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OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn on why we need to redefine success

Ronni Kahn at OzHarvest. Source: Supplied/Livia Giacomini

Successful millennials are a breed of their own, and we’re constantly reminded of the young millionaires club through rich lists and Forbes’ 30 under 30s.

But food-surplus collection company, OzHarvest’s founder Ronni Kahn, doesn’t think being a young rich-lister equates to success.

“Being a gazillionaire at 25 does not mean you've had a successful life,” Kahn told Yahoo Finance.

“It means you've been successful in a business in making money.”

Kahn said we need to “rephrase what success is and what age can one expect to find a fulfilling life”.

And to her, success has “absolutely nothing to do with money”.

“[It’s] being the best I can be to make the biggest difference I can make to the people around me,” she said.

“It has to do with the gifts that you can't buy. And it's got to do with the gifts that you give that no one's expecting.”

Kahn experienced success later in life

“I had a business, I loved it,” she said.

“Loved every day of it until I realised what I wanted was more.”

And that realisation came after some self-reflection.

“I guess the biggest moment was looking at myself in the mirror and saying, ‘You've got a roof over your head. You can only have one roof on your head at one time. What else, what else, what else did you come on to this Earth for?’”

“And I then went on to do more.”

And more, she did.

Kahn founded OzHarvest in her early 50s after running a successful event management company, and she admitted it wasn’t an easy start.

'Full bellies not bins' sign at OzHarvest. Source: Supplied/Livia Giacomini

“I had never started a charity. I never worked within a framework of being accountable to a board,” she said.

“I'd had my own business. I didn't need a board. It wasn't registered on ASIC. It needed to be audited, but it needed to be audited as any small business is. If I wanted to close my shop for the day I could close it and if I wanted to travel, I could travel.”

And if the change wasn’t tough enough, businesses were slow to get on board with the idea.

“There were some people who loved the notion, but there were others who said, ‘No way. We're not prepared to risk you taking it,’” Kahn said.

But, that changed when the Civil Liabilities Amendment Act passed in 2005 to allow good food to be given away for free without any fear of liability.

“That was hard but clearly not insurmountable because we did it,” she said.

“I don't believe in obstacles. I believe that they're challenges that you have to get around.”

Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit will take place on the 26th September 2019 in the Shangri-La, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda for this groundbreaking event here.