I’m excited to be able to share this interview with my Dad, Trevor.
Born in 1929 one of 9 kids coming from not much at all, to give us so much. A heck of a work ethic = he’s a stockman, auctioneer, real estate guru, developer, jockey, farmer and alongside my mum hosted some epic rural parties and he is the biggest prankster ever.
Above all else he’s a dad, grandfather, husband, great mate to his friends and an all round fabulous human.
On this episode, my Dad (89yrs of awesome) shares his stories, how he offered to work for 12 months for free in his first job, that he had a police escort to the interview and why relationships are the key in life.
I hope I make him proud, as I’m certainly proud to be his daughter. I hope you enjoy this episode together. It was very impromptu and that’s what I love about it.
1. Work Hard & Be Persistent
Dad you were from a large family and didn’t have much but you were very determined from a young age.
Yes Nik, you had to make it yourself. I went to high school for a few years, and I wasn’t doing much good there, but I enjoyed school very much. I also really enjoyed meeting people and getting out. However, when my older brother took a job I had to leave school and go and help on the farm to be there and help my father.
So Dad took his my older brother’s place, probably at the age of about 16/17 and from there on worked until he was about 19, then his young brother came on to do the farm work, so my Dad had to leave. That’s when he decided he’d go get a job as a stock broker (live stock not trading shares on wall street)…
It would have been in the late 40s, late 40s. He had no knowledge whatsoever of book work, but had a very good stock knowledge. In those days there weren’t GPS’s or Google Maps so Dad found out about a job with a stock firm, got in his car and went town to town getting directions.
In the end this lead to a police escort to the final interview location.
Haha, I didn’t know my way, I had to stop at every police station. I’ve never been there before – so the police stations were the best point of interest at that time to get directions. True story.
Didn’t take no for an answer
The manager said that I wouldn’t qualify for the job because I had no office experience, he turned me down and I was very disheartened.
So I went down the stairs… and then I went back and asked him one more time if he would just give me a job on the road dealing with livestock. And he said, “Well yes, you sound very keen son. I can give you a job but I can’t pay you more than an office boy’s wage.”
And I said, “Well, I’d be … I’ll work for nothing for 12 months, just to get started.”
2. Relationships Are Key
I can remember one of my earliest memories of dad is sitting in front of him in the saddle on his horse while you’re doing the fencing. We’d bring morning tea out. Dad always said to me “you know, the most important thing in business and life is relationships”.
During his first job as a stockman Dad would get up very early in the morning – before the farmers sometimes, and he would take a load of newspapers and fresh bread out to the farmers he was visiting. That paved the way for some great long term relationships.
By building genuine connections you get their trust and they trusted you. And most of our deals in those days was done with a handshake. There was no signing of paper. Even up to a mob of a thousand sheep, sheep or cattle was all done with a handshake.
3. Have a sense of humour
Nikki F.: So you did the stockman jobs, but you know, you became a bit of a celebrity over the years.
Trevor F.: Well so some people tell me
Do you think that a sense of humour has helped you deal with the extreme responsibilities that you’ve had as a father, as a partner, and as someone who’s felt that you just have to keep going.
I’ve just enjoyed it. I would never feel forced to do anything. We worked extremely hard and just enjoyed doing it. Making a step further and watching, and making the best of the big opportunities that came along
What were the challenges of running a business and being an entrepreneur in the 1950s and ’60s when you were pioneering things? I mean, you were the first person to have a large neon sign, weren’t you?
Yes. They tried to stop me putting it up and I applied to the council for a permit, and I did a scale drawing, it only looked about two foot high, but it was actually 30 foot high when it was up. The council didn’t read the printing correctly.
So they tried to make me pull it down, but it was in 30 tonne of concrete and it wasn’t possible.
I do remember a story where someone put a frozen kangaroo in someone’s front seat at some point.
Ah yes – one of those stories.. I was very friendly with the general manager of the Meat Company here. At the mens club one night we all said goodbye and away we went, probably 9 or 10pm and I went to get in the car and there was a kangaroo, and it was sitting in this driver’s seat, hanging onto the wheel.
Of your car?
Yes, My car, he’d put it in there, he’d frozen it and I could see the joke straight away. So I didn’t know what to do with this kangaroo. It was still frozen. So I took it out the country not far from where we lived at Westmere, we’d had 160 acres there. My solicitor Gordon lived not far around the corner, about a mile. So I popped this frozen kangaroo on the cattle stop.
Keep Learning and Growing
Dad loved the stock game, but in those days he says like any special industry, it was very much a closed circuit to get in the higher level of management – or because the management seem to pass through families. He couldn’t see himself getting any further at that point.
So Trevor left, and as he says “had a crack at real estate”.
After six months working for one person and not getting anywhere he decided to ask for a raise – with the response being: “You’re getting too much now.”
Trevors answer: “Well, I’m gone, get somebody else.”
I applied for my own real estate licence and he came to the court and objected. And the judge said, “If he’s good enough to manage for you, I think he’s good enough to have his own licence. Licence granted.
So you’ve always loved what you’ve done, but not only that, you also became an auctioneer during this time?
Yes, I was in the yielding centre, which is a big auction centre and they were bringing cows and selling them individually, dairy cows. The auctioneer at the time was a top man from Australia and he wasn’t on the job when the cattle came in to be sold, and somebody had to sell them.
So even though I was only the office clerk at the time. I started it off and he walked through the door right then, he said, “Carry on son.” So I sold my first cow that day, and I sold the rest and became head auctioneer in three weeks time.
Create Meaning and Memories
As time went on with a lovely wife and a family, we had a very good country life as well – and Dad was working both on the farm, auctioneering, as well as a real estate. Then he decided to move to a special place in Whanganui – and called it Whakataetae
In Whanganui, and we named the house we had Whakataetae- talking to a very good friend of mine that spoke very good Māori. And I said, “I’d like to name my place.” He said, what do you want to call it? I said “What’s your native word for go ahead and trust?”
And he said Whakataetae is the word.” So that’s what we called the property.
What would you say your earliest memory of you and I together?
I would think the earliest days was probably around stock. And when I was fencing you used to come down and we were always lighting fires.
We used to light fires for morning tea and you and young Andrew were always helping, not always helpful, but trying to help. It was great having your company, and it made it easy for me having the children around.
You and mum have done extensive travel, as well as worked really hard. What would you say, looking back on everything now dad, would be your proudest moments?
Well, I had a lot of proud moments with but I’ve never felt I was any better than anyone else.
I felt I was just doing what one should do. So it was a personal achievement and I needed to make progress because I had no help from anywhere else. And the gates were wide open, and we enjoyed a wonderful family life, and fortunately good health.
Always give back and Be Kind
Do you think the genuine nature of your relationships that you built, i.e during your real estate times, you would come across people that had lost their partners had to sell when they’d been in a house their whole entire lives.
I’ve always found that in my time, if you’re talking to somebody, talk about them, never talk about yourself. And it’s very interesting, if you listen to people and talk about them, you make friendship a lot easier.
Dad has a lot of empathy in his heart and even though he was a great businessman, there was always empathy and always kindness. That’s what I remember everyone saying about him.
Mateship and Values
Dad and his friends had an extraordinary bond. Still do to this day.
Do you think that having a good education and good values have set us all up to be humble and empathetic?
In those days it was much stronger than it’s these days, there’s a lot more loyalty about. And there was trust, you trusted everybody. We all seemed to be friends. We hang out with those who we had a lot in common with as well and for men in those days it was based around activity and day to day farm life as well.
I know Dad has certainly given me the gift of genuine connection for people.
I can always remember that our house was full of people, of international people, because my older brothers and sisters lived overseas so every Christmas would have different nationalities staying with us.
That’s correct. And it’s been very exciting and some of those friendships have lasted a long time, which has been a great asset to us. So we’ve met a lot of wonderful people through our children.
When I call Dad sometimes “Hey dad, how are you going?” And he says “Extra.” He always have these fantastic expressions. So I asked him for one piece of advice, on the spot – one mantra.
What’s one message he’d like to give anyone listening.
Life is what you make it. And enjoy regularity if you can, and good food, and family life.Trevor
Dad – I’m so thankful for the upbringing that you and mum have given us. There’s a complete wide eyed wonder every day I wake up as if I was five. You’ve given us this ability to look at the world in technicolour.
I think that if any parent can look back, and share the stories that you’ve shared with us over the years and around the fires and what you did regardless of circumstance – i.e. the fact that you had a boat and you took us water skiing and you couldn’t swim.
The friendships that you’ve made over the years, the loyalty that you have for your friends, and the love that you have and the pure, genuine soul that you are.
I’m just very proud to be your daughter and I hope that every day that you sit with a beer in the garage, in your beautifully organised work shed, that you know that every one of us is trying to live a legacy that you’ve created and passed it on.
Your drive has given me the tenacity, the work ethic, the values that make me really proud to be a little human. And that’s because of what you and mom have done.
It is the 8th of April 2019. This year you will be 90. To me you’re still 40 years old.
You’re still the dad that put me on the front of his saddle on the horse fencing, that let me drive the tractor with blocks on it because I couldn’t reach the pedals, that used to pick me up from boarding school and I’d write secret letters to, so I can have extra tuck shop money.
So I just want to say thank you for making me the person that I am today, and it’s just such a privilege to be able to share a little bit of your magic with my listeners.
Thanks for tuning in – we’d love your comments, you to share your family stories and also the things that make you proud of your legacy and impact in life.
Ensure you pay close attention to those who’ve walked this earth for longer that you may have – when you really listen the wisdom is wonderful and there is something very special about passing stories and history down through generations.
Never ever take that for granted. Be the change and the creator of your family legacy with purpose and pride.
Yours in Mojo
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