PLINKERVIEW: with Danny Alexander
MEET DANNY ALEXANDER
We got to chat with another awesome Plinker this month: Danny Alexander, toilet-lover and entrepreneur-extraordinaire! You might recognize his toilet paper company Who Gives a Crap, which helps build toilets for people who need them.
Who is Danny Alexander?
Just some guy.
What brings you joy?
Toilets! Many other things as well. Hiking, my family, and cappuccinos to name a few. Oh, and puns. I'm lucky that my love of toilets and my love of puns have somehow converged to be my calling in life as well!
Where do you seek out inspiration?
Pretty much anywhere that's not digital. I tend to have my best ideas out in nature, at a museum, reading a book, or at a dinner party. I used to think staying up to date on the latest trends would make me more creative, so I read blogs and followed all of my favorite designers on Instagram but, alas, I was wrong. Over time, I've realized the physical world is so much more inspiring to me than the digital!
You’ve founded two companies with charitable giving (a whopping 50% of profits!) at the heart of their business models. And not just a pinch of giving… What experiences in your life do you credit with making generosity and impact important to you?
I was always raised with a strong ethic of giving back—my parents both had careers of service, either in academia and activism or in non-profits. So I suppose it was always a part of my upbringing. But I think at a certain point I just realized that helping people, and doing good, was really satisfying for me personally. So for me, being selfless is selfish!
You founded Who Gives A Crap in Australia and humor is key to your brand identity. Does the same material work with Americans?
Who doesn't love the word 'bum'? But in all seriousness, we've been lucky that the brand and humor (or humour, as we'd spell it) translates pretty darn well. We were worried in the early days, and actually tested a different brand name when we first launched in the US, but luckily Who Gives A Crap landed better than we expected and continues to make people smile around the world!
What is the naughtiest thing you’ve gotten away with?
I started my entrepreneurial career early, by selling Playboys at school in 4th grade. By high school, I was selling illegal fireworks on eBay. In between were fake Rolex watches, bootleg CDs (when that was a thing), and basically every other illicit good you could imagine. I loved business, and loved making a sale! Luckily as a teenager I traded in my illegal trades for more legitimate ones, but I learned a lot!
Like you, we believe in building companies that have a positive impact. However, there are those days where it feels like the rock we’re pushing up the hill is going to roll down and squash us. When you feel that way, how do you rally yourself and your team?
Poop jokes, mostly. Humor is a miraculous way to motivate people, and levity can do incredible things to remind people of our humanness, and reset expectations. Probably unsurprisingly, even our internal strategy decks at Who Gives A Crap are primarily pun-based, as we believe humor has an incredible power to inspire and connect!
If you weren’t a ‘Paper Salesman’, what would you be doing?
Applying to work at Plink! It's such a fun word to say, which is how I make most decisions in life.
How do you take your Plink?
I like to touch it to my tongue first. Is that weird? It's kind of like putting a 9V battery to your tongue as a kid. It's electric! Then I drop it into some tap water (or SodaStream bubbly water if I'm feeling fancy) as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. It's delish!