If you asked somebody that knows me well to describe me, they would probably mention my obsessions. I’ve had a few over the years. The biggest one, the one that would have killed me if I hadn’t broken it, was alcohol. Currently, the main one is honey bees. I seem to learn best by becoming obsessed – it’s my process. My long-suffering wife, who has been in my life for 37 years, understands this. She knows that I am always going to be obsessed with something and is probably grateful that beekeeping isn’t so bad, as obsessions go.
Perhaps not an obsession, but indeed a recurring theme is my fascination with success and achievement. I have studied it at length. The funny thing about “success” is that everybody thinks they know what it is, and yet for each of us, the meaning is different. That’s the first part of being successful – knowing what it is that you really desire. I mean the truth, not what everybody else says they want.
It’s a State of Mind
Our parents have a significant role to play in how we are conditioned from a young age to believe certain things and expect positive results. I was taught to strive for wealth and to create a loving family. Parents often want their children to surpass their own achievements, and their advice is usually well-meant. If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it is this:
the best way to achieve anything is to find somebody that has already mastered it and study them.
My parents were not wealthy, so how could they show me how to make lots of money? If you want to be a millionaire or a billionaire, you need to find somebody who is and consider how they tick. The same applies for any goal, whether it’s public speaking, marathon running, designing new technologies or whatever. Great people, and people who have done great things, often don’t think the same way that other people do. They tend to take action, they make mistakes, they fail. Then they learn from it and pick themselves up and get on with the next thing. They keep on. They know where they want to be and are taking steps towards it. Each setback is just another link in the chain which connects the dream to reality.
About twenty years ago, I had been immersing myself in whatever my latest self-help book was. It was by a life coach called Jack Black. I know a big part of it was setting goals; big dreamy goals and then smaller bite-sized goals. During a long walk in Thetford Forest with friends, I found that one chap was fascinated by what I had to say, so I gave it to him with both barrels. At that time, my chances of achieving greatness for myself were being continually sabotaged by whiskey and wine.
I have not met him since, but this guy bought the book, got on the program, and within a few years had become a very senior executive of an enormous bank. Coincidence? Maybe. I like to believe that I might have helped point him towards finding his own definition of success. He needed talent and dedication and drive, obviously, but those things work best when they are focused on clear goals.
I believe that you can’t truly hear a message and embrace it until you are ready. It sounds a bit hocus-pocus, but there it is. I have been through a fair few life coaches and mentors. Each has helped me for sure, and eventually, one day, I was ready. Everything clicked for me when reading something by Tony Robbins, no doubt for the tenth time. He learned how to model success. He sought out successful people, met them, asked them questions and studied them. This helped me enormously. I did some crazy things in my head. One example was that I would hold imaginary meetings with my heroes, or people that I hugely respected, to ask for guidance. Yep, imaginary conversations with people I’d never met (but had studied) – all going on in a board room in my mind.
My wife and I built a great small company and sold it in late 2015. I’d joined full time in 2006 a few months after getting sober, and the next nine years were FULL ON. We had this newfound wealth, or shall I call it “financial freedom” but where should it be invested? Our accountant recommended a fund manager who was going to charge too much for his services, so we decided that I would be responsible for our nest egg.
Tim Ferris took the idea of modelling success to great effect in his book Tools of Titans, which I read and read again with gusto. That led me back to Tony Robbins’ book Money: Master the game, and from there to Ray Dalio, who founded Bridgewater and is my investment hero. Ray’s so-called “All Weather Portfolio” was the model I followed as I squirrelled away our hard-earned funds. Later I found the Portfolio Charts site and tweaked the asset allocations to provide less volatility, I hope.
We are not super-rich, far from it, but what I really wanted was to be debt-free and able to live a comfortable life without having to work anymore. Job done! We brought up three talented kids, and our family gatherings are filled with love and laughter. I ended up following what my parents wanted for me, after all!
Interviews with Beekeepers
Finally, to beekeeping. My book is an extension of what I have tried to do for many years. It is about modelling success. If I can learn from some of the most consistently successful beekeepers in the world, why wouldn’t I? The whole project has been incredibly inspiring for me, and I hope it will be for all those that read Interviews with Beekeepers.