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Podcast Transcript

Episode 93, Season 1

GBA on tour at the FPA Congress 2019 with Mina Guli


Fraser Jack: 00:09 Welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host Fraser Jack. I want to thank you so much for tuning in today. We are still on tour at the FPA Congress here in Melbourne, and I’m very lucky to be joined by Mina, who’s just walked off the stage with the Women in Wealth breakfast. Thank you for coming in.

Mina Guli: 00:30 Pleasure, Fraser.

Fraser Jack: 00:31 Welcome to the Kombi van.

Mina Guli: 00:32 Yeah, it’s pretty epic. I’ve got to say. I’ve never been interviewed in a Kombi van in the middle of a conference center, so it’s all good. We love world firsts.

Fraser Jack: 00:40 First time for everything.

Mina Guli: 00:41 Absolutely.

Fraser Jack: 00:42 Now tell us about yourself.

Mina Guli: 00:44 So people often ask what do you do? And I don’t really know how to answer that question because my big passion, which is what I was talking about this morning, is answering the question, what is your why? What is the thing that not only gets you out of bed in the morning but gets you going the extra distance. And my why is water? So what do I do in simple terms? I’m really trying to solve our global water crisis. I’m very distressed that experts predict that by 2030 there’ll be a 40% greater demand for water than the supply of water available. And I’m very concerned that that has major consequences, not only on the environment but on people’s lives. So one of the things that I’m doing in order to fix that is not only advocating on behalf of water, but also running extremely long distances in order to get media attention to the issue of water and to enable people around the world to tell their stories. Not only stories of how they’ve suffered from a water crisis, but also the things that they’re doing to solve the water problem.

So what did I talk about today? I guess I’m here because of the incredible expeditions I’ve done. In 2016 I ran across seven deserts on seven continents in seven weeks. And I ran 40 marathons in 40 days down six of the world’s great rivers. And then last year I tried to run a hundred marathons in a hundred days, which makes me sound like a crazy runner and people are like, Oh, but you should introduce yourself as an athlete. And I’m like, well, I don’t really think of myself as an athlete. I think of myself as just an ordinary everyday person. I’m not naturally talented. I have to work my backside off to be able to run. And I just found running is this really good way of demonstrating what it takes to have the passion and the perseverance to actually achieve the change that we need in the world.

Fraser Jack: 02:32 So it’s good to see you haven’t taken on too much then?

Mina Guli: 02:34 Yeah, a little thing. I took a little thing.

Fraser Jack: 02:37 Just saving the planet and running a hundred marathons in a hundred days.

Mina Guli: 02:40 Yeah. I didn’t actually make it through to a hundred marathons in a hundred days. I broke my leg, sadly at marathon number 62. But as my mum said ... I’m like mum, did you really have to say this on national television? Mum said actually breaking her leg was really good because what it did is show me that sometimes you have to let go to be able to hold on. Day 63 I had my team ... So I broke my leg at the end of day 62, well I was diagnosed. I actually think I’ve probably broken it a few days before. Day 63-

Fraser Jack: 03:15 A few marathons before.

Mina Guli: 03:17 Yeah. Okay. A few marathons before. Now you make me sound even crazier. Running around the world on a broken leg is really not only makes me sound crazy when I say these extreme running things I’ve done, but yeah, that I ran and broke my leg and then still ran. I mean, I guess that’s really ultimate passion and power. And I talk about saying sometimes you need to find your superpower and your superpower is both your why and also the tribe around you that supports you and encourages you.

Fraser Jack: 03:47 So you were talking about your team on day 63?

Mina Guli: 03:49 Yeah. So day 63 happens, I’m overpaid to go for a run. I literally can’t walk. Picture this, I properly can’t walk by now. We normally stay in tents. By now we’re staying in Airbnb because had to completely change our plans because I couldn’t even get down onto my sleeping mat on the ground, I was in so much pain. So I’m assuming we’re going to go running. I can’t walk across the room. My team’s like, okay we’re done. You’re getting in the car. Get in the car. We drive like four and a half hours to Cape Town because by now we’re in South Africa. So I did not make this a hundred marathons easy and put it in 20 different countries all over the entire planet. Okay. Because I wanted to run and tell these stories. Okay great.

We’re in South Africa. We drive four and a half hours. It’s a Saturday. They have to open up the MRI machine. Everyone’s in there. All talking about it. We’d had a lot of media so there was a lot of attention on what we’re doing, and everyone knew except me that I was in pretty dire straits. Of course I did not think that. My head is-

Fraser Jack: 04:47 You were focused on the finish line.

Mina Guli: 04:50 No, actually I was focused on why I’m doing this. On water. I’ve got these stories to tell. I’ve got a mission. And I go in the scanning machine and get pulled out. My team has these incredibly long, black faces and I thought, well this is not going to be good. And they go, well actually it’s kind of good. We know what’s going on. It’s kind of bad because you’ve got a 15 centimeter fracture in your leg, in your right leg, right up near your hip.

Fraser Jack: 05:17 Hang on. 15 centimeter?

Mina Guli: 05:18 Yeah. Yeah. This called not doing things by halves.

Fraser Jack: 05:21 Okay.

Mina Guli: 05:22 Anyway, I’m like, okay, so how do we fix it so I can run tomorrow? My team basically says no more running here. My mentor came down to the hospital and said to me, this is not about the next 38 days. This is about the next 38 years, and if your real mission is to solve this water crisis, you need to focus on that. I started to have a bit of a reality check that this was really very confronting and very real, and that it was probably realistic to think that I wasn’t going to be able run that day.

All I could think was I’ve let down all those 38 people that have stories to tell that I haven’t told. All I could think about was that I’d let down this water thing, this thing that I was so passionate about, not for me, but for the next generation. These kids that I’d met in places like South Africa where their town had run out of water, and they were staying home from school to wait for the water to be supplied. All their stories, all this impact. I was like, I’ve let everybody down and my team came in, my tribe, and they said, Mina, this is much bigger than you. Let us take this day for you. They went out and ran while I sat in a wheelchair. Day 64, people from across Cape Town came and ran with us. Day 65, people in other parts of the world started running and every day more and more people around the world ran for water.

And by the time we got to day 100 we hadn’t run a hundred marathons in a hundred days, we’d run the equivalent of the North to the South pole and more. We had thousands of people from 160 different cities in more than 50 countries and territories right across the world, running for water. What had started as my desire to see a better world for the next generation had become this global movement to do it. I was totally and utterly blown away. I was humbled. I was honored. I was inspired. I mean you can’t even begin to think. How can a kid from Melbourne, Australia ...

I grew up under power lines. My dad was an immigrant. I never expected that really, truly one person can get out there and change the world. And the reality is every single one of us is capable of doing great things. You do not have to be anyone special to be someone special. And I think for me this whole process has been really inspiring to see that every single one of us is capable of doing great things. But to do great things, we need people. And one of the people in my community tweeted towards the end of the run something that stuck with me. And it is individually we can make an impact, but together we change the world.

Fraser Jack: 08:04 Yeah, that’s fantastic. It really is starting a movement. That’s the definition of starting a movement. Right? There’s been a big of a running thing going through these chats I’ve been having with the crazy person dancing on the hill starting the movement and then people joining in. And that’s an incredible story that the team banned together and finished that job for you.

Now the words running water came to mind when you, because you’re running down rivers and lakes where water used to be and the idea around running water. Now your program’s called Running Dry, is that correct?

Mina Guli: 08:33 Yes. So I’m really concerned that we’ve been running out of water, that this is a major issue. I think that we often think about water and the water that comes out of a tab. We have no idea that water goes into everything we use, we buy, and we consume every single day. So all listeners wearing a very smart outfit today. Nice pants. It’s smart shoes. Shoes count. Jacket, shirt, nice outfit. But just that outfit took more water to make than all the water you’ve drunk in your entire lifetime. That’s crazy, right? Just one outfit. And now think about how many outfits you have at home and now think about what happens when we have a world that edges closer to 9 billion people with a far greater amount of disposable income. And more people want to buy more stuff and more stuff gets made. The amount of pressure we’re putting on our water supplies is immense. We need to fix this. It’s not to say you can’t buy stuff, it’s just to say we need to make things differently and smarter than we’ve ever done it before.

Fraser Jack: 09:34 Yeah, there’s been a lot of talk about water this year or the last couple of years here in Australia, particularly. Obviously with drought and that conversation. But what can we do globally, nationally and then what can each individual do if they don’t feel like running a hundred marathons?

Mina Guli: 09:50 Yeah. Don’t really recommend everybody getting out there and running a hundred marathons. It turns out it’s not such a great idea. I wish someone had told me that before. Well actually maybe they did and I just didn’t listen.

Fraser Jack: 10:00 That’s a good idea. It still sounds like a good idea.

Mina Guli: 10:03 Okay, so what can we all do? I think it’s really easy to think sometimes I’m just one person. What can I do? But the reality from everything that I’ve done is to show that you can just be one person, but you can actually make a big impact. Either by starting a movement, never give up because you never know what tomorrow might bring. Right? So doing something that makes a difference. Doing something that’s true to you.

If you want to make a difference in water as an individual, there are a couple of really easy things. The first one is reduce your food waste. Think about what you’re buying. Eat what’s on your plate and save the leftovers for tomorrow. Think, eat, save. It’s pretty simple. It makes a massive difference to our water consumption. Water goes into growing food. Food eventually comes to us on our plates. We eat it or we throw it away. Choose to eat it.

The second is looking for alternative protein sources. A lot of my friends have now become vegan before six, or they’ve gone vegetarian one day a week. It’s not to say eliminate these things. It’s just to say do things differently. The third thing is looking at where you get some of your cotton, your products. Thinking about, do I really need this t-shirt, and if I don’t need it, can I recycle it? Can I reuse it? Can we do something different with it?

I think that we assume as consumers that water is someone else’s problem, but the reality is it’s our problem too because it’s not just an environmental thing. It’s a societal thing. I can’t tell you what it was like to run in Uzbekistan near the Aral Sea and have women and children beg me to help them create alternative sources of income because the sea has now moved 200 kilometers away from the port, so they can’t use the water anymore to do anything.

You go to some of these rural communities in Australia, they have no source of income. So finding ways to generate new sources of income. Understanding this is not just an environmental issue, it’s a social and economic one too is incredibly important.

Fraser Jack: 12:03 Have you been working with governments towards their policy and how they work on it?

Mina Guli: 12:09 Yeah. So I look at the water crisis as there’s consumers, there’s companies, and there’s governments. The problem with governments in my observation is that the vast majority sit there with their hand permanently on the snooze button. They’re slow to act. They can act. They can make a huge impact, but they choose not to for a lot of reasons. Fear or whatever. I don’t want to say other things, but other things. Which we’re all listening to this. We’re all thinking it. So there it is out there. Snoozers.

There are companies, most companies know what they need to do, but they lack the political capital to be able to do it. Consumers are absolutely key. Whilst we, on all the data, cannot close the gap between demand and supply for water, this 40% number, we can’t close it. But what we can do is vote. We can either vote at the ballot box, or we can vote when we go buy product. So what is really important is how we act because we deliver the political capital to the companies and to the policymakers. The policymakers, take your hand off that snooze button, like step up. We’ve stepped up. You step up too. Right? And if you don’t, you’re out. On the company’s side, it’s to say we support companies that are doing well by doing good. They’re not sacrificing stuff, but just doing better. Longterm business sustainability. And I think that we forget that actually a big part of this is all of us. We need to act first.

Fraser Jack: 13:37 It’s an interesting point. Every day you vote. Vote every day.

Mina Guli: 13:41 Yeah, absolutely. We think it’s only once every couple of years, but reality is I vote every single day. Every single time we buy something is much more powerful than we can possibly realize, not only for the money that goes to places like buy from the Bush and different things like that. But also for the message it sends to the people whose decisions we want to affect. We want to support these farmers. You should too.

Fraser Jack: 14:05 Yeah. Fantastic. Wow. So you’re here at the Financial Advice conference.

Mina Guli: 14:09 Yeah.

Fraser Jack: 14:09 You probably don’t get to a lot of them?

Mina Guli: 14:09 No.

Fraser Jack: 14:09 Do you speak to financial advisors a lot? Or planners?

Mina Guli: 14:13 Actually, a surprisingly large amount because here’s the thing about water. It’s one of the biggest risks facing our societies, our economies, and our communities. So it’s the only risk rated by the world economic forum in the top five for the last eight consecutive years. So more and more investors are starting to understand that when you look at investments, probably need to factor in some degree of water risk. For example, if you’re investing in wheat, and all your wheat is located in water scarce regions of the world, probably going to have a problem. If everything you’re doing is around a river basin which is severely depleted and where without water, conflict is rife, you probably don’t want to invest there. So understanding the macro system around water is incredibly important and more and more investors are starting to say, probably need to think about this.

Fraser Jack: 15:05 And you were at the breakfast this morning. What was the key messages you were giving for the planers to take away?

Mina Guli: 15:15 Oh, simple. This is not messages for other people, but I continue what I’ve learnt through my expeditions. One is of course you don’t have to be anyone to be someone. The second is the only limits are the limits that others ... So we talk a lot about limits. I’m not a runner. I came to running late in life when I was told by the doctors I’d never be able to run again. I hurt my back and everyone was like, Well, your time is done, but you never ran any way so it’s all fine. And I’m like, wait, I’m not going to let anyone else set limits on what I can and can’t do. The only person to determine what my dreams and ambitions should be is me. So that’s the second message, that there should be no limits except the ones you set for yourself. And even then, I think you should ... I don’t believe in limits, basically as you kind of figured out.

The third thing is really answering this question and this fundamental question of what is your why? Because change is made by people united by purpose, by passion, and by their perseverance. And the reality about purpose and passion is that’s your superpower. That’s what enables you to to achieve beyond anything that you think is possible.

Fraser Jack: 16:29 That’s a really important step, isn’t it? Finding that thing that motivates you and drives you and-

Mina Guli: 16:30 Yeah, so I can tell you. People ask me all the time, how on earth? You hate running, you get up every day and go for a run? It’s lonely. It’s hard. You run in some of the most extreme places on the planet. When I sit on the curb beside the track or road or wherever I am on an ice block somewhere in Antarctica, I think to myself, why am I doing this? If I cannot answer that question, I’ll go home. If that why question is just I’m doing this for me, I probably wouldn’t have ever have gone out there and taken that first step because your why has to be about something far bigger and far greater than you. Then you are motivated and then you’re inspired and then getting out there and doing that thing. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.

The final message was about understanding that you can’t do this alone. Individually you can make an impact, together you change the world. You need a tribe. You need people around you who support you, who encourage you, who pull you up when things are going horribly wrong, give you a kick in the backside with a stiletto heel and tell you get going, right? People that believe in you at times more than you believe in yourself. They are completely key to everything. So that was it. And then the final message was never ever give up. Once you have your purpose and your passion, once you’ve found your superpower, never ever give up because you never know what tomorrow might bring.

Fraser Jack: 17:52 Well fantastic messages. And I think building your team, if you are really clear to be set on your why and you’re able to articulate that and be passionate about it, then people that are also passionate about that form your team.

Mina Guli: 18:03 Yeah. Sometimes you get some rocks in your backpack. Got to get rid of the rocks. I’ve had a lot of those over the years. People told me, you’re too old. You’re too fat. You’re not an athlete. You’re not this. You’re female. You can’t do this. Those people, they have no place in any bag that I’m carrying around the world. All I want are people that will tell me the honest truth, but are utterly and completely committed to helping me to achieve the goals that I’ve set. And in this case, it’s a world where there’s enough water for everyone forever.

Fraser Jack: 18:32 Wow. Thank you so much for coming and sharing your story with us. I really appreciate hanging out in the back of the Kombi and having a chat. It’s been incredibly amazing. Thank you.

Mina Guli: 18:42 It’s a great pleasure to be here. For everyone that’s listening, it’s really important to me that we all understand that it doesn’t matter who you are. I don’t care where you’re from. I don’t care if you’ve come from money or not. I don’t care if you’re connected to people or not. The person that is going to get you across that line at the end of the day is you. I say to myself sometimes when everything is going horribly wrong and I’m out there running, the only person that can take one more step is me. The only person that can decide not to take one more step is me, and who I am at that moment of toughness defines who I am for life. I’m never ever going to be the one that says it’s okay to give up because it’s just not the message I want to give to the next generation. It’s not the message I want to give to anyone anywhere. It’s not okay to give up. We can keep going no matter what.

Fraser Jack: 19:29 Wonderful. Now people want to follow you, support you.

Mina Guli: 19:29 Yes.

Fraser Jack: 19:29 How can they get hold of you?

Mina Guli: 19:33 It’s easy. @MinaGuli so M-I-N-A G-U-L-I. My website is minaguli.com, and if you want to go on Facebook, it’s Mina Guli Water. All I will say is get out there and achieve your dreams, your goals, and your ambitions. You don’t have to be anyone to be someone. Get out there and do it.

Fraser Jack: 19:54 Get out there and do it. Love it. Thank you so much.

If you haven’t already, I’d love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice. And to continue the conversation, head over to our social media channels. We’ll catch you next time.


Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.