Page 1

Issue 3

thinkbig It’s about empowerment

Le a d e r s, B u s i n e s s, M i r a c l e s, C a u s e s, A d v e n t u r e

Stories include:

Olivia Newton-John’s $140m vision Man regains sight after 47 years Brain scientists uncover human potential The empowerment revolution Chris Howard – money misconceptions


6-day getaway Page 62

$6.95 inc GST Sept/October 2008 Volume 1.3



It’s about empowerment

10 thinkbig Leaders

thinkbig Wealth

Olivia Newton-John – Living on Intuition..................... 10 Olivia’s Cancer and Wellness Centre is a new paradigm for cancer sufferers; treating the mind, body and spirit.

Investing in GREEN........................................................... 45 Australian Ethical Investment is a deep green funds manager providing investment opportunities in ethical causes.

Passion for justice............................................................. 16 Human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC started as a blue blood corporate lawyer but these days is more concerned with the plight of refugees.

thinkbig Miracles The man who dared to see. .......................................... 20 Mike May never yearned for vision but after 46 years he was offered the chance to see again. Earthquake-proof housing............................................. 26 Dominic Dowling was a student engineer when he put his mind to developing earthquake-proof housing.

thinkbig Causes The brain that changes itself......................................... 29 Dr Norman Doidge has evidence of people whose lives have been transformed due to cutting edge brain science.

Doing what comes naturally......................................... 48 Women can multi-task, which makes them good property investors – Judith Taylor. Can anyone develop property?................................... 51 Anyone can learn the “big boy’s game” – Carly Crutchfield. Winning competitions..................................................... 52 Winning competitions has become more than a hobby for some people.

thinkbig Teachers Myth-conceptions about money. ................................ 55 Even before we earned a dime we were programmed with a blueprint for wealth – Chris Howard. Acknowledge your inner genius................................... 56 The person with the most certainty leads the game – John Demartini. Detours are healthy......................................................... 58 There is always more than one way to succeed – Justin Herald.

thinkbig Business

Pain serves a purpose..................................................... 60 The pain of losing can be a valuable teacher – Louise Bedford.

Australia’s most Linked In............................................... 36 Stan Relihan is Australia’s most Linked In person with more than 13,000 connections gathered since 2005.

No quick fix........................................................................ 61 The wealthy mind is an organised mind – Warren Black.

The revolution is not over. .............................................. 40 We are history’s most empowered children – Mark Joyner.

thinkbig Adventure

Focus on the big picture................................................ 42 Business owners often miss the wider vision – Reuben Buchanan.

Road to peace paved with loss.................................... 64 Grant Hilton’s new peace retreat is the result of a spiritual awakening.


‘ our team!’ Publisher and Managing Editor Michael Walls National Sales Manager Graham Maughan Contributing Editor Chris Howard Senior Writers Jill Fraser and Fran Molloy Contributors Reuben Buchanan, Justin Herald, John Demartini, Chris Howard, Carly Crutchfield, Judith Taylor, Louise Bedford. Creative Design Craft Design Karen Sagovac – Graphic Designer Illustrators Don Everett Karen Sagovac Website/subscriptions Enquires Mindset Media Pty Ltd ACN 129 256 300 ABN 94 129 256 300 GPO Box 519 Sydney Australia 2001 Phone: 61 2 9925 8016 Fax: 61 2 9925 8099 thinkbig Magazine ISSN: 1835 7733 Important Message – Copyright and Disclaimer thinkbig magazine is owned and published by Mindset Media Pty Ltd (ACN129 256 300). The publisher, authors and contributors reserve their rights in regards to copyright of their work. No part of this work covered by the copyright may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means without the written consent of the publisher. No person, organization or party should rely or on any way act upon any part of the contents of this publication whether that information is sourced from a website, magazine or related product without first obtaining the advice of a fully qualified person. This magazine and its related website and products are sold and distributed on the terms and condition that: • The publisher, contributors, editors and related parties are not responsible in any way for the actions or results taken any person, organization or any party on basis of reading information, stories or contributions in this publication, website or related product. • The publisher, contributors and related parties are not engaged in providing legal, financial or professional advice or services. The publisher, contributors, editors and consultants disclaim any and all liability and responsibility to any person or party, be they a purchaser, reader, advertiser or consumer of this publication in regards to the consequences and outcomes of anything done or omitted being in reliance whether partly or solely on the contents of this publication ands related website and products. • The publisher, editors, contributors and related parties shall have no responsibility for any action or omission by any other contributor, consultant, editor or related party.

thinkbig It’s about empowerment

Feedback Congratulations on issue two. All the hard work’s paying off; another excellent offering! My son loved the Steve Irwin article. Steve’s sorely missed; he was larger than life and definitely thought big. Fiona Ivancsik

What a great magazine! I have just finished reading this, back to front and I can’t say I have enjoyed a magazine in such a long time! The content was fabulous and really well written. Congratulations and a huge thank you. Cathy Morrissey Thanks so much for offering this magazine online. I receive a number of US publications this way and love that I can save the printing and only read what I want.* I would love to see a section for people to comment on the magazine, particularly issues and articles that they find personally relevant or have something meaningful to add to the wider community. Thanks again - love it! Nicky Tillyer

Just wanted to let you know how I feel regarding your new magazine. Let’s face it, there are hundreds of magazines out there that profess to be something that they are not. A couple of weeks ago I was floundering in a sea of magazines at my local newsagent, when I found a publication that stood out from the crowd - it was called thinkbig. I found thinkbig interesting, compelling and a very good read. Congratulations, I will definitely be subscribing to it. Kylie M

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Send your feedback to


thinkbig offers free online subscriptions. Visit and go to subscribe. 5

Notes to self

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min ring If yo tate of rapidly matu gger s a t s of ju ick Ja t crop curren rs. Bad boy M nth but, a o pop st 65 lasst, mhis quest fohr turnedhis year ues wit defying action” contin ren Scott W “satisf ner model L’ es his t r a a c d his p two de so cool n a h t more Prince was in June 0 . 5 r io o t n . ju it e news making about arely made th ichael ns b nd M ebratio Madonna a s stars, l e c is h ciou ed how tion is ost age cons Madonna, list s e u q The big o of pop’s m 0 in August. as the most a 00 ains ig 5 , tw g the B ecords in 20 all time, rem with in t Jackson it h up ndle rld R t of will ha uinness Wo cording artis ently teamed . But d G e c by the sful female r erstar and re and Timbalan con, p e I s k u e a n s l ber ike a succ ernational er t stin Tim (Madonna – L 50 will be h in u J e g s u r h it make turning O’Brien young h rapher Lucy thinkbig that g her bio House) told stone yet”. e Random hallenging mil c t “mos Keep aw ay from people who tr y to be little yo ambitio ur ns. Sm all peop always le do that , but th really g e reat ma ke you feel th at you, too, can bec ome gre at. Mark T wain


Women love organics

Organic food sales have topped $600 million a year and women are the primary purchasers. According to the Australian Organic Market Report 2008 men are still not totally convinced. The report shows that 40% of consumers now buy organic food on occasion and that the concept of organic has become more mainstream in recent years.

Fast trek to the south pole UK-born Hannah McK eand is a form

er marketing manager at the age of 28, chuc who, ked in her job to beco me an explorer. In 2004, she joined a British expedition se arching the desolate north-eastern corner of Afghanistan for th e source of the River Oxus. Later th at year, she skied with four others from the coast of Antarc tica to the geograph ic So uth Pole, covering the 1200 kilometre jo urney in 56 days. Desp ite facing physical and mental exhaustio n, frostbite, injury an d hunger, Hannah was hooked, and decided to try to do it again, on her own, without expedition support. Re ally fast. On 19 Nove mber 2006, she skied her way to the Sout h Pole from the Her cules Inlet at the edge of the Antarctic continent in 39 days, breaking all previous records - and no doub t, more than one finge rnail. In March this year, Hannah’s attem pt to be the first w oman to make a solo journey to the North Pole ended two weeks later when she was injured in a fall. She plans to try again in March 2009.

Inspirational healers

Australian doctors Catherine and Reginald Hamlin went to Ethiopia in 1959 on a three-year contract to establish a midwifery school, but discovered that thousands of women each year suffered from debilitating and socially shaming fistula injuries following childbirth. Deciding to stay in Addis Ababa to help, they refined a delicate surgical technique to successfully repair fistulae caused by obstructed childbirth in more than 90 percent of cases. Within three years they had healed hundreds of women and eventually set up their own free hospital for these outcast women. Reginald remained until his death in 1993 and his wife Catherine, aged 84, remains there, continuing their life’s work and still performing surgery herself. In Ethiopia, where few have access to medical care, as many as 200,000 women currently suffer with fistulas, and another 9,000 develop them each year. “We’re not patching up old people for a few more years,” Catherine told Oprah Winfrey in a 2004 interview. “We’re giving a young, beautiful woman a new life, and this is why I stay in Ethiopia. I love them.”

be d n a c e, an s e dl ndl not n a a c c l of single e wil ever s d n dl san om a can ness . u a r e o i Th ted f f th Happ hared uddh o s B ligh life ened. eing b the short by s be rease dec If you don’t

“ y in change, realit es the end forc that change upon you.”
 Stuart Wilde

f ree o n g e d lofty maginatio a r e i Neith ence nor r go to ig he intell th toget ius. o en nor b king of g hat is a t the m ove, love, s. l niu zart Love, ul of ge o M o us the s ng Amade ga Wolf

Drop mea t, live lon ger Research at Loma

Lind California shows th a University in at being a for 20 ye ve ars or mo re adds alm getarian years to the averag e lifespan ost four World W . During ar II, pe ople in Sc lived on ve a ndinavia ry almost no restricted diets w ith m correspon eat on the menu – ding drop but a in the mo returned rtality rat to normal e lev restrictio ns were li els when f ted after the wa and meat- r heavy diets rein stated. A vegetaria n French w oman, Marie-Lou ise Meilleur, who died in 1997 at th of 122, ha e age s been named as the world’s oldest person – a other peo nd many ple discov ered living to a surprising ly old age ha ve been fo und among geo gra primarily v phically isolated p eople with egetarian d iets like P Hunzakut akistan’s s people a nd of Okinaw a in Japan the inhabitants . Various to explain theories the differ ence sugg fruit and ests that vegetables offer a h antioxidan igh range ts, helpin of g prevent damage ca the cellula used by f r ree radica ls in the body. 7

Features: thinkbig heroes

‘ leaders influencing the world ’


“You have to listen to that intuitive voice and trust it� - Olivia Newton-John

The little voice says yes, you can!


Intuitive Olivia Newton-John.

If passion can manifest, Olivia Newton-John’s dream for a $140 million Cancer and Wellness Centre at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital is a done deal.

Olivia Newton-John


up a Pick ush, r b t n i pa oem, p a e writ g ethin m o s do ive... creat

he international singing star has a grand vision and she is backing it up with a drive that has its origins in her own hard fought battle with breast cancer in 1992. The initiative to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre was launched in 2003. To date over $60 million has been raised towards its construction, which is due to commence in 2111. Newton-John agreed to put her name to the project on the condition that it incorporate complimentary medicine along with the conventional Western approach to cancer treatment, education, training and research. “In the beginning the Wellness Centre was only a small part but it’s become known as the Cancer and Wellness Centre, so I am really thrilled because I believe that we are going to create a new paradigm in treatment,” she says. “It’s not just about giving people chemotherapy and cutting out their tumour. It is about treating the whole person and helping them move on to

better health and wellness. Having the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research under the same roof gives me hope that we will find a cure and then the whole thing will be a wellness centre. “That is my ultimate dream and I think we have that capability to achieve that.” It’s been a busy year for NewtonJohn. There was an album release (A Celebration in Song) with royalties going to cancer research, a gruelling 21 day, 228 kilometre hike through snow, ice, sun and scorched deserts across China to raise money for the establishment of the Cancer and Wellness Centre, and marriage to American millionaire and herb entrepreneur John Easterling, 56, (refer breakout) in a secret ceremony in Peru in June. To top it off, her 60th birthday celebrations are coming up on 26 September. The four time Grammy Award winning music legend and co-star of the hit musical, Grease, who had a string of Top 10 songs in the 70s and 80s, spoke

‘leaders influencing the world’

n o g n i v i L INTUITION


“It is about treating the whole person...” - Olivia Newton-John

Meet Livvy’s new hubby, ‘Amazon John’


Newton-John and John Easterling, (‘Amazon John’), founder of the Florida-based Amazon Herb Company, met through a friend, an environmental architect, more than 15 years ago and became romantically involved last year. It was the second marriage for both. The couple share a powerful interest in natural health and a deep commitment to creating a sustainable future. Easterling told thinkbig that his fascination with all things South American began when he was in elementary school and became intrigued by tales of adventure and untold wealth in ancient Incan civilizations. When Easterling left school he established a company called Raiders of the Lost Ark and became a “treasure hunter” who traded pre-Inca and tribal artefacts. He realised that the more than 150,000 species of plants were the real treasures of the Amazon when he experienced a serious bout of illness and was nursed back to health by villagers who dosed him up on herbal concoctions. Newton-John attributes her wellbeing today to plants such as camu camu, which contains 30 times more Vitamin C than oranges and supports the function of the brain and heart and which Easterling’s company sources from the Amazon. Newton-John and Easterling are heavily involved in projects which will assist and empower indigenous communities within the rainforest.

to thinkbig about what drives her, the changes that come with age and how she deals with difficulty. Deeply apologetic about postponing our first interview due to ill health she declares, “let me tell you, this is new for me, I can’t remember ever cancelling anything”. “Normally I push through no matter what. Even when I was doing the China walk and got pretty sick I kept walking. That’s my nature. But I learnt from that and now realise that I need to take care of myself.” Her natural inkling when illness strikes is to turn to alternatives and only take Western medications if necessary. But when breast cancer was diagnosed in 1992 she took the advice of friends and family and opted for chemotherapy despite her fears of the treatment. She also underwent a partial mastectomy. She now maintains, “common sense prevailed”. However she stresses that complementary therapies played an important support role, which is why she is so keen to create a centre that will treat body, mind and spirit. “My dream is that it will be the best of both worlds,” she says. “It will have the best of Western Medicine in a really healing atmosphere. It is really important to me that the place is not sterile and cold.” She has long been interested in alternative healing and thinking practices. Naming Deepak Chopra as one of her close friends and mentors she laughs at the comment that her conservative image belies her gently radical core. “I hadn’t thought about it but yeah I guess I am and probably getting more so as I get older,” she giggles. “I have a little voice that has guided me through lots of things. When I think I can’t do something the little voice will go yes, you can. Whatever it is – a guiding light, intuition, my God-self – it’s within each of us and I believe that we would all benefit if we tuned in and listened to it.” Newton-John maintains that her intuition and subsequently early detection saved her life. A mammogram and a needle biopsy indicated that the lump was benign. But she was convinced otherwise and

further tests proved her right. “You have to listen to that intuitive voice and trust it,” she says. “It’s only in the last couple of years, when I started to listen to that voice again when I was going through some difficult times, that I realized what it was. “Previously I wouldn’t have repeated these sorts of things to people in case they thought I was crazy. Now I don’t care,” she laughs. It has been a tough few years for ‘our Livvy’, who we love to claim as our own ignoring the fact that she was born in the UK and didn’t move to Melbourne until she was aged 5. First there was the disappearance of her boyfriend Patrick McDermott during a fishing expedition off Los Angeles in 2005 and then her daughter, Chloe, 22, whose father Matt Lattanzi NewtonJohn divorced in 1995, was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. The singer reveals that she turns to her craft and nature during times of stress. “I have been able to deal with and express some of the most difficult things in my life through music,” she says, suggesting that anyone who is going through something challenging should “pick up a paintbrush, write a poem or do something creative”. “It really is amazing what comes out.” Confessing that whereas once getting older would have worried her, today she views her upcoming 60th with gratitude. “I feel very grateful to be here and to have love in my life and wonderful projects to work on that I care passionately about. “I let things flow a bit more easily now. I used to be so worried about every little thing but with age I’ve come to realise that it’s all just part of what I do and not totally who I am. I can now see that that was me in that moment. I created that and now I can let it go.”

by Jill Fraser

I’m still the one that you want!

‘leaders influencing the world’

ave to h u o Y at to th n e t lis voice e v i t i intu st it. u r t and


“Justice is one of the deepest yearnings of the human spirit” - Julian Burnside

My conscience is clear but the Spare Rooms are full...


Passionate, Julian Burnside.

s on d n e p e d ngs i “If success h t e h t g sacrificinly matter, that truccess is pointless then su eless.” & valu

Prominent human rights lawyer, Julian Burnside QC, admits to a profound sense of inadequacy.


he permanently full guest room in the elegant Melbourne home of Julian Burnside QC symbolises everything that the human rights lawyer stands for. The room is occupied regularly by refugees who are indebted to Burnside and his wife, Kate Durham, for making their transition from mandatory detention to freedom a little easier. The high profile silk began opening his home to former detention centre detainees in 2002 when he and Kate launched the Spare Rooms for Refugees project in a bid to help asylum seekers enter the community. Human rights issues are high on Burnside’s agenda and pro bono refugee cases occupy a large part of his practice. But it hasn’t always been so. Burnside started out as a blue blood corporate barrister. He has acted for Alan Bond in fraud trials, for Rose Porteous in numerous actions against Gina Rinehart, for the Maritime Union of Australia in the 1998 waterfront dispute against Patrick Stevedores, for the Ok Tedi natives against BHP and he was the Senior Counsel assisting the Australian Broadcasting Authority in the “Cash for Comment” inquiry. His decision to provide counsel in a raft of refugee cases, most notably acting as senior counsel for Liberty Victoria in the Tampa asylum seekers litigation, was in danger of damaging his career due to public opinion at the time being strongly pro the Howard Government’s mandatory detention stance and its insistence that the Tampa refugees were not entitled habeas corpus – a legal action that allows a person to seek relief from unlawful detention. But Burnside dismisses the fallout saying “it did not occur to me as a possibility until it had happened.” “It surprised me, but I did not for a minute consider the idea of staying silent. If I had turned aside to protect my career, my conscience would have exacted a much greater price. “If success depends on sacrificing the things that truly matter, then success is pointless and valueless.” Educated at Melbourne Grammar and raised in a privileged household Burnside began life deeply entrenched in the mores of Melbourne’s conservative establishment. His father, a brilliant urological surgeon, was a demanding taskmaster, instilling in him a love of language and challenging him to attain his potential. Unwittingly he also contributed to Burnside’s feelings of inadequacy, which ironically shaped his acute sense of injustice. Burnside’s mother formulated strict house rules, which the young Burnside dutifully obeyed while watching his young brother flaunt his complete disregard for them. “It was completely baffling to me and struck me as deeply unfair that the one who played by the rules got punished, whereas the one who broke the rules got away with it,”

says Burnside, now a celebrated champion of victims of societal injustice. What he admits was a painful sense of inadequacy throughout his adolescence and early adulthood had its roots during those formative years and it was only after his brother died in a car accident that he discovered that his sibling had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and wasn’t expected to survive beyond puberty. His parents divorced when he was young and his mother over-compensated, leaving Burnside with a burning passion for justice. “I’ve grown up with a profound sense that I am inadequate and will never be adequate because I’ll never quite reach what I’m striving for. If you think you have been treated unfairly you are likely to feel passionate about justice,” he muses. The highly acclaimed barrister opted to study law at Monash University simply because his sister’s boyfriend had done so. He maintains that it was not until he had been practising as a barrister for close to five years that he realised that the profession he had selected so casually was the perfect choice. A significant turning point was the Maritime Union of Australia case. It surprised him that governments would act dishonestly and switched him from apolitical to political. It also persuaded him that a strong, responsible trade union movement is essential to a well functioning, fair society. In his Manning Clark Lecture, which he gave early this year, Burnside spoke of the growing divide between law and justice. He said: “Justice is one of the deepest yearnings of the human spirit, and one of the most important promises of democracy. When Law and Justice part company, we are betrayed; when Parliament makes unjust laws we are betrayed; when Justice is promised but is placed beyond reach, democracy fails.” Burnside believes that an instinct for justice is a useful but not essential attribute of an effective barrister, “which is the reason why in some instances the legal system fails in its task”. The Tampa case opened his eyes to the refugee issue and the right of boat people to receive protection under the Refugees Convention. “Yet we lock them up, sometimes for years. Men, women and children who have never committed any offense and are not considered a danger. It is profoundly wrong,” he says referring to an 11-year old girl who was being detained in a cell with her family and suffered so intensely that she hanged herself with a bed sheet.

by Jill Fraser

Julian Burnside’s new book Watching Brief: Reflections on Human Rights, Law and Justice (Scribe) is currently available

‘leaders influencing the world’

Passion for justice


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Chapter 1. thinkbig miracles

‘inspiring the will to live’


“I did it to see what seeing was� - Mike May

Love at second sight!


Miracle man Mike May, sees.

Mike May never yearned for vision or viewed his blindness as a handicap but after 46 years he was offered the chance to see again.

The man who dared to see


ike May lost his sight at the age of three through a freak accident and for 46 years he perceived his life as near perfect and packed it full of remarkable achievements. He broke world records and won Paralympics gold medals in downhill speed skiing and was a member of the CIA before becoming a successful inventor, entrepreneur and happily married family man. Defying expectations, May crashed through barriers and limitations and became a role model for the visually impaired. It wasn’t surprising therefore that he hesitated when unexpectedly presented with the opportunity to undergo a cutting edge medical procedure that could potentially restore his sight. Revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery could, he was told, enable him to drive, read and see his children’s faces. But the reality was that of the less than 20 cases that had preceded him none could be classified fully successful in terms of enhancing the lives of those who had undergone the procedure or meeting their expectations. Apart from this sobering news May had concerns about

crossing this unknown frontier. What if regaining one sense diminished others? What if music sounded different and sex lost its magic? What if his identity changed? What if his marriage didn’t survive? The procedure was littered with risks and prospective side effects, many horrific and some life threatening, as the experiences of the 20 candidates who had preceded him revealed. There were countless reasons for May to decline the life-changing offer of surgery and only one that he could think of to accept. “The main reason I went ahead with it was curiosity and the realization that if I didn’t do it I would always wonder what if,” he told thinkbig. May’s biographer, New York Times best selling author Robert Kurson, maintains that this statement downplays the courage that it took to say yes. Kurson refers to May’s decision and ensuing odyssey as “daring to live every moment to the fullest”. “My relationship with Mike has been an on-going reminder to keep pushing, take chances, be willing to fall down and get hurt – literally and figuratively – while remembering that the

‘inspiring the will to live’

Why dare? and the Curiosity that if realisation it I I didn’t do ays would alw at if. wonder wh


Got it, got it, GOT IT!!

“I see in my own strange hybrid way” - Mike May

n Life lesso Be curious ything... about ever ing and try everyth ere. go everywh


The unstoppable Mike May in action.

life worth living is one in which you inhale the deepest, try everything and be willing to fail,” says Kurson. It was 1999 when May had a chance encounter with an ophthalmologist who spoke the fateful words “I think we can make you see”. What transpired was months of indecision followed by many more months of operations, fear, rejection, elation, confusion, excruciating pain, disappointment and, yes, ultimately vision – of sorts. “I don’t see the same as a fully sighted person,” says May. “I see in my own strange hybrid way because, as I learnt from vision scientists, vision is very complicated and the brain processes in what is called pathways. “The cell transplant worked and my eyeball is very good. In fact if my visual cortex was processing the information properly I could drive a car. “The problem is that I lost my sight at age three, which means that the development of my visual cortex, which is fully developed at around six, was interrupted.” In short this means that May’s brain isn’t wired for normal vision. Therefore despite the success of the procedures on his eyes he will never see fluently and therefore will always be trapped in an in between world of neither the sighted nor the blind. “The world to Mike looks like a modern abstract painting full of colourful but meaningless flat shapes,” says Kurson. “Understanding this new vision is very difficult and learning how to work with it is very hard and after a lifetime of blindness and the anticipation of full sight this is incredibly challenging and led to severe depression in many of his predecessors.” May had spent his life breaking down barriers but he confesses that initially his experience with this new vision caused him to feel that he had reached a point which was

beyond his control. He was numb. The avalanche of skewed visual impressions that were assaulting his eyes was debilitating and confusing and, as with his predecessors, he too sank into depression, but not for long. Determined that he wasn’t going to be defeated, he began working out how to interpret the colours and shapes that bombarded his eyes by forcing his vision to play a supporting role and allowing his highly developed other senses to once again come to the fore. May admits that it’s easy to see how his predecessors suffered often devastating psychological trauma. “Everyone of them suffered profoundly for their courage and willingness to dare to see,” says Kurson.

Mike, Paralympics gold medalist in downhill speed skiing.

“The experience has definitely been life enriching” - Mike May

My life is so full and rich...


Mike with his loving family and dog.

“There was case after case of deep depression, suicidal thoughts, clawing at their eyes and fury at their surgeons.” May on the other hand, who possesses a sports mindset and was accustomed to pushing through mental, emotional and physical blocks, slowly picked himself up and started looking for a solution. “My ‘m o’ is I am going to make this happen, I am going to do it even though it’s painful,” he says. “There’s no doubt that in the beginning it was overwhelming and that my vision was nothing like I thought it would be. I mean, I couldn’t recognise faces and I couldn’t read. “But gradually my normal way of dealing with life clicked in. If you get knocked down there’s no point in lying on the ground thinking ‘oh, I am miserable, why did I get knocked over’? You need to jump back up and move on. “In hindsight I believe that those periods of depression and frustration were necessary to cause me to bounce back up and in the end be successful.” Kurson notes that in almost every case May’s predecessors had lived their lives hoping that one day they would be able to see and that consequently their whole world would change and everything would be better. Conversely May believed that his life was so full and rich that vision could not possibly improve it. “I think the difference is that I didn’t do it to see. I did it to see what seeing was,” muses May.

Kurson believes that May’s resilience is due in part to his upbringing and a mother who raised him to be independent, refusing to coddle or protect him simply because he was blind. “From a very young age it was instilled in Mike to be curious about everything and to try everything and go everywhere,” says Kurson. “So when he was offered this chance to do something that fewer people than had gone to the moon had done; to see for the first time after a lifetime of blindness; he couldn’t say no to such a rare chance for an adventure even though there were all kinds of good, practical reasons not to do it.” Where is May today? “When people say ‘can you see’ I say well, kind of, sort of. I have to give them a whole speech because there is not a one or five word thing that describes what I do now so I kind of miss the simplicity that I had,” he confesses. “The experience has definitely been life enriching. But if I hadn’t gone ahead with it I know that my life would be equally rich,” he chuckles.

by Jill Fraser Read Mike May’s story in ‘Crashing Through’ (Scribe) by New York Times bestselling author, Robert Kurson.

It’s so simple anyone can do it!

Earthquake proof housing Dominic Dowling was a student engineer when he developed earthquake-proof housing.

“There is only so much I can do” - Dominic Dowling



Engineer of Quake Safe, Dominic Dowling.

ominic Dowling was a student engineer working as a volunteer in Central America in 2001 when a huge earthquake hit the tiny republic of El Salvador, triggering landslides that killed hundreds of people and destroyed thousands of homes. It wasn’t his first experience of earthquake. As a child, Dominic recalls his hometown of Newcastle rocked by earthquakes in 1989, but the destruction he witnessed in El Salvador was on a scale he had not imagined. The damage to the local traditional adobe homes, made of mud-brick, astounded him; in some areas, complete villages had been destroyed. The experience was life-changing; and as Dominic did what he could to help rebuild some of the devastated homes, he realised that there was a desperate need for a simple – and, most importantly, cheap – engineering solution that could reduce the risk to people living in adobe (mud-brick) homes. Dutch building expert Wolf Schijns estimates more than a third of the world’s population lives in adobe houses. Mud bricks have been used to build houses for at least 10,000 years. Millions of adobe homes worldwide are in areas vulnerable to earthquake, and thousands of people die unnecessarily each year when these homes collapse. “Mud brick is a very brittle, low-strength material,” Dominic explains. Returning to his studies at the University of Technology in Sydney, Dominic began to research a simple reinforcement technique from cheap materials like bamboo or cane that could easily strengthen a home by forming a matrix to distribute force more evenly around the structure. Dominic continued his research through a PhD in engineering; and the technique that he has now developed, Quake Safe, allows the mud walls to be reinforced with bamboo poles (or local materials such as cane) that are bound together with string and then covered with a network of thin wire. The Quake Safe system can be used in new mud brick building as well as retrofitting existing structures. Using the university’s million-dollar “shake table,” he was able to refine and test his system on the three-metre


square platform that could reproduce the effects of a significant earthquake – and he proved that his solution was workable. Even in a strong earthquake, the system holds the structure together long enough for people to escape the building, drastically reducing the risk to occupants; and in many cases, the house will even be habitable after a moderate earthquake. His invention attracted attention when he presented it on the ABC-TV program The New Inventors in 2006. Dominic completed his PhD the same year and shortly afterwards travelled to California, where he worked on a project developing reinforcement recommendations for buildings in Iran. At the end of 2006, he re-visited a village in El Salvador and applied the years of theory by retrofitting the home of a family he had worked with years before with a full-scale implementation of Quake Safe. It took just two weeks and around fifty dollars to complete the project. A project in Pakistan followed during 2007, advising on earthquake reconstruction for UN Habitat. This year, Dominic has been sponsored by an Australian finance company, Wizard Home Loans, to work in a remote Indian village in the Himalayan foothills, strengthening some key community buildings and transferring some useful skills to local tradesmen. Apart from a few small consulting jobs, this is one of the first paid roles he has had, thanks to the Wizard sponsorship. Much of Dominic’s work has been self-funded; and the Quake Safe system that he spent so many years developing is his gift to the millions of people in vulnerable

homes that he hopes to protect from the ravages of natural disasters. His dream is to see the Quake Safe system adopted by local builders worldwide. “Every single structure we work on is different, so there’s no fixed solution. I’ve focused on training the local masons so that they can come to a building and diagnose the structure and spot the problems, see what things can be done to make a house safer,” he explains. “Installing the structural reinforcement system can be done in about a week with some trained people; and then it takes another week or so to plaster over the top to give an attractive finish,” he says. The great advantage of Quake Safe is the low cost – and the ability to use local people and local materials. Dominic returns to Australia late this year for his own wedding and he plans to continue working as a consultant, spreading the word about this simple system that could have such major implications for the developing world. “There’s only so much I can do, but by getting local people trained up, the concept grows organically and I don’t need to be there to supervise. In ten years’ time when someone builds a house I hope the natural thing will be to reinforce it this way.”

by Fran Molloy

‘inspiring the will to live’

Reinforced using the Quake Safe system.

OST C W S LO ’ T I D ...AN


Chapter 2: thinkbig causes

g n i g a r u o c n ‘e people to give!’


It all started way back when...

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr Norman Doidge.

Our entire concept of reality as we have come to know it looks set for an extreme makeover as the frontiers of science march ever onward.


ncreasing numbers of research findings and laboratory breakthroughs are challenging what have until recently been seen as ironclad tenets of life, death and everything in between but are now in danger of being superseded by radical discoveries. The latest scientific finding to oppose the current blueprint is an astonishing discovery called neuroplasticity, which overthrows the centuries-old notion that the adult human brain is fixed and unchanging. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s

natural ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life; thereby altering its own structure and function - without operations or medications. American research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr Norman Doidge has been travelling around the U.S. gathering evidence of neuroplasticity from people whose lives have been totally transformed as a result of this cutting edge brain science. Doidge admits that until recently neuroplasticity was an extremely

‘encouraging people to give’

The brain that changes itself


“IQs have been raised, stroke victims have recovered” - Dr Norman Doidge

It’s a revolutionary way of thinking


ition defin ’s e g d ity: Doi lastic p o r u of ne tal amen d n u f brain “the of the nge y t r e o cha t prop t i s llow that a and cture u r ng on t s its pendi e d n io g” funct s doin i t i t wha

controversial issue among his peers but says that it is now on the cusp of gaining widespread acceptance. The focus of Doidge’s research, discussed in his book, ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ (Scribe publishing), is on the power of thought to turn genes on and off, which in turn alters the brain’s anatomy. Doidge defines neuroplasticity as “the fundamental property of the brain that allows it to change its structure and function based on what it is perceiving, sensing, acting, thinking and imagining”. “All these activities change the structure and function of the brain, and not only in traumatic circumstances. This is the way the brain works. The brain changes its structure. It’s a revolutionary discovery,” he declares. The neuroplasticity revolution has major implications on the accepted understanding of, among other things, love, sex, grief, relationships, learning and addictions. Doidge witnessed neuroplasticity in a range of different scenarios. He met and studied people whose mental limitations or brain damage had been perceived as unalterable and who had been dismissed as hopeless cases yet are now fully functioning members of society. His research led him to a woman born with half a brain that had rewired itself to work as a whole and another woman who had been labelled retarded and had cured her deficits with brain exercises and now works to assist others in a similar position. He spoke to blind people who had learnt to see and heard of learning disorders that are cured, IQs that were raised, ageing brains that have been regenerated, stroke patients who have recovered their faculties, children with cerebral palsy who acquired the skills to move more gracefully and the disappearance of entrenched depression and anxiety. “Originally the brain was viewed as a complex machine with each part performing one mental function. That meant that if a function was damaged (as in stroke) or failed to develop properly (as in a childhood illness or learning disorder) you were out of luck,” he says. “It also meant that if you were

ain n Br .. a m . Hu uscle The m a e is lik

“Humans tend to favour one path” - Dr Norman Doidge



trying to preserve your brain by doing exercises it was assumed that you were wasting your time because the concept was that the brain was a machine and that machines don’t get better with exercise – they just wear out. “What we know now is that the brain is more like a muscle and that the correct approach is, ‘use it or lose it’. It can be developed much more than we ever imagined and when parts are damaged, for instance through a stroke, a neuroplastic approach can get other nerve cells to take over from the damaged ones.” A neuroplastic approach focuses on reinvigorating brain function through exercise - mental and physical - in order to stimulate the area that is weak. Specifically devised exercise can increase the connections between nerve cells in a matter of hours. Doidge explains that the impact of a stroke tends to be experienced primarily in the left hemisphere of the brain. Therefore stroke victims often have trouble using their right hand, right leg and recovering their speech. Currently most post-stroke rehabilitation therapy utilizes the compensatory approach, which entails transferring all significant functions to the functioning hand and leg. The problem with this method, says Doidge, is that because it’s not being used the brain learns ‘my right hand doesn’t work’. Consequently any cells that might help it to work start to

waste away. The neuroplastic approach adopts a totally opposite stance. Doidge cites an instance in which Dr Edward Taub, a brain scientist at the University of Alabama, took the good hands of stroke patients and put them in slings so they could not be used. He then incrementally trained the stroke-affected arm starting with very small movements. He found that after 10 days of intensive treatment the majority of people who previously could not use their hands had recovered sufficient functionality to give them complete independence. Taub did brain scan studies which showed that different areas of the brain had taken over from the dead cells. “This is a case of radical plasticity,” Doidge says. “Parts of the brain that were devoted to other activities got reassigned and learned from scratch how to move the hand.” The plastic paradox, maintains Doidge, is that what has camouflaged the brain’s plasticity for all these years has been plasticity itself. “Plasticity is like snow on a hill in winter,” says Doidge. “If we want to ski down the hill we can take many different paths because the snow is so pliable and plastic. “But being human we tend to favour one path and pretty soon we’ve developed a grooved track, which ultimately becomes a rut that is hard to get out of.”

Equating this to the brain, which he says is riddled with ruts due to habitforming behaviour, Doidge says that the neuroplastic approach entails blocking the easy, familiar path and adopting a new way. Doidge predicts that in years to come the science of neuroplasticity will permanently alter the way we view not just the brain but the whole of human nature and human potential.

by Jill Fraser

Always deep in thought, Dr Norman Doidge.

Chapter 3. thinkbig business

‘motivating l entrepreneuri’a minds


“If you don’t exist on Google, you don’t exist at all” - Stan Relihan

The most linked in


As far back as the meetings at the ‘Agora’ in Ancient Greece and the Forum in Ancient Rome, big thinkers have found solace and inspiration by gathering in places where they can discuss opportunities, arrange deals, exchange ideas and share knowledge.


ar from being an idea lost in the pages of time, the practice of networking, specifically professional networking, has gained significant momentum in recent years. Most networking however was previously limited by geography. Accordingly, the commonality of ideas, which is inherent in many networks, played a secondary role to the ability to physically unite people to form the network. As the world increasingly embraces an online environment, combined with the recent emergence of online networking platforms such as Myspace, Facebook and Peoplebrowser, (which collectively fall under the broader Web 2.0 banner), now more than ever networks are free to form around common ideas, philosophies, lifestyles and beliefs. The hindrance previously caused by geographical constraints is a thing of the past. Big thinkers are drawn towards opportunity, so it’s no surprise to Stan Relihan that professional online networking platforms such as Linked In have experienced extraordinary growth over the last few years. As many are aware, Linked In is the word’s largest online network for professionals, and as the Chief Executive Officer of the online based recruitment firm, Expert Executive Search, Relihan is Australia’s most connected Linked In member. Relihan has amassed an impressive list of 16,000 connections since joining during April 2005. “One of the most valuable aspects of Linked In,” says Relihan, “is that it offers us the opportunity to create our online brand and have an online presence within a professional community. It’s an old adage that if you don’t exist on Google, you don’t exist at all. That philosophy,” adds Relihan, “now extends to Linked In.”

Furthermore, far removed from the push strategy which involves methods ranging from traditional media advertising and cold calling to distributing pamphlets on a street corner, such an online presence offers us unique and effective opportunities to market ourselves with a pull approach, connecting us with our market at the point that they’re looking for the very thing that we provide. “The benefit,” says Relihan, “is that they don’t feel it’s intrusive, and this means that it opens more doors than a cold call ever could. Simultaneously it can lead to incredible experiences of synchronicity.” Most of us in business will attest to having experienced

The world just isn’t as BIG as it seems...

Linked In: Stan Relihan.

synchronous and serendipitous events throughout our career. The phenomenon of being in the right place at the right time is a key to successful networking. “Everything is interconnected. Seeing as the value of a network increases exponentially with the number of connections in that network, the potential for such serendipity and synchronicity has magnified as our network develops in size,” says Relihan. Relihan has enjoyed many such experiences in his role as a leading head hunter, and cites the occasion when he learnt that a large company needed help filling a senior role. “They specified their desire for someone who had

experience at either IBM or Accenture. I found someone in my network that had been at Accenture for seven years. He filled the position.” So how specifically can we take tangible steps to experience some of the results enjoyed by the ‘Stan Relihans’ of the online world, and position ourselves to have similar experiences? Relihan emphasises that “rather than waiting until you need the business, it’s important to create an online presence now”. He says that if you wait until you’ve run out of work to become active on an online network, you become engaged in what Relihan refers to as ‘need-working’ instead of

‘motivating entrepreneurial minds’

Being in the right place at the right time = KEY to successful networking!


Hmm... limitless opportunity, endless possibility. Remember: Sharpen the saw

“Altruism is enlightened self interest” - Stan Relihan

before you need to cut the tree!


networking, and according to him, it’s obvious to the other person. “I am a firm believer in sharpening the saw before you need to cut the tree. I know that every day you’re not on Linked In, you’re missing out on opportunities, because people are out there looking for you, and you need to let them know that you are available. To do that you need to have a presence.” Following this is the second step; building a strong online presence. The person with a good online profile, which clearly communicates their philosophies, beliefs, experience and offering, is more likely to get a response than the person with a generic profile or, worse still, no profile at all. However while his Linked In profile plays an integral role in creating online brand awareness for people like Relihan, he emphasises that it shouldn’t stop there. Relihan also hosts one of the Podcast Network’s highest rating programs, ‘The Connections Show,’ and is active on a number of other online communities, including Thirdly, Relihan suggests building strong relationships based on reciprocity. Not surprisingly, the

question which underpins Relihan’s approach to networking is “How can I deliver value to the other person?” After spending half an hour with him over coffee, one becomes humbled (and somewhat overwhelmed) by the sheer veracity and magnitude of his knowledge, and, importantly, his willingness to share it. “Altruism,” explains Relihan “is enlightened self interest.” Hearing this, it becomes clear why Relihan has been integral to adding value to so many people in his network. “Finally,” Relihan points out “some people forget about it if the horizon for delivering a pay-off is more than

a couple of weeks. It’s important therefore, to view networking in the context of a long term approach.” Indeed this is a philosophy common among many big thinkers. It seems professional online networks such as Linked In have levelled the playing field, and if Relihan’s experience is anything to go by, for the big thinkers who converge on such playgrounds of limitless opportunity and endless possibility, the future looks brighter than ever.

by Joel Betts

To join Stan’s Linked In network go to: To see more information about Linked In star performers go to: For information about being connected go to:

thinkbig insights

“Certain interests threaten your spirit”- Mark Joyner

We are history’s most-empowered children. But then, so were the Romans.


The revolution is not over In case you’ve been sleeping here’s a re-cap: 1. The Internet is the most empowering invention in the history of the world. 2. Those of us in the industrialized world are part of history’s most privileged generation. 3. The average guy or gal in that same world has more opportunity now than at any point in history. My own story proves it: I was born into as dire a situation as one can image in the United States. Now at 39 I’m a #1 best-selling author with books translated into 15 languages. Could that have happened to a “pauper” of Dickens’ era? Or any other era for that matter? We, collectively, are Rome. The industrialized world is, for the most part, now so inter-connected that our regional borders mean less and less. If you’re reading this, you’re a “citizen” of this new Rome. At any time, you can exercise your new right of citizenship and make yourself wealthy. If you haven’t done so yet and you’re blaming someone else, this is your official call to knock that off. (See points 1 – 3 above if you need further explanation. Or consider my friend Ladan Lashkari who, in her early 20s, set up an online business while living in Iran and prospered. OK?) But, to quote one of the gods of this new Rome (Spiderman), “With great power comes great responsibility.” Rome fell because they grew complacent and decadent – almost allowing the barbarians to take over. Will we do the same? There are barbarians at our gate as well. Unfortunately, things happen so fast now that it would not take them centuries of chipping away at us to precipitate our demise.

The New Barbarians are hard to spot, though. They wear a suit and tie, speak your language, and even smile as they try to burn down your new Empire and replace it with their own tyranny of brutality. They are the interests that are trying to “centralise” the control of the Internet. (Did you know that radio once had an era of unbridled free speech, much like we enjoy now on the ‘net, before those same interests centralized the control of radio?) They are the interests that are trying to take away your right to speak your mind (no matter what “good” they claim will come of muzzling you). These interests are very real and they are a threat to your ability to express your entrepreneurial spirit. Now, before you think this is all doom and gloom, understand: this is the cost of citizenship in the new de-centralized Rome. We must all be Caesar, take responsibility for our own prosperity, and not sit idly by while the barbarians climb over the walls. Is that what you wanted to hear? That’s what empowerment means today, like it or not. We are history’s most empowered children. We are empowered to spread this “prosperity meme” to the rest of the world and shore up paradise for our children’s children. We are equally empowered to give in to complacency and let the barbarians have their way with us. It would be fitting to end this with a call to “make your choice,” but ironically you really don’t have one. The right to choose itself requires you to choose the first path.

by Mark Joyner Mark Joyner is a an entrepreneur and author. Visit

Focus on the big picture thinkbig insights

“You need to keep learning” - Reuben Buchanan

Most businesses fail to focus on the big picture.



n my experience, most business owners are way focused on the day to day runnings of their business and forget to focus on the big picture stuff – the corporate strategy which will allow them to get to where they want to go. No matter what industry you’ve decided to be in, chances are the earlier days will be the toughest and require most of your attention. In fact in the formative years, or if you are trying to grow, rarely will the business be running without some degree of stress and uncertainty. The best way I’ve found to deal with this is to focus on the big picture. If you focus on the nitty gritty, it can all become too hard. And it’s emotionally draining as well. You can often feel depressed and deflated about the business because you may be putting so much in with little tangible result. So how do you remain focused on the big picture? It’s easier said than done. So here are some pointers:

2. Get a business mentor. This person is someone with “been there done that” experience. Pay them or offer them an incentive to mentor you every few weeks or so. Mentoring is simple – you go to them with your problems for that week/ fortnight/month. They then tell you how to fix the problems. Then you go and do it! It’s no use having a mentor if you don’t use them. They can keep you motivated and heading in the right direction.

1. Get someone with solid business experience and big picture thinking to join your board as a non-executive director. Meet with them once a month as a bare minimum. Make sure they understand what your long-term objectives are and often they will remind you of where you need to go and how to stay on track. Being non executive, meaning they are not working within the business, will allow them to thinkbig and not get caught up in the day to day operations of your business. No company is too small for this. If you think your business is too small to have expert advice, then your thinking is too small to start with!

I have met and interviewed many very successful entrepreneurs and this is exactly what they do. So I know it works. If you do one, two or preferably all of the above, it will go a long way towards ensuring your business is successful. One thing is for certain, if you don’t lift your business thinking to a higher level, it will be almost impossible for you to reach your personal and/or financial business goals.

3. Education. You need to keep learning about how other people are doing it both in your industry and others. Read business books, read success biographies (such as Richard Branson or Arnold Schwarzenegger), attend seminars, conferences and events that can help you improve your knowledge. You need to schedule into your diary to focus a minimum of 2 hrs a week to continuously build your knowledge.

by Reuben Buchanan Reuben Buchanan is an entrepreneur and corporate advisor for Integral Capital Group.

Achieve your aims with an AGSM MBA Program Completing an AGSM MBA Program is one way talented professionals across the globe develop their business skills and knowledge to take their careers to a higher plane. Teaching excellence in small classes, and personal attention provide a world-class business education, and pave the way to entry into the ranks of the global AGSM MBA Alumni network. The AGSM MBA (Executive) Program is a flexible, part-time MBA, designed with the busy working professional in mind. The Program is divided into 2 stages. The first stage is truly national, allowing students to attend classes in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney (5 locations). The second stage involves residential blocks at the AGSM Building on the UNSW Kensington campus. In this way, students form strong bonds, providing the basis for powerful professional networks into the future. The full-time AGSM MBA is a 16-month program commencing in January each year. With a diverse student body and international faculty from the Australian School of Business, the AGSM MBA currently ranks number 1 in Australia and 39 in the world (FT UK Global MBA rankings, 2008). The AGSM Graduate Certificate in Change Management (GCCM) is a part-time distance program for the working change professional. The GCCM incorporates an innovative, practical approach to learning, and opportunities for networking within the change management community.

Find out more Visit the AGSM website at for more information on AGSM MBA Programs. The AGSM MBA Admissions staff at will be happy to answer any further questions you may have. AS00828-MK_160708

Chapter 4: thinkbig wealth

‘creating profitable thinking’


Guess what my favourite colour is?

Investing in green Putting your money where your values lie can be world-changing. Thanks to a grand vision 20 years ago, Australian Ethical Investment is helping thousands of concerned investors make a real difference.

The very ethical, James Thier.

‘ creating profitable thinking’


ames Thier has spent the last 20 years developing an investment business with a conscience and in the process has helped thousands of investors sleep well at night. He is a founding director of Australian Ethical Investment, a Canberra-based independent funds manager with a striking difference. Australian Ethical Investment is a “deep green” funds manager – a financial institution based on the ideas behind permaculture, the system of sustainable agriculture and living developed in the 1970s that has spread worldwide. “There was a group of us who attended an Earth Bank conference in the mid-eighties, where [permaculture co-founder] Bill Mollison spoke,” Thier says. The group went on to put in seed capital for their dream of an investment body based on sound ethical and environmental principles. “The early founders of Australian Ethical called themselves Friends of Permaculture, because they wanted to use those permaculture ideas of N nutrients circulating in a self- sustaining manner EE GR ing and agricultural processes in an identifiable and P ok EE a D ely lo ings closed system,” he says. e h iv ’r We . act t in t ly “We thought we could do the same thing d.. inves tual hings n with money – set up a system where we u f o ac ld, t a t t ight r e o know what our money is doing and use the k ou w e ma tm als returns from one ethically sound, successful tha nge th really dividu cha will to in t. business to sustain other projects.” t e e tha erenc plan There were around 20 founders who e diff to th put in seed capital to help start this big idea, and Thier says – much of the money used primarily in set-up stages. Licences, legal opinions, investment prospectuses, it was really important that everything was set up correctly, he says.


“The categories are pale green, mid green and deep green” – James Thier

Ethics alone are not enough


“We’ve expanded a lot, we’re a listed company and now we have about 700 shareholders,” he says. “And from the kernel of ethical investment, where people really wanted to know what their money was doing, we’ve grown progressively. First we launched a managed fund and then, as superannuation became more prominent in the late 90s, we launched our superannuation fund.” That’s an astounding growth for a niche investment company; even more remarkable when you consider that the majority of clients in the company are people who are putting their money where their values are. In the early days, the founders set up the Australian Ethical Charter, which governs the company’s operations and investment decisions by setting out what activities will be supported – and what will be avoided. Investments focus on a range of industries including renewable energy, recycling, efficient transport, sustainable food production, education and healthcare. Examples of investments that are avoided include uranium mining, armaments, gambling and tobacco production. However, ethics alone are not enough – investments must have solid financial performance and generate competitive returns. Although there is a lot of local investment, the company also manages investments in New Zealand, across Asia, Japan, North America and Europe. The Constitution of the company has put in place the ancient tradition of “tithing;” every year, 10 percent of the company’s profit is donated back into the community. These guiding principles, established two decades ago, have been a large contributor to the company’s success. “Research house Lonsec set out some criteria by which they analyse ethical and sustainable funds. The categories are pale green, mid green and deep green – and that’s determined by the rigour with which the fund managers analyse companies and determine appropriate investments,” James says.

Australian Ethical Investment was given the ‘deep green’ category. “Those funds that are pale green are really just avoiding the worst of the worst, whereas to be a deep green fund, you need to be actively looking out to invest in things that might actually change the world, things that will really make a difference to individuals and to the planet,” he says. As a listed investment fund, it’s important for Australian Ethical to have a wide range of investments that are listed on the stockmarkets of Australia and the world, but Thier says there is still provision of a limited amount of seed capital for innovative companies. “We still have a very small amount of unlisted equity from our very early days – and we do loans directly to organic farms, Montessori or Steiner schools and we invest in property,” he says. “We still have a lot of organisations, many of them listed companies, who come to us and say that they want to be part of our portfolio. They believe it gives an imprimatur that they are consciously, actively seeking to be better corporate citizens.” Thier believes that his company’s guiding principles, established such a long time ago, are only now recognised by mainstream investment firms as a key factor in attracting investors with strong ethical and environmental values. Most of the founders of Australian Ethical Investment remain shareholders, with several still holding roles in the company’s operations. But all of them are very proud of the result of their decision, more than 20 years ago, to fund a company that reflected their ethics – and to set up some principles that have led to action that might just be planet-changing. “Our guiding principles determine what we want to avoid and support. Avoiding certain types of investments can make a difference in one way; but what really makes a difference is what you support. What do you think is going to change the world? What’s going to really make a difference?” Among ethically-focused corporates, Australian Ethical Investment represents the investment selection of choice – to be a part of their portfolio. Now, half a billion dollars is backing James Thier’s determination to really make a difference.

by Fran Molloy

thinkbig propertyinvestment

“If you have outgrown the people around you, move on...” - Judith Taylor

thinkbig insights


You won’t find serious property women in a department store or a shoe shop. They spend their time at open for inspections and strolling around the aisles at Bunnings.

Doing what comes naturally S

uccess is the outcome of doing what you love. Ask any woman property investor and they will tell you that they absolutely love what they do. Not only that, they are always happy and smiling. As each project is completed, it becomes a mission to find the next one. When it comes to property investment, it’s not that women are better than men; it’s just that they are different: • Women are multi-taskers. They can excel in the workplace, study, feed the kids, meet everyone else’s needs and still have time to focus on their future. • They can follow a recipe. Show a woman what she needs to do and give her a set of instructions and she will begin to take action. As a general rule, women are not risk takers. They will have a slow and steady approach and follow the plan, making adjustments to suit their own strategy. Women also accept the concept of trading some hard work now for future rewards. • Women are good communicators and excellent negotiators. They easily build rapport which helps when organising their team. • When dealing with home related issues, women are natural homemakers and decision makers. They are good at decorating and making a home comfortable and know how to make a home attractive to the end user (tenant). Add this to the fact that they are bargain shoppers and it means that they can save money while turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse. • They are intuitive. After researching and running the numbers, women just know if a property feels right. If they trust their instincts they will end up with a property that has few problems and attracts good tenants.

I speak to women of all ages every day who tell me that they’ve always dreamt of being a property investor but don’t know where to go or who to ask, and are often too frightened to go it alone. Most have read mountains of property investment books but still don’t feel that it’s enough to gain the confidence to overcome fear and the knowledge to take action. Usually their friends don’t share the same vision and they feel that they don’t have other like-minded women to share their dreams and ideas with. If women are serious about becoming a property investor, they need to get serious about taking action. The most important step is to invest in property education to gain knowledge and confidence to get started. There are only two ways to learn, either by your own mistakes or from others who have done what you want to do. The second step is to mix with likeminded people. Don’t be stopped by people who tell you that you can’t do it. Find a way. If you have outgrown the people around you, move on to make space for meeting new people who share your dreams. Finally, do what you love and love what you do. If property investing is what you have always wanted to do, don’t die wondering; and remember to have fun every day of your life.

by Judith Taylor Judith Taylor heads up Property Women; a property education company by women for women. Contact her at

“Too often opportunity passes us by in life”

For your FREE Mark Rolton Property Options DVD Valued at $97 Call: 1300 882 360 Discover the secret tools for Property Options… unlike anything you have ever discovered before. So… What are Property Options? An option is a legal document that allows you to control a Property. With the property under control, it allows you to profit firstly from the natural growth of Real Estate, but more importantly it gives you the ability to add massive value to the Property through a Development approval.

You’re getting all the benefits of Real Estate and none of the traditional downsides. However, you’re entitled to all of the profits as a result of the improved value. With Property Options, we have all the gains that we love in Real Estate without the capital required. It’s clear profit without the hassles.

Being an option to purchase, you are NOT obliged to settle. So, there’s no funding required for settlement… no credit checks…. no repairs/tenants… no mortgage repayments.


thinkbig propertyinvestment

Property development tends to have the reputation of being a “big boy’s game”, a venture and business that seems monolithic and not accessible to the average person. But is that changing?


here are more and more stories of the average bloke or a savvy mum going out and developing a duplex or a site of four houses and turning a very impressive profit. Could it be true, can the average person now play this game called “property development”? Well it seems it is, if you learn the process and start to understand the basic rules then this is an industry that really is open to all and you don’t need a uni degree or an expensive and tedious license to get started. What you do need is to understand the basic guidelines of development and how the process works. And the other secret ingredient? A bit of good old fashioned guts and determination. Property development is usually associated with construction and this tends to be the thing that scares people off, I mean let’s be honest, it can be hard enough to get a plumber to show up and fix the loo in your own home! So when we start thinking of building whole houses from scratch most of us run in the other direction and opt for buying a house that someone else has already built. We therefore throw big chunks of possible profit into someone else’s pocket and we wait for our property to go up in value over the years before we start to see our profit, also known as capital growth. The thing is property development doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with construction, which is what a builder does. Not the developer! In fact there are some development deals that I have done where I made money and there was no construction involved at all.

Property development is all about increasing the value of the land and doing creative deals and there are so many possibilities when you start to delve into this world. To start getting involved in property development you need to understand the seven stages of development and the components of each stage. You need to start to learn the language and how to assess the potential profit in a site. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds. It is quite a learning curve to begin with but once you get it you will always have it and you will start to look at property in a whole new light. It will forever be in your DNA and you will be looking through property-tinted glasses! Where you once saw a block of land you will now see the potential for five townhouses, where once you would have driven straight past a run down house and seen a shack you will now see the possibility of high-end duplexes and tens of thousands of dollars in profit. So where to begin? The best way to get started is to go to your local bookstore and buy a book on property development or do a specialised course on the subject. Within three months you can get enough education and know-how to start getting into development yourself and may your life and property investments never be the same again!

by Carly Crutchfield Carly Crutchfield is a property developer and property educator. Visit

‘ creating profitable thinking’

thinkbig insights

Can anyone develop property?


I’m not lucky... I’m a winner!

Winning competitions Winning competitions has become more than a hobby for some people.

“I set out to prove that it wasn’t true” - Sherry Sjolander

Sherry’s Winning Tips


• Join a web-based comping club • Read the terms and conditions carefully for every competition before you enter • Use a dedicated email address and mobile phone for your entries • Play the numbers - you have to enter lots of competitions to win some • Know what competitions are happening

Online comping clubs


herry Sjolander doesn’t think of herself as a lucky person; she had never won so much as a chook raffle at the RSL club until a couple of year ago, when she read an article about ‘comping’ – entering competitions. Sherry was sceptical about the article’s conclusion – that if you can’t win, you’re just not trying hard enough. “I decided to try it; I’m quite an analytical person and I set out to prove that it wasn’t true. But I found that the reverse was true – I started to win things!” These days, Sherry’s Canberra home is bulging with prizes. She estimates that she has won more than $30,000 in prizes in the last year; and that’s a bonus, on top of the salary she earns from her full-time job. Sherry is a ‘comper;’ someone who enters lots of competitions to win prizes. And she’s not alone; her favourite competition website has more than 60,000 members and she guesses there are between 10,000 and 20,000 serious compers in Australia. Sherry is pretty good at guessing: her specialty is entering “25 words or less” competitions, where the winner is selected based on their short answer. These are common competitions, she adds. Because it is a game of skill, promoters don’t need to purchase a permit, which can sometimes cost thousands of dollars. Sherry was very organised in the way she entered competitions, keeping spreadsheets and yellow index cards that recorded her entries – and started to analyse the data. “I looked at why certain entries win and who they appeal to; I realised that patterns were starting to emerge. I could break down and analyse the data – and just as easily, I could put it back together and teach it to someone else as well.”

So Sherry decided to write a book on the topic. She went to the library, did her research and prepared a detailed business plan, including proposed marketing strategies, and sent it off to 11 publishers. Two days later she had received her first offer from a publisher, but held out for a “pretty good” advance from publishing giant Allen and Unwin, who released her new book “How to Win Competitions” in July this year. Sherry’s book is a detailed guide to comping, with tips on writing winning entries, a guide to the different types of competitions (for many, you must purchase a product – and keep your proof of purchase); she even details the problem of competition cheats. Sherry advocates joining one of the many online comping clubs that share information about competitions and prizes available in Australia and their terms and conditions. The clubs have discussion forums which provide a great social network, she adds. Members encourage each other, share tips and celebrate wins. “Most people actually love getting them. Even though you are giving something you didn’t have to pay for, you’ve actually put a lot of work into acquiring that prize,” Sherry says. Often prizes are pretty valuable too, she adds, more than you could usually afford to give. She has given gifts of a $500 cosmetic package and an $800 mobile phone. She estimates that her chances of winning something in a random draw competition are around one in 100, but in competitions that involve skill she might win one in 20.

by Fran Molloy

Chapter 5: thinkbig teachers

‘educating individuals to change’


thinkbig insights Before you ever earned a dime you were handed a blueprint for wealth. Almost everything you believe about money, and your ability, or inability, to have what you want, was formed within your environment as you grew up — parents, teachers, media, economic climate and such.


yth-conceptions shaped the parameters of your mindset that now determines the game you play. Einstein called them “boundary conditions of thinking”. I call them myth-conceptions about money because myths are stories we tell ourselves that aren’t necessarily true, but they become the model of the world that determines what you get in life. Does that mean if your parents didn’t have billionaire strategies, you’re stuck with the belief system you ended up with? Not at all. Oprah Winfrey said of her childhood: “When I was a young girl growing up in Mississippi, I would have never known there was anything that existed other than the poverty that I grew up in if it weren’t for the books that I read.” Oprah exposed herself to far greater possibilities than she was given, and it totally transformed her future. Think about it: Billionaires are just entrepreneurs playing in a bigger sand box. They’ve developed a kind of mental agility to thinkbig and play big. You can get rid of the beliefs that are holding you back, and take on new assumptions about wealth that support your success. Look for patterns in your experience. Does your business seem to hit a wall or plateau cyclically? Are you frustrated your bank account never seems to rise beyond a certain number? Are you not completing income-producing projects? Misconceptions about money can create these unconscious responses, negative emotions and self-sabotaging behaviours around wealth building. Ask yourself: “What do I believe about money?” Write down everything. What messages did you receive growing up? How did your family act around money? Something inside you already knows what’s been holding you back. Get it out on the page. Here are a few common ones: “It’s selfish and greedy to make too much money”; “You have to sell your soul to make a lot of money” and “You can’t be rich and spiritual at the same time.”

The fact is, plenty of billionaires are out there proving the exact opposite true. Bill Gates is out there using money for good to tackle some major social and health issues in Africa, and now Warren Buffett is backing his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the tune of several billion dollars. Oprah has a profound sense of spirituality in the work she does. Her whole impetus for her business is to uplift humanity and wake people up to their own power and responsibility. The mind is unlimited. And the universe is a vast playing field where everything is possible. That means you are the only thing standing between you and your ultimate success. And that’s the good news because self-made glass-ceilings can be broken through in an instant. Next, choose a new set of beliefs that motivates you toward massive action. Somebody asked me once: “What was the most important belief you have that made your success?” Hands down, it was my unwavering conviction that I am destined to be huge in my industry. I assumed I was going to be helping people all over the world change their lives, which was my biggest dream. Can you wrap your head around the possibility that you could really live the life you’ve always wanted? What would you do differently if you assumed, I am destined for success? I like using the word “destined” because it’s like fulfillment is inevitable. Try this: walk around for even one day with this new assumption, and see how your world expands. See what opportunities come along that you didn’t see before. Create whatever outrageous beliefs that make you feel like a billion bucks. This is your new Blueprint for Wealth.

by Christopher Howard Chris Howard is an international speaker and author who is represented in Australia and New Zealand By Universal Events. Visit

‘educating individuals to change’

Myth-conceptions about Money


“The world will treat you exactly the way you treat yourself” - John Demartini 56

thinkbig insights Certainty is a product of self worth and whoever has the most certainty leads the game and creates the rules in life. People are inherently attracted to the certainty and confidence that self worth brings and as a result those with high levels of self worth never need to worry about lack of wealth or opportunity.

Acknowledge your inner genius I

magine you’re interviewing two people for a job. Both have similar qualifications and education, and even similar number of years of experience, but one demonstrates a greater degree of certainty than the other. As I am sure you will agree, the one who demonstrates the most certainty will have the highest probability of accomplishing more in life and becoming the leader. Who would you employ? In reality if you don’t believe that you’re worthy of giving yourself love, you won’t believe you’re worthy of giving yourself wealth. Strange as it may seem, a key to having great wealth is having great love and appreciation for yourself. I gave a talk on self-worth and inborn genius about 15 years ago, and a lady came up to me afterwards and said: “Dr. Demartini, I loved your speech. I’m a meeting planner, and I could arrange a series of speaking engagements for you if you’re interested.” Of course I said, “Great, let’s do it.” Two weeks later she called me to say: “I’ve got a real estate convention that wants you to inspire them to be more successful,” and she gave me the time and place. I met her at the convention hall about 30 minutes before I was due to speak, and she said to me: “There’s one thing I want to make sure of before you begin. Please don’t get up there and repeat that ‘I am a genius thing’ you say.” “Oh, why not?”, I asked. “Because they’ll think you’re on an ego trip. Just promise me you won’t say it. I have big plans for our business, and that would really mess things up.”

I smiled at her and said, “I’ll do what will inspire them, don’t worry about that.” When I got up on the platform, the first thing I did was have everybody in the room say in unison: “I am a genius and I apply my wisdom.” I could see her off in the corner of the room with her face in her hands, slowly shaking her head from side to side as if to say, oh my God, he’s really blown it now. I happened to be on fire that day and got a standing ovation. Afterwards she said: “Well, you pulled it off. We squeaked through, but we have to make sure we don’t do it again.” I said to her: “I prefer not to work with such constraints on the truth.” The truth is that every conscious person has deep within him or her, a wise genius. The main reason she had difficulty with my affirmation was because she wasn’t willing to acknowledge her own genius. The group was fine – they loved it because people inherently know the truth of their greatness, and we all have a part that loves to be reminded of it from time to time. You’re a genius if you choose to acknowledge and act on it, and the world will treat you exactly the way you treat yourself. That lady was not yet ready to acknowledge her own genius and immortal nature, so she was limiting her influence and ability to reach the people she would have loved to associate with.

by John Demartini Dr John Demartini is one of the world’s leading speakers and authors on mindset. Visit

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Detours are healthy

“New pull-out quote needed here” - Justin Herald

thinkbig insights


Sometimes you may be heading down the road of your life and towards your goals when all of a sudden you come across a detour on that road.


ow by detour I mean something happens that you weren’t expecting, something doesn’t work out the way you had planned or you may just lose momentum. You see while we all may think that we have worked things out to the finest detail, life just doesn’t work that way. If success were easy then everyone would be successful. That is why you need to be prepared for those detours. Many people seem to assume that there is just one way (their own way) to succeed. Well the facts are that there are probably many ways to achieve what you want, so make sure you are open to change. Now to be honest, coming across a detour really isn’t a fun experience as it can have the tendency to make you feel as if you are taking two steps forward and one step backwards, but as long as you are pressing on, you are doing all that you can. Recently I met up with someone who was facing her own detour. Monica was going through life at an easy pace. She had a great job, great friends and everything seemed to be going along smoothly. Then one day she was informed that the company that she was working for was going to close due to circumstances and that she had only two weeks left in that job. Now that can and does happen to many people, but Monica really took it hard. She figured that it was the end of the world and started to make silly decisions to compensate for her situation. She had a mortgage and a personal loan that needed payment each month but by her just giving up in a way she had now took her situation to a totally different level.

What she didn’t realise what that she had come across a detour. With the way that she approached her situation, she had turned that detour into a dead end. After sitting down for a little while we were able to work together to come up with a solution that had her back on track within a couple of days. The problem Monica created is very similar to a lot of people. Instead of seeing her situation as a little bit of a hiccup that needed fixing, her actions created a bigger and more potentially disastrous long-term issue. Detours just mean that you may have to take another path to reach the same goal that you were aiming at in the first place. It doesn’t mean that you have failed; it just means that you might have to take a bit more time or it may be a bit more uncomfortable than originally thought. Sometimes you may even find that some detours end up taking you a better way anyway. As previously stated, there are many and varied ways to achieve and reach what you desire. Some detours may appear as a sign to actually get you back on the right path as you may have been way off track.

by Justin Herald Justin Herald is an author and speaker. Visit


Pain serves a purpose

“It’s truly the quickest way to learn” - Louise Bedford

thinkbig insights


Getting an elite level of any successful endeavour can mean being subjected to pain.


sually when we reached out our podgy little toddler hands while Mum wasn’t watching, we received a burn for our efforts. Pain makes you withdraw, cry and sometimes get angry. It makes you less likely to repeat an action that causes pain. Pain serves a purpose. How you react to being physically hit can give you a glimpse into your true self? Your external façade is stripped away and you find out whether you are more likely to cower in the corner, or summon the strength to hit back. Many martial artists find that the only way to train to an elite level is to be willing to experience pain. If the pain, or even the thought of pain, interferes with our ability to function, then we have a problem. While Robert Redenbach and Graham Kuerschner were training police and military personnel in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics, they used a controversial, yet highly effective tool. The course organisers believed that it is only by being subjected to pain that people can combat their fear and maintain their focus despite what is happening to them. During the five-day course, recipients were subjected to the infamous slap test. This is where the course attendee kneels on the ground without a shirt and his partner slaps his chest and back repeatedly with an open palm, as many times as possible in five seconds. Reactions to the slaps varied. Some guys with vast amounts of bravado crumbled. Others who didn’t look like they would be up to the task ended up coping admirably. There are lessons for us as share traders in using pain to our advantage. Rather than risking real money in the markets, many traders simply paper trade and continue doing this for years. They write down their positions, monitor them, and imagine they’d actually traded.

Unfortunately, there is a problem with this idea. The main issue is that there is no pain involved when an incorrect decision is made. The pain of losing money and the pleasure of making a profitable trade are denied to the paper trader. As experiences in trading go, there’s nothing like the pain you will experience after having money mercilessly ripped out of your account! Paper trading sometimes allows people to kid themselves that they are actually more skilled than reality would suggest. They tend to remember the good trades and forget the ones that are less than favourable. By trying to avoid pain, they are actually prolonging their own learning cycle. It is wise to try at least a few trades on paper at first, especially if you are testing a new trading system or instrument. This will give you a chance to understand how these instruments work before risking your capital. Just remember to limit the number of trades you intend to make and the time duration you will take to make those trades. Set yourself a deadline for putting real money into the market. Work on your trading plan as ferociously as if you were planning to take over a multimillion-dollar company. Iron out the visible flaws in your plan before jumping in, but don’t be afraid of a little pain. It’s truly the quickest way to learn and to become an effective trader.

by Louise Bedford Louise Bedford ( is a full-time private trader and author of Charting Secrets, Trading Secrets, The Secret of Writing Options and The Secret of Candlestick Charting.

thinkbig insights As a lawyer, accountant, financial planner and motivational speaker, Warren Black deals with a vast array of clients every day who are wealthy, and keen to build and protect their wealth.


ver time I have observed certain characteristics in people who have wealth, compared to people who struggle financially from day to day and attract problems in their financial affairs. Let’s look at two of these characteristics. One of these characteristics is order and organisation. The more ordered you are in your mindset and your financial affairs, the more wealth comes to you. This is a basic spiritual law. Take nature, for example. A beautiful well organised garden attracts admirers, and, in some cases, paying customers. By contrast, a messy disorganised garden with weeds not only repels people, but you have to pay people to work the garden back into order! It is easy to see why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There is a famous Bible verse that says “to he who has, more is given, but to he who does not have, what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). I am convinced that a person’s financial position reflects or mirrors their level of order and organisation, and their emotional stability and mindset. When wealthy clients come to my office, upon enquiry I find they are either very organised or for the more disorganised people, they have someone to organise them. In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki notes that teachers often succeed in using his strategies to build property portfolios as they are highly organised people. I have also found this from my experience in dealing with teachers. If you find it difficult to be ordered and organised (eg. you are more motivational or creative in your personality) you can always employ people to organise you (like I do!). Get rich quick mentality. This is the biggest killer to building wealth. It was said by King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (so they say), “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Solomon also said that “he who seeks to get rich quick will come to ruin”, and their wealth will disappear (Proverbs 13:11). This is so true. “Get rich quick” schemes have been around for as long as we can remember. We had the South Sea Bubble in the 18th century. We had Poseidon in the 1970s. We had the Tech Boom in the late 1900s.

In recent times, we see high-yield overseas investments, or wealth education courses promising returns of 30% per month plus. Wealth seminars have become especially popular in the 21st century. People attend wealth education seminars, convinced that the newest stock, options, CFD, forex, market trading strategy, or property strategy, internet marketing, ways to list number 1 in Google (guaranteed of course), will propel them to “instant” riches in weeks or months. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am a believer in wealth education. I speak at wealth seminars. I see brilliant wealth education companies such as Universal Events, and others who educate people in understanding the property, share, other markets and building businesses (where the rich do make their wealth). I had a significant mindset shift at a wealth seminar in the year 2000, which inspired me to go into business, and I see some clients experience tremendous results. However, from my experience, most people don’t make money because they don’t have the basics in their wealth building (saving, budgeting), and seek to get rich quick without the basics, and are looking for the secret to instant riches. They are guaranteed to go broke. Studying the lives of the rich, they are orderly and organised. They have a longterm perspective. They avoid get rich quick schemes and latest fads. They are entrepreneurial and risky, but their mindset is cautious. They invest in things that they understand, where they have minimal risk of losing their capital, and they are realistic in what they expect to make. They stay with proven and tested formulas to build wealth. In a society where we have a “fast food” mentality, let’s take time to reflect on our mindset. Let’s copy the lives of the rich and successful. Why reinvent the wheel?

by Warren Black

B Com, LLB (Hons) Dip Fin Plan

Warren Black heads the Intelligence Group, a financial advisory and accountancy company based in Perth. Visit E-mail: info@

‘educating individuals to change’

No quick fix


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I feel so at peace ...Z Z Z Z z

“I had everything... but no happiness” - Grant Hilton

Enjoying a massage in the tranquil outdoors.


Road to peace is paved with loss Grant Hilton is a changed man. The former stressed-out businessman is now at peace with himself. At just 38, he has been on a journey of selfdiscovery many don’t achieve in a lifetime.


n his quest to share his new-found spiritual awareness with others, Grant Hilton and wife Naomi have opened a $5 million eco-resort for other stressed executives in a patch of remnant rainforest in the Gold Coast hinterland. The Universal Peace Centre Spa Retreat is a 22-hectare property near the tiny heritagelisted village of Uki, not far from Murwillumbah on the NSW – QLD border and just 50 km from Coolangatta airport. It’s not designed for those on a budget; a series of upcoming six-day getaways are priced at $4,950. To be fair, that price includes everything – food, spa, yoga, mediation, luxury swimming pools, float tanks and bushwalks. Despite the high prices and the swish surroundings, for most high-fliers the retreat will be a boot camp; there’s no wi-fi, no phones, no television, no mobile coverage. There’s no alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs, no loud music or wild partying. The menu is strictly vegetarian, with a detox theme, and daily activities include yoga, meditation and ‘breath work’ classes. Hilton says that most celebrities and executives are under huge amounts of pressure and don’t get much joy out of life; he believes they will find it if they can embrace simplicity – something that has changed his life. On the face of it, Grant Hilton had it all. He had made his first million in advertising by the age of 25, and went on to become a successful property developer. He retired a multi-millionaire at just 32. But he was miserable. “I had everything; the dream wife, a Mercedes convertible, two storey boat, a two-storey mansion in the richest housing estate in Australia – but no happiness.” Hilton’s wife Naomi organised for him to go to a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat

thinkbig adventure

: ns NOTE rse ow e v i n go The u tting e l . . . hing ssions e everyt s s o p terial of ma FREE! u o y t will se Grant Hilton, inspired by Dalai Lama.

where participants reflect on their life in total silence. Vipassana is an ancient meditation practice revived in 1969 by a Burmese teacher, S N Goenka, and now offered throughout the world. The course had a profound effect on Hilton. “I’ve been on a spiritual journey ever since,” he says. He spent the next five years trying to find out why he had been so miserable – and how to turn his life around. “From a young age I always believed I could create whatever I wanted on this planet,” he explains. “All I had to do was work for it and believe it would come about.” As a young boy, Hilton had adored his businessman father who was often away working overseas. By the age of 10, Hilton was spending his school holidays at his dad’s office, learning the ropes. Just 17 when his father died, Hilton says that he went “off the rails,” drinking and partying until he had no money left. Waking up one morning after sleeping on a beach, penniless, he realised that he needed to change, and within six years had forged a very successful advertising career, followed by property development. He now believes that his motivation for success was wrong – and that’s why he had been so unhappy. “I always worked for me and no one else, never for the benefit of others,” he explains. “This left me empty at the end of every project instead of having the feeling of a great accomplishment.” He says that it wasn’t until he came to the realisation that he didn’t have permanent ownership of all of his material possessions that he felt freedom. “The universe owns everything. This understanding made it easy for me to let go of material possessions. This also made it easier to obtain material possessions, as things I would use while on this planet. Losing the attachment empowered my life.”

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Meet Grant’s Partner Grant Hilton with his wife Naomi. Together they have opened a $5 million eco-resort in the Gold Coast hinterland.

by Fran Molloy 65

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thinkBIG magazine - issue 3  
thinkBIG magazine - issue 3  

thinkBIG magazine is about achievement, leadership, business, personal development and making a difference. Global in its perspective, think...