Carl Gough is the founder and CEO of meetmagic – a business that turns meetings into funds for charities by repurposing marketing dollars that every company spends.
His goal is to raise $250 million for charities by 2026 by organizing 10,000 meetings in 10 cities. In essence, he helps companies grow and charities raise money.
Carl is originally from Nottingham in the UK. He became involved in the charity sector and then The Growth Project which is a Saunders Family and CBA backed venture to mentor 100 charities over 5 years.
He decided to take what he was good at (opening doors) with what he is really passionate about (helping charities) and created meetmagic.org.
The Ultimate Guide to Website Traffic for Business
What you will learn
- How success can intersect with your passionate purpose
- How to set up effective business meetings
- The power of inspired destiny
- The importance of changing your thoughts to change your life
- Whether you are paddling upstream or downstream
- Why you should stop running pointless meetings
- How to run effective meetings
- The code of conduct for running great sales meetings
- The importance of value-based selling
- The power of corporate social responsibility
- The critical selling method of aligning values
- If the shareholder business model drives the wrong behaviors
- If the 4 day work week is more effective
- Why this social good business thrives
- How to book meetings that work
- Selling from the heart
Jeff Bullas: Hi everyone, and welcome to Jeff Bullas Show. Today I've got Carl Gough with me. Now Carl is an entrepreneur from Nottingham in the UK. So that's in the Northern hemisphere apparently.
Carl Gough: Certainly is.
Jeff Bullas: And this is a little bit about Carl. Carl became involved in the charity sector and then the growth project, which is a Saunders family and CBA bank. CBA I would take it is the Commonwealth bank of Australia. Is that correct?
Carl Gough: That's right. Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. CBA bank venture to mentor a hundred charities over five years. It's a given that he's good at opening doors. I don't think that means opening doors for old ladies. I'm sure it means opening doors to opportunities and connecting people. And with what he really is passionate about helping charities. And he created a company called meetmagic.org, which some of my friends have mentioned is an awesome concept and being executed as we speak. Meetmagic turns business meetings and the funds for charities by repurposing marketing dollars that every company spends. Well, most companies spend money on marketing, so some more than others. Welcome to the show, Carl, it's great to have you here.
Carl Gough: Thanks Jeff. Thank you.
Jeff Bullas: Let's dive into it in terms of doing two things you love, which is actually a great thing to actually start a business about. In other words, you don't want to do stuff you hate, otherwise it's going to be very hard to keep going, isn't it? So you're good at opening doors and you're great and passionate about charities. How did this ball happen?
Carl Gough: Well, I mean, 20 years in sales would do it to you, Jeff, when you're knocking on doors and you're flogging stuff is in the corporate world B2B, you've got to get good at opening doors or you don't make your numbers, you don't make your number. The boss once say, "If you can't sell it, you can't stay." And that's pretty much how it works in the sales world, so I got good at that. And then good at talking of course, because that's used to be good at talking in sales. And this was probably for the past 20 years.
Carl Gough: 1998, I think I started my sales career with a company called Macquarie corporate. I think they're called Macquarie Telecom now. I think I was employee number 22. Even the grandma was on the books back then, so she was taking a salary home. And then I sort of carried on in that tech world, in that tech space for quite a while. And then about five years ago my daughter and I were sitting down at home watching this ABC show called Growing Up Poor Four Corners. And it was about growing up poor in Australia. Now we were just talking about where I live, I live in Darling Point in the Eastern suburbs and it's that postcode called 2027, which consists of Double Bay, Darling Point, Point Piper. They call it probably the most expensive suburb in the country.
Carl Gough: But 50 miles from here in a suburb near Campbelltown, there's a suburb called Claymore. And Claymore was built by the New South Wales government in 1975. And they put the poorest of the poor there. Now where I come from in the UK, I grew up with very little. My dad met a Jamaican lady when I was a baby, so I was the only white one in the family. And so I was always the odd one out from very early days. And I left school at 15, left home at 16. I had very little ... I became a father at 19. My friends were dying and going to jail. It's in a very, very tough neighborhood, and people were dying and going to jail, that was a weekly thing that was happening.
Carl Gough: It wasn't till I was 25 that I decided to leave and get out and change my destiny. And when I saw this TV show, it reminded me so much of how I grew up because it was boarded up windows, people hanging around on the streets, people that might want to take your trainers off you. And that was just exactly how it was. My daughter and I drove out there and we spoke to the school and the school said, "Look, half these kids don't come to school because they've got no hope. They don't think that school is going to help their future because they've watched their parents and their grandparents be on the dole and sell drugs and become prostitutes and whatever else."
Carl Gough: And so we raised some money from, I think five or six of my wealthy friends around here. And we put four coach loads on and we put every child from years three to six, brought them to Bondi, got them on the beach. For many of these kids it was the first time they'd even seen Bondi, let alone learn anything else. These are kids from Sydney. And we gave them some games with the Bondi lifeguards. We've got some wallabies to give a pep talk. We get them a barbecue lunch. And one of my friends bought every single child a journal with some smiggles and stuff to write their dreams and their goals down. And the theory was hopefully one of them would change the course of their destiny.
Carl Gough: A long way of telling you how Meetmagic got started, but this is what happened. And then about three weeks later, channel nine introduced me to this charity called Feel the Magic. And Feel the Magic is a small charity, fledgling charity run by a guy called James Kristy, James Thomas. And basically what they were doing was helping kids when they've lost a parent or lost a sibling, they'd help them deal with that grief and reconnect with happiness again. And so I said to James, I know some rich people wealthy enough to give you some money, so make me your head of fundraising and I'll go and get you some money. So we did. And I did. And then introduced me to their black tie fundraiser, and that's basically where it all started.
Carl Gough: Then I introduced James into The Growth Project. And The Growth Project as you know was mentoring charities, Peter Baines and Larry Fingleson basically came up with the idea and the concept. From the very first day of the very first session of The Growth Project, we were asked to find our purpose in life and find our purpose and meaning. And they gave us a book to read, and it was called Inspired Destiny by John Demartini. And on page 34, there was an exercise. If you want to find out what you're good at, or want to find out what your values are, write down five things that you're good at on one side of the paper and five things that you really love on the other side of the paper, somewhere in there is your purpose. My five things were clearly, as you can hear, it's talking and opening doors and stuff. And on this side, it was about helping charities and helping kids and doing some good in the world. And I matched the two together, and that's what Meetmagic is.
Jeff Bullas: Right. Okay. How long ago was that?
Carl Gough: Four years now, when I came up with the concept, it's been going about three properly. And as you know, like any good startup, Christ, I mean you look at Airbnb, they took three years to sell their first blow up mattress. The first three years are always a tricky one. And I spent the first year as a side hustle at my day job. The second year I jumped off the cliff, to try to make it work. And then the third year was really where it kicked in and we formed a partnership with the Starlight children's foundation. And we've basically created a new campaign called Meeting for Good, which is basically Meetmagic powered fundraising for Starlight.
Jeff Bullas: Right. So that partnership, is that an informal partnership? Is it formal? Do you work exclusively for them?
Carl Gough: Well, in the beginning of Meetmagic we'd often ask the execs to nominate a charity. The idea was the execs give us their time and then we sell that time to the vendors, so the execs ... For example, we had one of the very first meetings, and this is one of the great stories that I really love to tell because it's the reason why I carried on in the difficult times of a startup. And you know startups are always difficult in the beginning. But there's a guy called Jolann van Dyk who was a chief information officer for Kathmandu the retailer.
Carl Gough: And I had a client and the client I think was Skyfii, wireless analytics company. And they gave me $5,000 for five meetings. And one of them they wanted to go and see was a retailer called Kathmandu. I called Jolann and I said, "Jolann, can you take a meeting to an hour of your time? You'll meet with a great vendor. They want to come and talk about this. And I'll give half of this meeting fee to a charity that you choose, which charity would you like to choose?" And he said, "Yeah, I'll take the meeting. I'll choose The Himalayan Foundation." I called The Himalayan Foundation and asked them what $500 would do. And they said that $500 will pay for three girls to go to school for the entire year, and it will pay for their books and their uniforms.
Carl Gough: And I thought, holy cow, how is that not a great outcome for everybody? The vendor gets to meet with their target market. And the CIO gets to meet with a new vendor that could potentially help their business. And a charity get some funds to do the work. That was one of the very first stories that I had, which I felt ... And honestly, Jeff, the startup world, it's very difficult, especially when you're bootstrapping, any entrepreneur would know this. I had $600 in my bank at that time, and I gave 500 of that to The Himalayan Foundation. And when I was ... boohoo crying, but I had this overwhelming sense of joy of gratitude and all that good stuff that you're on the right path.
Carl Gough: But I was massively conflicted because economically I was the worst I've ever been in my entire life. But spiritually and fulfillment and all that sort of stuff, the highest it's ever been in my entire life. And it's that point I really knew this is me, I've got to keep going with this. And that was the inspiration or part of the inspiration that I had to keep going.
Jeff Bullas: Right. It is very hard, and bootstrapping is important. I heard someone mention what they call the 1000 day principle for startups, everyone sort of leaps in go, "Oh, we're going to start making millions of dollars in the first year," as the reality is that it's very unusual for anything to actually take off quickly. I've worked for startups with eight, nine years in. But what's really great to hear is that you have what you're good at and your passion intersect. And that book by Demartini, what's the name of it again? So for the listeners.
Carl Gough: Inspired Destiny.
Jeff Bullas: Inspired destiny. I think that's a recommendation. I've read a bit of Demartini so it's great. But I'm much the same, it only took me 50 years to find out what I was good at and what I was passionate about. The other thing I find about that too is that what you meant to be doing is not static, it's not a destination. I can almost guarantee what I'm doing now is actually different from what I was doing 10 years ago and 10 years before that, because it's just a lot of people saying, I've heard it from friends and they're going, "I'm desperately unhappy. I should have arrived. I've got enough money in the bank. I've got a lovely house. I live in a beautiful suburb. I've got great friends, but desperately unhappy."
Jeff Bullas: And I hear this much, there's a lot I heard of from Kerwin Rae the other day saying that he went on a journey to escape himself. The trouble is that when you actually go overseas, you take yourself with you. And the trouble is you follow yourself around. And the challenge is that happiness is from within not without. And we all go chasing the externals. Look, sure, it's great to have money, great to live in a beautiful house. But after a certain level, it doesn't make any difference.
Carl Gough: Yeah. I've always said, "You can change your house. You can change your car. You can change your wife. You change your clothes. You can change anything you want. But unless you change your thought and the quality of your thoughts, nothing else changes." And that for me is the foundation. It's literally, you change your thoughts, you change your life, and that's what's happened. I think when I was ... that conflict that I have of being economically poor, but spiritually rich, it's the most beautiful experience to experience because it's a conflict, we're not wired for that. And because we're all wired for this safety thing, we want to run for those, that safety net to make sure we've got a roof over our head, there's food on the table.
Carl Gough: And we're hardwired for that fear and doubt that we come up with in our minds, it affects absolutely everything that we do, so unless you can control that with your thoughts. And I've just learned to constantly reach for the good feeling thoughts. I tell you what it feels like. It feels like when you're paddling downstream, you talked about rowing earlier. When you're going downstream, it's easy, right? That's how life should be. That's how it is when you are aligned to your purpose and you are aligned to your values, when you're doing something that you do every single day and you wake up at 4:00 in the morning going, "Shit, I've got to write that stuff down. It's a really good idea." That's called inspiration, it comes from inside. It's not outside motivation that you need.
Carl Gough: And it's only when you turn around, canoe around and start paddling upstream that it becomes difficult. And that's when life is like, "Oh, it's a drain. It's tiring." Stop what you're doing. If you start paddling upstream, go meditate somewhere, stop everything, turn around and go back downstream. And I do that and I do it by reaching for the good feeling thoughts, the things that make me feel good. And that is putting myself in the position where we're doing 10,000 meetings a month, and I feel good about that. And that makes everything else just come alive, but it's not delusion, it's about feeling what it feels like to already be there rather than feeling what it feels like to not have it.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. It's very fast that you mentioned about meditation and just stopping and feelings of joy. It's a question I quite often ask myself what brings me joy, and sometimes you're going to stop yourself because you basically get dragged into the business and the myth that we've been sold that we've got to be busy, it's almost like a badge of honor. And we forget to actually stop and just enjoy being. There's a great book called Untethered Soul by David Singer, which talks about infinite possibility when we actually just let the future come to us. And it's a fantastic story.
Jeff Bullas: And there's another principle which I've learned as well, which has red light green light. You mentioned about paddling upstream, that's a red light, right? Paddling downstream where it flows, that's a green light. And we all try and kick down doors. And as both of us being in sales in the past, and we still are, if you're getting a red light, sometimes just go. And whenever I've tried to force something and keep to try and force it, you know what, it just turns into a disaster. The reality is that this principle of red light green light, The One Thing by Gary Keller, I thought it was just a fantastic principle.
Jeff Bullas: Let's go back to, you've got this aha moment, you've arranged five meetings for $5,000. You're giving away half of your fee to the charity that the company wants to give it to. What happened after that? Obviously that's a green light, isn't it? Something's working here.
Carl Gough: Yeah. And all of a sudden people started coming to me for more and it was lots of red lights for the first two years I'd say of chasing execs to say, "Take a meeting." And we'd ask these execs and they go, "Why? No." And it was difficult at first, but in amongst all that, there was execs that were taking them on. So for every 10 that I'd asked, it'd be three or four that would say yes. But all those nos were really debilitating. It was really hard to keep getting them. Every time I get one, Jeff, I'd sit back in this chair here, and I punched the air. With so much happiness, it was honestly, my daughter would be sitting in a room, she said, "What are you screaming?" It's because I've just got an exec onboard, and it might have been a big one. It might have been a CIO or a CTO or someone.
Carl Gough: And then it would have been, I think two and a half years, almost three years into it. There's a guy called Paul Keen. I met Paul when he was the CIO of Dick Smith. And then he went on to be the CTO of Airtasker. Then he went on to be head of software engineering at Qantas. And Paul called me and he said, "Carl, I love what you're doing. I've taken a few of the meetings. I really liked them. I'm also on the board of Starlight. I think you can help us." And so I went and sat with Paul and he told me that they're trying to create their version of CEO Sleepout, that thing that happens every year that just keeps getting bigger and bigger and raising lots of money, they don't have one.
Carl Gough: And so he said, "I'm going to connect you with Matt who's the head of partnerships at Starlight, go and see what you can come up with." I went and sat and had a coffee with Matt, and we sat and we came up with the idea of Meetings for Good. And this is basically ... Starlight, they've got a national board and they have state level board members. And those state level board members work at places like Macquarie Bank and PWC and Deloitte and all these other places. The theory is they're one degree away from any executive in the country. So we can get a message and say, "Take the meeting. It'll support Starlight."
Carl Gough: We came up with the idea of Meeting for Good. We launched it in November last year and we had 30 or 40 execs that I'd already been working with through Meetmagic. I said to them, "Would you be prepared to donate the funds to Starlight if we set some meetings up?" And they said, "Yes." We started off with about 30 execs on the “meeting for good” platform. Starlight built a website. And the website for that is called meetingforgood.org.au. I agreed then to go off to some of the execs and I made a video and we got some pretty powerful ones. We've got Nick Molnar, the founder of Afterpay. Shawna Donna, the CFO. Andrew Matuszczak from Wesfarmers, the CIO. We got Ian Hasslacher who's the chief supply chain officer Guzman Gomez. We got Christine, she's the chief operating officer of Credit Swiss.
Carl Gough: And we made this little video to say, "Guys, get involved." And so we put that on the website and then we went off and launched it. And basically the idea was we can do a couple of hundred meetings over the course of the year. The idea was to raise about $350,000 for Starlight within the first year.
Carl Gough: And so all of a sudden we've come up to Christmas time in Australia, because it's November, December. Melbourne Cup comes Jeff, you know what happens? Everyone goes and gets drunk for the rest of the year until February in Australia. We ended up launching it in the middle of drunk season. And then of course it's January. And so we've got a drought that's happening. Everyone was crying about the drought. And then all of a sudden the bushfire started and it's chaos. And then we're in the middle of February and the coronavirus hits. Meanwhile, we've launched this startup. We've basically taken the Meetmagic concept, and we've powered this new idea called Meeting for Good, which is to help start raising money.
Carl Gough: And believe it or not, the whole thing added to our success because conferences got shut down. People couldn't go out to do round tables anymore. They couldn't go to lunch and learn and all this. A lot of these clients of ours were spending 20 and $30,000 on a conference. And they were standing there for three days, scanning some badges and getting not a lot more from it. They've come to us and said, "Well, if we give you $30,000, that's 30 meetings with 30 C level executives we're going to get. Surely that's going to produce better results than standing around for three days." And of course it did.
Carl Gough: And so between November and now I think we've donated over $250,000 to Starlight through the meetings that we've been doing. We've got about 350 execs that have come on board. And it's everyone from the CEO of Australia Post, chief information security officers, chief information officers, literally right across the board of the ASX top 300 banks, every industry you could think of. Really the problem that we've discovered that we're solving for them is pretty simple. They're heavily targeted by the vendors, as you know their salespeople are constantly hitting up chief information officers, and they're getting it from every angle. They're getting it from LinkedIn. They're getting it from email, from texts, from all sorts of places.
Carl Gough: There's too many meetings, too much wasted time. The solution that we've discovered is that we filter out all of that noise and we create a high value, highly curated meeting for the exec. It's very unique in the value proposition that we're giving execs actually more time to actually go off and be more effective and more engaged as a result of a more engaged leader. By eliminating the pointless meetings and there's always a good outcome from it. What we say to the execs is give us 45 minutes of your time, that's it, sit in front of your laptop, not that hard, you do it all day. And for each 45 minutes you give us, we will donate $700 to Starlight and that $700 we'll put 18 seriously ill children into the Starlight children's room, for the duration of their stay in hospital.
Carl Gough: And so far I think we're up to about four and a half thousand children that we've supported, which is really quite amazing, so I get really excited. It's very cool. We get execs signing up every single day, over 350 now, the goal is to get it to a thousand, which is great for this podcast, because more execs can give us their time. And literally, it's 45 minutes of their time and they get to sit in front of their laptop and feel good about what they're doing.
Jeff Bullas: So you switch to virtual meetings, is that what you're doing?
Carl Gough: Yeah. Everything's virtual now because of obviously the coronavirus and distancing, but of course they will all flip. Because of coronavirus, we've taken on board probably some of the biggest brands on the planet for cyber security. It's the Netskopes, the CrowdStrikes, the Octas, these are top right hand quadrant, the best companies in their space. These meetings are not just meetings with mom and pop who have a great idea. These are meetings with vendors who have a great story and potentially can help their business with cyber security or whether it's data analytics or transformation. We've even taken on board Google last week, they come on board, which is amazing.
Carl Gough: All of a sudden we've gone from, I think the first year we were here, second year we were here, third year we're up here. Revenue wise we've tripled in three years. And last month we had the biggest month we've ever had.
Jeff Bullas: That's great.
Carl Gough: Each month is going up, which is great. Now we're looking for some ... we've got clients that are telling us that they are the best meetings they've had ever, the best marketing campaigns they've ever done in their careers. These are 45 year old VPs of sales who have been around the traps, understand what's out there. And we've basically created an altruistic based approach to selling. And what that means is we've got this thing here, this is our code of conduct for salespeople, which basically translates to don't be a douchebag. And don't take your laptop or your iPad into this meeting, because nobody cares about your product.
Jeff Bullas: No, they don't, no one cares about your product, that's what a lot of people don't understand.
Carl Gough: And so we tell them, you've got a meeting with the CIO or CTO or CEO, go in there and form a connection from the heart. Ask how'd you get involved in the Meetings for Good? How'd you understand about Meetmagic? How'd you feel about it? Let that be the start of the conversation. And what that's doing is it's opening up the heart rather than closing off the fight or flight kicking in, it's actually opening up the heart and they're having a great conversation as a result.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. I'm curious about two things amongst many things, but two that are top of mind right here, right now. Number one, you've got to find these people that are willing to open their doors. And obviously you're a great networker. How do you do that? And the other question, and we'll come back to that one. The other question is the process for what you're doing. And I'm curious about that as well. Firstly, how does Carl and the team open doors for other people? How do they connect?
Carl Gough: How do we connect with the execs you mean?
Jeff Bullas: Yes.
Carl Gough: Multiple strategies like everybody else right now, you can't just have one. We've put stuff up, yo, jab, jab, jab, jab, right hook, you'd know all about him.
Jeff Bullas: Gary V, yeah.
Carl Gough: We put a lot of content out there that's supposedly valuable to people. It's not just selling constantly, it's about, here's the value that can come out of an altruistic meeting or whatever. We put stuff out on LinkedIn, we've got a team that do some outreach on the phone and pick up the phone and call. And we've got stuff that referrals are taking place from the exec, the current execs who take meetings. They love them so much that they refer to their colleagues and their friends. We've got corporate social responsibility teams, who right now have got executives sitting at home on their backsides in their homes needing to be engaged.
Carl Gough: And so we address a lot of the corporate social responsibility angles for for these corporates. I think also the latest one that came on board that did that aristocrat. We had the corporate social responsibility team reached out to us and said, "We love what you're doing. We'd love to get our execs involved because they need something to do to feel good about what they're doing every day." And so this becomes a great way, think of all the execs of companies sat at home in Melbourne. There's a whole lot of them. Well, they can now sit at home, take a 45 minute meeting in front of their laptop and do some good.
Carl Gough: We've got lots of different strategies and prongs pushing out there. And of course Starlight have all their board members and we've just done a webinar. We pushed a lot of content out there, the webinar we just did was with the CEO of Starlight, Katrina Rathie, who's a partner in charge of Mallesons. We have the CTO of Bank of Queensland and the CIO of the ASX talking about why it's important to do these sorts of meetings now, especially in a pandemic, especially to keep business moving forward in the right way, so there's multiple prongs. And of course a lot of it's LinkedIn because it's B2B. And so we get a lot of visibility on LinkedIn because of that. And the second part of the question is obviously about how it all works, right?
Carl Gough: Well, we've got a platform that we've built. You can log on to the meetmagic.org website and you can search an exec on there, and you can put your credit card in and you can pay for a meeting. But what we're finding is a lot of the big companies, they want 10, 15, 20 meetings and they can't put that on their credit card. So they come to us and they say, "Can you onboard us?" And so we basically have an operations team and they take how many meetings you want. And we give the vendor the list of the meetings, so they've got 350 names to choose from. They can tick those names, which ones they want to go and see, then our operations team reaches out to the exec. There's a full white glove service. And then the exec gives us their times that they're available.
Carl Gough: We then go back to the salespeople and tell them what times this is. And then we send out the calendar invites. We send out a brief bio of the vendor that's going to the exec, so the exec knows exactly what the conversation is going to be about, and who's coming. And then we give lots of value for the salespeople to go into the meeting prepared. We've got some tools that we use that give personality profiles and all these different stuff that's valuable. When they walk into that meeting, they're fully armed with what's happening inside that company.
Jeff Bullas: All right. And so what are some of the results you're seeing from that once you open the doors? Give me a little bit of ROI. Give me a bit of ROI.
Carl Gough: I can tell you that one of our clients, which has four letters in his name, and it begins with D ends in L, it's blue, and they've closed a seven figure deal off one of our meetings. And that seven figure deal has turned into a $10 million opportunity. They've got one side of the company they closed the contract on, and there's other ones. We had another one a couple of weeks ago, walked into a meeting and went straight into a POC. We had another one that went into a meeting with the Bank of Queensland.
Jeff Bullas: Sorry. Hang on. Stop right there. You just used an acronym, POC.
Carl Gough: Oh yeah. Proof of concept. Sorry.
Jeff Bullas: All right.
Carl Gough: It should be proof of value.
Jeff Bullas: I'm just a little wary of acronyms because they're industry talk.
Carl Gough: And then we had another one, I think it's in July, he walked into that meeting and they came out and said, "Give us a price straight away." And I think that's turned into a purchase order. The bottom line is if you go to any of our clients right now, they will tell you they've all got a pipeline. And that pipeline is all from these meetings that they've got. And that we've got one of the clients, Netskope. Netskope have said, hands down, the best marketing campaign they've ever done.
Jeff Bullas: Wow.
Carl Gough: Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: Very cool.
Carl Gough: And the reason is part of the value here I think is the fact that the conversations are opening up from the heart and not from a selling perspective, and it's leading into, so what do you guys do? Well, we do this. We've got some opportunities in there. We've got some projects in that space, or we're trying to close a gap in there in that. And so that's opening up the conversation, it's altruistic as opposed to, here's my widget, do you want to buy some? We're seeing a lot of value in that happen. I mean, if you look on our website, there's a testimonials page on the home page at the top, testimonials. When you read these, you just shake your head and you go, "Oh my God." The salespeople call me directly and go, "I can't believe what kind of meeting I just had."
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. That raises another thing I find fascinating. You're actually doing another thing, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you're actually aligning companies that have similar values.
Carl Gough: Yeah, absolutely. I think when we look at the companies that are ... Actually it still hurts me when I get told no from an exec, because I go, "Hold on, where's your values here? You have a title. That title is not going to be there forever. Use it for good while you can, because once you're not a CIO anymore, nobody wants to know you."
Jeff Bullas: Exactly.
Carl Gough: I've seen this happen everywhere. I saw Brian Hart, the CEO of Westpac, when he gave us the meetings, everybody wanted to go and see Brian. As soon as he stepped down from his job, nobody wanted to know. There's this agency that these executives have for a period of time. The fact that we make their time and the use of their time valuable, not only in terms of the information they're getting from these vendors, but also in terms of the impact they can make 45 minutes of their time, it makes them feel good. And so when they tell me no, I go, "How can you say no to this? There's no downside anyways. It's a win, win, win for everybody."
Carl Gough: Some of the execs they've done six, seven, eight, nine, 10 meetings. Some of them just keep going, saying, "Fill my diary up." They love them. I see that the companies that are doing that, tand they are saying, Jeff, this is interesting. And it's controversial. There's more men than women, which pisses me off, more women leaders telling me no than men telling me no, I don't know why. Maybe the women they've got much more demand on their time, I don't know. But there are more women leaders in tech that tell me no than there are men telling me no.
Carl Gough: Even more interesting is Victoria is the most altruistic, New South Wales is next. And Queensland, don't get me started. There's something in the air up there, don't know what it is. But it's almost like the hotter it gets the more they become a bit nutty. So you get to ask in Victoria, it's pretty cold, they're warm. And they say, "Yeah, sure. I'll do that." Kiwis, forget it. Unless it's in Australia, unless it's a Kiwi charity, no. It's really interesting to see what's popping up here.
Carl Gough: Four of our clients now wants us to go and help them in India, Japan, UK, and the US. And we're trying to raise some capital now to go and scale because we've proven the model. We've proven it works. We've proven the value is there, the traction's coming, the product market fit is kicking in. All we need to do now is scale up the execs, get the execs onboard and away we go.
Jeff Bullas: Now, you're running a very human business, and it's for social good, which is a bit of a new business model, isn't it? As opposed to the old industrial capitalism, which is all about the money, all about the money. And I want to get to that in a minute, so that's another question I'm curious about is the industry and the rise of the social good corporation, like Tom Shoes as an example. But before we get onto that, so we park that question. What's the technology used to help the humans do more good? What's the other technology you're using developing tools, developing an ecosystem. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Carl Gough: It's a real MVP that we built. There's nothing spectacular about marketplace technology. Yeah. But I think one of the key things for us is the things around automation. I think that really is the key for us to scale and to take all those manual processes that we're doing and make them as human, but as automated as possible. We're looking at stuff like that at the moment, things around AI, to be able to do the matching a lot better, because all of a sudden we've got a thousand execs that are in this space, how do we then match them to the vendors that have got to complete or they're matching services and products. And then how do we then get that message out to the vendors to say, "Hey, some of your target market here, do you want me to get another meeting with them? It's available for you, you can be first."
Carl Gough: That whole thing at the moment is sort of part manual, part automated. We want to take all that, make that seamless. And we're sort of working through ... there's a great company that we're working with at the moment. But they're an amazing company that takes all of those manual mundane tasks and automates them. When you talk about the industrial revolution, I'm all about this as well, because I think we're all working from home now. And if you're CIO quite frankly, and you don't know how to have your staff work from home, you probably should not be a CIO. Because you've had the internet for 20 years and you don't need tokens to log on securely from anywhere anymore, and there's just no excuse.
Carl Gough: But what we've seen I think with COVID is COVID really represented the closing ceremony of the industrial revolution. It literally was that's it, goodbye. And all those people turn up to work 9:00 to 5:00, banging out emails for eight hours. Well, that's a industrial revolution mindset turning up to the factory, working on the factory floor-
Jeff Bullas: It is.
Carl Gough: ... having your managers look over your shoulder, no talking on the factory line. That's an industrial revolution mindset, we're gone, it's finished. Now we're moving into the digital age, which we're in and we've just had it thrust upon us. And so all these companies are panicking because they don't know how to deal with all this change that's happening so fast. I think somebody said we've had three years worth of change in three months. Great. And I think that's, we're starting to see ... We're seeing people step up. We're seeing a lot of people suffering. I only know that because in my opinion change is always hard at first. It's messy in the middle, but it's beautiful at the end.
Jeff Bullas: I love that description. I really think we've kicked ourselves 10 years into the future. I think it's ... the change was already happening, it was just slow and laborious.
Carl Gough: Do you know why, Jeff? Sorry to interrupt you. That's the permafrost layers in business, the middle managers, the ones who go, "I've got three kids in private school, don't you change anything. Automate what? I don't think so." That means I won't need my team of people. Do you know Jeff? I'm going to call this out. I went to the New South Wales government five years ago with an ability to save them $5 million and automate everything, they could have reduced their staff down, save lots of money, lots of taxpayers' money, [inaudible 00:39:59], not just anything. And the feedback that I got from the CEO of this agency, "If you take away my staff, you take away my power, and if you take away my power that means I don't get as much money."
Jeff Bullas: You're a threat, solution is a threat to power and also positional authority, which is something you've already mentioned. And I think as humans, look, nothing wrong with positional power used well, quite often it's not used well. But of the last 10 years when ... 12 years since I stumbled into this, my passionate purpose to actually try and make a difference to help people get their art and creation out to the world that was social media. And intersect your passion with what you're bloody good at, that's where magic really happens. It really seriously happens and we open up a world of infinite possibility. That's what gets me excited and going. And I drive past ... I go into the city for meetings because I'd like to get out of the home-
Carl Gough: Get out.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, get out sometimes. But I go past these buildings, which now doesn't happen much, but you've got all these people pouring into the high rises like rats into a trap and you going, "Oh my God, I'm so glad I don't have to spend an hour to get there. And then I don't have to actually go up to a floor where I'm watched." And you're right, it's the actual industrialization of the white collar employee. And guess what? We've actually discovered that people can be quite productive without watching them, and we're moving from a command and control economy to one where we actually trust people more. It doesn't mean that there's no checks and balances, that's fun, but it's fascinating to watch. We're seriously accelerated human evolution by this. We're in the middle of this crisis, but it's also an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and reinvent our society. And it's something we needed to do anyway, it's just been accelerated.
Carl Gough: We're seeing people now care about feeling and how do I feel? They want to feel that. I think if you're a manager and you had a team of people that you micromanaged. I've heard some horror stories about the way people are being managed on Zooms and on whatever, you need to trust. I mean, we've got a team of eight now and we just trust people. We catch up every day for a call and it's not massive. We have outcomes that we work towards. Here's where we're going, get on with it. Everyone knows what they're going to do. And it's pretty clear if you're not doing it.
Carl Gough: I think if you're a manager ... I've heard horror stories of law firms that say to their staff, "If your phone's not picked up within five rings, you'll be on a warning. If you move rooms, you must tell us." I mean, what are you doing? Stop, stop. You can't do that. And then you look at the companies that are doing really good. And you realize that there's a massive amount of trust there. And one of the amazing stories that I really love is a guy called John. John was the founder of one of the stock market trading firms called Optiva. And he obviously sold out, made a lot of money. But he then set up this other business called VivCourt Trading, There are a whole load of propeller heads day trading. So you know there's algorithmic traders that just write code and sit there in their flip flops in the dark light washrooms going ... rocket propellers.
Carl Gough: I think he's got about a hundred staff now. He attracted 80% of them because he's doing good. What's he's doing as a business is determined is having no shareholders. This is a new business model right here, no shareholders, but a charitable trust where all the money that he's making off these trades comes into the charitable trust. It then farms a lot of it out to the Dalai Lama and other charities. And then the rest of it back to the staff for bonuses and profits because they're traders and whatever. And he said, "The money is almost like this energy. It comes in, it goes out, it comes in bigger, and it goes out bigger and it comes in bigger again." And so it's just this energy that just keeps moving around.
Carl Gough: He said the old model of shareholders, which drives the wrong behavior, get you to get that money, hoard it, and it stops coming in. And then of course you've got to try and make more money. Well, how do you make more money when you're trying to save it? You can't stop the clock to save time, It doesn't work. You can't cut costs to save money, it doesn't work. All of a sudden the shareholder behavior is the wrong thing, and it's driving the wrong behaviors internally. His model is gone from that to now giving you staff a four day work week because they're making just as much money in four days as they were in five, and he's given them a day back to have with their families. And then they're now more productive, more engaged in four days. And it's actually a 20% less cost to the business, no sick days, no time taken off because they're burnt out and tired. And so it's actually costing him 20% less to run the business as a result.
Jeff Bullas: That's fantastic. Well, the other thing that raises too is you brought up automation for example. Automation can be used to make more money for the corporation which hoards, or can actually use the automation to actually give more time back to their people that are the stakeholders, they're called employees but they're partners. And being brought up with this five day work week, maybe it's time to reconsider that five day work week. The other thing that's being floated is living wages, which in other words where we actually look after our poor people because we're watching, especially what I call hyper capitalization, which is all about the money.
Jeff Bullas: And the problem we're seeing with that is that the 1% are getting richer, the middle class are getting hollowed out and they're starting to get angry. And we're seeing that happen in different places around the world.
Carl Gough: Equity, yeah, definitely.
Jeff Bullas: Equity. And I think that's the problem that we've seen with the hyper capitalist approach, which is all about the money. We've forgotten a bit, a lot of the corporations forgot about the people that actually helped them do it.
Carl Gough: I think also if you look at the trade war between China and the US, I mean what is really the fundamental reason behind that? And I don't think it's money. I think it's the fact that China is really good at manufacturing things really cheaply. They've got lots of labor there to help them manufacture stuff. And they make this money and give it back to their communities. Whereas America is more based on the financial market system and that money is being made and going to a few people. That's I think part of the battle that's going on there, there's no equity there.
Carl Gough: I think what you're saying about the industrial revolution, I'm certain that the old ... For example, the weekend, the weekend was invented because of the industrial revolution to give people two days off. Well, if you're me and you find your purpose and you're doing it every day, it's not work. So you do a little bit here, paddle downstream, jog in the morning, paddle downstream, do a bit of work. Walk the dog, paddle downstream a bit more, send a couple of emails. Your work is your office, your car, your mobile, your coffee shop, wherever you are anyway. And I'm running around doing stuff without even working, because it doesn't feel like work. The weekend for me is kind of frustrating because I don't know, what are you taking time off for? You can take that anyway, take it anywhere.
Jeff Bullas: Well, okay, we're talking about work life balance, right?
Carl Gough: That was invented for the industrial revolution.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. What I call is life.
Carl Gough: Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: What you're doing, everyday you're doing what you love doing. It's not work. It's not life. It's actually life. It's not put in two different parts. And I certainly, and the trouble is the psyche, which is generations and centuries of cultural mind control effectively. And culture dictates a lot of what we do, social history. We're in the middle of an interesting time where we got the tools to help us leverage being human and crazy businesses worn as a badge of honor, I've used this quite a few times, that phrase. But the reality is busy-ness where you work 24/7, burn yourself out is just craziness.
Jeff Bullas: Now let's delve a little bit into social good here. What are great examples have you seen of social good industries and models that have obviously inspired you because of what you've been talking about. You've been reading about this and watching, told them about the social good area.
Carl Gough: Well, I think the social good, I think it's okay to make money and do good at the same time.
Jeff Bullas: Absolutely.
Carl Gough: It really is okay. And so I look at people like Peter Baines, Hands Across the Water. Here's a guy, picks a piece of wars. Remember when the Bali bombing happened, he was the lead investigator on that. He was a federal policemen, worked for the government. He was the lead investigator. And then the tsunami hit in Thailand. And he was asked to go and be the lead investigator on that. That was the turning point for him, that he saw all these kids that were orphaned from their parents. And he went off and set up Hands Across the Water, which is his little charity to help raise money to build orphanages for these kids that have got nowhere to live.
Carl Gough: And so he's been doing that and he was also one of the co-founders of The Growth Project, which was backed by Monica Saunders and the Commonwealth Bank. But his business is all around social good, it literally is. I mean, what he's doing helping corporates to connect with that is really powerful. He takes them on bike rides over Thailand and they do a thousand kilometers and they raised money and they end up at the orphanage and they distribute. But at the same time it's all about leadership, it's all about growth, personally and physically and spiritually. And so that for me is one of the big ones.
Carl Gough: I also met a couple of my friends who were doing stuff around the mental health space, like Gus Worland of the radio, probably know Gus. He's got his charity called Gotcha4Life. You've got Hugh Jackman on the board and they're doing amazing things transforming schools. And the real core of our society is helping them with dealing with the mental health issues that's happening out there at the moment. And then I met just recently, can't remember the name of the company, the Starlight CEO, Louise Baxter introduced me to him last week after the podcast. And this is crazy, he's basically gone and got sports stars to pledge their time. And the sports stars then record a little video. Jeff can then log onto his website and say, "I want that sports star there to record a video for my wife or for my girlfriend and sing happy birthday or something." And so all of a sudden your girlfriend gets a video message from her favorite sports star or favorite person. And the sports stars earn a bit of money and a bit goes to charity, social good, a lot of great stuff happening.
Carl Gough: I think these conscious businesses, they're coming up everywhere now. And I think one of the things that really bothers me is a lot of these corporates that I've just taken on board, a corporate social responsibility angle for a line in the annual report. It stands out so fake. It stands out like you don't ... And I've tried to align myself with some of them where I'm saying, "I've read your annual report. I can see what you're interested in. We align completely because that's what we're doing. Can we come and have a conversation?" "No." "Why not?" I don't know if it's the approach, if it's the fact that they're just full of shit. And I speculate they're just full of shit.
Jeff Bullas: Well, like you said, it's to look good rather than be good.
Carl Gough: Yeah, that's right. And so I look at Tom's like you mentioned before, and those sorts of people, amazing concepts, you can do good. You look at the Who Gives a Crap concept, buy toilet roll, do some good, amazing concepts. And this is I think a part that's broken with the charity sector in Australia, partly because there's 50,000 charities in Australia, more than 50,000 registered. And I think a lot of them are going to go bankrupt because of coronavirus, are going to have to switch off. And it's going to be a real shame, but it's going to thin out.
Carl Gough: But you look at OzHarvest and what they're doing around food. As a charity, you actually can't make that much money, you're not allowed to. So you've got to do some creative ways to get money coming in. So OzHarvest have spun off these little for purpose businesses, that one of them for example is oranges. They collect all the manky oranges from the orange growers, the ones that are never going to be good enough to go on the shelves. And they put them in a little thing, in a little juicer, stick the stands everywhere. So you can come along and get a $5 juice, fresh orange juice, brilliant. They're actually making money to support what they're doing.
Carl Gough: You see all of this sort of thing kicking out now, it's really nice. And we're just one, I mean my angle is, for me, I want to give $250 million away to charity before I die, that's it, not a big ask. And I reckon we can do that by doing 10,000 meetings around the world. And for me like Rob Keldoulis, it's not about getting rich and buying a Ferrari. This is about getting the money coming in and giving it out, getting it coming in and giving it out, just watching it get bigger and bigger and bigger, that's the plan. And I think if we can do 10 cities around the world doing a thousand meetings a month, that's a billion dollar business. That's a unicorn in the world of startups.
Jeff Bullas: It is apparently, I've heard that term a few times. I was going to ask you what the future is, but I've just heard it. Look, I think it's a good segue to why I ended up here in terms of what the future is. You want to give away $250 million, you want to have 10,000 meetings over 10 cities globally. It sounds like you're well on your way Carl, I've loved hearing your story and I'm sure others have too. And hopefully we can actually make people think a little bit about how they run their lives and also design businesses that actually make a difference. Is there anything else you'd like to say to our listeners at all in wrapping it up?
Carl Gough: No. Look, Jeff, I'm very grateful because part of this, the biggest problem for anybody right now is obscurity. No one knows what you are and what you're doing, it's the same with the execs, once we get to the execs, they go, "Oh, that's a good idea." When they come on board and it's ... We're really grateful for you for giving us a platform to be able to get our message out there because of the whole Meetmagic story, it's beautiful purpose. It's got a beautiful feeling to it.
Carl Gough: When I hear of the story that Louise Baxter the CEO of Starlight told about this little boy who's lost his eye, his eyes closing because he's got a disease in his eye, and they have to take the eye out because the disease is going to spread into his brain is going to kill him, they took it out. Six months later, the disease is not gone, it's actually spread to the second eye, and it was either going to be his second eye or he's going to die. Of course they choose to take the second eye out. They're all standing around the ward, looking sad, and somebody turned around and said, "Why are we going to let this little boy have his last vision looking at your really sad faces?" And so they said, "Why don't we go into the Starlight children's room?" And so they went into the children's room for an hour, laughing and joking and full of love and joy. And that happiness was the last thing he saw.
Jeff Bullas: Wow.
Carl Gough: That for us is the reason why we do what we do because there's thousands of kids right now experiencing lockdown. There's thousands of kids in this country that are in isolation. Every single one of them don't know what the future holds for them, and this is their life. The more we can bring happiness to them by having a 45 minute video conference, it's not that hard. Every one of the 45 minute meetings puts 18 of those little boys and girls into the Starlight room, so it's the more we can do the better.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. Well, let's try and help you spread happiness.
Carl Gough: Thank you.
Jeff Bullas: And how can people find you Carl, and contact you and the team?
Carl Gough: Well, we've got meetmagic.org as a website, and there's also meetingforgood.org.edu, where they can actually register as an exec. And we're looking at the moment for execs that are obviously ... there's many execs out there of one or two main companies. At the moment our vendors are all the big brands, so we're looking for companies that have got 500 staff or more execs from those companies to come on board to start with. And then we'll drop it down and filter it down later.
Jeff Bullas: Great to meet you.
Carl Gough: You too.
Jeff Bullas: And I look forward to ... and this podcast is all about making a difference, and we need to get ... it's about shining a light on the people that are making difference such as yourself and your team. And it was such a good thing. And I look forward to keeping in touch.
Carl Gough: Thank you, Jeff. And don't forget, next time you pass in Darling Point, stick your head in.
Jeff Bullas: I will.
Carl Gough: Take care.
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