For over two decades, Michael Forzatti has been active in the 6157 community. We caught up to see what motivates his contribution and discover the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.
6157: Since launching the business in 2010, you’ve had a strong involvement in the community and been a contributor to a range of different community activities and interests. What fuels this?
MF: It’s both intentional and organic, for me. A part of being active in the community comes from my exposure to a range of different stories, different opportunities. My working life gives me the opportunity to see a whole lot of work in the community that many may miss.
6157: Do you feel that the perception of your success over the years in the area requires that you give back to the community?
MF: Well, it might, but that would be a horrible motivation if it’s what caused me as an individual and us as a business, to give. I won’t pretend that the perception - fuelled by the car you drive, the home you live in, and all those yellow signs - probably feed into an expectation, but I try to steer clear of making that a reason for contributing.
What’s important for me is that there’s giving involved. I benefit from the opportunities that come my way as a result of locals buying and selling homes; I want to be giving in response to that.
Part of being successful as a business is acknowledging why and how you’ve been successful, and locals are a part of that success.
6157: So the support tends to be local?
MF: That’s the organic part. One of the things about being active within an area is that you get to see first-hand both the needs and opportunities to become involved. There are stories that we have become a part of simply because we became aware of those stories - we were involved in selling a home, or the home of a friend - and then we became involved in some way.
Obviously, we can’t say yes to everything we see, but every time we come across a new opportunity, it’s just another dimension to our local knowledge.
6157: With so many years living and working in 6157, we imagine the lines between professional, family and recreational are quite blurred by now.
MF: I don’t think there are many lines going on at all! Take our support of Palmyra Junior Football Club. I played juniors, my kids play juniors, and a bunch of my mates and I are still playing football or soccer. I see firsthand, the dynamic within these clubs. They’re volunteer-based, not profit-making machines; they survive on volunteers and the contributions of local businesses.
When you’ve been a recipient of the generosity of others from a young age, and then you have the opportunity to return the favour, you grab it with both hands because you know what it’s like to benefit from the support.
That’s true for clubs and community groups, but it’s also true for personal stories. In the last issue, we did a story about Rhys Watt. That might be a story about another family, but most of us have a story of cancer in our broader families so it becomes a personal story as much as the focus may be on one particular family.
Every community connection has a personal connection on some level.
6157: Is it purely altruistic or do you see a commercial benefit as well?
MF: I think we get too hung up on differentiating between the two. They should be connected and unconnected! As much as I think there should be a level of corporate responsibility for a local business, we’re so intertwined with the stories that they cease to be commercially based. I’m under no illusion, though, the reason we can give and that we’re able to identify those opportunities is that we’re active and successful in 6157. Our success is what allows us to respond to those needs.
6157: Do you have any criteria for giving? Does it have to be local?
MF: Yes, ideally, we want it to be local. That’s the focus of our energies, and it makes all kinds of sense to be supporting the things we see around us. We’re often asked to support other causes and needs further afield. We tend to keep it close to home and reinforce our community connection wherever we can - there needs to be an affinity with what we see. Without sounding too selfish, it’s also rewarding to see others benefit from our contribution firsthand. That doesn’t drive every decision, but it’s one of the outcomes of keeping things local.
6157: Do you find it satisfying?
MF: Very much so. It’s a privilege to be able to contribute. After 21 years in real estate, one of the truly satisfying things is that people no longer view me as a real estate agent, but as a member of their community. I find that connection within the community very satisfying.
6157: Launching 6157 has probably taken your community involvement to another
level. What was the motivation for the publication and what part do you think it plays?
MF: For me, it’s a reflection of what’s happening in the community (well, all we hear about and can fit in each edition!). It’s a tangible part of what we’re a part of. Much of our community support is largely invisible, and we’d like to keep it that way, but 6157 is an opportunity to profile what’s happening in the postcode. It’s not so much us, because we occupy a relatively small part of the magazine, but the local heroes and stories in the community.
The magazine puts into words and pictures the work of people and the struggles of people around the place. It gives us a chance to fly the flag of what’s been happening in the area. I like to think that we’re essentially opening a window to a bunch of different stories each issue.
6157: What’s feedback been like?
MF: I don’t think we’ve ever had such positive feedback for anything we’ve done.
We’ve had people call, SMS, walk into the office to say how much they’ve been enjoying the publication. That’s certainly what we’d hoped! People now look forward to seeing it turn up in the letterbox each quarter.
6157: What’s next?
Well, we never really know. What we support tends to be a result of what we see and hear. I guess you’ll need to stay tuned on that one.
6157: It’s some good gear that you’re a part of around here!
MF: Cheers. It’s sweet to be in the loop of what’s happening in such a positive way.