Being a relatively recent immigrant to New Zealand (2005), it is easier to view Kiwi lifestyles, habits & characteristics than if I was born here, being careful to avoid the bias of my own cultural background, of course! The phrase a 'self-made man' is today dated & rather pompous, conjuring images of Victorian 'working class Gentlemen' but one thing New Zealanders are very proud of is the 'number 8 wire mentality', a more fitting description for the ingenuity & resourcefulness required to create great things from virtually nothing. No-one I have met in New Zealand so far more embodies this spirit than Geoff. He has a timeless drive and determination that has allowed him to carve out his place in the world.
I have an 18 year-old son, who is three years older than Geoff was when he left home to go & work on commercial fishing boats. I think it is only when you put things in personal contexts like this that you can appreciate the difficulties he had to overcome at a very young age. Many kids, especially of today, would simply have given up; not Geoff. He moved where opportunities presented, first by and because of an accident, into farming where he found his ideal profession - save for the money - as a shepherd, then into insurance, which he moved to because his ambition required him to earn more money. Success in this field ultimately led to redundancy which afforded him the next opportunity. Always harbouring an ambition to work for himself, he decided to start a sporting goods trade show. Why? Because he wanted to go to one & discovered none existed! He launched and ran 3 shows over 4 years on his own, literally. Ask any organisation running trade shows how many people they need & I doubt they'll say just one!
Geoff has the restlessness usually associated with driven & ambitious people, but possibly unusually for this genre he also has great humanity. It isn't just money & results that he cares about, he also enjoys and trusts people. I suspect a great deal of his success has been because he likes people & people like him. Splash, the company he owns, exhibited at his trade show & he liked it so much he sold the show & bought the company. That was 19 years ago and today, after many successful years, Geoff is looking to move on. Splash is an underwater & diving equipment company, one of the foremost distributors in New Zealand, with brands of its own, and it was Geoff's passion for diving & spearfishing that led him to it. The diving world is a close community & Geoff is well-known & well-regarded, a testament to his people skills.
A recent health scare - a serious one: he had a heart attack while waiting for a bypass - came out of the blue for this fit & healthy sports fanatic. Geoff played semi-professional tennis for a couple of years stepping back from the business & then was forced to discover that he's genetically inclined to a natural build up of cholesterol in the arteries. Almost fully recovered now, Geoff has set his sights on living life to the full.
Geoff is resourceful, driven - he's proved that in spades by achieving what he has - but he also hates being tied down, so I expect that whatever he decides to focus on next it will allow him more freedom. He certainly deserves it. Throughout all the difficulties he's had to work through, he's remained optimistic. He believes in looking on the bright side, that there is always something good just around the corner. He's definitely resourceful enough to make it happen, so I can't wait to see what it is!
Auckland - March 2017
The video is Geoff talking about his life, his struggles & his achievements