QCT Conversations: Hunter Johnson, The Man Cave
QCT were fortunate enough to recently spend some time with Hunter Johnson, founder the The Man Cave, a mental health organisation based in Australia. In our chat, Hunter explained exactly what his charity was about, how he managed to get things off the ground, and how he combatted the initial feelings of imposter syndrome. Check out the video below, or scroll down to read our Q&A!
Hi Hunter! Thanks for speaking with us today! Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hunter Johnson: My name is Hunter Johnson and I am CEO of a charity called The Man Cave. We are a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence programme for young men, their parents and their communities.
What motivated you to set up The Man Cave?
HJ: My best mate and I set up The Man Cave about 5 years ago after we saw the increasing rates of mental health challenges that a lot of our close mates and family were going through, but also the increasing rates of domestic violence that we saw some women in our lives experiencing - and we thought that if we could interrupt that cycle by providing positive and healthy male role models to work with teenage boys, the world would be a much better place for the boys, their relationships and also their communities too.
If you had to pinpoint one specific issue you're trying to solve, what would you say it is?
HJ: The problem that we are trying to solve is that suicide is the leading cause of death for young men in Australia under the age of 25. So, to reword that, the biggest killer of them is actually themselves. And so we fundamentally believe that if we can invest in preventative, early intervention measures – not crisis management – then we can equip boys with the emotional skills to lead a life of success, whatever that means to them.
What were your greatest challenges at the start?
HJ: We had many! The first was imposter syndrome – like who are we to be doing this? Do we have the skills? Do we have the capability? Do we have the passion? Once we established that we could actually do this, finding a team around us - incredible facilitators, who go to schools across Australia to run the programmes, finding those right people was super challenging. And then funding; developing relationships with key donors, whether they be philanthropists or corporate organisations, and then securing that funding in the early stages was super difficult for us, but we were lucky to just keep being persistent, and eventually it paid off in the end.
Can you share one of your biggest mistakes that you’ve had to learn from?
HJ: Some of the biggest mistakes or challenges we’ve had at The Man Cave that we’ve had to overcome is actually finding the right people whose values aligned with our mission. We encountered people along the way who were passionate but for different motives, and one of the best lessons that I’ve found is finding the people that not only believe in the mission you’re putting through your work or your business, but also personally have the same values as you. That way, we’re able to combine our passion with our values and ensure that we can achieve as much impact as possible.
What are your aspirations for The Man Cave as it continues to grow?
HJ: Our aspirations for The Man Cave are for the programme to be readily accessible all across Australia and eventually the world, so that we can get the important work of investing in boys emotional development, into the communities that need it most – and I’m super passionate about making that happen.
You mention your team a lot, and how important it is to have the right people around you. How do you and your team ensure you're working together in the most effective way?
HJ: At The Man Cave, our team work together so effectively though having a culture of radical transparency. So each and every day, we check in with each other around how we’re feeling, we create a space if we need to clear anything with someone else around a frustration or something that might be a little bit annoying, and then we finish with a round of gratitude, where people talk about something great that they’re really appreciative for in their lives. We do that every day, for about 15 minutes as a team, and it makes a serious difference to helping us achieve our end game mission.
Before we let you go, what are your top 3 tips for those changemakers just starting out?
My top three tips for anyone looking to start a project are:
1. Talk. Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it.
2. Seek mentorship. Find a mentor; someone who inspires you, who you look up to - someone who has the experience you are seeking.
3. Just start! Doesn’t have to be big, just something that gets it up and off the ground – it makes a huge difference. And then tell powerful stories, because people really resonate with stories. And keep believing that you’re meant to be doing whatever it is you are doing.
Article Published: 14th November 2019
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