Good change in the world

Every good person says yes

Last week The Good Registry ticked over the one million mark: $1million raised for good causes in New Zealand, many thousands of unwanted gifts foregone.

The effects of all this goodness and generosity are far reaching. It’s not just the money for good causes (although that is – obviously – significant). It’s the environmental impact of all those unwanted gifts, not being produced, not being purchased, not being wrapped, not being shipped.  And it’s the human impact of all that gift giving and gift receiving stress being avoided and all those people having the joy of giving to good causes instead.  So much more simplicity and goodness – so many more good gifts in the world.

We’ve done that from a standing start five years ago.

When Christine Langdon, Sue McCabe and I established The Good Registry in 2017 it was sort of an unheard of concept.  We had no idea if it would work. We dashed to market: having agreed in August that we’d do it, the ever impatient and impetuous Christine Langdon was determined that we would be in the market before Christmas that year.

So we set up our business, we set up our charitable trust, we formed a partnership with web design company Touchtech (now Springload), we put our money where our mouths were, and we got going. 

In the words of the incredible Jon Toogood, life’s supposed to ebb and flow.  So if you’re wondering if it was a straight line from where we were then to where we are now: no it wasn’t.

Justine Ross in her book about the 42 Below Vodka journey writes that “every bastard says no”. For our enterprise, we found the opposite – just about every awesome person said yes … although not all of them were able to follow through on that. So our early years felt like a thousand cups of tea; meetings and pitches and chats and emails, promoting our concept, asking for help, asking people to be our first customers, looking for help to piece together the bits you need to run a digital enterprise.

Eventually Christine Langdon might write the book of The Good Registry story (will she call it “Every Lovely Person Says Yes”?), but for now, feeling flush with the success of hitting the $1m mark, there are a couple of things I’d like to say, for anyone who is thinking of starting a business, or who has started and may be hitting one of those moments when it feels like it isn’t going to work:

  1. You will think it isn’t going to work.  If you can, keep going. 

There were many moments in the first three years when I honestly wondered whether we would ever raise as much through this platform, as we had each put in. Maybe we would have been better just to give our money straight to a charity? But because we were having fun learning, and not causing any harm, we just kept going.  We learnt, and we adapted, and we responded to feedback, and we made it work.  It’s good to keep going – the pudding can take a long time to prove!

2. There are lots of ways you can feel about your business partners. If you can love and trust them, that’s the best way to be.

When you’re running a business you need to challenge each other, and sometimes pull each other back. You make mistakes and you dive in again. You lose faith and then you regain it. All of this is most do-able, if you trust your colleagues – and most enjoyable if you love them.  If you don’t – see if you can. Or see if you can find other business partners.

3. Values matter. The best values help you make decisions, and attract the right people to you.

Make your values real, true to your specific business and you as people, and then use them actively on a daily basis. Use them to help you make decisions, use them to guide you when you reach business cross roads, make sure all the people who join you on your mission match them. For us, our values are active and present.  How to respond to a competitor? Well one of our values is generosity, so what does that tell us?  How to think about a new product idea? Well one of our values is simplicity, so how does that guide us?

One million dollars for good causes. One million dollars that would have been spent on unwanted gifts – possibly things manufactured offshore, possibly things destined for landfill. It feels huge. I feel immeasurably proud of this achievement, and even though – as anyone who has followed our journey knows – Christine Langdon deserves the lion’s share of credit for this, I know that it was the power of the three of us that kept each other going, that made sure we held the course, that kept us true to our values, and attracted so many amazing supporters to our cause. And Christine will tell you that if it wasn’t for the power of three, along with our supporters, our values, and our commitment to the path, The Good Registry would have fallen over after the first month. Get good people around you, and hang in there.

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