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Theodore Vairaktaris, Usher Group, Fund My Challenge, Usher Cup | ProActive Podcast #134

Theo came from humble beginnings as a child growing up. 

Flexing his creative talents combined with a passion for a beautiful company P&L Theo has shown that he is a poster child for being a  proactive man.

I first met Theo at high school. A year ahead of me I’ve watched him for many years.

We both then shared the same neighbourhood in Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast for many years where I saw Theo's clothing business take off and so too his popularity for parties. 

But those days are behind us now. 

After celebrating their 20th birthday in 2021 the Usher Group is considered to be the largest painting company in QLD and also provides many other services to the construction industry.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Theo has embarked on a number of new business and personal challenges. 

Training, mentoring and developing a leadership team for Usher Group has allowed Theo to follow his spiritually guided passion to be more philanthropic and in 2021 launched Fund My Challenge. 

Thank you, Theo, for joining us on the Proactive Podcast.


Video Transcript:

- G'day world Chris Hogan coming to you from MeMedia's Studio, Burleigh Heads for episode 134 of the Proactive Podcast. And today I'm very glad to say I have a good friend of mine, Theo Vairaktaris, welcome Theo.

- Cheers bud. I'm pretty impressed, episode number 134.

- [Chris] Yeah. That's awesome.

- Thanks mate, thanks mate. So little bit of history of ours. We went to the same school together, high school together. Theo was a year ahead, I've been watching you for many years but there was some differences in our upbringing. You came from some humble beginnings. And we're not gonna cover that story again because a friend of mine and few friends of mine on the podcast, 91 Ryan Tuckwood has already covered that. So go and check out that episode if you want to hear that story.

- [Theo] Yep, legend bloke.

- Yeah, total legend. We shared a neighbourhood in Mermaid Beach for some years.

- Yeah, we did. We had a few of good times together there, mate.

- Right there, there's plenty of parties, plenty of surfing you started a clothing brand there?

- Yeah, Sane Industries. That was epic, that was so cool.

- Was that your first business?

- I'd probably say that was my first official business. I'd say, yeah, that was my first official business. But when I was a kid growing up, obviously humble beginnings in the housing commission, I used to go around and mow people's lawns and stuff like that and bring some cash home and stuff. That business was my first like PTY LTD official business.

- Mad.

- Trying to have a go, yeah.

- Yeah, well mate that was a long time ago, plus 20 years, I think. And now Usher, Usher Group has actually celebrated, in 2021 celebrated its 20th year in business.

- So mate, congratulations, what an epic ride I bet that's been.

- Yeah, that was a huge rollercoaster ride. It's definitely made me the person I am today, but yeah, very grateful for that experience and very grateful for the Usher group, it's still powering along and I'm very, very, very, very grateful for what that's done to me and my family and all the families that Usher Group employs.

- What an awesome, I guess, gift to be a able to give isn't it? Like when you're able to build something up that supports other families well, it can feel like a burden sometimes.

- Yeah, staff and lots of them, hundreds of them.

- Yeah, well, you're responsible for their mortgages too?

- Yeah, yeah, that's right.

- Yeah, that can feel a bit like a burden, but you can also be super grateful for that. That also it's the largest company, sorry, the largest painting company in Queensland, is that correct?

- Yeah, that's definitely correct. We're by far the largest painting company and integrated services company in the state. I'd say we're probably either first or second in the country, it's always a battle between us and our formidable foe out there. And yeah, I think imminently we'll probably be the largest in the country if we're not already. So mate, never one to rest on your laurels. You've put in a leadership team at Usher. Which I think you were just sort of progressing probably last time we spoke, which I don't know if it was one or two years ago. And now you've you sort of letting them run the show to speak. And you've become CEO of the Fund my Challenge. God, that was a shocker, sorry. So many words to bring to the podcast, but yeah, Fund my Challenge. Is that a charity in itself or what is Fund my Challenge?

- So it is, it has a charity behind it called the Global Awakening, which is a public ancillary fund. So what it is, it's a charity that donates to charities. So we needed a charity in the back end of Fund my Challenge. So what Fund my Challenge is, is obviously it's an ecosystem where we we've seen a huge need out there in that charitable space, I've been involved with supporting charities and community movements and initiatives and the like for 20 plus years, but there was a massive need out there, which there was no platform or no product or anywhere where good charities could interact with brands and influencers and celebrities in a safe harbour environment, and that's what we created Fund my Challenge, which basically we vet our charities we've got a stringent vetting process as you know, we've spoken about before and some charities make it and a lot don't. So we've been vetting out of the 50 plus registered charities on the ACNC in Australia there's 50,000, we're still getting through them. However, we've only qualified about, I think, 32 charities now out of like 500 plus that we've vetted. So obviously the percentage rates, not too high, however, but we use different metrics in our vetting process charities that make a hugely positive impact to the local communities they serve, we're not really interested in the big national international brands. We're really interested in the small charities that typically people don't know about or they know about but really on a small basis. And they actually really make a positive impact to their community, and they're the ones that we are looking for, they're the ones that we believe we wanna amplify, and we wanna connect them with local businesses. And then obviously then their local influences of celebrities in a safe manner. So then that way we've all heard the stories of things that have been done by certain charities or whatnot, and not by fault of their own by their constitution. That's held them back from being able to do certain things and people raising money for other it in charities, but then not them being able to spend it where they're meant to, It's just a fault of the system. So what we've sort of created then is, and then obviously brands and then, and influencers and celebrities don't like being caught up in that, they've got their brand to protect. So what we've done is created an ecosystem which is an amazing platform and we connect everyone together and then we amplify causes and needs. And now we're going into the next stage now of crowd funding as well, so we didn't do crowd funding at first, we really wanted to do our slow steps and get to where we wanted to be. So now we're initiating crowd funding where we're able to raise funds for people in need, whereas before it was only just for charities so yeah, we're really excited about that platform that we've created and it's got some amazing ambassadors behind it. You should see like so many people just come out of the woodwork, really amazing humans with huge influences out there that just come on board and help us amplify amazing needs and causes out there. So it's been epic.

- I know I've jumped on the website and seen a lot of them. It's absolutely amazing who you've attracted there.

- We've raised like over a million dollars for charities and people in like nine months, we haven't even been operating a full year, it's been epic.

- That's amazing.

- So good.

- So Usher Cup, was that idea born out of Fund my Challenge, or was that always something you just wanted to do and then all of a sudden you had a platform?

- Well, it's pretty funny how things just happen in my world like there was a of synergy obviously there with what we're doing, but you remember the days like we used to have surf comps when I was, we used to run surf comps from like 19, 20, back in the obscene days. So it was always still a passion, obviously doing surf comps and being obviously both surfers as we are and how much our beloved ocean does to us and helps us on our journey. What happened was though that, so we've got the Usher love vehicle, that's been our charity charitable vehicle, that's been supporting charities and community events, initiatives, clubs, footy clubs, and everything around the country. However, we never really had a flagship event or something that really stamped Usher Love as look at this model that what we've got and the charities that we support and COVID hit, and obviously, as you know it wasn't just the surfing clubs that all our club round got cancelled. It was all the sporting clubs, it was footy clubs, netball clubs, like everything, all the kids clubs were grounded. So there was no club events, there was no meetings, there was no nothing. And what we found was that a lot of the kids had nothing to, no goals to look forward, they stopped their training, they stopped doing their little community events or movements or meetups, that they would do positive things for their community. And we saw that loss of direction in the kids, in our particular town here on the Gold Coast. And I met up with Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew, I like to call him the godfather of surfing 'cause he's definitely, he is there for us, especially, for our town. And and we spoke about old days and surf comps and we said, why don't we just have a community event? And I was like, that would be awesome because I wanna support the charities whose hurting the most in COVID environment. It's also charities because not many people are able to give which is understandable. So we put our heads together and with obviously him being the event director, like I'm learning so much from him is an absolute weapon in building formats and helping me understand the mechanics of surf comps in a proper way rather than now, old school just freestyle way. And we created, spawn the idea of the Usher Cup. And what we did there was then obviously ushering in, excuse the the union of boardriders, which has not been, we didn't do it first, there's lots of club events that happen and there's lots of successful club events that happen in the Kirra teams challenge, the Australian Boardriders Battle. And they're all great events. And they've all been before our time. Now the great event is obviously the Burleigh Boardriders Single Fin. I love competing, I love that event, it's on a Gold Coast standout event. So it's not something that we we were first to do, but we really wanted to bring the community into the event with a charitable purpose, which has never been done. So then we got the boardriders clubs together. We got the team aspect where the individuals are surfing for their club honours, but also for themselves, and obviously equality is massive in our family and our business as you know, so we were always massive about equal prize money, both for male and female.

- Yeah, I thought that was an awesome push, that's huge. And really obvious push, but I think on purpose.

- Yeah, the girls are ripping.

- Yeah, absolutely.

- They're they are ripping and they are competing at such a high standard every year. Like they're getting better and better and better. And, and they deserve it, and of course they deserve it, like there should be more competitions out there that are all about equality. And then it actually helps the depth of clubs grow. It actually helps the girls go onto their, it's a great segue onto the world qualifying, to the QS, and then the challenger series. And it's exactly what we've seen that the Usher Cup achieve. So we'll obviously, hands down massive about that. And then obviously that's how then we created the skeleton and our mascot, which is always Usher Cup skeleton he's on the back but because it's gender equality, you can't tell if it's a male or female, obviously you're not gonna count the rib bones.

- Right on, right on. But you can't tell if it's a male or female surfing, and that was huge for us. So we went with that as our logo, main logo, and then we brought the charities in, and then another thing was that we didn't really wanna take from the surfing industry and go out there and raise some sponsorship funds from the surfing industry, You know what I mean? Like we didn't want to be another event than taking from events that are already happening that have dedicated sponsorship and obviously.

- Yeah, it would be a surf industries, skate industries, so yeah.

- Yeah, yeah, we didn't wanna just be another event. And for us, I love the construction industry, it's been my whole life, it's my passion. And the construction industry does so much out there in the community, they're always donating to charities and community clubs and whatnot. They wanna sponsor the surfing industry. Like how many traders do you know that surf? Like how many percent? It'll be more than 50, well, or maybe not.

- On the Gold Coast.

- The Gold Coast, definitely. That's what I'm about to say. There's definitely an opportunity there for the construction industry to be a part of it. The User Cup is a clear example. I sent one email out to our mates out there in the construction industry and we sold the sponsorship in like two and a half hours on year one, and year two was in same thing, it was like three hours the whole sponsorship was done, we could have kept going and oversold it, what we do, the model said, so what we go out there, we sell the sponsorship, that's all the money we donate to charity. And an Usher obviously pays for all the whole comp itself. And Usher puts up all the prize money and we had over $73,000 of prize money this year. So it's an epic concept and we don't have naming right sponsors, we don't have other sponsors, so all that sponsorship that the construction industry gets on board for. And second year, it's been some small business.

- Yeah, I noticed, I noticed it was cool.

- Yeah, that small businesses that sell their products like new age caravans, they sell caravans and they come on board. I think the owner's daughter was in comp in the first year. And they come on board as a gold sponsor that was epic. Like they're a family business here on the Gold Coast and it's all about businesses supporting our local community and every one of those 10 charities, all make a positive impact to to the Gold Coast, to the Gold Coast community.

- Absolutely, man.

- It was huge.

- I think you did an amazing effort of shining a light on both the sponsors and the charities. It was seriously like a great effort and saying that from a marketing point of view, watching your marketing, it was like, right on, you got this as well as like implementing the live feed.

- That was for shoot from the hip, the freestyle.

- I remember that was sick, like full credit to you. I'd say that Rabbit helped you sort of go, okay, now we need to do this and this and this and this, probably something that you wanted to do, but then it's thought of like, well, that team has actually come together really well to pull the whole thing.

- It's been amazing like him and I are like this dynamic duo, both two different skill sets, we come into a room, we get each other, we both get it, we don't talk like we don't have to say too much, we both get it, we go our ways and we make shit happen. Well, it's just amazing and then obviously as well, we've had a huge amount of help from Simon Safin like Shager, he's a big videographer here on the Gold Coast. He's been such a huge instrumental part with the livestream and all the shooting all the action and whatnot behind the scenes and he's been amazing. And yeah, another company, Jason Sintone from Mad Panda, he's been a weapon behind the scenes as well. It's just it's got this little posse and just magic happens. It's been so right about and I'm glad you commented there on the marketing side, because for us, it's all about giving back to the sponsors. I mentioned before the construction industry does so much out there in our community, and they're rarely recognised. People actually don't know how much all these amazing companies out there, like Hutchinson Builders is one of them,, and all the subies out there, they do amazing things in our community. And sometimes I find like the people, the community, they might see their logos in it and this and that, but they actually don't realise how much they actually give and what they actually do. And so for us, it was all about giving back to the sponsors. So they donated that goes to charity and then it's my job to amplify their brands and the charities as well. Like, they've all got a story, they've all got amazing piece of positivity and problems that they're solving in this community.

- What was the animal charity that you?

- Animal Welfare League or Currumbin Wildlife Hospital?

- I know definitely know Currumbin Wildlife, client of mine. No, the Animal Welfare League.

- They're epic, they're a family business.

- I watched that video of you and Rabs going in there.

- They're huge. And I was getting a bit emotional actually.

- Their whole mantra is, no animal gets euthanized. Like, that's their mantra. Like that is unbelievable. They'll always find a home for an animal. As well what they do, how they give back. So any of the elderly, like the animals are their companions. Like that's their world, their families have moved on or lost friends or partners or whatever. And if they can't afford or not in a position to look after their loved one, their pet, Animal Welfare League is a hospital for domestic animals. They'll cover the operation, they'll cover whatever the animal needs and they do that for homeless or elderly or anyone in need on the Gold Coast that can't afford to keep their animal alive, they pay for it.

- Amazing, amazing.

- A lot of people don't know that.

- That's two charities that we've just mentioned, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, Animal Welfare League. There was ten in total, is that right?

- Yeah, ten, so Serving our People is another one headed by Yes Out at Mermaid Beach. They're amazing. They serve the community and other charities. So if they've got so many relationships with all lots of other charities, so the other charities need help getting some food or stuff to a person, or need to get a person delivered somewhere or whatever they need to help in any way. They did so much at the Christmas time. Rabbit and I went out and actually did some volunteering, work with them and delivered food and hampers to families that need it the most and gave them a Christmas lunch, and gave them a real Christmas which was amazing. And yeah, Serving our People is really good and they they're in the infancy they're growing. They've got a lot of great companies behind them supporting them. They're gonna do great things in our community. They're gonna be epic. Volunteering Gold Coast, another one. They do similar things as well. They've got cool programmes. Like they're helping people with needs and disabilities get to the beach, so that's why we actually sponsored that that one fundraiser that they had there going. And so they get this military industrial grade matting down and people that have I don't wanna say take it for granted because we love the ocean and we're forever grateful for it, but how many people can't actually get to the ocean? And they call it the last mile, from espionage across that sand to the water and then being safe in the water as well. So they've got these equipment that can help people actually that can't walk or disabilities in some form of way, to actually be in the ocean safely and actually get to it. And they're accelerating that programme now across all our surf clubs.

- And what an amazing experience for those people, they get to do that, sometimes for the first time, I've seen them in action before and oh my God, their face is light up, like I'm catching a wave, sometimes they're catching a wave with the assistance of somebody.

- It's epic, and it changes their world. Like their stories, we could go on forever. The stories I've heard about, the impact that it's made to those people and that brings their life back, they've got their purpose now, they wanna help heal themselves. Again, whereas when you're in that negative environment all the time and, and they've sort of started plummet backwards rather than that gives them new inspiration and new life, so it's really good.

- So where are we up to.

- Then there's the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation. They're the little charitable epic state of the art hospital that we've got, that actually runs around and understands what each little department needs. So, especially during COVID, so whatever departments and the infant department, like whatever equipment those departments need, then they'll go out there and create little events or fundraising things to get the equipment that those little departments need. They've obviously got, I'm not sure exactly the state, federal, I'm not sure how they're funding and how the hospital structure goes. But as we all know, hospitals all struggle to actually, they're all busting at the seams, so this little charitable is doing like huge things for their own hospital. So it was super cool for us because then it's really tangible, we raise funds for them and we buy equipment. So yeah, that was really special. The Sanctuary, Sanctuary looks after immediate impacted domestic violence for women and for children. So they create a safe harbour, it's a sanctuary. It's actually exactly what the name is. So you go there it's and they get them to be able to get back into the community quicker and do community things, they look after the animals there, the veggie gardens, they interact and it gets them back into a safe mindset. So Simone out there she's amazing and what they do is, and it's right here in our backyard, and it's a bit private where it is obviously with looking after who they're looking after, but it is a sanctuary and it's well needed, especially with what's happening out there in the world right now, domestic violence is going through the roof. It's sad, but that's the reality we live in. And another domestic violence one, was Friends with Dignity. They're amazing. A lot of the things I can't actually say, cause it's such a private topic, and they've got programmes that really help deal with immediately impacted. So obviously they work with government agencies, the police, and all the service industries, emergency service industries to really help. So they're direct conduit from emergency services straight to them and then they sort out the problems, and so many things are happening out there that the community doesn't know. It's what makes us a safe place because of these organisations. So yeah, that's another one. Another one was the Arcadia College. They're out here at near Skilled stadium or it still called still Skilled stadium now?

- So they're out there, there are a college. I wish that college was around when we were kids for troubled youth or kids that aren't having a good time at school. They're doing amazing things like kids are coming out of, they're finding their passion. We talk about, for me it was something that, that was the main thing that I gave myself. My priority was really accelerating my passions and really focusing on that. I love what I do, I love my job, love my career, I love what I do and propelled me to where I am today.

- Yeah, just touching on that. So creative guy, you're the creative guy, loves a paint, and also loves a sick P and L.

- Yeah, so I know, is that weird?

- No, it is amazing. And I think I wanted to touch on that just for the kids going through school and university and all that sort of stuff. Sometimes they get told that if you're a creative, you can't also be I guess, a numbers person. I think we get told that we can't be so many things, but there's so many possibilities out there. And I think you're perfect example of proof that you can be anything you wanna be.

- You can definitely.

- So Acadia College, that's great. That they're inspiring kids as well.

- I was about to say that, I'd just like to say to any kids out there that are listening or questioning what they're doing and what career path they're gonna do. And whether they're gonna go to uni, or they gonna go to do a trade, or whether they're gonna go work manufacturing, whatever. The only way I would tell them to look at that answer is, what do they find fun doing? Because if they have a passion for something, and it's fun for them to do, well, then they're gonna be bloody good at it. If they go down somewhere that's against the grain, that they don't feel like it's fun, they don't feel like it's something that resonates with them, if it doesn't are like that they're being pressured from parents, society, that you gotta be this, you gotta get a degree. If that doesn't resonate with them, then don't do it. And that doesn't mean don't do a degree, don't do a trade, don't do this, don't do that. It could be creative, in this creative space it could be actually drama, or painting, or any other form of expressionism, follow that path, follow what you are passionate about. If you follow what you are passionate about, you're gonna be good at it because it's fun. And then don't worry about the money and being successful, that just comes with it because when you're amazing at something money and success just comes with that, that's just the byproduct of being successful at it. And if you are finding that that's your passion and you're super fun and super happy about your world and what you're achieving in that space. Well, then the byproduct just comes, I would highly recommend that they just focus on that. And then that will tell them where they were gonna go. And don't be caught up in a hole, you gotta go do this, or you gotta go do that. Like, I don't have a degree. No, I've deferred, sorry. Maybe one day I'll go back. No, no, but yeah anyway, so back to Arcadia College. They support young kids coming out of school, and look at them like, so their grade 12, they had a higher than 50% success rate going on onwards to go do a bachelor's degree. They've got amazing stories, kids that are possibly introverts or stuck inside because they're dealing with depression or anxiety and the like, then they be in an environment that's supportive, creative and nurturing, and then they come out of their skin next year, they've got like amazing singers or great, they've got a podcast studio there where it teaches them how to hold a podcast. And it's just, so man, it's amazing. And that's right here in our backyard. So yeah, that was a really good charity. Another one, Preston Campbell, obviously he's supporting the indigenous space and doing a great job there. I'm massive supporter of our first nations people. And I believe that we need to unite the clans. I don't wanna go too deep. But yeah, I'm such a massive supporter of our indigenous culture. And to be honest, no matter what colour scheme we all are, and no matter where we come from, we all come from somewhere and we need to bring our ancestry back ourselves. You have an ancestry history, I have an ancestry history. You are an indigenous person from our land, I'm an indigenous person from our land. So when my ancestors and so were your ancestors, and we need to honour them and honour the present ones, and honour each other's ancestors and move forward in one nation across the globe. So yeah, and that will change the world. so Preston's doing an amazing job out there in that space and I'm a massive supporter of his charity as well. Okay, so let's run through this. So Serving our People, The Sanctuary, Animal Welfare League, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, they're epic. So you know that they're actually implementing, you do so much work with them. They're implementing the vaccine to cure chlamydia for koalas and it's working, and needs to be heard, and they're at the forefront, and they're looking after all the koalas here, right here in your backyard, near West Burleigh, Elanora, they've actually got GPSs on them and they've got an app. Like you can see where they all are and they're looking after them and then not just that, but like all our wildlife that comes in, so Animal Welfare League does domestic animals, and Currumbin looks after our wildlife that's been hit by human growth in construction and roads and whatnot. They're doing a great job. White Cloud was the last one, Again, Adam, he's doing a great job there.

- What's White Cloud?

- They're like a domestic violence and support network for anyone. They've got a hotline, and not just domestic violence, it's like people in need or self harm, or anyone like they've got a hotline that we recommend people to use straight away in the construction spaces, as well mental health, they're or a big mental health organisation that cures mental health and just anyone in need that needs a hand and needs someone to talk to, they're they're being great, their platform is great, their service is great. They're the only service that I know that has a 24 hour hotline where you can call right there, get some support and be directed to the right support mechanisms to help people. And yeah, like I said, we've been recommending people go there, just fellow trades and whatnot. It's not necessarily, from one company or another, but you're in the space, you see people that aren't feeling the best for whatever's going on. And blokes have the highest mental health issues. The blokes out there need to amplify the divine masculine, we need to bring it back.

- Oh, absolutely.

- And yeah we need to embrace it and support each other as blokes. And it's not way to speak this, and we need to get our blokes back into a positive mindset. We're getting fogged out there, there's a war going on mentally. We're wearing the brunt of it all, we're all carrying a lot of stress and anxiety. No one is the same, I don't care like what you got, what you own, or what response, like we all carry it.

- Well, I think men are getting hit hard, and I think you and I both know that from personal experience whether ourselves or with others, but the village is somewhat gone, we need to bring back that village mindset. Whereby men used to hang out as hunters and women used to hang together while the hunters were out. And there was always this conversations on both sides happening, fun and laughter. My favourite film is "Apocalypto" it depicts it perfectly. The south American people, and the hunters in the Amazon were out and they were joking around and slapping each other and whacking each other, and almost shooting each other with arrows and all sorts of crazy stuff. While the women were actually talking amongst each other and laughing and gossiping about the man. And the men was probably getting crap put on them as well. But there was this camaraderie created with the men, camaraderie created with the women. And at the end of the day people came back together and you got share the stories of what happened during the day. And the children were all raised by village. It takes a village to raise the child is a common saying. And we are totally missing that. And even though with greater internet connection that we've ever had, we're further apart.

- We need to bring those ancient rituals and rights of passage back, it's, what's gonna amplify the divine masculine. And like you said, the community will grow a man, but that's the rise of passage. And we don't have that in our society anymore. And we need those community bubbles to be their nurturing youth becoming men. And our young ladies being child bearers and nurturing them through them evolving. They've got their cycles and we've got our cycles, and we need to bring that ancient pitch to back.

- Yeah, I agree. Where to for the Usher Cup?

- Oh, where to? Let's go back to Usher Cup, yeah, the Usher Cup. So yeah, the charity, sorry, I could keep going on for charity space.

- I know you could, I know you do.

- I'm just really passionate about it, but yeah.

- Usher Cup, is that two years?

- So year two was, we said we're gonna be bigger and better than year one. We're probably bigger and better way more than what we anticipated. We actually, we felt like we sort of possibly, we were in the top one, 1% bandwidth on Vimeo. So we got put on notice by them. And our livestream had 17,700 viewers over the three days. We didn't expect it to be that large. Obviously it wasn't all at one time, it was over the three days. So yeah, day one had I think five and a half thousand, day two had high sixes, and day three had high sixes, and day three, we didn't mean to, but we're up against the Pipe Masters. 'Cause it was the first day of the Pipe Masters. And we sort of felt like we might drop off a few viewers and whatnot, but obviously with the time difference and whatnot, we still managed to retain them. And obviously I had the split screen going on as well. And I'm sure every other surfer did as well 'cause it was like, pop wow, snap a wow. And it was really good for us too 'cause we could actually having a look at our livestream versus the WSL was livestream, and obviously they're the world leaders in the surfing event space and they do an epic, amazing job and we're so stoked to have them loving what we do as well with Usher Cup. And it was just so super cool to see us on our first attempt and it all just come together. Like I just said before, like magic just happened, and we've got so many amazing people here in this town, obviously all our world champs that we have here and all our big wave surfers, and surfers that have been on the CT and done very, very successful careers. And they all come down and they all support us and it's just such a brotherhood and sisterhood of epic ness down there. And it's just what I was just most grateful the most about, was what I actually said to everyone was that I'm just so grateful for the epic vibe over the whole weekend because that's exactly what it was, it was all greens, everyone was supportive. There was such an epic vibe that's when magic happens because everyone was just having so much fun, and the clubs were having fun, and the cheer squads of the clubs, and the supporters, the young girls coming through and the young guys, it was just epic.

- And wasn't it a boyfriend girlfriend that have won?

- Yeah Sheldon and Macy Callaghan. So yeah, Macy Callaghan and Sheldon been together I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure for over a year or quite some time. I sort of said it would be a great little wedding budget, but I don't know if they liked that or not. I don't know if that was on the guards but I just threw that in there, but look they're both great surfers and they both did an amazing. And to be honest, they were both standouts during the whole event, every heat that they were in, they did some really radical and explosive surfing and it was so good to watch. And Keely Andrews as well, she came second behind Macy, and she was also amazing, she's now into the QS and they'll probably both be on the challenger series again. And I have no doubt about that. And Ellie J Brooks from M and M Boardriders, she came third, she was epic. And little Charlotte, she was actually a world cut, she came forth and she was actually a world cut that was not gonna be in the event. And then she came in and came fourth, she was young girl, she's a young girl, and she did really well. And yeah, obviously in the boys, it was Sheldon came first and then 0.01 point behind was the hog himself, Nathan Hedge. So good seeing hedge out there on the surf and seeing the classic hedge back, going upside down and it was just all time. We were all just in the tents there just like barracking me on. And he's just such a good vibe having him there in the contest, in the event, he just brings so much passion and joy to the team. He's just really good and and Jagger as well, he didn't really get the waves that he wanted at the time, but he's such an amazing up and coming surfer. And he's definitely wanted to watch, there's no doubt he's gonna be on the tour soon. And he came third and he did a fantastic job there as well. And then the young surfer from Noosa I think, Ben, I think he's only like, I think he might be only like 16 or 18 years old or in that bracket, and he did so well, he did so well during the whole contest as well. And so to see all these kids and surfing with legends and up and comers.

- Great exposure for them.

- Oh man, it was just so good, and we obviously had, we grew the clubs interstate, so we had Torquay Boardriders, North Narrabeen, North Shelly. So Snapper won the teams event and North Shelly came second. And then at the ABB Australian Boardriders Battle the following week, North Shelly came first and Snapper came second. It was really good, they've been great rivalry, but there is so much camaraderie between the clubs. It is so warming to see the camaraderie yeah, there's competitive environment, their club wants to beat each other and what, and of course they do they're clubs, we're all like they're surf clubs, boardrider clubs. I went up to the Rainbow Beach Surf Club just quickly to see the Snapper guys that were holding the big Usher Cup and give it over to little Hugh Vaughan from North Shelly and get him to hold it up, and the Snapper boardriders were like, North Shelly, North Shelly. And then another club would come in and they'd be yelling out their name as well. And it was just so much camaraderie up there. It's just just epic. It's just an epic vibe all around all week. And it's a family event as you know, we don't do alcohol. We don't like that environment down there at Usher Cup, and it's a family event, it's a community event, it's a charity giving event, and the boardriders as well like we are teaching the kids now about the charities. So and how we do that is because then the winning clubs, they get an allocation of funds that they get to donate to a charity. So not only do the charities all get $10,000 each, which raised 100 grand, but there was also 10 grand. So we gave them 110 grand, but out of that 10 grand, the winning clubs had to donate some of that, it was first, second, third, increments down. And so then they have to choose which charity to give to, and for them to choose, they have to understand the charity, see what they do, what resonates with their club, who they wanna support. So it really brings a lot of inclusiveness into the event.

- Massive, gender equality as well.

- For the girls, like first place Macy is won seven grand, Keely won four, third got Ellie J won three, and then little Charlotte got two grand. Like it's was at the end, as you know at Usher Cup, even last place gets prize money, and we're giving out cash on the day. So Mon Lorraine from Snapper Boardriders, they do amazing for their own club. And obviously the president Mr. Jay Phillips, but they do such an amazing job for their own club at Snapper Boardriders, but for us at Usher Cup as well. And Mons there protecting the money, handing it out, So last place for the girls get 50 bucks 'cause the guys have got more surfers, 96 surfers and 48 surfs for the women, so last place gets 25 bucks. But what that does for a kid coming outta that event, winning 25 bucks cash, just competing in the events, it's huge, it's epic. And then when they come up through the different rounds, like they're coming out of there with good prize money, So, yeah, it's really good.

- And you're going international next year?

- And you just hit it on a nail. So yeah, we left that quiet for a little while and we announced it at Usher Cup this year, 2022. So Usher Cup is evolving into becoming now a world club challenge, which is gonna put the Gold Coast back into international surfing events. As you know, we haven't had an international surfing event for a couple years because of whatever's happened with COVID and the like, so puts Gold Coast back on the map. It's our city's event, it's our town's event, we're not moving it and bringing international clubs here. Six international clubs were confirmed for the announcement, but I think I'm gonna give you a little bit of a little gold nugget, hasn't been given out anywhere publicly yet it's gonna hit public news. I don't think, everyone on crash cups, throwing in get the shits with me now telling everyone here at your space first, but I'm gonna tell you, so basically we've got San Clemente, Santa Cruz, and Huntington beach from mainland USA, Maui Boardriders from Hawaii, we've got the Padma Boys from Bali, and we've got a team coming from New Zealand. We've been chatting with surfing New Zealand over there, and they've got their boardriders battle March the third and fourth, I think it is early March. And the winner of their New Zealand Boardriders Battle will be the team that comes to Usher Cup. So part of their first prize will be that they're gonna be nominated by Surfing New Zealand to come and compete for the international Usher Cup. And last Tuesday, Japan confirmed that they're gonna nominate a team. So now we've got seven international clubs. We do think we're probably gonna have a couple more, but I can't tell you that space yet, but yeah, so it's gonna be epic, it's gonna be so huge. And I've actually, I can't tell you actually, there's some other cool things that are gonna happen in the space, we're actually activating the space from Queen Elizabeth Surf Club, Queen Elizabeth Park from that Kirra there. So we're gonna activate that space from there all the way through to Snapper Rocks. That's all I can say, how, I can't tell you. But we're activating it and it's gonna be an epic event for the Gold Coast. So it'll go grow to four days now.

- So Tourism Queensland, you should be taking notes.

- Yeah, well, yeah. We've never had support by anyone, we'd love some support, but we're gonna definitely gonna run this event here. It's epic and we have so much support from.

- Kudos to you mate, like honestly, kudos to you and kudos to your team, kudos to everybody involved in what you've done and what you're about to do for next year. And look, I hope the likes of Tourism Queensland and others support you because there's that saying do more than what you get paid for and eventually get paid more for what you do. You've already shown that you can do this on your own but.

- We're gonna deliver it on our end.

- Hey, it takes a village to do a surf comp, right?

- That's right.

- And the village delivered a world class event and we broadcast it globally.

- But fantastic chat but before we take off, I've got a few last questions I wanna ask you. So where in your life have you me been most proactive and how has that benefited you?

- I think when I really got serious about really got serious about wanting to grow myself, I was really, I was more proactive about my passion more than anything and I was really finding my passions obviously, and that's what really propelled me to where I am today. However, I feel like that focus has shifted now to I'm still really proactive in my passions, but it's the passions that I let lay dormant, at that time in my early stage of my life when I was more about my career, my job, the Usher Group, my company, and I was really focused on that. And I felt like I let my other passions not evolve into what they could become because I was so focused on making. That was my primary task was to get mom and me and the kids out of housing commission, we done that and then involve it into the company what it is today. So that was my primary focus I would say, was really my passions and then my passion was my business. that's changed obviously, now there's the bit more balance. And obviously as well, I got married, my beautiful wife gave us two amazing magical children. And I'm not now, my wife she's called me dark to dark, I leave at dark, get home and dark and I was just so foolish, just job, job, job, job, career, career, career. Whereas now I've got other priorities as well in my life that I need to find that balance and I'm still.

- So where are you being proactive now that's benefiting you? Outside of career.

- Yeah, I think I've sort of been more focused about my inner self and finding out who I really am, and what I was really meant to do here, and what I can do. And now that I've given that more energy and being more proactive in that space, it's actually made me realise that there was a reason why I let it laid dormant because I wouldn't be able to do it to the level I can do it if I had had more balance that in the early stages, I possibly wouldn't have been able to be in the position I am today. So at the time I knew it was always there, I knew I wanted to touch into that world, but I sort of let it, and I didn't know why. And now I've really been accelerating, looking inside myself, my spirituality, the world, what's going on, doing way more research on ancient teachings and communities, and just storytelling from ancient times, and seeing how relevant that they is today in today's society and how that's what's gonna help us, deal with what we've got going on right now in the world. The vow is getting thinner and it's only gonna be love and light that's gonna continue breaking it down and bringing us all together.

- And I guess that's coming true in your latest, then that flows back into your career because that flows back into life and flows back into what you're passionate about again, and then is community. And it seems like it's coming true in the light of Usher. Sorry, Usher Cup.

- Correct, yeah. And far far much challenge.

- And fun much challenge

- Yeah, which is really good that they're my passion projects now, and I've got a few of them, but they're my passion projects and the creative space obviously as well. So I'm spending more time in my creative space and giving back and speaking, and talking to younger kids, and speaking on different platforms and stages and whatnot to try and make the world a happier place one day at a time.

- Yeah, it's nice to be altruistic, isn't it? But until you've got, I guess all the other stuff sorted out, you're basically gonna do yourself a bit of a disservice or maybe your family, or your staff, or your team, or the companies that you work for, a bit of a disservice if you put too much energy into that altruism.

- It's a balance, isn't it? We can all be really masculine or really feminine, but really the truth is balance within ourselves and I'm still learning how to do that.

- We all are, we all all.

- I don't have the golden secret or anything yet I'm just.

- Not yet enlightened sitting under a bullet.

- I'm definitely working my way towards that. But I'm nah, look for myself, it's just balance in my mind. I find my satisfaction and gratitude all stems from serving. I didn't know what servanthood leadership was, for so many years until one of my mentors explained, he's like, oh, you're textbook servant servanthood leadership level five leader and I was like, oh, I didn't even know what the hell that meant, but it was all because I just was so passionate about my job and the company that I'd like to call servanthood leadership something different, more like something like, how do you measure the froth, the stoke of your business, because when everyone's happy, they're doing great, let your people serve your clients and customers, I think Richard Branson got something like that as well. But unhappy staff will not run or grow a business. So how do you measure that? And it's like, me I was just constantly serving my people. Walking through departments and constantly serving them. And how best can I help them be the best versions of themselves? How can I help them grow in the business? How can I help them? Where where's their bottlenecks? Or What issues do they got? What systems have we broken that we need to fix because we're ever evolving? Same at home. We're all serving our wife, our children, our family, our communities. So I found that that was really a massive part of who I really am. And when I went, wow, like that was sort of this moment, then I just started accelerating it even further because that's what makes me happy. So then I just constantly do that now but whereas before I was automatically doing it but didn't understand that there was actually a term of it, or actually it's a trait and then realised that all the leaders, like all the successful leaders out there, they're not there doing, do as I say, they're like, what can I help you with? And do as I do, not do what I say. And I've learned so much in that space from research and mentorship and I believe everyone should have mentors and that doesn't mean you gotta have these high paid mentors. I mean this like friends, people that you can talk to, spiritual guided people, whoever's in your life that can mentor you. That could be your best mate that you just need to lean on and that's a mentor because he's there for you, he's listening and he's giving you the hard truth, and that's a mentor and you don't need to go out and pay for all these mentors, just find people that you know that they can give you the straight and you've gotta be able to take it. And also you've gotta be able to speak it, the truth, because if you can't speak the truth, they're not gonna be able to help you.

- Awesome, awesome, awesome, note to finish on. Thank you so much mate. and

- Yep, check it out. 2023 is coming.

- How do people follow what you are up to you personally? What do you put anything out on the socials?

- I've been bit slack with my socials I've got.

- Nothing wrong with that.

- Yeah, I've been a bit slack, my wife and I were talking about it the other day. I think I did like six posts last year on Instagram, I got a private account. I wanna be better at that, but I think if, yeah.

- Are you on LinkedIn? You're on Insta?

- Yeah, I'm on LinkedIn, Yeah, I'm on Insta, but that's one thing I need to be better at.

- Well, how about we just watch Fund of my Challenge, and the Usher Cup, also Usher Group.

- Usher group, yeah.

- And thanks so much for watching guys. You can get this podcast on YouTube, just search for MeMedia on YouTube. It's also on Apple Podcast, the Proactive Podcast, and it's on Spotify as well, the Proactive Podcast. Thanks for watching Chris Hogan and Theodore Vairaktaris. Stay tuned.

- Cheers.


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