Interview with the mastermind behind "take 40 Australia" and Million dollar lunch, Tony Mc Ginn

By Angela Mellak

This month Digital Women’s Network are delighted to host Tony McGinn, the Founder & Chairman, MCM Entertainment Group, TEC Mentor and Coach.

In preparation of the event 17th May 2017 we wanted to find out more about Tony’s thinking and what has driven him. At 22 years of age armed mostly with naivety and passion, Tony launched and built a business that became a pioneering leader of media syndication in Australia, Europe and parts of Asia. Tony is the masterminds behind “take 40 Australia” and crafted the Million Dollar Lunch. Tony will share with us his insights, tips and strategies to define personal and business growth.

1. What is your most memorable time at MCM Entertainment group

Conceiving, creating and building ‘Ausmusic 90’; to this day still the largest music marketing activity ever attempted by The Coca-Cola Company in Australia. Ausmusic 90 was 38 of Australia’s biggest artists appearing on five Arena & Stadium stages in the five capital cities on the one night, 25 November, which was the inaugural Australian Music Day. We then produced the event live with the shows broadcast on the Seven Network for six hours and simulcast on FM radio nationally.

Then taking that experience to build Coke is The Music in 1992, the largest pan-European music marketing activity ever undertaken, uniting 25 countries in one massive summer project featuring Prince, Bon Jovi, Bobbie Brown, Scorpions and many others.

2. Would you like to share your epiphany moment that made you start MCM Entertainment Group?

I had been working for a couple of years building my foundation in media first in radio music research at 3DB (now KIIS FM), 3AW panel operating and then in promotions and sales at the two years young Fox FM. In 1982 the sales manager at Fox FM fired me after six months because he did not think I could sell.

I went to the pub to drown my sorrows, and FOX FM was on in the background. I heard a promo for ‘Casey Kasem’s American Top 40’ and several beers in asked the question “why don’t we have a national Australian Top 40?” The more I asked the question, the more I saw the opportunity to create one. ‘Take 40 Australia’ launched in January 1984 and after 32 years on air became Australia’s longest running entertainment program brand.

3. Part of becoming a successful strategy and planning, you mentioned that “Evaluate as an investor – Behaviour like a manager”. Can you explain a bit more and how it helps the business?

As leaders, we need to be authentic managers alongside our colleagues demonstrating that we understand the business challenges and the pursuit of optimum solutions; however, we also need the ability to step back, be dispassionate, and evaluate it from an investor’s perspective. Why? Well if we are the investor (owner or part owner) we must be able to focus on that perspective for our ROI, despite the rigours of day to day business. If we are not the owner or part owner, we are employed by the investors, and we must be able to see the business and evaluate it from their perspective, as well as from our team’s perspective.

4. What do you mean by Empowering people – but carefully?

We need to delegate with clarity and trust, but we also need to have the systems and processes in place to monitor that our managers understand the specific desired outcomes and that those outcomes are not at all ambiguous. We also need an ongoing agreement with managers that they can deliver the desired outcomes without additional help and if they can’t, it’s their responsibility to request timely support.

5. Million Dollar Lunch – what’s the motivation behind it?

My first son, Benjamin, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 2000 at age three. While the cure rates are good for ALL, it requires the most amount of chemo drugs over the longest treatment period, around two years. Ben did well and was cured; however what we experienced and the troubled journeys of other families and children showed us that the system was a long way from satisfactory. Indeed in some area’s, it was failing badly.

At the request of Ben’s doctor, I became involved with the parent support group, KOALA (Kids Oncology And Leukemia Action). After the existing KOALA President’s son had relapsed and needed a bone marrow transplant, which sadly was not successful, I stepped up to run the organisation. I set KOALA up as a registered charity with a mission to build political capital (revenue) to challenge the State Government, health networks and hospitals to improve the services for our children fighting cancer.

I was in the entertainment business and was well connected. I had seen the entertainment business get behind autism with the Nordoff Robbins Foundation luncheon event in London which I had attended several times. I gathered some very special and influential people around and asked them to help launch an annual fundraiser that would combine the top end of Collins Street with high net worth Melbourne families and the cream of the entertainment business. That foundation committee came up with the bold idea of a ‘Million Dollar Lunch’. We all said that means we have to raise a minimum of $1 million year one and every year. Yes, we all agreed – build it, and they will come. Importantly the event has been run with absolute minimal single digit % costs.

Since its launch in 2005, the Million Dollar Lunch has raised $16.7 million for KOALA, now known as Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF). I chaired the event committee for the first ten years as well as the KOALA charity for ten years. After the merge of KOALA and CCF in 2012, I remain the Deputy Chair of Children’s Cancer Foundation.

Hear this incredible journey in which Tony will share the key lessons through both extraordinary successes and painful failures.

Nibbles, lite refreshments and a glass of wine provided,


Wednesday 17th May 2017 Tickets

2, 287 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000

We are looking forward to having you join us,

Digital Women’s Network team

Angela Mellak

Angela Mellak

Marketing Strategist @ Digital White Space & Co-founder of Digital Women’s Network

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