Learn in this episode how you can elevate your business and personal reputation through philanthropy.
Do you want Jon's help to elevate your personal brand? Get in touch here: https://www.imagegroup.com.au/contact-us/
Episode's guest: Mark Watt - CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia, Stride Education, Director of Social Engine and co-founder of Whitelion. All of his philanthropy projects
aim to change the course of vulnerable young people's lives.
Podcast Editor and Producer: Ana Carolina Alves
Additional Voice: Charles The Voice
Music: Have a Smoke by Crowander (CC BY 4.0)
Review Jon Michail's Personal Branding Masterclass in Apple Podcasts to let us know what you think of the show: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/jon-michails-personal-branding-masterclass/id1578159265
Welcome to Jon Michail’s Personal Branding Masterclass. Jon is the founder and CEO of image group international and award-winning image consulting and personal branding pioneer established in 1989. This podcast will bring you old school wisdom, inspiring ideas, strategies and hacks for the new tech world. Here you will learn everything about personal branding: the system, the techniques and the right mindset to have a successful personal brand, image and reputation.
Jon: Hello, everybody, today I will be chatting with Mark watts, CEO of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and not for profit organization that creates life-changing connections to help young people shine. Mark is also the CEO of stripe education and a director of Social Engine, a social enterprise for young people. And also believe it or not co-founder of the white line, Mark, welcome.
Mark: Hi, it's great to be here, Jon, with you. Thanks for having me.
Jon: I also want to know during 2018, Mark was appointed a member I am in the general division of the owner of Australia for significant services to the community, particularly to disadvantage and at-risk youth through social welfare support organizations. Marc has a deep passion and a commitment to supporting at-risk young people. And it's a pleasure to have him here today. I've known him for a long time. And it's great to be chatting with him, especially on my podcast. So Mark, welcome again.
Mark: I feel very privileged to be here, john, and I love your community heart and the energy you give to other people. So it's just a real privilege to be here.
Jon: Thank you. It's great to have you here. So the topic for the episode this evening is growing your business brand and personal reputation through philanthropy. But before we start our chat, I'd like to share with our listeners a little bit about your mark. First of all, I want to ask you a question. How did you get involved with a non for profit world?
Mark: Oh, it's an interesting question. Because I started off my life as an accountant. I did a Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University. And while I was at Swinburne University, I started running a radio show. And my friend had just gone to a youth detention centre and found an unused radio station at the youth detention centre. And he said mark, Joy comes and help me start a radio station at this detention centre. Because I had my radio show at the university. I said in I thought I love radio. So yeah, I'll be very happy to start net started my journey down youthwork as I went to the youth detention centre started getting you to know all the kids and started experiencing that. And I found Well, you know, this is really this needs, that life-changing needs a lot of hope there's a lot of young people here that are disconnected. And it really that's where my heart went.
Jon: So why did you choose those specifically to help vulnerable young people?
Mark: Well, Jon, I grew up without a father, my father left my home when I was six, readout, he was quite a violent guy. So you know, we went from house to house, I even went in state care for a while we had a pretty traumatic background. And so in some ways, he probably did us a favour leaving. And so I let grew up the rest of my life without a father. And but I had all these mentors come in to help me throughout my life. And so the power of people helping me as a young person led me into helping other young people how I was helped. So, you know, I wouldn't be talking to you today, john, if it wasn't for my mentor, that helped me get through my life. So I owe it to other people that I'm here today. And I really want to give back and help as many kids as I can.
Jon: That's extraordinary. So obviously your own life story is what's connected you to this work. And obviously what that says to me, you know, relates so much of my, my work and the work we do is around connecting to your definitely your passion, but also your purpose. Because for you this has been, you know, a 30 year plus journey, right?
Mark: It's been a long time. You know, I know it works. I know the power, you had people getting involved in other people's lives, a significant other is so powerful in the life of young people that isolated, disconnected and disadvantaged.
Jon: So you obviously see then people getting involved, you know, from a philanthropy point of view, but also from a charitable volunteering point of view is actually important for us as human beings. Is that something that sort of speaks to you?
Mark: Yeah, certainly does Jon. I mean, the whole thing of this new thing is called benefit mindset. A lot of people focus on growth mindset for benefit mindset means he sort of got some community responsibility. It's sort of complete you and I think that's what I love about you, Jon, is that you're very successful in business, very successful in your personal life, you give back to the community as well. So it sort of gives you that completeness. And I think that's what we're looking for in life is to you know, have that rounded Be able to help other people, you know, but also have that life that you want for yourself as well. So I think it's so important.
Jon: Absolutely fantastic. So what I just want to continue this conversation around philanthropy, and, you know, the charitable world. So it's very important, obviously, for business to be doing that. And, of course, by being involved in what we would call his community, social responsibility, right, is also a perfect way for, you know, organizations, corporations, and of course, businesses to change their pet, the public perception, would you agree with that?
Mark: Yeah, I think it's very important to look at operations on a few levels. JOHN, I mean, I think business is getting involved in the community, helping out giving back whatever you want to call it, it's so important on a number of levels. The first level is you as the manager, you as the owner, your business, it's a great thing for you and your own purpose. So utilizing, you know, you've done a lot of good things in life, giving back and helping others makes you feel good. But it doesn't just stop there, it's really good for your staff, your staff love it. You know, so many people come to me and said, Mark, you know, I know you keep telling me, I've made a difference in the lives of young people. But doing this work has actually changed my life as well, it's made me a better person made me happier, and made me more fulfilled and added to my purpose. So I think it's also good for your staff. And then also, it's good for business. So, you know, doing good out, there are so many examples of businesses that focus on doing good, it's good for business.
Jon: It's good for business. And of course, a good example of that is probably a company like Microsoft, for example. It's better known for the social responsibility of co-founder, Bill Gates, then the acquisition of GitHub, for instance. So you know, the aspect of, of course, most people associate, you know, Bill Gates with philanthropy than they will right now with Microsoft. So that's interesting in itself, you know, and it sort of fits in with your, with your commentary there. So I want to ask you another question. When business leaders get involved with various charities, they have obviously given themselves also the opportunity to make a difference to their community, but by being involved, right, but also the business. And we've also agreed with that. Can you see other benefits there as well? You mentioned something around the personal benefits as well. Can you add a little bit more about that?
Mark: Yeah, well, it's, I think it's just your legacy too. I mean, okay, you know, you've built a big business, you've done really well, everything's going well, but G or T, or the power of businesses to make a change in the lives of individuals is enormous. So, you know, imagine if you can do both, you've got a successful business, but you're also known, because of what you've, you know, the difference you've made in the community, in the lives of other people, it's invaluable, and you can't put a price on a changed life, it's just amazing. And if you can do that in the community, and your business can be part of that. I just think you've got more and more people to want to work for you more for people want to get to know you, and his legacy thing that your children and everything else can look back as they will this is, this is what that my father stands for, this is what my boss stands for, this is what my company stands for. And we all want to be part of that story. You know, we all want to be part of making a difference in the world today.
Mark: And the truth is, when you do get involved with community, philanthropy cause-related issues, it adds a lot of value to you personally, but also, potentially, to your reputation. But before I get to the reputation, but I want to share my own experience as well with you guys, you know, because if you remember, the community project that we did with you, quite a few years ago now was at the Parkville, Youth Justice Center. And that project involved a group of young people under the age of 18, where we would work together with them for seven weeks around the concept of one life. And in the end, the philosophy of one life was this, that's all you've got. And basically, you know, how we position the program is from day one in the workshop was, you know, everyone that's in this room today, this is, you know, the young people and, of course, we had all the support team there of my team, and of course, business people and sponsors. But going back to the young people, how we position it was, you've all got one life, and you're entrepreneurs. It's just that your entrepreneurial energy has gone in the wrong direction. So what you want to do is take this entrepreneurial spirit that you've got, and redirect that to doing good because that's exactly what entrepreneurship is. It's about energy. It's about, you know, activity, activation and basically creating things So it was, you know, it was on that on that premise. And it was really about life skills. You know, and a lot of these young people I've got, I've got great life skills, right. But it was it, you know, it's given them to integrate them with society when they actually get released. And basically, although that was a pro bono project for us, for our company, and it was virtually hard work, from the point of view, although it might not look like hard work, it still was hard work, you know, putting it all together every week for seven weeks, you know, getting the whole team there. And of course, volunteers, you know, from the corporate world that we had, appearing and going through the security systems of a prison. In the end, it was one of the most full, most fulfilling projects I've ever done in my life, you know, because because, and I'm not, you know, and I've done projects, I've been brought in multimillion dollars, right. So so so this is, this is for free project. And that blew me away, you know, and it to this day, it still touches me every time we, you know, we talk about this, and even with a team that was involved, and I just thought I'd share this with you because I haven't done this publicly. At this level before. When I mentioned team members that were there, I can virtually, you know, I can get into tears if we go into the heartstrings on what actually happened in some of the workshops, because, of course, the word tears, you know, many a week. So I just thought I'd share that with you as a personal experience. And of course, anyone listening in business, you know, and of course, the professional world. I can't stress enough of that, of course, a lot of our clients are always looking to volunteer. So I would certainly be a, you know, a big supporter of anyone that wants to contribute to a community and get involved with a great charity, big brother, Big Sister. Because they are looking for great people. And you know, and they, I know, will embrace you with open arms, but at the same time, what benefit you get might even be bigger than the benefit you give. So I thought I'd mentioned Mark.
Mark: This is so true, Jon. I think that what you get out of it personally, is so much more than you ever thought it does make a really big difference in your life. And it exactly gives is This reinforces, you know, the significance of getting out there connecting with these young kids or community work. It's just quite amazing. And there are so many opportunities out there so many great causes, you don't have to go looking that far to sort of finding them. There's a lot of really good causes out there doing a lot of good things. So I would encourage people if they're not involved in something, they want to give it a go because the other thing is, of course, that's how we met through doing good. So you know, if the people you meet along the journey and your team with it are just it's this lifetime friendship.
Jon: Yeah, absolutely. 100% what I wanted to ask you was how has the sector that you've worked in non for profit, the whole CSR industry that you've been in for such a long time? Has this made a difference to your reputation? Because of course along the way, with all this great work that you've done, you also received an Australian medal? Is that correct?
Mark: Yeah, I wasn't going looking for that. And I don't go looking for accolades, john, but I was very privileged to be awarded and am by the gun was a very proud moment. But you know, you don't get that yourself. It's like the Medal of says, it's, it's a team effort to get it. And certainly, for me, I couldn't have got it without great people to work with great supporters like yourself, other people around family. So it was really good, but yeah, that was, you know, you can grow your own reputation, I suppose. But I think you shouldn't focus on that. That sort of taking care of itself as you do the work. So I think really what you want to do is focus on the community work you're doing helping others bring others in and that's what I love doing is really trying to bring others with me that like doing for myself, and making a joint team game. And you know, sometimes you get a brand low sometimes you don't but it doesn't matter what the other brand low and not everyone on the team is so important.
Jon: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, it's about giving it your best shot isn't it made and the thing is, you know, of course, you don't go looking for the accolades. But if you're doing good work the accolades come right. So you know, a medal or otherwise, you know, if you're gonna attract that and you deserve that, or, you know, I don't see a problem with celebrating that as well. So I've been humble-bragging along the way actually is okay.
Mark: Well, I think the other thing is joining community work. It's quite an interesting thing where it doesn't matter what level you come in you the network, the OSI associations, the different environments you're getting into. I've been privileged, I've met amazing people on my journey because I've been involved in community work. You know, I've met amazingly rich people I've met amazingly poor, rich people have met premiers have met prime ministers, you know, all that. All that's happened because of being involved in community work. But I didn't want to say the other thing you can do is you can advocate as well. So, you know, the whole government area is another area that we haven't spoken about, but working with governments around policies around, you know, what's going on out there advocating with Prime Minister ministers or parliamentarians, MPs, local members, it's all part of it. And I think that that's another dimension, that businesses can influence government policy, what governments do. So that's another powerful aspect. Because not everyone here wants to help a young person directly, there's a lot of other things you can do to make a difference out there. And working with governments and advocating for governments, for the disadvantaged or for the community is a very powerful thing to do. And it's, you know, the people you meet is really good for business as well.
Jon: So on that point, you know, there are many different charities out there to consider working alongside Yeah, yeah. So finding the best fit is a great first step to sort of make and get involved in a sector. Can you give a tip to someone who is listening? Who wants to get involved with the, you know, with the whole non-for-profit sector, but doesn't know where to start?
Mark: That's a good question. The first thing starts with you. What do you want to do? If you want to get involved personally, do you want to give money? Do you want to put your business in there? Do you want to give employment? I mean, it's just working out when you think about Okay, well, what have I got to give? What do I want to do? How much time do I have? How many resources do I have? What, how much influence? Do I have? What's my network? Like? mean, some of those things are quite powerful networks. I mean, okay, I'll give my network to this organization or whatever. So I think it's working out where your passions are, what you're trying to get, get out of it got to work out that first before you go shopping. Once you've got that, then you sort of try and think, okay, I want hands-on is volunteering opportunities, how much influence Can I make on this organization, some organizations, you might help them out, but you really not going to make much impact. And I might be a bit biased here, but I think you should go where you can really get the most bang for your buck, make the most influence, and that probably would be a smaller organization. And you can have so much more impact with a smaller organization that really values you and need your resources, I need your networks, I need your talents, your skills, and your financial support. So you know, that sort of stuff is where I think you'll make the most impact and get the most bang out of it.
Jon: Yeah, and my experience with all of that having been involved in this sector for a long time, is, you know, hopefully, whatever you're getting involved with, also fits in with your purpose, and your passion. So for instance, I love children, I've always had young people, right, I like the elderly. So, you know, that's been to sort of areas that I've had always an interesting, but you know, there might be other interests as well, you know, there are so many different causes out there, right? So I think it's important that you connect also to something that speaks to your heart, would you agree with that?
Mark: Oh, definitely, it's gonna speak to you, it's gonna be you know, like, some people are very interested in the environment, that's a big thing for some people, just animals, you know, want to look after the dogs, last dogs home or things like that. So, you know, it's really getting that passion, that purpose aligned. The other thing is, is that some people just want to, you know, be part of what they're doing. So, you know, in our organization, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, some people might just want to become a mentor. And that's fine. Some people like yourself, john, want to get to know the CEO and say, Okay, well, I want to strategically help this group, I want to help this organization become stronger. Well, I'll build a relationship with the CEO there, you know, I mean, so it depends on what level you want to get involved in as well, and how much you want to you know, what sort of impact you want to make.
Jon: Hmm. Okay. I think that's some great points there.
Mark: One other point is there is room on board. So being on a board of a not for profit is another way of getting involved. So governance, we have thought that governance or, or leadership, you know, there are organizations out there that want that sort of involvement as well. So, look, there's something for everybody. It's like a smorgasbord. You just got to decide what you want to eat, whether it's chicken, lamb, beef, potatoes, whatever you want. There's something there for everybody.
Jon: That's great. That's fantastic. So, folks, we're very close to the end of the show. And I want to take this opportunity actually, for thanking this Specifically mark for being here today and sharing with us obviously his very lived experienced wisdom and also you know chatting with him and I suppose going over some of the past memories or spending time together and you know, and attempting to do something good in our community mark, where can our listeners find out more about your projects
Mark: I'm on LinkedIn. So Mark Watt on LinkedIn. Just look me up I'd love to become your friend on LinkedIn or you can send me a message that way or you can look up Big Brothers Big Sisters website. You can contact me through there love to connect with you, I can give you advice on what to do lots of experiences and love working with my mate john and helping out there in the community always got different projects on the go. So we've got a lot of things we're doing, you know, we're doing mentoring, but we're doing a lot of other things as well. So please connect on LinkedIn, or on Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Australia.
Jon: That's great. Well, do check Mark out, because I can guarantee you're going to get value. Now finally, I want to also mention where you can find me on social media. You can follow me on Twitter at jon_michael or LinkedIn as Jon Michael and on Facebook as Image Group International. I hope you have enjoyed this episode and we have given you some practical insights. If you need my help to elevate your personal brand and reputation please email me and we'll be happy to work with you. The email mine and Paul, as per this episode will be at the description. And also don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and the platform that you're listening to. So every time we have a new episode you will be notified. And if you liked this episode, please remember to share it with your friends, family and colleagues. I would appreciate it if you could write the show also on Apple podcasts. For this, you just need to click on the link in the episode description. Thank you all. I look forward to chatting again with you next week and have a great week, cheers.
Jon Michail’s Personal Branding Masterclass" Podcast is sponsored by Image Group International, a global team of practical, digitally savvy personal brand and image strategists, based in Australia, committed to maximizing your impact, influence and authority in the business world. To learn more and apply for your personal coaching, seminars and group workshops please visit imagegroup.com.au or call 1800 631 311.