Monday, May 19, 2014

on being serious

citation needed!

Adam Garone is from Melbourne.

In 2003, he was having a drink in a pub with his mates.

They were laughing about ridiculous 1970’s fashions: huge platform shoes, flared-trousers, flower-pattern shirts, long droopy moustaches.

But however ridiculous the fashion was, it always made a come back.

Except moustaches.

Sure, people grew beards, or goatees, or soul-patches.

But old-fashioned moustaches just looked too ridiculous.

Then, as things will over a few beers, this ended up as a challenge.

They challenged each other to grow moustaches.

When their other mates heard, they wanted to join in, too.

So Adam organised it amongst thirty of his friends.

He made rules, turned it into a race, and had prizes for the best and worst moustaches.

The main rule was, see what you could grow in a month.

The competition was such a success they decided to do it again.

This time they chose November.

And they collapsed the words ‘moustache’ and ‘November’ together.

And renamed it Movember.

But rather than waste it, Adam decided to do it for a charity.

Raise money by getting people to sponsor the moustache growers.

And because it was moustaches, it would have to be a male charity.

He found prostate cancer killed as many men as breast cancer killed women, it was a perfect fit.

Woman had lots of sponsored fun-events for breast cancer.

This would be the first sponsored fun-event for prostate cancer.

So he met with the prostate cancer charity and asked if Movember could partner with them.

They said no.

They said they wanted to be seen as a serious charity and such a silly stunt could make them look trivial.

That year Adam Garone got 450 men to grow moustaches and raised $54,000.

Which he donated to prostate cancer research.

The next year he got 9,000 men to grow moustaches and they raised $1.2 million.

Which he donated to the same charity.

The year after that, 56,000 men grew moustaches and raised $6.7 million.

By 2009, 450,000 men had grown moustaches and raised $77 million.

By 2011, men from 14 different countries had grown moustaches and raised $126 million.

Now, that very same prostate cancer charity that refused to partner with Movember were knocking on his door, ringing his phone, writing emails, desperate to be partners.

Movember became so huge that Adam Garone had to give up his day job to run it.

None of which would have happened if he’d listened to the people running the charity.

Because what they knew about was conventional wisdom.

But Adam Garone didn’t know about conventional wisdom.

He knew prostate cancer needed research, and research needs money.

And how you raise money is by lots of people joining in.

And people want to join in with things that are fun.

So, having a laugh wasn’t such a bad place to start after all.

By 2014, Movember had raised $300 million worldwide to fund research into prostate cancer.

That’s a lot more than the people who wanted to be taken seriously.

from Lizard's Ghost

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