I’ll write something here soon… promise 🙄 It’s tough to write about yourself without feeling like a narcissistic tosser, I guess that’s why people get biographers, still…
Here’s a start;
(nb over time I have added to this and it’s gotten quite long…. sorry bout that, turns out I am a narcissistic tosser after all….)
I was born in Ripley in Derbyshire in 1971
My dad had a horrendous accident when I was young, he was involved in a 3 lorry pile up on the motorway, his legs were crushed… he was hospitalized for 6 months, i remember my mum spending weekends with him and working 3 jobs to help support us whilst he was in hospital.
I learnt that you need to have a back up plan in life, time is the single most precious thing we have and if you want something you’ve got to work your ass off until you get it.
When i was 9 I had a paper round to give me pocket money, i actually had 3 paper rounds, 2 of which I subcontracted out to friends taking a small margin for my trouble.
At 11 my parents divorced… it knocked me for 6 and i went from straight A student to tearaway in 3 months. After that school became a way to socialize and date girls. I didn’t bother going most of the time and when i did I’m sure the teachers wished I wouldn’t have.
I left home at 16 and because the only subject I liked at school was home economics (I had a crush on the teacher Mrs Hepworth*) I decided that I’d become a chef, that and the fact I was useless at school, I think in my final year I went to school 38 days out of the year….
My teachers opened the champagne when I left.
*Mrs Hepworth (35) went on to date someone who was 18 at the time in the 6th form, it was quite the scandal!
So I started learning to be a chef, I went to Buxton College for 3 years and loved it, I won chef of the year each year I was there and at nights and the weekends worked at Baslow Hall which at the time had a Michelin star (I think it still does). In return for working Max let me sleep in a cupboard upstairs and eat in the kitchen, which I liked as I got to hang out with Max a lot.
He grew all his own vegetables and I used to love getting up early to help him pick the veg and herbs for the day, often times locals would bring in pheasants, grouse and local fish that we’d prepare and serve that evening.
I had little time for anything else other than cooking and eating.
I went to London and Max got me a sojourn with Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s in Wandsworth, Max was a gentle caring fatherly German….. Marco was a creative genius, the difference could not have been more profound.
Max played classical music into the kitchen and it was, for the most part, tranquil…. Marco played Rock and thrash and shouted and screamed, he was a man on a mission.
I met Gordon Ramsey at Harvey’s, he was Marcos Sous chef (read maniacal crazy bastard) I watch Gordon on TV now and it surprises me how much he’s calmed down. The words, “he was an asshole” spring to mind…. talented beyond belief, but a total asshole.
I worked my way through lots of 2 and 3 michelin star restaurants, la tante claire, Le Gavroche (when it had 3 stars) and Le Manoir aux quat saison to name a few you may have heard of, I learnt the value of hard work and preparation. Perfection was and still is something I strive for…. she’s a hard task mistress.
From there I went to Jersey and with a friend and girlfriend opened my first restaurant at age 22. We knew nothing of business, the restaurant barely broke even.
We paid our suppliers in dinners for them and their mistresses/wives.
Our rent was paid for by a stroke of luck when I learnt that our landlord had a crush on one of the regulars, it wouldn’t be the last time i’ve played pimp to help a business.
I remember in the mornings we’d be woken by the fisherman at the door (we slept in the kitchen) with fresh scallops, sea bass and oysters. They’d open a few and have a beer we’d start intravenously ingesting coffee in readiness for another 17 hour day.
We won a bib gourmand in our first year, which still amazes me even now. As a chef, these are my happiest memories.
I had heard that the Olympics were on in Sydney and a good mate of mine Stuart, who was from Glasgow and thus needed me to translate for him, was heading off to Sydney to make his fortune as a chef. As he eloquently put it, “they’re giving any one who can hold a knife a visa” (that is a very nice translation of something which actually went more like “ay ay nils, lets gan shag their wee ohsie lahssies an drink thar pufter piss beer ya ken?”)
So we sold the restaurant and jumped on a plane to Sydney with our Visa’s and knives in hand. I was 23 by then.
I LOVED IT!
Have you been? it’s an incredible place, and for a young single guy even more so.
After 7 years of 16 hour days 6 days a week I needed a break and Sydney was the perfect respite from the crazy UK kitchens I was used too.
I tend to do everything to extremes (can anyone say neurosis) so just like I ploughed myself into cooking, I now rushed headlong into a life of hedonism.
Life became a blur of drink, drugs and women.
Meanwhile I had established that my michelin starred training as a chef meant I could cook the pants of most chefs whilst hungover or high or both. Very quickly I learnt that the people making the real money were the people who owned the restaurant and so along with a mate and a somewhat dodgy investment from a drug dealer (… money laundering) we purchased our first restaurant.
It was a ramshackle thing in the heart of Darlinghurst, a mecca for gays and party people the world over.
Whilst our investor sold cocaine upstairs we set about turning the restaurant around and within 6 months I had a sore nose and a very successful restauant.
One day whilst particularly high on coke the “investor” came into the kitchen with a birthday cake he wanted us to “ice” with an once of cocaine for a big drug lord that had dropped into Sydney for his birthday from Cuba.
I iced the cake with Happy 27th Birthday, that night I met 5 Cuban guys with uzi’s and the next day put the restaurant on the market so I could get the f*ck outa there.
We sold the restaurant, (politely) dumped our investor and bought another place.
We did this 4 more times until one day we had a restaurant with 150 seats doing a mill + a year….. I hated it.
Being the action taker I was at that time I ignored the feeling and drank, snorted and shagged more.
Then 1 day a friend, in retrospect a great friend, took me aside and shook me up.
He let me know in no uncertain terms I was ruining my life, he was right.
I told my business partner he could keep the restaurant and quit that day.
The next day I was swimming at Bondi beach thinking about my future, when I got to shore I had a text message from a friend saying she was desperate for help, she had booked a space at an outdoor festival call The Peats Ridge Music Festival at Glenworth Valley, it was the Glastonbury of Australia, she needed a chef.
I arrived to find an old girl mate there called Carla, now Carla was what you might call a diesel dyke, more manly than Clint Eastwood and awesome fun to be around. So I knew I’d be in for a good time for the next 3 days perving on girls with Carla.
We had a prime spot opposite the stage and with 45,000 18 – 22 year old girls we knew we wouldn’t sleep much either!
I spotted her first.
Short black hair, gorgeous pixie like features, green eyes, an ass you’d cry for.
She was working as a volunteer, I knew the volunteer co-ordinator, Steve.
“Steve, we’re really in the shit in the kitchen, could we get some help?”
“Yeah sure Neil, I’ll send one of the guys in”
“errrr this job is gonna need the feminine touch, how about you send her into the kitchen (pointing at sexy green eyed girl)”
Steve looked me dead in the eye and said the words that are etched in my memory…
“Neil, there is no way in hell I’m putting Natasha in there with you 2!”
Natasha….. 8 months later we were engaged, 1 year later I married her in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney in a Hindu ceremony. I thank my lucky stars everyday that I met her, she is my soul mate in a way I cannot put into words.
Soon after I started a Psychology degree at Sydney Uni, I had to do a prep course first to show that my maths were good enough (lots of maths in Psych).
I was hooked, people fascinate me, why they do what they do, in retrospect the psycholgy degree was to understand me, I was trying to “figure myself out” through everyone else.
I see this a lot.
I loved helping people, still do. BUT, I love helping people who help themselves.
If you take the first step I’ll be right at your side for the next 1, 2, 1000.
But people who complain about their problems without actually doing anything about them, I have no time for.
So I saw traditional therapy as hindering rather than helping people. I met a guy called Dr Anthony Grant and loved what he was doing with Coaching Psycholgy.
I made it my mission to learn everything about it.
I got good very quickly (that neurosis again) and started coaching some amazing people to do even more, from lawyers and bankers to actors and diplomats… I earnt a great reputation and started getting interest from people who wanted to learn from me.
Our first “become a life coach” seminar was 10 of my clients, within 18 months we had a business that was making $8 million a year and we’d franchised it all over Australia.
12 months later we’d sold master franchise rights in Australia, Singapore, Ireland, South Africa and the UK.
Sensing the opportunity we moved to England to look after things ourselves.
Lets just say that England proved difficult to adjust too, because a year later we were back in Oz, we’d sold the franchise rights to the UK and I’d started a company called Aussiepreneur.
At that time on British TV there were LOADS of programmes about moving to Australia, so I figured I’d provide a service and help people, and because I’d bought and sold a few businesses I thought I’d set myself up as a business broker.
My marketing was essentially “England Sucks! Move to Australia, I’ll help you buy a business and start a new life.”
And in Australia I’d send letters to business owners with a £1 coin attached to them saying “England Sucks! that’s why everyone wants to move to Australia! Let me sell your business to a Pomme and you can lie on the beach at Bondi, see that £1 coin it’s worth $2.80 to you!”
We sold $38 million of businesses in our second year….
The business was brought by a competitor who promptly screwed it up and closed it.
We moved back to England (sorry bout the sucking part… can we come back please) and I decided to write a book with the intention of publishing it. I called the book “How to buy a great business with no money down”
want a copy?
There is some info at the back about becoming a business broker and working for me, naturally that no longer applies.
About that time I went to a business seminar with Jay Abraham and he said be the expert in your field, be a trusted advisor, so I decided to give away my book instead of publishing it…. in 1 month 12,466 people had requested a copy!
Talk about flying start!
The 12K people who had downloaded my book seemed to like it because I got lots of requests for help, I like helping people, moreover I like GETTING PAID to help people, helping people for free I reserve for people who cannot afford to pay but genuinely want the help.
So I thought I’d run a workshop and teach people face to face, cooking is theatre and I’ve often thought acting would be fun so I’ve always enjoyed being ‘on stage’ as a presenter. I figured I’d just copy what Jay Abraham did and charge £25,000 for a 3 day event.
I hate to admit it but I bottled it, although I truly believed in what I was teaching and I’d seen for myself people become millionaires using the info I’d shown them, I still couldn’t charge that much for a seminar, this says much more about my self confidence and money psychology than anything else.
I settled on £5000… well £4997 (if you’re a marketer everything ends in 7)
I tentativly sent an e-mail to my list and within 90 minutes sold 100 seats… to say I was shitting myself at the prospect of doing the seminar was an understatement!
After the seminar I did a coaching group and helped a ton of people buy and sell businesses, geez it was fun, I LOVE the cut and thrust of business life.
After that I got a TON of people asking me how on earth I’d sold out a hundred seat seminar in 90 minutes (sheer luck!).
With that my internet marketing career was launched.
In between doing all this I accidentally became the No 1 promotor for a guy called Chris Howard I single handedly launched there UK business for them and a VERY smart lady called Karen Corban asked me to promote Chris in the UK and on the strengh of my agreement invested half a million quid to launch their UK business.
Turned out to be a smart move because within a year I’d put 5000 people into a 2 1/2 day seminar with Chris.
Do you have kids? I honestly never thought I’d have any. I partied hard and screwed around.
Kids were something the mums I’d shag had.
Then during a trip to Cape Town with Tash, Isabella was conceived.
She is my world.
If you’re a parent you’ll get that, if you’re not, you will soon enough.
I love her so much it actually hurts sometimes. She is a part of me and I’m grateful to have her.
With parenthood comes responsibility… my interpretation of that is the responsibility to explore.
For the last 5 years we have lived in 5 different countries, Australia, England, America, Holland and France.
We live in 1 new country a year and it’s an amazing way to live.
The internet means I can run 5 businesses from my laptop, we have 50+ employees and I’ve met 3 of them face to face.
That to me is freedom.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time selling other peoples products as an affiliate, it’s become a part of my strategy to test markets by selling other peoples products first…. last year I became one of the top 100 affiliates in the world in the click bank network of 250,000 affiliates.
I now run a business where we bring great products to market and through my team of distributors throughout the world (England, Ireland, Germany, Holland, France, Italy, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, China, Singapore and Canada) we sell globally.
Essentially I create the marketing and business systems, once we have it tested and working well we pass it on to our team throughout the world to sell in their market, it works VERY well.
It also means I get to indulge my passion for travel with my family and meeting new people.
Due to the success I’ve had as a super affiliate for businesses, lots of the businesses I sold products for approached me directly and in doing so they cut out the networks that took a cut for the intro to me.
This has lead me to start a digital marketing agency called Roar in essence I still act as a super affiliate or outsourced marketing department for the businesses we look after, I set up their entire digital marketing strategy, look after the PPC, SEO and SEM do their social media marketing and create their website and landing pages so they convert visitors into buyers.
Then we spend our time optimising the process so our clients get the most bang for their buck.
It’s a strange turn around for me and in many ways I’ve gone from poacher to gamekeeper, where once I was learning how to sell their products so I could create my own now I apply my skills to massively increase their online business revenues.
So far so good!
We’ve got lots of great clients who we look after and on average we triple their online revenue for them 🙂
I suppose I’m growing up because I plan to float my company on the AIM exchange.
Tash says next thing you know I’ll be buying a pipe and slippers!
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading some stuff about me, warts and all.
I’m human, I screw up, I’ve made LOTS of mistakes, I’ve looked VERY foolish, I’ve embarrassed Natasha too many times to count. I have people that think I’ve made them a fortune and people that think I’ve lost them a fortune.
Neither of these points of view are true.
We make our own life. We create our own reality.
My overlying philosophy in life can be summed up best by the Delphic Oracle:
Know thyself, Be Thyself, Love Thyself.