So as I sat out the front of the 3 Day Property mega conference with my dad, brother and mate Ian, we shared a packed lunch we'd made at our hotel that morning before checking out. It was a beautiful bright day, the temperature was nice and on the cool side, and I was quite at peace munching on a chicken and salad wrap. It was a beautiful view, well kept gardens, a ship parked in the Yarra river that stretched out before us, and the warm sun reflecting off the water.
People milled around outside; some smoking, others socialising with new acquaintances and perhaps developing business relationships that would endure for years to come. We only had a short time for lunch before the next workshop began inside the convention centre, so the awaiting crowd clung close to the building
I watched as the regular melbourne city life merged with the avid property investors in the hustle and bustle before me. A cute little brown dog, a staffy, wagged it's tail as it zig-zagged between the milling crowd, excitedly sniffing at every leg, post and food wrapper. I turned to look at my wrap for a moment when I heard a startling sound. A splash.
"What the? Did that dog just…?"
That dog did. I don't know if Staffy's have a fascination with water, but clearly this one found water amusing. The fascination was so strong that even a three metre high verticle wall wasn't deterrent enough. He had slipped, fallen, or perhaps willingly launched himself off the wall and into the Yarra below.
It didn't take long for crowds to begin to gather, as heads began turning, legs began walking. 'Staffy' was showing off his prowess at dog-paddle.. or was it breast stroke? …Some…new form of butterfly?
Right. He's struggling.
"He aint gonna get outta there." I said to myself as I looked for a platform along the bank. There was none. Either he was going to get fished out by someone, or he was going to drown.
"Someone go and get him!" I heard a female voice say. "I'd do it but I'm not strong enough."
I already had my shoes off, wallet and phone on the ground, and my shirt off. I considered my pants but then realised as I was standing at the edge of the wall that there were people watching. Better keep those babies on.
I lowered myself down off the concrete wall and half way down, and then hesitated. I was still wearing my socks. Poo! I let go and dropped down to the water. It was thankfully only knee deep, and Staffy was only a few metres away. I whistled and clapped my hands. Here boy!
Nope, Staffy wasn't satisfied being the only one in the drink. As soon as he saw me he started swimming in the opposite direction. Knee deep became a quick distant memory as the bank dissapeared under my next step. I was now swimming.
"Come on boy!" I said as I grabbed him.
Now, I have dogs of my own that I occasionally take swimming. If you've never done this, know that it's generally not easy to go swimming with a dog. They have sharp claws, and I have soft nipples. It can be very difficult not to come out of it without looking like something from Passion of the Christ.
Thankfully this little fella was trying to get away from me, so I was able to grab hold of him without too many lacerations.
After passing the overly excited and half drowned puppy up to the onlookers, I was then given an outstretched arm or two to get me back out of the river. It only then dawned on me, "Where's the owner?"
I'd jumped into that river without even thinking that there would have been an owner nearby.
"Thanks mate! Here, go buy yourself a beer or something!" He said.
There was the owner with an outstretched tenner.
I paused for a second. "Yeah righto!" I said. "Thanks!" pocketed the cash and put my shirt back on.
My bro and friend had dissapeared for a moment to go to the loo. When they returned they reported they had noticed a large crowd standing around the river, only to see a pale skinny bloke being pulled out of the water. They shook their heads. "Of course it's Ben."
My big bro, the helpful type, looked me up and down and offered his congratulations in his own way.
"Why didn't you take your pants off too, idiot?"
I sat on the curb surrounded in a puddle of water that dripped off my jeans, and then sat down to finish off my lunch. To be honest, I'd had a lot of fun. I found it hilarious that a dog could be so nuts as to launch himself into an inevitable drowning without the slightest of thought. It kinda reminded me of me. The funnier thing was, when the owner was giving me his thanks I saw the dog making a beeline for the water again! Who's up for round two!!
"DOOON'T do it again!" I said as I put a knee out in front of him and gave him a shove in the other direction.
As I looked down to finish off the last morsel of my chicken wrap, an apple juice drink, with a big label was handed to me. I looked up to see where it came from, and there, sitting on the curb next to me was none other than the man of the hour, the leader of the conference, and the author of the book that inspired me to build my house, Steve Mcknight.
This was an incredible moment. Here was my business idol sitting down beside me. Quick. I had to think of something to say. Something so awesome that it would immediately inspire him to take warmth to me, adopt me as his son and spend the next ten years imparting his wisdom into me.
"Oh, what's this?" I asked in a stroke of genius.
"It's apple juice." He said.
Steve continued. "I've had several people come up to me and say 'You'd never believe what just happened!'"
He made sure I was alright, and showed some genuine concern for me.
"I hope you don't have any cuts, that river is pretty bad."
I hadn't thought that far ahead. Apparently the Yarra river was full of diseases. Eep! Had I just swum in poo? I'd just been up Yarra creek without a paddle.
"So did the owner say thanks?" Steve asked.
"Yeah," I said cheerily "He gave me ten bucks and said I should go buy a beer."
Steve looked incredulous. "Gee thanks mate!" he said to the dog owner in his imagination as he smiled and shook his head.
To be honest, I thought ten bucks was pretty good. I mean, it was a bit of excitement, a bit of fun, I got to play with a dog AND I made ten bucks!
"Tell you what" Steve said. "How would you like it if I organised for you a Big Black Box from my stand, would you like that?"
"That… would be amazing!" I said with my hand on my chest.
"Alright, I'll go and organise that for you up at the blah blah blah blah blah"
I totally lost focus for a second there. WOAH! I'm talking to Steve Mcknight!!! And he's giving me a Big Black Box!! And I'm totally missing the moment because I'm too busy listening to my own inner monologue and not focussing!
"…would that be ok? What's your name?"
"Ben. Ok. I'll see you soon, Ben."
Steve Mcknight knows my name. Steve Mcknight knows my NAME! I need pom-poms.
Not long later lunch ended and the next session started. I had quickly run back to the hotel and asked to use the gym shower to get clean and change into some new jeans. Sitting in my new clothes I eventually became absorbed into the property convention and put the adventure out of mind. That is of course, until Steve took the mic and called me up on stage to tell the story.
He presented me the Big Black Box in front of the whole convention. It was awesome.
"We should throw a cat into the river!" My friend Ian said later.
"Why?" I asked, "So we can fish it out and get another big black box?" I asked.
"Big Black Box?" He looked at me quizzically.
"Never mind." I said.
I got a chance to thank Steve from the bottom of my heart for his generosity as I was leaving for my plane. He left me inspired to achieve, and equally as importantly, broken-hearted for those without the tools to do so. I thanked him for being one of the only businessmen I've ever met that seems genuinely more interested in helping develop people, rather than just trying to sell something. For someone like me, surrounded by hype and biassed misinformative salesmen, that's a life-changer.
Fitting the Box on the plane cost me extra in luggage. It all literally came in a suitcase of it's own, that Steve gave to me for free also. It was ok though, I had a spare tenner in my pocket anyway.
"Dear Ben and Nicky,
May God bless you both with a life rich in faith!
Steve Mcknight. 9.5.2010"
That one takes a top shelf in my library.
Peace ya'll.L and J RhodesParticipant@l-and-j-rhodesJoin Date: 2005Post Count: 6
I Love your work Ben! I attended the conference but did not witness your heroism. Loved reading the post and had tears running down my face as I laughed and tried to read it to my kids. Now that you are armed with new knowledge from the black box……may you go forth and multiply your $$!PavvParticipant@pavvJoin Date: 2009Post Count: 19
Haha gold!!!! Keep it up mate, you had me in hystericsTracey BParticipant@tracey-bJoin Date: 2009Post Count: 158
Hi Ben, What a classic! Very nice work – your story is hilarious. I was keeping a look out for you at the conference after seeing your terrific claymation but we were sitting up the back so didn't even realise it was you on stage. Keep up the great work!
Hey, just noticed you are working for a developer selling acreage in Queensland. Which area is the land as some friends up there are looking for a block to build on?
Hmm, you’re looking at Lockyer valley, darling downs and south Burnett areas. Ranging from 1 to 250 acres and prices all over the shop, 30 acres for 55k in one spot. Some pretty gorgeous blocks actually, some that went up 44% in value in the last quarter. Booming. I’m slowly getting tempted to buy some myself along with some horses… But I’m gonna play with these tax liens first.j900Participant@j900Join Date: 2008Post Count: 56
I witnessed Crazy Staffy launched itself into the Yarra below!
Nice work Ben! Crazy people like you (and to a lesser extent crazy dogs like Staffy) make me feel proud to be a naturalised Australian.Tracey BParticipant@tracey-bJoin Date: 2009Post Count: 158
Ok, they've been looking in Peachester area most recently. They want a few acres without too many neighbours.
My hubby is really keen on the tax liens. Are you planning to attend the workshop at the end of the month?Millionaire in trainingParticipant@millionaire-in-trainingJoin Date: 2004Post Count: 154
Congrats Ben on saving the dog, meeting up with Steve yes he is an awesome businessman with loads of integrity and yes he really does care about people). Oh and congrats for being awarded the Black Box of goodies from the conference, the Advanced Master Class pack in that is GOLD.
I'm going to busy for MONTHS with all the gear that I got at the conference. I thought I would start with Ron White's stuff… if only I could remember where I put it.
But seriously folks.
Once I get through the memory pack, Peter Daniels and Maos last dancer books, not to mention smashing my way through the tax liens course (I'm sending my wife Nicky to that one, her job is to come back and teach me cuz I'm stuck working) then I'll get into Steve's big black box.
I'm going to be a weapon. *griiiiiiin*v8ghiaMember@v8ghiaJoin Date: 2005Post Count: 871
Ah…. to write in a style like your experience Ben is a true gift. A great read regardless of your bonus & the dogs outcome / intelligence level. Thanks for the laugh…Cheers V8
Tell you what, that Ron White memory course has been worth it's weight in gold for me. I started a job at a place that had 80 staff, and within 3 days I was on a first name basis with everyone in the building because I could remember all of their names. Extremely valuable. Of course, a simple trip to the library would also save you 500 bucks