As we continue to countdown the days until Final Showcase, the hours are getting longer and the work tougher. Teams are knuckling down into the nitty-gritty in preparation for their final pitch with Live the Dream, and the room is alive with the sound of hard yakka! We’ve be enforcing chill out time through picnic lunches and reflective sessions so that we can escape the stress and find some inspiration during this challenging time.
This week we have had the honour of welcoming Elliot Costello into the space to meet the teams and to run workshops. Inspiring Stories also hosted an evening event with a presentation from Elliot as well as drinks and nibbles, thank you for a great evening all!
We’re nearing the end of the programme so time is getting tight. Luckily our lovely participants are still welcome to me interviewing them. This week I managed to sit down with Richie Lovelock from Day of Deeds to talk about his Live the Dream journey so far. He provided the answers and even helped with the questions too!
There’s a bit of a story behind what brought you to Live the Dream with this venture, do you mind recapping that…?
Well I run a web company, but I also run my life. On the business side of things I decided a while ago that I wanted to start working with more businesses that aligned with my values and not just those that sell widgets for no good reason.
I was also starting to investigate and become more aware of big world issues. We hear about them and may read a little into it, but so many of us feel powerless. I became frustrated with myself because I wasn’t doing anything about it. I began to wonder about the people who dedicate their lives to this stuff; who are these people and why are they like that? There are people who dedicate parts of their lives to various issues, even though they work full time like I do. So I wondered why I wasn’t like that. If I was to be honest with myself it’s because it’s in the too hard basket.
I wanted to do something, but I still didn’t know what to do. If I donated money who would I give it to and why? What does that money mean to them and how would it get used? I lacked the understanding to take action.
Then I had a trigger moment whilst trying to plan something to do for my 30th birthday. There was no way that I was going to have a party, I wanted to do something about this gap that I had noticed between people like me and the struggling organisations that are doing awesome stuff.
I decided to invite my friends to a day out thing based on the concept of The Amazing Race, something fun and challenging. An event that would be competitive and challenging for my friends, and that would also benefit charities in an interactive way. I wanted them to get understanding of what it is these charities do, why they do it, what their struggles are, where they get their money from, where they don’t, where they get their volunteers, simple but important information that people don’t know.
So I created an event that would visit three charities and undergo a challenge that would raise funds for that charity. I got 25 of my friends together, put them into teams and off we went. We visited Mercy Hospice, Home and Family Counselling and the Auckland Deaf Society. I set fun challenges and activities that ranged from an opshop dress up competition, a mural, and a pub quiz (conducted in sign langage). The charities also got the opportunity to tell us about their work. My friends absolutely loved it and said it was something that they wanted to make happen every year.
The charities benefited the most because it was like nothing they had ever experienced. They got to communicate directly with 25 young adults who aren’t actively involved with charities, who were all engaged and having fun. That never happens. It gave them a chance to get their story across and to tell them what they’re all about. They were blown away by how crazy cool and effective it was and some of them even made some money. Overall it has created all of these cool stories for each charity that they have told everybody about. So I left thinking cool, I’m going to do that again, I can’t not.
You joined us in the 3rd week, how did you go from that idea to entering the Live the Dream programme?
I had this business mentor coach in the pipeline because I knew there was a new direction I wanted to take my business. But when I met with my mentor Bridget, after my 30th, everything had changed. I said to her: “….You’re not going to help me with Spiff Media you’re going to help me with what I just did on Saturday.”
She was the catalyst and got me talking to so many different people. I ended up getting in touch with Jenna and Alex from Live the Dream who were interested in my story and took me on board at the start of Week Three. I thought that everything about the course sounded amazing and exactly what I needed. I just had to take a risk and jump. You leap and don’t know how you’re going to make it work but you know it’s the right thing to do. I haven’t looked back, it has been even better than what I had imagined.
What have you personally got out of Live the Dream?
This is such a new area for me because I am a web guy, I don’t run events! For me it has opened up this massive door to a world that I don’t know. Live the Dream has allowed me to meet them, many of whom are experts in their field. It has connected me with so many cool people. It has inspired me to keep pushing so I haven’t lost momentum at all.
What has stuck out for you so far?
It’s so hard because there is so much and that’s what makes this so tiring but in a good way. You’re constantly learning little nuggets and different perspectives, so it is always challenging your entire concept and the way that you think.
Dan from Akina has been really amazing because the one on one time works well with me. He’s been amazing because he can grasp your concept within seconds and then just cut through everything and ask this real penetrative question. It’s great because he asks questions that you’ve been wanting to answer for two weeks and then tells you how to go about it, he’s just been awesome.
And what has been the most challenging thing?
For me two things; feeling overloaded and unfocused. With a programme like this the challenge it creates is the deluge of different ideas, perspectives and opinions all thrown at you every day. You have to consider everything because you’re forming your idea. It’s tricky to stay focused while exploring different perspectives and keeping up with the programme. So there has been a constant battle of trying to explore and focus simultaneously.
The strange thing is that I’m working harder than I ever have. Realising who you are and what motivates you, I guess that is the reason I have been able to sustain this for 6 weeks. The motivation is coming from a deep desire to do this and it has been forming in me for years. Now the thing is to go out and do it so I will need to keep pushing to make it happen. It’s unshakeable.
What is your vision for this world?
I’ve never put this into words… There are two words that are massively important to me; connection and creativity.
In terms of connection it’s so easy to disconnect and I don’t know if that’s just me or my situation but the message is everywhere… Life sucks when you’re disconnected. Yet people disconnect themselves. I want to connect people back with themselves, with the people they love and with the world. When you become aware of those relationships, everything is so much better. Bridget told me that the problem is people aren’t good at understanding the relationships between things. Everything is related in some way and people ignore that sometimes, so I want to create something that will change that.
In terms of creativity, I think it will be the thing to keep humanity going. I’m in the web industry and we’re constantly thinking about how it will evolve because I.T is the fastest changing industry. So who know where we will be in the next 5 years. So what is it that humans have that we cannot recreate? Creativity. I realised that years ago and wanted to include that in my days and in my work, it’s great to be creative for no reason! That’s a massive thing I think people lose as they grow older. It’s so natural as a kid but then you learn about the world and you lose that side of it. That’s what I want to do, enable creativity.
The crazy thing is that I didn’t think of those two things and then go and make this event. I’ve thought about it afterwards and realised how aligned it is to me, and that’s probably why I’ve taken these risks and kept working.
Even though there were technically only four working days this week, the Wellington Live the Dream crew managed to fit A LOT in, and the week isn’t over for our ventures yet. First and foremost we had the great pleasure of hosting Elliot Costello of YGAP, and for those of you who don’t know who he is, you should probably go find out. He is a social enterprise mastermind like no other and we’re so thankful he stopped in to share his wisdom with us. Monday night saw Elliot speak at a community event hosted at the Biz Dojo alongside local speakers Silvia Zuur of Chalkle, and Inspiring Stories‘ CEO/Founder Guy Ryan.
And all of that was just on a Monday! Tuesday we had the greatest ( in my opinion) pizza date with Tommy Millions and our friends at BootCamp, followed by a workshop with Amanda Santos of Strataspire all out sales, partnership and business. Then Wednesday rolled by, starting with a Keynote presentation delivered by Muneya Shino on how to process legal forms. As our Dreamers are only two weeks away from the final showcase (EKK), pitching techniques, modes and development has been a huge focus.
So it is no wonder that the highly credible and talented Dan Khan previously of Lighting Lab came in when he did. Dan held an intensive informal lecture about the how to’s and what-not-to-do’s of pitching.
This morning, we had an off-site checkin held at the collective shared space, In Good Company.
It really is a wonder how I managed to catch Nick George of More New Zealand Music for an awesome interview about his awesome venture for our awesome readers (thats you).
Tell us about your venture…
More New Zealand Music (MNZM) is about promoting New Zealand music through NZ retail stores. So increasing exposure for artists and giving them another source of income.
So will ‘More New Zealand Music’ be a way for NZers to have more exposure to NZ music as well?
Yes it will. Right now, there isn’t a radio station or a website that is solely for NZ music, and what is known are artists like Lorde, or Fat Freddies Drop, or Kimbra, the ones who have ‘made it’. What MNZM will do is enable consumers to hear different genres of NZ music while doing the weekly shop or getting their prescription from the pharmacy. It will be a chance for NZ musicians to gain exposure, and to become a recognised part of NZ, more so that they are now.
Where did this idea come from?
I was living in Brooklyn, Wellington for three years, and we would go down to the local New World to get the shopping. I was also involved heavily in bands – playing and also doing marketing and promotion for music. I was always looking for new opportunities for where music could fit in.
Then I would go into the supermarket, and felt the content was a missed opportunity; they play 90’s ballads that no one is really keen to hear. On the other hand, I’d be on tour and people would be coming to a gig surprised because they didn’t know that type of music was around (locally). So it seemed like a logical idea to develop a platform for local music to be played in local stores. That’s how MNZM was born.
So you’re quite familiar working within the NZ music industry?
Yes, in terms of dealing with venues, venue owners, bands and marketing, I’ve got lots of experience in those areas.
How did you hear about Live the Dream?
I wasn’t actually looking for it, I just fell into it. The idea for my venture I had in the back of my mind for a year or so, and I’d started what I thought was a business plan for it but really had no idea what I was doing. I was just applying for other jobs, and I saw a post from Pat Shepherd of OnePercentCollective about Live the Dream. I clicked the link, saw what it was about and applied with like 30 minutes to go before the closing deadline. Two interviews later and here I am. In retrospect, I was looking for it but I didn’t realize until I got here.
What’s been the reaction to MNZM?
It’s been a really easy sell so far, because it makes total sense to play local music in local stores.
Have you been in touch with possible companies?
Yes, a little. My next phase of validation is to talk to franchise owners and CEOs about the idea, instead of employees and store owners, so going slightly higher. It’s just been a little slower to get a hold of them all.
What’s your decision process?
I look at the amount of stores within a franchise, and am also looking at who has the most ‘Kiwiana/New Zealandness’ attached to their image. I have all these ideas that I’ve had to distill down and keep for future along the track.
But you have a confirmed venue to prototype MNZM on already!? Want to tell us so we can keep an ‘Ear-out’?
Yeah, I do. The main one is Wholly Bagels who are interested, as they have a problem of playing mainstream music in their shop, so it’s kind of perfect, especially because they’re also a chain. With them, I’m trying to work out how to approach it to get the most out of it. I want to get it right as it’ll be valuable information.
That is awesome. What are you working on this week?
Refining my business model and putting together financial forecasts. I’m finding it hard, I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a lot of research into things I’m not very familiar with and getting my head around things like music licensing.
Is approaching these record labels going to be a challenge for you then?
I think it’s all doable and it’s fairly straightforward for those who speak the language of licensing and record deals, so at the moment I’m trying to get my head around that language.
How have you been finding the whole mentor part of LTD?
Amazing. It did take me a minute to get my head around it, realising I have the possibility of talking to different people, and the responsibility to make it happen. I have my main mentor who I check in with every week and contributors who I can speak to and bounce ideas off for a particular part of the venture.
It’s like another tool isn’t it?
Yeah but I think that sometimes, it isn’t helpful to have too many tools available in the garden shed so to speak. A lot of what I’m looking into is new ground, things I’m not savvy too. It is all a learning curve for me.
How does the market landscape look for More New Zealand Music? Do you have any competitors?
There are a bunch of music providers on the market already. It’s interesting because there will be a the company that is providing the music to New World that I saw as the problem, but then New World is requesting that music because they think it’s what people want to hear. But as I am going to act essentially as a licensing agent for NZ music, there is room for me to operate within these already established companies, by providing them with local music, and have these companies approach their already established client list with it.
How have you been finding the process of validation?
Challenging, it makes complete sense though- I feel like I came in (to Live the Dream) with more of a solution that a problem. I had to learn to take a step back from it and try not to sell it, but to process it…
Speaking of selling, what the pitching process been like for you?
Scary, and hard, but I know I’m not the only one. I draw confidence from the other participants, like if they’re nervous it makes me feel like I’m not alone.
It’s somehow Week 8! What has been your highlight of the programme so far?
It’s amazing, a contributor will come in and blow your mind with all these new ways to think about your problem. And some workshops happened at the perfect time for me. Emilie Fletcher’s talk on ‘how to ask the right questions’ was perfect timing, Michael Elwood Smith’s one-on-one sessions are always helpful, Sam Rye’s workshop, and Dave Clearwater from Akina was amazing too. All of these happened exactly when I needed to hear that information. It’s hard to imagine life without Live the Dream now, it’s a completely different experience than anything I’ve been through before, and I think it has changed me.
What does 2015 have on the cards for MNZM?
I’l come up for air after LTD and really try to nail it, start small and start selling it, and assemble a team.
Snap out of it! The long weekend is behind us and we have settled back into furious work. This week has been mostly self directed, however we have also had a pitch den with the lovely Sara Jones and Rebecca Milne to give the teams advice on how to improve their pitches. We seem to be repeatedly welcoming back into the space Nic Hadley and Rupert Ross who treated us to some awesome interactive workshops. Dan from Akina also visited the teams for one-on-one chats to encourage teams to stop and rethink their ideas once again. We’ve even had workshops and sessions taught by our very own participants and crew, what a bunch of multi-talented people! We have a great space here at AUT and we love that the mentors and speakers who come in to talk to us fit into our “zone”, you’re all welcome anytime!
This week our #AKL team farewelled our facilitator Alex Devereux who has left to join the Fonterra Business Graduate programme. We threw him a goodbye morning tea with lots of yummy treats and festivities. Thank you for all of your hard work during the programme Alex, we all appreciate it and are wishing you luck for the future!
We also celebrated Vic’s birthday by throwing a surprise birthday bash! Happy birthday Vic with much love from the team!
Overall it has been quite a busy week, but I managed to sit down and have a chat with the second Plastic Diet member, Josefina Peters-Didier about her experiences with plastic and the importance of passion in everything that you do…
We’ve already heard a bit about Plastic Diet from Samuditha in Week 3, but has your idea changed or evolved since then?
Every day it changes! Every time you think you have an idea and everyone will love it, you talk to someone else and they say maybe it’s not so good. It’s easy to get carried away with side ideas, so you always have to have your purpose super clear.
In our case it’s reducing the use of plastic at the source. We keep going back to the idea of recycling but the truth is that that doesn’t solve a problem.
Is it difficult to be open to change within your idea?
Yes because you get attached to ideas and sometimes you have to let them go. Maybe they are bad ideas, or for some reason it’s unlikely those ideas can physically happen, or it’s not the time for them yet. We keep record of all the ideas and we’re trying to figure out when they could actually happen. It can be quite frustrating but we will keep working towards it.
How are you personally connected to the idea of “reducing single use plastic at the source”?
I have always loved the ocean, taking care of it and the animals that live in it, even as a little child. Then I thought well now I want to become a marine biologist, but if I want to make a change I need to be a bloody good marine biologist. I just finished my PHD and even though the research is fascinating it’s really hard to make a change. You spend years creating research and only a few people will read about it. There are things going on in society today that we need to act on. Live the Dream came at a perfect time, I had just finished university and I had always been super concerned about plastic pollution.
I have the credentials so now I want to act on it. I’m still very divided because I love research but that only reaches a small audience. I’ve got to do something big!
What have you been up to this week?
Throughout the programme we have been talking to as many people as we can. We have been working on other areas that could make bigger impact through the use of plastic.
I wish we could be at the moment when we’re working on our business model. But it’s such a complicated issue that we still aren’t quite there yet. I think the most important thing is to create awareness and the most difficult thing is to link that with money or an income stream. We might just start with campaigns until we get more recognition from the community. Then once we’ve created awareness and have more people onboard, we will start thinking about revenue streams.
What has stuck with you so far throughout the programme?
I had this weird conception that in business you have to show that you’re a business person, but now I realise that it is about being genuine in yourself and saying “I want to make a change in the world”. That is the best way to connect with people.
Everything that you do, if you do it from the heart, will lead to success.
I’ve seen that so many times throughout the programme, by respecting who you are and being absolutely genuine. The question for me is when you’re really genuine and hard working, at what point will it start working? I want things to start working now, but I guess it’s like they say, when you see a good idea it took 9 years in the making…
If you stay true to yourself you can make a change in the world.
What has been the biggest challenge of the Live the Dream programme so far?
I guess it’s just scary when your idea doesn’t work. It comes down to external factors which is really scary because sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have all of this passion and conviction.
I’m guessing you have faced some external issues?
Every time we have a new idea. We’re going to make it happen and we don’t want to disappoint people. Getting to know all of the people that have gone through what we’re going through and seeing where they are now is very inspiring.
What is driving you to spend ten weeks of your life here at Live the Dream?
I love challenges. Anything that sounds scary I normally go for it because I will come out a better person. I just love taking the leap. Even if it sounds scary, just going in and figuring it out. You are putting yourself on the line and other people have their eyes on you, so it’s essentially an all or nothing kind of thing. Putting yourself on the line is an addictive feeling.
If you consciously decide to take the risk, you will give it all.
I’ve got one last big question… What is your vision for this world?
I could guarantee that people and society would be so much more happy if we reconnect and take care of things. Part of the plastic programme is that people have become so independent, its quick, its easy; it’s the takeaway culture. Somehow when you remove plastic from the picture there’s suddenly more connection. There is value in protecting something or caring for a cause. It’s really difficult at first, but if everybody starts doing it I think we would be better with each other and with nature.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I told Guy the other day that I am so grateful. I want this “leap of faith” situation to finally lead somewhere amazing. The feeling of giving back to everybody, it’s like a secret rewards club.
How you guys are helping us at the moment, I wish I could do someday for you.
We’re working really hard and I don’t think that work is going nowhere. When you know you have the skills to make it work it’s all about determination. If you’re determined enough to make something work it will sort itself out in time.