123

123 is the number I use to measure my progress in the creation of content online.

It’s a bit of a freaky number to choose so why choose it? Why not choose 120 or heck 100?

To me 123 represents 3 years of my life. From 2010-2013 I slowly created content and added to my blog OnProperty.com.au (then CashFlowInvestor.com.au)

In those 3 years I was able to create 123 blog posts in my spare time. So to me 123 represents a number of posts I can achieve in 3 years.

After working only full time for over 8 months now I have been able to created over 200 blog posts. The first 123 posts took me 6 months. The next 123 posts should take me 4 months.

The goal is to get as many lots of 123′s done as possible before the end of the year.

I have realised today whilst listening to crush it that I can create content faster if I choose to be less polished, raw and completely myself.

So that is what I will try to do from this day forward. More content, faster and completely raw.

I also need to hire a VA but that is a story for another blog post.

Podcast Trend Predictions For 2014 and 2015

I wanted to quickly talk about some podcasting predictions that I have for 2014. and 2015. I also wanted to talk about some other things that I see in podcasting moving forward into 2014. and then as well into 2015. I’ve just written down some trends that I think are going to happen.

#1 Increase In Podcast Listenership

The first trend is an increase in podcast listeners. That’s your overall market that are now listening to podcasts. Now with their iPhones and now with Stitcher or Androids where a lot more people now have access to podcast, and not just access to podcast that they download and listen to after they downloaded, but podcast that you can stream.

Because Internet has gotten so much better people are streaming podcasts on the ‘go’, they’re not necessarily downloading at home before they go to work. This is just increase access dramatically and so the easier access becomes the more people are bound to use it.

Not only that, but cars are now starting to sign deals with places like Stitcher or through iTunes so that automatically having these podcasts put into the car itself and you can download podcast directly in your car.

So that easier they make it, the more people are going to do it. So I believe that we’re going to see the overall market size increase in 2014. and then again in 2015. as it just becomes easier and easier to get access to these for every single person.

#2 Changing Consumer Behavior

Number two is that we’re going to see changing consumer behavior around podcasting and this is going to change for a few reasons. Firstly because people are getting more used to podcasts and how to use them but secondly we’re going to see new developments in companies that are coming out with podcasts versions of things like Pandora where you choose something that you like, maybe it’s internet marketing, and it spits out podcast for you and not necessarily all from the one person.

So because of this changing consumer behavior people aren’t unnecessarily just listening to one podcast and subscribing to that and people on missing to just one a week that are listening to multiple every single day and so we will see this changing consumer behavior where people are consuming more podcasts and more variety of podcasts and they getting more specific on the content that they want.

#3 Less Weekly And More Daily Podcasts

Trend number three is that I see is changing, a lot of the podcast will be changing from weekly podcast making way for daily podcast or even multiple times per day which I will talk about as the fourth trend.

But  podcasting is now changing from something that people do on a weekly  basis  to something that people do on a daily basis and I know from my experience as a  pharmaceutical rep  I would listen to multiple podcast per day as I was driving  between seeing the accounts that I had to see for that day.

A lot of people have launched weekly podcast because it’s a way to extend their brand. I believe they’ll find success and they’ll find even more success by doing daily podcasts.

At the moment  it seems like iTunes is actually favoring daily podcast because they’re looking at how many downloads have been in the last 24  hours  and so therefore daily podcast is consistently showing up higher in the  search rankings  and some people catch on to that and people start doing daily podcast.

#4 Move To Multiple Times Per Day Podcasting

Trend number four which we haven’t really seen any of at all is a move to multiple times per day. At the moment people are trading podcasting like the internet before Google.

They’re trading at like something where people come to their website everyday or they come once a week and they are saying ‘well consumers only want a certain amount of  information’  but I believe that consumers will become more picky in information that they get.

The search tools like iTunes will become more sophisticated so rather than me going and subscribing to a podcast  I’ll be able to use iTunes like I use Google to be able to find  the podcast that I want and so then for that specific question or specific inquiry  that I have.

I believe that people will move to multiple times a day but certainly something that all I want to do because eventually, and it may not happen for 12 months or 24 months, is that iTunes or whoever comes as the major player will turn into a search engine for podcast and so multiple times per day is going to win over because there is more content to be found because people aren’t necessarily subscribing listening to everything. They are just choosing the episodes that they want to listen to.

#5 The Rise Of The Podcast Search Engine

Trend number five is what I’ve already been talking about which is a podcast search engine. This is something if I had the coating ability or if I had the plot now and I had the guts to go out and do it then I would go out and I would create a podcast search engine based on being able to convert podcast into written text so using something like Siri or some sort of voice conversion thing.

So we could convert it into text, people could search for it and would actually direct them to the exact point in the podcast where they would be able to listen to. So this podcast search engine I believe is probably more like 12 or 24 months away because I just believe the computer power and the cost of converting the world’s podcast, I think is over two hundred thousand of them into text is just too expensive at the moment but as that becomes cheaper and it’s going to become more profitable to have these podcasts search engines.

It’s  going to be easier to add in advertisement podcast  so you’re searching on you need some internet marketing help and so then someone’s going to pay to have an ad which is just that podcast which might be three or five minutes long whatever which answers your inquiry just like Google does it at the moment.

So podcast search engine I think is definitely something that is down the pipeline because it’s something that consumers will be able to use and it’s really  up in the air whether Google will tackle this or whether iTunes will become the  major player in this  or whether someone smaller like Stitcher radio will come up and claim this throne. Things change so much but that’s what I see happening in the future.

#6 A Move To Shorter More Topical Podcasts

Last trend which I’ve just thought at the moment so trend number six is a move to short up podcast focused on one specific topic.  So what we see at the moment is a lot of podcast that are interviews and that range abroad and then a topic that might be talking about that person’s life or their experience.

I believe that people will stop shopping interviews or chopping podcast into specific topics just like they do with blog posts at the moment. So targeting keywords, targeting user enquiries and answering that and answering only that.

So there are the trends that I see for podcasting in 2014. and 2015.  I believe that podcasting is extremely important. I’ve seen huge results  in what I’m doing and I will continue to do it and continue to put focus on podcasting because I just believe it is such a powerful medium and it hasn’t yet peaked and it’s going to continue to grow.

Create Assets That Buy Assets

After listening to one of Robert Kiyosaki’s audiobooks there was a great idea that stood out to me.

Robert way discussing that the investors who get large returns often do so by intertwining two or more asset categories.

Those asset categories are

  • Businesses
  • Real Estate
  • Paper Assets
  • Commodities

For example, Bill Gates turned his business into paper assets by going public on the stock exchange. McDonalds used their business to buy real estate and also converted their business into paper assets through the stock exchange.

The idea here is:

Create assets that buy assets

And this has really stuck with me and is exactly what I want to do in 2014.

For example:

I create videos and podcasts (assets in that they generate advertising revenue and traffic) and I then pay to have them transcribed and converted into another asset – blog posts.

These blog posts generate traffic and passive income through advertising.

I then use the blog posts to build an email newsletter list, which is also an asset as it generates more traffic (and advertising revenue) and sales of products.

So currently my business looks like this:

Video/Podcast (asset) –> Blog Post (asset) –> Email Subscriber List (asset)

In 2014 I will definitely be looking at creating more assets that can buy assets. I want to find more systems like the one above where I can gain 3 assets from the creation of just 1 asset.

Eventually I would also like to have profitable businesses (assets) that purchase real estate (assets).

I am extremely excited for my financial future in 2014 and beyond.

The Future Of Podcasting

I believe the world of podcasting is about to undergo a massive shift into the mainstream.

The culmination of advances in multiple different technologies are creating a landscape that is primed for the mass adoption of audio delivery of content.

From the beginning of civilisation information has been conveyed through audio format. Natives told stories and myths about the past and Jews used to orally memorise extremely large portions of scripture.

With the invention of the printing press the written word became the most popular way to store and transfer information.

Now video is trending upwards and is predicted to take over the written word as the most used medium for storing the world’s data.

While I don’t think podcasting will surpass (or come close to) video as the primary form of content delivery, I do believe it will ride video’s coattails.

There are 4 major trends that will lead to the rise of podcasting

Trend #1: Access To The Internet On The Go

iPhones and Android devices now mean we have access to information in whatever form we want on the go.

When podcasts were stuck on our computer, or could be transferred only to our iPods, it was much more difficult to gain access to them.

Now with constant access to the internet we can download podcasts without even having to connect to a computer. We can even stream podcasts on the go.

Because access has become easier more people will begin choosing to listen to podcasts instead of the radio…or instead of nothing.

Trend #2: Voice Recognition Software

Voice recognition isn’t great but it is getting better.

Gone are the days where your phone couldn’t even recognise “call mum”, but the YouTube automatic transcription is still just one notch above completely useless.

As voice recognition software continues to improve we will soon be able to map, archive and analyse both videos and podcasts.

As computers begin to break down and understand what is said during a podcast it means we will be able to search podcasts more effectively.

More importantly we will be able to locate specific points in a podcast that serve particular search queries.

Imagine being able to do a “Google search” for podcasts and be directed straight to 21:55 in the podcast until 25:42 to get the information we need.

Trend #3: Semantic Search

When Google rolled out their “Hummingbird” update in September 2013 they changed the way algorithms look at content.

While on the surface very little seemed to change in terms of search results I believe it has ushered in an era where computer are starting to understand content in a similar way to humans.

This semantic search will prove extremely valuable in the world of podcasting, where often a bunch on non-sensible ramble is mixed in with truly valuable content.

For an algorithm to understand not just what it being said but what each sentence means and how that fits in with the context of our search query this will deliver the time based results required to make a “Google for podcasts” something worth using.

Trend #4: Our Need To Always Be Doing Something

Lastly our insatiable desire to consume more and more content every single day means we don’t want to “waste time” when we could be consuming content.

Driving, working out, walking – they all represent opportunities to audibly consume audio content.

More and more people are adopting audio books and podcasts to fill these times and I believe this trend will continue.

In Conclusion

In conclusion I see a world where Google serves up web pages, videos and podcasts in our search results.

I see a world where iTunes really does become a podcast search engine that people use on a daily basis and I see a world where the majority of the market listen to podcasts at least a little bit.

How To Prepare For An Take Advantage Of This

I have no desire to create a search engine for podcasts (though I think it could be a billion dollar idea) but I do want to take advantage of this growing trend.

Current I am creating video and audio versions of almost all of my blog posts and effectively mimicking my website in audio format.

When the transition does happen and podcasts become searchable, my competitors will have a lot of recording to do if they want to catch up to me.

I’m Not Listening To Your 40 Minute Sermon (…sorry)

Those who know me know I can get very passionate about the church. Lately my passion has been laser focused at ways we can improve the way we communicate the message of the gospel.

I truly feel that, in a lot of ways, the world has moved on. While we do some things really well, I think we are missing out on loads of opportunities to connect with people and add value to people’s lives.

With a lot of recent developments in social media we now have a lot of platforms that seem a little bit strange.

A perfect example is Vine. Vine is a 6 second video platform where the maximum length a video can be is 6 seconds.

Vine is something I have really been getting into lately as the videos are hilarious. I started reading bible verses in 6 seconds and posting them to Vine as well and I’ve seen some pretty good engagement

The Argument Most People Use

When I discuss the length of a sermon, or the way we communicate the argument I almost always get back is:

“What would I use that platform? There are so many other ways I could communicate that message better”

Let’s rephrase it for Vine:

“Why would I post a 6 second video when I can post a 10 minute video on YouTube and I’m able to discuss a topic in detail. 6 seconds is just not an effective way to communicate the gospel”

A valid point and on the surface it is completely accurate.

But today I realised something

You Can’t Communicate With Me Any Other Way

Let me explain:

When I am on Vine looking at videos you cannot communicate with me through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Your Website or any other method.

Why? Because I am in the Vine app and my attention is on Vine.

Even though you may be able to communicate with me better through email or YouTube, or a sermon on Sunday at that point in time you don’t get the chance to communicate with me at all.

The same goes for the Sunday sermon

Just because you think you need to speak for 40 minutes to convey a topic effectively makes no difference…why?

Because I’m on Instagram, reading blog posts and checking my email while you are speaking.

You can’t communicate with me the way you want because I have the opportunity to be communicated with the way I want

When you’re preaching I can look at my phone. When you’re making YouTube videos I can look at Vine. When you’re sending email newsletters I can Snapchat my friends.

It is no longer up to the communicator how they want to communicate their message.

What is more important is finding out where people are directing their attention and communicate in that way.

If that means 6 second videos then do it. If that means messages that disappear after 10 seconds do it.

Why? Because you don’t have a choice anymore

 

Why There Are 40% Less Book Stores Than There Was 3 Years Ago

I heard the statistic that there are now 40% less book stores than there was 3 years ago and today I discovered why.

I went into a book store in a large shopping centre to grab a book for a client that we had discussed.

Obviously the book was unavailable because it is a bit niche. Fair enough.

I also knew it would be more expensive than online but I wanted the convenience of someone ordering it for me and all I have to do is pick it up.

So I request that they order the book for me and when I asked how long the book will be they stated 10 business days!!!

“Can it come in any faster?” – I was happy to pay more

“No, we can’t do that”

I finish my role in 8 business days and then I move interstate. So 10 business days was unacceptable.

How can a national book retailer take so long to get a book they stock to one of their stores?

I think book stores are going under for one reason

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

- You don’t have the book I want because you can’t hold ample stock
- You can’t get it for me quickly (unsure why this is)
- You charge me more for less convenience because of your overheads

No wonder there are less book stores today than there was yesterday.

Thank God for the Internet

What Is My Why?

Recently I have been listening to the audiobook “Start with Why” and it is really challenging me to get a clear cause in my mind as to exactly what my company does and will stand for in the future.

I just created some business cards that claims “I make Google work better” – meaning that I create high quality articles that give people the answers to their search terms.

While on the surface that is what I do really I want my cause to be deeper than that.

I want to educate and inspire people to continually grow and have a positive impact in their own lives and the lives of those around them.

I choose to do that through information publishing on the internet. I do that with blogs, podcasts, videos and niche websites.

I am writing this out more to gain clarity of mind for myself than to share my vision with the rest of the world.

So really my cause is:

“To educate and inspire individuals to continually improve their lives and the lives of those around them”

That is my why. I like that. It is succinct and really gets to the heart of what I am trying to achieve.

It is why I have chosen against going after niche sites in the car industry or in any industry for that matter where I feel I cannot add a high level of value to anyone who visits my site.

It is why I have chosen to create the majority of my content myself, even though I know I can get average articles written on the cheap.

It is the reason why I am starting to be favoured in Google, because my content is great and serves people’s needs well.

It is the reason why I believe I need to go out on my own and give this a good go.

Should Your Niche Sites Be About Things You Are Passionate About?

Recently I set the goal of creating 20 profitable niche sites by the end of 2013.

My strategy was to go after every and any topic that had low keyword competition and an ability to make money. I am now considering altering my strategy and applying more focus to my work.

The successful sites that I have have generally come from some aspect of my life. They either represent something I am interested in, have a passion for, am skilled at or a problem I have.

The recent niche sites that I have bought and created haven’t ticked any of these boxes. I simply did a bunch of keyword research and then created and website and outsourced some articles.

It is WAY too early to tell if these sites will be successful, but what I have found is that I don’t feel like I am adding as much value to the Internet with these niche site.

Starting a site about cars, or coffee machines, or any other product may be lucrative but it isn’t very interesting to me.

Starting a site about property, or finances, or disease, or medicine, or family or self development is interesting to me and I feel like I can add a great deal of value to these sites.

So my goal of 20 profitable niche sites by the end of 2013 has not changed. It is still my goal, but rather than throwing up and old niche site I am planning to only create sites where the content interests me.

I will also only be creating sites that would eventually have the ability to have 100 or more posts on there and where I would be able to launch my own product (which is proving very profitable).

I’ll keep you updated in how my existing sites are going (as I am now planning to scale these out further) as well as how my new niche sites are progressing.

I might even do a comparison between the sites I enjoy making, and the ones I am only making for the money.

July 2013 Niche Site Progress Report

I know income reports are a dime a dozen these days. Pat Flynn was really the mastermind behind them.

He brought a new level to trust to the online income space.

I am following in his footsteps and will be creating my own income reports. Not to build trust with readers but to help myself.

I want to be able to monitor exactly how much income I am making and how my websites are progressing. For me it just makes sense to do it in the public eye.

If I’m going to do it I may as well show other people.

Here is my July 2013 website report. I won’t reveal the URL’s of each website, but I will track them with numbers (eg. Niche Site #1 etc)

My goal is 20 profitable niche sites by the end of 2013.

Niche Site Content Progress

I will be tracking the content progress of each of my niche sites. Because after all it is the content that drives the traffic that drives the sales.

So in almost all cases more content equals more traffic equals more sales.

Below is the number of articles I have on each niche site. The goal is for each niche site to have an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of 10 articles and a home page article. Then I am ‘doubling down’ on the sites that show promise. Giving them 20+ articles.

Niche Site #1 – 127 (goal: 200)
Niche Site #2 – 1 (goal: 10)
Niche Site #3 – 13 (goal: 20)
Niche Site #4 – 17 (goal: 10 – achieved)
Niche Site #5 – 12 (goal: 20)
Niche Site #6- 9 (goal: 10)
Niche Site #7 – 1 (goal: 10)

Visitor Traffic

I will be tracking visitor traffic to see how my traffic overall is growing or declining.

I won’t be tracking pageviews or any other metrics at this stage.

Niche Site #1 – 7,540
Niche Site #2 – 5,157
Niche Site #3 – 7,515
Niche Site #4 – 856
Niche Site #5 – 2,969
Niche Site #6- 85 (first full month)
Niche Site #7 – 3 (just launched)

RyanMcLean.net – 505 (personal blog)
WhiteSummerStore.com – 6 (potential ecommerce store for my wife’s products)

Total = 24,636

Site Income

At this stage I will not be disclosing how I make my money from each site.

I earn income through a mixture of Adsense, affiliate income and my own product sales. Most sites are a mixture of 2 or 3 but some sites do rely more heavily on just one source of income

Niche Site #1 – $781.88
Niche Site #2 – $15.46
Niche Site #3 – $84.43
Niche Site #4 – $5.96
Niche Site #5 – $181.65
Niche Site #6 – $0.18
Niche Site #7 – $0.00

Total Income: $1,069.56

This is not my best month (I think that was about $1,300+) however it is a great month and my 3rd month over $1,000.

I am really excited because in August I will be reinvesting ALL of this money back into more sites to try and grow out my income.

Ideally I would have 20 profitable niche sites each averaging about $100 each. So the goal is to be earning $2000/month in January 2014.

August Goals

July has come and gone and August is here and I plan to do big things in August.

6 new niche sites

That’s right I have done the keyword research, bought the domains and I will be creating 6 new niche sites in August. I already have 3 up and running with at least 1 article on them.

So in my August niche site progress report I should have traffic stats for a whopping 13 niche sites (just 7 short of my goal of 20).

Ideally I would like to have 10 articles on every single website before the end of August but I don’t think that is going to happen. That would be something like 60 articles or 2 per day, and remember I only get a few hours each week to work on my sites.

More Videos

I attribute a lot of my success to creating YouTube videos of my blog posts and then linking back to the site with them. It is the only link building strategy I am currently using.

Eventually I would like to create a video for EVERY SINGLE BLOG POST I have. It can’t hurt after all. However, that is not my goal of August.

My goal for August is to have a video for every single home page article. I will let you know how I go.

The Current Strategy

Previously I was trying to follow “project 10″ which was getting 10 articles up on a website before creating a new website. But due to the time lags in getting content I have had to adjust this.

Instead I am using “buckets” – a concept I got from the lean start up.

Basically each stage of a niche site’s development is classified as it’s own bucket

Buckets would be (buying domain, getting home page published, getting 10 articles published, putting images on the posts, creating videos for the posts).

The idea is that each bucket is only allowed a certain amount until it is deemed “full” and cannot be added to. The idea is that this forces you to complete some tasks further than you otherwise would so you can free up space in the bucket for newer projects.

I will be tracking what stage my sites are up to and trying to get as many buckets empty as possible.

Thus concludes my niche site update for July.

10 Quotes From My Hero That Have Defined My Life

When pressed at school with the question “Who is your hero” I was always confused who to write down.

Out of default I almost always chose Spider-Man. There was nothing about him that I really aspired to become, but he was my favourite super hero so it seemed like the best response. I always struggled to answer questions like “Why is he your hero?” and “what attributes do you admire?”

However, my true hero is and has always been my father.

The legacy of heroes is the memory of
a great name and the inheritance
of a great example….Benjamin Disraeli.

Why I Decided To Write This

My dad is not perfect, no one is. About 5 years ago my parents split up just before my wedding.

Needless to say I was a bit shattered, and the idea that my Dad was my hero was somewhat questioned.

About 3 months ago my wife reminded me of a letter I wrote my father around that time. I don’t remember writing the letter, and a vaguely remember delivering it (I think there was commando rolls involved) but I am pretty sure it said some not too nice things.

I do not remember a single word I wrote in that letter and I regret writing it. Some things are better left unsaid because the old adage that “Time heals all wounds” has proven very true for me.

My wife remembered that I had stated in that letter that I had told my Dad that he used to be my hero and now he wasn’t anymore.

Dad – This is my retraction of whatever I wrote. I hope to be half the father to my kids that you were to me and my sister. I hope you can continue to be a strong male figure to my children, who mean to world to me.

A relevant quote from the director of one of our favourite movies Water World (I know it was deemed a flop but we loved it).

Real heroes are men who fall and fail and are flawed,
but win out in the end because they’ve stayed true to
their ideals and beliefs and commitments….Kevin Costner.

 

When I First Realised My Dad Was Actually Spider Man

I first realized my hero wasn’t Spider-Man when I was about 17 and I was reading a book called “Wild At Heart”.

About half the book was dedicated to “The Father’s Wound”. This is the emotional hurt a boy/man has due to having an inadequate father.

I read the book mostly confused trying to find this wound. I then realized that I simply didn’t have one due to having a great dad.

To my dad

This is a tribute to my dad, who still remains my hero.

Thanks for everything.

Here are the 10 quotes you said that have defined my life and the stories behind them and why they are so powerful to me.

Just to clarify: Every single one of these 10 quotes also embodies the values my mother bestowed upon me. Mum – this is in no way intended to belittle all that you have done for me. This is part of a healing process and I know you will understand that.

A post about mum to come in the future.

1. “Why would I want to pay someone else to raise my kids?”

My dad moved from full time work to working one day per week when my sister was 6 months old. I wasn’t even conceived yet.

He wasn’t loving the corporate life and wanted to try something different. I honour my mum for supporting him in his decision because I know I have felt this way many times myself.

Being an “up and coming” journalist on the way to becoming a newspaper editor my Dad’s employer offered him a better role with a higher salary when he told them he was quitting full time work to be a stay at home Dad. My Dad refused it saying he wanted to stay home to raise his kids.

To this his employer said “With the money we will be paying you you could afford to pay someone else to take care of your kids”

And this is where the quote comes from. My dad replied with “Why would I want to pay someone else to raise my kids?” And with that he moved to one day per week.

This quote is important to me because it sums up my Dad’s philosophy to life.

I wanted this quote to be “The greatest thing you can ever do in life and the greatest achievement you will ever have is being a Dad. So work hard at it, have fun at it and most of all cherish it”.

My dad never said this but he lived it. I also embody this belief. There is nothing more important to me than being a great husband to my wife and a great father to my children.

A Story That Embodies This

One day I came home from school with a friend to discover a stained and semi-burnt parchment containing a clue. This was an all out treasure hunt.

Tea-stained paper with burned edges, rhyming poems which were clues leading to the secret location of the next clue.

We hunted around the house and the garden until finally we came upon the final clue. This clue led us to a garden bed where we had to dig for our buried treasure.

Buried under the dirt was 4 toys. One for me, one for my friend, one for my sister and one for her friend (who didn’t end up coming over that day).

My dad went to all this effort just because he loved us and wanted us to have a good time. That was the kind of Dad he was.

2. “You can be whatever you want to be”

In year 7 I wanted to be a builder.

In year 8 I decided builders don’t make a lot of money so I wanted to be an architect. I decided I was going to become fluent in Japanese as this would allow me to work with Japanese people (I thought this was important for an architect).

In year 11 I wanted to be an astronaut (still do). So in year 11 and again in year 12 my parents paid for me to go to “Space Camp”. If that sounds nerdy it’s because it was. But I loved it.

In year 12 I wanted to be a youth pastor, and I followed this up by attending 2 and a half years of bible college.

When I was 20 I decided I wanted to make a full time income online. My Dad supported me financially for about 6 months or more while I tried to make this a reality. I am still trying.

No matter what I said I wanted to be, how hard or difficult that dream was, my Dad was always encouraging and always supportive.

Rather than think up 12 reasons why I couldn’t do it, why it would be too hard, or why it was a silly dream my Dad was always encouraging and always supportive.

An astronaut? Why not?

A pastor? Honourable!

Make money online? Sounds cool.

Married at 20? A bit young, but if she’s the one go for it

So now when I have an idea, a dream or a vision my default response is “Why not?”

Now when my son points at the sky shouting “MOON!” (he does this a lot) I get to tell him “Branson, one day you will get to go to the moon, would you like that?”

3. “Sure you can quit the drums”

In year 4 I decided to join to school band by playing the drums. I started playing in the ‘practice band’ on the snare drum and eventually got a full drum kit.

I did lessons, I learned quickly and I loved playing the drums. What I absolutely HATED was playing in the school band.

It was horrible.

I was very new to the drums and the beats were too advanced for me and I couldn’t be bothered to practice enough to get the right. Whenever I made a mistake it was painfully obvious and everyone had to stop playing for me.

I avoided playing in band as much as possible.

In year 6 I decided that it was all too much and I wanted to quit the drums. The day came when we had to return the drum kit my parents had bought to get some money back for them.

My dad went out for a drive and I played like mad until he got home. Extremely upset that I was quitting.

I remember no condemnation from my father about the fact that he had spent (and lost) hundreds of dollars on the drum kit or that I should push through with it. That proved to be an important moment, though I am 99% positive my Dad has no idea.

Fast forward 10 years and I have just proposed to my girlfriend Kelly (who is now my wife). The emotional overwhelm of the weekend finally pushed me over the edge and I did what I had wanted to do for the last 6 months and I quit bible college.

I was hating life there and getting nothing out of it. While the majority of people (not my family…thanks guys) said “You only have 4 months to go, why not just stick it out” I remember my dad supporting my decision to quit.

Sometime quitting is bad, a lot of times quitting is good. There is no point sticking something out that is leading you no where. Better to quit and spend your time focusing on something you enjoy that will lead to a better life in the future.

4. “Look after the ewe lambs first”

Ahhh the ewe lambs. When I was young this quote frustrated me to hell.

Let me explain.

The ewe lambs was a term my father used for my mum and my sister.

“We always look after the ewe lambs first” was his strange way of teaching me chivalry.

I hated it when I was younger because it meant us boys would walk in the rain while the girls got the umbrella. Or why I would have to make my own way home from school so he could pick up my sister.

But over time it has proved extremely valuable.

“A man walks closest to the road, because if a car runs the curb you are more likely to get hit than the ewe lamb. Protecting her is your duty”

“A man goes out of his way to remove the ewe lambs from danger. If that means getting up at midnight to drive 2 hours to pick up your daughter and her friends and spend the next 3 hours driving every drunken friend home that is what you do.”

Now when I leave for work I find myself saying to my son (who is only 18 months old) “Now Branson, make sure you take care of the girls while Daddy’s at work”. When he can speak properly I will introduce him to ewe lamb terminology. Thus the legacy lives on.

5. “I’ll have the burnt chop”

A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero;
he can say he doesn’t like pie when he sees
there isn’t enough to go around….Edgar Watson Howe.

The Edgar Watson Howe quote sums up the burnt chop perfectly. But here is the tale behind it.

Lamb chops and 3 veg was a common meal in our house. With chops being extremely expensive we never had enough for everyone to eat and be full.

Often when Dad was cooking the chops he would burn a couple by accident.

“I’ll have the burnt chop” he would always say. Leaving the good chops for me, my sister and my mum.

I don’t know how much charcoal he ate over the years but I could tell you it felt like every single time we had chops some of them were burnt, and every single time he took the burnt ones leaving the best for us.

I love the quote that a hero doesn’t have to be some brave fighter, he can simply put others first. My Dad always did that and I try to do that in my life too.

6. “Yes, of course I’m cooking eggs”

Picture this.

It’s 2am and you are just getting home from your night shift. You have put in a solid nights work and you are coming home ready to go to sleep.

You walk in to find the lights on and your son hanging out with his friends, or more commonly his girlfriend.

You are greeted with the phrase “Hey Dad, are you making eggs?” Which was our cue for the fact that we wanted him to cook us a late night snack of scrambled eggs.

His reply (almost always) “Yeh I am actually, how did you know?”

He would then proceed to cook everyone a late night snack and would eat some himself before going to bed and passing out for a solid 10 hours.

The moral of the story: Go out of your way for your kids always, no matter what the circumstances.

The same went for other situations such as

“Dad my car broke down can you come and get me?”

“Dad it’s raining can you pick me up from school?”

“Dad I’m poor (because I’m 22 and married with a kid…who does that?) can you spot me some money”

7. “Thanks for visiting (insert hand shake containing $50)”

When you get married at 20 and you and your wife both work part time (that’s what 20 year olds do) you find yourself pretty poor at times.

Add in a baby and you find yourself really poor at times.

The fact that you are married (with child) means a lot of people expect you to have your finances sorted. We certainly didn’t.

Most people I know in their early 20′s still live and home and work 2-3 days per week in a cafe. They don’t have money problems because they have no expenses.

I worked just as much as other people my age, but I had a lot more expenses.

Whenever we would go and see Dad, or whenever he came over he would often say goodbye and put out his hand to shake mine. Often this hand contained a $50 note.

Like we were doing a drug deal we would shake hands and the money would be exchanged. Nothing said, nothing needing to be said.

I appreciated his generosity, and he knew it. Sometimes you don’t need to say thank you for the person to know you are grateful and almost always you should give without expecting a thank you in return.

8. “Sure you can write your own speech”

Year 4 and as a young boy I am sent home with an assignment. Write and deliver a public speech.

I knew exactly what I was going to talk about. Recycling!

I believed in recycling so much I used to take cardboard boxes to school, collect the paper rubbish and take it home to recycle. So it was the perfect topic for me.

I remember the moment so clearly in my mind. Dad was in the kitchen and I was sitting at the table.

I had told him what I wanted to give my speech about and he was shooting off ideas about things I could talk about. He had so many ideas he was practically writing the speech for me.

When all of a sudden I stopped writing and I told my Dad that I actually wanted to write the speech myself.

I don’t know if he actually said “Sure, you can write your own speech” but that was exactly what he encouraged me to do. I went up to my bedroom and wrote the speech myself.

I finished in the top 3 in my class and I was then able to present my speech in front of the entire school. It was a proud moment for me.

I still remember my teacher coming up to me telling me that my Dad had told her about that situation and that she was proud of me also.

I am 100% sure that my Dad could have written a better speech than me, but sometimes it isn’t the end result that is the most important but the journey.

I am almost certain that that one moment and the speech that followed built in me a confidence in public speaking that very few people ever achieve.

Today I speak for a living, working as a sales rep and regularly delivering training speeches to large groups of people.

9. “Just take some money”

Another story about money. But I think the way people handle money shows a lot about their character.

My mum made most of the money in our house so I don’t know how much of what Dad gave us was actually what mum made but hey “What’s mine is yours right?”

So, my Dad had his own cupboard in the kitchen where he kept his things. His wallet, his medicine, his receipts and of course his money.

As kids we were trusted with this cupboard and the money hidden therein.

“Dad I am going out can I have some money?” was almost always met with

“Sure just take some money from the cupboard”.

It started out that we would just take money out of his wallet. Usually $50 notes or $20 notes. It didn’t take Dad long to realise he rarely got any change back.

So did he act as a gatekeeper? Rationing out money to us? No.

He went to the bank and got $100 worth of $5 notes and $100 worth of $10 notes to keep in his cupboard.

The idea was that we would simply take one note and thus we wouldn’t cost him as much money.

I’m sure sometimes it worked, but a lot of the time it was just a matter of taking multiple notes. Sorry Dad.

My Dad valued us way more than money but more importantly he trusted us with his money and allowed us to make the decision how much we would take.

Sometime I would bring back the change, sometimes I wouldn’t. But I appreciated the trust.

I think if you trust your kids and teach them to act responsibly you don’t need as many rules as you might think.

10. “OK”

I wasn’t going to include this moment, but it stands as one of the defining moments of my life.

It is not every day you have to confront your father about something but I have had to do this.

No detail needs to be expressed here but the fact that you said “OK” and that you would go about trying to right your wrongs means the world to me.

In hindsight, it was this decision that retained my utmost respect for you.

It was also an important moment for me, to know what is right and stand up for it.

In Closing

Mum - I hope reading this doesn’t make you cry too much and I hope it helps you also. You are as much a defining part of my life as Dad was and I thank you for that

Sara - Through thick and thin, I’ll always look out for you. I may be your little brother, and may have no idea what to do when you wake me up at 3am…but at least we have Vaughn…and now Mark.

Kelly - Thanks for encouraging me to write this (though indirectly) and supporting me in everything in life. I love you more than V.

Dad - I hope reading this has been as healing for you as it was for me writing it. Thank you for being the best Dad any son could EVER hope for and for raising me to be the man I am today.

Please, never stop fighting for time with us. You presence in my life and in the life of my kids is vital to us. When we have difficulty arranging times to see each other it is not out of any distain or past memories…it is because we live hectic lives. You must remember what it is like.

So just to set the record straight, in case I wasn’t completely clear, I feel honoured to call you my hero. Although I won’t always agree with everything you do (flinching in wang ball being a prime example) I don’t think that is what it means to be someone’s hero.

Overall you have been an exemplary role model for what a father is and should be as well as how a true man treats all people.

So 3,419 words later I have come to the end of this rant. I will leave you with this

How To Win Wang Ball In Just 3 Throws

The rules of wang ball are simple. Two players stand at opposite ends of the garden and take turns throwing a solid object (usually a ball) at each other.

The target must stand completely still, even upon impact.

1 point for a body hit, 2 points for a head hit and 3 point for a wang hit. Double points if the person flinches or moves out of the way. First to 11 wins

The world record stands as 3 throws for victory. Ryan (victor) vs Stuart (defeated)

Throw #1: Flinched head shot – 4 points

Throw #2: Flinched head shot – 4 points

Throw #3: Wang shot – 3 points

Total points: 11