Helping people help themselves

| March 8, 2017

Every year, Australian CEOs help the regular vendors sell The Big Issue magazine, which supports and gives job opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people. Richard Lindley, CEO of Realview, came away from the challenge with a big appreciation of the courage and drive the vendors show every day.

Recently, I took part in The Big Issue’s CEO Selling Challenge, where Aussie CEOs don a high vis vest, cap and satchel full of the latest edition of the magazine to support our disadvantaged and homeless population to raise the profile of the magazine that helps people help themselves.

The initiative is celebrated in International Vendor Week annually, encouraging other business owners or leaders like myself to take time out of their day-to-day to hits the streets and spread the word and increase sales.

The social enterprise’s model means they sell issues to vendors for $3.50 and then sell to their customers for $7.00, keeping the profits. These people are not asking for a handout – they are choosing to work – and that’s very commendable.

Although I have participated in the Selling Challenge once before, the confronting nature of approaching strangers and the rejection that goes with it was still definitely daunting. But the uplifting interactions when someone did stop to buy a copy of the magazine was really exciting and rewarding.

My vendor partner, Scott, supported me throughout the selling session. His pride in the product, knowledge of our selling patch and tips and tricks to getting people to stop was priceless. His dedication and enthusiasm were just some of the admirable qualities I got to see in a young man who is trying to make his life better.

I came away from the day with a big appreciation of the courage and drive the vendors show, the worthwhile experiences they have when connecting with people in their community and how forging long lasting relationships with regulars continue to see them return to the streets time and time again.

Realview issues the digital edition of the magazine through our publishing technology platform. Vendors buy and sell a scratch card that allows the customer to access the online version of that fortnight’s issue. Plans are underway to optimise the current version for mobile users and we’re excited to see how the magazine’s loyal customers will continue to interact and support the magazine when the new system goes live.

To get a taste of my experience, please watch this short video here.

I encourage you to get involved next year and experience the rush of taking part in a very rewarding event, while also raising awareness and the profile of such a worthwhile and inspiring enterprise.