Ben’s First Week at TDi

The last two and a half months have been a bit of a blur for me. A Perth native, I have been living in London for the last four years and in early December I decided to tack on some time in Melbourne to a trip to WA.

I thought while I was in Melbourne, I would reach out to some like-minded people who were also grappling with some of the issues I had been working on in London – namely thinking about how we change the conversation around business and cultivate a new generation of entrepreneurs who care about more than just making money.

A contact in London told me to reach out to TDi, and without a doubt that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I met with our co-founder Paul Steele (thanks in no small part to the wondrous work of his PA Jacqui) in the School of Life, downstairs from TDi’s office. He suggested I meet with Bessi and Anthea, TDi’s CEO and Deputy CEO.

 

“I am so excited to go out and talk to entrepreneurs about what we deliver because I know with supreme confidence that they are being guided not only by some of the brightest minds in the world, but also by people who have been there, done that”

 

 

The next day, and less than 24 hours before I was due to fly back to London, I met Bessi and Anthea in the TDi office. I hope they don’t mind me saying, but I felt incredibly inspired by what they had to say, and I just knew that this was a place where I wanted to focus my work.

I’ve been privileged enough to meet some of the most outstanding people over the course of my career who imagine a world where business is part of the solution to the problems we face. However, Bessi and Anthea were applying a rigour and pragmatism to their work that truly felt cutting edge.

A week after my first meeting, I found myself on a Skype call with Anthea, being offered the chance to pack up my life in London and begin a new chapter in Melbourne. Six weeks later I touched down.

 

From my first week working with TDi alone, I feel like I’ve made the right choice. Every single person I’ve met here is incredibly intelligent, passionate, opinionated (in a great way!) and willing to roll up their sleeves and dive in in order to try and fulfil our ambition of building businesses that want to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.

As for the Two Feet program where I’ll be spending most of my time, I am so excited to go out and talk to entrepreneurs about what we deliver. I know with supreme confidence that they are being guided not only by some of the brightest minds in the world, but also by people who have been there, done that and know just how challenging it is to start and run a business that wants to do something more than make money.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of the ride.

Ben

YuMi Tourism Partners (Alotau) – Milne Bay Organics

“Coconut has been incredibly embedded in the Milne Bay tradition – from the food consumption through to the traditional dancing.” Last year, the YuMi pilot program took us to Alotau in Papua New Guinea, where we worked with difference maker, Rhona.

Indigenous tourism is key to economic recovery

Long-time friend, and associate of TDi, Ash Bartley has just started a new role with Visit Victoria.  We caught up with her recently to celebrate her new role and ask about the opportunity for Indigenous tourism in Australia’s economic recovery.

YuMi Tourism Partners (Alotau) – VilLink Tours & Expeditions PNG

“With what I’m doing, I want to encourage the other young women out there, that they can also have the chance to make a difference.  Not only in earning money, but sharing what they know, and getting other communities involved.”

Flexible and responsive coaching is key to sustaining women’s economic empowerment during a crisis

While each business owner faces their own set of challenges in response to the uncertainty and upheaval of COVID-19, we are observing a series of consistent coaching requirements emerge.

When life gives you lemons… pivot your business model

Nemika Brunton is based in Alotau, Papua New Guinea.  We met her during the YuMi Tourism Partners Pilot program.  The program addressed starting small, testing and learning, and how to adapt and respond to market needs.  These lessons have certainly helped Nemika shift her business focus in response to COVID-19. Tourism is a key industry for the town and many of the local businesses were tourism based.  So, the impact of COVID-19 hit the town hard.  Many locals – including Nemika – have adapted quickly to totally new businesses and customers.

Supporting Social Enterprise during COVID-19

Following a tumultuous year of bushfires, COVID-19 and recent floods in Southern NSW, lots of small businesses and the families and communities they serve, are doing it tough.  One way we’ve seen people showing their support for these local businesses is through the #shoplocal #shopvictoria and #buyfromthebush movements.  We’ve been inspired by this and wanted to share a #shopsocialenterprise guide based on some of the businesses we’ve been working with over the last 18 months.

Resilience, at what cost?

Over the past six months we as a team have navigated our own business and helped hundreds of others to do the same. We went from having a clear business model and ready to write our best year ever to having nothing as certain and many parts of our own business model under threat.

Finding motivation to continue business during COVID-19

As the current economic climate evolves with COVID-19, we have been sharing some perspective from both our own work and the continual conversations and support we’re offering others. Initially, we shared a metaphor about what this first felt like – like our house was...

Pivoting during COVID: responses from Fiji

Recently, we caught up with Deb Sadranu at Essence of Fiji to see how things are going for her, her business, and Fiji in the face of COVID-19.  Tourism is a key industry for Fiji, and Essence of Fiji usually serves the tourists. As a result of COVID-19, Deb’s whole business model has pivoted from predominantly local, in-store sales, to predominantly international, online sales.

A letter to my daughter about Black Lives Matter and racial inequality

Dear Willow,  I’m writing to you because I want to share some rumblings in my gut that have troubled me.  You are at an age now, where it is time for you to step into a conversation that for us as Australians is long overdue. I have tried to teach you about love,...