Franziska Iseli is the co-founder of Basic Bananas. Basic Bananas was founded in 2009 by Franziska and Christo Hall with a mission to support small business owners around the globe with marketing mentoring programs.
As with many business fairy tales, Basic Bananas did start in a garage. However not in Silicon Valley, but in Sydney, Australia. With a team of two, Franziska and Christo started running workshops in Sydney and then slowly grew to other cities around Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, and Europe with more regions being added as we speak.
Franziska and Christo realized that there is a big gap in the market for high quality, practical and effective marketing education and mentoring for small business owners.
The mission is and has always been the same; to support business owners through marketing mentoring. Basic Bananas has grown into the world’s largest marketing mentoring organization and its programs and resources are positively impacting thousands of business owners every single day!
In 2013 Franziska was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizing her innovation, creativity, and philanthropic involvement. She is a board member at the Entrepreneurs Organization, sits on the judging panel for Singularity University and has run think tanks at the United Nations to address the UN sustainable development goals through entrepreneurship.
Franziska is the author of two bestselling books with a third one just released this year (Sir Richard Branson wrote the foreword). She is regularly featured across the media including INC, Forbes, Business Insider, Virgin Inflight Entertainment, Marie-Claire, Cosmopolitan, SmartCompany, Dynamic Business Magazine, BRW, 2UE, and Channel 9.
Franziska is a Swiss born Australian (or Swaussie) and is known for her down-to-earth attitude, infectious energy, integrity and courage to take the lead.
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What you will learn
- That success sometimes means doing what it takes.
- How to pivot when things change.
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- The importance of standing out.
- Growing your business with global partners
- How to build a business template and take it to the world.
- The importance of seeing a gap in the market and going for it.
Jeff Bullas: Hi everyone, welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show. Today, I've got Franziska Iseli and she is the co-founder of Basic Bananas. Now, she's not going bananas but she's from Basic Bananas. She's also has a couple of little side hustles, called The Business Hood, Ocean Lovers and Moments of Humanity, and not quite sure how they all sit in but I think Basic Bananas is the main mother ship. But in 2013, Franziska was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award which means she's a little younger than me but not much. Recognizing her innovation, creativity and philanthropic involvement which means she actually is a really nice person. She actually cares about other people.
Jeff Bullas: Franziska is also a board member at the Entrepreneurs Organization, sits on the judging panel for Singularity University, which is awesome by the way, and has run think tanks at the United Nations to address the UN Sustainable Developments Goal through entrepreneurship. Franziska is the author of two bestselling books with a third one just released this year and Sir Richard Branson wrote the foreword. I hope you paid him because he's struggling at the moment with Virgin Atlantic.
Jeff Bullas: She is regularly featured across the media, including Inc. Forbes, Business Insider, Virgin In-flight Entertainment. Not many people are watching that at the moment. Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Smart Company and a lot of others. Now friends, this girl is not Australian, and that is actually maybe a good thing. She is a Swiss born or a Swaussie as she likes to call herself. And is known for her down to earth attitude, infectious energy, integrity and courage to take the lead. Welcome to the show Franziska.
Franziska Iseli: Thank you so much for that introduction. Thank you and just two comments on there. I'm not going bananas, I am going Basic Bananas with this whole pandemic, but staying calm of course. And no, I didn't pay Richard Branson, but I probably should send him a little bit of money.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. I think he needs a bit of help at the moment. Yeah.
Franziska Iseli: He's an amazing human. I didn't have to pay him.
Jeff Bullas: No.
Franziska Iseli: He was generous.
Jeff Bullas: That's great. So Franziska, this is a question I like to ask about people who come to Australia because I've interviewed people who come to Australia that are English. We let them into the country, even if they are convicts. That's really important.
Franziska Iseli: I know. Why wouldn't you let them in? Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: Well-
Franziska Iseli: I was surprised that you were letting people from England.
Jeff Bullas: … yeah, I know. Well, we let them in because we're just nice people really. But we let them in, even if they're well behaved because as we know, Australia started with the convict settlement. Well, some people do, a lot of people don't, but so we've interviewed some great people including a lovely lady Huyen Truong from Vietnam, she was an immigrant to America then to Australia and started businesses. So it's really great to have someone who's from the other side of the world. So why did you leave Switzerland? It's beautiful. But why come to Australia?
Franziska Iseli: I know it is beautiful and I'm really grateful obviously, to be a Swaussie now so long story short, this is where I believe it started. I was 16 when I went to Costa Rica for a year. In an exchange year in Costa Rica, went to school or high school or something as a 16 year old living with a local family. It was a student exchange program and I met a lot of Australians there that did the same thing, but they were two years older. So they were 18, I was 16 and I just connected with … I've never met really that many Australians in Switzerland before that and I just connected with Australians. I'm like, “These guys are crazy.” I was 16, they're 18. Also, I'm Swiss. Swiss we're quite behaved and culturally we're a little bit different. And I just-
Jeff Bullas: Well, you are very well behaved normally the Swiss, right?
Franziska Iseli: … they're pretty well behaved.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Franziska Iseli: And I maybe did not fit in, in that sense because I haven't always behaved so well, but then I met these Aussies I'm like, “These are my people? Where are they coming from?” They're coming from these big islands on the other end of the world from me and I just connected with them and I was like, “Oh”, I'm like, “They're crazy, they're so crazy. I've never met people like that.” And I just connected. And then my best friend was an Aussie girl and apparently I said way back then this is when I was 16, I said to her that one day I will become an Aussie. And it was just a throwaway comment. And then when I was 23, I applied for a scholarship to go to Sydney.
Franziska Iseli: I'd never been in Australia then that was five years later or no more like seven years later, maybe by the time I went home and I got accepted to go to Sydney University for a year. And then I got stuck here. I fell in love with the country. I also was dating an Australian and yeah, I just loved this place because I loved the ocean. And it's maybe culturally, I do miss Europe a lot. I go home, but normally I go home at least twice a year. And that's how I ended up here when I was 23, got a scholarship. Came for a year, went home to finish my degree because in Switzerland you don't pay for your university. It's government funded, as long as you're getting good marks and you're working, studying. So I went back and then I moved back here 14 years ago.
Jeff Bullas: Right. So we seduced you. That's what we Aussies do.
Franziska Iseli: Yes, you did. Yeah. I still love it here. Mainly, I love nature here. I live on the beach. Switzerland nature is also really beautiful, but for me here it's almost like never ending summer compared to Switzerland. It's winter here right now, but this feels a little bit like summer. I still go surfing most days and I go swimming. I swim a lot just in my swimsuit and all my neighbors. They're like, “Yeah, there goes the Swaussie. She's used to the cold. This is summer for her.” They're all like, “What are you doing?” I'm like, “What are you talking about? This is summer.”
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. Well, we really don't have winter here as like what's the coldest it gets to like about 15 degrees, most days, really up to 20? So yeah it's, I've traveled a lot and one of my favorite places is Europe. I just love the culture, love the history. I spent three months in Europe actually last year and I loved it. I feel very much at home there. So I spent four weeks in Lake Como and went to Croatia. And we went up in to-
Franziska Iseli: Did you meet the hot guy called, that has a house there? The guy that does … The actor, the name just slipped.
Jeff Bullas: Which one?
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, George Clooney.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Franziska Iseli: Did you meet him? He has a house there?
Jeff Bullas: I drove past his house. He didn't invite me and I don't know why I was a little disappointed really, but I tried to look like George. I actually grew a little bit of a George sort of growth but it … No, I got to see George's place from the outside, but Lake Como it's pretty cool, but very busy, but enjoyed a lot of Italy for a few weeks and then went and explored some other parts of Europe as well. So yeah, George is cool. Yeah, when we all grow up as guys we'd love to be George.
Franziska Iseli: Really, that's so funny. I didn't know that but I can see that because he's very … He's quite masculine. He's smart. He's not only doing acting, he's got businesses. I think he's got a tequila brand too, doesn't he? Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Franziska Iseli: But I agree with you about Europe definitely I feel like it's got such a depth of culture and every country has different habits and obviously different languages. And when I was a kid growing up also, the coolest thing for us was that every country had different currencies. So as a kid, you would go into … You just drive across the borders from Switzerland in a few hours you're in France or Italy, or you go through France and you're in Spain, Portugal, Germany, anywhere, Austria. And every country when I was a kid had different currencies so it was very exciting. Now we have the euros in most countries, not in Switzerland, but it used to be. Even that there's just so much variety in people's cultures and how we behave and what we eat. And yeah, it's really cool.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. One of the best things I enjoy about Europe and we're not talking about entrepreneurship at the moment. I know we should be, but we'll get to that shortly. Just hang on guys, okay, listen seriously, we're going to get to talking about some serious shit soon, but at the moment, we're actually just going to talk about travel and being human. What I love about European cities is the design for people because what happens is these cities happened when there were no cars. So when you go to a European city, they've got cobblestones, they've got very narrow streets, which you can hardly fit a car down. In fact, you can't take cars into some of the villages in Europe. They're designed for horses and horses-
Franziska Iseli: Or motorbikes.
Jeff Bullas: … or motorbikes, yes. And humans with small hips because it's very narrow alleyways, right? So I love going to Europe because there's no cars in the streets a lot of the time when you get into the villages. So you can go to the old town areas of Europe and you can just walk around without being worried about getting hit by a car or listening to the hum of high freeway speed cars going past. So I really, really love that. I love the intimacy of European culture and its intimate cities where there's just a history and a story around every corner. Like even London, for example, you walk past houses with a blue sign on the side and that's the historical William Shakespeare. So you just have this history seeping out of the stones and I love it. So I feel very much at home.
Franziska Iseli: The other thing, maybe the last thing, and then we can jump into entrepreneurship. And this is sort of almost entrepreneurship actually, we can segue this because the other cool thing about European cities is that it's got this community the way it's built. It's got this way that it feels like a community. So most cities as you have noticed we have to center bit where there is a plaza, or theater.
Jeff Bullas: Town square.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, town square exactly and then you have little shops around there where you have your bakery, you have your butchery, you have your ice cream shop, you have your restaurants and people just crowd, people just gather and they come and they get their things for the day. It's changed a little bit, but we generally don't go to big grocery stores. In Switzerland, we never had malls growing up. I never went to a mall until I moved to Costa Rica at 16. Now we do, but you buy your stuff in different shops and it gets people to come together and that's obviously when it comes to running a successful business, as you have done in your businesses it's all about building community.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. Very much, and in 2020, we're trying to avoid malls because that's where danger lies apparently with COVID. So let's segue into you moved to Australia. You arrive, what year did you arrive?
Franziska Iseli: In 2005 was the first time I came over.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. So you turned up in Australia and going, “Okay. So what do I do?” So what happened when you turned up in Australia? Like, did you go, “Ah, I'm just going to be a beach bunny. I'm just going to go and spend time at Bondi and Narrabeen which is well Manly.” So what happened when you arrived?
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, I wish I could have just been a beach bunny. If I had money, I would have back then, now I can but back then, if I had had money I would have just been a beach bunny, but I had to finance my life too. And so I arrived, I knew a guy that I met in Costa Rica, who lived in … I was his colleague in Glebe. So I stayed with him in Sydney for a week in Glebe, then got a shared flat in Pyrmont with a couple. And then I realized, and I bought a surfboard straight away as I never surfed very much. Didn't really know how to surf. I just went and bought a surfboard and just pretty much every day I could after university or before I would jump on the bus and go take my surfboard to Manly.
Franziska Iseli: And it just became a bit annoying to be on a bus with a big surfboard. And so I moved out to Manly, but at the same time also I was at university. I also had to somehow finance my life so I just walked .... I had done a little bit of bartending, but not much, but I just walked through Pyrmont and I went to these bars and I convinced someone to hire me as a bartender. It was someone at Cargo Bar. So I just walked into Cargo Bar, had my CV I said, “Hey, I'm here fresh off the boat and I think you should give me a job. I can do some bartending.” My English was okay. It wasn't that incredible, but I'm very happy. I'm a very happy person.
Franziska Iseli: So I was behind the bar and the first few weeks I'm really grateful. Shout out to all my fellow bartenders. I couldn't understand the accent. People will come and they're like, “Can I have a VB.” I still can't pronounce it. “Can I have a VB.” I'm like, “What would you like?” VBB.” I'm like, “What is a BB?” “A beer! Oh, it's that thing over here out of the beer tap.” “Oh, okay, cool.” So it was a whole learning experience and it was hilarious and I got slipped business cards from guys that I'm like, “What's going on here? Why does everyone have a business card? And why do they just slip you their business card with their number?”
Jeff Bullas: Look, I can tell you straight away what's going on with that business card, but I'll tell you later. All right. So, okay. Keep going.
Franziska Iseli: Anyway, so I was working in this bar and went to university, moved to Manly, and then just came in for work on the weekends mainly Friday and Saturday. And then it got better because bar work was cool and, you don't really earn much, but we got quite a bit of tip at Cargo Bar because everybody gets drunk and then they start tipping more and more and more so that was pretty good. But then I met the DJ, the DJ of Cargo Bar. He lived in Manly, so he gave me lifts after work at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.
Franziska Iseli: And he had some musicians sometimes play with him. So he would DJ, house DJ, and then he would get a drummer or a trumpet player to support him. And I said, “Hey, I play …” His name was Phil. I said, “Phil, I play the sax. Maybe I should do some gigging with you, at Cargo Bar. I could play the sax.” He's like, “No way. Really?” I'm like, “Yeah, sure.” So anyway, I got the job too and I went from maybe, I don't know, 15, $20.00 an hour to $60.00 an hour.
Jeff Bullas: That was incredible.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, that was pretty good for a student to get $60.00 an hour for a 23 year old back then. So I played some sax with this guy, met other DJs and just, that's how I then earned money, more money in less time, which meant that I could be more of a beach bunny in my free time.
Jeff Bullas: It's might be luck. In this current age maybe that's the beach bunny term's most probably quite politically incorrect. But I say it's politically incorrect I know so I'm just saying to everyone, like, yes, it's politically incorrect, but that's what happens in Australia. There's beach bunnies and there's beach hares, that's the guys, right?
Franziska Iseli: Oh really?
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, yeah, you haven't heard of that term before, have you?
Franziska Iseli: No, no, no, no I know beach bunny or like beach bum. I know more like a beach bum. I don't really know these terms too much.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, anyway, I just made that up and you're right. It's just a bullshit term really so don't worry about it.
Franziska Iseli: Okay. I'll forget about that.
Jeff Bullas: So, you're earning money as a saxophone player?
Franziska Iseli: Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. And you're doing a marketing degree because you did a masters in marketing so.
Franziska Iseli: And political science.
Jeff Bullas: And what political?
Franziska Iseli: Political science, yeah. I did marketing and political science.
Jeff Bullas: Oh, political science. Okay. Right. So that's marketing and political science actually quite work quite well because politicians are actually really good marketers. Aren't they?
Franziska Iseli: Yeah. Well, not in Australia, but obviously when I moved to Australia, I realized that I don't want to have anything to do with politics because it was hard, I can't do this. I can't follow it here. It's just, yeah. We don't even need to go there. But you know, what's also funny. What got even more interesting with my jobs here so did the saxophone playing and then in Switzerland, I used to teach languages at the language school after university, after high school, actually, when I came back from Costa Rica, speaking Spanish, I got a job.
Franziska Iseli: I was 18, got a job teaching Spanish and English, even though my English, it was okay but not that good, teaching Spanish and English to adults. And then when I moved here, after a few months, I applied in Manly, there is an international school for foreign kids to come and learn English. I forgot the name of it. And I applied to go and teach English to these kids. I was 23 years old. I had this big accent that I still have now.
Franziska Iseli: And I got this job teaching English to these kids coming from Japan, mainly Korea and I believe some from China and it's still now I have some, one guy actually, Korean guy. This was 14 years ago. He was one of my English students. He now runs a business in Queensland and he came to my now this is Basic Bananas as a student again. So he was my student of English, and now he runs his own business. So he came to learn again. It was the most amazing experience. I'm like, “Oh my god, 14 years ago.”
Jeff Bullas: So you're teaching English as a Swiss in Australia.
Franziska Iseli: I didn't have any of these.
Jeff Bullas: Well, how many languages do you speak by the way?
Franziska Iseli: I think five.
Jeff Bullas: Is that all? Okay. Well, you're way ahead of me, I speak one badly, English.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, it's okay. You're okay. I wonder how your grammar … Because it does not sound very good grammar.
Jeff Bullas: I do know where to put a full stop and apostrophe occasionally and a semi colon. But if I really don't want to do much in the way of grammar, I just write poetry. That's what I really do, because in poetry you don't need to worry about grammar.
Franziska Iseli: True, that's very true.
Jeff Bullas: Well, that's what I've been told. No one's told me that at all. I just made that up really as well. So you're teaching English and you're not even Australian or English. So what happened next?
Franziska Iseli: I finished my year here and I applied for an extension, it was a sponsorship so I didn't have to pay the crazy fees that you pay here at university. And that was for a year, the agreement. And then I said, “Hey, can I extend for another half a year?” Nobody else came out from Switzerland. So they said yes to another half a year of me staying, without paying for the university fees and then went home. But I was dating an Australian. So I went home for a year to finish.
Franziska Iseli: I had one more year to finish my degree. So went back to Geneva and finished my degrees and was still dating Christo. And then he said, “Okay, now you're finished.” And we saw each other every four months he would come to Switz and I would come here. After I finished, he said, “Okay, now you're moving here I guess.” And I said, “Well, now I just finished my degrees. I'm going to go travel a little bit.” “Where are you going?” I said, “I'm going to go to Central America because I want to go back to Costa Rica. I want to go to Cuba.”
Franziska Iseli: So he came and joined me in Cuba with my parents. My parents came for two weeks and then we continued on. So my parents went home and then Christo and I continued traveling through Central America, from Mexico out to Costa Rica through Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras different countries and it's just surfing. And we just had public transport and we'd spend surfing everywhere. And I was only 24 or five. I think I was still pretty young 25 or so. And Christo proposed suddenly on a beach in Mexico. Yeah. And it was like, “Whoa, I didn't see that coming.” And I did say yes. So I said yes, and we just. I suggested we not rush anything.
Franziska Iseli: And we then got married two and a half years later and separated two years ago. We're still really good friends. He's amazing. He's an amazing human. So we were married for 10 years. So then, because I was engaged now to my Australian boyfriend, I went finished ... He went home early from Central America I went a little bit longer on my own and then went home to Switzerland, told my parents that I got engaged and they were cool and moved to Australia and started working in advertising and how I fell, I kind of fell into advertising.
Franziska Iseli: Obviously I did have a marketing background and I also worked in Switzerland in marketing during my studies in a snowboard clothing label. I worked in their marketing department and when I first … Then when I moved here, this is now maybe 14, 13 years ago maybe I was doing some temp work just to figure out what I wanted to do for work and where, what kind of job I wanted to get. And I got a project contract in an advertising agency that was just for a few weeks, but the CEO loved my work. And he then offered me a job in his agency.
Franziska Iseli: And I didn't really know that I wanted to work in an advertising agency, but it was a really good offer. I'm like, “Oh this is easy let's just do it.” So I did that and worked in advertising, learned a lot, was amazing and definitely learned a lot also just practical stuff and strategy and did that for a few years. And then my dad passed away 11 years ago, he had a heart attack out of the blue. He was 58. And so he was quite young and I was just suddenly thinking, “What the heck am I doing with my life? I'm working in advertising and I can do more with my skills.” And so I left that career and started my own business, Basic Bananas, which is 11 years old and I started that together with my ex-husband.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. So why do you call it Basic Bananas?
Franziska Iseli: Well, this is a really good question. In the beginning when I left my career in advertising, I didn't know how to run a business. I had no idea how to run a business, but I knew about branding. I knew about marketing. That was my strength. I hired a coach to help me with the business side of things and she said, “You can't call this business Basic Bananas, it's ridiculous. You have to call this something like Marketing Institute Australia or something.” I'm like, “No.”
Jeff Bullas: Okay, no, that sounds really boring. Really, yeah.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah. It sounds boring, it's not really my brand and I can't stand behind a brand like that. So, I took some of her advice, but I didn't take the naming and branding advice because I knew you have to make this work. And so we just wanted the name that is memorable that we can play with in terms of brand execution that we can have fun with. And we had two final layers. We did the brainstorm and the two final layers one was Tango Like a Mango, but that was a bit too long but it was still my idea.
Jeff Bullas: I'd agree with you it is way too long Tango with a Mango. Okay. Right.
Franziska Iseli: Tango Like a Mango.
Jeff Bullas: Tango Like a Mango, okay. Right. All right, Basic Bananas.
Franziska Iseli: We just went for Basic Bananas and then we rationalized the name because now we also have a brand consultancy. You mentioned that earlier. And we actually do naming and we do branding and brand strategy. So you'd be sort of a bit the wrong way around. Normally you come up with a whole strategy and what does it mean? And symbols and all that, the process but for us, we came up with the name and then we said, “Well, Basic because we make marketing simple and Bananas because banana trees grow really fast, and that's what we help people do.” We help them to grow their companies by understanding marketing.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. So that was in what, 2009. Right? So Basic Bananas provides mentoring education on a marketing level for businesses. Is that correct?
Franziska Iseli: That's right. So what happened is when I was in advertising and I've always lived on the Northern beaches, then I found a lot of small businesses here. Especially, there are a lot of, well, this is now everywhere, but this is quite an area with a lot of entrepreneurs. And I always met people with a great product or a great service, but zero idea how to get this thing out and how to get people to see it. And I realized that they can't afford advertising agencies; they don't have that sort of money that advertising agencies charge, overcharge sometimes. And so I realized that they just need to understand marketing. They just need to understand the principles and they can do it. It's not that hard. You know that it's not that hard. There are a few principles and you can learn it. So we decided to run a mentoring business that helps people with that.
Jeff Bullas: So I met you because my brother's partner actually got you to mentor her and do some training and by the way she's doing very well. She's doubled the business in the last few months and growing very well actually. So you're obviously doing something really, really well here. Now you've gone into other areas too, such as Ocean Lovers and Moments of Humanity. So tell me a little bit about Ocean Lovers, which is obviously to do with where you live. You like surfing, you're living in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I just want to let people know that actually where Franziska lives is the Northern beaches of New South West of Sydney, which has some of the most stunning beaches on the planet. Would that be right? You've traveled a lot. You've been to Costa Rica.
Franziska Iseli: I've been to so many beaches just because of surfing. And before COVID I used to always travel and find the best places and now I come back here and I'm like, wow, every time I come back here and I've been here now for 14 years, I'm blown away. Every morning when I wake up and I go to my beach here where I live and I can see it I'm blown away. This is amazing. It's amazing.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. Well, look, I'm an Aussie, so I'm slightly biased, you're a little less biased because you come from the other side of the world. But when I fly back from speaking events I would say and I fly back into Sydney, or fly over the Emerald City as we call it, over the Sydney Harbor and then I'll visit the beaches. I never take it for granted. I really don't. It's just, it's essentially paradise really.
Franziska Iseli: It really is. I'm so happy not taking it for granted because I think a lot of people are, and I even know a lot of Aussies and it's okay. Maybe they just don't care about the beach, but I know a lot of people that even live near the beach, they never go to the beach. They just don't care and that's okay. I think it's priorities but I always say like, I hope I never ever take this for granted because it's so beautiful.
Jeff Bullas: Well, I think that's important if we do practice things such as gratefulness to be grateful for where we are, and to stand back and going, “Okay, this is …” and being aware I think is really, really important as in going, “Wow, look at that view.”
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, and just enjoying the moments. We're always hustling and I mean, this whole pandemic made us slow down too, but normally I definitely I've noticed now even more before we went into more lockdown and less social activities, always out, go, go, go and now suddenly it's like, “Oh, I have time to enjoy this.” And I had time before to enjoy this, but you think you have to do the next thing and the next thing, so how Ocean Lovers came about you're right, it's very different.
Franziska Iseli: Like Basic Bananas marketing, mentoring, it's my expertise and then the brand consultancy was born out of Basic Bananas because people that we mentor often came back with just brands and websites and stuff. That was not good. So we said, “Hey, why don't you hire one of my best friends, actually Julia, who used to work in advertising to run this.” And so she's been running this agency for a long time. She's amazing. And then Ocean Lovers came about …
Franziska Iseli: Ocean Lovers is only a small business. It's a startup, it's a passion project that I am focused on growing. It happened a few years ago. I was sitting in the ocean around Christmas, new year. And I was just sitting there on my own, on my surfboard and I was thinking, “I need to do something about ocean conservation,” and I need to because there's so much plastic in the ocean and Sydney, we're pretty lucky. It's clean compared to some of the tropical places.
Jeff Bullas: It is very clean. Like you can go to Sydney beach and it's just pristine.
Franziska Iseli: But it's not, that's the thing. It is like Manly looks so clean. I look at Manly and I'm like, “Wow, it's so clean.” And then we did a cleanup with Ocean Lovers, we sponsored clean up so most of the campaign goes into ocean cleanups. And we had a whole group of people and kids and families come. And we went into the dunes a little bit here and we found bags and bags of stuff that gets blown away, maybe we found a whole bong that someone left in the bush. But we didn’t use it.
Jeff Bullas: No judgment here so it's fine.
Franziska Iseli: Okay. So I decided as I was sitting in the ocean I needed to do something for ocean conservation as I love the ocean, I need to do something. I love to … My whole thing in life right now and that might change again, is I want to make an impact through business. I want to leverage my strengths and my strength lies in marketing and branding. So I want it to do it in a way the whole ocean conservation thing that I can use my strengths. So build a brand like Ocean Lovers studies, exciting and enticing and bring people together.
Franziska Iseli: Not about pointing a finger or telling people that they are horrible, but actually bringing people together by building a really cool brand and that's how we started. Now, we've morphed it and then our first product was a surf suit made from plastic bottles I still have some. And now we moved into a marketplace where we connect people, Ocean Lovers with brands that are already out there that have products made from recycled plastics that are good for ocean lovers like surf boards made from recycled fabrics, jeans, stuff like that.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. There's nothing wrong with passion projects that can turn into a lifetime business, that can turn into just and entire lifestyle and that's how I started. Just like just an observation about social media.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah. Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: So Basic Bananas is now, this is the thing that I had to look at your website. You're doing a lot of real events now that's been paused and the current situation which we're living globally is a little bit more virtual. So what are you doing to get the message out and educate in the current situation?
Franziska Iseli: Yeah. So before we couldn't do virtual events, before this pandemic, we were doing a lot of live events. So in person, small groups-
Jeff Bullas: Live events, yeah.
Franziska Iseli: … the main program, the clever bunch which Beth was in is one that we would meet every month with people and our mentors, we have mentors, we started running these workshops all around Australia, in Canada, West Coast, U.S., Switzerland and now we have a partner in Sweden also. And so we would do this face to face in person with our mentors. And then in March, 2020, everything changed and we were like, “Okay, this whole business model needs to change.” And I had an eye twitch for like six months. I don't know if it's … and I asked my doctor.
Jeff Bullas: An eye twitch.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, the eye twitches on the nerves.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, yeah, it twitches without asking, it does that.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah. It goes a little bit like this so I've never really … I had it maybe every now and then but it would go away back for six months. Now I would not that much just maybe once a day it goes a little bit like this, it's probably a little bit stressful. I would ask my doctor I said, “Hey, should I worry or should I ignore it?” He was like, “Ignore it.” I'm like, “Til it gets messed up.” Anyway, so then the last six months I've just been, “Hey, let's reinvent and change and turn everything virtual.”
Franziska Iseli: And so the first few weeks of that six months were challenging because also as a leader, you have to make sure the team is calm because if the team are freaking out because they see what's going on in the world and then you need to make sure your customers are calm. I suddenly felt like I'm the only person here that is not freaking out because I can't. But then obviously my eye was twitching because I had already felt like there was a lie somewhere. So we have to change the whole thing in the first few weeks we’re adjusting and then the next few weeks the team started to really pull their weight. And it's now I feel like there's always a silver lining, but we now do everything virtually.
Franziska Iseli: So all our training is virtual and it's working really well because our in person events did that. There're always people coming for half a day in small mastermind groups. And then they come in for half a day. They go back to their business to work on the campaigns and then come back again the next month. Now it's all virtual and it's very focused. I feel like people are getting a lot done in these hours because it's so focused. There are no distractions.
Franziska Iseli: People are not having side conversations. They're working, and with Zoom breakout rooms it works really well. So the change has worked really well for us and we've just been focusing on also providing a lot of free content for people that can't afford our programs. We do a weekly PJ party edition. That is a weekly session like this with different people. And we do different things that are really helpful for people. So that's, yeah, we've changed obviously at the moment we're completely virtual.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, and you're in the home office, you have obviously an office where people catch up as well. It's really, it's been fascinating to watch people's reinvention of themselves, businesses like moving from delivering in house as in a restaurant, cafe, going to online, going to take away and certainly I've had these conversations before, as well as we're actually moving into a … Look, all these changes were happening, virtual, online shopping, but it's been accelerated by the pandemic. It's like people are going, “Okay, I need to reinvent my business.” So virtual is being thrown into the mainstream. Amazon's just going off the charts in terms of online stores. Yeah, it's we as humans have been challenged to reinvent ourselves and reinvent our businesses.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, you're right. It's really accelerated. I have a lot of our members that say, “Look, we've had these projects in the pipeline and now we've been really pushed to do them because otherwise we don't have a business anymore.” And so it's really accelerated a lot of those things that people were meant to be doing. And for us too, I've been wanting to do these programs virtually for a while and we just never did it. And now that we have people from all around the world, we have a much larger audience available now.
Jeff Bullas: Well, yeah. So I'll tell a little bit of a story here that one of my friends who created the caricature 10 years ago and then did the podcast character for me, which means that it's me looking like a cartoon character with a big head.
Also a friend of mine John Haycroft was helped by a neighbour yo create an online painting class.
He's an artist/painter so he's teaching classes, teaching people how to do landscape painting and watercolors, so he's gone online and doubled or tripled his student numbers.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah. That's amazing.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, so what's really fascinating about this is a lot of us have been forced into ... Some of us, many of us have been forced into going more virtual, going more digital. And it means we can actually reach, make a bigger impact on the planet, whether it's like you with Ocean Lovers, trying to help save the planet, trying to reach more people globally with Basic Bananas. So it accelerated the evolution of what was already happening, but everyone just sort of like had it in the background because we're all comfortable. We're not going to change stuff.
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, and you know what? The thing also that I'm finding is that because so many people are now going, “Yeah. Okay, cool. I'm going to sell something online or I'm going to set up some stupid Amazon store selling something very cheap and using children to fabricate and voila, you can see how passionate I am about this.” And the funniest thing and I hope this is a trend, then maybe I'm imagining it. But I do think that the people that run businesses now that are providing good stuff, that care and that are not just whacking something up just because they think they can now make money online.
Franziska Iseli: That's very short lived, that space where you just sell some random stuff that is not adding any value. Whereas the people that are investing in doing good stuff, good work for the right people that have wants that they are going to succeed in this space. It's a very competitive space and I see it all the time. Like, “Yeah, I want to do what you do. I want to sell stuff online.” And I'm like, “Yeah, this is 11 years because this is an 11 year project.” So yeah, it's interesting and it's exciting, but people need to know that the focus still needs to be on value.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, and a value driven business and that's really, really important. I can see you're passionate about what you're doing and you can see these side hustles and passion around Basic Bananas. So what's the future for Basic Bananas going forward? I think you've opened some offices, virtual offices in the USA, in Sweden?
Franziska Iseli: Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. So what's the future for Basic Bananas because you're actually adding value to business owners as being like a educational marketing mentor to help businesses grow. So what's the future for Basic Bananas?
Franziska Iseli: Yeah, the future is following that model we started in Switzerland with a partner two years ago. And then this year we got connected. A woman from Sweden approached us and said, “Hey, I got introduced by someone else.” A guy that used to mentor with us who then moved to England and he knows this woman really well and said, “Hey, she's amazing and she would love to do Basic Bananas in Sweden.” So anyway, we went through a bunch of interviews and now she's our country partner. So the future of Basic Bananas is to have more people in different countries that are our country partners.
Franziska Iseli: We are also in negotiations with someone in the Middle East that wants to bring Basic Bananas to the middle East. We are just looking at how the market works there and if the teachings that we have are applicable for that market, et cetera. And so the future is to have these satellite foundry partners that are running Basic Bananas in their communities. And we supply them with all the training and education and support and marketing and collateral, et cetera. That's how we are going to grow. And to be honest, I find that Basic Bananas or with anything in my life it's I never really have to push it.
Franziska Iseli: It's just people sort of find you once it's out there, even just now I'm talking to you many people are watching this, hopefully that they didn't turn off after the first few minutes, then there might be someone who knows someone in some place that is really good at marketing and is a good human and wants to build Basic Bananas. Suddenly we have people that will come and say, “Hey, how about Brazil?” “How about China,” et cetera. So it's I'm never really actively out there going, “Okay, let's do this or this region.” It's always people coming to us. And then lots of people are not the right fit and then every now and then you find a unicorn and then they are the right people to partner with.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. Well, what we have to do is shine a light on what you guys are doing, which is fantastic and inspire people to actually grow their business in a very organic pathway to actually mentor them, provide education. And I can just see that you're surrounding yourself with the actual passion projects that keep you excited and it's great to see. And it's like Land Academy Australia, it's we welcome people that are passionate about what they do and you obviously are, and I've really enjoyed hearing the story about what you're doing and we'll share this on Spotify. We'll share this on iTunes. We're going to share this on YouTube and we have to get your story out to the world because there's a term used, which is the Oprah effect, which is to shine a spotlight and that's what we want to do.
Franziska Iseli: That's really fine. Yeah. I appreciate everything you do and I'm definitely also very … There's always these sliding door moments in life and I feel like it's so cool because this is why I'm in Australia because there were sliding door moments like Costa Rica when I was 16, sliding door moments when I meet crazy people. I'm like, “Oh wow, this didn't happen.” One last funny thing, at my wedding my whole family came out from Switzerland and my friends, their friends and all their families and my brother had a speech.
Franziska Iseli: My brother is two years older and he's a super straight whizz guy and he has super polite like quintessential Swiss guy, good man, but he's also cheeky. He's got a little bit … I always thought that when something went wrong it was always my fault but actually he often would instigate me to do something that was naughty and then I would take the blame. So at the wedding during the speech and he goes in front of all these Australians, he goes, “Yeah. You know, I'm really happy for Franziska that she came to Australia because she fits right into a whole bunch of people that are criminals.”
Franziska Iseli: And my mom is sitting there and he's pretty much saying that Australians are criminals and she fits right in. And my mom, because she's obviously Swiss, my mom and Swiss people don't say things like that. So my mom's like, “Oh god you just said that.” Mom said that it's like really rude and all the Aussies were losing it because you guys can take shit and it's sarcasm. Aussies are not too bad at that.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: Well, we enjoy having fun as you discovered in Costa Rica and that we don't take ourselves too seriously. We're welcoming people that are actually a little naughty and welcome to Australia, Franziska it's actually really cool.
Franziska Iseli: Thank you so much.
Jeff Bullas: I think that's where we should finish it right there, right now.
Franziska Iseli: Perfect. Thanks for having me.
Jeff Bullas: Thank you everyone. And it's been great to have Franziska on the show and we look forward to sharing this with everyone on YouTube and iTunes and Spotify and so yeah. Thank you, Franziska. It's been great to have you and see your smiling face.
Franziska Iseli: Thank you, Jeff. And thanks for everything that you're doing in this world too.
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