About me

This is not a bio. It is more of an impressionist self-portrait of the many things I have seen and done in over 50 years. Sure it is a "boast list" but I want you to know how rich, wonderful and diverse my life has been.

Born and bred in rugged, resourceful New Zealand. Grew up in small cities (we moved around quite a bit) but spent time with my parents in the mountains from before I could walk. Skiing when I was 7 but loathed it.
Walked alone to school from age 5. Ran around the neighbourhood until dark. Little 7-year-old boys on expeditions to capture tadpoles, walking unsupervised down the highway, across the river, over farmland, slithering around muddy pond banks, home after dark.
Later, cycled to school: riding over black ice, chill-blains on our legs, the freezing wind in our helmet-less hair, passing cars and buses down a dizzying hill road, broken bones and worse (but I escaped unscathed despite several spills - have never broken or sprained anything).
Stayed on my uncle's farm often: climbing haystacks and trees, driving trucks, riding on tractors, eeling in the irrigation canals.
In the Boy Scouts back when Scouts really did stuff: climbing Mount Allen without adult supervision, lighting fires with kero, swimming in deep dark river pools. Rose to Patrol Leader. Thrown out for whacking an obnoxious little brat: I have never suffered fools gladly.
Wonderful summers in the Southern Alps at our family hut: me and my sisters free to roam the valley, damming streams, "glissading" down steep shingle slopes, wandering in pristine beech forest, watching deer and possums and keas (mountain parrots), climbing the skifield to the top of Mount Hamilton for panoramic views of the Alps.
Adventures with my best friend: staying at his family house at the beach, hunting rabbits (I was best shot in the platoon - see below - but I never hit a rabbit or any other animal), kayaking river estuaries, long cycle expedition on remote gravel roads. Later stealing his mother's car for wild joyrides that should have killed us.
Military training in school. Rose to equivalent of a RSM. Annual training with the real soldiers in the army camp: swimming the big NZ rivers with boots and a pack; hunting each other at night on a remote river plain; "strafed" by helicopters in the day; sleeping out in deep frost, sleeping bags crackling; brutal pranks in the barracks; open brick toilets and showers; firing 303s and Brenns and occasionaly Armalites - dreaming of the anti-tank rockets.
Got my driver's licence on my 15th birthday (that's NZ law: appalling). Somehow didn't kill myself or anybody else but learned how to handle a heavy three-on-the-tree manual station wagon in a Swedish turn, and double de-clutch while hurtling downhill.
Adolescence was an emotional nightmare, with a remote father and few other male influences (you should read Stephen Biddulph's books on what is wrong with the way we raise boys). Smoking at 12, a pipe at 15, joints at 20. Lost my virginity at thirteen to a mad girlfriend with even loonier parents. She drove me to the brink of madness (and over). We were engaged at 17 while still in school. Ended at 19 when I found out she was sleeping with our friend and flatmate. Closest I've come to suicide.
Found God at 13 and kicked him out at 18. In the interim I was the priest's sacristan (no abuse though I reckon he might have been fighting that demon), and ran three youth groups. One day I looked at the people in the church and realised the whole thing was crap.
Left home at 18 to go to engineering school in another city...

This is turning into a bio! Back to a pastiche:
Since then at various times in my life I have:

  • worked on 8-story building site, in a steel foundry, laminating plywood, assessing tax returns, bar manager, wine steward, sole-charge cocktail barman, doing government electrical research, painting a three-story building, chopping firewood, picking asparagus and potatoes, in a factory making stoves, in a garage making bongs...
  • spent 20 years in three countries in the software sales business: presales, support, internal professional development, managed a team of 12 in five cities, spoke at conferences around the world, lived on airplanes
  • read many hundreds of good books; trained several times by Art Jacobs (very few of you will know who that is but trust me: it was life changing); studied welding, yoga, clarinet, bassoon, recorder, guitar, blues harp, Royal Schools Music, bush survival, acting, speech, debating, mask work, African dance, ballroom dance, karate, judo, stick-fighting, squash, German, French, Spanish, Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese, shooting, First Aid, mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, chemistry, physics, operations research, Asian history, adult education, accounting, project management, Sri Chinmoy meditation, service management, vegetarian cookery, database normalisation, and decorative painting; and heard speeches by the Dalai Llama twice
  • met and presented to CEOs, boards and executives of major corporations
  • I've quit, been fired, and resigned all from the same job (a notorious bar in Christchurch)
  • hitch-hiked in NZ several times, right around Tasmania, and up the east coast of Australia
  • travelled in: Qantas First Class across the Pacific; second class sleeper to Chiang Mai; second class no-hope-of-sleeping to Agra; aircon superbuses with hostesses and movies, and rattling Chinese wrecks; stretch limousines and '68 Holdens; Aussie big rigs and gaudy Tata wrecks (roof, tray and cab); elephants, horses and camel; hydrofoils, jetboats, ferries, yachts, rafts and long-tail boats
  • slept in 30 countries (40 if you count US states as countries), lived in three, and seen the underbelly of most
    NZ, Australia (every state), Thailand (four times), Burma (illegally), India (five times), Pakistan (twice), China (twice), England (twice, 25 years apart), Turkey, Greece, Singapore (many times), USA (lost count: AZ, CA, DC, GA, LA, MA, NJ, NV, NY, TX, VA ... nearly married a Jersey Girl), Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Belize, Honduras, Hong Kong (lived there two years), Macau, Indonesia (three times, worked there for months), Philippines (several times, married to a Filipina), Korea, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Switzerland

    View map of my travels

  • had my sister and father die suddenly, and my (other) sister and wife survive cancer; had to walk out of my marriage.
  • Survived the Black Dog of depression. Hopefully I can say in a few years that I have overcome it.
  • slept on rope beds; on a concrete shelf; on someone's front lawn; on desert sand; on the roof of a bus; on a ship’s deck; rolled in a kapok mattress with a Kashmiri truck driver; on uncounted bus and train seats; three sleeper trains; in remote mountain huts; countless tents and luxury hotels; in a yurt; on a luxury yacht; in First Class on a 747 seat 1A with a made-up bed and a butler; on a cruise ship; in the back of my car and van; in a Tibetan monastery; a hippy commune; US$300-a-night hotels across India, and $5-a-night Indian hotels with rope beds, toxic toilets and six inches of water on the floor
  • seen some of the world's greatest sights, including the Taj Mahal, Iguazu Falls, Macchu Pichu, the Amazon basin from the air, Ruapehu, the Southern Alps, Anna Purna, the Imperial Palace and Forbidden City of Beijing, the World Trade Center and Empire State and Statue of Liberty, Ephesis, the Acropolis, Kew Gardens, Westminster, Lei, Kashgar, the Bosphorus, Sancta Sofia, Seoul, the Great Barrier Reef, Hayman island, Ayers Rock, Cullamurra waterhole, Rotorua, Big Ben, Venice Beach, the New York Metropolitan Museum, MOMA, the Getty, and the NY Guggenheim, the Smithsonian (bits of it), Kew Gardens, the Great Wall of China, the Ice Cave of Zongo and the ice phallus of Amarnath, Kashgar, Ephesus and Zanskar, Copan Ruinas, Guanaja, Annapurna, the Parthenon, DFW and Chek Lap Kok airports, the Royal Palaces of Leh London Beijing and Bangkok
  • and the awful sights like Bangkok klongs, Indian shit, American food, Indian beggars and dead bodies, British thugs, Manila slums, Jakarta corruption, Seoul smog, Mt Pinatubo's destruction, Communist architecture and Pakistani buses
  • stood by mighty rivers like the Mekong, the Ganges, the Murray, the Mississippi, the Waimakariri, the Bosphorus, the Thames, and the Indus...
  • met wildlife in the wild, like kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, echidnas, wombats, dugongs, giant turtles, alligators, crocodiles, elephants, monkeys, baboons, tiger snakes, diamondback snakes, black snakes, cobras, funnel webs, tarantula, yaks and dzos, llama, vicuna, sharks, rays, whales and dolphins
  • walked the mean streets at night and sampled the bars and strip joints in some of the world's roughest cities (in roughly descending order of "fear factor"): Belize City, Manila, Ascuncion, Jakarta, New Orleans, Christchurch, Atlanta, Islamabad, La Paz, Birmingham, Manhatten, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Seoul, Sydney, London, Auckland, Amsterdam, Udon Thani, Chiang Mai, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Oslo, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Singapore. Actually, in Belize City I only went shopping for music at lunch-time - I'm not stupid.
  • rode on truck rooftops over one of the highest passes on earth (the Zoji La into Ladakh)
  • walked to 5700 metres behind La Paz, fueled by coca leaves
  • been on three 9-day cycle adventures until a head-on collision with a speeding car ended the bike and my helmet but not me
  • walked for two weeks over three >5000 metres passes in Ladakh
  • tried squash, cricket, soccer, rugby, badminton, skiing, windsurfing, sailing, waterskiing, snorkelling, free-diving, bodysurfing, gliding, quad-biking, steam-locomotive-driving, bushwalking, hitch-hiking, deep-sea fishing, river fishing, bicycle touring, caving, abseiling, canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting (on bamboo, no lifejackets or helmets), and kart racing
  • lived with lawyers and diplomats and nurses and journalists and small business owners and IT professionals and bikies and drug addicts and prostitutes and...
  • tried nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, meths (with destitute people in a Sydney park), marijuana, hashish, hash oil, opium (inadvertently), coca, betel, nitrous oxide, LSD (also inadvertently) and amyl nitrate, and abused a few of them, hallucinated for 14 hours on mescaline
  • turned down opium, cocaine, heroin, all sorts of pills: one day I drew a line and thankfully never stepped over it. But I'm sorry to say now that I abused tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, marijuana and hashish
  • left town in a rental, passing the cops coming the other way to "talk" to me
  • been detained by Customs for importing a Class A drug (three coca leaves pasted in a diary, declared at the border; laughed off once I got a lawyer, but not before 12 hour delay and a strip-search. Pillocks)
  • been detained by British Immigration for attempting to work in the UK illegally (it was nonsense, I reckon the Immigration officier didn’t like hairy hippies...)
  • parlayed with AK47-toting rebel guards to get past their jungle river checkpoint alive
  • met the ruler and senators of a nation of 6 million people that nobody has heard of (the Karen State)
  • been broke, arrested, on the dole
  • worked on IBM360/40, DEC PDP7, National SCMP, and an 8080 chip in a lab and now I have a Raspberry Pi; I first played pinball and Pong, and now SimCity and Minecraft
  • listened to: James Morrison blow cool jazz 6 feet in front of me in Whispering Sands resort while I sipped Benedictine; George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers in the Christchurch Town Hall and then at my place afterwards (my flatmates were groupies); Neil Young in Athletic Park 1984 with both my sisters (one is no longer alive); David Bowie in Christchurch's QE2 Stadium (rated by him as his best concert ever) and again in Wellington with Vee while sipping Heineken in the corporate box; the Pretenders, Simple Minds and Talking Heads all on the same bill, also at QE2; Billy Joel with a dozen other people in a smokey bar in Richmond Melbourne one Sunday afternoon while Christie fed the baby up the back; the Pirates of Penzance in the Melbourne Concert Hall with my Dad (he knew every word); Stevie Wonder at Kooyong; the Stones at Mt Smart (possibly their last concert ever... we'll see); Black Sabbath (definitely their last); Pink Floyd; Eric Clapton; Joan Armatrading; Leon Russell; Linda and Vika Bull doing cabaret in a 1930s spiegel-tent. I have receipts for not one but two concerts by Bob Dylan but I have no recollection of going.
  • also been entertained by a Bollywood movie in Kashmir; Louisiana trailer-trash strippers; the World Highland Pipe Band Championships; pingpong balls and razor blades in Patpong Rd; A Midsummer Night's Dream performed in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens; the Paraplegic Olympics; a cockfight in a tin shed somewhere in Manila; jazz festivals including the wondrous Montsalvat; rock festivals; three-course waitered dinner for 3400 people in the biggest marquee tent in America; the Makati Club disco in Wan Chai; an indoor rodeo; an Indian street-dentist (watching only); and a thousand more sensational sights and sounds from Amsterdam to Invercargill
  • brawled with off-duty cops in an Atlanta bar to save a black man from a beating (one of my proudest moments), punks in Christchurch, a flatmate (spent the rent on green Chatreuse for the third week running), katois in Ko Samui, and sailors in San Diego
  • been robbed, pickpocketed, burgled, beaten up, stoned (both meanings of the word), stabbed, arrested, detained by Customs and by Immigration, jilted, cheated, cuckolded, drugged, fired, crashed into, shot at and just about every other form of abuse I can think of except shot
  • seen people die from disease, car smashes, crushed by a bus
  • nearly died from drowning (three times), hypothermia (twice), falling, a car smash, two bike crashes, three electric shocks, dysentry, and alcohol poisoning
  • rode jeeps alone with armed Pakistani tribesmen and hashish smugglers in remote Hindustan; smoked ganja alone with Thai boatmen at night in the jungle of Ko Phi Phi; slept rolled in a mattress with a Muslim truckdriver in Drass; slipped into rebel Burma in a longtail boat and slept to the sound of shelling; strolled the streets of Srinagar amongst armed soldiers and burning buildings during 24hour curfew; crossed at least five passes over 5000m, all but one on foot; swam alone with schools of sharks off a reef in Thailand, protected by a pair of flippers and a snorkel; walked alone down Basin Street N'Orlins at night; waded down flooded streets in Old Delhi; travelled deep into the Australian desert in a 1968 Holden; crossed central Tasmania alone; went shopping in Belize City alone and unarmed - probably the most dangerous thing I ever did; walked through the border crossing of Ciudad Del Este into Paraguay; rode the roofs of trucks over the infamous Zoji La into Ladakh; almost died of hypothermia alone in the the Southern Alps; shat my guts out for three days alone in a Pakistani camp full of Nigerian heroin addicts
  • bodyweight ranged between 66 kilos and 99
  • loved some beautiful women, lived with three, and married one
  • and raised a wonderful brave, honest, clever, funny son Jack ("raised" past tense: he is 15 now, not much more we can do but feed him and try to steer him around dangerous objects)

I've done very little good in my life other than collecting for the Salvos a couple of times and helping out my Filipino in-laws, but I have always been there for my friends and family, and I have never been in jail (a police station and a windowless customs interrogation room yes but not jail), injured anyone (physically anyway), or killed a warm-blooded creature (except mice and rats, painlessly - I still hate it). I have no tattoos, all my teeth (except a car's-worth of crowns), and the strongest things I ingest now are tea and Diet Coke, and occasional beer and wine

....and I'm still here. So if I have a few views on life and a bit of an attitude I hope you'll understand.


I am a devout atheist, a rationalist, a capital "s" Skeptic (was married to a superstitious Roman Catholic - go figure). So I am in no hurry to get to the end of this road.

Years ago I made a conscious decision to slow down, down-shift as they say. I dropped my six-figure corporate selling job and set up an office at home with my wife and my delightful then-six-year-old son who had seen far too little of me.

Now I make about half what I did, but I enjoy life fifty times more.

Me then Late 2005 Me laterApril 2006
April 2006

One day I will make a few million bucks. The rules are I have to do it legally and within my own ethics; I have to do it without going back to that pressure cooker lifestyle; and without hurting the family or home. So about half my working time I chase entrepreneural ideas based on the internet (no spam, no porn). About half of my time I do consulting work to pay the bills, seldom more than a week or two at once, and more often a few hours here and there. The rest of the time I spend with Jack.



Why tell you all this? Because I can :-D And because this is my philosophy: getting priorities right, personal responsibility and freedom, common sense, an appreciation of quality. A philosophy that drives what "billboards" catch my attention, and what conclusions I draw from them.

About the business Rob