The Speech That Started It All


For today’s post I thought I’d share the speech I gave at the launch of LIFEHACK. (Sadly I wasn’t able to get it recorded, but I think this does the trick…)


If you told me that I’d be sharing the stage with government officials 6 months ago, I would have laughed at you… but here I am – a bit nervous, but mostly really excited, to be able to reveal the project that we’ve been shaping for the last few months.

After convincing MSD that we could do things differently; that we could disrupt the status quo, and help to create real grassroots changes – here we are, on the edge of making it a reality.

And it’s this moment, this ability to create something, to share something, to involve other people; it’s a moment like this that we want to create for many other young New Zealanders.


We want to combat mental health issues faced by young kiwis – And we have a plan; we think it’s a pretty good one.

I believe that youth know youth problems better than anyone else. So why not give them a chance to solve them?

Having been involved with Startup Weekend, a global initiative that helps entrepreneurs fast track their ideas into reality in a quick 48 hours of building and testing, I’ve seen for myself that when you get the right mix of people in a room; the right energy, the right motivation, and some time pressure, amazing things can happen – and usually do!

And this is what really excites me!

So, looking to these models for inspiration and combining my belief that young people have the answers to the problems faced by other young people; our plan has taken shape…

So that’s what we’re doing. We’re looking for hipsters, hackers and hustlers to combine their creative strengths for 48 hours. To produce radical strategies, new technologies, and media solutions that will change the way people perceive, navigate and act towards youth mental health – the best of which will make it into our two month lab.


We call them Lifehackers.

It may not have been a name that I would have come up with myself. And perhaps it isn’t a name that you’d expect from a government funded project, where often everything feels a bit too safe. But we need innovative thinking, we need fresh ideas, and we need to really connect with our young people, if we’re ever going to be able to help them.


So, the best bit so far is that at every level of this project, we’ve remained true to our belief. We haven’t made assumptions. We haven’t tried to create a solution, without involving those for whom this solution is being created.

Even the naming of this project has involved young people. They told us that if we want to make this work, then even the name, and the way it looks would need to have a forward moving energy, that it would need to attract doers, that it needed to be challenging, disrupting and a bit unexpected. They told us that they wanted it to be youthful, but not cliché. That they were tired of ‘grown ups trying to be cool’, ‘talking down to them’, and ‘not thinking they could do anything for themselves’.

To Lifehack in the world of youth and technology, means anything that solves an everyday problem, in a non-obvious way. In short, it means to make life easier.


And tackling this seemingly overwhelming challenge doesn’t have to be a chore, we can have a lot of fun doing it. We can play, and create. We can use the tools we’re already familiar with. Our digital devices, our social media networks, our natural ability to bond with technology in a way that our parents, and dare I say, many of you in the room tonight, simply can’t.

You may be surprised to know that we don’t know what is going to happen at each LIFEHACK Weekend. We don’t know what ideas will come out, what the Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers will create together, but we do know that it can’t stop here.

LIFEHACK is not your typical government funded initiative that will keep coming back with our hand out. We want to make these ideas a reality. We want to work with the Mental Health community to have them tested, and implemented, and actually put into practice.


And going back to my Startup roots, we want to tap into our entrepreneurial spirit, and to market our greatest resource to the world. Our ingenuity, our can do attitude, our ability to see challenges, not problems. We want to be a true Social Enterprise. Make no mistake about it, LIFEHACK is a business. The most important business there is. A business that sees beyond just fiscal profit, and truly values the impact on people, and planet in everything we do.

We want to build the future that we want to live in.

I’ve already assembled an incredibly well connected team of thinkers, believers and doers with plenty of passion and energy: Sam Rye, Renea Mackie, Thomas Mitchell, Hilary Robotham. Our creative and comms team, Curative, Allen Huang and Georgy. AND all of the young people that have been involved in brainstorming, photos, and feedback thus far.

We’re also being guided by our impressive advisory board, who have all rallied around the idea of LIFEHACK and bring a wealth of skills and experience.

They are: Simon Harger Forde, Jimi Hunt, Minnie Baragwanath, Terry Fleming, Guy Ryan and Kenina Court. I’d also like to acknowledge MSD, who have backed LIFEHACK from the start, even when they openly tells us how scared they are!


So now, we’re inviting you to join us. To think differently. To believe in our young people, and to help up as we LIFEHACK away today’s problems, and work towards a better future.

Our dream is big, and to truly achieve what we want – no, need to achieve… We need you – Partners. Investors. Shakers and Movers. Changemakers and Do-ers.

If you want to be involved, if you believe what we believe, or if you just have questions that need answering, come and find me tonight.

Or visit our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… and a few other social media spots. And if you can’t find us, ask your kids. Something tells me, they’ll be able to figure it out.



I’ll continue my regular LIFEHACK updates on Friday, along with some funnies we’ve found during the application process.



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