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Being your own Boss

Being your own Boss Series: Branden Harvey of Good Good Good

Samantha Lloyd on July 3, 2018
Branden Harvey Good Good Good

Branden Harvey, the founder of Good Good Good, shares with Hover how he manages a huge brand determined on spreading positivity and the good in the world. Branden lives by the mantra of looking for the helpers. He works hard to share stories of good deeds and brilliant, caring individuals through his quarterly newspaper, the Goodnewspaper and his weekly newsletter, the Goodnewsletter. Aside from delivering good news to your physical and digital mailbox, he spends his time interviewing truly incredible people on his podcast, Sounds Good, and highlighting stories from the world’s helpers through Good Good Good’s social platforms.

What gets you out of bed every morning and how do you start your day?

Every day I wake up excited to learn about the innovative ways people are making a difference in the world. For years I woke up in countries around the world, spending my days as a humanitarian photographer, documenting the stories of people making a difference in their communities. I thought I’d seen it all. But now, a few years into starting my company Good Good Good, where we celebrate the good in the world on a daily basis, I’m blown away by the countless ways people make a difference in the world.

What made you want to start the Good Good Good brand?

I’ve always been an optimistic person, but a few years ago I hit this wall where I just felt overwhelmed by everything I was reading in the news. I felt myself becoming more cynical and I think others were experiencing the same thing.

At the same time, I thought about this quote from Fred Rogers where he said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

What followed was a podcast, Sounds Good with Branden Harvey, that hosts meaningful conversations with optimists and world-changers who are rejecting cynicism and using their lives to make an impact.

Around the same time I launched the Goodnewsletter, a free, weekly email newsletter that sends out the week’s top good news stories to more than 15,000 people.

This blossomed into a physical, quarterly newspaper that celebrates the people, ideas, and movements shaping the world for the better. We’ve now shipped newspapers to subscribers all over the United States and Canada as well as dozens of other countries around the world.

How did it feel to publish your first newspaper?

It was a wild experience. I had to start from scratch learning the entire process of making and printing a newspaper. I made a lot of phone calls to people who have worked in the newspaper industry for years, and asked a lot of probably dumb questions. But I learned a lot and loved getting to dive deep on a subject that very few millennials get to learn about. I got to be there at the printing press when the first issue came off the presses. It felt so incredible to be able to tangibly hold good news.

What challenges did you encounter when launching your brand?

Making a newspaper in 2018 is definitely a challenge. There’s a reason that we’re some of the only millennials printing a newspaper today, but even though it’s logistically difficult to bring to life, we love print media as a medium for communicating all the good in the world.

What is the number one thing you can’t live without that most contributes to your business’s success?

Probably Goodgoodgood’s Instagram. It’s incredible getting to build relationships with like-minded people around the world who care about this idea of celebrating good news and becoming good news.

How have you prevented burnout in the tough position of running your own business?

I’m incredibly grateful for close friends and family who work in totally different worlds than me. It’s refreshing to spend time with people who aren’t thinking about the same things I think about all day.

I also work really hard to have a balanced schedule. Even though I work for myself, I try to work from 9 to 5 every day and try to leave work at my studio when I come home. I’m really passionate about what I get to do for work so it’s often hard to leave it behind, but working to find a work-life balance has been incredibly helpful in preventing burnout.

What is the most difficult aspect of working for yourself?

Working for myself is a blessing and a curse. I love that if I have an idea, I can just bring it to life. I don’t have to check in with anyone else. At the same time, though, it’s difficult to be fully responsible for everything I create.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working for yourself?

I love that I get to do a job that fully aligns with my passions, talents, and abilities. I’ve spent years as a humanitarian photographer, traveling the world, telling stories of the good in the world. I grew up writing. I care deeply about getting involved in the issues I care about. As my passions and interests have grown and evolved, my company has grown and evolved with them.

Can you discuss a time where you agreed to a project and regretted taking it on?

We have incredibly high standards for the types of brands and organizations we choose to work with. We care about making a difference in the world and we choose to decline working with anyone who is antithetical to these values. I’ve had a few occasions where I began working with a new advertiser or partner, only to learn that their values weren’t in-line with that of Good Good Good or our community. I had to have the difficult conversation of ending our project early, even leaving money on the table. In the end, it’s always been worth it to maintain our integrity and focus out time and attention on doing work that truly matters.

Can you discuss a time where a project or person encouraged you to keep going?

In my current city of Nashville, Tennessee I’m incredibly grateful to be surrounded by a good number of creative entrepreneurs working to make a difference. Spending time with other folks on a daily basis who can resonate with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship has been a game-changer for me. I love that it’s never come down to a big moment where I needed support, but that I get support daily that’s helped me through the difficulties of bringing a passion to life.

“I wanted to commit to looking for the helpers — even in the midst of heartbreak in the world.”

Can you discuss an opportunity you’ve been able to do, thanks to running Good Good Good?

Last year my team and I were invited to North Africa to be a part of a global youth summit. We got to spend a week with world-changers from around the world, interviewing them about the work they’re doing in their local communities, and finding ways to support each other in the work we’re doing. It was an absolute honor to get to be surrounded by so many people I admire from so many countries. It was a beautiful reminder that everywhere in the world, no matter what the news says, there are always people working to make a difference.

Which podcast episode is your favourite, and why?

This is SUCH a tough question to answer. I loved my recent conversation with Canadian-Somali activist, Ilwad Elman. Ilwad left the safety and comfort of her home in Canada to return to the country of her childhood, Somalia. She took up the work of her late father, an influential activist in Somalia, working for peace, security, education, and empowerment in creative and innovative ways. We were so inspired by her incredible story and work that we highlighted her in a featured story in Issue 03 of the Goodnewspaper.

Which accomplishment are you most proud of/which is your favourite and why?

We launched a Kickstarter to fund our first year of the Goodnewspaper. My team and I worked hard to communicate the heart behind the newspaper in the Kickstarter. When we launched, we were genuinely nervous about reaching our funding goal. We were blown away when, after only 52 hours, we were fully funded. A few weeks later when the campaign ended, we’d doubled our goal. It was such an honor to see so many people rally around this idea of celebrating the good in the world.

What is the number one step a person can take to get their own business off the ground?

I think many of us who want to start something spend a lot of time over-analyzing everything before we actually bring our business to life. Sometimes we spend so much time journaling, organizing, and communicating about our new idea that we end up procrastinating from the actual heart of the business. Plan ahead, be thoughtful, but then just start. Bring your business to life and figure it out along the way. We’ve made so many shifts and changes since we started Good Good Good and I never could have anticipated half of them before we began getting to work.

What do you wish everyone knew about running their own company?

You’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Then you’ll hit a wall and work even harder. But you’ll be so grateful you get to do what you do. It’s not all sunshine, but it’s so rewarding.

What is your favourite thing to do to relax and step away from the stress?

I have a new puppy and spending time with her helps me get out of my head and my work and fills me with a lot of joy. (Hover note: check out Branden Harvey’s Instagram channel for many adorable puppy pics!)

What is it about the Hover brand that you thought tied us into your brand?

I’ve been using Hover for years now. I registered my first domain name with some company that made things complex and frustrating. I started asking around for a domain registrar that didn’t suck and was immediately referred to Hover. I’ve launched every single one of my ideas and businesses (since that first one) with Hover.

On top of having years of positive experiences with Hover, I love that they care about the internet being used as a force for good. As somebody who works to use my online platforms to make a difference in the world and reports on people creating innovative ways of creating change, I love supporting a company that shares my values.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve given or received?

When I was 16, I had an incredible mentor who took me under her wing and taught me how to start a business. She taught me the logistics of working with clients and doing excellent work, but more than anything, she taught me that whatever I do, I can make a difference with it. She taught me that whatever my work is, there’s always a way to innovate and find a way to give back. This has stuck with me in my current business where I get to live into this idea, but also report on others doing the same thing.