Kerwin Rae is a businessman, entrepreneur, investor and international speaker.
As one of Australia’s leading business strategists helping business owners succeed for over a decade, he has consulted in 11 countries, over 154 different industries and taught over 100,000 people the world over through his seminars and workshops. To date, Kerwin has helped his clients make well in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Kerwin has addressed and worked with all levels of business, specializing in small to medium businesses, and national and international franchise groups. He has also coached thousands of consultants and coaches in numerous countries on business development, marketing, sales, human behavior, and entrepreneurial psychology.
What you will learn
- Why doing what you love is a great place to launch your business
- That the journey to happiness involves pain
- How a traumatic health event turned into a successful business
- How this entrepreneur discovered happiness (and success)
- Why you should do what matters
- “Stuff” doesn’t make you happy
- That business is a team sport
- The power of joint ventures
- Discovering self-belief
- The true source of happiness
- The big reasons behind Kerwin Rae’s success
- The 5 steps businesses need to embrace during the Coronavirus crisis (1. Go remote 2. Streamline 3. Preserve cash and capital – Hibernate or pause 4. What does wind-up look like? 5. Bounce back)
Jeff Bullas: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show. Today, I have with me Kerwin Rae who's a great friend of mine. I met Kerwin, gee, six or seven years ago. The first time I met him, it was this dude on stage at a Brendon Burchard three-day conference in Sydney. I was impressed. He stood on stage and knocked everyone's socks off for about 40 minutes, and then it's the old selling from the stage which Kerwin's a master at. In fact, he's a master salesman. I didn't buy your program by the way, Kerwin. I'm sorry about that but-
Kerwin Rae: Clearly not that good because-
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Kerwin Rae: But I did sell you on becoming my friend. Then, to be fair, that was the best sale I've probably made that day.
Jeff Bullas: Exactly. We caught up after that and we became good friends. We haven't caught up for quite a while, and we could put that down to a variety of things like you've been crazy busy building a business with 70 to 90 people now. When I met you, you had seven people.
Kerwin Rae: Yeah, correct.
Jeff Bullas: Hats off to you, Kerwin. You're knocking it out of the park and making a difference, which is great. Let's go straight to how'd you get into all this business coaching stuff. Where did it come from?
Kerwin Rae: Totally by accident. Yeah, look, totally by accident. I think I fell into it. I don't think anyone ... Actually no, it's probably not true. A lot of people start out to become a business coach. I certainly didn't. I started a few businesses in my early 20s. The last business that I had, which was a security business, door-to-door alarms business, which went belly up after about 12 months. It was quite unfortunate because it was actually quite a successful business. It was very successful, very well-run but, unfortunately, the guy that I was in business with, let's just put it in, he wasn't the best partner so, unfortunately, the business took a big knock, and I end up becoming unemployed with a massive $200,000 debt at the age of about 23.
Kerwin Rae: I rounded out my skills because I thought the only reason I got myself put in that situation is because I didn't understand financials. I didn't know how to read financials, I didn't understand the administration, the operations of the business. I thought, "Okay, well, how can I learn good finance?" I thought, "Well, I'll just go and get a job at a bank." I went to get a job at a bank, and long story short, they said, "You are absolutely not cut out for the bank."
Kerwin Rae: I went through the whole recruitment process. It was funny, based on what you're saying with me being a salesperson. I went through the whole recruitment process, the typing speed, the maths and everything else. Everything was like dance, dance, dance, dance, dance. The last exercise that the recruiters got everyone to go through was a role-playing exercise to sell an insurance product. You got to understand, at that point, I'd been in sales for quite a few years. I had owned a direct sales company for the last 12 months, and I'd been training 30 to 40 guys every single day on direct sales and I was doing role-playing every single day, like five or six days a week for the last 18 months, two years, and 12 months of my own business.
Kerwin Rae: The moment she said, "Let's do a role-play," I kicked in the gear and she just shit herself and she's like, "Oh, my God, do that again." She's like, "Do that again," and I did it again. She literally ran out of the room, got the CEO of the recruitment firm, got her to sit in front of me and got me to pitch again. She's just like, "Why are you going for a job in a bank? This is ludicrous. We could get you an incredible job working as a salesperson." I said, "All right then, I've got a massive debt. That sounds great."
Kerwin Rae: Long story short, a few days later, they pitched me on a job that was about $180,000 package, and it was all incredibly exciting until they got to the punch line which I said, "So what will I be selling?" They said, "Oh, you'll be selling stationery." My heart just sank and I was like, "Oh, shit." Security, I could connect to because I'm a bit of a warrior spirit and I love to protect, but stationery? I was like, "Ugh, I'm so sorry. I just can't get motivated to sell stationery."
Kerwin Rae: The lady was like ... Again, I didn't realize at the time she had a big commission check on the line. She was trying everything under the sun to try and close me. Long story short, she thought she would do a contrast close and offer me a really shit job, and the really shit job that she offered me, which was a $21,000 base, was actually working for Stephen Covey who wrote the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, I've got the book.
Kerwin Rae: I took a job with him and, sure enough, I had a passion for growth and personal development, not as deep as what it is now. It was early stages then, and I helped support them from a $7 million loss to I think it was about a $5 million profit in about an 18-month period before I decided to give it all a go again. It was at that point that I realized I love growing businesses, I love turning around. But when I left Covey or FranklinCovey, I didn't know so much what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to be in business myself, and it just so happened that the next business that I bought into, you probably remember old [Peter Sun 00:05:58].
Kerwin Rae: I actually bought a license. I guess you could call it a business consulting license where you basically spend $80,000. They gave you a box full of videos and a box full of books, and it was all around how to market a business, how to sell a business, how to run a business. I consumed all this information, and this license that I'd sold had given me the rights to sell these books, tapes, and audios. I was just like, "Oh, man, I can't see myself selling these books, tapes, and audios," because, first of all, they're really shit quality books, tapes, and audios. Secondly, I love people too much, and so I got involved in the consulting space and I started consulting the businesses.
Kerwin Rae: Back then, this is before business coaching was really even a thing. This is back in '99, 2000. I started consulting with businesses. I've already run a couple of businesses myself and, just through the process of consulting, I started to really enjoy the process. Then lo and behold, once I went to support a friend at one of his events and there's 12 people at this event, and they said, "Oh, do you mind standing up?" Everyone went around the room and said, "Stand up, introduce yourself." I stood up to introduce myself and I couldn't speak, I was fumbling my words, and I sat down, and my girlfriend was with me.
Kerwin Rae: She said, "Oh, my God, that was so embarrassing. I didn't realize that you lack so much confidence." I was like, "Wow," because I've trained 40 guys at a time and I didn't really realize that I had a fear of public speaking, it was just in a different context. That's when it sent me on the path of public speaking. The next day, I literally picked up the phone at about 8:00 a.m., I rang four different toastmasters. I joined four different toastmasters, rang the Lennons Hotel in Brisbane, and I set a date or bought a room, two nights back to back at Tuesday, Wednesday night, and I just started marketing to hairdressers to come and learn how to market their business. Sure enough, that's what got me into the speaking side, and I guess you could say it all snowballed from there. That was back in 2000.
Jeff Bullas: Wow.
Kerwin Rae: In fact, that makes me feel old, Jeff. Thank you.
Jeff Bullas: Mate, it's one inevitable thing, we're all going to get a little older.
Kerwin Rae: True.
Jeff Bullas: There's only one exit path really.
Kerwin Rae: That's right.
Jeff Bullas: That's what we're going to make what we're doing today in our lives actually worth something, and you've certainly done that. So you were now business coaching hairdressers.
Kerwin Rae: At this point, yeah. The interesting thing was when I got into consulting, I literally had no money because I'd spent this $80,000 on this license. I had no money left over, enough money to buy a laptop and a mobile phone. I just quit my job, I had no money, I just paid off all my debts, but I was pretty much clean. I thought, "Well, who am I going to fucking market to?" I was like, "Okay, well," I literally picked up the Yellow Pages and I opened it at A, and the first thing I saw was A, accountant. I was like, "Oh, man, these guys have no idea how to market and how to sell," and so I started targeting the accounting industry.
Kerwin Rae: It was probably I'd say six to nine months, I went really hard at accountants but I just found them a very, very tough business to work with, very structured. I also had a lot of great success, but they were a little challenging because I'm quite more creative. Then one of my mates said to me his girlfriend had a hair salon, and so I started giving her some advice and, sure enough, it worked quite well. Then I thought, "Well, I might as well go after hairdressers," and I started to realize that creatives are a lot easier to sell to versus an accountant. When I started to consult to hairdressers, I found, "Wow, this is actually a much easier market." When I decided to do a seminar, it just seemed like the easy choice.
Kerwin Rae: A friend of mine had, I don't know if you remember, Whitepages online. It was on a CD disc and you could download all industry segments. I downloaded all the industry segments for hairdressers. I think at that time, I sent out 2,000 mailers to hair salons in Brisbane, off the back of some advice I'd had from another mentor. I think on the first night, I had like 64 people in the room. On the second night, I had maybe 74 people in the room. The first night, I didn't make one sale. I had probably at least half the room left before I finished. On my second night, I think I closed about maybe $7,000 in sales. I was like, "Wow." That was the easiest seven grand I think I'd ever made at that point within 90 minutes. It was interesting.
Jeff Bullas: That was your first selling from the stage experience, and it was selling to hairdressers.
Kerwin Rae: Hairdressers. Oh, God, I don't know, this is going to come back to haunt me, isn't it?
Jeff Bullas: I know. The other thing that I found fascinating is you actually went and used ... I use a database called Act back in the 1990s.
Kerwin Rae: Act 5.0, I bought Act 5.0 on my credit card when I started. I think it's-
Jeff Bullas: I remember actually what I did was I actually bought the ... When you could get all the phone numbers from the Yellow Pages on a disc. What I did is also you could get their fax numbers. You did a mailer. One of the ways I used to fuel my sales funnel was actually doing fax broadcasting back in the '90s.
Kerwin Rae: Absolutely. Fax broadcast has just started to die in the ass as I came into the industry. I did a few fax campaigns, a few fax broadcasts. I don't know, did this ever happen to you? I did this fax campaign for mechanics. I don't remember how you did it, but I did it pretty ghetto style. It was basically an old fax machine running it around. I did the fax and I programmed in as many numbers as I could, and then I walked away and then I came back and then my fax machine just kept ringing but all the paper was empty and all the paper was black. Has this ever happened to you?
Kerwin Rae: A mechanic, and I didn't realize this was a thing, he had got three pieces of black paper, fed it through his fax machine and then turned it around and sticky taped it to itself so it was like a circle of black paper, and then faxed it back to me. All he was sending me was pages and pages of black so it just ate up all the ink in my fax machine. It's like that was his fuck you, sent him a fax.
Jeff Bullas: That's what you'd call the analog spam filter.
Kerwin Rae: Yeah. Oh, God.
Jeff Bullas: That is so cool.
Kerwin Rae: I was aggressive.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. What I did was I created a computer program that ran and dialed and sent a fax automatically overnight. I actually got a fax machine hooked up to the computer, and I did automated fax broadcasting so it'd turn up in the morning with 10 or 15 leads. I was being paid at this time, I was selling corporate ISP subscriptions, one of the first corporate ISPs in Australia called Access One. I was impressed with myself actually,
Kerwin Rae: Especially in the '90s mate.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Kerwin Rae: In the '90s, actually owning a PC, number one, but actually building a piece of software that could automate the faxing, clearly, I wish I'd met you back in that day, mate.
Jeff Bullas: The problem was huge. The fax machine industry has since died but it worked back then. It was really cool. I would generate a lot of sales out of that. Then Access One got bought by OzEmail, whom Malcolm Turnbull invested in. They put me on the package I was on, which is performance-based, know-based, and they fired me after three months because they didn't want to pay my commissions, because I was doing some serious corporate sales. There you go. Your story's one about the anti-spam analog fax filter. Mine was I was spamming people with fax broadcasting via computer.
Kerwin Rae: You're a sophisticated spammer.
Jeff Bullas: Spam. I was actually selling. I was selling something worthwhile so it was good. You got the hairdressers. What's next after the hairdressers, mate? What's going on after that?
Kerwin Rae: Look, I started selling to hair, beauty, a whole range of different industries. But the mentor who had sold me the system, he came back to me, or we were in contact for an ongoing period of time and we became good friends, but he was actually becoming quite astounded because I was actually making quite a lot of money. I was actually doing really well, but I was doing it in a consulting fashion. Although when I was doing the seminars, I was selling packages that involved a manual and a video, but also a one-day event and then I had to deliver those one-day events.
Kerwin Rae: At this point, I started to really identify the leverage that stage gave you. I also started to realize that it was a lot more effective to work with people in groups than it was one on one. I didn't fully click over that until probably another 10, 12 years later. At this point, I had my mentor came back to me and goes, "Mate, you're doing really well." He goes, "Why don't you come and join me and help me build my business?" I went back and started working with him and his business partner, and we took that business from $400,000 to about $8 million in about 18 months, running seminars all over the country. We got away from fax campaigns at that point. We were doing direct mail. The ways that we've built that business was through joint ventures. We did a lot of joint ventures.
Kerwin Rae: We discovered that buying lists back in the early 2000s were as effective as fax campaigns. I remember one campaign, I spent $32,000 in total, and that included the purchase of the list, and I can't even remember the list supplier's name. They were an old-school, around forever. Gosh, if you say their name, I'll remember them. Then the mail, back then I think it was about 80 cents to $1 per mail piece. We did this massive mail-out, 32,000, and we had two responses. We had one, "How did you get my number or my address?" The other one was, "Please take me off your list." That was a massive lesson. Took a massive hit there.
Kerwin Rae: But we discovered identifying other businesses that had similar markets, similar client bases to ours that didn't compete with us, and then approaching them and offering them profit shares in the campaigns that we did was just a real sweet spot. The joint ventures really blew it up, and that's when I also ... Because at this point, I've been copywriting now for a couple of years because I was doing it as a little bit of a side gig whilst consulting. I was doing Yellow Pages ads and classified ads and newspaper ads, and I'd write a few radio campaigns. At this point, we started doing really big stuff, so full page ads in Sydney Morning Herald, full page on Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald all over the country.
Kerwin Rae: I really started to craft the art of copywriting and learning how to write direct response because up until that point, I've done direct response copy but I was doing direct response copy in classifieds. I don't know if you remember classifieds. It's like AdWords. It's the original AdWords. You got three, four lines to put a piece together to get a response and it's sitting at the back of a newspaper and you're hoping someone will read. In most cases, they flip past the massage section to you.
Kerwin Rae: At this point, I started writing bigger and bigger and bigger ads, and when you've got bigger ads, you have to say more words. Yes, it can be more compelling but you have to fill that space with stuff. That's where I really learned the craft of copywriting, and that was an incredible journey. We built that business quite strongly. At nearly 18 months, the guys that I've done it with decided that the business would work better if they got rid of me, which I understood at the time. I had way too much control in a business that wasn't mine, and I was very young and had a lot of money and I had a much, much bigger ego than I do right now and I was probably a lot to handle. At the same time, they were all the magic ingredients that had driven a proportionate amount of that success as well.
Kerwin Rae: They decided that they would be better off without me, and so at that point, I took a six-month sabbatical, ended up being eight months and traveled the world. I remember I walked through the Flight Centre just after they gave me the hard word and told me I was out. I was devastated because my heart and soul was in this business at the time. It wasn't my business, but my heart and soul was absolutely in it. I walked into the Flight Centre a little bit deluded and with a pocket full of money. In Burleigh there, they have a big flight center, like all flight centers, a little flight center but with a big wall with a map of the world.
Kerwin Rae: I was going through, I guess you could say, my early stages of some form of an awakening where I'd go on, "Okay, well," during this period of 18 months, two years, I've made more money than I've ever had my entire life, but I was also just as miserable as I'd ever been. I was just as unhappy. I was healthier in many respects, but I thought to myself, "Well, I know I'll be happier maybe if I just buy a sports cars," and so I bought two sports cars and the high lasted for a couple weeks, and then I felt shitty again. Then I was like, "Well, maybe I need to get a beautiful house on the water," and so I got a beautiful house in the water with the two guys I was working with. I've got an apartment in a beautiful skyride called The Phoenician. I started dating beautiful women.
Kerwin Rae: I just realized the more I bought things and the more I did things to try and fill what I thought was this unhappiness that would be filled by something outside of me, the more miserable I became in some respects. When the guys kicked me out of the business, although I was devastated, that void became a chasm. I was like, "Okay, I'm clearly looking in the wrong place maybe, but I need to go and find myself." I'd never had a gap year like a lot of kids, a lot of guys I knew had. I'd never taken any time off. Even when I was at school, I worked three, four jobs. I came straight out of school into security. I was a CPA. My first job out of school was a bodyguard. That quickly turned into security work in a whole range of different contexts.
Kerwin Rae: At the time I'd come full circle, I realized, "Okay, I've tried a lot of stuff, I need to go out there." I walked into Flight Centre. I was like, "Okay." I said to the lady behind the counter, "Where are the most spiritual places on the planet?" She's like, "I'm sorry, what? Come again." I said, "Where are the most spiritual places of the planet?" Whilst one girl was looking confused, the other one realized that there was an opportunity and she just grabbed a notepad and a pen, jumped up, and she goes, "Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu's really spiritual." She's like this other place in Turkey, "The cradle of life in Africa," and then she started rattling off. I was like, "Right, I want to go to Machu Picchu, I want to go to Africa, I want to go to Turkey."
Kerwin Rae: As she started telling me where these spiritual sites were, she started writing them down. I was like, "Right, I want to go there, there, there, there, and there." So, maybe two weeks later, I took off around the world to find myself. It was the funniest thing, Jeff, because I still remember Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is a three-day hike. Have you ever done the hike to Machu Picchu?
Jeff Bullas: It's on my list, when I can get there.
Kerwin Rae: Look, it's pretty grueling, depending on how you do it because some people catch the train up, but there is a hike and it is at altitude. If you are a little susceptible to altitude sickness, it's a pretty tough little ride. We had 14 people in our tour group, and I convinced everyone that we should treat it like an adventure race and that we should fucking run. That way, we could spend more time at Machu Picchu. Sure enough, oh, mate, I nearly killed three people who had altitude sickness who just pushed themselves way too hard. The two people who finished with me, one was a 62-year-old woman, the other one was a 67-year-old man, and they were the only two that finished it with me.
Kerwin Rae: We got to the top of the StarGate or the Sun Gate, we saw Machu Picchu reveal herself as the sun came up. Then I walked around Machu Picchu that whole fucking day, looking for some South American yogi, Yoda, guru. I was just waiting for someone to walk out and go, "Hmm, I've been waiting for you." Everywhere I fucking went, I was waiting for someone to come out and go, "Ugh, we've been waiting for you. Come with us. We're going to show you the way." By the time I finished this seven-month journey around the world, I had a great time, I had made a lot of great friends, and made some incredible memories.
Kerwin Rae: I remember flying back into Australia. I was landing into Sydney and I still felt a little empty because I thought, "Well, I don't feel like I've found myself any more than what I did before I left." It was literally as the plane touched down in Sydney, it dawned on me, maybe I'm looking in the wrong place because I'd gone from looking in cars and houses and girls to going, "Well, maybe I need to travel, maybe then I'll know who I am."
Kerwin Rae: As I landed, I literally thought to myself, "Fuck, I've been looking in the wrong place. I need to start looking inside me. I need to start going inside and stop looking outside," and that's when things changed. I made that decision by the time the plane had taxied. I was living in the Gold Coast at the time. By the time the plane had taxied to the terminal, I had decided I was going to move from the Gold Coast to Sydney and just have a red hot crack at starting again and just building a consulting business and seeing where it went.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. I think you've learned something really important that we as humans go through. You were looking for everything on the outside to actually make you happy, wasn't it?
Kerwin Rae: Everything.
Jeff Bullas: It was chasing stuff. Especially when younger, we tend to do that a lot more. The thing is, wherever we go, we take ourselves with us. That's really fascinating in terms of that learning as you flew into Sydney. What age were you then?
Kerwin Rae: Geez, that was in about late 2003, early 2004 I think it was. I would have been-
Jeff Bullas: Like late 20s, early 30s?
Kerwin Rae: Let's call it 17 years ago. What am I now? 45, I'm almost 46 now. I would've been ... Gosh, what's that? Take away 17, about early 30s. Early, early 30s.
Jeff Bullas: Right.
Kerwin Rae: Maybe 30.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. I was deeply unhappy when I was in my late 20s, and I had a counselor friend who actually sat me down. I said, "These are the five things I think I'm unhappy about." Yes, sure, I've been looking for everything externally as well. I had a great girlfriend, later became my wife. We had this lovely townhouse in Mosman Bay, one of Sydney's best suburbs. I think that's where you actually live now, isn't it? I've just decided that I needed to confront some of my past, and that was because I've been brought up in the church, and I'd left the church.
Jeff Bullas: What was really interesting about that was I was deeply unhappy. I felt like screaming. I remember running down to the point overlooking Sydney Harbour and just screaming at the sky. I was just so desperately unhappy. It was just like I had this huge fog over me and I just went, "I've got to sort this out." Luckily, I had a good friend, Alan. He later passed away with a brain tumor, that was about four or five years later, but just an incredibly gifted counselor. He got me to confront my biggest problem at the time.
Kerwin Rae: What a blessing.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, it was. I remember that I needed to go talk to my dad about leaving the church because I decided that I needed to be upfront with him. I remember flying into Adelaide. We walked and talked and cried that weekend. What was really fascinating was I told him that, "Look, I am making decision for me now. Look, the God I knew," I said, this is the way I phrased it, "The God I knew is much bigger than the one I was brought up with," because the God I grew up with was one in a box, what I called formal religion. I was looking for a spiritual journey as well, and I had to confront my dad saying, "The God I now know, I can no longer fit him in a box,"
Kerwin Rae: What a blessing to come up in that environment, to have those virtues, because I grew up in a religious environment as well. I was born into Catholicism. We then migrated into Mahikari, which on some levels is a bit of a cult, then into Born Again Christianity and then, by age 14, it was Buddhism. My joke is I'm no longer religious, just fucking confused. On the flip side of that, I'm very grateful for the virtues that ... I'm very much like you. I don't believe in a God in a box. I think there's a much bigger source out there. But the virtues that can be received, the perspective that can be perceived when you're not bound by the dogma but, instead, inspired by the potential of more.
Jeff Bullas: Yes. Yeah. It was the infinity and the possibility of more and the spiritual journey as well. I remember flying out that weekend after I've just had a very honest conversation with dad. We walked and talked and cried for two hours in the Adelaide Hills. As I flew out on a Sunday, I remember looking out of the window of the plane, I went, "I've made a decision for myself. I now felt I was a grown up for the first time in my life because I've made a decision based upon my beliefs, not what was given to me."
Jeff Bullas: On the other hand, what was really cool was what my parents had given me was the structure and the principles and philosophy of life that has been a big part of my journey as well. I remember looking out the window and just like this fog just dropped away from me and I went, "I'm a grown up now." It doesn't mean life hasn't been tough along the way at different instances, but that was just incredible, confronting that personal, I suppose, angst, and guided by incredible friends. It's happiness. That's a big question, isn't it?
Kerwin Rae: Mate, it is. I think it's interesting, especially when you look at the positive psychology studies, and Tony Hsieh talks about this in his book, Delivering Happiness, and he's the guy that built Zappos. People who are already happy, and this is based on the extensive research that I think Martin Seligman did, are 78% more likely to experience greater levels of success in their life, in business, in relationships. But oftentimes, like I think many people can relate to you, I know I did, we put happiness in a box outside that has to be acquired rather than realizing it's something that is developed through practice.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. That story you told regarding come flying back to Sydney, I can certainly agree with. It's something that I have to remind myself, too. Like more stuff, how busy do you need to be, is business a badge of honor, so busy that you actually are stressed out.
Let's get back to you're doing really well, you're selling to hairdressers, you've worked for this other company, you've come back to Sydney, you've moved down to Sydney now. What happened after that?
Kerwin Rae: Look, I did a couple of joint ventures. I was just trying to find my feet. I was just trying to find where I belonged in the world. At this point, I'd realized that there was an inward journey. I didn't realize how much work that was going to be required to do because there was a lot of trauma that I had not really acknowledged or even resolved. I was just trying to lots of aspects of myself on, and I was still in that position where I thought, in order to be successful, that I had to partner with someone. I had to have another business partner. It was almost like I was looking for a leader. I was looking for someone who could lead me.
Kerwin Rae: I knew I was good. I knew that I could market. I knew that I could sell. I knew that I could grow businesses quite quickly. I'd had plenty of experience with the clients that I'd work with and, at this point, I'd taken interest in a number of different clients' businesses. I'd had the experience of consulting to, at this point, hundreds of different types of businesses. I knew where my skillsets were, I knew I was good at growing businesses, but I still kept on thinking, "Oh, I can't do it for me, I have to do it for somebody else."
Kerwin Rae: I'll go and take an equity piece in someone's business and I'll blow it up, and that's what I basically did. I found another business that I took an equity piece in that was from the UK. It was a franchise company and it was a company that had been trying to penetrate into Australia for about two years, very unsuccessfully, and then I took an equity piece in that company. Then within it was about seven months, I blew it up to about $6.9 million in revenue in the first seven months and then it became the largest franchise division of that company in the world, in Australia, in little, old Australia. That company had franchises in the UK, it had franchises in the US, and it was little, old me who blew it up in Australia.
Kerwin Rae: What did me in that was the same thing that had undone me in other things. I'd grown this thing quite quickly but I was doing it for somebody else. I was doing it at a national level but I thought, "Oh, I still can't do this by myself," and so I brought in another business partner to support me on the journey and, sure enough ... and this is the thing, I don't want to create this impression that I don't play well with others. I do. I guess you could say I had really shit luck at picking partners in business, and I'd picked someone who ... It was just a really shit luck, unfortunately.
Kerwin Rae: As a result, I ended up walking away from that business. I literally gave it to my business partner after he had basically created a situation that cost us a huge amount of money from a legal perspective based on things that he had done, and because of the structure we had, I had taken on his liability. I walked away from that, again, starting from pretty much I wouldn't say from scratch. I walked away from that with money in my pocket, a lot of money in my pocket, but I then took two years off, and that was more to go, "Okay, now I'm going to do this properly. Now I'm going to do this discovery piece properly."
Kerwin Rae: That's when I took two years off. I had a lot of barbecues at my house on the beach in ... I was living in Bungan Beach in the Northern Beaches at the time. One of my best mates moved in. I guess you can say I had two years of living in my 18s and 19s. I got to the point where I literally had liquidated all my free cash and for me to maintain the lifestyle that I was living in, which wasn't small, I had to start liquidating assets. I still remember because at the time, I had a mate of mine who was into golf and I was getting into golf, and I'm a shit golfer. I love golf but I'm a shit golfer. I'm like every now and then, I just run afloat.
Kerwin Rae: What I love about golf is the intrinsic connection between psychology and mechanics, because if your psychology is strong, you can have shit mechanics but you can drive a ball in the right direction. If you can have the right mechanics and your psychology's shit, you'll, in many cases, put it in the wrong direction. But when you get those two things together, oh, my God, the shots just feel magical. I was playing golf and I think it was at Long Reef. All my friends were working. My friends worked, I didn't work, and I called it my semi-retirement phase.
Kerwin Rae: I was on the driving range. I think it was Hole 3 on Long Reef Golf Course and I was with two older gentlemen who were 70-plus, and one of them took this big drive, par 4, par 5, and as he took this drive, he just let out this, "Ooh," and I was like, "Oh, is everything all right, John?" He said, "Oh, mate. Boys, I'll be right back. I'm just going to have to trot off to the clubhouse." Anyway, which meant that he shit his pants. He drove the ball so hard he shit his pants. That was funny, but the part that really bothered me was he actually had a men's diaper on that prevented it from being a bad spill. At this point, I was like, "Okay, it's Tuesday morning. I'm playing golf. The only people who are available to hang out with are 70-plus and one just shit their pants. Is this really where you see your life going?"
Kerwin Rae: A couple of weeks later, I'd sat down on the beach with my cat. I had a cat that was like a dog. It's a Bengal. It looks like a little leopard. It's quite large, and it used to walk with me on the beach. I walked down the beach, sat on the beach with a notepad and pen, and I was like, "Right, what do I really love to do? What do you fucking love," because I've done all this other stuff. I know how to make money, I know how to grow businesses. This is the thing, I've made money and grown businesses, but every time I'd done it, something was missing. There's that void. Something wasn't right and I just didn't love it. I was making money but I was miserable. I was like, "Okay, if I'm going to do this again, if I'm going to go in, first of all, I'm going to go all in on me. I'm going to fucking bet on me. I'm not going to do it with a partner, but I'm going to do something I genuinely love."
Kerwin Rae: Now, going back two years previously, when I'd got out of that business where I got kicked out, I was very disillusioned with the industry of seminars because we were involved in the seminar industry. I'd seen the worst of it. I'd seen behind the scenes. Because my background is security, I used to go and volunteer at big speaker events and offer my services as crew, and I'd always get put on security because I had a background as a bodyguard, and so I used to get to see behind the scenes. I've seen behind the scenes of some of the biggest speakers on the planet, and I was very disillusioned with what I'd seen. I'd seen the seminar industry up close in Australia and I was like, "Oh, my God, this is a shit show." When I left, I was like, "I'm never fucking going back to that ever again." I just didn't want to be associated with it. I knew there were good people and there were good pockets, but I'd seen a lot of the negative.
Kerwin Rae: When I'm sitting down on the beach with this yellow notepad, I was like, "What do you love to do?" I said, "Well, I really love to help people." "Okay, how do you love to help people?" "I love to teach and I love to speak." I'm like, "Oh, hang on. No, we made a promise to ourselves that we weren't going to go back there," and I kept on asking, "But what do you love?" "I love to teach. I love to speak." I was like, "Oh, fuck, okay, I can't escape this." The thing was whenever I'd taken the stage, I used to just come alive. I used to just feel like, "Oh, my God, this is what I'm here to do." I had enough of those moments to go, "This is what I'm here to do."
Kerwin Rae: Yes, it ended badly. It was more traumatic because my ego was wounded because I got kicked out of something, but then when I sat there and assessed, I was like, "Yeah, this is really what I love to do. I really do love to help people and I want to help as many people as I possibly can, and doing this whole one-on-one business is really going to slow that down significantly." I was like, "Right." I said to myself, "If you're going to fucking get back and start speaking on stage again, there's one deal." I call it the 95/5. You can only talk about the things that you're fucking doing. There's no bullshit. There's no deception. There's none of this fucking smoking mirrors that I'd been exposed to that made me feel sick.
Kerwin Rae: I was like, "If you're going to do this, you can only talk about the 95/5." 95% of what you're talking about can only be the things that you're actually doing or the things that you've done, and I'll give myself 5% to talk about the things that I'm going to do. But I'm not going to talk, I'm not going to lie, I'm not going to deceive, I'm not going to bullshit. I'm just going to be straight down the line. That's one of the things, I think, that was a big part of my brand that people love, is I'm very no bullshit. I call things as I see them.
Kerwin Rae: I have no filter, and I think that's also because of the fact I'm on the spectrum. I've got a brother who is quite autistic, but I know from my own experience that I am on the spectrum and, as a result, I do have some social deficiencies. One of the social deficiencies that I have is I have no filter, and I just fucking say what's on my mind, and people either love that or they hate that. In most cases, if you do it with a really good heart, they really love it. They appreciate it because I'd be like, "Dude, your breath really fucking stinks." They're like, "Oh, my God, really?" It's like, "Yeah, here have a breath mint." "Oh, my God, no one's told me so." "Well, I cared enough to tell you," and that was my approach.
Kerwin Rae: Then I got back on stage and I remember setting the goal for myself. I was like, "Well, how much do I need to live," because I'm not going to go and work like I used to work because I used to work like a workaholic slave master. I said, "Okay, well, you need 250," and I did all my maths and everything else so I could maintain my lifestyle and I continued what I was doing. I needed to clear about $250,000 a year. I remember thinking, "Fuck, that's nothing. That's easy." Then I'll just pace myself and so sure enough, I went and did an event. In my first event, I did $275,000. I was like, "What am I going to do with the rest of the 11 months?" At that point, I was like, "Well, I need to do more," and then it was maybe four weeks later when I had my stroke.
Jeff Bullas: Oh, right. Wow.
Kerwin Rae: Yeah. That's when life changed in a really beautiful way.
Jeff Bullas: Right. How did the stroke manifest itself?
Kerwin Rae: That's a good question. If you ask the doctors, they'll just throw their hands in the air and say, "We have no idea." I've been seen by so many different specialists during the two, three weeks, about two-and-a-half weeks that I was in hospital. The only thing that makes any sense whatsoever is the night before I had the stroke, I'd gone to a discourse from a spiritual teacher who'd come over from the Oneness Temple in India. The Oneness Temple in India is quite a movement over there, and a lot of people travel from all over the world to go over there.
Kerwin Rae: Tony Robbins is very closely affiliated with them. This young man came over. I think he was maybe 28 years of age, but he had grown up in the monastery. He was a legit monk and they called him a dasa. He came in and he spent maybe two-and-a-half hours talking about life, love, spirituality, the Internet, and consciousness, and how they're all intersected and connected. I remember being completely blown away by the wisdom that this 28-year-old, this young Indian man had. He had a white robe on and when he came in, I swear to God, he fucking floated in. He looked like baby Jesus. He looked like Indian black Jesus as he floated in and sat down and he took the stage and sat there.
Kerwin Rae: What was beautiful was the first probably five or six minutes when he sat down, and there's maybe 25 entrepreneurs in the room, he didn't say anything. He just looked at everyone and smiled and just went around the room looking at everyone, looking at everyone, and I could feel the tension just rising in the room. It took me a few minutes to work it out. I was like, "Oh, fuck, he's just observing what everyone's doing, observing the situation. He's not feeling the need to add anything or take anything away. He's just observing." He's like, "Oh, I'm going to sit with these people and just observe what it's like in this room while there's nothing going on."
Kerwin Rae: People were starting to shuffle and get uncomfortable and whisper, and then he goes and has his discourse and he shares what he shares, and then at the end, he goes, "Look, I'd like to give everyone this deeksha." We call it a deeksha. It's a blessing. You Westerners like to call it the Oneness blessing because you like to label things based on their scientific meaning. The reason you Westerners call it the Oneness blessing is because we've observed the brain under fMRI, a functional MRI, and we've observed what happens to the brain in terms of its waves and patterns and activity when we give these blessings.
Kerwin Rae: Here's what we've observed. The parietal lobe slows down and the frontal cortex becomes more active. The parietal lobe is the part of the brain that's responsible for conflict and war. The frontal lobe is where we believe is the seat of consciousness, sitting around where the third eye is. I was like, "Excuse me, excuse me, I've studied psychology," well, loosely mind psychology, but obsessively for over a decade at this point, "You're telling me there's a part of the brain responsible for war? Yeah, I'm not sure I dig that."
Kerwin Rae: He goes, "Well, let me explain. The parietal lobe is the part of the brain that's responsible for spatial awareness. It's the part of the brain that processes many things, and one of the things that it processes is your spatial awareness so that you know where things are, you know where other objects are, and you don't fucking bump into everything. Because if you didn't have spatial awareness, you would be literally like a bumper car and you'd be bumping into everything because you wouldn't know where you begin and end. You wouldn't know where your external world starts and where it finishes. You would not be able to see any separation between the two things, which would be quite a psychedelic experience if you could literally press a button and have that removed."
Kerwin Rae: He said, "So when we give the blessing, that part of the brain becomes less active. The part of the brain that makes you feel separate becomes softer and weaker. As a result, as the frontal cortex becomes more active, you feel more connected, and so that's why the Westerns call it the Oneness blessing because it creates more connection and less separation." I was like, "Fuck, dude. Wow. You just nailed it. Great explanation." He stands up, starts giving everyone their blessing. Music is playing and he's put his hands together and puts them at the top of everyone's head, and he's going through his mantra.
Kerwin Rae: Then he gets to me, and I'm front and center. That's how I show up. I'm front and center, and he gets to me and his hand starts shaking and I hear his voice] and he just starts shaking. I just peeped open my eyes for a little bit and I remember thinking to myself, "That didn't happen to anybody else." Then sure enough, I went bliss. I'm very grateful I grew up with a mother who exposed us to a whole range of different ologies in the form of philosophy and religion and scripture, but she's also a very strong psychic and clairvoyant. I grew up in an environment where I was taught how to heal with my hands from the age of three, I was taught about the psychic connection, I was taught how to read tea leaves, taught how to read cards, not that I can do it now, but I was taught about this energy that if we could access it, there's information there.
Kerwin Rae: I've had my mind open from a very young age, but I'd also had my mom take me to a whole range of different healers, and so I knew the difference between what was a real energy healer and what was just someone who was just having a good old red hot go. I remember blissing out and just going, "Oh, my God, he's the real deal," and I had this beautiful moment. I can't remember how long it was. It might have been a few minutes later. I came back into the room, I opened my eyes, I looked down at him, he looked at me, he was giving someone else a blessing, and he just smiled.
Kerwin Rae: I didn't think anything of it until at 3:58 the following day, which was a Tuesday, some random Tuesday, I'm in my kitchen talking to my PA and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, she just looks at me with this look of fear and she goes, "Kerwin, I think you need to sit down." I was like, "Why? Why do I need to sit down? I don't need to sit down," and I was like, "What the fuck? Why am I talking about this?" I looked down, and as I looked down, I could just see my tongue and my lips starting to shut and all this drool just pouring out of my body. I've got a chicken in one hand, I've got a carving knife in the other. I put both of them down and I start laughing. I'm like, "Oh, look at this, I'm really struggling"
Kerwin Rae: She's like, "Dude, you need to sit down. I think you're having a healing reaction for whatever you did last night." She said, "Sit down and ground yourself." I sat, I squatted onto the floor, and it was a tiled floor and the tiles were quite cold. I remember she said, "Put your hands on the ground to ground yourself," and I put my hands on the ground. I remember feeling the ground was cold. It was a very, very cold floor, but then she's screaming in my left ear. "Kerwin, put both of your hands on the floor," and everything had started to go a little bit slow at this point and I'm like, "They are. Both hands are on the floor."
Kerwin Rae: Then I looked at my left arm and my left arm was all twisted up like this, and this is where it got quite freaky because my right hand was on the floor but I could feel the floor with my left hand, but my left hand was up here. I remember feeling the floor, banging the floor with my phantom limb, both hands and going, "Okay, this is fucking weird," because my hand is here but I'm feeling the floor with my limb and it was just like, "Okay." At this point, I was like, "What the hell is going on?" She says, "Lay down, Kerwin, lay down," and I laid down and sure enough, everything went black.
Kerwin Rae: It was a very Near Death Experience (NDE), very psychedelic-like experience. Within moments, I could hear multiple conversations going on simultaneously, and I remember thinking to myself, "Holy shit, I've dialed into a mobile phone network," because all I can hear are all these conversations going on, and I'm like, "Oh, my God." My PA, she was a spiritual lady, she was a healer, had been exposed to the healing arts as well. She's got one hand over my head and one hand over my heart. I don't know this. She told me this afterwards, and she's crying her eyes out and saying, "I'm going to call an ambulance." I'm like," No, don't call an ambulance. Listen." Then she's like, "Listen to what," and I said, "The voices. Listen to the voices." I can't imagine what the poor girl was going through.
Jeff Bullas: Oh, God.
Kerwin Rae: But there was this one dominant female voice and I couldn't quite hear what she said, but then everything went quiet. I remember it just still being quite black. I didn't see any light or anything else. I remember being given a very clear choice. "You can stay or you can go." I remember going very consciously, not from a state of grief or trauma going, "Dude, I've lived so many lives in this life. I've done so much." Jeff, I know you know some of my story. I've done a lot. I remember going to myself, "If I died, there'll be no shame because I've fit a lot into this life. So you know what? If it's my time to go, I'm okay. I'm okay to go."
Kerwin Rae: Just before that moment happened, I remember the voices tuned down and then I started thinking about every question I'd ever had about life, about everything, and all the answers came. I thought about mathematical formulas, the answers came in. I started being given all these answers. It took me a while to remember this part, which is why sometimes I overlook it, but I remember just going, "Oh, my God, that's why. Oh, my God, that's why. Oh, my God, that's why. Oh, my God, that's why," and then I got taken to this place. "You can stay, you can go." I remember going, "You know what? If I'd go, there's no shame in me leaving right now because I've had a great time. I'm ready to go."
Kerwin Rae: It was at that point, literally, my eyes opened and I sat right up. My PA was just like, "Oh, my God, I need to take you to the hospital right now." I said, "No, no, no, I'm fine. I'm fine." I stood up, I took three steps, I fell down, I went into convulsions, and then my PA wanted to get the ambulance. I'm like, "No, no, no, we'll get in the car." Took me in the car. Took me to the hospital. By the time I got there, early stage diagnosis. The doctors were like, "Oh, you look fine." I'm like, "I feel fine now but I've got this twisting beam of light in the corner of my eye that just won't go away." They're like, "Oh, we think you've got epilepsy. We'll send you home. The MRI's full."
Kerwin Rae: Another Indian doctor came in, and he's like, "You know what? Something's not right here. I think we'll send you for a CT." CT came back clear. Now, two doctors were arguing. "He's got epilepsy. It's not an urgent case. We've got other urgent cases. We can either put him on a ward or we can send him home and he can come back tomorrow. He looks fine." The other Indian doctor's like, "You know what? Nah, something's not right here. Let's get him into the MRI. Let's force a position in there." Sure enough, the MRI came back and I'd had a two and three quarter centimeter stroke in my parietal lobe, in the right parietal lobe. This is documented in the book that the Oneness Temple has put out, about the fMRI and how they've observed the parietal lobe slowed down, the frontal lobe has become more active.
Kerwin Rae: I didn't realize the significance of it at the time, but it was probably six weeks later because the doctor said, because at this point within a matter of hours, I developed short-term memory loss. I had a 15-second memory, and I couldn't remember anything after 15 seconds. I did my joke, the only good thing that a 15-second memory's good for is hiding Easter eggs. Unfortunately, it wasn't Easter. Every 15 seconds, I'd be like, "Oh, I'm sorry. What were you saying? Could you start again?" It was a real thing, and then I also had syntax errors. I'd go to say one word and other words would pop out of my mouth. I'd be like, "That's not what I meant to say." I'd go to say it again and I'd be like, "Oh, man."
Kerwin Rae: The doctors said, "Look, we don't know. This could be permanent." He said, "Based on the damage that we can see, we're shocked that you're not severely disabled or severely intellectually disabled, let alone dead. You are a very, very, very lucky young man, but you will not be working for at least probably 12 months. It's going to be at least 6, 9, 12 months recovery. Give yourself 12 months recovery," and I was back on stage six weeks later.
Jeff Bullas: Wow.
Kerwin Rae: I always used to get on stage and always used to live the first 25 minutes of my 90-minute presentation completely free. I'd just get up on stage and I'd just say whatever came to me, because I'd use that as an opportunity to look at the room and find situational context to connect with people, and read the room and the energy, and just add that life to it to connect with the audience prior to teaching them something really useful, because I discovered that people are more likely to listen to you if they like you. I always use that as a way to connect with the audience.
Kerwin Rae: I remember sitting at the back of this room. I was in Little Collin Street, the Stamford Hotel. I was about to go on stage. I couldn't even remember what the fucking presentation was that I was about to do. But I just remember going, "It's okay. You've got a PowerPoint. Even if you'd say nothing, just click the fucking slides. It's all you've got to do. Just click the button and you'll be fine." I was panicking because I was at the back of the room and I couldn't remember, and I was like, "Joint ventures, joint ventures. I'm doing joint ventures. I'm doing joint ventures. I'm doing joint ventures," and, "Welcome to the stage, Kerwin Rae."
Kerwin Rae: I stood up on the stage. I came up and walked on the stage, and I turned around and I went blank, and the first thing I said is, "Guys, I hope you can bear with me here. Something that most of you probably would know is only six weeks ago, I had a stroke and I'm not supposed to be here right now," and the room just went quiet . It was like you could have heard a pin drop, and I said, "So please bear with me. I apologize if I forget where I'm going because right now, I'm having some memory issues. If I say the wrong words, I apologize because right now, the wrong words are popping out at the wrong time. If I start swearing like you've got Tourette's, it's okay. That's normal. It's the other stuff that's a little bit unusual."
Kerwin Rae: All of a sudden, I started sharing information and drawing diagrams. I remember as I was sharing it and as I was drawing these diagrams, I remember thinking to myself, "Whose content is this? This is not my content." I started talking about psychology and relationships and polarities and energy. I'd always talked about psychology, but this was a whole 'nother level of psychology, and quantum dynamics, and particle physics. I had an interest in quantum physics and particle physics, but I'm going, "I don't remember where the fuck this is coming. I don't know who's this. I don't even know if this is ... Am I making this shit up? Is this just stuff that's just pouring out of me because I got a head injury?"
Kerwin Rae: Anyway, I ended up doing three quarters of the seminar on whatever this came out, and then I quickly got through my joint venture slide and I got to the back of the room and I got swarmed. It was like, "Oh, my God, what is this content? Where is it from? How can we find out more information?" I'm just like, "I don't know. I might have made it up." I'm like, "I don't know exactly where it's coming from but it just came through me." Again, because I was around people when I was from seven, eight, nine who were speaking in tongues, and so I had concepts and I understood the process of being a vessel and the possibility of channeling. I was like, "Okay, maybe I just channeled this from somewhere. I'm not sure where it came from. I'm not sure what channel. Maybe it's MTV."
Kerwin Rae: But the next six months as I'd traveled around Australia and the rest of the world, actually it was the next nine months, every time I did a presentation, new stuff would come out at the beginning, and I started documenting it, documenting it, documenting it, documenting it, documenting it, and then ended up becoming its own program called Power to Create. It became the most potent and most original thing that I've ever done. I teach these concepts now, and I even went to CERN. I even traveled to CERN in Geneva. I interviewed some of the top quantum physicists there. I've reached out to other physicists because I wanted to know what does this information mean, where does it come from, and is it true, and sure enough, I validated everything.
Kerwin Rae: After about nine months, I started to realize and the memories started to come back to me, "Oh, my God, these were the answers to the questions that you asked." It was at that point the penny dropped. I've helped a lot of people make a lot of money, there's no question. Probably well over an excess of a billion dollars or maybe a couple. The one thing I'm most proud of is the impact that I've been able to have on their psychology, on their self-worth, on their relationships, on their health, on how they are able to relate to themselves, first and foremost, but how they relate to other people and the rest of the world, because one of the things that I discovered, and you probably discovered this yourself, Jeff, is I knew when I was working with businesses, it was like a fucking hit and miss.
Kerwin Rae: You'd give two people the same information. One would go and make tens of million bucks, and the other one would fuck it up everywhere to Friday and they'd blame you. I started to realize if I can get people to think the right way, then this information's going to be far more effective. I started using the psychology and started using the performance and using the relationship and the quantum dynamics and having people understand the process of what the mystics would call manifestation, but what does that look like from the quantum realm all the way up to the Newtonian realm to the experiential realm. What does that look like? How do we understand the process of form taking place? How do we understand things that disintegrate? How do we put that into some context that we can understand to acknowledge our role in how things show up in our life?
Kerwin Rae: For me, that's been a huge part of my journey now. I joke about this that I don't know how much longer I'm going to be the business guy for because when I look at my social audiences, 70% of my social audience now aren't even in business. They're people. They're moms, they're dads, they're in relationships. They're just people who want to perform at a higher level, and that's probably been the thing that's impacted me the most. You can probably relate to this, Jeff. People say to me, "So why do you do what you do?" I say, "Well, it's not the same reason now as what it was then."
Kerwin Rae: Going back way, way, way, way, way back in the beginning, my parents separated, split when I was six months old. I grew up with a single mom and a pension. My mom went to remarry when I was eight and her fiancé was murdered. I grew up in an environment where there was a lot of trauma but there's a lot of void. The void was around money because all people I knew had money, but we didn't. I thought, "If I just make money, then I'll be whole." Made money, but still wasn't whole. "Okay, I need sports cars." Now I'm working for sports cars. Bought sports cars, I'm still not whole. Women, still not whole. Property, assets, still not whole.
Kerwin Rae: Then when I started doing it for me, I started to find a bigger reason. Now why I do what I do is combined by the fact that the more I explore myself, the more I get to know who I am, the more joy and the more happiness I have in my life. It just so happens that I'm able to deconstruct the things that I do from a thought perspective, from a behavioral perspective in a way that I can share with others and go, "Well, you had that problem, I had that problem. Here's what I did," and people go, "Oh, I'll try that," and they do and they go, "Fuck, that shit works." This has been happening.
Kerwin Rae: When I started in social five years ago, my goal was to take how do I take the transformations in my room and how do I share with them with rest of the world, because I'd have people come into my rooms who were business owners and I was reuniting their families, I was reuniting families, in some cases, that hadn't spoken forever. I was helping mentally ill aspects of their self to become better, I was preventing suicides, I was preventing divorces, but I was also building businesses as well. I was like, "Man, I need to share this with the rest of the world."
Kerwin Rae: When we started doing social, and this is where a legacy really started to come in, I still remember the first message I received from someone going, "Kerwin, I just wanted to send you this message. I didn't know how to, but I've been wanting to send it for days now. I just wanted to say thank you. I had planned my day to die, whatever the date was, and I'd literally got onto Facebook to say my goodbyes on my day to die, and one of your sponsored videos popped up in my feed and I watched it, and I went and I flushed the pills down the toilet, and then I went into my son's room and I hugged him." I'm like, "This is a parent."
Kerwin Rae: I've received thousands of messages from people who now have relationships with their kids, people who now have better relationships with their partners. But the ones that really get me is when I get messages from people who tell me that they had planned to kill themselves. Legitimately, they'd planned to kill themselves and they decided not to. I know you've been affected by this, Jeff, so I know this is a little close to home, so I apologize.
Jeff Bullas: It's all right. It's fine.
Kerwin Rae: When you realize, because someone said to me, "Imagine you being taken out of this timeline and your existence is not being here. How would that make you feel?" The first thing I thought about was all the parents, all the messages from moms and dads and people that I'd received who had decided not to take their own life because of a video and the kids now have a mom, kids now have a dad, they have a brother, they have a sister, they have a nanny, an uncle, a grandma that is still alive just because I fucking decided to film a video about relationships or a video about getting to know yourself or a video about addiction or a video around introspection.
Kerwin Rae: When you get that, all of a sudden, I was like, "Okay, I can't stop." I can't stop because we get two or three of those a week now. You add that up over the last five years, there's hundreds of people that we now have in this world that wouldn't have been here if I hadn't started producing video content. People would say, "Why do you do what you do?" I say, "Well, it's not the same reason as it was." Yes, I'm very blessed that I get rewarded very well, but I believe that is a dynamic. That is a dynamic of those who deliver value, energetic value to this world will receive the gifts of the value that they deliver. I'm very blessed to receive incredible amounts of gifts of the financial material, relational, familial but, at the same time, I give an enormous amount to be able to receive that, and I do a lot of good work.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. I've watched your journey over the years. I don't know every part of it, but I've seen you evolve and you're actually doing healing and helping people create at scale. That's one of the things that attracted me to social when I started 12 years ago, was you can reach the world with your message and we're all trying to find out why we're on this fucking planet.
Kerwin Rae: Yeah, why I am here?
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, why am I here? It took me till 50 to find out why I was here. Look, what I'd love, Kerwin, is that you using social media to scale, helping, and healing people and help them be the creators and the best human beings they possibly can. I'm so impressed with what you've done because when I met you, you had seven people on the team and today, you got 70 or 90. Can you tell me a little bit about how you went from 7 to 70 people? You're scaling your reach and you've done it in incredible ways. Tell us a bit on how that happened.
Kerwin Rae: Yeah. Look, social played a massive role. We launched the social experiment back in 2016, and the social experiment was basically a docuseries where I had a filmmaker follow me for 12 hours a day and he just videoed me 12 hours a day. The funny thing was I've been saying for 15 years, "Man, I need someone to walk around and film me because I do and say crazy shit, funny shit all the time, but the amount of magic that I have happen around me," I was like, "Man, someone needs to capture this stuff."
Kerwin Rae: I've hired Mattias Holmbom who's one of my best friends now. He started capturing what I did. Those docuseries segments were like 10 to 40-minute segments, and then we started creating microcontent, 60-second videos, two-minute videos, and that's when things really started to blow up for us. I think one of the things that made us scale well is we just didn't scale quickly. As we started to grow, we blew up, and everyone's like, "Oh, my God, you came out of nowhere." I was, "Are you serious? I've been fucking slogging for 16 years before I've got any real profile."
Kerwin Rae: After 16 years of slogging really hard, things started to happen, because I don't have a lot of products. I don't even have a book yet. I normally have an event that I tour with a couple times a year, which is called Fast Growth Summit where I talk about social media and how to use it to grow business. I have another event that we then have at the back of that, which is called Nail It & Scale It, which is where we show the five fundamentals that we used to grow and scale businesses quite quickly. Then I have another group called K2 Elite, which is a business that I work with on an ongoing basis for, in most cases, 12 months to six years, and that's where we create phenomenal ... and we currently have about a billion dollars of businesses in that team right now.
Kerwin Rae: As I started to grow, we would open up the FGS and would only have, let's call it, 2,500 seats available. We'd have 7,000 people wanting seats. Then we'd have only 300 seats in the room available for NISI, but we would have 800 people wanting to buy. Everything we did sold out. Then when we started K2 elite, which is where my baby is, every time we'd open the doors to take applications, we'd receive anywhere between ... Last round, we had about 190 people apply, but we'd only take in and we're only bringing in about 40 people, and that's been the key to our success, is we haven't tried to take too much money off the table. We haven't put the money ahead of the service.
Kerwin Rae: What's enabled us to scale so well is we didn't lose sight of doing what we do well. Rather than selling 190 people and taking another 12 or 15 million off the table, we'll go, "You know what? Let's just take three million off the table. We'll say no to that other nine million in business, but let's really deliver this well and let's find out the ceilings of the scale that we're at to be able to help this many clients. Let's find out what those problems would be. Let's fix them and solve them, so then we can grow the group even more, and then we can grow the group even more."
Kerwin Rae: We've done in our business what we teach other businesses to do, which is to scale consciously. How do you scale not consciously, necessarily, from a spiritual context, but consciously from the perspective of are you aware of all of the functions and the dynamics within your business and the motives within your business that drive growth? You've seen it many times before, businesses that scale too quickly, in most cases, they can incinerate. They can turn into a ball of flames. Other businesses that scale too slowly, they'll miss the opportunities. It's how do you scale at a rate that enables you to grow in line with the value that you're delivering to the market.
Kerwin Rae: That's the thing. If you look at our K2 Elites, they're the perfect examples. We have about one in two, one in three of those went 2X or 10X in their first 18 months to two years with us. These are $500,000 to $50 million businesses. The biggest business we've got in there is $300 million. These aren't $1 businesses that we're turning into $100 and going, "Oh, I 100X-ed a clients business, I'm the best business coach in the world." I don't even use my startup case studies or testimonials. We do work with some startups in some cases, but the majority of the businesses that we work with, they're established, between $250,000 to $50 mil or, in some cases, more and they've got maybe one-man band or 3,000 people in their team. Regardless of where they're at, we show them how to do it really effectively. That's what we've done ourselves, we just ate our own dog food, ate our own breakfast cereal.
Jeff Bullas: Yes. In other words, you're being incredibly authentic, and that's what the promise you made to yourself.
Kerwin Rae: Absolutely. 95/5.
Jeff Bullas: The interesting thing, too, is for me watching and listening to you now, as well as hearing the stories, getting that guy following around because you're almost like you're channeling something else.
Kerwin Rae: Absolutely.
Jeff Bullas: Because what happened on stage to you after your stroke, and obviously having Mattias following around recording you is revealing authenticity, that channel. I find this fascinating. You continue to be incredibly authentic. Maybe that's where I'm aware of your time, and now you've got a big business to run. Look, I'm just honored to have you as a friend. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. I look forward to catching up with you. We're planning a road trip in Byron Bay. I believe that's where you're-
Kerwin Rae: This is where I've positioned myself. Just prior to COVID hitting, I moved up to Byron Bay, wanting to live here for 20 years. All it took was a pandemic to get me here, which has been supported by going remote, obviously.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. before we finish up, I just wanted to touch on this. Let's dive into the pandemic business model you've got now, because I believe you're actually hiring and growing the business in the middle of this. You actually left your quite big offices in the middle of Sydney and took a small team up to Byron Bay. Okay. Tell me a little bit about that? I think this is fascinating.
Kerwin Rae: Yeah. Look, I'm someone that gathers a lot of intelligence natively. COVID came on my radar January 7th. By January 19th, I'd ordered a couple hundred masks for my team because we're about to embark on a major 13-city tour. By January 24, we created our first biothreat security response plan. Then by the time February and March rolled around, I was so far ahead of the curve. I was about seven weeks ahead of most of the businesses in terms of preparation, because I was already looking at what was going on in China. I was looking at what was going on in Spain and France. I was always on it eight hours a day. I was literally, eight hours a day, looking for information on what was going on.
Kerwin Rae: By the time COVID hit, it hit hard. It hit in the middle of one of our events, and we were fully prepared. We shut a 400-person event down on day two of a four-day event. We put all those people in their hotel rooms, and we pivoted the Star casino ballroom into a broadcast studio in one hour and 46 minutes. We continued to deliver the rest of the event at an incredibly high quality. But then, through that process of it hitting as we were talking to our clients, we've got to coach our clients through the process of, "Okay, here's how we told our team, here's how you tell your team. Here's how we told you, here's how you tell your clients. Here's what we're doing and here's what we've done. Let's create your corona response plan right now."
Kerwin Rae: That's why we came up with the five phases of corona, the five phases of working through what's happening right now. We literally decided on a ... I think it was a Thursday afternoon at 6:00 p.m. that we were going to have to look at a remote construct. Then by Friday, 5:00 p.m., we were ready to go. We didn't have to pull the trigger, because no one had pulled the trigger at this point. Until I think the following Wednesday, Thursday, I think the rest of Australia pulled the trigger. We pulled the trigger Monday morning. We had a fully remote workforce within about, let's call it, 24 hours in terms of being able to work remote. Didn't have to, at that point, lay anyone off. We'd continued to hire through the pandemic.
Kerwin Rae: Like everyone else, we've taken a significant hit. We took a $2 million hit based on forward revenue. In March, I think, in total revenue down, we're probably down close to eight figures in terms of growth revenue. But at the same time, we've created new revenue streams, and we've maintained the existing revenue streams that have, in most cases, a lot of businesses would have completely dried up. For us COVID, like everyone, it's been a challenge but I'm built for this shit. I love going to war, figuratively speaking. I love having my back up against the wall because that's when I do my best work, Jeff.
Kerwin Rae: Honestly, when COVID hit, my team went like, "Holy shit, we thought you were fucking intense, but now you're a whole 'nother level of intense," because I was clear, I was on point. None of my team had the time to freak out. None of the team wanted to freak out because like, "Why does Kerwin look so calm? Why does Kerwin look so relaxed? Kerwin's got a plan for everything. How the fuck does he think about this shit?" It's like that's the gift of PTSD. The gift of PTSD is you're constantly on guard and you're thinking about worst-case scenarios. You're thinking, "Okay, if that's worst-case scenario, what would I do? If that happens, what would I do? If that happens, what would I do?"
Kerwin Rae: As a result, I had about, let's call it, easily 50 different contingencies that we had ready to deploy the moment it hit. When it did, I brought a small team up to Byron, and that was motivated by the fact that I was being given very strong messages to get the fuck out of Sydney. I just listened and I listened very hard. We put our whole team remote. We brought a small team up to Byron here. Through this whole pandemic, we've continued to grow, we're continuing to hire. Even though our forward revenue is down, we're more than surviving. We are thriving.
Kerwin Rae: But we're having to do what everyone else is doing as well, which is reorganize, because you got to understand, we're a $25, $30 million company that's a live events company. Most companies in our space right now either sank or in the process of sinking, whereas all we did was go complete digital pivot. How do we develop two things, a digital offering but a broadcast model? Then we started looking at integrating old-school broadcast tactics and new-school broadcast tactics and old-school programmatic content. We started looking at developing and delivering programmatic content, digital content, broadcast content. We're working through that process right now.
Kerwin Rae: It's just been phenomenal because we've been talking about doing digital and doing broadcast for four years. It's just like you got a gun at your head, came in, you got to fucking do it. You don't have a choice. I like that feeling. I like the feeling of not having a choice. I like the feeling of, "Oh, I live events? Oh, your business is fucked." "Really? Let me show you. Let me show you how I'm going to become," and as a result, now, we used to only be able to service clients in Australia and New Zealand and people who were willing to travel from Europe, which was maybe 100, 150 a year. Now, we've got hundreds of clients from all over the world that are now able to attend our events through broadcast and attend our high-level K2 Elite through broadcast.
Kerwin Rae: We've got some other digital products in the pipe right now in the offerings, but our goal is just to move, we move quickly by being efficient. We are lean but we're not cheap. We just maintain those principles. Now is not the time to stop using the basics. Now is not the time to go away and go, "Okay." Yes, the market has changed. Yes, things have changed, but it doesn't ... If you look at Federer, let's say it's breakpoint and he's down, he doesn't change his game. He goes and sticks with his fundamentals, because as long as I stick with the fundamentals, it's a probability factor. But the moment I start experimenting with new shots, I'm now playing with new probabilities that are going to be far less because it's untried and untested.
Kerwin Rae: If you look at any great sportsman, any great fighter, the way that they win is when their back's against the wall, they stick to the basics, and then when they see the opportunity, they pounce. I'm not someone who's looking for an opportunity to pounce. By any stretch, I'm like everyone else. I'm wanting to find how do we thrive in an environment where our business is based on helping people. My job right now, my goal right now, and this is evidenced by our K2 Elites. There are 400-plus K2 Elites. We've had, I think, seven that have gone into some form of hibernation, meaning they've scaled right back, and that's the beauty of knowing how to scale up. You got to also know how to scale back, blowing a business up, because most businesses can scale up, but when it comes to scaling back, they're like, "Well, how do you scale back?" It's like an accordion.
Kerwin Rae: If you know how to scale up efficiently, you'll know how to scale back effectively as well. We've had maybe seven clients go into hibernation. We haven't lost one K2. Not one of our high-end clients has actually gone under. We now have services and trades businesses that are having record quarters and record months. We have live events companies that are having record months, record quarters in a situation where people in the exact same industries are going, "We're fucking doomed because I'm a trader, I can't do what I do." Now, you can do quotes over Zoom. Now, you can do broadcast events. There's so many options available. It's just having the mindset to be open to thinking about the one that's going to work and not stopping until you find that.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, yeah. Basically, this has accelerated your evolution as a company because it's actually pushed you into evolving.
Kerwin Rae: Massively.
Jeff Bullas: Because it's pushed you into a digital world that you've been thinking about and had been doing but on a small scale.
Kerwin Rae: Dude, I've sucked so bad at digital, and you probably know this better than anyone. Yes, I've got a great social presence. We do social well, but we've sucked really bad when it comes to digital. But now, within a matter of three months, we're now one of the world leaders in terms of the quality. We're still catching up in terms of offerings and everything else. Even right now, the quality of our podcast, the quality of everything we do, the technology, the software, we're not doing everything by hubs. Everything we're doing, we're going, "Right, how do we," and that's our motto. We don't do anything unless it's world class. Even in a situation like this, that's a fundamental that we don't shift.
Kerwin Rae: I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing, which is to do webinars where you're delivering an event to webinars. No, I'm going to build a fucking studio in my house. I'm going to speak to Telstra. I'm going to fucking get a satellite if I have to. I'm going to bring in a production team. I'll move them up to fucking Byron if I have to. We're going to build a studio in my house that's broadcast-ready so that we can broadcast anywhere in the world anytime for any reason, for what we do.
Kerwin Rae: That's just enabled us to do it at a level where, yes, other people are pivoting with digital, but most people aren't pivoting with digital in a quality way. They're doing it, in most cases, a fast way. As I said, this comes down to one of our philosophies, which is one of our values. We're lean but we're not cheap. We will negotiate every number, but we won't invest in shit. I'll spend more money for quality, because I know quality is going to last longer.
Jeff Bullas: Now, I'm curious about your mention of the five phases of coronavirus for business.
Kerwin Rae: Yes.
Jeff Bullas: I'm very curious, what is that?
Kerwin Rae: Phase one is you need to identify, oh, gosh, you're going to be pulling on me now. It's like three months old. That's now an old piece of content. Phase one is all about scale back. It's about identifying all the excess in costs. For us, phase one is really about identifying all the excess costs to be able to trim the fat. Then phase two is being able to have a redundancy plan. The first thing that we did when corona came in, or when we saw it come in, is we went, "Right, streamline all costs. Where can we pull all spending from that is non-required spending, non-essential spending? Everything cut."
Kerwin Rae: Phase two was, "What does a talent scale back look like?" We went through the whole company, including me, all the wages and everything else. We went, "Right, okay," and that was a four-phase project, "If we do have to scale back, what will be phase one redundancies? What will be phase two redundancies, phase three redundancies, phase four redundancies?" Phase one, I'm certainly confused. Let's call it step one of the corona plan to get all your costs streamlined. Step two is looking at the four phases of redundancies or four phases of scaling talent back.
Jeff Bullas: Scaling down, yup.
Kerwin Rae: Scaling that down. Then step three was really about them looking at what does operational look like from a hibernation or a crawling perspective. Then phase four was shut down. What does a shutdown look like? I have had some businesses, none of them are clients, but I've had some businesses that have come to me from a consulting perspective, saying, "What should I do?" I say, "Right now, the best thing you can do is preserve capital and shut down. It's going to be unfortunate. You're going to let go of some of your team members. You're going to lose some good talent. But if you keep going, you're going to lose them anyway, because your business based on where it is right now is non-productive."
Kerwin Rae: That's what's step three. Step three is pivot. Step three is, "What does the pivot look like? Where are the digital opportunities?" Then step four is really looking at that aspect of ... Oh, fuck, here we go. Here we go. He's got it up here. Go to phase one. We'll start this piece again. Thank you, legend. The four phases, let me tell you right now. Here we go. This is more effective. This is what my brain likes to share.
Kerwin Rae: Phase one is going remote. What does a remote workforce look like in the context of your business? Because live events company, how does a live events company look remote? Phase one is you got to go remote, you got to look at what that looks like. Phase two is streamline. That's where we're looking at all the excessive costs that need to be cut back. Phase three is drastic. That's where we go, "Okay, what does hibernation, pause, or shutdown look like?" Because our goal at this point is to, if we have to go into shutdown, we will to preserve capital so we can come back. Because if we spend all of our capital trying to survive in an environment where we can't, we're not going to be able to come back from that.
Jeff Bullas: That's right.
Kerwin Rae: Coming back is going to be a lot harder. Then phase four is wind up. If you do need to wind up, what does that look like? Some of them, "Whoa, I just don't even want to think about it." I'm like, "Fucking think about it now, because you want to think about what a wind up point, what is the milestone, what is the trigger point for wind up," because again, if you're going to wind up, it's better to wind up so that you still got some money in the bank than winding up and you got nothing left and you're being evicted and you're now going to go and get food stamps and everything else.
Kerwin Rae: Then phase five is bounce back, which is, "Okay, now we've come to the other side, how do we then scale up in an effective and an efficient way?" This comes down to understanding the scaling process. Scaling is multidimensional, because we scale up, we also scale back. If you're not prepared for the scale back, it's going to be very difficult. But once we've scaled back, we then need to be prepared and ready to know what are the milestones to then scale up again and look for those opportunities. Geez, I fucking just carved that up like dog food in or? It's like [crosstalk 01:17:19] different phases.
Jeff Bullas: I was curious. I'm a curious cat.
Kerwin Rae: I did open that right up. I just-
Jeff Bullas: I said, "Five phases? This is what people are going to know about. This is what people want to know." They're just like, "Mate, give me the five phases." I'm glad-
Kerwin Rae: The funny thing is this piece of content was created when I was at the event, when we were in the middle of a shutdown, and someone says, "So what do I do?" I said, "You know what? There's five things you need to do," and I literally made every single one of those up on the spot, but it was so popular. We've developed an e-book for it now. There's an e-book. We've got a video, a little video course on everything. That's the problem with creating so much content, I forget more than I know.
Jeff Bullas: I'm sorry to put you on the spot quite like that but-
Kerwin Rae: No, that's fine.
Jeff Bullas: I thought you'd nail it and scale it, that particular one, but there's-
Kerwin Rae: I floored it and fucked it, mate. Done that one.
Jeff Bullas: Mate, thank you very much. That was an awesome way to finish off there, I think, in terms of what people can do to actually survive and thrive during this time. Mate, thank you very much for spending the time with me. I'm sure the listeners are going to enjoy this episode.
Kerwin Rae: Lots of laughs as well.
Jeff Bullas: Okay. Of course, mate. Yeah. Writing to fax broadcasting and, yeah.
Kerwin Rae: Thanks to you, because I know we met quite a number ... Was that six years ago, seven years ago now?
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, yeah.
Kerwin Rae: I still remember being quite in awe of the work you'd done, the blog you'd created, and the notoriety and the demand that you'd created for everything you've done. You really have led the way for many other people like me in the social space and the direct marketing space. Thanks for reaching out, Jeff. Make sure you reach out when you get to Byron.
Jeff Bullas: I will. I'm going to Byron and I'm going to knock on your door and maybe you'd be wearing a mask, maybe not, hopefully. Thanks, mate. It's been an absolute pleasure and I look forward to catching up soon.
Kerwin Rae: Fantastic. Thanks, Jeff.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.