Episode 32 - Masami SatoAre you giving enough in your business? In this episode we talk B1G1. We're making conversations about giving count!
Masami Sato – CEO of B1G1
Making Conversations about Giving Count!
In this episode we’re making conversations about giving count.
When was the last time you gave, freely?
Not for tax reasons. And not because you felt awkward at a raffle.
We could all always do more,
This episode’s all about giving back.
Masami Sato is an incredibly inspirational woman.
Having moved on from a career in the catering industry, she’s gone on to set up one of the most highly respected and valuable initiatives in global business, B1G1.
B1G1 is all about setting up giving initiatives with businesses, to do business for good.
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Full Episode Transcript
Making Conversations Count – Episode Thirty-Two
May 27th 2021
Wendy Harris & Masami Sato
00:00:00: Wendy Woo’s Update
00:06:20: Businesses can do more
00:09:03: Simplest things that a small business can do
00:13:21: Food conversations to giving conversations
00:16:57: Masami’s pivotal conversation
00:21:11: Diversity of culture
00:22:49: Final conversation
Wendy Harris: What do you do when you see charity workers collecting in the street? Well, maybe you’ve been a bucket shaker on behalf of a charity? In this episode we’re making conversations about giving count.
What’s new Wendy Woo? Well launching the telephone influence quiz last week as a tool to help you see what areas you may need to improve on, I have to say thank you to everybody that has taken the test so far. It’s led to some wonderful exchanges on email and some conversations and a couple of one-to-ones in the diary; so, do look out for that on the makingconversationscount.com site.
It is super super exciting when we see the episodes being shared on social media to all of your friends, family and business colleagues. We’re going to have a sort of contest, we’re having some ideas here in the studio about how we can reward you, the listeners, for that; but more on that will come soon. We know that we are reaching the globe with this show and I’m just so super excited to have charted in Columbia, so thank you to the listeners in Columbia. Give us a shout out and we’ll mention you next time.
We received this review after Sarah Townsend’s episode last week from Matt in Warwick, “I just wanted to let you know I bought Sarah Townsend’s book Survival Skills for Freelancers. I loved the conversation you had, and I agree so much on the importance of outsourcing. If only I had a £1 for every person who told me they didn’t need any help, because I’d no longer have a job as I’m a freelance web designer”. Matt, I totally understand where you’re coming from, when people say they don’t need help picking up the phone, and yet then they don’t pick up the phone. Lots of pounds coming your way, Matt.
“Hi Wendy Woo, a question for you, who would you love most to have a conversation with and why?” Well, thank you, Don in Brighton for asking that question, you’ve had me scratching my head and whilst there’s a few people that I could think of, that’s a little bit like inviting, you know, people to a dinner party and having dinner with people that are either alive or not. But I think I’m going to answer with Michelle Obama, simply because she also puts conversations front and centre in all that she does, an incredible inspiration for women and for the world really. So, I can’t imagine what we would get talking about but I’m sure you’d want to be a fly on the wall, Don.
Now, it’s the time that you’ve all been waiting, time to introduce today’s guest Masami Sato of B1G1. Now, B1G1 stands for, “Buy one, give one”, and it’s a charity-based organisation where even business owners that are solopreneurs, single entrepreneurs can get involved and tick that box for corporate social responsibility.
Masami has travelled the world and seen where her knowledge and her humanity can help support in places where the economics are maybe suffering a little. There’s some great projects that they’re involved with, and I’ve certainly signed up myself to support Masami in her mission to be giving.
Masami Sato: B1G1 stand for an idea of buy one give one, and we create a world where everything businesses do makes a difference. So, you know, if you just imagine if every time you have a cup of coffee a child receives access to lifesaving water for a day, or every time you read a book then a tree gets planted or every time you go to see your healthcare provider then somebody else receives access to lifesaving medical for a day. So, this is the world of B1G1 where everything that happens in the world will create a tangible impact and we do this by helping businesses find ways to integrate effective giving in their business activities. So, since the starting in 2007, we’ve worked with thousands of businesses, and these businesses have already created more than 230 million giving impacts to date. So that’s B1G1.
Wendy Harris: 230 million impacts, that is incredible, Masami. You must be incredibly proud of what you’ve started there.
Masami Sato: Well, actually like rather than the feeling of proudness, I think this is — you know, the feeling of gratitude because B1G1 is an idea, you know, in 2007 and since then so many businesses have believed in this idea and joined us to actually make those impacts; and continue to give and that’s the result of that we call the power of small. Like small businesses, the small day to day actions of making a real impact in the word, so we feel very lucky to be able to do something like this and to work with and connect with so many amazing businesspeople around the world.
Wendy Harris: I would call that making conversations about impact count. I mean 230 million actions, that’s an awful lot of conversations that you’ve had and effecting an awful lot of change as well. Not just the business, I mean from a business corporate social responsibility point of view which is a key part of any business’s culture or if it’s not it really should be. I would really encourage people to have that conversation with you, Masami to say, “Right how would you want to make that change and how can we help you create it”.
Obviously, world domination has to be at the top of your agenda, to make this truly a global phenomenon that everybody gets involved with but what are you working on right now?
Masami Sato: Actually in 2020 was a very very interesting year because of course when we are working on something like giving initiative then Pandemic hit and so many businesses get affected by what was going on in the world. Then we experience like many different challenges during that time, but what we realised was quite quickly in mid-year, even though we were still dealing with the Pandemic, businesses were still challenged, but giving in B1G1 started to grow again and then we had actually record quarter in the last part of 2020. So, this really shows the kind of hope, you know, that actually there is so much desire to make a difference in the world and people want to do something. And so, moving forward we need to unite and come together to work more closely and then also to create greater impact because we actually don’t have so much time. If we think about really the sustainability of the world then we’ve got to be mobilising our businesses to do more and to make a more — you know, more of a difference.
So, looking at the things like the global goals, the sustainable development goals and how like we are coming together to make a meaningful difference in so many different areas of our world. I believe that the next decade is going to be the year of really scaling our effort by working with more businesses, bringing more causes in this platform and then to help create more meaningful impacts then do it faster. So, that’s kind of our ambition and plan coming forward, moving forward.
Wendy Harris: Well, this is true I mean I was only reading the other day, because we’ve not long had World Earth Day, it’s always been a topic of interest for me, you know sustainability in all things. Everything that we affect, or touch is something of importance and I was reading that just planting trees now is not going to be enough, which is — it’s a bit of a stock answer isn’t it. “Well, you know, if I’m going to buy a pack of toilet roll, they’ll plant a tree for me. It’s kind of not enough anymore, so I think it’s great that there are initiatives like yours, Masami, that will showcase and be a headline for what we do need to do, because much more does need to be done, I understand that.
I mean I’m a small business, there’s just — there’s me and my daughter works a little bit for me so what would be one of the simplest things that I could do as a business, that could make a change and pledge that to you today, Masami?
Masami Sato: There’s people in small business, like people running a small business, for example, may think that they would do something great one day, you know, when become more successful or when their business is bigger or — so it’s easy to postpone but we want to do to future time, and that’s like a very natural human behaviour. And so, but the thing is actually if we don’t try to do big thing and if we only identify little things that we can do, then doing those little things is not that difficult to do and it’s possible to do it.
So, the same thing happened to me when I was running my previous company, which was a food business before I started B1G1. I wanted to make a difference with my business, but then even though my business was growing, I felt that our company wasn’t ready to do something big. So, as a result we weren’t doing anything much, in terms of our global impact or community impact.
So, the idea of B1G1 is that instead of doing big thing, we help businesses to do little things, such as a food company might say, every meal we serve then we give a meal, or we educate a child, or we give healthcare for a day or — so they can identify the micro-impact that they can create on a day-to-day basis and make it part of business activities. You know, if a company’s doing something like a service-based business and not necessarily the product-based business, they don’t need to worry about doing B1G1 in the typical one-for-one way because it’s not really about giving what you are selling, TOMS Shoes, initial model of TOMS Shoes, but it’s about really identifying the business activities that happen and then embedding impact to those things.
So, for example, I, as a business owner, not only that our company gives but for every thing like, every meeting I have on Zoom I actually do something meaningful and that could be educating a child, helping educate a child or could be planting a tree or could be helping wildlife. So, actually anything is possible if we identify small things that we could do everyday and then make it happen. And then actually B1G1 project that we list start with just one cent, like or 10 cent or a few dollars or ten dollars, so if we are not worried about making a huge difference then making a little impact on a day-to-day basis is actually possible and not that hard.
Wendy Harris: There’s a few phrases that are running around my head right now and that is in England, certainly in the UK we have a saying, “Pay it forward”. I’m notorious at buying books, because I do believe that I only have one part of feet, so I only really should have two or three pairs of shoes, but books is kind of like my secret pleasure. I’m running out of bookshelf space, I really ought to pay forward the books that I’ve read on to somebody else, so that they get the benefit of it and that would make a big difference, and that’s almost coming to another phrase that I can think of which is like if you look after the pennies, the pounds look after themselves. That’s another sort of UKism that for every penny that you save if you do that 100 times you have a pound, which is something that you can put towards something.
It’ll make a difference once it grows and certainly in the UK, if I’m correct I know that we’re probably sort of owner/managed businesses is a huge population of businesses in the millions of people. If we all put together that would be more millions of actions towards a positive change, so I’m getting onboard with this, Masami, can you tell?
Masami Sato: Yes, yes.
Wendy Harris: I think it’s a fantastic concept and you mentioned the food industry before, I did have a quick little Google on YouTube and I saw you and you are quite handy in the kitchen from what I remember and my first husband was a chef and I met him through waitressing and things like that, so it’s a fascinating arena to be in and I think it’s a great grounder for lots of conversation. Because you can be cooking for people and the communication in the kitchen has to be really tight, but also when it’s dealing with the customers you want them to have an experience so the conversation really is what I would call as the success. Because even if somebody has a bad meal, if they have a good experience, they can actually forgive you for the bad meal, but if they have a bad conversation, they’ll never forgive you. Do you miss the hospitality side of things? Is that still a business that’s going on for you, Masami?
Masami Sato: No, no, when we eventually identified the concept of B1G1 and then also I realised that even though the idea of B1G1 was transforming for our business when we decided that we will actually give a meal to a child in need for every meal we sold and that was like a really transformative for our own company, that I also realised that there were many other business people starting different businesses because they are passionate about different kind of things in their lives, and that’s why the world is full of so many different kind of businesses.
So, I eventually realised that it would be far more meaningful to find a way to make this idea something that is easy to do for any business. And so, when I realised that, I finally decided to sell my own company and at that time I was in Australia running this business for like five years, but then after that we decided to move to Singapore to start the B1G1 as a giving initiative, global giving initiative. So, since then I haven’t been in food business, and I’ve been in the business of giving. I do miss something about the physical work, like being in the hands on, like industry, but then I still don’t miss it too much because when we were in the business of giving, we get to experience all of the amazing things that would happen in a hospitality business, which is to really care for people and to serve people, make people feel great about what they are doing.
So, what we do today in B1G1 helps businesses to really like find their own sense of purpose and connect that with their day-to-day activities and express it in tangible impact that happens in the world. So, I feel that this business can kind of cover all of the aspect of the joy of business.
Wendy Harris: It’s certainly an enriching experience. It doesn’t matter who it is that you’re in touch with, that you are kind of soaking up that gratitude from all aspects, aren’t you? It must be a truly wonderful thing to wake up every morning and know that you’re going to be making such a massive change and an impact for us all. So, in some small way you have affected me, and without knowing it and that’s the incredible thing isn’t it, it’s kind of like that invisible magic around what it is that you’re doing. It’s like a superpower.
Every guest that comes on the show, Masami, I always ask them to think about a conversation that created a turning point for them in their life and career and what happened afterwards. So, Masami, what was that conversation that you had?
Masami Sato: Okay, so the first one I can think of is the connection that I had with people or someone when I was travelling around the backpacking as a young female Japanese backpacker, and a particular one was in — actually in India and also Central America, because as a backpacker I had very little budget and I didn’t speak the language local people spoke when I was travelling, and my English wasn’t that good either. So, I had a struggle communicating with people with language. But then wherever I went I was very curious, so I managed to connect with people through a very simple thing like sharing the food together or just doing something together.
So, there was so many moments when people invited me to come to their house to eat meals with them or stay with them and things like that happened quite a lot. So, there were moments when I was invited to the house of somebody who had a very humble life and their kids didn’t have a lot, they were struggling to feed their own family, but when I visited their house there were so proud and they tried to share the meal with me.
That was the moment when I initially felt a little bit overwhelmed and confused because I didn’t want to take away what little they had right, by eating their food.
Wendy Harris: But the generosity is hard to turn down, isn’t it? Because then you would offend them.
Masami Sato: When I have the experience and then really like reflecting on the things that I saw on the ground, like for example in certain countries like India or Guatemala or Costa Rica, there were children who didn’t even go to school, who couldn’t finish primary school education because they were in the field working or begging on the street or something. And then I thought like, “Why is this happening?” So, but then at the same time when I was in places where people had more, in those countries too I met with people who didn’t feel totally fulfilled with what they had even though they had more, or they had enough.
So, this like confusion of what was going on and why things didn’t really make sense, it was bugging me but the moment when I started to meet with people who are generous, even though they had very little I started to have a sense that actually what makes us really feel happy or fulfilled is not necessarily about how much things we had or how we little we had, but it’s how more about how we felt about the sharing and being caring and generous; so these generous and caring people wherever I went, seems to be very happier and more fulfilled. So that was the kind of like a main question I had and then years later when I started my own business and eventually turned it into social enterprise, the giving initiative, I always reflected on that and realised that the — if we help businesses give or people give and make them feel more generous, then they find that true sense of joy and purpose.
And that helps them to do more, whether to grow the business or to aim to give more or to care for the people that they work with and so, yeah, so that conversation then, interactions that I had back then backpacking were transformative for me.
Wendy Harris: I agree I think a similar experience when I went to Kenya in 2007, a beautifully rich environment with some of the world’s iconic animals in national parks and things like that, but we travelled about 2,000 kilometres by road in a week and we went right across Kenya in a big ring through the capital of Nairobi, up to the hills where they were growing coffee, and the diversity of culture and currency. How money affects the changes that you see with your own eyes, you know with children with no shoes on and barely a scrap of clothing with their hands held out, because they really haven’t got much. To businessmen who clearly didn’t look like they needed a square meal, they’d had plenty, dripping in jewellery and I think it’s that extreme, isn’t it?
I struggle with that, that I’m quite happy with what I have because I have more than I need and I’m always grateful for that. I will always say, “No, you have it”, because that makes me feel I can share. That’s what I am able to do, and I think that’s important when you go and meet new people. And whilst you say language was something that was a bit of a challenge, in actual fact our body language and our expression of face speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
We’re going to put in the show notes how to get in touch with you, how people can continue to do more by B1G1 but if people want to carry on the conversation with you directly, where is the best place for them to come and find you?
Masami Sato: There are two places that you can go to, one is our website B1G1.com, right then you can find it — everything about B1G1 and all the stories of our members and worthy causes there. If you want to follow me or connect with me directly, then you go to LinkedIn and fine me on LinkedIn, then I will be delighted to connect with you.
Wendy Harris: That’s fabulous, well Masami, thank you so much again for being on the show.
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