Interview · Jane Martino of Shout and Smiling Mind

Creative People

26th July, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Friday 26th July 2013

Jane Martino of  in her Melbourne office.  Photo - .

Jane Martino and the  start-up team hard at work last month, leading up to the Shout launch! Photo - .

The amazing  APP!  Designed by Melbourne branding and communications agency , and built and developed by digital agency .

The amazing  APP!  Designed by Melbourne branding and communications agency , and built and developed by .

I tell you what. I've met a LOT of seriously amazing people since starting this little old blog. Celebrated Australian artists, and respected local designers. The most driven and determined entrepreneurs, not to mention some of the most incredible creative businesswomen who practise the magic art of balancing business and family. But today's interviewee is truly and without exaggeration one of the most inspiring, high-achieving, generous and completely down-to-earth creative entrepreneurs I've come across on this journey. Jane Martino is a woman of many talents, and I am constantly in awe of just how much she has achieved in her 36 years on the planet. This is a woman who seriously knows how to GET THINGS DONE.

Jane started her first business,  at just 26. She built this respected marketing company from the ground up, and now, 10 years later, it's still going strong with 25 staff. Somewhere inbetween all that incredible business growth, Jane also found time to have three children, boys each born a year apart! In the early days Jane balanced business and family with the incredible support of her husband Matt, who took on the role of stay-at-home Dad when the kids were younger.  These days Jane doesn't work at Undertow day to day, but sits on the board, overseeing major decisions and direction for the company.

Since stepping away from the day to day running of Undertow, however, Jane hasn't exactly slowed down! Last year she launched , a not-for-profit initiative co-founded with Melbourne entrepreneur James Tutton, which offers modern meditation for young people, delivered via an amazing free  and also via the Smiling Mind .  Since launching in October 2012, the Smiling Mind app has had over 50,000 downloads.  Jane's ultimate vision for Smiling Mind is to have mindfulness meditation on the Australian Curriculum by 2020. If anyone can do it, these guys can!

But Jane's most impressive and inspiring project to date actually launched just this month, after more than a year of feverish planning and development. If you ask me, it's nothing short of GENIUS. The kind of genius that has real potential to change the world.

(or 'Shout', for short!) is based around the use of mobile and online channels to facilitate regular, small value donations to charity, tied to everyday items and activities. In the same spirit that you would 'shout' your friend a coffee at your favourite cafe, or buy your mate a beer at the football, the Shout app allows you to consider shouting a small value donation to your favourite charity regularly, wherever you are, and whatever you're doing.

'Our aim is to revolutionise fundraising' says Jane. 'We want to make this form of micro donation second nature, by shifting the way people see giving, and change the world for the better. At the end of the day we are asking for people to change their behaviour, it is a big ask but we want to give it a try!'.

And this, dear readers, is where you come in. Please join us in our 24 hour FLASH FUNDRAISER!  

TDF X SHOUT FLASH FUNDRAISER - $10k FOR LIGHTHOUSE FOUNDATION!

Around 30,000 people will read today's TDF post. In the spirit of Shout's philosophy that 'a lot can happen from a little', we are inviting YOU to shout the value of your morning coffee to help us raise $10,000 in ONE DAY! We're dedicating this fundraiser to the , which provides homeless young people who come from backgrounds of neglect and abuse with a home and a sense of family.

WHO'S WITH US?  

1) Download the Shout app directly from the iTunes store , OR  to set up an account and pledge online straight from your computer.

2) Click on 'The Lighthouse Foundation' when asked to choose which charity.

3) Pledge a 'TDF Coffee' for $4.90 (or more, if you feel so inclined!).

Today's FLASH FUNDRAISER runs from 6.00am today until 6.00am tomorrow, Saturday 27th July.  

If 2041 TDF readers join us with just one shout today, we'll reach our target of $10,000!

We'll give you regular updates via social media today to let you know how we're tracking!  AND once you've pledged, you can let your friends know by uploading the insta-square below to your Instagram account and tagging it with @thedesignfiles @shoutforgood #tdfshoutforgood.

THANK YOU in advance! Please consider your SHOUT a small contribution for the content you read here each day :) We can do this! x

Tell us a little bit about your background – what did you study, and what path led you to what you’re doing today?

Firstly, I think whatever you study is only ever an initial stepping stone. You make a decision about study when you are so young and may not be completely in touch with who you are and what is truly important. It is something that I am very passionate about these days in explaining to young people I meet that there are so many aspects to your life, so many opportunities to change direction and therefore not to get caught up in the hype of high school, tertiary study and feeling that if it does not feel right you cannot change it – you always can!

On that note, I studied a Bachelor of Arts (Public Relations) at RMIT and majored in Psychology. To be honest it was the major as well as my Literature subject that I always enjoyed the most, which was potentially a hint at the time that longer term I would not be working in PR/media.

Regardless of where you start, that is your gift – the lessons learnt and the people met are what start you on your path. This is why I would never regret any part of it. It is just the beginning, just like the start of a board game. Something that is an obligatory part of the process but a place you may never see or connect with again by the time you reach the end! Unless you are playing Monopoly I guess and keep passing go to collect your money!

Even at school I really believed in grabbing life by the throat. Whoever says there is not enough time in the day just is not making the most of the minutes going by! So this continued at university with me studying part of my degree on exchange at the University of Florida and I worked three jobs in the lead up to moving there – and still ate canned food for the last few weeks of my stay when the money ran out!

I have always believed that hard work will get you everywhere. I have not been afraid of it and it has never been about the money for me. I always worked part-time jobs, but also did a lot of work experience for little or no pay – the absolute best way to discover what you really love doing with no strings attached!

My first job was working for Margaret Porritt at Feathers. I remember meeting her and admiring her drive, motivation and strength and quickly identified her as a wonderful potential mentor. I proactively approached her for a role in the head office in Marketing/PR and she quickly replied that until I worked ‘the floor’ I would not be working at head office. But hadn’t I just worked in retail all through high school and university? Wasn’t that enough? Didn’t I now deserve a ‘grown up job’? Not according to Maragret, because until I knew the customers and really understood the business I was of no value to her or the head office. What an amazing insight! Still to this day I think about the importance of knowing and understanding your customer/standing in their shoes and I apply it to every one of my ventures. And still to this day I credit Margaret as one of my most influential mentors.

From here I moved into Brand Manager/PR roles for a beauty brand and then into the property sector. I registered the business name during this time as I always knew I wanted my own business (or correction my father who worked for the same company for more than 30 years always told me I should!) and I loved the meaning behind the name (the current beneath the surface was stronger than what was above), I was just waiting for the right time. I met Matt in 2002 and he encouraged me to make the jump.

Ten years later, and is still going strong with 25 staff and consumer clients spanning many sectors. I now have no operational involvement in the business but sit on the board and have been lucky enough to see many of the staff who have been with the business for five or more years, progress through the business – the CEO started there over seven years ago as an account manager! How ace is that?!

You’ve achieved so much in the past few years having launched Undertow Media at 26, and have since gone to have a family of three boys, as well as launching not for profit initiatives including Smiling Mind and commercial for-purpose enterprise Shout for Good. What drove you to move away from marketing and start working on these inspired new ventures?

About four years ago life at home and work was hectic, although I had a husband at home who was (and still is!) an absolute wonder, it was time for him to have some focus on his passion rather than it being all about mine. Simultaneously, I had started meditating and it became clearer and clearer to me that I needed a change and that it was not only me who would benefit but our family and also the business as a result.

This was the beginning of my fascination and admiration for meditation and its ability not only to support people’s wellbeing but also align them more closely with their true purpose.

I also believe this is what has consistently led me to the right people, places and projects that allow me to combine the skills I have with the things that are important to me and allow me to create change.

For those who aren’t yet familiar with Smiling Mind can you give us a little run down on what Smiling Mind does and how your involvement in the project came about?

is what we describe as ‘modern meditation for young people’ – actually the guided meditation programs start at seven years of age and move right up to adults so we cater for everybody, however, our major focus is young people.

The idea was really a meeting of hearts and minds between co-founder, James Tutton and myself. We have known each other for many years and both believe in the positive impact of meditation on all aspects of life. We met over a cup of tea about 18 months ago and were both seeking to connect young people with positive preemptive mental health tools centering around mindfulness meditation – it was serendipitous and made sense to combine our efforts, two heads are always better than one and it has been such a great ride!

As a not for profit organisation, we supply these programs to individuals and schools completely free of charge. All programs are delivered online via an , or podcasts. Since launching in October 2012, we have had over 50,000 downloads and regular users of our programs. Of the 2,000 wellness apps on the app store Smiling Mind is now ranked 8th and we have had over 1,000 downloads of our schools program nationwide. We are recognised and promoted as a resource by Headspace, Red Cross Australia and Reachout.com and will have results of our evidence based research partnership with Monash University released later this year.

Most importantly we are consistently told by people young and old, how much the programs assist them, that is why we do what we do – our ultimate vision is to have mindfulness meditation on the Australian Curriculum by 2020, I honestly believe we will achieve it.

Shout is your latest venture and is such an incredibly unique concept, how did this idea first come about, how long has it been in development and what are your hopes for Shout?

My husband came up with the idea while working with the . Disappointed with conventional fundraising and the limitations so many not for profits experience (including the fact his wife was now running one and experiencing the challenges first-hand!), he conceived the idea of .

Shout is based around use of mobile and online channels to facilitate regular, smaller value donations tied to everyday items and activities.

Our aim is to revolutionise fundraising. We want to make this form of micro donation second nature, by shifting the way people see giving and change the world for the better. Our big goal is to build the brand Shout into a trusted brand that becomes the ‘Facebook’ of giving. At the end of the day we are asking for people to change their behaviour, it is a big ask but we want to give it a try, I guess because we have seen first hand that a lot can happen from a little and we want to see if we can apply that elsewhere, !

's marketing manager Stephanie demonstrates the app to Eve and I during our visit.  Very impressive  - and such cute graphics!  Photo - .
When we crossed paths earlier this year at the Clare Bowditch's Big Hearted Business conference there was a lot of talk of your efficiency in running multiple ventures while raising a family. Do you have a secret tip or system for time management and productivity?

I sure do, these tips are not so much secrets, but have definitely assisted me on my path:

1. Do things straight away. This means don’t procrastinate – just do it and don’t put off – it won’t go away, no matter how much you want it to, the only way to cross it off the list is to complete it. So often we spend more time thinking about how we do not want to do something…and by the time we finish thinking that, we could have done it!

2. Be organised. An organised life and mind is an efficient mind, meaning you have more capacity and feel in your power.

3. Your environment can have impact on your efficiency. A tidy organised environment makes for a productive day. Visual drama can be distracting and gets in the way of the task at hand.

4. Empathise. Always look at things from other people’s perspectives. This will get you where you need to be with both people and tasks far quicker. Whether it is the intern, the courier or the CEO treat them all the same and always attempt to understand others – it helps you understand yourself better, which will naturally make you more efficient as you will be far more aware of your blind spots.

5. Work. The saying, ‘There is no escalator for success, you have to take the stairs’ is true. I honestly believe you must be prepared to work and put in the time, enjoy the process and then look back at your immense growth at the end of it all.

6. Hire help. Ask for and hire help when you need it, do not try to do it all but recognise what you are good at and where your time is best spent. This is an investment in your efficiency as well as your sanity.

7. Balance. Healthy mind, healthy body, healthy emotions make you more efficient and able to handle the bumps that are bound to come. Your mind is your most important tool so protect and respect it – meditate!

Jane's amazing inspiration board, created by her partner Matt.  LOVE IT!  Photo - .
What does a typical day in the life of the Jane Martino involve?

I am usually awoken by one of three things, my innate personal alarm clock that seems to know when it is 5.30am, my mini human alarm clock who rarely sleeps past 6am or my actual alarm clock that very rarely is used these days!

I love walking our dog Pip at this time and usually try to squeeze some exercise in here as I alternate with Matt as to whose on 'walking duty’, which also buys one of us some me time.

By 8.30am breakfast is done, school bags are ready and everyone is dressed. School drop off is at 8.45am, which Matt or I will do depending on meetings.

At the moment, my typical day (in the lead up to launching Shout!) usually involves back-to-back meetings. Building an app, signing up charity partners, developing marketing plans and recruiting and training staff.

As well as having the current role of CEO of Shout, I am on the Board of Smiling Mind, Undertow Media and . Although the roles are strategic, they of course require some time and headspace each month.

I try and to get home on or before 6pm so we can eat dinner together as a family and tell each other our ‘3 great things’ from the day. By 8pm dinner is done, readers are read, days debriefed, teeth brushed, lunches made and bags packed to get a head start on tomorrow, the kids are asleep.

At the moment, I might then go back to work in my study to catch up on the day. Crazy I know, but at the moment in the thick of the launch of a start-up I can work until 1am and then just start all over again the next day. When things are ‘normal’ I like to spend more of this time with Matt and get to bed around 10.30pm. Date night happens every Thursday night no matter what to stay connected and sane (well as sane as I will ever be!). I also try to keep weekends as free from work as possible so even if there are late nights through the week there is downtime on the weekends.

Which local creative people are you loving at the moment?

Love, love, love David at . I find his huge murals and street art as well as his mixed media works and watercolours completely captivating.

The guys at for their creative and fresh approach to branding and identity work. They created the Shout brand and are just all round geniuses!

Of course I would list my husband Matt and his business for his buildings, interiors, styling and occasional painting and event spaces.

who have taken the puffy vest, spray jacket and wet weather gear to a whole other level!

Can you list for us 5 specific resources across any media that you turn to when you're in a need of a bolt of creative inspiration?

Btslive of course! I look forward to it hitting my inbox every morning at around 7am.

for inspiring talks on all range of topics and ideas from everyday brilliant people. My two favourite talks are with and .

Any book about mindfulness, identifying your passion, or self-improvement from within – my bookshelf is basically a self-help library! My friends get a book every time they visit! I specifically love Ken Robinson’s Finding Your Element, you can check out the new edition .

Instagram as it allows everyone to be creative, to share and be inspired by the simplest things. You can follow me at .

is another resource I check out regularly. Ruth aka GourmetGirlfriend is an inspiring and passionate human being who shares her life, food and personal journey of raising five boys. It’s just ace!

What would be your dream creative project?

I absolutely love tea and have a great concept for a tea brand that makes people view and appreciate tea the same way that they do coffee. Maybe one day I will make it a reality!

To find a creative way in which to share my journey and experiences. I love to mentor and express the positivity around being yourself when doing business.

I would also like to create a lovely family retreat. By the beach, a memory catcher for our family’s life.

What are you looking forward to?

Our next family holiday somewhere warm.

MELBOURNE QUESTIONS

Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

Am going to be predictable here and say my own, Glen Iris. I love the Central Park, all the people I meet when I walk Pip and saying good morning to everyone that passes by, like most people, I love my home base. It is green, convenient and I love the sense of community and making an effort to be part of it.

I also love the micro-communities that exist everywhere that harbor and foster great people. From the local junior football coach, to the hard working, generous community groups, school committees and the friends you can make in an instant at the park. I think Melbourne has a generous sense of neighbourhood wherever you are located, as long as you are keen and open to being part of it!

What and where was the last great meal you had in Melbourne?

I love French food and is my favourite. It is literally French in its décor, style and food and reminds me of our honeymoon. was also amazing, very original with beautiful food – it’s the guys from and they are just so clever.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

At home with the family, with an early morning walk with the dog and usually one of the boys, with a pit stop for the papers and a coffee for Matt on the way home, as well as some croissants for us all!

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

For me it’s not the laneways, it’s the side streets. Gems of places that cling to established thoroughfares and foster creative side projects. Like Faraday Street, Carlton with and ; Beatty Avenue, Armadale with and ; and Gertrude Street, Fitzroy - okay it’s now more of a main drag but you get my drift!

The  APP!  Designed by , and built and developed by digital agency . Download the app TODAY to take part in our very own FLASH FUNDRAISER - we're aiming to raise $10k in one day for Lighthouse Foundation...!  If 2040 readers each shout a TDF Coffee to the cause ($4.90) we will reach our target!
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