This topic is very close to our heart. At Aspect Legal, we believe that a business has a social responsibility that extends beyond its own. Together with Wayne Schmidt, we discuss simple ways that you can start integrating a culture of giving into your business model via the platform B1G1 or Business for Good.
- From consumerist to minimalist
- What makes B1G1 different from other platforms
- Using giving as a point of differentiation
- Integrating giving into your business model
Joanna: Hi it’s Joanna Oakey here and welcome back to Talking Law, a podcast brought to you by our commercial legal practice Aspect Legal.
Welcome back to another episode with Wayne Schmidt, one of the men behind the launch in Australia of the accounting software Xero. In our previous episode, episode 73, Wayne gave us the inside story on Xero’s journey from being an NZ accounting startup to being a billion-dollar market leader in the Australian accounting space.
But today, we’re taking a big shift.
After Wayne’s successful stint with Xero, he and his wife Sally made the decision to sell off everything they owned and packed up their life in a few suitcases to travel the world and do high impact givings to help make the world a better place.
So if you’re interested in learning about the importance of building giving into your business model and how you can go about doing that without taking too much focus away from your day to day business activity, you will certainly love this episode! So sit back, relax and we’ll jump right into it.
Joanna: So let’s maybe launch in to talk a little bit about what you are doing now Wayne. Other than travelling the world, what are you doing from a business and a life perspective, I guess?
From consumerist to minimalist
Wayne: So what we did fundamentally is, when we decided to travel. We packed our house up and everything happened three weeks. Sold cars, packed houses, everything got done.
Some things happen for a reason I decided. I’m a big fan of karma, really big fan of karma. And you’ll find that I think as you get older that’s probably just more a maturity thing, that as you just get older you feel karma exists.
Before we gone travelling. In November last year, so November 2007, I saw a tweet from a friend of mine who did a tweet about these guys called the minimalist and they were coming to Australia. And he says we should go to this.
And I’m a consumerist. Can I have them most shiniest new toy there is. If there is a newer shinier one than the one I just bought five minutes ago, I’ll buy that.
And I went “Oh okay, I’ll book it, the minimalist whatever.”
Go on this holiday, three months later we decide to leave our jobs. When we came back, in that three week period is right when we went to see the minimalists, which was talking about living a minimalist life. It couldn’t happen at a better time.
So we sat there. We were thinking two hippies come out. They’re in sneakers. They wore black. They’re really hip. They’re cool and talking about living a minimalist life, which is what we end up doing. I’ve got my nice one white shirt that I could wear. I have one pair of jeans. Everything else, because I live in warm weather, is shorts and we’re now living a minimalist life, which doesn’t mean I don’t like buying nice shiny things. It’s just how much do you need.
So we went through before we left. We culled our wardrobe. The first thing was anything we didn’t wear for a year, that went to charity so anything. Well, actually not a charity. We handed that down to our friends. So Sally’s family got dressed in some very good designer clothes, and some very nice Jimmy Choo shoes. So anything we hadn’t worn in a year, that got passed down. Then we did another cull and then another cull and then we ended up packing our life up into five suitcases which we left at Sally parents’ place. So two big suitcases and three little small suitcases. That’s our life. When We came back to Australia and.
Then we left with two suitcases, which we then decreased again and sent another box home because we did another cull of have we worn this since we’ve been traveling? No. Okay, send it back.
And then I’ve realised buying the shiny things. I’ve had shiny toys. I’ve had my Aston Martin. I’ve lived that lifestyle. We had his and her Aston Martins. I kid you not. We did. I had the convertible and Sally had the hardtop. Brand new! That’s the price of the average house in Australia and we got two of them.
So then we have this fundamental change of what was starting to make us happy. I’d been part of B1G1, which is business for good. It’s about building into your business model giving. So it makes a point of differentiation.
Simplest way to explain business for good B1G1 is this. If you’re a coffee shop, normally you have a maybe a loyalty card. Every time I buy 10 coffees I’ll get one free. But you’re like every other coffee shop down the street. They all do the same process. You all do the same thing. You have the same cards.
Imagine if your coffee shop said, “Hey, instead of a free coffee, we will give you water for a year to a child.” Which one would you probably choose your loyalty? The one that gives you the free coffee or the one that gives water to a child for a year. Probably the one that gives water, and that’s the whole B1G1 fundamental is; building giving in to your business model.
When we left Australia, we had nothing. We had some money we’ve saved up, which we then proceeded to spend. Because I’m good at spending. Don’t worry. I’m still good at that.
Joanna: Yeah. Well, we’ve heard about the his and her.
Wayne: It’s amazing you show both of them when you can travel. So we realised that we’re travelling that we wanted to build giving back into our business model. So we want to have a business model that allowed me to travel, work and build giving so we created our company.
I do basically mentoring for just a small number of clients. We can pick our clients. So we pick the clients we want to work with and we work the hours we want to work, which was just us. We can only work 10:00 o’clock in the morning till about 2:00 in the afternoon, Monday to Thursday. Friday morning a little bit and then Friday afternoon I’m always drunk. I’ve got a track.
Joanna: Hold on. What day is it now? Friday.
Wayne: Friday afternoon. I’m counting down. I am watching the clock tick as we talk. Cause kid you not. I’m catching up with friends for drinks.
What makes B1G1 different from other platforms
Joanna: Before we go Wayne, I’ve heard, I’ve seen on social media that you’ve been doing a bit of work actually with some of the B1G1 businesses and foundations.
But I just want to preface the discussion right now by saying, one of the things that I thought was amazing about B1G1 and I found B1G1 at a time when I was really looking for something deeper out of my business that we could participate in. But I was looking at a way that I could do it that we could get involved in I guess projects that we really felt were making a difference in the world, but without taking too much of focus away from the business.
And I think this is one thing. Many business owners particularly for SMEs are really so caught in the day to day and really have these ideals that they want to do something deeper, but no time to think about it. And the beauty about B1G1 for me from my own perspective is that it’s an amazingly clever platform, but also easy for business owners to use and to incorporate giving in their everyday business, and we’ll talk in a moment about what some of those ideas are because I think it’s useful for business owners to have a few ideas about how it can actually, what does that mean, what does incorporating it in the business mean. But let’s talk a little bit about your perspective on it all and your involvement as well.
Wayne: So my involvement initially was probably different in one respect because my involvement was probably four or five years ago when I was back working at another company. I was just an employee.
I found B1G1 and I just keep giving. I was giving via the B1G1 platform because I found it really easy. I wanted to have a big impact. I think fundamentally one of the things you’ve got to clarify with B1G1 is all of the worthy causes with B1G1 get audited by B1G1. So it’s not easy to become a B1G1 worthy cause, NGO or charity. It means that the dollar that I give, that dollar goes all the way through to the end recipient.
Now typically with charities and that, a dollar normally maybe 20 cents might get into the end person. The person in need and especially the big ones. They have really significant overhead. So Masami and Paul Dunn both, you know B1G1 covers all the administration costs and all that internally themselves and absorb that.
One of the things is that I knew that. You see it on the streets in Melbourne and nearly anywhere, in Sydney and that. These people trying to collect money for you. The problem is they’re getting paid to do that and that comes out of your donation. You might subscribe to whatever fund it is, but only make 10 cents or 20 cents goes into it.
What I loved about their model was everything gets to the end recipient. That ticked it for me, so I started just doing my giving as a personal side. And then I was struggling to figure out how to build it into my business model, which is mentoring. What do I do? Every time I mentor someone, I give them some money? Well, I only do two clients so two givings.
So there’s lots of ways of building it in and there’s lots of ways. You can build it into differentiate your company. Like the coffee shop model, instead of giving a free coffee away. And it’s amazing the impact, like five dollars would give water to a child for a year. Big impact. That’s my coffee.
Using giving as a point of differentiation
Wayne: I actually use it as. B1G1 will probably not approve this, but I suggest using B1G1 as a point of differentiation against your competition.
This is the classic. One of the companies I mentor, they’ve just done a lot of roadshow, an event around three cities. And we decided to make sure people turned up so we put tickets on it. So you know, you pay for the ticket, people turn up. You make it free, they don’t turn up because there’s no value associated.
If the event is free, at least 30 percent won’t come because they haven’t had an associated value. So what we did was say if you pay 15 dollars, that will give a child access to e-learning for an entire year in India.
Wayne: Now then, Paul Dunn came back and even said “Hey, try this is as Option B. A second ticket. Oh by the way, if you want, you can even just pay more if you want, if you want to give more days learning yourself.” So we’re going to try that for the next round.
Joanna: I love it.
Wayne: What was great is everybody turned up. Now we’ve been given 30,000 days of education to children in e-learning this month.
Joanna: That’s incredible.
Wayne: Now the client won, the person that went to the event won, the person that made the event won and this child. And it was really just a simple change in the business process. What we did was change the business.
Integrating giving into your business model
Joanna: I’ll throw in there how we. One of the things in our business is a lot of our business comes in from referral and we’ve always wanted to thank the people who refer us business. But you know it got where we went through. We’ve tried everything. We’ve done the bottles of wine and the flowers and the hand written cards. But when we came across B1G1 we turned that into we now contribute to causes on behalf of our referrers, and that can be providing seed to grow food for people who are starving, that can be delivering clean water for people who don’t have access to clean water.
For every new client that comes on board, we do things like provide money to businesses in Ethiopia and Tanzania to set up new businesses for themselves. And it’s just amazing the way when you start thinking about it and we do the whole every email we send, we give a day of clean water. It’s easy once you start thinking about it.
I think the reality at the end of the day is if you have these underpinnings and values and then you are having this interaction with your referrers and your new clients. Suddenly, you get this real connection of people who have a similar value and that’s one thing that never occurred to me out of the whole process. But it’s opened up so many conversations for me for people who have similar underpinnings as I do and as we do here at Aspect Legal. I think that’s the beauty of it as well as obviously, your ability to do something outside of yourself and outside of consumerism in a way that’s easy to integrate into a busy business.
Wayne: There’s lots of ways to integrate and make it very simple. So for the festive season this year, what we did was send an email to all of our clients saying “On your behalf, we’ve given access to clean water to a child in Ethiopia.”
I can’t remember what the exact giving was. We did that to our three or four hundred clients. It was really simple. We just did the giving, then sent the email. Every one of them responded back with an email, back to me. And the funny thing is that if you have 300 emails, you have to go back saying, Thanks so much (smiley face).
And then the other thing is it’s so much fun because you can then do cool things like. I don’t do webinars anymore. But last year, I was doing a lot of webinars and at the end of the webinar I sent an email out allowing people. I set up survey monkey and I said here’s five charities, pick which charity you would like me to do a giving.
So I put the giving into their hands, which is even more helpful because then they had a choice to figure out which giving they wanted to do. Instead of me being a bit selective.
And what was amazing was the range. And I had no goats, cause I love goats. I got the goat one, and then trees and water and e-learning. There are some where I just go I never thought that one would be so popular. Go figure. We all have our own inherent bias. Everybody’s got a bias.
So there’s lots of ways that you can incorporate it, the giving. Now the best is when the client picks because I noticed the magic of that because what’s funny is I normally do a webinar and you send an email out afterwards and everybody ignores it. Send an email and allow them to select the giving. All of them opened it. They always pick which giving and they always read the email and Wayne still manages to sell a product.
Joanna: That’s incredible. I love it. I’m writing that one down, that’s a tip.
Wayne: You need a mentor.
Joanna: You know what, yeah yeah. You’re selling me. You’re selling me.
Well look Wayne, this has been fabulous. Can I just say a massive thank you for your time today. This has just been fabulous. We’ll link through to you and your mentoring program and we’ll also link through to B1G1 because I think we’ll have a lot of listeners here who will be interested.
Wayne: Thank you so much Joanna. It’s been a pleasure speaking here and lots of laughs and fun and people out there, life is short. Just have fun. Enjoy it. Here’s my one takeaway. Any day you wake up is a bloody good day.
Joanna: Now that concludes this episode with digital nomad, mentor and philanthropist Wayne Schmidt. Today we talked about the importance of building giving into your business model, and how you can go about doing that without taking away focus and attention from your day to day business. We also discussed the platform B1G1 or Business for Good – which is an organisation that is close to my heart – and something that I am a massive advocate for.
If you’re interested to learn more about this topic, you can reach out to Wayne on his website at wayneschmidt.com.au or check out our show notes at www.thedealroompodcast.com where we’ll link through to his website. There you will also find a full transcript of this podcast episode if you would like to read it in more detail.
And you might also like to check out B1G1 and the great work they are doing. To do that just head over to B1G1.com – or once again, head over to our show notes – as we will link to it from there.
I hope you enjoyed what you heard today. If you did, please subscribe to Talking Law on Apple Podcasts or your other favourite podcast player to get notifications straight to your phones whenever a new episode is out.
Thanks again for listening in! This has been Joanna Oakey and Talking Law, a podcast proudly brought to you by our commercial legal practice Aspect Legal. See you next time!
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