Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, happy birthday dear Fre-esh…
Yes, October 1st was our birthday and we’ve turned the grand old age of eight! To celebrate, the Fresh Podcast this month interviews…me. Listen in to hear the Fresh story, along with comments from some of our members about why they love Fresh. But there’s so much to tell, I couldn’t squeeze it all into a podcast, so this month’s newsletter is also an interview with…me! Read on to learn why, eight years on, I’m still as passionate about Fresh as ever…
Eight years is a long time in business Darren – how do you feel about Fresh today?
Well, firstly, I don’t feel that it’s work. I started Fresh as a hobby, and it still gives me so much pleasure. I get to spend every day doing what I love, with people I like and admire.
And I don’t look at Fresh as my business – I see it as a partnership, where success is all down to the members and the community we’ve built. What I do have is the same passion I had on day one – the desire for members to be successful. If they thrive, then Fresh thrives.
What is it that has kept Fresh so successful?
The amazing sense of community – it’s my proudest achievement. We’re a community that wants to help its members grow, a community that understands the pressures of being a business owner, and ‘Thinks Fresh First’.
I love to support those in my community – almost all of what I spend on the business goes to Fresh members – business coaches, podcasters, communications, accountants and bookkeepers. I know that Fresh members take the same approach – they support each other and want to help those that help them. That’s the foundation of community, which is the secret of Fresh’s success.
What was the inspiration behind Fresh?
Actually, the inspiration was the negatives I kept hitting with other groups. I loved networking, don’t get me wrong, and knew how good it could be for my travel business. But the networking I was doing caused anxiety (will I have a referral to make this week?), stress (will my stats be good enough?) and sheer disgust (why am I in a group with a blatant homophobe?).
So I decided that if existing groups didn’t work for me, I’d create something that did. I knew I wanted to refer to people I know like and trust. And guess what – it worked for loads of other people too! More and more people joined us because they loved the vibe. One member said, ‘As soon as I walked in, I felt welcomed, I knew that this was my tribe’. I had great advice from good people, and as the tribe grew, I realised that we had really hit on something, and we opened hubs across Melbourne. Out of a negative came a massive positive.
You’re known as ‘His Royal Freshness’ – what do you bring to the organisation that you founded?
Where to start!
I love mentoring and coaching – I’m not saying I’m the world’s leading expert on networking, but I do have a lot of skills and experience to share. I know firsthand how to grow a business using networking – it’s a learned skill that I love sharing with others.
I bring passion to Fresh – I’m still just as excited by it as I was eight years ago. I love seeing businesses do well, seeing friendships blossom and businesses grow. I’m a networking evangelist – I truly believe that networking should be part of everyone’s business growth plans.
I bring the ability to delegate and choose the best person for the job. I know I can’t do everything myself – I’ve built a really strong team and I give them the ability to use their skills to keep Fresh strong and growing. Take Andrew Danby as an example – he’d been a member for four years when I asked him to join the team in Guest and Member Relations. He’s brilliant at the job, and I get to work with one of my best mates every day.
I bring the vision for the future – like when the pandemic hit, and I saw it as an opportunity to extend our reach to create Fresh National.
So, at the grand old age of eight – what keeps you enthusiastic about Fresh?
Number one is relationships. Fresh success isn’t about the amount of business passed, or the number of guests. It’s all about the connections between people. As a new member said to me: ‘I’m not joining for referrals, but to build a network of fellow business people.
It goes beyond business relationships too – I’ve made great friendships and seen it happen between members too. It’s not just within each hub, but across the entire Fresh network – we’re talking way beyond business relationships to lifelong connections.
Every day of my life now I am touched by Fresh – I speak to members every single day, and I’m doing business with people I love. If I’m ever in need of pepping up, a Fresh meeting will do it every time – the energy is immense.
What is your dream for Fresh over the next 8 years?
I dream that people will say that they have met their best client, their partner, or a great friend, through Fresh. I want Fresh to be the platform that brings people together. People who would not have met otherwise, but are so glad they did.