The Essence of Movember | The idea for Movember started over a conversation between me, my brother and a good friend on a Sunday afternoon in Melbourne, Australia, really, and it was over a few beers and they were talking about re-occurring trends and how pretty much everything manages to cycle back into fashion. And then the conversation turned to why has the moustache, which was a fashion icon in many parts of the world back in the 70s and 80s, had never made a comeback. So the challenge was set in 2003 to just bring back the moustache and the rules were defined to start the challenge to grow a moustache in 30 days. Now Mo is slang for moustache in Australia, so November was renamed Movember. So there were 30 of us that rose to the challenge that year. For me personally it was just for fun and as a social experiment. All of us were surprised by the amount of conversation that growing a moustache created.
The Evolution of Movember | It was 2004 and the idea evolved; we started to make it formally about men’s health and we started to research it… and we found that prostate cancer is essentially the male equivalent of breast cancer in terms of the number of men who are diagnosed and sadly the number of men that pass from it, and there was really nothing for that cause on any large scale, so we decided to make Movember about men’s health and from a funding point of view, specifically about prostate cancer… so what started as something fun has certainly evolved into a global movement and a serious funder of those causes. What we realized along this journey was we took a really disruptive approach to how to get men engaged in their health, to how to get them talking about their health and also fundraising.
The Importance of Lifestyle | We’ve got a really big push now towards educating men around preventative health measures and letting them know that their diet, their lifestyle and how physically fit and active they are influence so much of their health in later years. And depending on the type of cancer, 60-80 percent of your likelihood of getting cancer is influenced by your lifestyle.
Starting Conversations | Raising the funds are great and will have a future impact, but the conversations are changing and saving lives today. And we know that from, you know, emails and phone calls we get… from guys saying [they] went home at the end of Movember [and] had a discussion with their father and for the first time ever discussed men’s health, prostate cancer and, in some cases, the guys then challenge their dad and they went then and get screened and found out he has prostate cancer. And captured it early. So that moustache, that conversation then changed the course of that man and that family’s life… growing a moustache for 30 days, it’s tough. It generates a lot of conversations; you have to explain yourself a lot. Yeah, you don’t have to shave it as much, but the conversations are hard but important.
Motivating Through Fun, Not Fear | We’re a very brand-centric organization, and we don’t motivate people by fear. The vast majority of non-profits do. The typical not-for-profit that is supporting prostate cancer will say something like, “1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer… it’s the number one killer of men; we need to do something about this so therefore grow a moustache in November and raise funds.” We’ve never ever approached and will never approach Movember that way. Our tag line is “Changing the Face of Men’s Health.” We want to change attitudes and get them evolved, because they want to, and they do it because they’re having fun.
On Leadership | Leadership, holistically, is about finding some sort of vision for an organization or a group of people. Essentially, what you want to achieve and by when, and then it’s about creating a plan of how you’re going to get there. And leadership is about motivating the people who are a part of that group or team to achieve that vision. And leadership is a lot about understanding the people in your team, how to motivate them, how to charge them, how to drive them.
The Keys to Success | We always say at Movember there is no silver bullet. There is not one thing that we do in a particular campaign that makes it successful. It’s a combination of so many elements. And we’ve got the process and the campaigns down pretty well now, so what it’s about is making incremental improvements across every element of the campaign, and really testing those things and trying new things.
Principles I Live By | The most important thing along the way is just making sure you’re having fun and enjoying what you’re doing and happiness is the ultimate, personally and collectively. So you know, having fun. One of the mottos in the Australian Special Forces was Dare to Win. And I still live by that. It’s, dare to go out there and try things, because those who dare will succeed.