About Me

Flashback to 1995  – I’m sitting in my small 1 bedroom rented apartment in Fawkner going through a goal setting exercise, writing my mental, physical, financial, relationship, spiritual, social and vocational goals.

I had big dreams, but absolutely no idea how I would actually achieve them. I still remember sitting back and thinking – “How the heck am I going to achieve all this? I’v never earned over $25K a year, how can I possibly afford these dreams?”

I’ve been involved in businesses since around the age of 16. In fact I started my very first money making venture in primary school. I used to get 10 cent coins, put them on the railroad track where they’d get all stretched out once the train ran over them. Then I’d drill a hole in them and put them on keyring and sell them at school for 50c.

As I got older I did the usual things, did a paper round, worked at hungry jacks – but none of these ‘jobs’ ever felt right. I was felt too limited in what I could achieve.

When I was about 16 (around 1989), I started setting up my own businesses. I’d start a new business enterprise, get some people together have some fun and make some money. It was usually small backyard type businesses. It wasn’t until 1999 though that the things really started to happen.

Back then I had a job working as a sales rep for and wholesale importer (along with running a part time car audio installation business on the weekends). The company I was working for as a sales representative wasn’t doing to well. It had lost money for a number of years, it owed me money for products I had imported myself and sold through the company and it was coming down to decision time for my Boss – Sell the business or be forced to close by the banks.

I’d always felt as though I had a lot of ideas that would get the business going, I just never had the chance to implement them.
So, since I didn’t want to loose my Job, I decided to buy the business!

I approached my my boss (The owner of the company) and put forward my proposal. It didn’t take long for the answer to come back, and before I knew it I was the proud owner of a failing business!

I can still remember the first day turning up to work, I just stood there at the front door, key in hand, shaking like a leaf, and butterflies in my belly – thinking – What the hell have I done – What am I going to do to make this work… All I kept thinking was “How were we going to pay our bills”?

I knew we had to get the business moving fast, there were 4 of us all together, myself, my business partner and 2 staff. We dug our heels in and started working.

Fortunately for us we Broke even within the first 12 months.

We worked solidly for the first 12 months. I devoured ever piece of business and personal development material I could get my hands on and tried every tip, idea and strategy I could find. The result? After 12 months we had taken the company from loosing large amounts of money to breaking even.

It only grew from there. We employed more staff, moved to larger premises, employed more staff again, and moved premises again. Before I knew it I had 12 staff working for me around Australia and overseas.

I started to discover the fundamental principles of building a hugely profitable business

  • Listen to what our customers asked for and give it to them
  • Provide good value for money products, consistently
  • Get out there and promote those products

I also discovered other fundamental principles to creating a successful business.

I was working every spare minute I could find

The business was growing rapidly and making great profits. We were literally turning over millions of dollars. I was working every spare minute I could find. I would work 15 hours per day Monday through Saturday and around 9 hours on Sunday.

Money was rolling in (and out) and the business was doing great.

Then something profoundly life changing happened to me.

A friend of mine (my closest high school friend actually) called me out of the blue. I thought it was a bit odd since we hadn’t seen each other for a few years until he told me that his wife and recently left him and their young son. He was feeling lonely and depressed and wanted a chat.

I had no idea of the impact that call was going to have in my life in the coming months.

We spoke a few times and caught up for dinner together. He filled me in on what he’d done since leaving high school. He shared the sadness and disappointment he’d come to experience through his separation and his despair and the family breakdown.

We chatted on the phone a number of times but sometimes, when I was too busy, caught up in my work and business, he’d leave a message.

Sadly because of the long amount of hours I was working, I didn’t have much time for socializing outside of my circle of business associates. He called me one time and left a message, saying he wanted to talk to me about something. As usual I was too caught up with work and thought I’ll call him back a few days later.

A few days later I got a call from my mother. She asked me how I was and then asked me if I was sitting down – I was thinking “This is all a bit strange”. Then she hit me with it. She told me she received a phone call from my friends older sister –

My Friend had killed himself in a most horrific way. I was shocked and devastated. My mind was racing at a million miles per hour. I thought of his young son who was now fatherless, I thought of my 2 young boys and how they hardly ever saw their father. I thought about that last phone call from my friend, that I was too busy, to self absorbed to take 5 minutes to chat with a friend in need – a chat I will never again have the chance to have and I realized an awful truth. I was shocked at the person I have become. I didn’t even recognise myself.

I started questioning everything about myself. Who exactly was I? What was really important to me? I started to realize how much of my life I was missing. I had virtually no friends left outside of business, I was away at work so much that my kids would often ask their mother if dad is ever coming back home.

All the things I thought would bring happiness – wealth, success and status meant nothing. I was totally unfulfilled. I began questioning the life I was living, and life in general. Surely there had to be more to life than this?

Over the next 12 months I began to loose interest in my business, I was burnt out, stressed and depressed. The years of long hours and mental strain had taken their toll.

Then I made one of the hardest decisions of my life…

I walked away from my business.

I walked away from the money, the excitement, the traveling, the status. My business partner was totally shocked and once he was over the shock, the anger set in. He became very bitter, feeling I had just DUMPED all this responsibility on his shoulders.
He had very little idea on how to run the business since, he was basically just working in the warehouse while I ran the business. He refused to pay me a single cent for my share of the business and unfortunately he had a ace up his sleeve.

I had loaned the business hundreds of thousands of dollars – and my family home was being used as security for loan. The bank was knocking at my door wanting payment for the loans. Since I no longer had an income I was stuck – I had to get some money to pay the loans or I was going to loose my family home. Additionally, if I have successfully paid off my previous loan, I’m going to get a car title loan for my commute from work to home.

My lawyer told my I had a strong case and would most likely win if I took the matter through the courts, BUT there was a catch. The process would most likely take more than 12 months – by which time the banks would have sold our family home. So, After months of legal redtape and visits back and forth with lawyers I had 2 choices –

Shut the business down and take my share of the profit (Which meant the everyone who relied on the business would loose their livelihood) and I would loose my family home
OR
Give up my share of the business and walk away without a cent of profit for my share of the business.

I didn’t want to loose our family home and I I couldn’t do it to the team – They were much more than just workers – we were a team – almost a family. I just couldn’t take all that away from them.

I gave in and simply handed over my share over the business and walked away without a single dollar of profit to show for 5 years of long, hard work. (in fact I walked away in debt since the company never even fully repayed the money I had loaned to it!) – Crazy when you think about how much money the company was making.

But the experience had taken it’s toll on my family. So much of my focus had been on my business and subsequent business breakup that I didn’t take the time to notice what was happening at home. The relationship between my wife and I was at breaking point and it wasn’t long before that was over too…

The end result? I had gone from living a normal life with a family, home, profitable business, security and certainty to nothing.
I was broke and alone with no home, furniture, money or anything. I was afraid, lonely, depressed and anxious. I’d hit rock bottom. I couldn’t bring my self to focus on anything. I felt like a total failure and most of all I was shocked, I spent months trying to figure out exactly what had happened and how I had gotten to this place.

I was sharing an apartment with a friend – barely able to even pay my share of the rent. Then one day – the pain and hopelessness of it all got the better of me. I got to the point where I couldn’t see any purpose with in life. The future seemed empty, dark and lonely and one day I just simply had enough. I hopped into my car, drove out into the country, up a mountain and into the bush and tried to ending it all. Luckily for me, I couldn’t even get that right!

A few weeks later a friend heard about what had happened and gave me tickets to a seminar. He told me it had deeply impacted his own life and suggested that I go. I went and was blown away. I began to realize there was something much greater going on in my life than I realised.

I spent the next 2 years discovering myself and who I really was. I started to see things with a completely new perspective, and slowly it all started coming together. I spent time studying human nature, psychology and philosophy, read more books, did more courses and took time to learn about myself and the world around me.

Then I discovered a missing piece of the puzzle

I discovered something that the business and personal development books and seminars didn’t tell me. I discovered why I had been setting myself up for failure. I discovered the missing piece’s that brought purpose to my life and meaning to my work.

I discovered an awareness that something much bigger was going on in my life, that there was an order to things that I just couldn’t see – until then.

Taking this new awareness and my previous life experiences I started over again.

I met a wonderful woman – the woman of my dreams you could say. I started a new business venture selling products online and moved to a new city.

I took on a couple of part-time jobs working here and there while I built my internet business and slowly but surely it grew.

I called on my past business experiences and together with my new awareness of life and this relatively new medium called the internet began to build a new business with a new team.

I’ve since sold that business, started new ones sold those and started more new businesses again.

Today I find myself grateful for my experiences, grateful for the lessons I learned and the people who helped me learn them. I live what I believe is a blessed and wonderful life. I live in a beautiful part of the world, in a comfortable home with my 2 handsome, witty and loving little boys, and a warm, caring and loving wife. We’ve traveled to some incredible places all over the world and regularly enjoy the company of great friends.

These days I basically work when I want, from where ever I want, with a team of great people from all over the world. We’re fortunate enough to have a number of businesses and also investments in property and shares.

This website is my way of giving a little back, to sharing some of the experiences and knowledge that might just help you get through some of the tough times ahead. My goal is to share what I’ve discovered about building and running a business, as well as promoting a greater awareness of oneself and the real order of things around us – so that other like minded people can also experience the freedom and joys that life has to offer.

That’s my story. If your reading this you’re meant to be. That’s why your here and that’s why this web site is here.
Live Life with Passion
Mark Kostner