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