Success is the intersections of

talents driven by purpose

Few people are exceptionally talented at one thing.  We’re not all destined to play Wimbledon or to create the next ‘Google’.  However, for ALL of us, it is an absolute REALITY that success can always be found at the intersections of talents driven by purpose.

Everyone has a unique combination of talents.  Therefore, the ‘Man with a Plan’ model is applicable to everyone.

Our model reverse engineers the traditional approaches we’ve seen and heard over the ages.

This fresh and enlightened approach may be all that you needed to unlock everything you knew you could be.


Part 1

3 Steps to ‘THE MAN WITH A PLAN’


Success is what you define it to be.  For some its financial, for others it’s the simple personal satisfaction that comes from achieving whatever it was that they set their mind to.

For me, success is in being able to maintain an alignment with my purpose no matter if at the start, middle or end of any journey I have set my mind to.  Being aligned to your purpose and combining your talents along a pathway to success is, in itself, the success, not just reaching the end goal.

The theory behind the three steps to success began with a Google search one night.  I was frustrated with the dichotomy of being quite good at a number of things but not great at any one thing.  Here’s what I googled:

Is it better to be good at many things or GREAT at one thing?

One quote that came out of that search that really struck me read:

“Being good at many things makes one GREAT at the intersection of those things, which is how industries are made.  Steve Jobs was good, but not great, at design and good at electronics.  The intersection became Apple”

~ Efrain Martinez

Only a very few blessed people ever become really great at one thing.  There is only one Usain Bolt, one Vincent Van Gough, one Beethoven, one Madonna, one Sachin Tendulkar.  The rest of us, just like Steve Jobs, need to find our success by identifying the intersections of things we are good at and work passionately around that powerful junction.  And yes, I do believe that everyone can find that junction and the formidable capability it provides.

But what really are intersections of the type I’m talking about?  Intersections are defined as where two or more things meet or overlap, like a junction of many roads, and in this context, forms the nexus for leveraging your optimised performance.


There is immense personal power and performance to be gleaned from the coming together of collaborating talents.  It’s too easy to watch the sports highlights or any other world-leading talent on TV and hypothesise that us mere mortals will never aspire to much of significance.  But, like the convergence of trickles of water into tributaries, streams and then mighty rivers, the identification and corralling of a range of talents into a focused ambition can lead to massive success.

There are so many time-honoured truisms that reaffirm this.  A pool of talents will always outshine a single talent much like “a champion team will always beat a team of champions”, “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole” and numerous others.

The fundamental premise of finding success at the intersection of underlying (and possibly understated) talents, requires you to do your own inventory.  This is a vital step to genuinely underpinning your own, deep-rooted conviction for success.  Take the time to work through the following steps to uncover your winning formula.

It will take sincere introspect to frame out an authentic arsenal for success that you will genuinely believe in.  You may even want to recruit those around you, be it your friends, family or work colleagues to form a truly clear picture.  Seek out candid and straightforward answers, not just platitudes from well-meaning admirers.  Ask them (or yourself) to validate or explain their answers.  Can they/you reflect on any past examples to give you the conviction that you will need to cement these cornerstones into your purposeful plan?

So, let’s paint your portrait of success:

  1. List the things you are good at doing: your talents.
  2. Sort the list in order of your passion for doing them, from most to least passionate.
  3. Combine the highest-ranking intersections.(To fully understand the ‘how’ of this third point first read how it totally transformed the lives of the five examples of the boxer, cook, accountant, traveller and the life-stylers on the following pages).


The first step challenges you to identify the things you are good at and the second step asks you to assign your level of passion for each of them.  But we will take it deeper than mere passion.  We will align talents and passion to the core of your purpose.  Purpose drives real passion.  This is essential, because without real passion you will never have enough fuel in the tank to drive yourself to success.

Being good at your talents, even in combination at your talent intersections is not quite good enough.  You must also be genuinely passionate about them and what they can be applied to on the road ahead.  You have to love doing them or, at the very least, what higher goals they can lead you to.

Don’t worry too much about getting your list right the first time.  This exercise requires time and lots of reflection to really do it properly.  You’ll probably find it to be an evolving process as your perspective changes, realisations, revelations and epiphanies come to light or your sense of purpose takes clearer shape.  This is all natural and to be encouraged.  It needs to be authentic and it needs to be relevant.

As an example, each quarter, I take time to reflect on what I’ve been doing, recording the things I’m good at doing using quality notepads (I use the Moleskin brand as it reaffirms the sense of personal importance to me.)  This has been an ongoing process throughout my later life.  I take the time to reflect on the things I am good at and how and where they intersect so I can germinate ideas and generate passionate action towards one of my aligned goals.

That is the beauty of success.  There is so much talent spread across billions of people, all with differing levels of passion for different things.  The chances of your talent intersections and plotted combinations lining up entirely with someone else is slim, so your formula becomes uniquely yours and paves the way for a fresh journey to success.

Nothing illustrates a journey better than clear examples.  So, let’s look at five case studies to illustrate how you too can apply the “Three Steps to SUCCESS” to your own blueprint for success.

The Boxer

The boxer trained really hard and did well in his first few semi-professional fights, but never climbed the rankings to the real rewards: the prize money side of boxing.  He was a likeable and inspirational guy and, across a decade of training hard, won over more than a few adoring fans.  But, sadly, he never became great at his sport and at the age of 27 was broke.

So, when he finally accepted that his fighting days were over, he knew he had to do something else.

But what?

He went through the three steps…

He completed step 1, confirming his talents with three close friends, and then step 2, listing them in order of passion.  Unsurprisingly, he found he was best and most passionate about boxing, but also that he was passionate about being amongst people.  He was a genuine extrovert!  Step 3, plotting his highest-ranking intersections, connected these two: boxing and networking.

He looked at this intersection and, whilst he was never great at either of them, he started thinking about ways to combine the two into a business.  He came up with the idea to train stressed-out, white-collar workers using a new brand of personal training he eventually (and very creatively) named “Corporation Boxed.”  Expanding on his idea further, he developed a unique and comprehensive fitness programme which incorporated assistance from a psychologist specialising in reducing stress through physical activity, and from an occupational therapist already offering workplace fitness techniques for people sitting at a desk all day.

Corporation Boxed provided a truly unique combination of fun and effective fitness, integrated mental health and workplace injury prevention.  The clients loved it and got great overall health outcomes.

Corporation Boxed could now be promoted off the back of his credibility as a semi-professional fighter (even though he wasn’t that great), and from the networking he had loosely created across ten years.  He was able to immediately start ramping it up, as nearly everyone remembered him.  In short order, the programme became a hit, so to speak!

But he didn’t stop there.  Referring back to his intersection of talents and the concepts covered in later chapters, he licensed out the Corporation Boxed programme to other retired boxers.  He kept them up-to-date with new monthly training sessions to keep client engagement fresh, introduced new marketing initiatives and maintained his growing licensee network at the top of their game.

Some of the white collar workers who loved hanging around Corporation Boxed were very high net-worth individuals.  The boxer built good rapport with them which, over time, led to ideas about how Corporation Boxed could expand into its own real estate portfolio.  Eventually, they came up with the idea of the white collar workers investing in factory sites well-suited to corporate boxing gyms and giving the boxer 5-year leases with an option to buy at an agreed price.  This facilitated the boxer accumulating sufficient wealth to purchase the premises in five years’ time whilst providing a safe, solid return to the investors.  It was a great idea and a genuine two-way street.  Better still, the Corporation Boxed programme could also sub-lease spaces in the factory gyms to other, like-minded training programmes, reducing occupancy costs significantly and opening new alliances and referral arrangements.

All of a sudden, our not-so-great professional boxer and not-so-great networker became GREAT at his two intersections of boxing and networking.

Many of the retired boxers he once competed against now look up to him and say, “Well done, you are the Champ”, and they take up his Corporation Boxed licences while his real estate investments quietly become a mini-empire.

The Great Cook

The cook was a diligent lady working early weekday mornings and weekend shifts at a local café.  Her long and antisocial hours pretty much ruled out any form of social life and yet she was content with modest earnings and her lifestyle because she was doing what she loved and wasn’t much of a social butterfly anyway.

In addition, she loved saving her money and investing in penny stocks on the share market that she diligently researched herself.

For the third time in her career, the business she worked for was sold and the new owners moved her on as they had their own chefs to bring on board, and she was completely over the idea of working for a new boss.

She went through the three steps…

Not surprisingly, the top two things she was best at and most passionate about were cooking and investment and she considered where the intersection in these two things might be.

There is a respected Australian newspaper called the Australian Financial Review that not many people read but like to be seen to be reading.  Well, our special lady was one of the few that read it from cover to cover every day and, consequently, knew the financial markets very well.  So, early each morning after reading it through, she recorded an eight- minute video summary of what people should know and started uploading the highlights onto her twitter feed.

She also took a lease on an abandoned coffee store at a railway station in an up-and-coming area and employed a barista to make great coffees.  During the day she prepared simple, yet amazingly good, on-the-go breakfast meals.  She created a menu that changed monthly and offered a packaged-priced newspaper which, naturally, was The Financial Review.

The coffee store had her five-minute video summary on continuous loop with links promoting her YouTube Channel.  People watched it whilst waiting for their yummy on-the-go-meal deals and brilliant coffee.  Not only did they watch it live, they also subscribed to her YouTube Channel and soon many others did as well, further expanding her opportunities.

They loved being handed a copy of the paper because they felt they were across the day’s news and it was cool to be seen carrying it.

Word of this original and popular food offering spread up and down the train lines, and via her rising social media presence, and before you knew it, she began to open up other stores at other up-and-coming railway station locations.

Now 10,000 people a day (and growing) are watching her video summary of the Financial Review while buying coffee and breakfast across many locations.  What’s more, while she starts the day at five in the morning, she doesn’t work weekends and is home by one o’clock every weekday with an afternoon nap keeping her evening social life alive.

It wasn’t long before a national financial news channel picked up her story and employed her to do an eight-minute Australian Financial Review summary for them, and her income and audience expanded accordingly.  She is now appearing daily on TV, which opens even more doors for her unique on-the-go food offerings.  In fact, someone is seriously wanting to buy her brand.  She really is that great.

The Accountant

I’m going to save you some time, because some readers who know me well enough will immediately pick up on the example that follows as being an excerpt from my life and my intersecting points of talent and greatest passions: financial literacy and the Australian bush.

Growing up, my family and I regularly went out into the countryside.  In fact, most weekends we were either at a family block in Western Victoria or at other rural locations.  It’s where I feel most capable and most at home; I have a passion for the bush that’s right off the scale.  I’m also very good at numbers, love investment in particular, and am quite good at making money generally.

So, my intersection of talents with the most passion is investment and the bush.

For the first few years of my career, I was employed as a junior accountant and managed to accumulate a few dollars in retirement funds (called ‘superannuation’ in Australia).  But I didn’t consider it to be anything of any real value until I discovered the joy of self-managed superannuation which facilitates direct investment in things I believed in.

So, with very little superannuation in the bank, a rural plantation block came up for sale, and together with two clients I scraped enough money together to buy it.  As luck would have it, we tripled our money on a harvest in just a few years, and I bought the others out, who were a few years older and had less time to wait for the next harvest.

Well, as you can imagine, this success led to investment in many more plantations growing sustainable hardwood, high-value timbers–and now livestock–and importantly the developing relationships and partnerships where we all leverage off each other’s individual expertise’s in plotting a pathway into private equity or a public listing to round it off.

This intersection of financial skills and farming is creating its own little success; a situation that gives me so much personal satisfaction from such a diversified investment life.

The Traveller

The traveller can’t imagine ever wanting to settle down in one spot and therefore didn’t consider owning real estate as she figured it may bog down her aspiration of flexible, global living.  Travel is her life and she has become very adept at extracting the best value from her travel dollars.

She has begun the 3 Steps to SUCCESS process and listed her number one talent as thrift– a talent she has developed through many years of necessity to feed her passion to see more and more of the world.

Additionally, the traveller is also very interested in languages and has become quite talented at building communication skills in many dialects whilst immersing herself in local communities around the world.

The traveller has been considering the many ways to maximise her global travel dollars and begin to combine her two talents of thrift and communication into a unique success.

For a moment, let me divert the story to look at how a basic understanding of global economics can be leveraged to good effect.

Purchasing power parity (PPP) is a measure for the standards of living compared between countries.  For example, $20 buys one hour of labour in Australia and the same Australian $20 buys 5+ hours in India.

Knowing this, the traveller aspired to create wealth that earns income in higher value countries (such as Australia) and spend that wealth in lower cost countries (such as India) to leverage the arbitrage effect and dramatically extend her spending dollars.  In effect, she wants to produce (buy) in a lower cost country and target those services and products (sell) to much higher value countries.  In this day and age, it is getting easier and easier to trade and earn globally.

The traveller has identified many export opportunities in the low-cost countries where she has travelled, in particular in the northern parts of Asia there is very colourful and warm handmade headwear that can be customised to whatever design the purchaser chooses.

The traveller shoots some videos of the headwear being made and interviews the people making them, utilising her exceptional communication skills in the local language.

Further, the traveller takes a series of high-quality photos to be used to open a website and build a feel-good, personalised story around the people making the high-quality headwear.  The customers are connecting directly with the people who are hand making their articles.  People love a story behind their consumer decisions, so the brand became immensely popular.  How cool is that!

The costs to produce the headwear remain low even after paying generous wages and increasing workplace conditions to levels previously unseen in that developing area.  Soon everyone wants to work with the traveller, and they are so impressed with the traveller’s communication skills and immersion into their community.

The traveller, whilst maintaining an online retail offering for the headwear also launches into customised corporate giftware.  She lands a major company who loves the social enterprise behind the product and places a very large order for their clients and staff end-of-year gifts.  The headwear is complete with the company logo and the name of the recipient incorporated into the design.  The final product is exceptional.

The major company tells the world through its social media about its headwear promotion and all of a sudden, the traveller is now taking 20 times the amount of orders in a month than she did in the whole of the previous year.  What a success!

There is another benefit to this story — tax deductibility.  One way to reduce travel costs is to offset them against taxable income.  Now the travel costs to the region where the traveller is producing are significantly reduced because they are being claimed against corporate taxes.  Business class anyone?

To invest the profits from sales in the high value country the traveller decides upon a portfolio of shares as they are instantly liquid and can easily be added to at incremental and low costs when compared to real estate, but she has no desire to learn about selecting which stocks should be in her portfolio.

An ETF, or exchange-traded fund, is a share listed on a stock exchange that tracks an index, a commodity or interest-bearing bond.  An ETF trades like a common share on a stock exchange making it a simple and attractive alternative for investors who lack the inclination to research stocks and would instead prefer taking a high-level perspective which provides diversification and risk mitigation in the process.

The traveller develops a 60/40 approach and invests 60% of her funds in the high cost country where profits originate, as in all likelihood once her travelling days are done, she will probably want to retire back to her home and will need capital built up in that local currency to do so.  It is a very wise thing to do in most cases.

For diversified global growth she invests 40% of the capital in international ETF’s to give currency diversity, as she is still open to the possibility of living in anyone of those countries in the future.

All of a sudden, the thrifty traveller has made her travel costs a genuine tax-deductible business expense and has effectively leveraged the significant (and marketable) advantages of producing in a low-cost country and profiting in a high-cost country.

Friends questioned her on why she invests in “risky” shares and not in property.  Our traveller knows that if shares dip in the short term, as they tend to do, it doesn’t impact her because she’s not selling anything in the short term.  Market up and downs are all part of the investment cycle and she has a very firm long-term view and plan.

She also values yield as highly as capital growth and believes that, unless there is a dividend, it is mere speculation.  This conviction actually plays out well during those market dips thanks to a dividend reinvestment strategy which allows her to take advantage of a down market (as opposed to being worried by it) by bringing down the average cost price.  Further, history has shown that whilst share prices can be relatively volatile, dividends from those same shares remain reasonably consistent meaning she is unlikely to need to take any knee-jerk action if markets dip as she is reliant only on the income and not the day-to-day share price in the shorter term.  She also takes comfort in knowing that long-term capital growth of equities and real-estate is very similar.

By nature, our thrifty traveller also loves the low-cost of ETFs.  However, she also appreciates that lower fees aren’t always the be all and end all as some higher cost ETFs generate higher returns giving an equal or sometimes better overall net return after costs.

Anyone getting the travel bug?

The Life-Stylers

Let’s consider a young lifestyle-focused couple.  In this example, our couple listed the things they were good at, and between the two of them they established that information technology and ‘hipster’ styling were their talents.  They also decided that their Holy Grail to easier money was another (albeit less passionate) interest of theirs: real estate investment.  Real estate was something they had become quite good at by using their info tech skills to research demographics and analyse the corresponding real estate market’s trends.


So, the intersections of our lifestyle couple was plotted by real estate, information technology and hipster styling.

Given their small capital base, they had been locked out of buying a property in the major cities with higher property values, so our lifestyle couple identified the trendier towns around 90 minutes from city centres on regional rail links and freeways, where capital values had only risen slightly and yet the replacement costs of the properties (to build) was higher than the current selling prices (meaning that, at least theoretically, the properties were fundamentally under-valued).

Off the back of their research and analytics, and using a combination of savings and a loan from family and friends, they scraped together enough to purchase a rundown commercial property in the main street of a hipster town where there were a few vacant shops selling for a relatively small outlay.

Our lifestyle couple kept their jobs in the city where they had negotiated to work from home two out of five days a week, Thursday and Friday.  They moved into the back of their newly purchased commercial premises and caught a train to work early Monday morning, staying with family and friends on Monday and Tuesday nights (or using a small, cheap rental), and then they took the train home again each Wednesday night.

Sometimes they took the train home Monday and Tuesday to save on accommodation costs and used their time travelling to watch movies, catch up on emails, read books, chat and relax.  It is what you make of it and it wasn’t a bad life at all!


This work arrangement alone slashed their housing costs, enabling them to feed the savings into building up equity for later residential real estate acquisitions in the same regional area.  In the meantime, they went about turning their newly acquired commercial premises into a trendy, technologically-advanced office and started writing blogs about their new lifestyle, encouraging others to do the same while working from their newly developed commercial space twice a week.

Word got out.  The street loved it.  The mayor loved it.  Social media loved it.  Their story spread like wildfire and, all of a sudden, they had eight new people paying them to work in their hip new office space.  Meanwhile, the new office tenants followed a similar lifestyle and enjoyed renting a large home in a regional area close to the city.  And all of this was cheaper than the shoebox-sized city apartment they had been living in and they were still enjoying the city lifestyle at least two nights a week, or as often as they wanted or need to.

Profits were building from the couple’s new office space, putting them in a much better debt position.  And they used their growing equity and additional cash flows, while remaining employed, to buy a house in a trendy part of their new regional town.

They didn’t live in this home, of course, but rented it out, and once again the rent was strong and soon positively geared.  They remained employed in the major city earning regular incomes plus the rental income and the commercial space income and before long they were buying yet another property, and another, and another.  They had a strong source of rental tenants from their blogs who enthusiastically embraced their new lifestyle.  It was a very neat fit.

So, they persevered and before too long had amassed a solid rental portfolio of properties that traditionally had a slow capital growth.  But as the major CBDs grew, the prices, which were below replacement cost, had started to boom and rents continued to rise, and within a 10-year period they will be able to retire on a substantial passive income stream, and have a whole bunch of new friends and followers who have embraced this new lifestyle that they can leverage into future entrepreneurial activities, which are the things they are more passionate about.


Who would have thought an IT-based intersection combined with a hipster bent could end up with a positively geared rental property portfolio?

So, there you go.  Simple!  In step 1 we list our talents and in step 2 relist them in order of passion.  Step 3 is where we get our creative and inspirational juices flowing by aligning entrepreneurial opportunity with our talent intersection just like the five examples above.

Feel free to share your intersecting entrepreneurial intersections with the author; I’ve got quite a talent and passion for engineering an ideal merger of talents with opportunity.

In closing this chapter, I’ll quote one of my favourite sayings as a teaser into a later chapter: “Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities come along every seven weeks” and I believe they do by spotting the opportunities at the intersections of talents fuelled by passion as we have just read in the 5 scenarios.


I’m excited!  Are you?

Just three Steps to SUCCESS!

Let’s go for it.