Tag Archive for Nick

Overcoming Fear at the Big Show

The Cover Slide for my presentation at the Big Show

A key factor of personal development and growth for any of us is overcoming our fears. For me 2012 was a year of breaking down barriers and ended with me finally overcoming my fear of speaking in public, something that used to terrify me.

In fact, the thought of public speaking is something that sends a chill down the spine of even the most confident individual. In his book ‘…and Death Came Third!: The Definitive Guide to Networking and Speaking in Public’ Andy Lopata refers to a New York Times Survey on Social Anxiety that listed people’s biggest fears. Perhaps surprisingly, ahead of the fear of death in third place and walking into a room full of strangers on second place came speaking in public.

I, like so many others, can remember anxious, sleepless nights before having to give presentations in front of my high school peers. The fear of making a fool of myself was overwhelming. At university I decided to confront the problem and signed up for a public speaking class. I gradually became more confident and must have appeared more at ease than I felt as I achieved the top grade in the subject and walked away with the award for most creative presentation.

It was a few months ago that I was approached by Quach Tuan Khanh, widely recognised as Vietnam’s top public speaker. He asked if I would be interested in joining him as a key speaker at the Big Show, the largest public speaking event in Vietnam last year. Although the idea was daunting, and I had arranged to spend Christmas with my family in Sweden,

Nick presenting at the Big Show in HCMC

I knew the chance was just too big to turn down. I cancelled my travel plans and started researching topics I felt qualified to present. Together Quach Tuan Khanh and I decided my subject should be ‘Failure Before Success’. I am no stranger to adversity and I have had my fair share of failures. However, I have always tried to rise above them, learn from them, and turn those failures into success.

During my time with Oriflame and Sophie Paris Vietnam I have delivered hundreds of talks, training seminars and lectures; the largest of which was in a stadium filled with 3,000 people. However, I was now being asked to speak for one-and-a-half hours in front of business professionals. Each was paying US$60 to come and hear what I had to say, a significant portion of their monthly income. This was serious and I knew I would have to prepare and practice thoroughly if I was going to pull it off.

Nick with the most famous speakers in Vietnam

Throughout December I toured Vietnam with a number of well known public speakers addressing some 1,700 business professionals in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Can Tho.

It was after my final major presentation to a crowd of 800 in HCMC that I realised I was facing my fear of speaking to large numbers of strangers and winning. Following my talk I was thrilled to be asked to pose for photos with members of the audience and sign autographs. I was even asked to sign books. Many of the people I met on the tour were moved to tears and thanked me for inspiring them. The feeling was incredible and I have had endless emails, phone calls and texts since. I cannot describe how proud I feel to have been an inspiration to others or how thankful I am not to have let my fear of public speaking beat me.  I am looking forward to more presentations and to further inspire and help other people overcoming their fears. As Brian Tracy puts it “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help other. Unsuccessful people are always asking. What’s in it for me”.

Doomed to Die Young

I may be doomed to die young. This fact was made clear to me recently after my 61-year-old father had a heart attack. Fortunately he survived, but I know that heart problems are often hereditary. So I telephoned my grandfather in Sweden last week to ask him if our family has a history of heart problems. I was shocked by what he told me.

His own father died of a heart attack at the age of 49 and I was stunned to learn that three of his brothers and one of his sisters had also died of heart attacks when they were even younger. Even my grandfather, who is 81, recently underwent heart surgery. I now want to understand how he has survived against the odds and perhaps more fully understand how I can improve my own chances of avoiding the same fate as so many members of my family.

My father suffered his heart attack on 1 October this year while he was at the gym. He was rushed to hospital where surgeons performed bypass surgery. Fortunately he made a speedy recovery and is now back on his feet. But why did he have a heart attack? He does not have an unhealthy lifestyle; he eats well and exercises regularly.

He suffered a heart attack because of his genetic make-up. His body is conditioned to suffer heart problems. The only reason he survived is because he is fit. I have since been studying the subject and have learned that I am also at risk. I now have to decide how to prepare for something that may be inevitable.

At the time my father had his heart attack I was training for my first half-marathon. This meant I was already in an intensive fitness regime. The news that my father had become ill further spurred me on to stick to my training, and on 2 December I completed the race.

Brian Tracy taught me the importance of discipline, something that I could not have completed the half-marathon without knowing. He says:

“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the indispensable prerequisite for success.”

I left Sweden 14 years ago, and since then have not remained in close contact with my grandfather. This was the first time we had spoken properly in over a year but I needed to pick up the phone and learn more about my family’s medical history. What he told me convinced me that I have to live a healthier life. I know that we will all die some day, but I also know that we can put that day off for as long as possible by getting more exercise and eating a healthier diet.

The combination of my father’s heart attack and the conversation I had with my grandfather gave me the push I needed to commit to a lifestyle change. I have since read books and articles on how a healthier lifestyle can help to prevent heart problems.

One of those books is ‘The Zone’ by Barry Sears. In it he describes how to revolutionise one’s life plan, how to lose weight and how to get the body and mind back into balance. From chapter one I knew that telephoning my grandfather had probably saved my life, and I am now getting the information I need to live a longer and happier life.

Like me, there is a history of heart attacks in Barry’s family. He explains that he is a genetic time-bomb and that his body is programmed in a way that makes it more likely he will suffer from heart disease when he is older. It was a shock to find out that I am the same. However, because I now know this I can face the fact and make the difficult choices that need to be made.

In the couple of weeks since completing the half-marathon I have found my discipline slipping. Although I have still been exercising several times a week, my diet is not as healthy as it was when I was training for the race. It is also Christmas, which doesn’t help!

My grandfather’s warning has pushed me back on track. I will be fitter, I will lose more weight, and will gain more strength. I have already signed up for my next half-marathon on 10 March 2013 in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I know that if I am to complete the race in a good time I will have to commit to regular training sessions, healthy food and almost no alcohol. I did it before, so I can do it again!

So, why do I push myself so hard to be fit? In the short term I just want to feel healthy. I now have more energy, I am happier and I can perform to a higher level. In the medium term my goal is to run a full marathon before my 40th birthday; and in the longer term, I want to live full life and be around to see my son graduate from university.

I have learned that it is only when we are pushed to the edge of a cliff that we are forced to change. It is only after knowing failure that we can decide on what needs to be changed in order to win. For me my father’s heart attack and what I was told by my grandfather were a stark warning. I am now determined to take control of my own destiny by changing the things I need to change now.

Fat before fit. Drunk before sober. Unhappy before happy. It seems like that we have to fail before we win.

Learning to run again – 10 km closer to my marathon dream!

Nick running the 10KM race in Vung Tau on 17 Nov 2012

Today was a momentous day for me. I have just completed my first competitive 10km race in Vung Tau, Vietnam. For me the race was more than completing the distance in less than an hour in 32 degree tropical heat – it marks the end of more than five years of rehabilitation and is a stepping stone to my ultimate goal of running a full marathon (42km) in under five hours. This may seem an easy target for many. Not for me.

While playing squash in London one morning in 2007, my life suddenly changed. The cracking sound of a shotgun being fired, extreme pain and the feeling my leg had gone through the floor of the court meant my Achilles tendon had snapped. I was rushed to hospital in agony and told I would have to wait a week for non-surgical treatment. My foot was put in a plaster cast, something I would have to wear for eight weeks, and over the next few months, with the aid of crutches and some expensive rehab, I gradually learned to walk again.

Back on my feet I took a trip to Katmandu, Nepal, in April 2007 to attend a regional MD meeting for my former employer, Oriflame. Again disaster struck. While doing my rehab exercises one morning in my hotel room I felt a shooting pain in my leg and fell to the floor. I knew immediately that I had again snapped my Achilles tendon. I clearly remember lying on the floor and calling reception for a wheelchair. I would need it to get around before flying to the UK the next day.

Back in London I was examined by a doctor who told me my Achilles tendon had completely ruptured and that I would need major surgery. After a week of agonizing pain I was in theatre where the doctor told me my knee would be put in plaster after the operation. When I woke up I was surprised to find that not just my knee, but my whole leg from my toes to my thigh was in a cast. When I was able to talk to a doctor he told me the severity of the rupture had made the surgery complicated. The surgeon had cut my leg open from my heel to the back of my knee. I was told my Achilles tendon was now shorter than before and I would have to undergo a lengthy period of rehabilitation. I was also told it was unlikely that I would be able to walk on my own again for at least a year. What made me more frustrated, upset and angry than anything was being told that I would never again be able to run. This left me lying in my hospital bed in a state of shock because keeping fit has always been such an important part of my life.

Three days later I was allowed to return to my London apartment to rest and recuperate. Soon after this I moved to Vietnam.

The first few months in my new home were challenging. Getting around on crutches with my whole leg in plaster in 35 degree heat was not easy. As Area Sales Manager for Oriflame it was necessary for me to spend much of my time travelling around Vietnam. Thankfully I loved what I was doing. What was suffering, however, was my health. Not being able to exercise meant I was putting on weight and my blood pressure, sugar level and cholesterol were also too high.

It was not until 2011, four years after my operation, I was finally able to walk for long distances again. I signed up to a gym and began to introduce fitness walking into my rehab regime. I gradually began to lose weight and felt my fitness returning. I had never given up on the dream of being able to run again, but was aware I still had a long way to go. I increased the amount of Achilles rehab I was receiving and started to visit the gym more often where much of my time was spent walking on the treadmill.

It was during one of my sessions on the treadmill in January 2012 I felt the temptation to run. However, my mind was telling me not to push it. After all, the last time I had tried to overdo things I had ended up in agonizing pain on a surgeon’s table. Yet my determination got the better of common sense. I gradually increased the speed on the treadmill and slowly started to run. I was elated, but I knew I had to control myself and stopped after 30 seconds. But I had been running. The feeling was amazing! The next day I came back and managed to run for a full minute. The following day I ran for two minutes. My Achilles felt fine, and I made up my mind, there and then, to prove the doctors wrong and, one day, complete a marathon. Since that day I have been training hard and running further with this goal in mind.

On 12 August 2012 I successfully completed my first 5km run in 39 minutes. I have continued to push myself, and today I am extremely proud to say that I have just completed my first competitive 10km race. I managed it in 57 minutes and 16 seconds. This may not be a world record, but for someone who was told he was never going to run again it is a major personal achievement.

The race was no picnic. Running in tropical heat under a clear sky in Vietnam is like running in a sauna. The race was made more difficult because it was a beach run; so much of it was on soft sand. We also had to run up and down hills. Although I had trained hard, I was concerned that my Achilles tendon could snap again. All fear left me when the race started.

The heat made running more difficult than I had anticipated and after 4km I was worried I would have to give up. I pushed through by telling myself the pain was only temporary and by reminding myself how lucky I was to be running again.

Nick rehydrating and recovering after having completed the 10km race

I am proud to say I finished the race in under an hour. I have managed to drop 16kg since I began to exercise again and currently weigh 88kg. My aim is to hit 80kg and to run a full marathon in under five hours. The next step of my journey is on December 2 when I will run a half-marathon (21km) through the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. My goal is to complete that race in less than 2 hours 30 minutes. Watch this space for the next installment of my marathon journey.

End Remarks:
Finally I would like to pass my regards and thanks to Nicole and Long, my personal trainers at Nutrifort Fitness as well Greg Beale for his therapy and running advice. Without them I would not have reached this far towards my marathon goal.

I would also like to pass on my sincere regards to my family and friends and especially my dear wife Sofi and wonderful son Percy as well as my mate Bob Van Mol for their ongoing support, understanding and motivation. A final thank you remark to Matt Underwood for being my running buddy and for being the one to encourage me to sign up for the Half Marathon in Angkor Wat.

The Importance Of Goals

During October 2012, I had the pleasure of giving 3 trainings on goal settings to the top leaders of Sophie Paris Vietnam.

I started the training by making a bold statement, “during this training I will show you how you can get everything you want, faster than you ever thought was possible. If I was given only five minutes to speak to you today, and I could convey only one thought that help you to become more successful, I would tell you this: “Write down your goals, make a plan to achieve them, and work on your plans every single day.”

I then continued to take the participants through a hands-on workshop where they were told about the importance of writing down and defining their goals and how to achieve their goals and how to overcome obstacles in life.

Write Down Your Goals:
“Start by writing down exactly you what you want”, I told them. Why? “Because you need to find your purpose in life” I continued. Once you know exactly what you want it is possible to achieve it. Success comes by choice – not by chance, I added.

A Dream Is Not A Goal:
I asked the participants what their goals was, they all said things such as “to make more money”, “to have fun” and “to have a house or a car”. I then told them that were just dreams, and most likely they would not fulfill them since they are not specific enough nor did they come with a deadline. Instead, I told them to further define what exactly they want and then give it a deadline. As Brian Tracy said “Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines”, I added.

Why People Don’t Set Goals:
I explained that the most people in the world do not set goals because they think that goals are not important. They also do not know how to set and write their goals as well as that they are scared that they will not achieve them. Join The 3% That Has Set Goals: I then demonstrated how to set goals and join the 3% in the world that has done that. I told them to write their goals in presence tense and with a specific deadline as well as to start each goal with “I”. I gave them one example “I earn as a Distributor VND 50,000,000 from Sophie Paris each month by July 1, 2013.” I then invited all participants to write down their goals in this format. I encouraged them to write at least one specific area for each key part of their lives, including:

1. Income
2. Family & relationship
3. Financial situation
4. Health and fitness

How To Achieve Goals:
I told the leaders to use future orientation to achieve their goals. They were encouraged to think and talk about where they are going in the future on all their key areas of their lives. The way to make it happen is to make a list of things to do, prioritize that list, make it into a plan and then, most importantly to take action on that plan immediately. “You are advised to do something every day towards your major goals” I guided them.

Overcome obstacles:
I then shared with them that life is full of obstacles and challenges. Within every obstacle or difficulty, there is an opportunity or benefit. It is up to you to learn more to come over your difficulties and then enjoy the rewards that come with it. The only real limits to what you can achieve are the ones that you put on yourself by your own doubts and fears.

My Goals:
I ended the training session by demonstrating how goal setting had worked for me in my life. I wrote 5,5 years ago a goal to become General Director within five years, a goal that I achieved in just three years despite many obstacles along the way. I also wrote a goal to have a child, a goal I achieved in two years (my son Percy now being 3,5 years old), and now I am working on my goal to reach perfect and healthy weight along with several other key goals. “If goals work for me, they will work for you too. See you @ the top!” I ended.

The participants in Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City all enjoyed the training session and said that it was very useful for both their personal development as well as their career with Sophie Paris.

One of the Ho Chi Minh City leaders, Ms Dao Luong, said “Actually, I had my goals and objectives already before, but I had never written them down in detail, and therefore, I never achieved them. Now, thanks to Nick’s great training, I have finally fully understood the meaningfulness and importance of goal setting. I have from today promised myself to become a Silver President by December 2012, and achieve other specific goals that I wrote down during the training. I will work on my action plan every day to make my life more satisfying!” Photos from the training course at the Head Office – HCMC

Ms. Mai Pham, a leader in Danang, expressed “What Nick said has impressed me deeply. Right in this afternoon, I am soon planning a clear goal and objective that help myself to be better, right here with Sophie Paris”.

Ms Van Mai, a member in Hanoi also said “I have red several types of motivation books before, but this was the first time I am aware about the importance of planning and writing down what is my mind and what I want to achieve in life. I am regretting the past time was a kind of waste, but from now, every minute counts to me.”

Nick’s training was inspired by his five years of MLM experience as well as from the book Being the Best in MLM by MLM guru John Kalench and the book Goals by Brian Tracy.