My Version of University
I was definitely no Rhodes Scholar, my final school results were average at best. In fact, my English result was so poor, I was made to sit an English test to show that I had enough command of the English language to even be able to attend university!
As I sat in that test I looked around the room as I thought. I realized I had little or no desire to spend another 3-5 years in this environment, especially when I had no idea what it is that I wanted to do. I got up and walked out as a sea of stressed nervous and confused faces watched me exit the room only 10 minutes after the exam had begun.
I worked in several jobs over the next 3 years but mainly I was knocking on peoples doors, changing their telephone provider, selling them home security, roller shutters, garage doors, water systems moving any product or service which I was employed to, in the process meeting and starting to deal with thousands of people and learn how to speak to people from all walks of life.
I didn’t just learn sales, I learned that I genuinely loved people, all kinds of people. Didn’t matter where they came from what they looked like or where they lived, I would find that throughout the time I spent with a vast majority of people I was exactly where I wanted to be, talking to them. In just a few years I was 20 years old earning over $100,000 AUD a year, and somehow I blinked and I was on the verge of bankruptcy. It series of parties and decisions such as buying a sports car not a house had pushed me to the edge financially, so when that sports car was written off 7 weeks after I bought it, and then the insurance company refused to pay out the claim, I was left with a pile of debt which I could not see a way through.
I saw this as an opportunity to press pause on my career, and go off and see the world. So I put a pack on my back and headed off to see the world (One pub at a time). After a year I returned home to face the music of what was now a critical financial situation and one which many under 25 find themselves in shortly after leaving schools. Debts with credit cards, phone bills, car loans, and anything else I had racked up before I left. I put my head down and bum up and within the next 4 years I had negotiated my way out of settling this and purchasing my first home. It wasn’t much but it was a goal I had set to turn my life around.
The Pivot Point
I had started work in Insurance working for my father’s company and this was the first time I got to see the workings of a small business and how they operated as my father shared with me some of the wisdom he had picked up over the years. But it was a struggle, I was now down to half my previous wage and learning at the speed they were letting me was a frustration for me. I had a couple of personal challenges in my life that all hit me at once, my career was no longer giving me any of the success and happiness it previously was, and I found myself in a low and dark place.
I didn’t remain there long when I made an attempt on my life.
That night, my father found me in my office, and with hardly a word, stepped into action, assisting me, making sure I was OK then taking me to the family home. I knew things had to change, I knew for me it was essential for me to find happiness in my own way, I could not follow the dreams of others, it only even left me letting myself down and I had shown myself this was I life I simply could not live.
“Weeks later I started my first company Elliott Insurance Brokers”
Living Life By Design
A life by design
- Ever since I was a young boy, where other dreamed of being a pilot, or a fireman, I wanted to have my own business. I bred pigeons as a 12 year old to sell to a guy down the road and I kept writing down ideas and concepts that could one day be the thing that I was meant to do. I always had reasons or simply procrastinated even starting my own serious business. I had been in the insurance industry now for about 2 years, and at 26 I decided that I needed to start my own Insurance Broking company. It now was not just a case that I wanted success, it was something which I knew was a key part to my happiness. I set rules for myself:
- Don’t get out of bed until you have slept as much as you feel you need to
- Don’t get out of the office until you have worked as much as you feel you need to
- I needed to start respecting and valuing myself as much as I did my work. This gave me a renewed passion and over the first few years the business exploded. The average age of an insurance brokerage owner was 61 and had 40 years experience and a large cash pool behind them to start. My other competitors were the insurance companies, with thousands of employees and multi million dollar budgets.
- And then there was me, 26 with 2 years doing low level broking, and a couple of grand in a one man office and a few ideas. Now that I was happy and doing what I wanted, and this was my biggest tool that always set me ahead of many of those around me. I could work longer, network more, I got to again spend time with a massive range of people which as I said earlier, I loved. I started to do what I loved and the results came through.
- Over the next 9 years the company and the other businesses I became involved in won several awards including Top Ten Australia Insurance Brokerage for over 6 years and BRW Fast 100 awards 2 years running putting us in the fastest growing businesses in Australia. I had the pleasure of at one stage working every single role in my company that exists today.