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Naomi Simson RedBalloon BHAG goals

Today at exactly 10.41 am is the moment in time I have looked forward to for more than a decade. I thought this day would come somewhere in 2015. 16 October 2013 is BHAG day – it feels even more special than a birthday. And it is a day of reflection, laughter, joy and celebration.

When Kirsten, Jemma and I sat around wondering “how could we change gifting in Australia forever” so that experiences became a top of mind when Australians considered a gift – we began to muse “How will we know when we get there?” And what does ‘there’ look like?

A BHAG needs to be far enough in the distance that it is not a plan; it is an idea, a dream, and a notion of what could be possible.

We believe that ‘Good Times’ create moments of joy – that when shared they’re amplified. We wanted RedBalloon to be ‘statistically significant’ – ten percent of the Australian population sounded like a good idea.

And why 2015…. (way back in 2004 when we came up with it seemed forever a way) it is the year that my youngest child will finish school.

The point being there was no real logic to the creation of the BHAG – there was no actuary involved helping calculate it to ascertain if it was achievable. We simply dreamed. And we stuck a massive scoreboard in the middle of the office (as well as an iPhone app) for the world to see – where we are up to.

Today is a humbling day for me. It took 10 years to ship the first million RedBalloon vouchers – and it took just over 2 years to ship the second million.

I reflect on the 214 Redballooners who have contributed to and shared the passion for our purpose over the last 12 years. One experience at a time, day in day out, relentlessly we have focused on building our brand by how people talk about us.

Here is the montage produced to celebrate the two million customers who have made today – and RedBalloon what it is.

I was the custodian of the RedBalloon BHAG for more than a decade– and as I moved to a non executive director role some time ago – The leadership and RedBalloon legacy have been passed to the next generation, with CEO Kristie Buchanan clearly at the helm.

Businesses create BHAGs to unite the team and those around them – and on a personal level you can do the same.

My sister is a speech pathologist in rural Victoria – and she has a personal BHAG to have brought communication skills to 5000 families by the time she retires (and she has that date in her mind

As you consider creating your own BHAG – Ask yourself what do you want to be remembered for; how do you want to have made the world a better place? What is your legacy going to be?

Remember ‘big’ means ‘way out there’ both in terms of time and scale. All the reading I have done about BHAGs says that a decade is great or even longer. And that the number needs to be almost unimaginable, but possible.

If you are twenty and reading this, a decade is half your lifetime and that seems forever – Changing the world ‘takes time’…

I spoke to a fellow business owner yesterday and he was lamenting that he did not achieve his BHAG of 1 million in a year…. he got to 70,000. This is not failure – perhaps he would not have even got that amount without a BHAG….. but his time frame was way to short – and he needed to really understand the market size and potential too.

I’ve heard people declare their BHAG as something like “All Australians by xx will have had an XX service”.  Remember when you are creating a BHAG to respect and consider the customer dynamics. ‘All’ means 100% and by nature that is not possible…. and to have an ‘impossible’ BHAG is not inspiring to those around.

A BHAG when achieved has solved a problem and made the world slightly better.

What about creating a personal BHAG? What are you committed to in your life to support humanity and our planet? You might choose to keep it private – or share it with the world. Focus on it, and celebrate your milestones.

So thank you to all those people who believed in the RedBalloon BHAG, who saw possibility, who trust us to do what we said we would do.

Thank you to past, future and present RedBallooners – who create our vision, moment-by-moment, customer by customer, experience by experience.

It is a day of excitement, and wonder – and whilst you might think we would be reveling it is also a day of deep reflection –

Reader Interactions


  1. Massive congratulations to you & all the team on achieving your BHAG! What a fantastic achievement!

  2. Congratulations Naomi and Congratulations to the 214 RedBallooners who have shared and contributed to our BHAG and who you brought in to the happiness revolution – we are all so proud to be part of the journey and to share this amazing milestone with you!

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