Lee Crockford

Lee Crockford

Lee Crockford and I go a long way back. A long way. 

In 2013, I was helping run a global Fellowship program for young social entrepreneurs in Hamburg, Germany. Lee had just left the on-site part of the program and returned to Brisbane, Australia, where he was working to redefine masculinity for Australian men. His suicide prevention program “Soften the Fck Up” quickly became one of my go-to social enterprise cases and remains one of my favorites to this day. Several years later spur: has turned into a full-fledged social impact advisory firm helping clients like the WWF and YouTube Creators for Change measure and deliver greater impact.

Meet spur:

spur: exists to create a world that is fair, sustainable, and well. We specialise in social impact and behaviour change strategy for NGOs, government, and businesses. We work across a broad range of themes such as health and wellbeing, education, environment and sustainability, equality, access, and peace.” We technically exist as two organisations: spur: as our commercial consulting arm and spur:org as the NGO where we deliver our social impact projects. The  distinction between the two is mainly legal – we talk about everything we do simply  as spur: In brief, 

A balance of the head and the heart

“The work we do is often “ahead of the curve”, so the process of closing work with clients can be long and resource-intensive. This is speeding up though as spur: becomes more well known. Often, we work with clients on small, discrete, what we would call “non-core” projects, but through that work demonstrate and educate the need for larger, systemic considerations. Almost all our clients have been that approach. Start with a small project and slowly build yourself into their DNA. 

I’d love to give some inspirational story about how we handled our cash flow, but in the early days is was simply a matter of working harder, tightening the belt and knowing that it’ll all pay off at some point.

Actually, that’s probably the take away – knowing that things aren’t always going to be OK, and rather than stressing about the tough times, planning ahead for how you’ll treat yourself and what you’ll do to recharge when things get easier again. 

Our framework for thinking and delivering outputs for clients are deeply anchored in our company values; on top of that we bring expertise in particular areas (eg; environmentalism). We strive for a balance of the head and heart. Too much of one in this space is very dangerous.”

The plumber with a leaky tap: Self-care

“I learn so much every day, I’m constantly challenged with new knowledge or processes or creativity. So, for me, investing in myself is down time: Time that I can switch off from work and the to do list. Rather than looking at how to challenge myself, I’d like opportunities to just be.

For someone who runs a mental health charity, though, I am the plumber with a leaky tap.

I’m not good at leveraging the support and love of people around me – the more stressed I am, the more “one man wolf pack” I become. It’s not a good trait, and it’s one I try to challenge.” 

Any doubts?

“Not in terms of purpose. I love love love what I do. Logistically though, yes. Starting a business is emotionally, financially, logistically, relationship-wise, incredibly hard – and it’s easy to compare yourself to friends with steady jobs and steady income buying houses, etc. But I know this is a long-play – the long-term rewards are potentially great.”  

What does the future hold?

“In five to ten years we aim to have a physical presence in four to five continents with a small team in each office. The social challenges we’re looking to affect are global challenges that require global knowledge and expertise.

Our goal is to work on impactful global projects with a global team as a company that is sustainable, diverse, and well.