How To Turn Your Life Experience Into A Business

Many of my clients and other entrepreneurs I have admired over the years have taken their past journey and experiences and turned that, in itself, into a successful business. This could take the form of teaching others how to duplicate their success in a particular field, or sharing their interesting life experiences with others to entertain them. This is how it can be done.

The Example – Mark “Hammer” Dixon

I am going to firstly share an example with you to give you some food for thought. Of course, his life experiences are likely to be very different to yours, but that’s exactly why you, and many others, are going to want to know about them!

This is his story.

Mark Dixon was born to a wealthy upper-class Brisbane family . He was bullied through most of his school years due to an illness. Nurturing an interest in boxing thanks to the influence of his Uncle, Bunger Johnson, Mark took his interest for ring fighting to the security industry, and started a career path that saw him become one of Australia’s most sought after pub bouncers and, notably, bodyguard to some of Australia’s most notorious characters of the underworld, including Chopper Read (about whom a movie was made), Roger Rogerson and Roberta Williams.

While the rest of us were going to university, sitting in an office, doing business in the corporate world and eating out in restaurants, Mark was dealing with drive-by shootings, pub murders, street bashings, kidnappings and bikie gangs putting a price on your head – all part of his job.  In fact, Mark witnessed his first murder when he was 17 years old and working as security at a club that hosted the wake of two young bikie gang deaths.

“We had two rival bikie gangs there and by the time a large volume of alcohol had been drunk, it is fair to say that tempers were pretty much frayed. The whole place was a cauldron of bubbling emotion. By the time everyone had punched themselves out, there were broken and bleeding bikies everywhere. Right in the middle was one poor bastard with a pool cue through his eye into his brain. Dead!”

During his years as a bodyguard and bouncer, Mark has been victim to a vicious pre-meditated hit and run attack, doused in fuel and almost set alight, witness to four murders, and faced numerous stabbing attempts.

“I was attacked with a baseball bat, had a Stanley knife down the side of my leg, stabbed with a screwdriver in one arm, and fractured my left leg from a bar stool attack. The most interesting thing I was knocked out with, though, was a flying toilet bowl.”

However, while the industry has presented its challenges – Mark would start a shift and not know whether this was going to be the one he would not finish alive – his journey has certainly had its perks.

“I still don’t know why, but bouncing attracts a lot of women with a fascination for blokes like me. Don’t get me wrong, I love women and only ever start out with the best of intentions, but chances are, if I do get involved for any period of time, there is not much chance that I will stay faithful. I go off to work, and there is the next one, pretty much throwing herself at me.”

The road trip with Chopper provided fond memories too, where Mark was volunteered by Chopper to take part in a street fight with a small country town’s local tough, so he could win the money back he had lost gambling.

“I am the last person on the face of the earth that has looked down the barrel of a loaded gun held by Chopper, and lived to tell the tale.”

Mark became known as the “Hammer” the night he threw himself in front of Chopper to protect him from the blow of a claw hammer that was heading straight for his head. That was an incident that really cemented their relationship and saw Chopper trust him as his bodyguard for around seven years.

Hammer – Bash For Cash – Is Born

Not surprisingly, everyone has always been fascinated to hear about Mark’s experiences as bodyguard to underworld characters and as a bouncer to pubs and strip clubs. With the help of his good mate, John Sparks, Mark has decided to put his stories to paper, and has just published his first tell-all book, Hammer – Bash for Cash, without sparing any of the gritty and gory details, aside from changing a few names of locations and conspirators to protect the guilty.

Aside from promoting his book, we will be looking at setting him up as a speaker, touring Australia’s pubs and clubs, sharing his story and building his profile as the bodyguard who is confessing all.

How You Can Do It Too

The first thing you need to do is work out what your hook is. What is interesting about you and your life experience that others can learn from, or be entertained by? A good hint is to notice what fascinates people about you when you meet at gatherings and parties. What do they want to know? This may be about how you have figured out to successfully use a form of social media, turned your business into a franchise, or reached millions of people through your blog while you were traveling the world (like Yaro!).

Alternatively, you may be an Olympian with an interesting story of triumph over adversity that people just love to hear.  If you find yourself telling the same story over and over again to a captivated audience of friends and colleagues, why not turn this into a business and get paid to do it?

The Business Opportunity

Depending on your hook, you have a number of avenues to share your insights and get paid for it. These are the most commonly used revenue streams at your disposal.

  • Tell your story/experience/how-to tips in the form of a book! E-books are one opportunity, but even often better than that (because of its higher perceived value) is a published book.
  • Develop a speaking career – either by holding your own workshops or by speaking at outside events.
  • Create an online course that teaches others how to use your methods to achieve the success you have in your chosen field.
  • There are countless other opportunities depending on your field of expertise and skills, including webinars, running retreats, consulting, coaching, selling your brand/image as sponsorship to other companies, etc.

Building The Business

This is an enormous topic that would cover multiple blog posts, many of them outside my area of expertise. Just briefly, however, once you have decided your hook and how to develop your revenue streams, aside from developing the products themselves, is building your client base – i.e. getting it known what you are doing so you can start making money.

Without going into it in detail (that’s for another day), here are some tips:

  • Website – you will need a website for your new brand with your SEO and Adwords driving traffic to your business.
  • Blogging and social media including Twitter and facebook. This is how you are going to spread the word and connect with more people.
  • Networking – meet as many people as you can to spread the word.
  • Publicity – is there an opportunity to get yourself into the newspapers, radio, in magazines and on TV?
  • Look for opportunities to form strategic alliances and relationships with other businesses and individuals who have a similar client base or to whom you could add something different and complementary.

Have you built a business from a life experience, and if so, what was it?

Kerry McDuling

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me – building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

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23 Comments

  • This business model like Tony Robin did right? From Junior to become highly successful motivator.

  • For me, a key phrase you wrote was:

    “If you find yourself telling the same story over and over again to a captivated audience of friends and colleagues, why not turn this into a business and get paid to do it?”

    I’ve just realized I could write an ebook about a topic. In one of my fields of work, over and over, people I meet ask me to tell them the same particular story. Never thought about monetizing my story in an ebook before.

    What a simple way of determining if you’ve got unique info that could be monetized.

  • hi Kerry -Entrepreneurs-
    exciting example, good biz tips. I incorporate my life experiences into my biz as well,,currently my life living on a tiny Caribbean island & creating art with Crayola markers!

  • Thanks Yaro for Mark’s example. I didn’t know he passed through so much.

  • Very useful article, thank you very much =) I’ve even thought I will make your life experience in the business, such as creating a website or creating flash animations.

  • Lovely article Kerry.

    Passion plus Products plus Personality = Profit. People follow people that are passionate about their subject (Peter is a great example of this with his Gluten-Free Society.)

    We just need to have a BIG IDEA that serves a hungry niche market.

  • Boobs and boxing, what more could a bloke want? That hook works and sex definitely sells.

    It’s also fun to see aussie lingo. Bikie instead of biker and bloke instead guy. What do you call kangaroos, is it roos? Very cute.

  • Thanks for the post Kerry. I will check out Mark Dixon’s book when its available where I live. Some great tips on how to turn our lives experience into a business.

    - Robert

  • People love stories thay can relate to. That’s why personal exeprience is the best marketing and the best product. There are plenty of examples of people who went public with what they did or are doing. This is just another proof it works.

    • Personal Experiences is the best way, People love stories. We can give our experience, even if we do not have good experience.

  • Fascinating read about Mark Dixon’s life, Kerry. I have to respect him to have survived through so much and take it all in and cherish it as part of the life he chose. I can also definitely see how his life would stand to make for good business. A book is just the starting point. I think a regular sitcom or reality show around him would be very successful too.

  • personal experienceis important for marketing

  • Hi Kerry

    i did my first post about a story as my blog is about traffic generation its tough to get some of me into it sometimes BUT

    It went down really well and got featured on T Harv Eker blog!

    So yes I totally agree but a month ago I would have had the opposite opinion.

    Thanks for this great stuff

    Warmest

    Phill

    • Traffic Generation topic is the toughest topic to get traffic. It is great that, it has went down to T Harv Eker Blog.

  • Ann

    Excellent post, I have done this and its a winner in my business

  • This article is so good Kerry! It’s true, even an obscure topic like being a bouncer is an opportunity to share something interesting. That’s how I’ve created my website. I’ve used my experience in trading stocks for the last 14 years. In social settings, if it comes up, I share that in 2008 when so many folks lost money in the stock market, I ended the year in the green. That year (and story) gave me the confidence to create my website and business. I’m so very passionate about my topic and I want to teach people how to do well in the market and not lose their shirts. Thank you for this affirmation and the tips.

  • Hey Kerry,

    THANK YOU FOR TURNING ME ONTO THIS BOOK!

    Your short review of this story was fascinating! And this book is gonna allow me to explore an underworld I’m completely unfamiliar with. Don’t know why, but I’ve never thought of “Gansters” when I thought of Australia which is dumb because England used to send all of their gangsters there and no doubt there’s shady practices going down there that those guys great, great, grandfathered. Hahaha

    What I’m sharing is long but it’s extremely valuable if you want to crush it when you go to sell your expertise via a product. This list comes from what I’ve learned from the genius Eben Pagan and it’s process he uses to guarantee he never launches a piss poor product that nobody wants.

    Here we go…

    Eben Pagan’s Guru Blueprint Niche Research and Testing Sequence

    1. Search online for much traffic a topic is generating using Google’s keyword tool and Alexa.com and compete.com to see how much traffic other sites in this niche are getting.

    By looking at the keywords and the traffic I get an idea of how many people are out there searching for information.

    It’s a good idea to add words that indicate there’s a problem, frustration or a worry. This means that if you’re in the weight loss niche, you wouldn’t just type in “weight loss”. Type in “weight loss problem” or “weight loss fear” or “biggest problem losing weight” or “fear about losing weight”.

    The next level is to ask what are the problems someone who’s losing weight is having. And if they had that fear or problem, what would they type in? People probably won’t type in “problem losing weight” into Google.

    They’re more likely to type in what their specific problem is.

    So if their problem was emotional eating, they would probably be more likely to type in something like “how do I stop emotional eating?” Or “ stop emotional eating” instead of “weight loss problem”.

    You want to make a list of things that someone who’s experiencing this challenge, would be going through and then ask yourself, “If I was someone who had that problem, what would I type into google to figure out how to fix it?”

    Not a description of the problem from your perspective.

    When you’re doing your searches you’re more than likely gonna find a ton of sites that sell something like what you want to or that are directly related to it.

    Then you can go to those sites and by going to the “view” tab at the top you can see the source code for the site and then look at the description they have at the top of the source code because they’ll have words there that describe their website, keywords they believe people are searching for, and this process has led Eben to many, many insights.

    If they show up on the first page, that means they’re doing everything right to be there. This means that the search terms that they’ve put in are working.

    So you want to type in those into google and you also want to do searches on those terms to find out what other websites come up.

    And then once you find some of these websites, go to Alexa.com which is a website ranking tool and do some research. Find out how highly ranked each of the websites is and what’s cool about Alexa is that they show you related websites.

    This is also excellent research for when you’re looking for partners who you work with who can sell your products for you, for you to interview or interview you.

    Then finally go to clickbank.com and click on “Marketplace” and click on “selling” and what this allows to see is what’s hot AND you get to see the salesletter and the conversion process that very successful information marketers are using.

    Use these tools to get a feel for your market.

    2. Talk to people who are your target audience and ask them what their biggest fears, frustrations and desires are

    The longer you go between customer research and tests with real, live people… the easier it to catch I-know-this-is-going-to-work-itis.

    If you wait forever to talk to people, you end up rationalizing that this HAS to work because you have to explain & rationalize all the research you’ve been doing to yourself and to others.

    As soon as you’ve narrowed down your niche, start talking to people immediately.

    This is important because by talking to real people back and forth it allows you to drill deeply and ask for specificity that you can’t get when people just fill out a survey.

    3. Identify the top fears, frustrations, and desires… then do an online survey.

    You can use a blog or an easy survey tool so that you can get a larger sample size so that you can really narrow in on what’s freaking people out.

    4. Offer a free tele-class to see how many people show up

    Even if you do this with a small group of people, this allows you to gauge whether people are willing to show up for a teleclass on this topic, get them on there and then talk to them.

    5. Create a simple, not hard to create, training (webinar, tele-training) and offer it to a limited number of people.

    During this class I would teach some of my material, and I would open it up and ask a lot of questions of the group because you’ll get a lot of insights into what going on in the mind of your prospects.

    6. Do live consultations and coaching sessions with prospective customers

    In this step you tell people you’ll do 15-30 minutes on the phone with them and that you’d like to help them overcome their problem.

    Then when you get on the phone with them, you keep asking questions. What’s your biggest fear or frustration… you deepest wants and desires and keep going deeper and deeper.

    The reason why this is the best method is because you can learn more in 10-15 minutes talking to one person than you could from 100 different people answering 1 question. If you know your stuff, you can ask good questions.

    Eben recommends becoming a coach WHILE building your info-product business. Why? Because you can get paid to help people solve their problems WHILE you’re doing your market research.

    Consultations that lead to coaching sessions are a great way to do this.

    At his last conference he recommended that everyone do 4 free 15 minute consultations everyday and that by doing this you’ll learn more than anything else you could do. Doing this puts you in a great position for people to actually buy your coaching services.

    The coaching session is usually asking people what their challenges or frustrations are, what are their wants and desires or what’s stopping them, giving them steps, etc.

    This is best training he knows of PERIOD for learning how to create great information products.

    If Eben was building a new information business today, he would immediately start setting up one consultation after another.

    And you can do this by starting discussions on social media forums or send out an announcement on Twitter, you can go out and when people ask you a question, you can give them the answer and tell them, “Hey, let’s do a 15 minute consultation. It’s free, no obligation, I’ll ask you a couple of questions and be able to give you a technique that can really help you.”

    And then spend most of the time in the consultation, asking questions.

    ****His favorite book on the coaching process is “Co-active Coaching” by Laura Whitworth.

    7. And Only Then Do You Even Think About Creating and Launching a Full Product Because Until Then, You Aren’t Completely In Sync With Your Market

  • I really want to read that now he looks simliar to a relation of mine who is also a bouncer and tells me the exact same stories of women throwing themselves at him and moving through them all.

    He would have fitted well in the book “Naughty Bastards” – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naughty-Bastards-Kate-Kray/dp/184454513X

  • wow,that’s totally inspiring..great entry..thanks for the helpful tips. :)

  • Yes, How You Can Do It Too. we all have something interesting about our life. going to parties and meet people, and have a feel on what they like to hear you say, such as, are they asking questions about what you did, how did you do it, how did you feel about it, and so on. let your heart and intuition be your guide.
    You have talent too! yes You!

  • Hi Kerry!

    I think if one likes what he is doing he will excel on it. It is just a matter of determination and perseverance towards work. This is inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

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