Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) is the world’s largest online movement for helping people manage their relationship with alcohol. It has 120,000 members on its website and 4,500 on its alcohol behaviour change app, Daybreak. Both are aimed at helping people to reduce or cut out drinking from their lives. It was established in 2008 by Australian Chris Raine, an MBA alum and Skoll Scholar.
Chris can trace his motivation for setting up HSM to his first job after graduating from USC Queensland with a degree in marketing. ‘I joined a boutique agency in Brisbane and we pitched for a campaign around reducing youth binge drinking. The ideas that we came up with were not particularly different than what had gone before – using shock tactics such as men being beaten up or a woman falling over or being assaulted. I realised that none of these ideas changed how I drunk at a weekend.’
‘I decided to spend the next 12 months researching why people drink. At the time, I would have described myself as a functioning binge-drinker, but I gave up drinking for a year so that I could understand the role alcohol played in my life. Several patterns emerged and they go hand in hand with stresses – when people feel upset or angry, then having a drink is a route a lot of people take.’
Subsequently, Chris left his job and launched HSM as a social enterprise. Members commit to three months, six months or a year without drinking and check into the website or app every week. Its main markets are Australia, New Zealand, US and UK, but it has users from all over the globe. Mark’s goal is to expand HSM, offering an accessible treatment service internationally through contracts with health insurers, governments and employers.
Chris is very open about how his time on the MBA at Oxford helped him in setting up HSM. ‘I am a great believer in social entrepreneurship, that cross-section between social value, impact with business, and sustainability. A uniting thread at Oxford Saïd is the power of innovation being a force for social transformation. There are lots of governments that want to throw cash at the problem of binge drinking, but that is not a viable solution and it’s certainly not sustainable. At Oxford you are encouraged to think differently about how to address challenges. You get to have conversations with people from varied backgrounds with different perspectives - experimental psychologists, physicists and mathematicians to name but a few. It really helps you to think more creatively and laterally.’
The other major lesson from the MBA for Chris was a greater understanding of his particular skills. ‘Being at Oxford was a lifelong dream of mine and the experience absolutely exceeded my expectations. You are surrounded by people who are really smart, such as those who could do quickly complete really complex maths problems in their heads. That is very humbling, but it also teaches you that everyone has different skills and how that is the foundation of a high performing team. I realised I was never going to be as academically smart as some of my peers, but that I was highly skilled in working with others and getting the most out of colleagues. I am much better at asking questions than finding answers. Before my time at Oxford I thought I could do both - now I make sure my time is focused on asking the right questions and building effective teams.’