Man Of The Week – Elliot Costello

From a very young age Elliot Costello’s life was influenced by his exposure to marginalized people, as his father was a lawyer and baptist, and his mother was heavily involved in not-for-profits. Being around those less fortunate was something of a norm. Seeing the values of his parents in action on a daily basis further cemented Elliot’s belief of community and how vital of a role they play in moving society forward. It seems only natural that Elliot sought volunteer experiences in developing nations while studying for his Bachelors and Masters. In 2008, Elliot and his friends wanted to volunteer in Africa but were asked to cough up over $5000 each to volunteer, which seemed wasteful. Not satisfied with the system in place, Elliot and his friends decided to cut out the intermediary, and thus ‘Y Generation Against Poverty’ (YGAP) was born. Their vision and approach are as simple as they are empowering, a world without poverty and the importance of empowering local people to solve local problems. Their main projects all focus on youth education and today they are active in six countries across Asia, Africa & Australia.
Elliot and YGAP’s most recent campaign, titled ‘Polished Man’, is centred around creating awareness and raise funds for the 1 in 5 children globally who will suffer physical and sexual violence before the age of 18. The campaign stems from Elliot’s visit to a village in Cambodia, where he met a little girl named Thea who was sexually abused. During their meeting, Elliot felt a love and playfulness in Thea’s eyes, little did he know that her tragic yet hopeful story would be the start of a global movement. For more information and to donate, head over to www.polishedman.com
Age: Just turned 31.
What do you do? (Work)
I am the CEO of YGAP; a movement of entrepreneurs that changes lives. We find and enable impact entrepreneurs in some of the world’s most disadvantage communities. We fund our work by running creative fundraising Campaigns and by owning and operating a range of social enterprises.
Why do you do it?
I strong believe we can live in a world without extreme poverty but achieving this requires bold and innovative approaches. Our work is changing the approach of traditional international development by dropping colonial, post WWII, methodologies to instead focus on supporting the local impact entrepreneurs with their ideas to tackle poverty on the frontline.
How do you make a difference in the world? (Work, business, life, family, self)
Predominately work
What are 3 defining moments in your life?
– First trip to India in 2004 with my best friend working and living in some of India’s most challenging areas
– Starting YGAP in 2008 with a group of friends
– Quitting my job in the corporate world in 2013 to go into full-time work with the non-profit I helped start; YGAP.
What is your life purpose?
Support my family and friends on their journey of philanthropy. I believe every single person has the capacity – in some way – to help change the world.
How did you tap into it?
There was no moment or life changing experience, it was just an evolved passion. I was always working on socially motivated causes and soon realised how many people around me were keen to do the same. YGAP has become a vehicle for others to share their skills and passion, motivated by the outcomes we have.
Who is your Role-Model or Mentor?
My strongest role model would be William Wilberforce. As a British MP, at the age of just 23 years old, he led the abolition movement to end Britain’s dependence on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Do you have any daily habits? If so, what are they?
A cup of tea (English Breakfast) after every meal I eat. I can’t live without one!
When do you know your work/life balance is off?
When I hit an absolute wall. I am not too good at picking up the signs that my work/life balance is out of whack; instead I notice when it’s too late. Something I need to change.
Vulnerability is a challenge for most men – share a vulnerable moment from your life with us.
Vulnerability is such an important trait to recognise for all men. A YGAP Board Member once said to me: “Elliot, you are super capable, super confident, but you are not prepared to be vulnerable.” This really struck me. Because he is right.
What did you learn from it?
I had to change my leadership approach and style. Given this, I have tried to show my staff and key volunteers that I am not perfect and I am capable of being vulnerable too.
If you are or were going to be a mentor for another man, what is one piece of advice you would give him?
Displaying and expressing vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. I learnt this the hard way.
How do you be the best partner (Boyfriend/Husband- past or present)
Be prepared to have tough conversations about emotions. Women – as partners – are biologically more open to discussions around feelings and emotions. It is important to park the rationale explanation from time to time and connect on an emotional level where you can meet your partner.
Do you support any Charities or Not-for-profits? (Which one(s) and why?)
Well, I work full-time for one! Outside of YGAP, I do personally fund a range of not-for-profits; both with my money and with my time (advice and an active Board Member)
If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
I asked two female staff members this question. On my behalf they were quick to reply: “Your body is a wonderland” by John Mayer and “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls… I don’t agree, so I will run with “Hakuna Matata” by The Lion King.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
As an organisation, we have set an objective to significantly and measurably impact the lives of one million people by mid-2018. I want to remain the leader who drives this powerful impact.
What legacy do you want to leave for future generations?
A simple belief that we all have the capacity to change the world. Be bold, be brave and be vocal in your approach to achieve this.
What One book would you recommend for any Man?
The Reluctant Fundamentalist; it’s brilliant
If you know a Man that is making a positive impact on the world, we would love to hear from you! Contact us at [email protected]


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