Think, Believe , Achieve.
I was just your average broke ass 20 year old student scraping by, living in the inner city Melbourne suburb of Richmond. I had dreams though. In the past I had created dream boards and bucket lists with items & experiences that I had successfully bought to life. In fact moving to Melbourne from country Victoria was on my dream board I created when I was 17. It was a big dream at the time. A dream I successfully fulfilled.
It was time to dream up bigger dreams, tick of big things that felt so out of reach, I honestly never knew how I would achieve them. One of these big dreams was to go traveling to the USA. I was so eager and confident I would make this happen the first thing I did was save up the $240 and get myself a passport. I figured this was the first step. So I did just that. I spent the small amount of money in my account on a passport.
The 2nd step was the funds.. I needed thousands to make this happen. I had always been a hard worker , often holding two jobs at a time, slaving away in hospitality or retail. I was never really good at saving, I would always have money and was able to save for things like my first car, playstation 3 , laptops, the latest phone or concerts ect. But travel… I knew it was expensive, how much would I even need?
I figured after doing some research that I would need at least $10,000. Thats a lot of money to save up when you are a full time student just working a casual job.
It was time to look beyond, It was time to get creative. it was time to work out a quicker and faster way to get that cash. Getting a loan is something I was just not interested in doing, so that was out of the picture.
From a very early age I would enter competitions for everything and anything. It was a hobby of mine I started when I was wasn’t old enough to work. I would enter online competitions, radio , newspaper , magazine, you name it. I was very successful at this and won 100’s of prizes over the years. From iPods, to mobile phones, CD’s , movie tickets, fish tanks, cash ect, there wasn’t much I wouldn’t win .
The Bear Grylls Saga all started when I was on my lunch break at film school in Collingwood. I had spotted an advert at my favourite bakery on a Solo soft drink 600ml bottle. I am not normally one to buy soft drink. I had to buy this though. The label read Beat Bear Grylls 10x$10,000 prizes to be won. I read on. It was a creative competition. Even better i was thinking . I excel at these types, I love getting creative. It ask for me to create a challenge to verse Bear Grylls in. I peel’d off the label put it in my pocket and went back to class. I pondered for the rest of the day what I would create. It has to be different, has to stand out , the stakes are too high to fuck this one up. The competition had not even started yet so I had a few days to think about it.
I was at my share house in Richmond, thinking what can I do. I didn’t have much money so literally had to make do with what I had in my house, and that is exactly what I did. I randomly had a table tennis table in our small court yard, It was my uncles friends, he was just using our back yard to store some things temporarily. I thought perfect, I’ll verse Bear in a game of table tennis. Sounds great but boring I was thinking. I had to get creative, So I then decided on an Aussie theme. There were not bats to the table. So I went to the cupboard in the kitchen and got some saucepans. Genius I thought. I then brainstormed some more and came up with the name Aussie pong. It was my unique version of the classic game. You had to wear a wife beater singlet, shorts & thongs. I went to the pantry and surprisingly had quite a few classic Aussie cliche foods. Tim tams, Vegemite, Weetbix. I then thought , alright winner gets the tim tams, loser has to eat the vegemite and Weetbix. I then started filming using my iPhone 4, this was mega awkward. I had never filmed myself before. I found this extremely uncomfortable for some reason. I wasn’t confident at all filming myself or speaking to the camera.
I carried on and filmed quite a bit of footage and then later edited it something I was good at. I cringed as I edited, Wow this is so sad and lame I was thinking. Maybe the judges will chose mine out of sympathy. This poor boy what is he doing they will think. It was awkward enough filming and editing myself, But to upload it to the inter world for everyone to see. What even is that. super awkies. Do you want that mammoth amount of travel money? I asked myself. Carry on I did.
This was the winning video… .. ..
In the end It was worth every minute of the awkwardness & embarrassment.
A week had passed and Solo had chosen their first winner.. It wasn’t me..
I wouldn’t give up though. I thought ok plan B, maybe my idea sucked. Time to think up of a new idea. I still had 9 more chances. So I created another video. Another week had passed & I got a call from solo saying that Bear had chosen my original challenge & I had won $10,000. Thats right TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I basically passed out. I was beside myself! I was on the biggest natural high I had ever been on in my life. My heart felt like it was going to bounce out of my chest. This meant everything to me. I was getting flown to Sydney to challenge Bear Grylls. THE Bear Grylls. I was so excited as I was a fan of his Man Vs Wild DVDs. As cringey and disgusting as some of them were.
Soon after winning It started to sink in that my huge dreams of travelling America were becoming more in reach. I started researching visas. I was the 2nd winner out of 10 so this meant I had a lot of time to wait until I would actually be flown to Sydney & meet Bear. I wanted to be prepared as possible as these opportunities don’t come by everyday. I’m not one normally to read books ever, but I thought I would read his biography Mud Sweat & Tears. It was the best and only book I’ve ever read. What an inspirational human. What he went through to get to where he is today is astounding. His courage , determination & mindset is very inspirational.
The weeks flew past and before you know it I was being flown to Sydney with a friend of my choice. It was all expense payed, Solo put us up in a very nice 5 start hotel.
We did some press, I was the lucky winner that got asked to actually greet Bear off the boat around Sydney harbour. This was a press publicity stunt. We did some interviews, chatted to Bear. Then Solo handed me and my friend a $200 cash card to go and enjoy the city and buy some dinner. Talk about winning.
Had a good night out on the Sydney town & was up early the next day for our fun filled day of activities. We were escorted onto a boat where we were then taken to a secret location. Turns out it was an Island. Bear randomly joined us half way , going commando stunt man style from one boat to ours. Pretty awesome stuff.
We did all our challenges with Bear, I got to play my game of my “Aussie pong” with him. I did alright although Bear ended up winning. I discovered in Bears bio that Ping Pong is actually his favourite game and he had spent a lot of time playing it growing up. So that could explain why he bet me. After our matches had ended I presented Bear with a gift I had previously bought the day before. I wanted to get him something to thank him for partaking in this whole thing. I decided on a pair of kangaroo testicles. I thought this was quite funny & Bear loved them. His face lit up and he started laughing, a reaction I will never forget. I told him not to eat them. hahaha good times. I sometimes wonder if he still has them and what he did with them. They were rather large.
After all the games were finished we got to hang out with him some more where he signed our things. I had bought his bio with me to get signed. His manager was impressed I had imported it from the UK. I wanted the hard cover version & this wasn’t available in Australia. After that we enjoyed a very delicious gourmat buffet style lunch with Bear. After lunch Bear hosted a question session. We were all presented with singlets & trophies and got another photo op.
Just when I thought all the excitement was over. Bear announced he would be taking us on an SAS super high speed Boat ride around the harbour. This was up there with the best and most bizarre experiences of my life. What a thrill. It was unforgettable.
Whilst in Australia, Bear was also touring the country with his live show. I had tickets to see him in Melbourne. I went decked out in my new recently signed bright yellow Bear promo gear. I managed to sneak back stage and say a quick G’day to him again. Only a few days had passed but Bear was happy to see me, remembered my name. I sincerely thanked him again. He wished me luck in the USA & mentioned I would need some contacts. He then asked his manager to give me his details.
I was a little overwhelmed. While in USA I did contact his manager, hinting at some work experience with their production company. Although I never heard back, this was at the time rather disappointing but I gathered I had gotten enough out of Bear.
And that concludes my bizarre, crazy, random , amazing experience with Bear Grylls.
The whole experience was obviously life changing, not just the money, but the inspiration I got from the legend.
So always remember. If at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again. Believe in your goals and dreams even if they seem so far out of reach. Put them out into the universe & Think , Believe & Achieve.
Bear & I on the 7PM Project on Channel 10