Why knowledge is dangerous – You can’t undo knowing there is a solution to a world problem
Alison Covington is an innovator, social entrepreneur, founder & MD of Good360 Australia. Good360 is a matchmaker, helping repurpose items of value by directing them to Australians most in need.
Passionate about equality and reducing waste, Alison founded Good360 Australia because she saw a gap in the market where businesses did not have a solution to donate surplus brand-new, non-perishable goods to charities and disadvantaged schools in a seamless way at scale. Australian businesses have an estimated $1.92bn of new goods to donate annually and required a system to create a positive impact on the environment by reducing waste.
Since 2015, Alison has been responsible for businesses donating $140M+ of goods, including BIG W, Colgate, King Living, L’Oréal Australia, Harvey Norman, LEGO and Best & Less and matching 14 million items to over 2,000 charities and schools across Australia.
Alison’s goal is simple – deliver $1bn of brand-new goods to Australians in need by 2025.
She’s a total legend and I’m so, so proud to have her featured as one of our Noted Woman Entrepreneurs.
Bringing Good360 to Australia
I couldn’t undo knowing that there was a solution to a problem, knowledge is dangerous.
If you are a person who is a doer then you can’t leave things be.
When most of the population didn’t even know there was a problem that needed fixing I decided it was my mission to let everyone know that it was a BIG problem and we all needed to get REALLY passionate about fixing it.
You really have to feel sorry for everyone caught up in the whirlwind around me. Can you imagine the life my poor husband has keeping up with my intense need to keep fixing things? Lucky he is a patient man.
It is now my mission to educate everyone that waste is more than food, we need to match all goods to people in need, if it isn’t sold it needs a first life, yes we need to recycle our used goods and food but I really need everyone to know the size and scale of the non-food goods that didn’t get sold and need a first life.
Watch out I am ready to get on my soapbox.
Community in a perfect world
It’s all about sharing. Community in a perfect world is the sharing of knowledge, time & resources – people working together for a world of equality.
That is why I am so passionate about Good360 being the matchmaker of spare goods, creating the opportunity for businesses to give spare new goods to the community to lift them up. Good for business, people and planet.
Imagine a world where we had the opportunity to learn more about the cultures of our neighbours, we spend so much time being busy, there are so many lost opportunities.
It is ironic that we crave to travel the world to learn the experience of other cultures and many are in our own communities and we are not spending the time to listen, ask and share.
What matters most
Doing what makes me happy and with the people I enjoy being with and trust. I am fortunate I have been able to create the opportunities to work with people I enjoy working with, sometimes I listen to people talk about their work or personal lives and I am amazed at how little control people have about who they spend time with or what they will put up with.
Maybe it comes with age, but I want to be happy and not miserable by the people I spend time with. I often say to people who are unhappy with a friend or relationship, people are in your life for a reason, season or lifetime, work it out and life will be much easier and more filling.
Work life balance and inequality
I think it depends who you ask? If you are privileged and have choice maybe yes, I have it worked out reasonably well because I have been able to create choices in my life to do this. I am a white middle aged woman.
Even though I am a first-generation Australian I have never faced racism, I blend in, my parents were from England. We spoke the language and our skin although very pale didn’t stand out. Therefore, we didn’t face racism and bias that other people settling into Australia did and still do.
I did not have wealthy parents but have been able to create my own employment opportunities most probably because I didn’t face any inherent bias as I stumbled through life. I like to explain to my children they do not understand issues of racism and inequality because they have never faced them.
As second-generation Australians if they had different colour skin, they may not be as lucky. They have never been hungry or feared homelessness.
So, for these reasons, I couldn’t begin to answer, do we have work life balance figured out?
There are many Australians who live in poverty, they do not have food or housing security, many do not have work. There is inequality on so many levels, if so many people in our lucky country are just trying to survive, they certainly don’t have balance.
Misconceptions about success
One of the biggest misconceptions about success is that you have to work in an office from 9-5. I think COVID-19 has really helped to change a lot of people’s misconceptions about this.
We should all be trusted to get the job done, it is output and the quality, not the time spent sat around looking like you are working.
Each person has a style and pace that works for them, their teams etc this should be taken into consideration.
If you trust people and give them the tools to do the job and be the best person they can, it doesn’t have to be in a traditional 9-5 work setting. Empower people and they will produce their best work.
A strong sense of purpose
I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. It is cliché but when you find your purpose you don’t feel like you are working a day in your life. I love every day, our team is 100% passionate, driven, we all drink from the same kool-aid.
It puts perspective in your life, a greater sense of being – you know you are contributing to something bigger than yourself.
When COVID-19 hit we were still in the trenches of the Summer Bushfires, we needed to act quick, there was a lot of uncertainty around how big COVID would turn out to be, the health, financial/economic impact. I gathered the team and told them there will be a lot of uncertainty about the health implications, job losses and lockdowns.
We know we can help businesses, charities and Australians, we are cloud based, we can work remotely, we can use our partners logistic infrastructure. Our strong sense of purpose and leadership enabled us to lead from the front and we delivered 200% growth in support to Australians most in need. Our purpose and commitment to it has been evident and ensures we continued to scale exponentially.
Self care for female entrepreneurs
Start with a strong sense of self belief, trust yourself and then after you have done that, ask for help. It is okay not to have all the answers. Together they all sound counter intuitive, but I find so many women don’t believe in themselves and they should be strong, proud and backing themselves, there is too much self-sabotage and it is mentally and physically draining.
The life of an entrepreneur is a roller-coaster, so we need to be strong and believe in ourselves (and each other). Reaching out to someone who has or is on a similar journey is great, it is awesome to know you are not the only crazy person in the room (world).
If you are rocking in a corner, you will not be the first person to do it, it is enlightening to compare experiences. I spend plenty of timing rocking in a corner and then get up and create some more magic, all in the day of an entrepreneur.
Prioritisation, family first
Everyone knows I am 100% passionate about Good360 however, I always say to the team, family first. If they need time off due to personal circumstances, it is a family first policy. We love our job but to be happy and good in our job we need to know our family comes first when they need us.
I am extremely focussed and good at time management, I don’t have any real issues prioritising the long to do list every day, it is just my normal. One thing that I have learned over the years is to play to your strengths, know what you are good at and don’t spend time on the things you are not, if someone in your team (or family) can do it quicker.
If you can ensure you use this mindset and your team uses this mindset and doesn’t see it as a weakness but a strength you will achieve more collectively.
My husband and I also make a great team. I wouldn’t be able to achieve anything that I do without the same team attitude at home. We play to our strengths, not the traditional wife/female & husband/male roles. It’s great for our children to see this as well.
Chocolate, it is just so nice, being in my boys faces more than they probably want me to be, I love COVID-19 lockdown, they can’t escape me. They are teenagers, when they were toddlers, they were hanging off me all the time and as a busy working mum I kept asking myself how do I do all of this?
Now they are young men ready to go out into the big world. I struggle with how fast the time has gone and that they are not hanging off me anymore. I am proud they are confident and ready to take on the world, but it is still a struggle not to be in their face like they were always in mine.
Leadership is about enabling and guiding. I would hope that I inspire and motivate the people I lead to be the best people they can be. To stretch themselves and believe they are capable of doing anything they put their minds to.
At Good360 we have been a lean and nimble team with a fast growth business. I have pushed the team by setting goals that seemed unachievable and when we smashed these goals, the sense of pride and self belief is indescribable. Now the team set goals that even I think are unachievable – they are pushing themselves harder – it is exciting to see the personal growth.
It makes me really proud to see how much we all grow by pushing ourselves, creating a sense of self belief and not fearing failure.