Exactly one week ago, I got back from my trip to Australia and although I'm still suffering a bit from jet lag right now, I can easily say this was one of the best trips I've ever been on!
About a year ago, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger asked me if I could fly to Australia to keynote this year's ProBlogger Event. Darren and his blog were a huge inspiration to me when I first started blogging in 2007, and I was truly honored for the invite, however flying 7,202 miles and leaving the family behind isn't a decision I could easily make on my own.
After some discussion with my wife and a hard look at our future calendar, we decided to all go together and make a family trip out of it! Fast-forward to August 2014, and we're at LAX airport about ready to board a Boeing 777 to the Gold Coast of Australia and what we hoped would become an awesome family memory.
To me, that's what life is all about!
One memory we didn't want to have, however, was a terrible plane ride. 14 hours on a plane with a one-year old and a crazy four-year old, we came prepared. We don't usually let our kids play with iPad and iPhones, but they were perfect for keeping them occupied when they weren't asleep. I had a mophie pack fully-charged as well, just in case.
Virgin Australia, our airline, was extremely accommodating to the kids. We sat in the front of a section with the most leg room, and they even had a bassinet that connected to the wall in front of us for our 1-year old to sleep in.
Thankfully, there were no tantrums and the kids stayed seated the whole time! Phew!
We arrived around noon at the Gold Coast, and after Tony picked us up and the kids got out all of their excitement, we decided to just chill and get situated the rest of the day before starting our 3-day family adventure. After that, April and the kids were going to stay with our Auntie and Uncle, while I do “daddy business stuff” at the ProBlogger conference.
It was going to be interesting though, because it was gray and pouring outside.
Our view from our hotel room:
At 7:30pm, the entire family was asleep.
Family Day #1—DreamWorld
When we woke up at 6:30am (almost 12 hours later!), we finally saw the gold in Gold Coast. The sky was clear and the weather was gorgeous!
Our hotel, Peppers Broadbeach, was perfect for our family. Our suite had a kitchen and living space, which is always good when you're traveling with kids, and downstairs there were dozens of restaurants and take-out places, ranging from Mexican food to Sushi, and even a sit-down chocolate/dessert place called Max Brenner, which April and I were eyeing when we checked in.
I picked up some breakfast and we got the kids ready for our big day at DreamWorld, which is an amusement park sort of like Six-Flags, known for its roller coasters (which we didn't go on), but it had a lot of kid-friendly attractions along with Australian themed shows and exhibits that was perfect for a family like ours.
It was truly a great way to start the trip. The kids had a blast, and a friend decided to have me for lunch…
My son doesn't look too amused.
And now you know why I promote Bluehost over HostGator, hah!
After a good 4 hours at the park, it was time to go back to the hotel. We found a mall with some cool shops and a grocery store called Woolworths where we picked up some breakfast items for the next day, milk and snacks for the kids, and a bottle of wine to go along with our pasta dinner.
I was super stoked! Everyone was full, happy and excited for an amazing 2nd day. The kids went down super easy from running around all day, and my wife and I stayed up a bit longer to look through some photos, and then watch some Australian TV before heading to bed.
Although we were both excited, we were a little anxious because our transport was picking us up at 5:30 in the morning, and all I knew is that we were going to visit some place called Lady Elliot Island.
Family Day #2—Lady Elliot Island
The sun hadn't come out yet, but we were all in a van and our driver was taking us to Coolangatta Airport where we were about to meet Peter Gash, the owner and manager of Lady Elliot Island, and our pilot for the day.
When we arrived at the airport, I saw our plane:
And here's my reaction:
Turbulence and Pat Flynn do not blend well together, and although it was sunny outside it was a bit windy too. Luckily, Peter was an amazing pilot and he actually put me up front in the cockpit with him so we could chat with each other during the 2 hour flight to the island. It was one of the coolest conversations I've ever had.
During our flight, I discovered how Peter came to buy the island and what he's done with it. Back in the day, the small island at the southern tip of The Great Barrier Reef was mined and stripped of all vegetation and virtually all wildlife, but after Peter got a hold of it he's transformed it into an amazing, lush and educational place.
Almost all of the island runs off of solar power, and he speaks around the country telling other how he's been able to do it. He's leading a movement. Here's a gorgeous view of the island from above:
On the island, Peter was our personal tour guide during the day, taking my family and I around the island and actually spending a lot of the time with the kids teaching them all about the coral and the sea-life and birds.
What I admire most about Peter is that he's been able to combine his passion for the island (which he once visited when he was younger), his entrepreneurial spirit and technical background (plus his love for airplanes) into one big dream come true.
After a great day on the island, we flew back to the Gold Coast and said our goodbyes to Peter and his crew. My son even called him “Uncle Peter” on the way out and asked me when we would see him again.
What an awesome adventure!
As soon as we got home, the kids passed out and both April and I reflected on how much we had already done during the first two full days in Australia, and how awesome Peter was. He actually took the time later on during the trip to send a package to my hotel room with a little toy car that our son left in the plane, along with a book we talked about while we were in the air. Thanks Peter! You are an inspiration and I'm happy to call you my friend!
We had one more fully planned day before it was time for the family to relax with our relatives in the Brisbane area, while I stay behind for a few days to attend the conference.
Family Day #3: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Being from San Diego, home of one of the best zoos in the world, whenever we have an opportunity to go to a zoo-like place, we usually pass. We were told, however, that the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was going to be amazing, and yes—it was indeed!
I won't get into too many details (because there's definitely hundreds of things to talk about, like the ginormous fake spider above a kids play-net area that nearly gave ma a heart attack), but here are a few pictures from the day to give you an idea of what it was like…
Of course, you've gotta take selfies with kangaroos:
And the kids got involved too!
The day was more than our daughter could handle, lol.
Lots of laughs, lots memories made and a ton of questions from my son, which is always a good sign because it means that he's interested.
The first half of the trip, a major success and already worth the trip over from the U.S., but it was time for us to switch gears. The rest of the family was going to chill with some relatives for a few days, while I hangout at the Gold Coast with my mates and deliver what I hoped to be a very memorable keynote presentation for the ProBlogger Audience!
Conference Day #0—The Day Before the Event
I like to arrive at conferences early. Why?
Not only do I get to scope out the room that I'll be speaking in (which is a strategy I use to help me get over some nervousness before the event—I'll often walk on stage and go through the first 10 minutes to an empty set of chairs), but I like to meet the team who is there setting up so I can thank them for all of their hard work, and also meet some of the attendees who are usually hanging out in and around the hotel.
The room was expansive! There were about 550 chairs, and the stage looked amazing. This was definitely the largest crowd I would ever speak to, which made me a bit more nervous, but more excited than anything else.
The day before the conference was more than just scoping out the venue though—we got to work!
And by “we”, I mean Chris Ducker (who was also speaking at the event) and me.
Chris Ducker, as many of you know, is one of my best friends—both online, and off. Whenever Chris visits the U.S. from his home in the Philippines, he usually stops by San Diego to chill with my family. Also, we often put together a 1-Day event at a local co-working space to mastermind with other business owners, bloggers and entrepreneurs who fly or drive in to hang out for the day and talk business.
Chris and I have great chemistry when we work together at those events. Many attendees (over 100 up to this point), make an effort to point this out to us, so we decided to do an Australian Edition of our 1-Day Business Breakthrough Event at the hotel the day before the ProBlogger event!
20 amazing Australian entrepreneurs came by the QT hotel that morning and we worked until 5:30 in the evening. Doing these events is seriously one of the most fulling things I've ever done, and doing it in Australia was no different.
The interesting difference, however, between the U.S. version of these events, and the Australian version (and Chris told me this would happen beforehand), is that in general, Australians are much more direct with their comments—whether positive, or negative.
All of the event we've done in the past have been outstanding, but this one seemed to really get people moving on their businesses—and it was probably because people in Australia are more direct and willing to provide the kind of feedback that's necessary for someone to realize what his or her next steps in their business should be.
Not that there's anything bad with the U.S. events we've done (it's just an entirely different culture) but it was definitely interesting and noticeable.
It almost felt like the group already knew each other very well, expressing very direct comments (but not rude, and without any offense taken), like one would see in a small mastermind group that's been together for over a year.
Next time Chris and I are in Australia at the same time, we're definitely doing another one.
Our next U.S. based 1-Day Business Breakthrough event is Monday, September 15th, and it's already sold out and we can't wait to meet this group too! The next one after that will not be until sometime in 2015, but you'll hear about it on Facebook or Twitter before anywhere else if you're interested.
Here's a group picture from the day!
photo credit: Grace Hentley
After the 1-Day event, Chris and I met up with some other speakers, including Yaro Starak and Darren Rowse of ProBlogger himself! Yaro and Darren were actually two of the first bloggers I started following online back in 2008, and they were a huge influence on my blogging career.
Later that evening, Yaro, Chris and I walked around town catching up and we shared a nice little dinner together in Surfer's Paradise. At around 9:00pm, I wanted to get back because I wanted to do one more run-through of my presentation before bed, but an ice cream shop said otherwise.
So imagine this: three dudes walking around the beach and watching the waves break at the shore, at night, each eating a small cup of ice cream.
After our ice creams, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
There were a couple of pre-conference get-togethers happening at the hotel bar, but I had a big day tomorrow and the last thing I wanted to do was lose my voice trying to meet everyone before the biggest keynote of my life!
One more quick run-through, and I was asleep.
Conference Day #1—The Keynote
On the schedule, my keynote was at 9:30am. I woke up at 7:00am and gave myself some time to ease out of bed, grab some breakfast and a cup of coffee, and potentially go over some key moments in my presentation once more before getting on stage.
At 9:00am, Chris Ducker and I each ordered an Americano at the downstairs cafe and I was getting myself psyched up. Usually, now that I've done this a few times, I have a series of exercises I do before I go on stage. I don't do jumping jacks or burpees (it's not those kind of exercises), but I do run through some breathing exercises to get my voice and lungs ready for the performance.
I mentioned “performance” to a few people who I was talking too before I went on, and it seemed to catch a few people off guard.
“You mean your keynote presentation?”
Yes, that's exactly what I mean—my performance.
You see, I see my time on stage as a performance. I have a certain job to do up there, not just to deliver content, but to do so in a fun, exciting and memorable way. It's not just talking, but there's choreography too—certain things that are supposed to happen at certain moments.
Timing is crucial to me. When I watch other presentations (and comedians, who I pull a lot of inspiration from—not content wise, but for delivery), it's the timing that I appreciate the most, and that's what I want to incorporate into my own presentations too.
It's a performance, and because I think it's a performance, I think that's why I train so hard and why I practice so much. Plus, I still get really nervous and want to throw up before I go on stage (and it was the same this time around too), and I know the more I practice, the less of a chance I have of screwing up!
9:22am—the coffee's run through me, so I head to the bathroom. Of course, as soon as I get in there someone opens the door and says:
“Are you Pat Flynn?”
My brain: I'm kind of busy here!
Man: Darren's looking for you. We gotta get you mic'd up!
Me: Ok, I'll be right there.
My brain: Oh snap! Here we go!
Let's do this.
Mic'd in, ready to go. I have a minute to look around.
550+ people in one room. Mobile phones and iPads in hand, laptops on laps, and all eyes on Darren at center-stage as he introduces me for the morning Keynote.
During his introduction, I creep up the side of the room, stage-left. A few people spot me and wave hello. A few others give me a thumbs up.
Before I knew it, everyone is clapping as my name is called out. I pass Darren on my way up the stage and give him a handshake and a silent thank you.
Then, I place myself at center-stage and look across the expansive sea of people.
photo credit: Nicole Matejic
I begin by asking a simple question…and then I get into my talk about turning your casual audience into a devoted group of raving fans.
Now…I do have a video of this presentation already, however because I'll be presenting this same performance two more times this year. Out of respect to those who will be attending those events (and of course, those event organizers) I won't be sharing it until the end of the year. I apologize!
I can say, however, like every other presentation I've done in the past—including my first one way back in 2011at The Financial Blogger Conference (FINCON), while I'm up there on stage, it sort of feels like an out-of-body-experience. It just happens and goes along.
All of that practice, the run-throughs and the do-overs are all doing their thing now, and at the end I sort of “snap” back into the present time and realize that it's already over.
I experience this every single time I talk on stage. It's weird, but the only thing I can compare it to is when I was in the marching band (Yay! A marching band reference!), and I'd work for days during rehearsal to memorize a new song and remember where I was supposed to be on the field at certain points of the music, and then during the performance on the field in front of the crowd, I do what I need to do automatically without having to think anymore. And then, all of a sudden, it's over and we're talking about the performance on the sideline.
I think this is why I've fallen in love with speaking. It's my way of performing again, like I said before. It's definitely not for a passive income, and for 3 years I've spoken on stage for free. Only recently have I been getting paid for it.
Plus, when you think about it, one 45 minute performance means X number of days at the conference (I don't want to be one of those guys who just flies in, speaks and leaves without getting to know more about the audience and making friends while there), plus travel time, and time to transition back into normal life, etc.
It's a lot of hard work and time to speak, but I love it, and that's why I do it. I don't have marching band or music anymore, and I think this is my outlet for those same experiences at this “stage” in my life.
I will continue to work on my craft and get better. I want to be known as a top public speaker and deliver memorable presentations that get talked about and shared, and hopefully do a TED talk one of these days.
I was really close a year ago, but my connection fell through.
Thankfully, the audience seemed to love this keynote presentation! Afterwards, once I had a moment to check my phone, I saw that there were hundreds of tweets during the presentation, and they all made me smile and made the trip well worth it.
Thanks to all of you who were there and supported me!
My Afternoon Session with Chris Ducker
Chris and I were stoked because not only did we have time to work together on our 1-Day Business Breakthrough Event the day before, but Darren and his team asked us to do a workshop together during the afternoon of Day 1 about podcasting.
To say that we were excited is a HUGE understatement. We were talking about our workshop together for months!
Finally, it was time, and at 2:00pm (after a quick run-though in our hotel room before lunch—you know me), here we were in front of about 200 people talking all about podcasting. Here's our opening slide…
Chris and I both have a lot of experience with podcasting. Both of us have 3 podcasts each under our belt, and a ton of stories to share about mistakes we made, things we wish we had done better, and things that went (or are going) very well.
We took people from the beginning through the launch and the marketing of one's podcast. If you'd like to get a more detailed rundown of what we talked about, I recommend you check out my free podcasting tutorial here.
As always, with Chris and I, there were a lot of laughs and memorable moments during the presentation, but a lot of people came up to us after the entire event and said it was one of the most helpful sessions of the entire conference too, which is always a joy to hear.
photo credit: Nicole Matejic
At this point in the day, I was stoked. Done with my keynote, done with the workshop, and no more presentations or panels to do!
With that said, like I hinted at before, I don't like to speak and leave. I love to participate in the events that go on, from the other presentations (there's always more to learn), and of course the networking events in the evening.
Throughout the rest of the conference, I never had a moment to myself until I was in my hotel room. It was exhausting but everyone was super nice and had such amazing stories to share, and I always did what I could to shift the conversation from my stuff, to theirs and see if I could help in any way.
I talked about my own stuff enough already on stage, and it's always super interesting and inspiring to me to learn about what other's have going on. Plus, I love to talk shop. 🙂
That night ended at midnight, and I don't think my voice could have taken much more. I was losing it, but hey—I didn't need it anymore! 😉
Conference Day #2—One of the Best
Because I was done with my gigs, I could actually pay attention to all else that was going on. During day #2, it didn't take long for me to realize that the ProBlogger Event was one of the most well-run ships I've ever sailed. Darren as captain, and his crew were all incredibly helpful and kept things sailing smooth the entire time.
I sat in on a couple of presentations and got to watch Chris deliver his too, which is always a treat, and by the end of the day when it was all over, it seemed like time flew by faster than ever.
Darren, as always, closed in a very memorable and eloquent way, and I can't help but just be completely thankful for all that he's done—not just related to this event and for inviting me to keynote, but for all the help through his blog when I started back in 2008, and for being a great example of someone who seriously cares about his readers and subscribers.
A huge thank you to Darren and the entire ProBlogger Event team for a job well done! It's a conference that I definitely would not mind coming back to!
After the event, I was transported back to Brisbane to meet up with the family and spend one more day together before we all head back home. Time to relax, enjoy and of course, pack!
One More Family Day—Before We Depart
Our final full-day in Australia was perfect. I had time to wind down after the event (and get my voice back), and the relatives we have in Australia threw my daughter a 2nd-year birthday party, which was awesome!
Her birthday wasn't for a couple of weeks after, but when you're with a Filipino family, any excuse to have a party means there's going to be a party.
I'm half filipino, so I know this from experience!
Great food, great company, great times.
Before we knew it, the kids were asleep at night and April and I were packing for our flight the next morning.
Farewell Australia! You've been perfect!
Our Trip Back
Our plane ride to Australia was decent in terms of the kids and their behavior. No major melt-downs. No crazy spills or nastiness. I was praying it would be the same coming back home.
Again—iPads and iPhones charged the night before, everything was good to go, and after a few hours spent at the airport and going through customs, we were off.
Luckily, the trip back wasn't all that bad. I only got 1 hour of sleep during the 14-hour plane ride, but after we touched down in L.A., retrieved 100% of our luggage (and kids), and were in back in the minivan headed down the 405 to San Diego, I couldn't help but smile the entire way home because we did it.
We had a successful family and business trip to the other side of the world! I was so proud of the kids, and especially April too who took care of the kids when I was at the conference.
After getting back, it was obvious our schedules were thrown off. The kids were asleep at 3:00pm, and I went to bed at 6:00pm for a few hours, and the kids were up at midnight. It's been over a week back, and we're just now finally getting back into our regularly scheduled program, but it's been completely worth it.
Thanks so much for reading this and following my family and I on our journey. It's been fun to blog about, and this post has reignited my joy for writing again—just writing—and not worrying about always writing epic content or trying to come out with the next best thing all the time, which is a mindset roadblock that I've had for months which has led to a decrease in blog-post production from me, as I'm sure you've noticed.
That, I am hoping to change.
I'll be back, for sure!