Mentors

I love reading books and hearing stories about business, sports and overcoming obstacles in life that would hold most people back.

I have been lucky enough to have met some amazing people from all walks of life who have truly inspired me to become a better version of myself.

One thing successful people all have in common is a constant need for improvement. Not comparing themselves to others but instead working towards achieving their potential in life.

Being able to pick their brains and find out what they know and also listening to their stories is something I have always thrived on and valued.

I have tried to take something from successful people from all walks of life and implement these habits, routines and ideas into my life.

I don’t believe success should only be about materialistic possessions, making lots of money or winning awards.

Success is the path, direction and journey you take each day towards your vision and ultimately the best version of yourself possible.

This page contains stories, tactics, tips, health and real life experiences that you can implement into your own life.

A key factor that most successful people aim for is developing a clear, strong future vision.

This future vision is so important because it could be the single most important driving force that keeps you on track throughout your life.

Make no mistake, if you take action and build structure, routine and create good habits around your mindset, training and nutrition you will get a direct improvement in every area of your life.

People who’s daily actions are governed by this strong future vision are continually growing, progressing and improving.

Reaching your potential in life, comes from humble beginnings and generally your success and any opportunity presented to you will be wrapped up in hard work, sacrifice and will only be achieved if you take action.

The only way to achieve lasting success is by taking constant daily action.

The two men that had a major influence in my life and shaped me into the man I am today were my dad, Steve Annesley and a great man who is no longer with us, Frank Keane.

I will tell you my story later but as a young man I was lucky enough to be influenced in a major way by these two very special men. I think most men would agree having strong male mentors can be a driving force for future success.

If you are now a father make it a goal to be a mentor to your kids. Aim to make them proud of the man you are today.

My dad Steve is a wonderful human being. A very kind, humble, understanding man who always had my back.

My dad is an honest, hard worker who supported me and still does today with whatever goals and direction I choose to take my life in.

He faced different challenges of his own, but not once heard him complain, blame or talk bad about these experiences.

My parents instilled a sense of belief in me that it was ok to chase my dreams and goals and that in doing so it would lead you in the right direction in life.

Your success should not be judged by winning, losing or making money but by living your life to the fullest.

“Don’t die with the music in you”

Whatever goals I have personally pursued in life have largely been from my parents support in allowing me the freedom to do so.

I now know as a parent of two kids I will always support them with their own goals, dreams and the direction this takes them in life.

Frank Keane

Along with my parents Frank was the type of mentor that all young men need in their lives.

Frank was my dads close mate, one of his best. He was always someone I respected, admired and looked up too. He also became my first boxing coach and a strong male mentor.

Frank also instilled a very strong sense of belief into me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.

He was a man’s man, very well liked, respected and was a former boxer. Just the type of man I needed in my life as a young fella.

I now find myself mimicking his mannerisms and caring nature when I am training people and teaching them what he taught me about boxing.

It is only now I realise that what he taught me and what I learnt through boxing was going to prepare me for life.

My Story

My name is Josh Annesely and I am the owner of Edge Performance.

The evolution of Edge Performance started when I was 15 years of age.

You see I have not always been a healthy human I was once a young silly kid hanging out with other young silly kids getting into a lot of trouble, drinking a lot of alcohol and taking drugs at a very young age.

I was a mess in every way. My family life was horrible, my social life was about trying to be something and someone that I wasn’t. I had been expelled from one school and was not going any better at the other plus I was headed for the vicious cycle of crime, drugs and more than likely jail.

My parents constant support and effort to guide me in the right direction was amazing, but it needed to be as I was determined to destroy myself.

Finally after repeated efforts my dads very close mate and a man who would turn out to be a major influence in my life apart from my parents, Frank Keane got me down to the Newtown police boys club for some good old boxing training!

Frank took me to the gym and then asked if I wanted to spar? Yeah, I will have a go thinking I was tough.

Ok put your mouthguard in, yep. Put your headgear on, what? Your headgear! I don’t have one I replied…

Frank said, that’s ok mate you’re a fighter you will be right, knowing that I thought I was tough and had also been putting my parents through hell for the last three or so years.

So, I completed the session, 4 x 3-minute rounds with this other kid and I did ok!

But it ignited a passion within me that made me want to do something with myself and my life.

So, I dedicated myself to getting fit and, in the process, I learnt how to box and had a bunch of amateur fights. Most importantly I learnt respect for myself, other people, my family and life.

At that time Newtown Police boys Boxing club was run by John Lewis, Australia’s most successful boxing trainer.

It was also home to some of the best boxers in the world. I was lucky enough to spar and train with Justin Rowsell, Nadal (Skinny) Hussein, Hector Lopez and even got to spar 3 rounds with Kostya Tszyu, the highlight of my career.

I created some great memories at that gym and still train with some of the fighters from that gym today.

This process changed the course of my life. I was rewarded for my hard work by being nominated for and voted in as school captain. This was at a school I had only been attending for four years and trust me it had nothing to do with my academic skills!

I was progressing along very well as an amateur boxer. I had notched up some really good wins and was sparring with some of the best fighters in Australia. I was only a kid, sparring men and i was doing this weekly. I loved it.

It was around this time that I started to get some really intense headaches.

While I was sparring it literally felt like my brain was rattling around inside my head. I would sit in the shower downstairs at the Police Boy’s club for ages, almost in tears because of the pain. I finally told someone about it and was sent for an MRI.

I remember the specialist telling me about my results from the scan, they had found a small cyst just inside my skull..

It was not causing my headaches but it had the potential for a brain aneurysm. I was told that boxing was out of the question. I kept training and was desperate to spar and fight but Frank and John would not hear of it and I didn’t want to train with anyone else because the fight game is about trust and belief in your corner.

I knew that I had to stay on track with my training, commitment towards my health and my new found attitude towards life. I did not know what I was going to do but i knew this path would lead me in the right direction throughout life.

This also led me on the path back to Rugby League. I was at a friend’s house early one Sunday morning and they were getting ready to go and play a game of Rugby League with the mighty Mascot Jets.

I was desperate to do something but I knew I was not allowed to play any contact sports. I remember riding my bike home as fast as I could that Sunday morning, to sneak out my old footy boots in a backpack, I told mum and dad I was going for a game of touch footy or for a Surf, something like that.

I always felt that no matter what i achieved as long as I had a vision and I worked towards that vision my future would be in good hands. I was not meant to play any contact sports but I made my own decision based on the fact that “I did not want to die wondering”.

I was a very average player but when I got the idea in my head that I wanted to play grade I became obsessed with it.

I would head down to Mascot oval and pass a football at the goal post then chase it and repeat the action for hours on end because I could not pass both ways and to become a good dummy half you had to learn how to pass both ways.

My result was playing some reserve grade with Souths, Newtown Jets and finishing up with a season of pro football in France.

The most important part to me was I worked my arse off and I felt that I overachieved.

I got back into fighting after I finished playing rugby league and competed in Jiu Jitsu and wrestling competitions. I got a pro boxing fight under my belt and scored a 4 second knockout in my first MMA fight (apparently the fastest in Australian MMA history).

I am now the proud father of two beautiful girls named Olivia and Georgia and the husband to amazing wife named Bianca.

My story is by no means better than anyone else’s but it is the path I took to get to this point in my life.

If people ask, I tell them that all I have ever wanted to do in life was Box, play rugby league or become a personal trainer.

I am truly blessed that I have been able to experience all three.

Edge Performance is the result of a lifetime of dedication and commitment which I believe you can gain by making health and fitness a part of your life.

This is my life and you will not get this at any other gym in Sydney.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I hope we can help you on your journey.

My Mentors

Mr Jack

Mr Jack (not his real name) served as a police officer for over 35 years. He started off as a uniformed officer before moving into the NSW diving squad (that had a 97% failure rate), undercover surveillance and also being a part of the very first T.R.G squad ever assembled in Australia.

His journey is amazing and I know you will be inspired by his story and what you can take on board from it.

“Improve your existence daily”

I joined the NSW Police Force in 1979, as a fresh faced country boy arriving in the big smoke (Redfern, Sydney) Started an entirely new life away from my family. No friends, no permanent place to live and not knowing where Redfern was.
Initial training with 164 new recruits. Attended the Academy 5 days per week for 11 weeks initial training. Learning about every Power of Arrest and Law that a Police officer was required to learn, was daunting, and physical training every day was onerous.

The powers and responsibilities given to a Police Officer are enormous.
We have the power to carry a firearm and take someone’s life. I always remind my fellow officers during my career, that we have more power than the Prime Minister. We can take someone’s liberty away. He doesn’t have that power.

Coming from a large and loving family prepared me for what I was to face. The values I learned from my parents were the cornerstone to me being honest and ethical, hard working Police officer and the person I am today. (Thank you mum & Dad)

What a great first station to be posted to. Met some great and marginal officers. With my previous street smarts I quickly aligned myself to the hardworking ones. I always wanted to learn something new everyday. I knew that the criminals didn’t read the rule books so the majority of the time they didn’t do exactly what you ask of them.

I’d ask them to do something. If they didn’t. I’d tell them. If they didn’t. I’d make them

In 1980, The Police Force, as a result of a large scale riot by Outlaw Motorcycles Gangs at the annual Motorbike Races at Bathurst. Decided to form the Tactical Response Group (T. R. G.)They called for expressions of interest.
I immediately applied for and was successful. The training was exhausting and for me exhilarating. Involved wearing riot equipment. Shouldering Shotguns. Wearing Gas masks. Being sprayed with gas. My Class was the very first. We were the pioneers for what is now doing the same job.
What another learning curve both physical and mental. Attending Riots and security at Goals during the Correction Service Officers strikes. The infamous Trucky Blockade Guard duty on visiting Presidents and Law Court Judges. Myself and another operative did security on George Bush Snr while he played tennis with John Newcombe at the Hordern Pavilion. Another incredible day.

I always thought throughout my career, that I wanted to challenge myself, both mentally and Physically.

If you don’t use it. You lose it.

I didn’t want to be like other coppers. Stale. Lazy. Un-motivated.

I thought to myself about those ones. Go and get another job. Stop complaining and do what you get paid to do. Don’t become unmotivated. Challenge yourself. Take pride in yourself and your uniform. The public deserves it.
They paid me to look after them.

What was your attitude and mindset like during these periods?

I need to improve my existence on a daily basis.
I need the mental and physical stimulation. It keeps me mentally and physically strong It improved me in my personal life. I am still challenging myself everyday. I make the most of each day, even now in retirement.
I want to learn. I wanted to add value to the Police Force and make the general public feel safe. I never applied for too many promotions.

I certainly could have attained them.

But I always said. Never get promoted into unhappiness. I worked with Police who got promoted. They were happy working where they were originally. Some Police like some in normal life get their abilities mixed up with their inabilities.

During any of my career changes within the Police Force I always give my best. I’m not perfect, but I wasn’t far off it I feel because I always give 100% effort.

If someone else had done it before me, there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t do it and even do it better. You need the best person for the job.

Someone’s life could depend on you and the decision you make or don’t make

I try to never let negative thoughts enter my head. I am able to readily access any situation, quickly decide on competing options and make the most appropriate response and keep the public and myself safe.

I looked forward to challenging myself. And try to make my fellow colleagues better police. During my Surveillance career I became a mentor to all new recruits. I embraced it.

What were three of the most physically and mentally challenging exercises or drills you did?

I’d have to say the most challenging career change was becoming a Police SCUBA Diver. What was I thinking. At 42 I applied for the course, and 2 of us completed it.
At the time we were recognised as the best trained divers in Australia. Other State Police came and did our course.

It was a 97% FAIL rate.

Some of the tasks involved sawing through a length of railway track with a blunt hacksaw blade only and don’t break the blade.

4 hours later and half way through the track, I broke the blade. Start again. Some 6 hours later I completed this task

During this exercise the instructors would come down and turn of your air supply. Take off your goggles. Drive boats above you causing extreme current variations and stirring up the sea bottom. Give your goggles back with the Perspex removed and replaced with three ply timber.

The next task was to file through length of 10mm thick chain link with a nail file. And bring up the2 halves. 4 hours to complete this task.

Next task, cut through a length of wire rope approximately 40mm thick with a hammer and chisel. Every strike with the hammer just bounced. Not completing this task on the day I improvised and was able to the instructors amazements, cut through it in about 45 mins.

How did he do that? But he did. Tasks completed

All of these tasks are developed to break down applicants mentally and physical

They don’t want divers who are going to give up and want it easy

99% of all of my diving jobs were in pitch black dirty water. You could not see your hand in front of your goggles.

During the whole Diving Training course I kept saying to myself.

“Someone else has done this before me, there’s no reason why I can’t do it”.

I knew I was more mentally stronger than them. I had confidence in my ability. I also know my limitations. If someone said to me that I can’t do something.
Mentally straight away I know they don’t know me that well and I will invariably do what the say I can’t do.

But I always keep in mind mine and others safety first. That is a priority first above all things. Don’t tell me I can’t do something. I will learn how to do it and then do it. I’m more hands on than reading about it.

If the water was frozen over, I was the first to put on the tanks and jump in. The person we were looking for had to be found and handed back to the grieving family. A bit of cold water won’t stop me. Think about the grieving family and not yourself.
Don’t show them any weaknesses. They deserve better from you.
I enjoyed ever operation. I enjoyed the teamwork

I found Surveillance to most rewarding in ridding the State of some of the most heinous criminals known.
My job was to find them, follow them, photograph them and then arrest them.

I never underestimated them. Never. I always took the adage that if I was a Criminal been possibly followed by the Police what would I do. I then thought like a Criminal and then put myself one step ahead with my next thought so I was always ready for the unexpected. I thought like a Criminal. It worked. I always had a cover story.

I did Some Surveillance so well that I was on occasion nearly arrested by uniform Police. I was the most experienced Surveillance operator in the State when I left. If there was a huge and sensitive operating to be done urgently, the bosses would say. Get Jack and his team. Get them off their current job. I thrived on following Criminals.
Occasionally I was required to jump out of my motor vehicle and arrest the offender by myself. Whether it be for Murder, Paedophilia , Armed Robbery. I knew my capabilities. I knew the capabilities of my team. I did it without any self preservation

It was such a rewarding field of Criminal Investigation.

I loved the thought that no one knew who I was, and what I did. I knew in the back of my mind 99.9% of the public, who were law abiding citizens could sleep at night and not know what I and others had done to protect them. That’s what I got paid to do. That was my reward. I didn’t like Award Ceremonies to be present with some award of exceptional Police work.

How did you deal with situations where your life was threatened or periods of extreme stress?

I never thought I was invincible. In my 35 years I’d say I had my firearm drawn about 10 times.
I knew my capabilities.

Most times I had the ability to instantly judge criminals personality whenever I felt threatened or had any weapon pulled on me including firearms.

I never underestimated them. I showed them respect. Even though they may have been highly agitated on drugs or alcohol. Most times I could defuse the situation and arrest them without much incident. A lot of the criminals that I have arrested and charged where I live still talk to me and are very respectful as am I to them.

It is a very rewarding feeling. Most people deserve a second chance.

But not all

I made sure I never underestimate anyone. Even work colleagues.
My work colleagues were my top priority when I was working with them.
I tried to align myself with positive hard working honest people both in my private life and in my policing career

Tips for dealing with tough situations in life?

After analysing the tough situation make a responsible response. You won’t be criticised if you tried. The decision might be life threatening. At least you tried. Don’t have regrets

A lot of the decisions I had to make were life threatening both to the public and myself.

It was required of me to make the toughest decisions. I signed up to, Protect the public and protect property.

I fully accepted those responsibilities without fear or favour. I cherished those responsibilities

You have to live with your decision. It won’t always be the right decision. But look what you learnt from it. If the same situation were to arise again you would find your decision this time an expert decision. And look what skills you have learnt and are passing on

Learn from your life’s experience.

You may not realise it but you are the person you are because of your formative years with your parents. and siblings and childhood friends or acquaintances.

You become wiser as you age in the decisions you make.

Everyday you can continue to become a better person and role model, or you can choose the other undesirable course.

You can choose, you always have a choice!

Don’t do anything that would make your parents ashamed of you. Do things that make them proud

In any walk of life.

Always be respectful. I was, even to the criminals.

BUT Only until I was proven wrong by them. And then it was my rules. They have to earn respect. They can’t demand it.

Johnny Lewis

John Lewis is one of Australian top boxing trainers.

He grew up in Erskineville and still lives in the inner city suburb today.

His career as a coach started after he was asked to take over by a former coach at one of Australia’s top Boxing gyms at that time ”Newtown Police Boys Club”.

He trained Jeff Fenech, Jeff ”Hitman” Harding, Kostya Tszyu and many other great pro and amateur fighters from around Australian and the world.

The want has got to be greater than the need.

Johnny can you tell me why you fell in love with boxing?

I suppose a few reasons and episodes of my life led me into or towards boxing.

One of the first was at Newtown police boys club, helping out, watching and sparring.

I enjoyed the atmosphere that only an old school boxing gym could provide.

I sparred a guy who I went to school with and whenever we got back to school we both spoke about how much we enjoyed it and the experience, what it taught us about ourselves and life.

Snowy Robbins gym was another place that I spent a fair amount of time in. It was full of great Australian fighters.

The Old Sydney Boxing Stadium in Rushcutters Bay was an amazing place to watch boxing. Monday night fights, it was brilliant.

George Barnes was my hero. He was a great Australian fighter he was courageous. He would fight at so many different weight decisions.

He had three brutal battles with a man named Darby Brown. 15 x 3 minute rounds, with George Barnes winning 2 of them.

What amazed me was that after each fight they would hug and be super respectful towards each other.

I had so much admiration for these men and it made me love the sport of boxing even more.

When training athletes who are preparing to head into battle against another person, what are the main areas you feel they need to work on and be prepared for?

I would generally play out each training session day to day.

Certain fighters would like to know what each day entailed.

I would go off instinct but they needed to give me discipline.

Generally who was the fittest, strongest and most courageous would win.

You will meet plenty of fighters who are amazingly skillful athletes and may be better technically but the majority of the time the fittest, strongest and most courageous will prevail.

I would try to tick all of them when I was preparing a fighter. So I also needed to have them mentally ready. They needed to believe they could win the fight before they stepped in the ring.

But one of the major factors for success in any area of life is discipline, without discipline nothing else matters.

Kostya Tszyu, he had it all. He could really think his fight out, he would plan and strategically pull apart his opponent punch by punch, round by round and he was disciplined.

If you train hard and do everything right, not only in boxing but in life you will give yourself the best opportunity to be successful in whatever area of life you choose.

I also think just competing is not emphasised enough in sport and life. I have a remarkably high regard for competitors.

Tom Redonikos, the ex Newtown Jets, NSW and Australian half back comes to mind, tough and a great leader.

What are some of the qualities that you feel can be taken from boxing and applied to life?

Discipline.

Over the years I had blokes bringing their sons up to Newtown Police Boys Club who were getting picked on, who were lacking confidence or getting into trouble.

The one thing it gave all of them was discipline. This discipline then transferred into other areas of their life.

It can change people’s lives.

In a boxing gym you learn so many life lessons that you can carry with you into other areas of your life.

Digging deep while training and pushing through tough times in the gym has such a good carryover effect into life in general.

Can you tell us one of the most courageous sporting moments you have witnessed?

A number of things come to mind

Men going to war would have to be my pick of the bunch. From all parts of the world but especially here in Australia.

They were protecting our country as kids and sacrificed their lives for the freedom we have today.

Men doing things in life that they don’t necessarily want to do.

Johnny Satler playing the Grand Final for South Sydney with a broken jaw, for nearly the whole match.

No replacements and he would not have left the field if they did have them.

Jeff fenech’s hands were busted from the amateur days and what he achieved was remarkable. He constantly displayed courage, dedication and discipline.

Participation is so important, just being involved and participating in life.

It was about this time that John referenced my father, who by all accounts was a very tough, capable hooker.

He played with South Sydney and the Collegians in the Wollongong Rugby League Competition.

He told me dad had him travel down the coast to Wollongong to wrap and strap up his injured hand, like a boxer.

His hand was badly damaged, he would not have been able to play without the strapping and it was a very important game.

He didn’t want to let his teammates down so Johnny strapped his hand up like he would a boxer and Steve played the game.

What are your top tips for success in life.

The want has got to be greater than the need. You have to really want something before achieving it.

Don’t let hurdles get in your way, find a solution and get over it.

5 words that Johnny rattled off:

  1. Discipline
  2. Commitment
  3. Structure
  4. Determination
  5. Desire

If you are going to do something do it right and give it 100% of your effort.

Bob Russo

 

Bob Russo’s mother and father migrated to Australia from a tiny little island in the south of Italy when he was a young boy.
His family came from nothing and all they wanted was an opportunity. They found it in Australia.
Bob’s personal journey is close to my heart as he is my father in law but I think we could all draw some inspiration and practical tips from his story that will improve your work ethic and the way you do business and live life.

 

“Hard work makes you tired, but it doesn’t kill you”

What age did you start working in the family business?

I started working in the family fruit shop at 8 years of age.

I would walk from Riverwood to narwee (6km walk) everyday after school.

I would get into my parents fruit shop and start packing potatoes, apples, pumpkins and i would do this until 7pm at night.

We would all jump in the truck and drive home and do it all again the next day.

I left school at 13 years of age, I wanted to work and I was already very good with numbers. I did all the book work for the family business because my mother and father could not write or speak english.

What did this teach you about life?

“Hard work makes you tired but it doesn’t kill you”.

My parents being new Australians couldn’t speak English.

They taught you will get nothing in life for nothing.

We worked for everything and asked for nothing, other than an opportunity in this amazing country that I have always called home.

We never took days off or even had a holiday until I was 19 years of age.

We started in a shed, progressed to a shack and moved into a house.

My parents decided to sell that first shop when I was 19 so we could go back to Panarea in Italy where we were from for a holiday.

It was meant to be a two year holiday but after 6 months I returned home to Australia, it was my home and I loved it, i missed it and didn’t want to stay in Italy.

When I came back I had to find work. I have been involved in so many different ventures over the years, I was not scared to try things and have a go.

Collecting big bush rocks and selling them to nurseries and the general public, managing Rock and Roll bands while i was also performing in a band myself that was booked out every weekend of the year.

To eventually stumbling across the biggest Cactus farm in Sydney.

The farm was in Leppington and Cacti plants and Terrariums were very popular at this particular time, it was for sale so I decided to buy it, the business and the land.

I had to then evolve the cacti farm to a nursery or else we would have went out of business.

Greenhaven is now one of Sydney’s biggest wholesale nurseries and my son Robert has taken over the business as it continues to thrive.

In the beginning I used to drive around in a crappy old car, dropping into other nurseries selling my plants.
The van was so old that I would need people to give me a push start when i was leaving.

I just kept evolving, changing and adding different products to my business.

You can’t stand still, you have to keep moving forward in business and life.

I am going to rattle off some words and i want you to tell me how you applied these words to your life.

Hard work

I thrived on it and it also gave me an active mind.

I wasn’t content with just getting a job, I felt like that was just average and my parents expectations made me aim for something out of my comfort zone!

I also felt that the harder I work the luckier I got.

Having a go

I would assess what other people were doing and follow in their footsteps!

I would always try new things, I was not afraid to work at things to make a living and I believe that success leaves clues.

Watch what other successful people are doing, take it on board and then put your own spin on it.

Hustling

Sometimes you just have to make things work, you don’t have a choice.

I have literally scraped by from week to week at some stages of my life but have always found a way to survive, get by and progress.

When I first opened Greenhaven I didn’t know a plant from a screen door but I worked hard and I hustled.

You recently retired (age 74) from an amazingly successful career and business that yourself, your wife Nancy, your brother and your son Rob built.

Can you tell me about a major setback you had that almost made you give up.

March 1990 Sydney was hit with a massive hail storm, we lost everything. I remember going to the farm the next day and it was completely destroyed.

We went into 500k debt, we sold our houses at a loss and this was all to keep the business afloat.

We were back to square one with 4 kids and a mortgage.

It took us 25 years to get out of debt, we were paying back our loans at a 21% interest rate.

But we kept expanding and moving forward.

I didn’t want to go into liquidation I was too proud and didn’t want to take people down with me.

When we reflect back we realise how hard we worked and also the goodwill we had created helped us immensely.

One of our competitors’ rang me and insisted I take whatever stock i needed from him to continue trading.
He didn’t want anything until we were ready to pay him back in money or stock.

Bob can you give us your top tips for running a successful business and building good relationships in life?

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Be Honest and trustworthy towards employees, suppliers and your customers.
  3. Have a good team behind you. Soldiers on the floor that are willing to have a go.
  4. Always have a positive attitude
  5. Seize the day

Bob Russo

 

Bob Russo’s mother and father migrated to Australia from a tiny little island in the south of Italy when he was a young boy.
His family came from nothing and all they wanted was an opportunity. They found it in Australia.
Bob’s personal journey is close to my heart as he is my father in law but I think we could all draw some inspiration and practical tips from his story that will improve your work ethic and the way you do business and live life.

 

“Hard work makes you tired, but it doesn’t kill you”

What age did you start working in the family business?

I started working in the family fruit shop at 8 years of age.

I would walk from Riverwood to narwee (6km walk) everyday after school.

I would get into my parents fruit shop and start packing potatoes, apples, pumpkins and i would do this until 7pm at night.

We would all jump in the truck and drive home and do it all again the next day.

I left school at 13 years of age, I wanted to work and I was already very good with numbers. I did all the book work for the family business because my mother and father could not write or speak english.

What did this teach you about life?

“Hard work makes you tired but it doesn’t kill you”.

My parents being new Australians couldn’t speak English.

They taught you will get nothing in life for nothing.

We worked for everything and asked for nothing, other than an opportunity in this amazing country that I have always called home.

We never took days off or even had a holiday until I was 19 years of age.

We started in a shed, progressed to a shack and moved into a house.

My parents decided to sell that first shop when I was 19 so we could go back to Panarea in Italy where we were from for a holiday.

It was meant to be a two year holiday but after 6 months I returned home to Australia, it was my home and I loved it, i missed it and didn’t want to stay in Italy.

When I came back I had to find work. I have been involved in so many different ventures over the years, I was not scared to try things and have a go.

Collecting big bush rocks and selling them to nurseries and the general public, managing Rock and Roll bands while i was also performing in a band myself that was booked out every weekend of the year.

To eventually stumbling across the biggest Cactus farm in Sydney.

The farm was in Leppington and Cacti plants and Terrariums were very popular at this particular time, it was for sale so I decided to buy it, the business and the land.

I had to then evolve the cacti farm to a nursery or else we would have went out of business.

Greenhaven is now one of Sydney’s biggest wholesale nurseries and my son Robert has taken over the business as it continues to thrive.

In the beginning I used to drive around in a crappy old car, dropping into other nurseries selling my plants.
The van was so old that I would need people to give me a push start when i was leaving.

I just kept evolving, changing and adding different products to my business.

You can’t stand still, you have to keep moving forward in business and life.

I am going to rattle off some words and i want you to tell me how you applied these words to your life.

Hard work

I thrived on it and it also gave me an active mind.

I wasn’t content with just getting a job, I felt like that was just average and my parents expectations made me aim for something out of my comfort zone!

I also felt that the harder I work the luckier I got.

Having a go

I would assess what other people were doing and follow in their footsteps!

I would always try new things, I was not afraid to work at things to make a living and I believe that success leaves clues.

Watch what other successful people are doing, take it on board and then put your own spin on it.

Hustling

Sometimes you just have to make things work, you don’t have a choice.

I have literally scraped by from week to week at some stages of my life but have always found a way to survive, get by and progress.

When I first opened Greenhaven I didn’t know a plant from a screen door but I worked hard and I hustled.

You recently retired (age 74) from an amazingly successful career and business that yourself, your wife Nancy, your brother and your son Rob built.

Can you tell me about a major setback you had that almost made you give up.

March 1990 Sydney was hit with a massive hail storm, we lost everything. I remember going to the farm the next day and it was completely destroyed.

We went into 500k debt, we sold our houses at a loss and this was all to keep the business afloat.

We were back to square one with 4 kids and a mortgage.

It took us 25 years to get out of debt, we were paying back our loans at a 21% interest rate.

But we kept expanding and moving forward.

I didn’t want to go into liquidation I was too proud and didn’t want to take people down with me.

When we reflect back we realise how hard we worked and also the goodwill we had created helped us immensely.

One of our competitors’ rang me and insisted I take whatever stock i needed from him to continue trading.
He didn’t want anything until we were ready to pay him back in money or stock.

Bob can you give us your top tips for running a successful business and building good relationships in life?

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Be Honest and trustworthy towards employees, suppliers and your customers.
  3. Have a good team behind you. Soldiers on the floor that are willing to have a go.
  4. Always have a positive attitude
  5. Seize the day

Paul Cheika

Paul has been a member of my gym Edge Performance for the last 6 years.

He is a true ironman, rarely misses a day of training and will turn up and put in no matter how he is feeling.

He is a successful business owner, a father of two and is a former Randwick Rugby player notching up over 298 grade games.

Paul faced one of life’s biggest challenges a few years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer.

His attitude towards this diagnosis and the way he faced his treatment was truly inspiring.

Paul can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey to this point in your life?

I’ve been blessed in many ways…..I have a beautiful family and friends and enjoy great relationships with them !

I’ve had the opportunity to play an amazing team sport over a long period, some great business and work experiences, and the opportunity to see some of the world.

There’s also been some bumps along the way…..some health issues, relationship breakdowns, addiction periods…..and some business failures.

I suppose it’s these bumps where I have learned some of life’s most valuable lessons.

My dad came to Australia in 1950 as 20 year old migrant from North Lebanon looking for a better life.

It was an action that I’m forever grateful for and one that I often reflected on when things got a little tough.

I have two amazing humans for children (although I’m a little biased) and they are both in their thirties and living their lives.

I have a magnificent human as my partner in life and she constantly sets an example for me.

So it seems I’m incredibly lucky to have so many great people in my life …something I’m eternally grateful for.

Lastly I’m part of a great gym community that I really love !!

Having been around and involved with so many successful people, companies, organizations and sporting teams can you give us your top 5 tips that will help people create success in their own lives?

There are many things I have witnessed over the years from coming into contact with people who are leading good lives…..a few of these are below.

I’m still working to be better at all of them.

  1. Focus on health – food / exercise / rest.
  2. Be authentic and act with integrity.
  3. Read books / inform yourself / stay curious.
  4. Have gratitude, especially for the ordinary things.
  5. Have commitment / focus / persistence.
  6. Serve others.
  7. Find time for stillness – meditation / walking.

Your training regime is solid. You rarely miss a day and you always put in. After playing over 298 games for Randwick Rugby Club your mindset must be strong. Can you tell us your opinion on mindset, attitude and how you apply this to training and then life?

My mindset revolves around personal growth and a positive outlook……

  • Self-belief.
  • Own your actions.
  • Challenge yourself.
  • Learn from your setbacks.
  • Never the victim.

For me and training, my challenge is to stay as consistent as possible.

I do my best to follow these principles across all parts of my life. Some better than others !!

I think we can all have a manifesto to live by.

Sounds grand but it’s really just between one and five short statements that can help guide us and work as something to fall back on.

Can you leave us with any other tips that you would like to pass onto other men looking to improve their health?

Aside from healthy food and exercise as I mentioned earlier I think it’s really important that men, particularly us over 50’s get their regular tests and check-ups.

Don’t be afraid or self-conscious.

Keep yourself mentally healthy …make sure you have someone to talk to.

Be the example for others around you.

Many thanks to Josh / Pras and Dave for all the great energy and care they give not just but to everyone at Edge Performance!!

Aaron Lai

Aaron Lai was a high level professional boxer on the Australian circuit. He was the Australian and the OPBF Light Heavyweight Champion.

He was also a very promising junior Rugby League player, spending time in the Roosters junior representative program.

We have known each other for a number of years, growing up around the same area, playing rugby league and then boxing together.

I was lucky enough to spar plenty of rounds with him over the years as he was preparing for fights and also as I was also trying to notch up a couple of fights.

We actually got matched to fight each other in our first pro fight but both declined as we knew each other and felt that it was not worth it. I am happy that it never happened as Aaron would have been responsible for my first loss and I am not sure if we would have been able to spend so much time training together over the years if we did end up fighting.

Boxing is a lonely sport!

Unlike team sports you don’t have a bunch of other athletes sitting in the dressing room with you ready to run out and help you get the job done.
It’s just you, your coach and your corner man. I have never felt so alone but also so alive as when I am sitting in the dressing room ready to walk out for a match.

I personally think Aron could have boxed on the world stage, if everything fell into place and he was given opportunities when the time was right who knows what could have happened.

Here is his story.

Aaron, thank you for taking the time to tell us a little bit about your story of not only success but also the ups and downs of being a pro boxer!

I love boxing personally and will always say it was my saviour in life as a kid. If you speak to people that do not know boxing they will say it’s just two people basing each other and do not realise or see the beauty of the sport.

Can you tell me what attracted you to boxing initially and then led you into the Pro ranks?

Hi mate, thanks for your kind words and you have been a big help towards my career, you say I would have given you your first loss, I remember the first time we sparred and I was like a human punching bag for you haha.

Like yourself, I personally have always loved boxing, I have always loved fitness, training and testing myself.

Through my footy career I would enjoy doing some extra boxing training on the side with my mates and also having a few mates who were actual boxers at the time I would try and be around it when I could.

One of those boxers Danny Withers ended up becoming my trainer. Himself and brother had been brought up through a boxing family with their dad Jimmy Withers.

Loving the sport I always said once footy is over I want to have just 3 amateur fights and that’s it, I was a bit of a late starter. I end up having my first amateur fight at 26. I end up having 8 amateur fights, and after that Danny just mentioned to me I should think about turning professional. 11 years later and I am still doing it.

Knowing more about the sport and being involved, they say that boxing is an art and I couldn’t agree more. It’s definitely not just 2 guys bashing each other. There is so much skill, fitness, dedication, sacrifice, mentality and anything else involved in all sports that goes into the sport of boxing.

Tell us about your career as a pro?

I ended up turning pro after 3 years and my fourth year in I won an Australian title and Oriental Pacific title as well as picking up a world ranking in the WBC.

My career has always been bit of a stop start with fights as I never had a manager or promoter to organise fights for me which made it difficult and very drawn out at times with not getting fights and not long after turning pro I soon found out that also without having a sponsor and money behind you it makes extra difficult to organise things on your own terms.

To be honest I look at myself and Danny as very small fish in a big pond, but we persisted and stuck together with hard work which got us a nice little reward.

What did a typical day of training look like for you when you were preparing for a fight?

I never had the benefit of a strength and conditioning coach, myself and Danny both worked shift work so whenever we could tee up to box we would.

Not knowing a lot about the scientific approach to training and preparing for a fight, all I really knew was you have to do lots of running, sparring and boxing and that’s all I tried to do and beat my times each time.

Some days I would do a longer run in the morning then get my boxing in the afternoon, if not a longer run it would be interval running of 400s and 800s and then boxing gym again In the afternoon, or it could of been the other way around depending on schedule, maybe boxing in the morning then running in the afternoon.

This amount of training would take a lot of sacrifice and structure plus you were also juggling a full time job. Do you feel like structure is an important part of success and if so what tips do you have for our readers?

Structure is so important especially to prepare for a fight, to be on a world stage in any sport this would be a very important thing that trainers and coaches would set out in detail in order for their athlete reaching maximal fitness and strength in a certain amount of time.

For most of us including myself we are not on the world stage competing or have the time and money to invest in high tech trainers or coaches.
I think for anyone that is just out there having a go for whatever health reason it may be, then this is great as this is the main thing, that you are having a go.
You never knock anyone that is trying.

I’m not sure of any tips that I have but the mind and body are a powerful machine, with the right approach to achieving something by just pushing yourself that bit extra this will take you further past ur goal. I’m 37 and I still feel I’m reaching new highs with fitness and strength.

Mix up the training to shock the body, we all get into a comfort zone with what we know, I’m guilty of it.

What works for my body may not work for someone else’s body, but me personally to take my fitness to the next level I find doing interval running is what gets me there. They are not easy but I do it for the after feeling I have from them on top of my fitness.

If you cant do running intervals, machines are also great.

Like I said I don’t know much about the scientific or structured approach to training, I will leave that to the experts but maybe for someone really wanting to push themselves, then setting up a block of time totally dedicated towards a goal would be ideal.

Something like 3 or 4 weeks on then one week off.

Week one starts off light and builds it up each week, in the last week u r really pushing.
Then have an easy week and start again.

Aaron, tell me about your losses and your mindset overcoming those losses? I mean people want to hear about the wins in life and social media is all about the positives but sometimes your losses can define you.

My first 6 fights I won by knockout, then I was finding it hard to get the right fights which comes back to not having a sponsor and money behind you.
So to get fights I went up a weight division or took fights against guys where I was probably a bit out of my league which lead to 3 straight losses These guys had over 100 amateur fights and were successful in the amateur ranks compared to my 8. Out of those 3 losses 2 guys have fought for titles just under world titles with one being offered a world title fight.

My next fight I won and then again was finding it hard to get a fight so I took a fight in China against a 6 ft 4 guy with 4 weeks notice and lost that fight on a technical decision. He has gone on to also fight for a title just under a world title.
My last loss was my latest one last year defending my title against a young 23 year old who is world ranked with a big amateur career. They were all good opportunity fights where I got beat by the better men.

It’s a true saying sometimes you need to take a risk to get a reward and I think anyone in life can take that approach.

Also in one of your biggest fights you got knocked down and got back up and knocked your opponent out, winning the Australian and OPBF Light HeavyWeight title.

Massive effort and only great fighters can do that but what made you get up and fight on, what were you thinking during that period of the fight?

I got offered this fight after not getting a fight for 9 months. I had to go up a weight division, my opponent was also finding it hard to get a fight due to his big punching power.

When I got knocked down all I was saying to myself is ”I have to get up, dont give up”, unless I physically can’t move I will always try
no matter how hurt I was. I also think the fitness and condition I was in helped me get up and recover.

When I got back to the corner all I was thinking to myself is that it’s only round 2 I still have 8 too go haha and lucky enough I knocked him out in the next round.

I have never been the most skillful boxer but hard work and determination is what got me through.

What are your top tips for other men to help them stay in good physical condition?

I think guys and girls just need to be doing some sort of exercising and along the way every now and then test yourself with a challenging exercise or session and take yourself out of your comfort zone.

As I’m getting older I try to listen to the body and if I’m not feeling it then I will do something light I also put the time in to make sure I warm up properly and warm down. Most people are strapped for time these days but it’s better to put a little bit of extra time in to prevent injuries because there is nothing worse than being injured.

Stretching is also great. The older we get we want to try and have good mobility and flexibility.
Lastly having a healthy diet is also key to being in top physical condition.

Can you leave us with any tips that you would like to pass onto other men looking to improve their mindset?

I’m not too sure about tips but I think to improve the mindset it’s probably good to start with some small goals.

Don’t try and compare yourself to anyone else or what they are doing, just focus on yourself and your goals.

There is an unlimited amount of expert advice on the internet these days so that is a good place to start.

Nothing comes easy especially trying to get fit and strong, so stay persistent and consistent without burning yourself out and enjoy it.

The benefits and rewards are priceless.

Contact Edge Performance today to receive personalised action plan for better health and fitness.

 

We will sit down with you individually and help come up with a plan of action that is manageable for you long term.

Book in for your Free Kick Start Session today and let Edge Performance help you get your health on track.

Josh Annesley Personal Trainer Sydney Alexandria NSW
Yours in health and performance.
Josh Annesley and the team at Edge Performance