Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 12

LEAD FEATURE being approached by a media company that owns ad screens all over SA, in incredibly huge public places like food court in malls, studios, pubs, even hospitals and mines, so our news is now being shown to an even wider audience.” Brent is also continuing with the radio work, after taking a break from it at the end of 2018 to participate in the My Kitchen Rules TV cooking show with his fiancé. “We made it to the semi-final round, and the filming around the country meant four months of not being on radio, because I simply didn’t have time to do the radio show. I also needed time to take a break from radio and concentrate on the website, so I resigned from Cliff Central and was off air for six months. Then I was approached by Jacaranda and got back into it around June last year, with a long- form interview podcast every Tuesday to dig deeper into proudly South African good news stories, and also appearing on the Monday night show with Danny Painter, trying to kick the week off with good news and positive vibes.” Of course, Brent acknowledges that that there are is still plenty of bad news out there, and he is quick to point out that he does not simply ignore that. “I wake up every morning and read what is going on in the country, and I don’t shy away from the hard news and stories. Good Things Guy offers good news, but many of our stories stem from the bad stories, and try to find good in that, to inspire other South Africans. I believe that that knowledge is important, and to know what is going on in the country.” One of the interviews Brent did was with radio DJ Gareth Cliff on 5FM, who subsequently left the SABC to start Cliff Central, an online radio portal, and he offered Brent an opportunity to do his own weekly show called The Good Stuff, to share more good news stories. “I had no experience in radio, so I cringe now when I listen to those first shows. I was on every Tuesday at 10am, and I was producer and presenter. I was with Gareth for three years, but I eventually wanted to take it even wider to share all these good stories.” “In the meantime I had created a Facebook page, South Afri-CAN, and saw how quickly it picked up, sharing good news that was scarce, and I developed a website, www.goodthingsguy.com, which went live in August 2015, and it has just grown in leaps and bounds since then. It started with just me, and now I have a team that write for me, and it has become a fully-fledged business, with over a million readers each month. We only share good news, and our aim is to change the narrative in this country. I think we’ve changed the landscape in this country, because even the mainstream media has changed its focus, with big news sites adding good news sections.” Brent also started a blog, which received over 100,000 views in the first month as people shared the content, and it has just continued to grow from there. The blog won the SA Blog of the Year Award three years running from 2017 to 2019, as well as making the Top 25 African Blogs list in 2018 and 2019. His website has also made the top 100 global list. In the meantime, Brent himself has won a whole list of awards, including being nominated a LeadSA Hero in 2014, selected as one of the Most Influential Young South Africans in 2018 and 2019, and one of 100 Young Mandelas of the future in 2019. Typically humble, Brent says that the awards are amazing, but he thinks it is more important that his one small act of kindness spawned literally thousands of similar videos, reaching and physically improving millions of lives, which has also led to the creation of three dedicated feeding schemes in Canada, the USA and Ireland, which are still running to this day. “I’ve also been privileged to take my concept overseas, and very soon there will be more good news websites in other countries, inspired by my site, with my permission to copy the same model.” The Next Step While the good news concept is taking off around the world, Brent is looking to develop the initiative still further here in South Africa. Towards the end of 2019 his team launched an app, which he says allows readers to download good news and read it easily offline. “Another exciting development is “There’s huge power in sharing positive ideas and creating awareness through social media, and I wanted to do that instead, with a random act of kindness.” 12 On a personal level, he says the last few years have been an incredible experience, and he takes great pride in the positive work he and his team have done, but insists the success, fame and awards have not changed his outlook or goals. “The only real difference between today and a few years ago is that I’ve now given my positive attitude a brand. The Facebook timehop app is often showing me old posts, and I’m the same guy, sharing the same content. I haven’t changed; I’ve just got a bigger platform to make a difference. There’s so much you can do and achieve with the right attitude. I believe in being thankful for everything you have and paying it forward.” ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 / www.modernathlete.co.za Sharing the Message