How did you get to New Zealand?
That's the question I get most of all from clients. And there's a story, a very interesting story behind our move from India to New Zealand.
In this episode Sean talks about
Part 1: What I was looking for, when I was 13 years old
Part 2: Getting to New Zealand
Part 3: What were the early years at Psychotactics like?
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“This transcript hasn’t been checked for typos, so you may well find some. If you do, let us know and we’ll be sure to fix them.”
Hi. This is Sean D'Souza from Psychotactics.com and you are listening to The Three-Month Vacation Podcast.
This podcast isn't some magic trick about working less, instead, it's about how to really enjoy your work and enjoy your vacation time.
This is The Three-Month Vacation. I'm Sean D'Souza. One of the questions that I get most of all is how we got to New Zealand. What caused us to leave India and to get to New Zealand? What were the early days like? These are questions that subscribers at Psychotactics want to know all the time.
This is the 50th episode and so I thought that's a good idea. Let's puts in the Psychotactics story here so that you can listen to it and enjoy it.
Part 1: What I Was Looking For When I Was 13 Years Old
When I was 13 years old, I had a thought. I wanted to live in a place that was half-city and half-country. Mumbai or Bombay as it was called back then, was very polluted and noisy, not good enough for me, obviously, and I wanted to move to a place that was half-city and half-country except I didn't know about New Zealand. I've never been to New Zealand, probably never even seen any photos of it, but in my mind, I was clear that it had to be half-city and half-country.
I say half-city because I love the city. I like people. I like going out and seeing people, and I like the energizer level of the city, but I love the country as well, and I thought if I could find a place that was half-city and half-country, that would be great.
I wasn't thinking of New Zealand. I wasn't even thinking of leaving India. I was thinking of moving to a place like Bangalore which is in South India. It's called the Garden City. As I grew up, Bangalore got more congested and busier, and it became just another city, so we started looking out for other countries. We looked at the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These are mainly the immigrant countries.
Canada was very cool. I went to the Canadian Embassy and they said, “What's your profession?” I said, “I'm a cartoonist.” In that documentation that they gave me, there were six different types of cartoonist to choose from, and I thought, “Wow, this is a very sophisticated place,” because when you go to most of these places, you don't find cartoonist listed as a profession. We didn't go to Canada. We didn't fill out any forms. We didn't do any of that stuff.
We did the same with Australia. We went to the embassy. We got some forms. We didn't do anything. Then, eventually, a lawyer came from New Zealand. He was an immigration lawyer and he looked for our papers, and he said, “No.” He said we didn't have enough points to get to New Zealand. He said that we needed to try later, but it didn't look good, and so, we gave up. We just gave up just like that.
Part 2: Getting to New Zealand
Then, I was walking down the street several years later, grocery shopping, and I ran into this friend of mine. Her name is Joan. Joan says to me, “What are you doing here?” I said, “I'm grocery shopping.” She said, “No, no. What are you doing in India? Weren't you supposed to go to New Zealand?” I said, “Oh, yeah. We were supposed to go, but we did all these paperwork and they said that we couldn't go.”
Then, she said, “You should try now.” She gave me a card and I contacted the immigration lawyer, and that was the start of our merry dance with Indian bureaucracy. I don't know if you've been in a bureaucratic country, but Indian bureaucracy is way up there. You have to go to the police and to the passport department, and you're going back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, and spending enormous amounts of time just in this back and forth movement.
Anyway, nine months passed, suddenly, late at night, almost midnight, we got a call wherein we have 12 months to make that trip to New Zealand. That's when something amazing happened. Everything became lopsided in our favor. I know this sounds crazy to say lopsided in your favor, but it was almost like there was a design to stop us from leaving. Everything that came our way was amazing as long as we stayed in India.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like we had a rough life in India. The Renuka's company was a Swiss company and it is the largest fragrance company in the world, and they used to pay for everything; for our stay, our car, we had a chauffeur. It was good life, but the moment we decided we wanted to move was as if a force came in, trying to keep us back.
At that point in time, Renuka's boss, he didn't know that we were leaving. Almost at the moment we decided we'll be leaving, he decided to put her in charge of the entire Asian region, which was a big job. When he found out that we were going to New Zealand, he offered to pay the entire airfare. He said, “Go to New Zealand.
Have a good vacation. Come back and take your job back,” and we said, “No.” It was the same for me, I had an office. I had staff. I have three-hour lunches. We used to go bowling in the middle of the day. It was a very good life and we had to check up that life and then go into this complete uncertainty of New Zealand.
When we left the country, I had just a handbag full of clothes. Not because we didn't have clothes, but because I wanted to bring all my computer equipment along, so instead of the usual baggage that people bring with all their staff, I had my huge monitor, and then the CPU which weighed a ton, then a scanner, then a printer, and that was what I brought to New Zealand. Everything else was coming in bags later on, but that was the stuff that came with me on the flight.
When I'm talking about New Zealand, I often say that we didn't know anyone in New Zealand, but that's not quite true. We knew one person and that was Wayne Logue. Wayne was someone that I had met on an internet forum.
I was part of a cartoon forum called the Wisenheimer, and Wayne, he was part of that, too. I said I'm coming to New Zealand and he said, “Oh, I can help you.” This was the amazing part. It almost seemed like, “Wow, where did Wayne come from?” We didn't know whether he was just a crazy guy, a serial killer, and I think that it crossed his mind as well because that's what … We had a conversation one day and that's what he said.
He didn't know anything about me. He didn't know whether I was going to show up, but Wayne actually got my mobile phone, he got my P.O. Box, he got a rental apartment, he did all this stuff not really knowing whether I existed or whether I was just pulling one big April Fool's Day joke on him. Then, he showed up at the airport and I was able to stay at his place for a week.
He had got this rental apartment. He moved me to the rental apartment. He had a hamper full of goodies for me like Kiwi stuff, red socks. When I say “red socks” I mean red socks because we were doing this whole America's Cup campaign and those are the red socks that they were selling. There were all these things that were essentially very New Zealand-based in that hamper.
The landlord's name was Barry. Barry showed up. He said, “Do you need anything?” I wasn't quite sure I needed anything. Barry shows up later with half-a-full of forks and spoons, and iron and ironing board, and he just leaves it outside the door so that I can get started.
This was New Zealand for me. It was full of friendly, wonderful people that just went out of their way to do stuff. This was a fairy tale start to New Zealand, but it got even better before it got worse.
Within a week, I was calling up people from the phonebook. I called up maybe 200 people. These designers and marketing agencies and advertising agencies, and I had a job. I had a job as a web designer. I'd studied a bit of Flash. I didn't know much of it, but the company that hired me, they didn't know any of the Flash stuff, so it was very new, very interesting until I got the job. By day two, I was sick of the job. I wanted to quit.
I emailed Renuka. Renuka was still back in India at that point in time. She was going to follow in a month or so. I said I wanted to quit the job. She said, “No, no, no. Hang in there.” Renuka has always been this person who had a job and I've always been this person who never had a job. I always ran my own business freelance. This job, I don't know what it was, but it just drove me crazy. I had nothing to do. The whole time I was there, I probably built one website, which if you know me, that drove me absolutely crazy. It was like being in prison.
Then, I got made redundant, and that was the second happiest day of the entire year. The first being the day I got to New Zealand, but this was fabulous. There was just one little problem though. We had just bought a house the week before and we had a mortgage for over $200,000, and now, we both didn't have jobs and we had to pay that mortgage.
Part 3: What Were the Early Years at Psychotactics Like?
What were the early years at Psychotactics like? For one, it wasn't even called Psychotactics. It had this very embarrassing name called Million Bucks. As you probably heard before, I was headed back to India and I had this book called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, and it asked a question, what can you be the best in the world at?
I was a professional cartoonist at that time and I couldn't answer the question. I thought that Calvin and Hobbes was the best cartoon in the world and I couldn't beat that, and so I wanted to do something else. I don't know why. Maybe it was a new county, but I wanted to do something else, and so I just decided to jack up everything I was already doing, and then, throw myself into this crazy crevasse.
One day, I just decided I was going to get into marketing. I don't know what happened. It was as if I took a billboard and put it up on Main Street, and said “Sean D'Souza is not going to do any cartooning anymore,” because all the work I was getting, book covers and magazine covers, and illustrations, and advertising agencies, stuff to be done, and it all stopped. Just overnight, it just stopped. It was as if I'd made these announcements all over town. It just stopped. Then, I had to go out and find some consulting work to do.
Now, I was part of a networking group, but would you trust a cartoonist to then advise you on your marketing? Plus, there was this terrible name called Millions Bucks. Even so, I remember what Wayne had told me when I got to New Zealand. He was talking about the cartooning stuff and he said, “John found the pavement. Just go and meet people.” That's what I did. I just founded the pavement. We used to go to all these events to speak where there were two or three people, or people who were half-asleep, and the amount of mistakes that we had to make along the way were phenomenal.
As you know, the Brain Audit itself came about from this very, very bad episode where I stood before an audience of about 20 people and started speaking about The Brain Audit, and then I forgot what I had to say. Then, Renuka had to come and take me aside and we have to have a break for 10 minutes, but from that came the Brain Audit, and from The Brain Audit came our entire business.
Along the way, we had all of these little speaking engagements at this rotary and what they call SWAP here, which was sales people with a passion, I think. We'd go to these events and it was this drill over and over again, and this is what I tell people, “You sit behind your computer and yo expect things to happen, but there is a lot of ground work that's happening, a lot of ground work, and we had to do all our ground work.”
The years just flew by until one day, I was sitting at this restaurant called “D-72” with my friend Eugene Moreau. We were talking about this whole badly-named company called Million Bucks. He said, “You send out a newsletter and you call it Psychological Tactics, and you call the newsletter Psychotactics, so why don't you name your company Psychotactics? I thought that was a good idea, and so, we named it Psychotactics, and that is how Psychotactics came about.
It wasn't like Million Bucks was totally hopeless. We had millionbucks.co.nz. If you know what a frame-base site was, it was a frame-base site, that means Google couldn't index it, and yet, we had 1000 subscribers to that website. Now, if you go back to archive.org and search for millionbucks.co.nz and go back in time like the year 2000 or 2001, you will find this terrible-looking site with very small fonts, probably 5 or 6-point. Then, right at the bottom, you had to read all the stuff and then get right to the bottom, and it said, “Subscribe Here.” You literally had to read every word before you subscribe.
Today, I sound very confident, but at that point in time, I wasn't feeling confident at all. I always felt like a fraud. I always felt like someone was going to tap me on the shoulder. Even when opportunity was thrown in our face, we were reluctant.
At one point in time, a guy called Joe Vitale, he decided that he was going to promote our book, the Brain Audit, which was just a PDF. It was just 16 or 20 pages. We didn't have any credit card facility. New Zealand was way back then anyway. It was like you couldn't get any facility and we'd been looking for three months, and doing the research and spinning, and spinning, and spinning, which is what a lot of people do, and that's what we did anyway.
He gave us a week, and in that week, we had to figure out something and we found ClickBank. Sure they charged over 7.5%, but it was wonderful for us. It was fabulous that we could actually take a credit card. We got back to Joe and said, “We are ready.” He said, “Oh, this week, I'm busy.” Then, the next week, he was busy. The next month, he was busy.
Several months passed, but in those months, someone found our website and they started buying the Brain Audit, and that's how we started selling copies of the Brain Audit online. We didn't change that 20-page book for ages, for probably over a year, and we sold about $50,000 worth of that book before we even made a single change.
By this point, we started speaking at events and getting more confident about selling the book at the events. People will buy the book just on the enthusiasm. Back in 2002, the whole concept of any book was like weird. Some people didn't even have an email address back then. They would ask for the book on a CD. We kept pushing and we kept going to events, and we kept contacting people on the internet, and we still do that today. After all these years, we're still doing exactly what we did back then.
When I started out, I always believed that things would get less busy, and yes, they do get less busy if your goals are very limited and you want to earn just as much as you did before. We earn a lot more than we did before, but now, the money has become less a focus. Now, just writing books that nobody else is writing, doing them in a way that nobody else is doing them, all of that takes a lot of time and effort, and that's why I wake up at 4 am every day. In fact, as I'm doing this recording, it's now 5:52 am, and I enjoy every moment of it.
Auckland is half-city and half-country. It's an amazing place, and New Zealand, no matter how much you read about it or look at it in the pictures or in the movies, it is absolutely astounding, and you should visit.
I hope you've enjoyed this little, mini episode on the Psychotactics history. If you'd want more of this, how we started up our workshops, how we started up our courses, the kind of trouble that we went to, and these personal history stories as it were, write to me and let me know so that I can give you some more stuff.
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That's me, Sean D'Souza, saying bye for now. Bye-bye and do write in.