Sam Ovens Interview with Nathan Seaward

About This Interview

Date: September 2017

Interviewer: Nathan Seaward from the Nathan Seaward Show

Original Source: NathanSeaward.com

Transcript

Nathan Seaward:

Hey guys, it’s Nathan. This is episode number 23 of The Nathan Seaward Show.

Nathan Seaward:

Hey guys, how you doing? Welcome to the show. Thanks for tuning in every Wednesday. It’s great to have you back and thanks for sharing this show around. I appreciate it. If you’re new to the show, there’s new listeners coming every week. If this is your first time listening, this is a show where I get to have really deep, open, long-format conversations with powerful men from around the world.

Nathan Seaward:

I have a big mission in the world and my mission is to end male suicide in New Zealand. Now, in New Zealand, it’s a really big issue and it’s actually a big issue even at the moment in the media, where our mental health system is collapsing, our suicide levels are at record levels, and we’re not really coping. So, my very small contribution to try and help that is to bring really cool people on from around the world. These are not necessarily famous or well-known people that you’ve heard of. These are just people that I see have done really amazing, powerful things as men. They might have overcome addiction. They might have a really amazing way of helping you find joy or fulfillment or your purpose, or they might have been really successful in business. I bring them on here and we have a long format, open, deep, powerful conversation. We talk about everything. It’s no holds barred and I don’t edit the podcast. You get the full, unedited, raw version of our conversation.

Nathan Seaward:

To give you an idea, I send an email out to the guys before I talk to them and I give them the very powerful context before they come on the show. I ask them if this was the last conversation they were ever going to have, what would they want the men listening to know? I tell them they’re going to have an opportunity to share about their lives and what they’ve learned, and then in the second half of the show, they can dive a little bit deeper into the topics they’re passionate about and what they think will really support and help you guys to improve your lives.

Nathan Seaward:

So, I hope you enjoy the show. I love making it and I love that you guys support it. This week, I feel so grateful to have a really special young Kiwi guy called Sam Ovens. Sam is a serial entrepreneur and you’ll hear all about his story. He started building businesses from a very young age, to the point now where, living in New York, his business will make $50 million this year. He’s an incredible, incredible, Kiwi success story, and he’s done it by just constantly working on himself and just constantly growing and developing better mindsets and never stopping his own personal growth. That’s the lesson I got from Sam’s story.

Nathan Seaward:

He gives a lot of insights after living in New York and becoming successful on the world stage. He gives a lot of insights about New Zealand and he doesn’t hold back about what the challenges are and some of the cultural issues that are occurring in New Zealand. Some of you might get it. Some of you might be confronted by it. Some of you might find it interesting, but I really appreciate Sam’s open and candid honesty about the challenges that New Zealand faces.

Nathan Seaward:

You’ll love this one. If you listen carefully, there are so many golden insights that you can use to drive yourself forward, increase wealth, to make yourself feel better, to become more successful. It’s all in here. Sam is incredibly open and honest and I’m so appreciative of him doing that.

Nathan Seaward:

So, as always, I asked Sam to start off by telling me a little bit about his upbringing in New Zealand and how he got into entrepreneurship. So, enjoy this very personal conversation with the powerful Sam Ovens.

Sam Ovens:

Sure. So, I was born in and I spent my whole life in Auckland in New Zealand. I went to Sacred Heart College, which is an all boys school and it’s all rugby, a real rugby culture. And I didn’t really like rugby. I didn’t like running around in the mud and tackling other people and I wasn’t very big, especially compared to the other dudes at Sacred Heart. Because everyone saw the rugby players as the heroes, then I thought that I wasn’t really anything. That was a definitely a big running theme throughout my whole childhood, up until I really discovered business. I always thought of myself as weak and I got made fun of when I’d play rugby because I wasn’t very good at it and if people would laugh at me or whatever. That was kind of the culture all the way through school.

Sam Ovens:

But then, once I really discovered business… Well, an interesting thing to add was, even when we got older, like 17, 18, 19 and throughout college, the rugby thing kind of became the drinking thing. So, that was now how you were cool is you would just drink a lot and you’d go out a lot. And if you didn’t bring a dozen beers to a party or whatever, then you were considered a pussy. But I wasn’t very good at drinking either. So again, I was kind of-

Nathan Seaward:

So, you’re on the back foot.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. But then I really discovered business when I was 21 years old. And there was, for the first time ever, where I didn’t have to just abuse myself to achieve something and be good at something. So, I didn’t have to go out onto a field, running around in mud and tackle other people, and I didn’t have to drink a yard glass of beer in order to be cool.

Sam Ovens:

In business to be cool, you’ve got to use strategy, mental strategy. It was like a real mind game, and I really liked that because you’ve still got to be tough in business, and business is probably one of the biggest battlefields in the world really. It’s much more of a battlefield than rugby is and everything because the game is way bigger. There’s way bigger players in it, and there’s hardly any rules like rugby. And everyone’s coming for you at every angle, every day. That excited me because it was a way for me to grow a sort of stronger self-image and believe in myself and really think of myself as someone who is good at something and build a strong sense of character where I couldn’t before, throughout my whole life, because I didn’t want to do those other things.

Sam Ovens:

That was really awesome because that was somewhere where I could really get involved in it and really learn a lot and play a game which made me feel confident in everything. That was an interesting thing to find because up until I really found business, I always felt kind of out of place.

Nathan Seaward:

And were you very academic at school?

Sam Ovens:

Not really. Not at all, really.

Nathan Seaward:

Right. You went to university when you left school or you were a little bit lost after high school?

Sam Ovens:

No, I just followed what everyone was doing. All my friends were going to do business, so I just went and did business. I went to AUT and then I switched over [inaudible 00:07:49] and I was doing a B. Com, and I never finished it. I dropped out in my fourth year. I think I’ve got two or three papers left if I want my degree.

Nathan Seaward:

That’s funny. You talked about finding business or discovering business. What does that look like, practically?

Sam Ovens:

Sure. Well, I grew up doing the normal sort of thing. My teachers and everyone told me, “If you want to be successful, you work hard at school, you get good grades, and then you go to university, you get a degree, and then you get a job at a corporate and then you work your way up the ladder.” So, I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. And so, that’s what I did. Then I got an internship in my fourth year of university at Vodafone, down in the Viaduct, in their marketing team. I was doing that and I thought I’d made it. I thought, “I’m successful now because I’ve got this job and everything. Get to work in a corporate building.” I thought that was success.

Sam Ovens:

But then, my girlfriend at the time, her best friend’s dad owned an island in New Zealand. He’s a very successful New Zealand entrepreneur. We went to his island. I thought rich was if you had a BMW and you had a suit, because my dad was a builder and my mom was a special needs teacher, and we were sort of below-average wealthy. So, I thought rich people just wore suits and had a BMW and made a hundred grand a year. I thought that was when you were like a king. So, going to this island and seeing things, like I saw a helicopter and I was like, “Man.” He had a helicopter landing pad there and everything and this massive island, and I was trying to figure out how much this stuff cost. I googled how much the helicopter cost, and it was a $10 million helicopter. And I was like, “Oh my God.” Just this one little piece is 10 million, and I was thinking, even if I save for my entire life working at Vodafone, and even if I did work my way up the ladder and became CEO, there’s still no way that I could ever afford anything like this.

Sam Ovens:

It was a really surreal experience because I’d never seen such wealth and success ever before in my life. Then, when I returned back to my corporate job at Vodafone, I just didn’t feel the same.

Nathan Seaward:

Relationship was over.

Sam Ovens:

I had seen too much. Yeah. I’d been beyond the pale of the state and I’d seen things that I couldn’t unsee.

Nathan Seaward:

A little taste of success.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. And so, I couldn’t just return back to normal. I tried, but it wouldn’t sit well with me. And so, I decided to google, “What is an entrepreneur?” Because I asked people at the island, I was like, “What does this guy do? How’s he so rich?” And they were like, “Oh, he’s an entrepreneur and he started this company.” So, then when I got back to Auckland, I googled, “What is an entrepreneur?” That’s how little I knew about all this. And it said like, “An entrepreneur is someone who starts their own business.” And I started thinking, “Well, what sort of business could I start?” And then I got an idea because my dad was unemployed at the time. So, I was like, “Oh, I’ll build an online job board,” because I saw his problem was getting a job. So, I thought, “Okay, well, I’ll build an online-“

Nathan Seaward:

[crosstalk 00:11:17].

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. So, I decided to quit my job at Vodafone. I dropped out of college without getting my degree. I moved back home with my parents into their garage because I was trying to cut back on costs and everything. I had hardly any savings at all. And then I just decided I was going to start my own business. And that’s again-

Nathan Seaward:

I love that, I love that island story because I guess what I think when I hear that is I could put 10 23 year olds in the same situation, they go, “Man, this is fucking awesome.” And then just go back to work. What do you think it was in you that made you went, “Man, I want a piece of this”?

*Read our Sam Ovens Consulting Accelerator Review here. 

Sam Ovens:

That’s a really good question. I guess it was a feeling that this was something that was well-suited to me because, going back to work, I didn’t really have a good career. A lot of my other friends had been working so hard at school, they had really good grades. They’d become like a prefect. And they had gotten a scholarship to go to university. They were doing business and law. They had such an immaculate track record and GPA. And then they’d gotten jobs at prestigious firms and things, and they had a lot to lose. I think a lot of people have a lot to lose and all their situation isn’t that painful. They’re in a really good situation. They’ve got everything going well for them.

Sam Ovens:

Then when you’re faced with a decision like that, they’ve got a lot to lose. With me, I really didn’t have that much to lose. I didn’t have good grades. I couldn’t get a job at a really awesome place. I didn’t really have much of a career or things going for me. And I thought this entrepreneurship thing really stood out to me because it was like a rebel sort of way to stick it to the people who had always kind of made fun of me throughout school, saying that I wouldn’t do well at university. Because I failed different papers and my teachers said I wasn’t very good at school. And I was just like, “This is the ultimate way to stick it to everyone for mocking me about being stupid or being dumb or thinking that I wouldn’t amount to anything.” I was like, “I can beat all of them if I figure this entrepreneurship thing out.”

Sam Ovens:

So, I guess it was a combination of wanting to stick it to most people and stick it to the people who called me a pussy or a weakling or something for not playing rugby or not wanting to have a yard glass at my 21st birthday. All these typical New Zealand culture things, which I didn’t like, I was like, “This is just stupid. I’m not going to do that.” And this was a way to stick it to everyone. And I liked that because I really wanted-

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah. It’s awesome. Just have that burning desire. The thing that’s cool with entrepreneurship is there’s no limit, there’s no limit to how… like you said, you can look at a CEO’s role and you can go, “Okay, if I’m the highest-paid CEO in New Zealand, that’s going to be a few million or whatever the number is.” But when you look at entrepreneurship, it’s like it’s unlimited.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah, everyone looks at like the All Blacks as if they’re the kings. But if you’re good at entrepreneurship, you can buy the All Blacks.

Nathan Seaward:

That’s very true. Great point that you said too about having a lot to lose. It’s so interesting. And if you circle back, the older you get, if you circle back to the people that were really successful at school or really successful at rugby, it’s interesting to see how that plays out. I work with a lot of high performers and people that are academics, doctors, surgeons, lawyers, whatever. And there’s a huge identity associated with that because they’ve been told at high school they’re the best and the smartest. And now you kind of have to hold onto that. And so if I’m to give up my job or if I’m to give up this identity, then who would I be? And it’s almost like there’s too much to lose, like you said. It’s a really good point.

Sam Ovens:

You come back to the sort of clean, empty slate, right? And for people who have built up good, good, strong characters, like it’s kind of a wipe, but because I didn’t have really anything, I was like, “Sweet. I get a free chance.” Before I was thinking, “Well, I’m screwed because I have a bad GPA. I didn’t do that well at school. And I’m not very good at academic stuff.” So, my track record and my identity was like, it wasn’t serving me. It was kind of detracting me. And so this was a way to escape my identity and build a new one.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah. It’s awesome. It’s such a growth mindset as well. I love it. So where do you go from there? So you start this job ads board business, and obviously that’s a massive success, making millions.

Sam Ovens:

Oh no. The job board website was a failure. So, I spent all the money I had, I had to sell my car to even put more money into it. And I got all the credit cards I could. And I took a loan from my nana for like… How much was it? I think it was two lots of five grand, so 10 grand. And I spent a whole year. I was working 12 hours a day for an entire year, 12 months working on this thing. I spent every dollar I had and more. I got into debt. I had a massive student loan too. And then finally at the 12 month mark, I thought, “Okay, well, now it’s time to go out and start selling this thing to people.” And then I went out to start selling it to people.

Sam Ovens:

And then everyone was just like, “Oh, this is cool, but I don’t need it.” And I was like, “Oh, whoa, what’s what’s going on? Why doesn’t anyone… Why do people think it’s cool, but why don’t they need it?” And everyone told me this and I was like, “Shit. What have I done wrong?” What I figured out after trying to sell it to people was that I hadn’t really tested my idea with the market before really going all in and building it. I had this idea basically from just observing my dad and that was it. I thought, “Okay, well, because I think it’s good and because my parents think it’s a cool idea too and my friends think it’s a cool idea.” I thought, “Well, it’s going to work.” And so I went all in and built it and then went out to the market and faced the harsh reality that they didn’t need it, but they thought it was cool.

Sam Ovens:

And that’s when I learned that people just thinking something’s cool isn’t enough. People don’t pull out their wallet and their credit card for just things which are cool. They need to really need something in order to part with their money. And so that taught me a massive lesson in business was that you can’t just come up with cool ideas and you can’t just come up with things which you think people want. You have to really go to the market first and find what they need, and then kind of come in and be a provider of that. So, instead of just coming up with cool ideas, you really need to solve people’s problems.

Nathan Seaward:

So, it was a great lesson.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. It was a painful one, but that’s how all good lessons come, right?

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah. Well, how do you deal with that? I mean, obviously, but so many people can’t deal with that and that’s when they give up, go back to the job or whatever the example is.

Sam Ovens:

Well, I can’t deal with that. I don’t know how people can not deal with… To me, failure sucks and everything, I mean, I don’t like it, but the ultimate failure is giving up. And so I’ve been kicked in the face, so dozens of times. It happens to me every day still. Little things go wrong all the time, or I have an idea and it doesn’t work or there’s issues with stuff. I mean, there’s non-stop failures and it’s just part of doing anything awesome. If you’re going to strive to do great in anything, you’re going to come across tons of hurdles and they’re going to suck, but that’s what makes it so awesome. I’ve found that all the greatest pleasures in life are always hidden behind the most painful barriers, and these ones, I had nothing to lose. I mean, going back to my job, I didn’t even think I could do that because I just quit. I didn’t have a degree and I didn’t have an awesome track record so I wouldn’t have been able to get much of a job. I hadn’t built a career or anything. So I was like, “If I go back and get a job, it’s going to really suck.” And I was just like, “I may as well just have another go.”

Nathan Seaward:

So, how did it actually play out? Did you just fold the business? Did you end it? Did you get some money out of it?

Sam Ovens:

Oh, it didn’t make any money. The only person who bought anything was my friend and it was only five bucks. So, that was a massive failure. And so I made [inaudible 00:20:52]. I lost all of my money and got into debt on that one and it took me a year. So it sucked, but it didn’t really suck that bad, thinking back on it now, because I was just like, “Well, let’s just go again.” Because I was more excited by the lesson I had learnt. I was like, “Oh, that’s what I did wrong.” And so I was in a hurry to start another business so I could test my new hypothesis about going to the market first. And so I just shut down that business, which wasn’t very hard to do because it didn’t have anything.

Sam Ovens:

And then I decided to go out and speak to the market first. And what I’d found at my job at Vodafone is that there wasn’t any good places to get food or lunch around there. I had always wanted an office lunch delivery thing of my favorite restaurants around the place, like Mercury Plaza and stuff like that. And so I decided, “Well, I’ll start an office lunch delivery business,” because I knew that was a problem. I knew everyone else in the building, I was one of the members or the participants inside that market. So I was kind of scratching my own itch and I knew that was an issue and I knew there’d be demand. So I started this business and we’d just source meals from restaurants and then we would deliver it to offices.

Sam Ovens:

But I did it. I only offered it to the Vodafone building because I just knew that that building was in a unique location in the city and it didn’t have anything around it. And that way we didn’t have lots of distribution issues. Because we only had to go to one building from one restaurant. And so I started that business and that one worked. People bought it. People started talking inside the company and telling other people about it. And we started to get lots of customers. We started to get too many customers because we had to deal with so many logistics like meals, but it taught me a massive lesson that I never want to ever be in the food business, ever.

Sam Ovens:

And so, for the first time, I had a business that was actually making money and it would make decent money, like more than I made at Vodafone. And the problem was is that it couldn’t scale. We got to a certain point, we were still only serving, well, at this point we were serving the Vodafone and the Telecom building and you had to have a Vodafone.co.nz or telecom.co.nz email to use the service. So, that’s how we restricted it like that. And I was like, “Well, this time around, I figured out something that works.” It was a good lesson that solving a problem for people is how you would make money. Because I knew there was a problem. My hypothesis was proven by the fact that people were buying things. But the thing I had overlooked was its potential for scale. And as soon as we… we could have scaled it, the demand was there, but the business model couldn’t take it. The restaurants couldn’t make any more food, and our delivery system, trying to deliver meals and keep them hot and all of this, all of that stuff didn’t work and the business just hit a point and it couldn’t make any more money.

Sam Ovens:

I also hated it because dealing with food and people who say that their Pad Thai doesn’t have enough chicken in it, just petty stuff like that pissed me off. So, I decided to, I’d learned another lesson this time. I was like, “Aha. I’ve proven my hypothesis that you need to find a market need.” And I was stoked that I’d figured that one out, but I made another mistake, which was overlooking the scalability. So, I decided to sell that business to this guy in Wellington who was running a similar sort of office lunch delivery business. And I had a way better business model and everything for doing it. So I sold it to him for not much money at all. I think I only sold it to him for like 20 grand or something, which wasn’t much money, but I was just glad to get anything from it.

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Nathan Seaward:

He sold your first business.

Sam Ovens:

And so I could walk away and-

Sam Ovens:

Anything from it. And just [crosstalk 00:25:02] could walk away for 20 grand, which is pretty funny. And so now I had some money and now I was… and I had confidence too, because I’d figured out [inaudible 00:25:13] I had got faced with a problem in the first instance where I had a failure and then I decided to have another go and I solved that problem, but then I faced another problem. And so I didn’t really care that the second business failed because I had learned massive lessons. And I was like on a roll now where something I hypothesized was proven to be true. And so I had a bit of [crosstalk 00:25:35].

Nathan Seaward:

Personal MBA.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah, exactly. And starting to get some confidence in myself that I can make something work. So I went back to the drawing board and I was like, “Okay, well, this time around I need to solve a problem for people, but it needs to be scalable. I thought, “Well, what’s scalable”, and I thought, “Well, software, technology is infinitely scalable”. I didn’t want to deal with food or driving cars around anything like that. It just wasn’t me. I’m not very good at logistical stuff. And so I thought, “Okay, well, I’m going to start like a software business. ” And then I just chose the property management market. And I started calling them and emailing them and I just said, “Hey, I’m not trying to sell you anything. I just want to do some research. What are the most painful problems that you face day-to-day as a property manager?”

Sam Ovens:

And I just called them up and now, just listen. I just wanted to know about problems. And people told me about all their different problems. People just tell you anything when you’re not trying to sell them something and you’re interested in them, people love talking about themselves. So people told me all sorts of stuff and I spoke to like 20, 30 property managers. Then after I spoke to like 20 or 30 of them, I was like, “Whoa, I’ve noticed a real pattern here.” Almost all of them hated property inspections. Almost all of them, just said this to me they were like, “This property inspections, like the bane of my existence. I have to basically go to a property, use a clipboard pen and paper, use a digital camera, go through the whole house, check all of these things off, come back to the office, type everything up in a template on word, import the photos onto my desktop format the mentor word, save this as a PDF and then email it to this owner.”

Sam Ovens:

And most property managers that manage 120 properties and they have to inspect them three times a year, which is 360 of these things every year, which is more than one a day, especially when you count the average working year and the weekends off and whatnot. You’re looking at like four inspections a day and they’re tedious tasks and they’re not avoidable. People had to do them. It’s the law for property management companies. I was like, “Whoa, everyone’s got this problem.” It was a widespread issue present throughout the whole industry. There wasn’t a solution to it. I thought let’s do something. Because I’d learned, I’d been trained to find widespread issues and markets that were unsolved and then come in as a supplier to solve it. This one was better. This one I knew I’d covered my mistake from my first business by solving a need and doing research. I knew I had covered my problem from the second business, which was making sure it was scalable and technology driven instead of logistics and food driven. So I thought, okay, this is a good one to. This time around, I was getting smarter.

Sam Ovens:

And I thought, “Well, if I want to really validate this business idea, I need to sell it before it exists.” I designed online on Keynote, on Apple, on a Mac, what the app would look like, the different screens and whatnot. Then I went around to different property management companies and I told them about what I was going to build. I said, “I’m going to build this and everything and I’m going to put my money in and develop this thing. But I need to know that this is something that people really want and need. So I’m offering you the special pricing. Here’s what the normal pricing is once I go live with this thing and about six months time. However, if you sign up in advance, if you pay three months in advance for the software, I’ll give you 20% off for life.”

Sam Ovens:

I just went around and pitched it to people like this. I managed to sell a few people and they signed up and there was a massive interest in what I had. That was real validation that this business was going to be successful because if you can sell something at a concept stage, then you know you’re going to be able to sell it when it exists, right? Because it’s quite hard to sell that concept because it’s just an idea. I thought, “All right, awesome. I found it.” Then I found developers in India and stuff and we built the product. Then we gave it to the people who we pre-sold it to. Then we started selling it to more people. I was just cold calling property management companies and emailing them. We started selling people and what happened from there?

Nathan Seaward:

Where did you learn all of these skills? Like what’s going on behind the scenes? Are you just reading books? Are you self-educating? Are you doing courses to learn sales, to learn the marketing techniques and everything or is this just all trial and error?

Sam Ovens:

Books, and trial and error. I just Googled like 10 best sales books in the world or the top 10 books. This is how I learn anything. I just want to find… If I know a discipline like I’m like, “Okay, well I suck at sales. I need to learn sales.” So I go to Amazon or I go to just Google search and what are the top 10 of all time sales books. Go to Amazon, buy all 10 of them and then read them all. What I like to do is notice the things which are universal among the top 10 books. If you can find some principles that are universal among the top 10 books in any one discipline, then you know the fundamental principles of any discipline. Once you understand that, you’ll you pretty much got it.

Nathan Seaward:

It sounds so simple, but it’s like this amazing piece of advice.

*Get more advice from the other Sam Ovens Interviews here

Sam Ovens:

That’s what all good advice sounds like, right? It almost sounds too simple to be good.

Nathan Seaward:

That’s the world that we live in now. It’s not learning things for schools or universities. Everything’s available almost for free or the books that you’re talking about are probably $15. So everything’s accessible. It’s just, do you have the curiosity and do you have the inclination to go out and self-learn like that, to go and figure it out for yourself?

Sam Ovens:

You’ve to have the ability to suspend disbelief, too. Like you’ve got this thing in your mind all the time, which is like, you’re going to fuck this up. And you’ve also got everyone else pretty much telling you that when you start, because you just attract it to yourself when you think it, right? Like if you think that you’re going to screw it up, it’s like everyone’s on you.

Nathan Seaward:

But you have good reason, right? Like your businesses have not gone that well, you have no evidence to suggest that you’re successful at that point. So it’s easy to tell yourself that story.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. Plus I was like very shy and introverted and I didn’t have really any strong sense of character. It was extremely painful for me to talk to people. I would put off talking to people for weeks and I’d like couldn’t get out of bed. And so it sounds…

Nathan Seaward:

When you talk about like going and visiting these businesses and asking them questions, actually behind the scenes, that’s pretty terrifying?

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. It was like more terrifying than playing First XV Rugby for me, which was pretty terrifying. In hindsight, now I might be making it sound simple and everything, but at the time I was scared out of my mind. I was petrified and it really took everything I had within me to even call people on the phone or send people an email because I was just so full of self doubt. All the voices in my head was saying like, “Don’t do this. Don’t do this. Don’t do this.” All these other people around me were saying like, “Oh, this isn’t going to work,” and all of this stuff, which is normal that really happens to everyone when they try and step out and try something new. I had to go through that, too. It was like two battles really. Well, there was really three battles. One was a battle within myself trying to muster up the courage and the motivation to take action and to get out of bed and to believe in myself. That was probably the biggest battle of them all and the hardest one.

Sam Ovens:

The second battle was a battle of education, because I hadn’t paid much attention in school or college, so I didn’t really know anything about anything. I had to learn a lot of stuff like how to sell? How does a business work? How do you market things? How do you do all this different stuff? I had to learn all of that and there was an education gap for sure. I had to learn a whole bunch of information, but I found that one quite easy to do. Then the third one was the battle of just taking action in the real world. So applying the lessons, which you’ve learned from your reading and everything in real life. That was a hard one too, a lot because of the battle which was happening within me, because I didn’t have much belief or courage or anything. I knew what I needed to do, but I couldn’t really go out and do it. It was very painful. Probably the most painful period of my entire business entrepreneurship career. But once you get like one little signal that you’re right. The confidence starts to build up.

Nathan Seaward:

It feeds the next step.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. You just need those little wins and you just need them to keep trickling in and keep… Like that’s what gets you fueled up.

Nathan Seaward:

So it was really, you would just feel the fear and do it anyway, kind of thing? Just keep overcoming it and push through, and push through, and push through, knowing that you want it to be successful and this is what the price was.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah, and there’s no way around the fear. It doesn’t matter how much you meditate. It doesn’t matter like how much books you read on psychology or self-help or anything. Those things are useful, but they never get rid of it. They might tame it down a little bit, but they never get rid of it so that you can just take action without any feeling of fear. I think a lot of people get stuck in this trap. They believe that if they read enough self-help books or if they do enough preparation that there isn’t going to be an obstacle, but there always is. The best way to get over the obstacle is just to smash it down, just bowl straight through it. Once you get past it, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world. The bigger the obstacle, the better the feeling of the ecstasy on the other side.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. It’s extremely hard for me to do, but I hadn’t like… I’d burned my ships. I had no choice really.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah. It’s interesting that there’s a piece there for me, as well around the fear thing, around community and surrounding yourself with people that are doing something similar or that are two steps ahead in the process that can go, “Hey… give you a bit of reassurance or just push you or just say, “Hey, do it stop messing around”, hold you accountable. Did you have any of that? When did that piece come in for you?

Sam Ovens:

I looked for that. In New Zealand there’s a really shitty business owner and entrepreneurship community, because… I apologize to any of them if they’re listening to this now. But I went to some meetups that were happening, like different meetups. I won’t name them the events or anything, but everyone I talked to pretty much had the same problem I had. They were like more obsessed [inaudible 00:37:30] than me. They were obsessing about raising money or building this massive product or focusing on development and technology before selling anything. Everyone felt like sales was really not even necessary. They felt like selling something was kind of beneath them. They felt like, “No. No. No. I’m an entrepreneur. Here’s my idea. [crosstalk 00:37:52] I need an investor and I’m not going to sell it.” Like, “Hey, I’ve got the idea here.” That was the sort of mentality I found. I noticed that a lot of these people… I started questioning them like, “How long have you been doing this? Tell me about your history.” I was trying to establish some sort of timeline to these characters.

Sam Ovens:

I found that they were stuck in this perpetual cycle. A lot of them were just kind of filling up on dopamine from coming to these events and talking shit with other people and drinking coffee and stuff. I was like, “This isn’t good. This is feeding the addiction.” I got the hell out of there. I was like, “These guys aren’t killers. These guys are people who are too scared to do the one thing which has to be done and they’re making themselves feel not bad by kind of getting all together and sharing this like I’m an entrepreneur attitude just to make themselves feel better about not taking that action. It was really obvious to me because it was my problem. I didn’t want to feed that addiction, so I got the hell out of there and never went back. I knew what I had to do. I just had to conquer this thing. I had to sell shit and make money. I knew exactly what to do, but there was so much fear around to doing it, selling stuff. There’s often a lot of fear around money. New Zealand has a real thing about money. There’s a lot of taboo around it. Where like rich people are… they’re considered snobs. New Zealand has like a tall poppy mentality about making money and people don’t talk about money.

Sam Ovens:

Like if you go out to a bar or something, you don’t see guys sharing about how much money they make and having competitions about that. It’s more like how many beers did they drink or all that sort of stuff. There was a lot of issues within me to try and make money because I kind of had these feelings that money was kind of evil or like making money was evil or wrong, and that you shouldn’t be talking about money and all of this stuff. It was really hard to get over that and I couldn’t find any communities of killer entrepreneurs in New Zealand, like just hungry people who just did whatever it took and just executed and made money. Like they weren’t like image entrepreneurs. I found a lot of image entrepreneurs in New Zealand who were just like, they had the label of an entrepreneur and they were kind of famous in the community for being an entrepreneur, but they were poor. I was like, “I don’t want that. I want to be a real entrepreneur. I want to be rich, actually, not even just perceived rich, like real rich.” And so I couldn’t find that in New Zealand. I’m sure it exists, but I couldn’t find it. So I just decided I had to do this on my own. I knew what I had to do, and I just had to muster up the courage and do it.

Nathan Seaward:

Awesome. So where does it go from there? So you sell the real estate… Sorry, the property management company or you keep it? Is it profitable?

Sam Ovens:

Yeah, so I did that for like two years and it was making money and it was growing. It was an awesome business. We started selling it to America or Australia, all of that stuff. It did well but then I took… In the beginning stages of the software company, I started doing some consulting jobs on the side because I’d started to learn a lot about sales and marketing. I felt like I was pretty dangerous at those things. I’d gotten pretty good at it. Because I taught myself from Americans, right? Like I’d found the best American salespeople and marketers and stuff and I learned from them from their books. When you take that thinking back to New Zealand, you’re a savage compared… Because everyone’s kind of soft in New Zealand when it comes to being a really good businessmen, like how businessmen are kind of soft in that regard. Like they’re not hungry like Americans are. Americans think that a million dollars is nothing and in New Zealand it’s like that’s massive right? So I had this mentality that I learned from America.

Nathan Seaward:

Who were the people you learned from at that time? Who were the sales gurus?

Sam Ovens:

Well, I learned marketing from David Ogilvy, like his books, and he’d started Ogilvy and Mather, which was billions. He was the best copywriter in the world. In sales, I read books like “Spin Selling” and “Zero Resistance Selling” from people who were pretty bold courageous salesmen and they were real good and hungry.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah.

Sam Ovens:

Because I had taught myself all of that and I sort of adopted an attitude that I found in Americans. I was pretty dangerous back in New Zealand at selling and marketing because I was aggressive and I could help get people real good results because I had such an aggressive growth mindset. I started consulting businesses on how to do digital marketing and how to improve their sales. Just like all sorts of businesses. I had plumbers. I had a rug company that sold luxury rugs. I had like all sorts of different businesses, just local businesses, and I got good results for them. Then what happened is people started asking me if I could teach them how to do that, because I started doing some interviews about SnapInspect, which is my software company. And people asked me like, “How did you fund the development of your software company?” And I told them, “Well, I pre-sold it to people and that’s how I got some of the money, but then to bridge the money gaps at other times and other stages, I used my consulting services and whenever I needed money I’d just go out and sell some consulting deals and then use that money to develop the software.” Because it gets pretty expensive developing software.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah.

Sam Ovens:

Then people seem to be fascinated by that because it seemed to be everyone’s issue. They were building an app or a product, whatever, but money was the issue. They wanted a way to kind of generate money without having to go to investors and all of that. So these people started approaching me, entrepreneurs, and they were like, “Hey, can you teach me how to get consulting deals?” And I ignored it for a while because I didn’t think anything of it. Then this one guy kept persisting. His name was Stan and he kept asking me, and then he offered to pay me a thousand bucks, a thousand U.S. if I taught them how to do it. And I said, “All right.” Because he was offering to pay me. I was like, “Fine.” So we got on Skype and I had six, one hour phone calls with them over the course of six weeks and I told him the first thing I knew about how I was doing it. I didn’t create a course or anything. I just told him. We were just having a conversation and he listened and then he went and started doing it.

Sam Ovens:

I didn’t think it was going to work for him at all. Because I thought it might’ve been the New Zealand market or it might’ve just been because I was special or something. I don’t know. I didn’t think other people could do it. But then Stanley went and got a client in like his third week of these calls with me and the client he got was bigger than any client I’d even got. So he got a $10,000 U.S. deal and the biggest deal I’d ever got was like six grand, New Zealand. And I was like, “What the hell? I was like, “This is ridiculous.” That really showed me something. It showed me that there was massive value in teaching people this process because people could use it and make money for themselves. Then, so I started sharing the recordings of these calls with other people because I recorded the calls. I put them in a Dropbox folder and then people started coming to me and asking if I could help them. So I offered to sell them the link to the Dropbox folders so they could listen to me and Stanley’s calls. I sold that for a grand and people bought it and people loved it, even though it was the most scrappy, ghetto thing I’ve ever built in my life. Because the information was valuable and it was unique and people started getting results.

Sam Ovens:

And at the stage where I had about 12 customers in there, I was like, I’d been trained how to see opportunity at this point because I saw it. I saw what failed and I saw what worked. I knew that you needed to solve a problem for people and that they had to really want it bad. This was the first time ever that I had people actually coming to me and begging me to sell them something. That had never happened to me before. It was always me chasing people. I was like, “Well, this is something. I’ve got something here.” So I decided to turn it into an online course. I turned it into a six week online course and they put more attention and time into it and everything and then made it like a… I used a software so that people had to log into a portal and everything instead of just giving them a Dropbox link. I made like slide shows and stuff and did proper videos instead of just giving people a Dropbox link or just having recorded Skype calls. Then that program started to sell a lot.

Sam Ovens:

I started To make the most money I’d ever made in my life with this program. Word started spreading and other people started buying it and it started making a lot of money. At the time it got to the point where it was making way more money than my software business. I was spending probably 5% of my time on the online training business and 95% of my time on the software business. But like 90% of my money was coming from the training business and only 10% from the software business because you have to reinvest so much money in software businesses that the profit isn’t very good. But with online education training programs the profit margins are insane. I was like, “This is just too good to have a balance like this.” So I was like, “I need to put all of my time into this training.” So I had taken on a business partner, a developer for SnapInspect, my property inspection software company. I offered it to him to buy my share out and he bought my share out off me.

Sam Ovens:

I’d sold, liquidated my shares in that, and so I had a lot of money at this point because my online course was really selling well. I just liquidated my position and in SnapInspect and I had a product which was on a roll and that’s where things really took off of me. I became a millionaire that year… Within that year that that happened, I made my first million bucks.

Nathan Seaward:

How old were you at that point?

Sam Ovens:

How old would I have been? I think it was like 24. Yeah. I think I made my first million when I was 24.

Nathan Seaward:

Awesome. That must’ve been insane.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. It was awesome. I bought a Ferrari, which is like the first thing that any poor kid that ever makes a million dollars buys, because it’s the thing they’ve always dreamed about. I bought a boat and I bought lots of stupid shit because I had to get it out of my system. [crosstalk 00:24:45] Yeah. I’d craved these things my whole entire life and now I had the money, so I had to go out and do it.

Nathan Seaward:

Do you remember the moment, like what was the actual… Taking over a million dollars, an actual moment? Was it something you added up? Was it a realization?

Sam Ovens:

It was really when I made my first… Well, it was, I got…

Sam Ovens:

When I made my first… Well, I got to one stage when I was selling this program where I made 340 grand in one month. And I was just like, “What the fuck just happened?”, because I’d never seen anything like that before. And I didn’t have a million dollars at this point, this was when I was first starting this thing. And for my software company to do that, it was gradual. It just didn’t have these spikes and surges like that. And I was just like, “Whoa, I’ve got this much money? And I can actually use it?”, because I don’t have expenses and I don’t have a team. It was just a one-man business.

Nathan Seaward:

Because you’re confident that more money is going to come in?

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. Well, I mean I had my doubts, but I was pretty sure that I could keep doing this. And you get a certain godlike feeling when that first happens to you, you know?

Nathan Seaward:

Sure.

Sam Ovens:

You start feeling… It gives you one hell of a boost and confidence. And when you’ve got that boost, you start doing real well. And you’ve got to be careful that you keep that there and you don’t mess it up, because you can lose it. I’ve watched a lot of people get it and then lose it like, “I lost this because like I got sloppy with things.” And it’s quite hard to get back, and so… Yeah, I had that godlike feeling because I was making more money than anyone at that point. And I was 24, I had a Ferrari and I was rich and I thought, “I was the man.” And I definitely was real cocky at this point and look probably way too cocky, way too much ego. But it was a good change from having absolutely no belief in myself. And then I pretty much just kept doing that.

Sam Ovens:

And then I got to a point where I kind of messed it up, because I cared too much about my personal life and everything. I wanted to go out on the weekends, I wanted to always be partying because I wanted to enjoy this point in my life. And I was always out on my boat and always going around and eating out and driving around in my cars and stuff. And I’ve kind of neglected my business, and it got to the point where I definitely slipped in my business side. I was slipping, I was leading things, I was leading like problems keep building up there. And I wasn’t really saving any money at all, whatever money I made, I’d spend. And even though I was making a shit load. It’s amazing, there was a good lesson that you can… It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got. If you’re sloppy, you can lose it all.

Sam Ovens:

And I was just lucky that I could see myself going down a path where I would’ve lost it all, because I wasn’t reinvesting anything in my business. I wasn’t trying to improve myself, and if you don’t improve yourself, even if you’re awesome, over time, you’re going to [inaudible 00:53:16] because someone else is going to come up and take it all off you. And so, I kind of got a wake up call after a while, after I kept doing this. And I was like, “All right, I need to get real.” And I was also starting to feel a bit kind of depressed because I wasn’t really happy anymore. This thing had kind of worn off. I wanted to get back to growth.

Sam Ovens:

And so, I was in that period of limbo for like a year, a whole year, just partying all the time and thinking I was awesome because I was rich. And I definitely did it for too long. And then I just decided, “All right, time to grow up.” And so I sold everything I had and literally just sold everything, and I had bought so much shit, I had multiple cars, just dumb stuff. I had this apartment full of stuff and I had all of these things. I liquidated everything I had. I kept no trophies from the past. I just decided it was time to clear everything out. And then I decided that I was going to move to America because what happened is, I was doing well and I was making money, but I found that in Oakland, especially the social group post and stuff, people kind of looked at me like I was successful and I was really good at what I was doing.

Sam Ovens:

And I felt kind of like a king, but there was a problem with that. And it’s kind of like being the biggest boat in the Marina, right? When you’re the biggest boat in the Marina, you don’t really have any desire to get a bigger boat. But when you’re the smallest boat in the Marina, you’re always looking at the big ones, and you want to upsize. And so I was kind of like the biggest boat in the Marina. And I thought, “Where would I be? The shittiest little boat in the world” and I was like, “New York.” I was like, even if I sold everything I had and got all my savings together and everything, if I moved to New York, I’d be poor, I’d be nobody. And so I decided to do that. And so I sold everything I had, literally just had one suitcase. And decided to move to New York and moved there with just one suitcase and with my girlfriend as well, who had, I think she had two suitcases. And started from scratch.

Sam Ovens:

It was like a new identity again, it was like a fresh wipe. I had no friends over here so no one thought I was successful. I was used to being able to live like a king in New Zealand, because everything’s so cheap there. Now I was in New York and I was freaking out because the apartment rent, the apartment I got was a lot of money for New Zealand dollars, unheard of there isn’t a place in New Zealand you can rent that that’s expensive. Not even anything, no houses, nothing that exists that is expensive as just like an okay sort of apartment in New York. And everything’s so expensive here, and I had to adjust from New Zealand dollars to US dollars. And that’s a big difference too, because you’re used to calculating your money in New Zealand, and now I had to convert it all to US and it just took a big haircut.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah.

Sam Ovens:

And so, I was feeling poor again. But I liked that, because that lit the fire back up in me and I had no identity here. No one knew me, no one thought I was anything and I was nothing here. And that was really good for me. And so I really started getting hungry again, and also the big thing, which I didn’t even notice at the time in New Zealand, but New Zealand has a real bad alcohol problem. You don’t think that when you’re [inaudible 00:56:58]. When you move to America, people just don’t drink like that. People don’t go out on Fridays and Saturdays and just get blind drunk or pick up dozens of beers and just take them home and sit in front of the TV. No one does that here. And I kind of still brought a bit of that attitude with me at first. And we went out to dinner with some different people and they were kind of like, they didn’t drink. And they kind of looked a bit funny at me when I wanted to drink lots. And I was like, “Whoa, everything’s different over here with this drinking stuff.”

Sam Ovens:

And so, very quickly, I stopped drinking within two months. Because I hadn’t drunk at all because that wasn’t really the culture, I just lost all desire to drink anything. And so now, I haven’t had an alcoholic drink for about a year and a half, and that was huge for me because being hung [inaudible 00:57:53] really ruined my business in New Zealand, because it’s normal for people to go out in Fridays and Saturdays and even the successful people do it there too. It’s just the culture, even the grownups do it.

Sam Ovens:

And over here, that’s not the culture and it hurt my business in New Zealand, because if you’re a bit foggy on Monday or Tuesday, then you’re not as sharp. And over here, because I wasn’t doing that at all, I always sharp. And so I wasn’t drinking anything, I had a fresh identity again, and I had no friends or anything over here. So it was just a fresh start again, kind of like quitting my job at Vodafone. And it was everything I needed. And that’s when my massive growth curve happened. I was shocked, I did 50 times better than I ever thought I’d do. [crosstalk 00:58:48]

Nathan Seaward:

And with this start, obviously, you must have gone through waves of anxiety and fear as he’s kind of confronted how big and successful life people business are in New York. But you felt equipped and you like that feeling? You like that feeling, giving you the drive back?

Sam Ovens:

Well, humans do their best work when they’re in fight-or-flight. When I’m in a situation where I could get wiped out and that could have happened in New York because I… Look, if I didn’t make any money for a year or two, and I had to cover all the living costs and everything here, I would have wiped out my savings. And so, I was kind of worried.

Nathan Seaward:

It’s a pretty good driver.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. But in New Zealand, because the rent is so cheap and everything, I could have lived for years, like 15 years off my savings there and still lived like a rock star lifestyle there. I had a boat and fancy cars and all of that, but over here, I was panicking and I wasn’t even living much of a lifestyle.

Sam Ovens:

And that was really good for me because it kept me into gear. And I went back into survival mode, and I just started working real hard. And I also learned, New Yorkers have a work ethic which is like nothing else. In New Zealand, our culture has a pretty weak work ethic too. You kind of get in at 9:00 and you kind of finish at 5:00, 5:30. It’s a late night if you finish at 7:00. And people often have a beer afterwards and go home and kind of watch TV and stuff and it’s very… No one really works in the weekends and around the January time in New Zealand, if you’re trying to sell anything, all the businesses are closed. Businesses are closed because the people are off at the beach and whatnot. And in New York, it’s like no one’s in for a holiday and people work, like people always here are going to kick your ass.

Sam Ovens:

And so I started, back in New Zealand, I’d only really work like 9:00 to 5:00, maybe sometimes a bit longer, but when I got here, I just started building a massive work ethic. And I started working a [inaudible 01:01:05] minimum of like 14-15 hours a day, and I’d work weekends too.

Nathan Seaward:

When did you start? Did you start the same old method where it’s like, “Okay, I need to go and find out what some needs are in some businesses for consulting”?

Sam Ovens:

I just continued my online consulting course.

Nathan Seaward:

Just teaching people how to consult? Or still teaching them…

Sam Ovens:

We’re teaching people how to start their own consulting business, because it was an online business. A lot of my customers were already in America.

Nathan Seaward:

Right.

Sam Ovens:

And so I knew that there was way more money to be made in America than New Zealand. And so I moved over here and I already knew what to do. I just needed to sell more of this program. And now that all is on American time and I could relate to the US market better than the New Zealand because I was living here, I just started doing way better, and I just scaled up my business basically.

Nathan Seaward:

And so what? Can you give us an idea today about where are you at now in terms of numbers, in terms of your business?

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. Well, this year we should do 50 million in sales.

Nathan Seaward:

50?

Sam Ovens:

Yeah.

Nathan Seaward:

Incredible.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. And that’s US, man.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah.

Sam Ovens:

So if you bring that back to New Zealand, that’s like [crosstalk 01:02:19] make this. There’s hardly any businesses that make that there.

Nathan Seaward:

Well, that’s awesome, man. Congratulations. Where does your drive come from now going forward?

Sam Ovens:

It comes from wanting to be the best in the world at consulting. So I really discovered… When I lived in New Zealand, I had a small-minded sort of attitude. I just wanted to be better than my friends and better than just my social circle, right? And or maybe the best in New Zealand. But when I got over here, I got a goal to be the best in the world at something because now, I was like on a world stage. When you’re in New York, I mean, if you get to the top of New York, you’re pretty much top of the world. And so I want it to be the best in the world at consulting. And that’s really the big thing that got me working because when you’re not trying to just outdo your friends, when you’re trying to just do something really big, that gets you really motivated.

Nathan Seaward:

And I think, what I say in New Zealand, there’s people don’t believe that they can compete on a world stage, but it’s not true, right?

Sam Ovens:

It’s definitely not true. I mean, I don’t think you can’t compete on a world stage unless you go and visit some other countries and come back to New Zealand, but I think the main issue for New Zealanders is they just don’t go and look. Going and looking at America, I visited America multiple times before I decided to move there. And something about the country just lit a fire in me. And it made me unique among people in New Zealand, because it was kind of like I’d been beyond the pale of the State, and I’d seen things which others hadn’t seen, and I knew things which others didn’t know. And so, when I was back in New Zealand, I was kind of like an enigma. I was different to other people who couldn’t really understand it. And that’s what made me really good.

Sam Ovens:

And I would definitely encourage all New Zealanders to go visit. If you want to do good in business, you have to visit America because it’s the place for all business. And it’s so big, it just blows your mind as a New Zealander. How many people are here and how much businesses here and how rich people are here compared to New Zealand. And when you go back, you just won’t be the same person.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah. I definitely have had that experience going to New York. One thing, I’ve been through your training and I loved it. I thought it was so good. And one thing that I know you have big honors, mindset training, and I know you’re very proud of the mindset training that you’ve created a new course. Can you give us a few tasters about mindset and why you believe so heavily in that?

Sam Ovens:

It was the main obstacle I had to [inaudible 01:05:06] in my own growth, so that’s why I stress it a lot. Because my belief is that, to do well in business or to do well in anything really, it’s more of a battle of yourself than it is a battle of anything else. To get fit for sport or to get good at business, you can read the books, you can do all that stuff. It’s pretty easy to know what to do. The hard part is generally doing it. And what happens is, once you know what you need to do and then you need to do it, you start coming up against all of this resistance. It’s like you just don’t feel comfortable, you’re way outside of your comfort zone.

Sam Ovens:

And that was the main problem for me. I mean, it plagued my existence when I was trying to start my businesses. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t do these things, I was petrified. And what I really started to learn is that it was just this conflict of self, I had to find who I was as a person, because of my childhood and everything. People told me I wasn’t good at school and I wasn’t very smart. And my track record was that I wasn’t very smart either. And I was shy, people knew me as a shy person who was awkward and all of that because I was. And I wasn’t very outgoing or anything like that, I was pretty awkward. And so I had this identity in my mind of who I was, and it was very strong and defined because I’d been alive for 21 years, and I really thought I was this person.

Sam Ovens:

I think everyone thinks they are who they are. People think that who they are and what their habits and likes and preferences are, they think that’s them, but that’s actually who they are and they don’t want to change it. People hear what they have to do in entrepreneurship, like sell stuff, make money and be hungry or aggressive or whatever. And they’re like, “Oh, that’s not me. I’m not very outgoing,” or “I’m not very smart at that,” or “I couldn’t deal with that.” People think that they can’t do all of this stuff because that’s not them. And I came up against everything in entrepreneurship because I wasn’t any of that. I wasn’t good at money, I wasn’t good at math, the finance or anything, I wasn’t outgoing, and so I had to conquer myself.

Sam Ovens:

That was the biggest battle. I had to conquer myself and build a new one. And so I had to learn all about psychology and mindset and all of this stuff in order to see that who I thought I was wasn’t really anything at all, it was just a building up of programming about beliefs. So, because I heard something once and because I played it over and over and over again in my mind for ages. I remember when my teacher told me I was bad at times tables when I was six, I remember feeling embarrassed and I replayed that movie again in my head a million times. And that meant that I didn’t think I was good at math or numbers, therefore I failed math and everyone thought I was bad at it.

Sam Ovens:

So my belief was I’m useless at math and numbers. And then I thought, because everyone had always said I was shy and outgoing and because I was awkward, that’s who I was. And I realized that it was really just because I tricked myself into believing that I was. But I found out that I could actually change that and that I could change my character. And I discovered bit by bit that I wasn’t anything and that I could be whoever I wanted. It was just building new habits and designing the character and then kind of growing into it.

Sam Ovens:

So I adopted this process where I would basically think forward about the goals I need to achieve for the year, and then I would look at what actions are required in order to achieve those goals. And then based off the actions that I needed to do in order to achieve the goals, I looked at who I would need to become to take those actions. Because often, I would have the goal. Awesome. Then I’d look at the actions. Awesome. But then who I was at the time wasn’t capable of taking those actions. Because it wasn’t him, it was outside of my comfort zone, it was out of character for me.

Sam Ovens:

And so, what I did is I designed a character who could take those actions easy, like there would be nothing for the character to take in order to achieve the goal. And then I decided to become the character. So I discovered a really new way of thinking when it comes to personal development and growth and success. Most people just look at goals, and then that’s it. But in order to achieve goals, you need actions. And then some people who they think it’s goals and then actions and then that’s it. But it’s very hard to do that. A lot of people set goals, they don’t get them. A lot of people set goals and actions and don’t get them.

Sam Ovens:

And the personal development space is notorious for being known as like a woo-woo sort of place where it’s all about feeling good and everything, and a lot of the people don’t get results. And I really started to dig into that and I created my own way of doing it which was… I found out that I couldn’t be successful as who I was. I found that in order to be successful, I needed to become somebody else. And so I developed this way of thinking where I would design my character. I write out exactly how he dressed, how other people would talk about him, how he would be sieved, and what strengths and weaknesses he would have, and even down to how he dressed and spoke and did everything.

Sam Ovens:

And I design this character and then I would just grow into it. I would start trying to kind of act like this. It’s kind of like, if you’re a movie actor and you get the script, you have to get into character, right? And movie characters quite often, once they get into character, they can’t change out until the movie is done, but they remain in that character even when they’re not on the set. And I really figured out how to do that and it’s to stay in that character forever. And then until I needed to become another character.

Sam Ovens:

And so, I thought what I was doing was fundamentally wrong, because everyone says that you should be yourself, right? Even all my friends and stuff were like, “Dude, you the biggest fraud and fake and imposter ever. This isn’t who you are.” They’re like, “We know who you are,” and “You’re not this person. Why are you pretending to be like this?” And everyone was kind of on my back about this, because everyone always sees things like, “Be yourself,” and “Stick to your roots,” and “Don’t forget who you are,” and “Be authentic.” There’s always people that say this shit like, “Be authentic.” But if I was being my authentic self at that time, it sucked. So why would I want to be authentic? I wanted to become something bigger. And I think when you’re making improvements to your character, there’s no problem about being an authentic. And so if you want to grow, then you kind of have to be an authentic for a little bit. And then what happens is that becomes authentic, because you start to adopt it in every facet of your life. And then that you’ve got a new self, a new character.

Sam Ovens:

And I found in order to succeed in business, I had to do this. There was no other way around it. I did it despite how wrong I thought it was. I thought I was just doing something real messed up because of just how other people would speak about what I was doing, or like, “Why aren’t you being yourself?” or “You’ve changed,” or “Why don’t you just remember who you are and come back and be normal?” People said stuff like these.

Nathan Seaward:

[inaudible 01:13:21] their perspective.

Sam Ovens:

I figured out that I was threatening their identity. Right? Because if I will keep changing mine, then there was kind of evidence to them that theirs could be changed too. That because they liked their identity so much, even though it wasn’t really serving them, their identities put their guards up and started fight. Right? And that’s where all the hate comes from. And New Zealand has it bad, that’s why there’s that tall poppy syndrome.

Nathan Seaward:

You talk about especially around the money, the money mindset and that negative money mindset that New Zealanders have. How did you overcome that one? Because to be at your age, being able to deal with a $50 million income and not sabotage yourself, you have to have some pretty strong mindsets to deal with it, right?

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. Well, I mean, one reason I left New Zealand is I wanted to get away from this shitty way of thinking, where everyone thinks that rich people are dicks and everything. And so I wanted to get out of that, and its small mind minded there. The socialite groups and stuff are so [inaudible 01:14:34], but [inaudible 01:14:35] these small little groups of people who really have quite a tragic-like existence, but they think they’re like the King of the world. And then there’s so much gossip and stuff there, and it’s because it’s such a small island. But then when you go overseas, you realize how insignificant everyone is there. And you realize that even the biggest socialites in New Zealand would just be like [inaudible 01:14:59] in America, like they’re nobodies. And it’s really…

Sam Ovens:

[inaudible 01:15:00] in America like they’re nobodies and it’s really refreshing because the people who you used to kind of feel like intimidated by, in another country, they’re nobodies. And that I really liked that because it was a way for me to transcend that small world and I was no longer in their game. I was in a totally different game and that was helpful for me because I didn’t even stop to consider what anyone thought about me in New Zealand. And I literally didn’t care because I knew people would be saying shit about me. And there are different people still will be. And that’s just the way like New Zealand is at the moment. I hope it changes, but at the moment it’s pretty bad. And I know a lot of entrepreneurs and they’re too scared to sort of step out and be bold because of what their social groups think. And I stepped out and just didn’t care. It took me like four years, five years to build up enough courage to just not hear what anyone in New Zealand thinks or anyone in the world. I’m just trying to impress myself and continue growing.

Nathan Seaward:

What does that leave you with? So you’re a master of success clearly, and you hear a lot of conversation about the difference between success and fulfillment. And there’s a lot of unhappy millennials out there. How was it for you on the fulfillment and the happiness side?

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. Well the big shift I have is money doesn’t make me happy. Personal growth makes me happy. So I could, if I just plateaued making the amount of money I’m making now, I’d be seriously unhappy. And someone might say, “That’s so strange because you’re making so much money.” But it’s not about the money. It’s about like the game. It’s about continuously growing. And so I don’t… Money is just a kind of way of kind of measuring that. I intend to pretty much give it all away, later on in my life and do some big things socially, which I’ve always wanted to do. And right now I spend less on myself than I ever have in my entire life. I have no cars. I don’t buy any fancy clothes. I don’t really have like a social life.

Sam Ovens:

I don’t go out to dinners or I don’t drink. I have absolutely no ego now, when it comes to that sort of stuff. I’ve pretty much eroded the entire ego completely. And all I want to do now is just be the best I can at the game which I’ve chosen, which is this consulting and online training. And keep beating myself year after year and help a lot of people, which I’m doing through my training programs, help transcend themselves just the way I did. And not care what anyone else thinks, because I know what I’m doing is helping a lot of other people. I know I’m really happy with myself when I keep beating myself and I don’t even buy anything with my money. I’m just using the money for my mission. I think of it as a war chest for my battle, which is to reform the world’s education systems because the education systems kind of chewed me up and spat me out there.

Sam Ovens:

And I found that no one ever talks about like psychology and self-image and all this stuff. And so I want to reform the world’s education systems and bring this into them so that other people don’t get kind of stood on like I did. Because I know there’s a lot of people throughout the world that have those issues. And so my… In the beginning I started a business because I wanted to make money and be rich. I started my business for purely selfish reasons. And that’s why all I did with my money was buy stuff for myself. And I ended up unhappy. But now I’ve got a mission which is bigger than myself. And so it doesn’t matter how much money I have. I don’t think I’m cool or anything. I don’t buy anything fancy for myself. I just put the money back to work, trying to do my mission and I’m not doing it for the money. So that’s what’s changed. So I don’t really care about how much money I have.

Nathan Seaward:

So you’ve really just fallen in love with personal growth and challenge and getting better and better.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. If I’m ever plateauing, I’m unhappy. I want to keep evolving myself. I know I’ve got ages left to go. I know that it’s infinite how much you can grow. And I really want to keep doing that and I want to help other people. So it’s not just about me. I only make money when I help other people. So how much money I make is a reflection of how much help I’m giving the world.

Nathan Seaward:

So beautiful, man. I could keep talking to you for hours about this. It’s so interesting. And I know people are going to get a lot out of this and it’s going to get a lot of people thinking and hopefully start to get a few people in New Zealand thinking differently and challenging some of those things, challenging the rugby culture, challenging the drinking culture, challenging [inaudible 01:20:03] syndrome.

Sam Ovens:

I’ve got a name for it. And I’m actually thinking about writing a book on it or a long article on it or something, but I call it the Number Eight Wire Noose.

Nathan Seaward:

Wow. Beautiful metaphor.

Sam Ovens:

Because you know that number eight wire mentality that every blokey dude in New Zealand’s bought up with, you’d be a bloke, wear stubbies, drink beer, like have a yard glass for your 21st, play rugby. And you know, it was just all about rugby and barbecues and eating meat and this sort of stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that. But people when you’re in New Zealand, you think that’s how you be a man. And if you, the problem is if you’re not into that stuff, then you feel like you’re not a man or you feel like you’re wrong or something, you feel like there’s something wrong with you. I know I did. And so it’s really, I refer to it as like that number eight wire noose. Because if you’re not an all black or if you’re not a bloke, or if you don’t want to just drink beers and wear stubbies, I mean, you’re kind of rejected in New Zealand, but-

Nathan Seaward:

There’s so many people, that’s a huge amount of people. Not most people aren’t playing rugby. And most people don’t fit into that stereotype, which is reflected in our suicide statistics and our violence statistics. But we have a society that is struggling in that regard with like masculine identity.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah, exactly. And that’s why I, people in New Zealand would never kind of… Dudes in New Zealand never talk about the weaknesses. And then because they try and just be a bloke and be a man and trying to rough it out. And it’s kind of like you just drank beers and you have barbecues and stuff and that’s kind of being a man in New Zealand. But like New Zealander’s have really tough looking exteriors. But what you’ll find is they’ve got the weakest minds and we see this with our sports teams, with the Warriors. They’re one like those guys, the toughest dudes in the world physically, like they’re big, they’re strong, they’re mean looking. You definitely wouldn’t want to get spear tackled by like a Warrior. And so they look all big and stuff, but you just watch them play. As soon as something goes wrong, as soon as things are a little bit against them, they crumble under any sort of mental pressure. They’re gone. It’s like, they’re not even, they’re now big Warrior looking mean, but they’re cowards inside.

Sam Ovens:

And I don’t mean that with any disrespect, I’m not calling them cowards. I just mean like mentally, they lose that strength. And I find this as very common amongst all New Zealanders is they often have very tough looking images and personalities and everything. But inside, they’re very fragile because often a tough looking self image is often made to protect a weak inside one. And when you have a very strong mental belief in everything, you often don’t care what anyone says about you and you don’t try and make look like anything.

Sam Ovens:

When I was in New Zealand, the reason why I bought Ferrari’s and went out and socialized and stuff is because I had a massive ego because I wanted to kind of protect the fact that I felt like I was still no one. And now I didn’t get really successful until I just completely eroded all of that ego. And now I don’t have any of it. I mean, I just, I look like a normal person in America and I don’t do any flashy things here because I don’t know, I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone like that. And I’m not trying to be anything like that. And so, because I’ve got a strong mental toughness now and I think that’s really missing with New Zealanders is, people are always telling them how they need to look tough and strong by drinking beers and having barbecues and wearing stubbies and playing rugby and all of this. And people are telling them how to look like it and everything, but no one ever tells them how to be it inside. And that’s why I think, as soon as guys start doubting themselves inside and they can’t talk to anyone or anything, I think that’s why, and because of that number eight wire mentality, I mean, I think that’s why that statistic is the way it is.

Nathan Seaward:

In that vein, I want to ask you one last question about your dark side, just in that speaking about weaknesses or whatever, I’m fascinated by the dark side. Every man has one. Whether they can cover it up or whether they can find a way to embrace it and use it to their advantage. But before we do that, before we ask that question, how can people find you? Who you’re looking for at the moment? How can people enroll in your course if that’s what you’re looking for?

Sam Ovens:

Sure. Well, if people just go to my websites, consulting.com,

Nathan Seaward:

I think that’s awesome, by the way, you own consulting.com. Yeah.

Sam Ovens:

Yeah. And so if people just go to consulting.com, they’ll be able to find out more information about the online trainings, which we do and everything, and yeah, that’s how you find me.

Nathan Seaward:

Awesome. Thanks Sam. So do you have a dark side? Do you feel like there’s still a dark side to you and how do you embrace it?

Sam Ovens:

Well, I think the term, dark side, it gets a real… It’s got a lot of stigma around it because it sounds kind of bad and evil and everything, but most people have a misunderstanding of what a dark side actually is. And so every human being in the world has a dark side. So there’s no way to not have one because we basically have these like binary poles for all of our beliefs and whatever you think you are right now, like whatever character you’ve defined yourself as, who Sam Ovens is or who Sam Ovens was back then or whatever. That’s the side you put in the light. And so who you think you are and who everyone else thinks you are, that’s the side in the light. And now at the polar opposite of that is the side in the dark. And so everyone has a dark side because it’s the opposite of who you are no one answers.

Sam Ovens:

The opposite of your current character and identity because you can’t have two binary poles in the light at one time, because that’s just not the way things work. And so that’s everyone’s dark side. So everyone has one. I definitely had one back then. I have one now, but I’m just very aware of it.

Nathan Seaward:

What is it now?

Sam Ovens:

Well, back then it was trying to be good at business and everything. And I had a very strong ego and the side I put in the light was very strong. And what happened is I had this other one in the dark, which was bottled up big time. And it always slips through, that you can’t keep your dark completely at bay. It’s impossible. What happens is it wants to start coming out. And it has ways of going out like that, Freudian slips, which Sigmund Freud discovered little slips of the tongue and also different, the profile pictures people have on Facebook, massive Freudian slips in a modern day sense.

Sam Ovens:

The music people listen to and everything. That’s another Freud slip. That like, I’ve become very good now at reading people without even speaking to them, I can tell what their dark side is because it comes through in ways which they don’t know, but someone who is very aware of this stuff can just see it immediately. And also by the way they talk. I can tell which all to which one’s ego and I can tell what they’ve got there because I’ve become very good at spotting this. But what happened is my dark side ruined me before because it like whatever I would build up my dark side wanted to tear down because it’s kind of like the counteracting force of who you are. As soon as you start becoming not, the dark side sort of kicks in and pulls you back down and regulates you.

Sam Ovens:

And often people are in these like ups and downs cycles. And you’ll see it a lot by people in New Zealand who are like, they’re very disciplined and very straight with everything. And then every now and then they go out and they drink and they just lose the plops. That’s someone’s dark side coming out and you can’t keep it at bay. If you try to keep it at bay, it’ll just get you. It’ll either make you miserable or it will all come out in a rage and you’ll regret it. And so I struggled with it for a long time in New Zealand. And then I only learned, I only really discovered it when I really moved to America and stopped drinking and all of this stuff. I really learned what it was and everything.

Sam Ovens:

And so, there’s this quote by Sun Tzu in the Art of War, which I’m pretty sure is referring to this referring to dealing with your dark side, but it says, “If you know yourself and know your enemy, you need not fear 100 battles.” But if you don’t know yourself and you don’t know your enemy, so that is if you don’t know who your character is, and if you don’t know what your dark side is, then you’re going to lose every battle. So it says, “If you don’t know yourself and you don’t know your enemy, you’re going to lose every battle.” Then it says, “If you know yourself, but you don’t know your enemy…” Which is if you know who your character is and who you are but if you don’t know your dark side, “Then for every battle won, you will have an equal defeat.” And what that means is if you know yourself, but you don’t know your dark side, whatever you build or whatever progress you make to becoming a better version of you, your dark side will tear it down and it will regulate it. It’s like whatever upwards motion for improvement you have, the dark side will have that equal pulling force downwards. And that’s what I found. I was just up and down, up and down. And it’s like, I couldn’t escape this thing.

Sam Ovens:

And that was myself, that main point between those two. And so then it says, “But if you know yourself and know your enemy, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Like you will win all of them. And it’s very true. Like when I didn’t know my dark side in New Zealand and I ignored it, I couldn’t escape this. I couldn’t escape it without leaving the country and stopping drinking and everything. I mean, I was successful, but I couldn’t become more successful. Right. And so when I started to learn, in order to really learn what your dark side is, you’ve got to stop numbing the pain.

Sam Ovens:

And what I used to do in New Zealand is I’d drink because it’s what all the New Zealanders do. Especially the men, they just get fucking drunk all the time. And it’s how you be a man in New Zealand. And so in America, I stopped drinking. And what I noticed is it was like, I started to really deal with my pain. So as soon as I felt pain, I would, instead of just drinking or going out and doing stupid stuff, I had just dealt with it. As soon as I really learned to look pain in the eyes and I stopped like sedating myself and numbing myself and everything. And I just took it front on and I addressed these issues and I really started to learn about myself. I’d never really learned about myself. I would kind of hide from the dark side. When I was on the good side, like things were great but half the time I was in the dark and I would just try and escape it and avoid it. And that meant that I constantly was having issues.

Sam Ovens:

But when you stop numbing yourself, when you really learn to face the music and really look the pain in the eyes, you learn this other side of you. And then once you become aware of the two things, you no longer have issues anymore because you know your dark side and you know how to catch it. And you also keep a balance. And you’re not trying to have an image about yourself, which is false because anyone who just has a purely, like I’m amazing attitude is lying because no one has that. Everyone’s got a dark side and I’m totally open with mine. I tell it to my employees, my girlfriend, my staff, like we’re discussing it on this call, which is going to be on the internet for the whole world.

Sam Ovens:

And so I’m always conscious and aware of what it is. And by doing that and putting it in the light, I don’t really have a bottled up dark side. I’m open with it. I’m honest with it. I’m not trying to escape it. And so when I do that, I never have issues and I’m not trying to escape anything. It’s generally the escapism that ruins people. And it makes people want to numb it and hide from the pain and sweep everything under a rug. But I’ve just learned to face everything like any issues-

Nathan Seaward:

Is your dark side that feeling of pain, is that how you see it?

Sam Ovens:

It’s the feeling of wanting to destruct something which I’ve built. So, if I’m making progress with health and fitness, it’s that feeling that, you want to have like some really bad food or sleep in or don’t go to the gym. Or with business, it’s that feeling of wanting to just not try and just to kind of, or self-sabotage. Whose self-sabotaging isn’t aware of their dark side, because that’s the force that’s regulating their improvement. And that’s why people self-sabotage, because anything they build up, their dark side will rip it down.

Sam Ovens:

And the average point in between those two things is their defined self, there’s their character. And so, yeah, that’s knowing it. It’s that force which wants to make you do things, which you don’t want to do. But when you don’t hide from the pain, you can catch it. You’re like, “Ah ha, I see.” You’re like, I’ve got it. You learn the markets, you learn the turns. So if I’m making massive growth and improvement forwards, I can feel it come on and I can kind of feel the temptations there and everything. And because I don’t try hide from it or ignore the thoughts or ignore any of the feeling because I just fully address it. I never do any self sabotaging behavior.

Nathan Seaward:

Yeah. And I guess with your staff and everybody around you, your partner and everything knows about it, they can, when you’re honest about it, they can call you out on it or help you guide through it, help guide you through it.

Sam Ovens:

The biggest thing is being honest with it yourself. Like I find a lot of people, I know my friend’s ones, because I’m so good at reading it now. It’s like no one can even hide it from me if they try. I can look at someone’s Facebook or talk to them for two minutes and I know it all because I’ve taught myself really how to find this thing. And there’s no hiding it. And because I’m so aware of it now, I know I can’t hide it from people who have the same level of knowledge as I do. So I know that I’m not fooling everyone if I try and sweep it under the rug. And I feel like almost embarrassed about it now because the self-image I was trying to keep in New Zealand and everything… For someone who was at my level of like consciousness, now, I would have looked like the biggest idiot because I would’ve just been able to read everything about myself back then and think, “Oh my God, this guy’s got some issues.”

Sam Ovens:

And so I know that I can’t hide it. I’m not fooling anyone if I do it. And because I don’t try and escape from the pain. I just deal with it. And like, once you start trying to escape the pain and sweep it under a rug, it gets really bad. And that’s what I did in New Zealand. And I used alcohol to do a lot of it, partying, and I used my ego to really try and mask it. That’s why I bought so many stupid things because I had to keep building up this image for everyone of who I was because I was so scared of this other force inside me.

Nathan Seaward:

It’s awesome, man. Thank you for your honesty there. Thanks for opening up. I really appreciate it.

Sam Ovens:

No problem.

Nathan Seaward:

Sam, this has been amazing. Again. I could talk to you forever about this. I know this is just such a valuable work and such a valuable conversation, especially for people in New Zealand. So again, I want to say thank you for coming on and giving your time. I know it’s valuable time, so I really appreciate it.

Sam Ovens:

No problem, hope this helps people.

Nathan Seaward:

Absolutely. Thanks, man.

Sam Ovens:

Thanks.

Nathan Seaward:

That ends my conversation with wonderfully insightful, Sam Ovens. I hope you enjoyed that conversation. And if you want to learn more about Sam or any of the courses that he’s offering, you can go to his website at consulting.com and find out all the information you need there.

Nathan Seaward:

As always. I appreciate if you could share the show around on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all the social media, go on iTunes to give the show a five star rating if you will, why not? And give it a review. It all helps. And I’ll be back next week with episode number 24 of the Nathan Seaward Show.

Sam Ovens:

That was The Nathan Seaward Show. Personal conversations with powerful men.