Image via Megaphone Magazine

A Lesson in Humility from the Streets of Vancouver

This is Eric.

Eric lives in and around the Commercial Drive area of Vancouver, Canada. He has experienced intermittent periods of homelessness in his life and, for longer durations, lived on the edge of society—day-to-day, month-to-month, doing the best he could to get by. To make ends meet for a time, Eric resorted to collecting recyclables from bins and other places around The Drive.

Then, in 2010, this changed. Eric joined an organization called Megaphone.

Megaphone gives people like Eric an opportunity to earn an income with dignity and earn it in a sustainable way. As a Megaphone vendor, Eric purchases magazines from Megaphone for 75 cents (which covers printing costs). He then resells the publications to the general public for $2, earning $1.25 per magazine sold.

This may not seem like much, but for Eric it’s been a turning point. In addition to Eric, in 2015 Megaphone has helped 178 marginalized vendors from Vancouver and Victoria earn extra income and create positive change in their lives.

It’s a huge improvement for me from what I was doing for a while before, just binning for bottles and cans.

– Eric, Megaphone Vendor

Megaphone vendors have sold over 43,000 magazines and 12,500 calendars this year, which translates into earnings of almost $160,000 collectively.

Megaphone’s mission is to provide a voice and an economic opportunity for homeless and low-income people while building grassroots support to end poverty.

So where does Hootsuite fit into Megaphone’s story?

Last week our sales team hit the streets of Vancouver with Megaphone vendors—Eric included—helping to drive passers-by to purchase magazines.

Taking lead gen to the streets of Vancouver for @megaphonemag #hustle #HootsuiteLife

A photo posted by Aki Kaltenbach (@akikaltenbach) on

We thought we could help them sell hundreds of magazines. We helped to sell 75. A notoriously outgoing team, when it came to this opportunity we were quickly humbled. Right away we learned how difficult it can be to make a living on the streets of Vancouver and how challenging it can be to connect with people in this era of smartphones, headphones, and pervasive distraction.          

It was very humbling to see how difficult it is to sell on the streets and make a living. It gives a lot of perspective into how hard these vendors need to work to make ends meet. I learnt some serious grit.


– Cole Kubossek, Hoosuite Employee

What our sales team took away from this was an understanding of the power of human relationships, that it’s not about the 10 people who didn’t have time for you, it’s about the one person who did. Our experience of working with Megaphone was both rewarding and impactful. Their goal of providing a voice to economically vulnerable people in our community naturally aligns with Hootsuite’s mission of turning messages into meaningful relationship.  

It brought our teams closer together, not just with each other, but also with our broader community and gave our team the opportunity to get outside of our comfort zone. Putting our values into action, we were reminded why we became a B Corporation in the first place, and how lucky we are to live the #HootsuiteLife.

It also reminded us of the calibre of human beings we have working amongst us every day—within our own teams, and within our own community—people like Eric and the inspiring staff at Megaphone.