It is mid afternoon and I arrive into Coffs Harbour not knowing what to expect. It had been a big week, full of meetings, actions, plans and intense discussion. I was tired, too tired to even know whether anything would come of this time with Mark. Mark picked me up in his four wheel drive. I was glad I had changed out of my suit before boarding the plane. I hopped in the car and started to download rapidly. Mark nodded and smiled as I answered his questions and continued to chatter away. Slowly my chatter started to slow as I looked out the window and caught a glimpse of the magnificent coastline. “What’s that?” I exclaimed. “Lets go and have a look” replied Mark. And we turned toward the estuary and beach. As we we drove alongside the coastline I felt something open up. Memories of my own childhood and more recent memories of holidays with my girls. I took a deep breath and finally just sat taking it in.
As we rounded the corner to the farm it took away my breath. It WAS Eden. The green lawns, the lilly infested dam, the trees, the spring flowers, the tasteful cottages, the pontoons and tree houses. As I get out I see the place is teeming with life both domestic and wild. Kangaroos hop in the distance, dogs, chicken, ducks in the foreground. I spent the next two days letting it all seep into my bones. It was moments of perfection. Eating fresh salad from the garden. Doing bombies off the bridge into the dam. Sitting and just staring into the distance with Billy, the family dog, by my side.
Walking at sunrise through the fields. Waking up to large glass windows that revealed a picture of nature akin to Monet.My head started to clear, my body started to relax and suddenly my conversations with Mark changed flavour. I was able to slowly let go of everything that I was holding on to so tightly. To imagine, to hope, to listen a little more deeply in the silences.
My conversations with Mark emerged slowly, naturally. We sat by the dam under his sophisticated tree house nibbling on dates and chocolate and he started to ask me questions.
I stared into the distance and words tumbled out of me or through me. I felt slowly alive and safe to explore. Mark weaved together the different strands forming in my mind, through my words and reflected back a picture of a new vision. By the end of the two days he drew on a piece of a paper the map of my new business. It was unexpected.
I hadn’t come for this particularly but there it was. I had gone from entering the weekend overwhelmed by current situations and I left with this little light shining guiding my way forward and giving me hope.
It was not ungrounded. I knew there was work to do and obstacles still to overcome but I also knew what was possible, what was true and which future held the most joyful version of my life.
Thank you Mark.
MT – Sydney
We engaged Mark towards the end of 2010. We operated a financial advisory for about 15 years to that point that had grown considerably until 2007 and then was battered and bruised during the GFC and on its knees by the time 2010 came along. One of the options at that time was simply to wind up the business with quite disastrous personal financial consequences.
The purpose of the engagement was for an independent and experienced mind to look at the situation and help me talk through the options and develop the more viable of them into a plan
The three options we came up with were:
We discussed the details of a plan for each one of these three options and I executed them concurrently.
Mark’s role after that was to be available for regular phone and meeting reviews. We would discuss what I had or hadn’t done, brainstorm new ideas and create list of short term action plans that would further the progress of the three pronged strategy.
If I put aside Mark’s years of business, tax, legal and management experience, his availability for regular conversations in those very dark days were certainly a big emotional and psychological help to me.
If we fast forward to today, 2014, thankfully the asset protection strategies that were put in were not needed in the end as the combination of Plans B & C led to the successful sale of the business in 2014, the retirement of all the business and personal debts that we inherited and then increased during the GFC and a material turnaround in our personal financial situation.
There is no question in my mind that Mark’s involvement and support at that key moment in the businesses was pivotal in helping me to plan a way out of the darkest moment in my business life.
Thank you Mark!
FP – Sydney
I love going to the farm. I’ve been working with Mark for a few years now, and I’ve been up to the farm four or five times to brainstorm about my business, about how to be a more compassionate and inspiring leader to my team of 30 staff, about how to keep my business fresh and growing, about shifting the focus of the business from offline to online, and about various personal passion projects, including a book and a documentary. I even wrote a lovely song there once, when I was processing some personal grief.
It feels like anything is possible at the farm. Somehow Mark and Michelle create a safe place to begin the process of dreaming a new reality into being. Mark masterfully and subtly helps me form those dreams and visions into an actionable plan. Nothing much seems to happen at first, except for a lot of letting go… and yet by the end of my stay I am always aware of how much has shifted and how much possibility has just been born. Then Mark helps me stay accountable to the implementation through our regular follow up calls.
Mark is the kind of coach who always asks the right questions, the kind of questions that gently guide me to my own answers. I never feel like he has imposed anything. He never just tells me what he thinks I should do. He’s much more masterful than that. He uses his vast knowledge and experience to apply a gentle prod here, a little nudge there, offer an interesting observation, ask an insightful question, share an illuminating diagram or model of behaviour… until I see my own truth clear as day, for myself. I know he probably saw it from the start, but he is patient and he lets me get there on my own… I think because he knows it’s not really meaningful, and the ‘shift’ won’t stick, unless that happens.
The farm is a special place where dreams are born, and Mark is a special kind of guide who can help them to become reality.
JC – Sydney
The farm is like that place inside of oneself to which busy corporate types seldom go: perfectly still, at peace with the universe, in harmony with nature.
In fact, it is initially disconcertingly still, so much so that the unproductive part of you yearns for busyness. But after the first day your soul begins to expand and connect with the stillness giving you an equilibrium that allows immense inspiration.
Mark and Michelle have created a little piece of heaven, a dichotomy of nature and nurture. Rustic yet functional, peaceful yet welcoming, calming yet inspirational.
They open their hearts and their family home to ensure you are at ease while at the same time giving you a space of your own to enjoy your privacy.
The results that are created in the abundant and trusting environment of the farm can be unprecedented. As soon as you have relaxed into the stillness, your creativity can come alive and, with Mark & Michelle’s challenging yet gentle guidance, you can see a vision of your own potential and a picture of who you ought to be, whether as an entrepreneur or a corporate animal.
These words cannot do justice to my achievements directly attributed to the work I have done at the farm on my own in the protective and nurturing environment of nature or inside the encouragingly collaborative partnership with Mark and Michelle. You will have to find out for yourself. But I commend to you this opportunity to touch and feel the abundance that comes with a great team and a great place.
BM – Sydney