He has been a senior manager with New Zealand’s leading financial services institution and has a background in financial planning. Mike has written nine books, now released in numerous countries including best sellers. Mike also writes a regular column for an international magazine that distributes to 15 countries. He has been called one of Asia's top ten coaches, and Asia's leading Edu-tainer, and as a musician he has no less than 9 albums to his credit. Mike has appeared on television, radio and various articles.
In recent times Mike has been nominated for three Extraordinary Lives awards, is in the movie ‘Dreamcatchers’ and various television projects and was applauded by President Bill Clinton for his charitable work in India and Cambodia at the recent Clinton Global Initiative.
Please tell us a bit of your earlier years – 20 to 35
I spent all those years in financial planning and senior management in a financial services company. By 35 I was a National Sales Manager looking after about 20 business development managers and 1,000 broker relationships. I was responsible for around $20mill in new business results as I recall. I had also 12 years as a semi professional musician including a stint out of financial services where I lived and breathed music.
In that time I toured reasonably extensively and did around 3 – 4 albums. I have done 10 now. I was pretty lost, chasing money, thinking I wanted to be a CEO (eeek!) and following other people’s dreams of who I should be.
Please share any rude awakenings or revelations around your midpoint of life
In my late 30’s, our company went through a massive restructure.
At that stage I was heading distribution. The marketing manager came to me and was very upset. At 50 something he couldn’t afford to lose his job. He was fantastic and was an asset, there was no way he was going, in fact he is still there today, yet somehow that changed everything for me. I thought, I don’t want to be him. I don’t want to worry about what some company is or isn’t going to do with me. A few of us felt the same way. We all left.
I became initially a property investor, builder and entrepreneur, and after two years of finding my passions I became what I am today. I have never looked back. The thought of being back in a JOB is stifling to me.
What did you change in your life around this ‘midpoint of life'?
A lot changed at this point. I had just got married, was building a new house, had two brand new businesses I was getting off the ground. I was full on studying spirituality, ancient Egypt, religions and any metaphysics I could get my hands on.
I became a lot less materialistic overnight. Constant travel, meeting new cultures, understanding the world at a grass roots level became very important for me. I didn’t have a grey hair til I was 42 and then everything changed overnight. I now realize it’s the law of 7, our cells regenerate every 7 years and at 42, you are heading into the 7th seven. It’s sometimes called mid life crisis.
For me it was mid life awakening.
Any lessons learnt during this time?
I learnt to understand all cultures. Spent a lot of time in Cambodia, and other parts of Asia and the middle east. I released two albums in two years and played in the Philippines, China, the USA, India and Malaysia.
My marriage broke up after just twenty months. Today, we are best friends. I later learnt Gary Chapmans love languages. I think that’s great for helping people understand their partner. I studied entrpreneurship and spent time with people who had made tens of millions, so I could understand what they did. I finally stopped talking about being socially responsible and did it. From cleaning up Koh Phi Phi Island after the Tsunami to funding an orphanage in Siem Reap, to being on the board of now three high profile charities.
I learnt that ‘giving is the new way of living’. I also wrote numerous books. This year my ninth book comes out.
Have you seen other guys making your errors that you'd love to talk to them about?
Ha, relationships…. Stop looking outwards. Look inwards. The first person you have to have a relationship with is yourself. The more staunch, tough and manly you are the less likely you have ever considered that. Go and have a very close look in the mirror and ask yourself. ‘When I was five years old, looking in the mirror was this the type of man I thought I would grow up to be?’
For most of us that can be very confronting. Learn to love who you are and change what you don’t like. Sure I’d love a six pack, but what is much more important to me other things like patience with people who let me down or accepting and genuinely wanting to help others.
How is your personal life different now than to what it was on your 20s?
It’s not greatly different actually. I now travel more, almost 300 days last year, so its much more the rock star lifestyle than when I was a rock star so that’s pretty funny. My life has always been based around awesome friends.
My friends are my family and I would do anything for them. My diet is ten times better these days and I don’t drink as much, but still love to party with friends. I don’t go out to clubs, I spent enough time on stage in those back then… I don’t have a mullet. My spare time is spent with friends, travelling to learn and listen and writing and playing music. I have a much greater appreciation for life and I simply don’t do anything I don’t want to anymore. I used to have a motor bike because my friends liked them. I don’t have one now. I used to go skiing because my friends wanted to.
Now I am happy to sit in the hot pool or watch DVD’s or read while they get cold. I always wanted a Porsche. I had one at 27. I am now happy with a good reliable car. I don’t feel the need to prove myself all the time. What I do no longer feels like work.
I live my passion daily.
What are you most active in now?
I am very active in social causes.
We have the Orphange in Siem Reap and I am on the Board of SAGE Foundation India, Global Dialogue Foundation Australia and FOStR NZ. That takes a bit of time.
In addition I am active as a VP of the National Speakers Association and International Representative for that. I like to contribute where I can and end up doing a lot of consults for free and give a lot of advice to authors, speakers, coaches and entrepreneurs. My main business Rock Your Life now has multiple companies so almost seven days a week I am engaged in part of that business. It doesn’t feel like work though.
It’s fun… all of it.
Which part/s of your life is different now than when in your 20's?
My physical life is different. I played a lot of team sport, like cricket and Aussie Rules, and was good at them. I simply don’t have the time to train or even play these days as my schedule doesn’t allow, and I don’t see the point of just running. I am still yet to see a jogger smiling.
I am very spiritually focused. I meditate regularly. I seek out information. I do a ton of research. We take people on spiritual journeys like in 2011 to Peru and Bolivia. I will study all the elements and locations for at least one to two years so people have an extraordinary time there.
I don’t get upset anymore. It’s very very rare. If someone does something or something happens I tend to look at it as a teaching or learning. I used to yell and scream and be grumpy. That doesn’t serve in anyway.
How is your business and/or professional life different now than to what it was on your 20s?
I am no longer a career minded person. I still set big goals and go hard to make them happen, but its not about career growth. As a 25 year old manager I wanted to be a CEO, now I realize the biggest challenge is being CEO of Self Inc. In 2010 I produced an 82 minute feature film and released it in 26 cities globally over two months. That’s what I do now. In my twenties I would have waited for an agent to pick me up. These days I don’t wait. I just do it. If I decided I wanted to be an artist. I would paint a bunch of paintings, find a venue and hold a killer exhibition that would be wow. Life’s too short, just do it. Most of what you want can be done without substantial expense and if it does cost, what better investment is there than your personal growth.
My friends went to Uni and spent tens of thousands getting a degree so they could be useful to someone else. I had to get a job as I was orphaned and couldn’t go to Uni at the same time, so I finally went in my thirties, by correspondance, because I thought I had to…for my job.
What a waste of money and effort. Now I invest in myself. I have done a range of courses to get my mind set right. I wanted to learn PR, so I invested $20K in a PR coach, who taught me what to do. The same for business and other things. I realize that the only way to fulfill your passion is to focus on it and to embrace it with everything you have. Learn to be the best at what you love.
What are 2-3 life experiences you would love to share today?
No #1. Trust your gut – not your education and experience. My education and experience is based on everyone elses ideas and inputs. My gut is based on my cellular relationship with the universe. Everytime I make a gut decision I make the right one. Even if it doesn’t work out the learnings are at a much higher magnitude. EG. Why would you base your business success on what some professor taught you who has never been in the business world?
No #2. Stop hiding in Bloke World. I find very few men who understand women at all. In fact I still come across a number of cave men, luckily not in the field I work. It’s amazing that people can get to 40 and have no idea about the opposite sex. They are still playing golf with the boys, going to the club on Saturday night and watching the footy on TV.
Look, there is nothing wrong with that, but I have found getting to know women and listening to them one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things I have ever done. It was hard for me. I was an only child who went to a boys school, but I really made an effort to listen when other guys would just get bored and wander off. I have some fabulous female friends these days and it’s amazing I feel incredible love all the time. It’s such a blessing and it’s not hard. I learnt a lot.
No#3. Learn to cry. My mother died when I was 15 and I was determined not to cry at the funeral. It was weak. I never cried until I was over forty. I don’t recall the first time, but it is one of the most cleansing amazing things to let that flow occur. It’s not that you need to cry if your team loses the opening match of the season by three points. It is that when you are deeply emotionally moved, let it come through.
I am convinced that blockage we learned as guys, creates stress, cancer, and a whole range of issues for us, plus we never find our heart… and that’s the most important thing…heart.