsibility for me then turned into something real and something that exists and not just something that we should be donating 1% of our time to.
I have no idea how much time or money or effort we've donated. I think if we calculated it, we might donate less because we might have to put a price on it and put a limit on it or put a cap on it. We just don't do that. We just keep going and finding things that we think are worth it. We do actually say no to a lot of things and apologies to Menslink, but I use them as the excuse. We help them a lot and we get involved with them a lot and say, "They're our chosen charity," but we help a lot of other people on the side. If it's a small donation of money that we can support, we'll always support things that staff nominate first or clients nominate second because that's our little business community.
Then if we can help close to home, the thing that the client's supporting, they might be doing the MS ride from Wollongong to Canberra or they might be doing a charity fundraiser which involves our client who would like to treat his friends of them supporting their family or them supporting their school or community. That's when we've got that connection, that's where it's really important.
I think it's once you get to a point where you're confident enough that what you're doing can affect change and that's important to you, the decision is then just how much do we do it? It's not should you do it or not. It should always stay on and you should always be finding that opportunity. If you're not, I feel like you're missing out and that's why I got involved with understanding and believing what you're doing with Edge of Leadership and also Menslink. I think it's a positive thing and I struggle to get involved with things I don't believe in.
Zoë Routh: That's a beautiful story of passion and purpose and bringing meaning into your work in a larger way. I'm wondering has your disdain, if I can call it that, for bigger business and corporate social responsibility as a marketing bullshit piece, has that dissolved for big business because you've then come around and talked about the small business and your personal perspective? What's your opinion now with that?
Todd Wright: Yeah. I've gone 180 degrees on that. Now, it's like even if we're working with larger clients, large corporate enterprise, we've got a couple of multinational and also global clients, and I'm always saying, "How can we tell a better story around what your staff are volunteering for and who is your chosen charity? How can I leverage that a little bit more to their benefit as well as yours?" Now, I'm all about it.
A lot of philanthropy happens anonymously and it happens quietly and behind closed doors and that's normally a personal or professional choice, but if you can do it in a way that isn't crude and crass and just taking advantage of your corporate support, you can actually do it in a way that genuinely shows that you're involved with that community. Sponsorship isn't a charitable thing. Sponsorship is actually a marketing tactic and if you can actually then combine that with charitable outcomes or philanthropic outcomes because you're doing more good as a result of the fact that you highlighted that this is a good marketing tactic for you, I think every business large or small should do it.
I think you can do it from day one as well. There's a lot of things that I would change if I went back to day one of my business and it would be to try to get more people involved from day one (and get a good bookkeeper and get a good accountant!.)
Zoë Routh: Especially if you're a creative type.
Todd Wright: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I nearly went broke trying to be a bookkeeper in the first two years of my business because I just was the worst at it and I kept putting it off, and the tax department nearly made the decision for me. Get a good bookkeeper, get a good accountant. Join a good business network. Find a good partnership. Find a cause that you can support because business gets really tough and sometimes, you need excuses for why you're in business. Even that 2% or 3% of your time is helping people and in your moment of despair and your moment of "why the bloody hell am I doing this" you can survive knowing that you're doing it for other people, if that can be one of your excuses to stay in there and get up the next day and deal with all the shit the business is throwing at you, do it, include that in your toolkit to start with.
I would love to have received that advice back in 2007, but it turns out when you start business, you feel like you're a not for profit anyway and you do a lot of things that you don't get money for and you volunteer and maybe include some charitable causes in your process of cutting your teeth and getting experience, and there's a lot of for purpose organisations that will say yes to helping you get 100 hours of experience or 10 hours of experience of helping them.
All of a sudden you can now put this on your "here's our clients list" and show you've worked with big organisations. You don't have to say that you weren't paid for it because you were paid for it. They're going to let you put this on your testimonial list and that's value. They're going to let you associate with their brand. There's a big value in that brand association. It's quid pro quo.
It's startup businesses that should get involved just as much as one of the larger accounting firms that's been in Australia for 100 years. Maybe they have the scaling capacity to do it and I say that the longer you've been in business, I think it's a great opportunity if you can scale, that 1% or 2% might equal $1 million or $2 million.
Zoë Routh: Yeah, that's right.
Todd Wright: Rather than two hours when you started, but as long as you keep it up, I think it's a really positive thing to do.
Zoë Routh: I think coming back to one of your key messages, it's got to be a cause that you believe in.
Todd Wright: Yeah.
Zoë Routh: Because I think people will smell the insincerity if you're like, "Oh, I need a good cause. That one has a good brand. We'll do that." I think that's where you had your hackles up perhaps, your Spidey-sense up about it's like, "Oh, are they really genuine about it? If you pick a cause that resonates with your own values and what you want to contribute to the world, then all of that weariness disappears because when you talk to somebody and tell them why you support this, like you talked to your staff, people go, "Wow, you're fair dinkum," and they can feel the passion. That's really great advice.
Todd Wright: Yeah. I even look at that from a Menslink point of view and I look at all of their sponsors and who decides to align themselves with an organisation like Menslink. What I keep discovering is it's not necessarily about the financial or the professional contribution they can make. It's the benefit that Menslink can help them with normally gets them over the line. For example, ACT vets rugby. The guys from Menslink actually went and did a talk over with the guys from vets rugby. One of our clients, Just Cuts wanted to get involved with Menslink and said, "It's not just about any money that you might be able to provide in the sale and it's the awareness." If we can talk to your hairdressers and talk to them about what Menslink does and they provide mentoring for guys between 12 to 18 and provide counselling for guys 12 to 25, one thing that every guy's going to need at some point is a haircut, right, hopefully. A young guy that's been taken in by his mum that's 16 to get a haircut and isn't comfortable to talk to his mum, could he talk to his hairdresser and just say, "Oh, I just spoke to these guys, it's called Menslink. They do this mentoring program." He goes, "Oh, yeah, I've seen that at school," and they go, "Start talking to your mates."
It's amazing what that joint support can actually lead to and for Menslink, the biggest outcome is actually about getting more people not just using Menslink services, but understanding the whole point and it's about having simple conversations and helping guys talk to each other. Stopping their small problems becoming big ones, if we can do that outside of schools, if we can do it in the hairdressing salon, if we can do it on a building site, if we can do it on a sports field, if you can do it in a locker room, if you can do in a café, if you can actually affect behavioural change from guys to realise that they don't have to be mute men that can't share their feelings and can't talk to each other, that's a massive job done.
Menslink are here, only doing it in Canberra. There's a whole world to change, right. If you can do that through associating with organisations that believe in what you do and can share that cause, then the multiplier effect kicks in and you're not just an organisation with seven or eight staff and hundreds of volunteers. You're out there. You're amongst it and you're everywhere.
Zoë Routh: Fantastic. Last question, what's your philosophy on leadership as someone who runs their own business and is a leader in the community?
Todd Wright: My philosophy on leadership? I think a good leader is one that shares responsibility. I think leadership is even doing some of the work and asking some tough questions. Leadership is something that doesn't happen. It's a continual learning process. I believe a good leader is someone that can share a vision and a direction and then provide the support and energy to people to help get them there together. I don't think it's just about motivating a person and helping them get there alone. I think a good leader is somebody that can form a team whether it's be one or two people or one or 100 people, but a leader is someone that you can inspire somebody else to act and act well.
Coming back to our discussion around for purpose organisations and charity and social conscience, if a good leader can inspire somebody to give outside of themselves, but also do it within a business context, they can change the meaning or the purpose of the organisation. We actually changed the vision of our business or maybe distilled it three or four years ago. Our vision in Threesides Marketing (that we don't put on the wall and nobody knows so you've heard it here first) is "marketing that changes lives". If you've ever walked inside our office, you'll see some of our values on the wall and some of those things, and our biggest vision is marketing that changes lives and we have to keep coming back to that. If what we're doing isn't changing lives, then we need to stop doing it.
Someone goes, "How does helping Sportsmans Warehouse sell a pair of Nike change lives?" I said, "Let's just work through it. Who's buying those Nikes?" You go, "A 13-year-old kid." I said, "Where is he wearing them?" "Outside." "Doing what?" "Playing sport." "How does sport change lives?" Sportsmans Warehouse's whole philosophy is fostering fitness in the community and truly believe that sport and fitness can change lives because when you get out there, you learn team work, you learn leadership, you learn skills, but you're getting active and that's one of the best healthy things that you can do for your mind and your body. If we can help Sportsmans Warehouse sell those pair of shoes, we can literally influence that person at the age of 13, 12, 10, 9 or 50 to lead an active lifestyle. That's how I can justify helping sell those shoes, but I'm not going to be selling missiles, drugs. I'm not going to be promoting gambling.
Zoë Routh: Those certainly change lives, but not necessarily for the better.
Todd Wright: Correct. That's probably the subtext of our marketing that changes lives and we probably should update it, marketing that change lives for the better and that's probably how we've continued to organically attract for purpose organisations. Diane Kargas actually turned around to me about four or five years ago. She goes, "You guys have a really great social conscience. I really love it. You do a lot of work." I go, "I don't think we do that much." We sat down and had a look at it and she said, "I just keep seeing your name pop up and you're just willing to get involved and you don't asked too many questions." I asked, "Doesn't everybody?" That was probably one of those aha moments where I thought, "How could we do it better?" That's where we started getting involved in Hands Across Canberra in some of its early days of starting up. That's when I realised that I needed to stop my ban on volunteering and everything like that. That was a really positive conversation I had and I look at people like Diane as positive leaders in the philanthropic community.
Also people that I've met along the way in terms of Menslink and some of them are going to be the Edge Leadership conference, I want to keep learning what motivates these people. That's how I can become a better leader - just steal some of their ideas and some of their inspiration. I think I believe in R&D, right, rip off and duplicate. There's so many great things that are being done by great leaders, whether it be social conscience or otherwise. I don't think there's anything really new. We're just adapting and evolving what we already know. Learning how other people do it and finding our happy place in our little marketing agency here in Canberra is great. Maybe we can change our little corner of the world and have fun doing it.
Zoë Routh: Thank you so much, Todd. Your energy, your passion is so infectious and I am so excited to share your work and your vision and your enthusiasm with our community. I'm so excited you're going to be table host as well, some lucky are going to have you as a table host at the event and so thanks again.
Todd Wright: Thanks, Zoë.