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Breaking the Stigma: One Entrepreneur’s Journey Through Depression and Success in Property Management | Darren Bennett

Today’s Guest Darren Bennett

Darren is an entrepreneur with itchy feet and loves to travel. He co-founded the Fortem Property with Omar and has been supporting international clients in the UK real estate market since 2012. He’s worked with a host of developers, landlords and investment agencies, and this experience has given him an excellent, all-round understanding of how to achieve success with property. He and Omar formed the business resolving to offer clients something new and different: better opportunities in the market, greater accountability and responsiveness, and ready access to genuine, honest advice.

  • Having a long-term therapist or mentor can be very helpful in dealing with mental health. Breaking down goals into achievable targets helps provide positivity.
  • Therapists can help condition the mind in the same way physical exercise conditions the body. There is a stigma around males seeking help, but it is important for men to reach out for assistance.
  • Brexit brought an opportunity in the form of devaluation of British sterling, however mortgage rates have since increased. To deal with the situation, Darren switched his business model to focus more on property management for residual income and stability.
  • There is a lot of money circulating in the system currently due to Government support, which may influence property prices. Darren predicts that interest rates will come down, but not to the levels they were before.
  • Darren loves to travel and recommends traveling and living abroad to those who can work remotely. He also exercises regularly to keep fit.

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Darren: Often there's this, um, this idea that the male has to be the strong one in the family. um, they can't have any problems. And, uh, you know, I think that's, uh, that's not always the case. I think males do struggle and they, they need to be able to reach out.

Matt: Welcome to Push to Be More with me, your host, Matt Edmundson. This is a show that talks about the stuff that makes life work and to help me do just that. I am chatting today with Darren Bennett from Fortem Property about where he's had to push through, the challenges he's had to face, uh, what he does to recharge his batteries and well basically where he sees being more,

uh, the show notes and transcripts will be made available on our website, uh, which you can get access to for free. Just go to, uh, to get those. And of course, if you are there, sign up for the newsletter because if you're subscribed to the newsletter, all of this stuff. Come straight to your inbox automagically.

Yes, it does. Now if you are watching the show, uh, you'll maybe notice I'm in a slightly different surrounding. I'm very excited because we are in our new studio, um, and there are a few things still to set up, like microphone, sensors, and I'm using the airpods.

Uh, but it is getting there and it's awesome. So, um, yeah, keep watching as we've got some really funky studio stuff coming up. All of that said this episode is brought to you by uh, the Aurion Media Podcast Network.

Aurion media helps entre entrepreneurs and business leaders, uh, set up and run their own successful podcast. That's what they do. Uh, Darren, you know what? I've found running my own podcast to be utterly amazing, totally rewarding. It builds networks like nothing. I have. seen. It's unbelievable the doors that podcasting will open.

And if you are wondering about whether or not to do podcasting for your own business, give Aurion media a try, that's A U R I O N You can find them, of course, they're linked on the website as well, but give them a call, see if they can help, because they got some really clever strategies. Uh, which will help you grow your, uh, business using podcasts.

In fact, if you're listening to this show pre March 16th, uh, you might wanna check out the event we're doing, how to use Podcasts to grow your business. How to use podcasting to grow your business? On LinkedIn. Do check that out. It's gonna be epic. And I dare say, if you're listening to this after March 16th, 2023, then you'll be able to watch the replay. Oh yes, definitely worth doing. Uh, we'll link to that on the website So let's talk about Darren. Uh, I'm gonna have to read my notes.

Uh, Darren is an entrepreneur with itchy feet. And loves to travel. He co-founded Fortem property with Omar and has been supporting international clients in the UK real estate market since 2012. He's worked with a host of developers, landlords, and investment agencies, and this experience has has given him an excellent, all round understanding of how to achieve success with property.

That's definitely not my story. Uh, just wanna point that out. Uh, I, I could write a book on how not to do property, uh, He and Omar form the business resolving to offer clients something new and different, uh, better opportunities in the market, greater accountability and responsiveness and ready access to genuine, honest advice.

Sounds amazing. Uh, Darren, thanks for joining me on the show. Great to have you.

Darren: Thanks Matt. Good to be here.

Matt: No, it's great. It's great to have you. Uh, I've been looking forward to this one. Cause like I say, property is definitely not my forte. So having a property guru on the, on the show, I might have to pick your brains a little bit.

Um, so yeah. So Darren, let's jump into this. Let's jump into the show. I know you've been really open, not just about your skill with property, uh, but about your struggle with mental health. So I wanna jump into that if we can.

I said it in the, in the bio. You've got itchy feet, you travel a lot. You've got a brand new family. Uh, well, I say brand new. To me it's brand new. Uh, it's, it's kind of new. Um, and you run this property business in the midst of what can only be described as political and economic turmoil. Um, all complaints, all complex things to juggle whilst suffering with depression, struggling with mental health. So I'm really keen, let's start there.

What's been the key for you, uh, in, in, in managing all these, all these balls that you seem to be juggling?

Darren: I mean, it's challenging. Um, all of it is, is challenging both personally, um, you know, in and outside of the work.

Um, very, very difficult. I think, um, the main thing is you gotta keep focused on your goals. You gotta keep focused. on What you want to achieve, um, and sort of take each day as it comes. I, I think, to, to try and plan five years, 10 years in advance now is, is very difficult cuz of everything that's going on.

So, um, so yeah, I think taking each day as it comes and, um, and, and just trying to enjoy it, I think along the way. Um, I think we often lose sight of that sometimes. So yeah, certainly certainly enjoy the, um, enjoy the experience. I think is, uh,

Matt: Enjoy the, enjoy the ride. So are you one of these guys that would normally set like goals or, um, sort of five, 10 years in the, in the future? You said it's difficult to do that now. Is that your default or is that just something that never really you, you never really did anyway.

Darren: I used to when I was younger to try and set sort of life goals or, you know, five, 10 year goals in advance. But, um, you know, running your own business, you know, of course you can have a vision for that company. But, you know, everything changes. We've seen that with obviously the state of. the politics and everything that's gone on, and brexit,

You know, you've got to be, you've got to be ready on hand to, to be able to change very, very quickly and adapt to market situations. So of course it's good to have that long term, but I think it's also about being realistic and, um, and, and sort of, you know, we try to plan six to sort of 18 months, maybe 24 months in. advance And really. deal with that, and then, and then plan forward from there.

So I think that's more important, smaller bite size goals are now more achievable. It's actually more rewarding as well when you hit a goal and you, you achieve it. It gives you the optimism, that you can go on and achieve the next one.

Um, there's nothing like waiting five years for a goal. And often. You generally find that if you, if you set yourself a five year goal it'll take you till the fifth year to do it. If you set yourself a one year goal, then you're more than likely to achieve it in the one year. So, um, I think that's kind of more important, really. Um, but yeah, difficult at the moment. very challenging.

Matt: Yeah, I think it's difficult in the current climate because you just dunno what's gonna happen do you, in the next four to five years. Um, but I I I, I get that there are goals setting experts listening to the show just going, well, hang on a minute.

No, no, no, let's not throw the baby out with a bathwater. Um, which I don't, I is not what I think you're doing, but I get the point that actually, um, the need to sort of focus on something for the next 12 to 18 months. But I'm curious. how has your struggle with mental health?

How, how have you, I mean, you, you sort of say you, you do these short-term goals, but how do you, how do you, on a day-to-day practical basis, um, deal with, the, the, the struggles of mental health and the, you know, the, the, the business as it were.

Darren: Uh, in truth, it's, it's very challenging. It is very, very difficult. I think that the thing that has helped me most and um, and there's a certain stigma around certainly with males is, is having somebody there to talk to. You know, I have a therapist, I've had it, uh, last five or six years. And it's a huge benefit. Um, you work through your problems together, you've gotta be open and be able to discuss them. And no matter how big the conversation is or how big the topic is, um, you know, you start somewhere.

And I think that to have a long term, uh, whether you look at therapist, mentor, however it is, you know, to have somebody there outside of your family, your friends, your work environment is a huge, is a huge help.

So for me, that's key. Um, that really is key. And, um, uh, and I think, you know, bringing it back into business life, it's, it's, it, it's about trying to, trying to get through the day and trying to set yourself those mini goals to know what to aim for, whether it's a weekly goal, whether it's a monthly goal or a quarterly goal.

Breaking it down, making it. making it more achievable and, and seeing something at the end that is, gives us that positivity. And I think sometimes the Challenge of depression is not everybody can understand what it is or exactly how you feel, but certainly there's a negaive feeling there. There's a cloud, there's a heavy feeling.

So, you know, to give us some optimism and positivity, it definitely helps. It certainly certainly helps. So, um, the, the smaller, these smaller targets, uh, have definitely helped me over the last few years as well trying to share that with people around me or the team, um, to also do the same. Um, because things go so quickly at the moment, you know, before we know it, where it's summer and you know, you, you feel like you've wasted or you've, you know, lost three, four months have gone so quickly.

So you've, um, I think those, these smaller, smaller targets are definitely, definitely a big help. Definitely a big help. So,

Matt: Yeah. yeah. Nice. And it's interesting you talked about, there's a couple of things that I want to pick up on if I can. Um, the first one you mentioned was the stigma associated. with, um, depression, mental health issues, certainly for men.

Um, and the second thing was that you, you sort of see a therapist. I remember the first time we spoke, you're like, I think everyone should see a therapist or just think everyone should just do that, whether they struggle with depression or not.

So I'm curious to dig in. Let's dig into the therapist thing first. Why? Why do you think everybody should see a, therapist?

Darren: Well, the same reason that you go to the dentist or you go to the doctor to get a checkup. Um, you know, it's, or the same reason that some people go to the gym is to keep healthy, you know, to condition their body. I think we all need it to condition our mind, you know, it's complex, it's a complex thing. And, um, you know, we're surrounded by negativity, you know, media, social media, um, everybody. is perhaps portraying an image that is not genuinely them, or we're always given negative news.

So I think to have somebody there to help condition your mindset and to actually make you realize, you know, what's inside of you and what keeps you that drive, I think it's so important now.

Um, so, you know, I I have family, I have friends that go to see therapists and everybody has their problems and own issues and, and I think it's a safe place to talk. I think it's a place that you can go without having judgment as well. I think that's the key.

Um, so it's, it's a, it's a safe place for people to, to go there and, and talk and reflect on, um, maybe how they felt during that week or an experience that they've had or something that they've overcome. So, yes. It's vital. I think it's more, I think in some ways I think it's up there with, um, you know, the necessity to eat and drink, um, I think to have a therapist is just as important. So, that?

I think, well the stigma around males doing it is often there's this, um, this idea that the male has to be the strong one in the family. um, they can't have any problems. And, uh, you know, I think that's, uh, that's not always the case. I think males do struggle and they, they need to be able to reach out. And we also have one of the highest amount of suicides, don't we, amongst young men at the moment.

So, yeah, big problem. Social media definitely doesn't help, uh, definitely doesn't help the situation.

Matt: No, I, I, I don't think it does. I don't think it does at all. And it's interesting you mentioned that actually, because. I, I have, I mean, I have real issues with social media in a lot of ways because of what it does for your mental health. But I mean, that, you know, that's maybe another soapbox for another day.

Um, but I am curious for you, Darren, at what point did you decide I need to go see a therapist? Because you said you this, you've been seeing a therapist like seven years, and I'm curious just to dig into that a little bit because it, there is a stigma attached to it, so there was something you had to overcome to go, yeah, this was a good idea.

And I'm curious, what was that turning point for you? What was that?

Darren: Uh, I started out with marriage counseling, so I was previously married and, um, we agreed to do, um, counseling for that and it eventually, the marriage ended and I continued the therapy and that led into, um, sort of further things. And, and I, I had therapy for about three years. I stopped it for about a year.

and then one of my good friends passed away and I sort of picked it back up again and felt the urge to, to sort of recondition and to talk to someone about the situation and how I felt about it.

So really the, the, the part that kicked it off was, was a, was a failed marriage, which, um, seemed to becoming more and more popular these days, um,

Matt: Oh yeah.

Darren: Yeah. So, um, it seems like it's part of life now, um, to failed marriage. But, um, yeah, that, that was really what, what, what started it off and, um, and thankfully still there, um, still doing therapy with the same person.

Um, and it's, and it's really helped. Um, I, I've actually, I actually don't have a business coach or, or a mentor or anything like that, but I combine the two into therapy. but I find it, I find it that helpful. So um, so

Matt: yeah, that's a good point. I have, um, I have a coach, a mentor in business and I coach or mentor other people in business and sometimes there is this sort of fine line, isn't there? It's like, is is, is this therapy? Is this coaching? I don't know, but we seem to be enjoying ourselves and it seems to be helping, so that's good.

What would your advice be then to someone who's maybe listening to the show who is struggling a little bit from a mental health point of view, how? How would you go about finding a therapist? I mean, what would be some of the things that you would advise them?

Darren: I actually find it's more difficult to speak to friends and family sometimes about issues, um, that you may have. And, um, it's like getting advice from a friend when you're ill or from a doctor.

I think it's quite clear that you'd rather go to a doctor to give you medical advice. And I think the same is with therapy. Um, so actually I find it, I still find it quite difficult to talk to friends and families about things.

So, you know, there's lots of things. Now, um, we've, we've signed everyone up to Bupa. Um, everyone in the company has private, um, medical, uh, insurance. So they can go through that and at any point they can, they can sign up, they can talk to someone. You've got the NHS as well.

You can go through that, or you can do it completely private. So you can search on Google. um, whether you actually physically go and see someone or whether you do it, you know, like this remotely, uh, video calls, they're both really, really helpful.

Um, so it's, it's, it's quite easy to access and obviously it can vary in price depending on how many sessions that you do. Uh, how often you do. I mean, I do it once a week and that's gonna be up to twice a week now, so. um, it's, it's kind of there.

Some people do it once a month, but I think it. , I think it's a topic and a, and a, a program that you need to do regularly. You can't just do it once and then leave it for six months and come back. You have to, you have to keep at it because it does, um, unravel more things and, uh, quite an uncomfortable experience really is uncomfortable, but at the same time rewarding.

Um, so yeah, highly, highly recommend it for. . anyone.

Matt: Yeah. Yeah. A friend of mine who is a counselor, he, he was saying that, He does a lot of work, um, through the website, Um, and so this seems to be coming up quite a lot of places. So if you do need the therapist if you are struggling with mental health, do get help.

Um, and a great website to help you get started is Um, I, this is not a paid affiliate or anything like that. I just know there are some really great people on there that can help you with just sort of get going with the whole therapy and counseling. So do check that out. And of course if you are a male, um, Campaign Against Living Miserably, CALM, uh, is a great charity that helps, um, men as well with, uh, mental health issues.

So you can check them out. C A L M, campaign against Living Miserably. Um, I'm sure they'd love to help as well. So, you've, you've got this underlying depression, uh, which you seem to be managing well. You, you've got your therapy, you've got sort of short term targets and goals. So put that aside.

How, how have you found it running a property business, Um, in the current economic climate. I mean, that just strikes me as a challenge in itself.

Darren: Challenging in every aspect. Um, there's, there's the challenges. in the, in the industry that have never really changed, and then you've got new challenges and obviously, um, you know, we had the Brexit situation, which there's always an opportunity in a crisis, so obviously the Brexit situation happened and the opportunity was the devaluation of a pound.

So it did mean that if, if you were an overseas investor and, and you look to the long term stability of the uk, questionable, but the property market itself, if you look to the stability, you're actually doing very well, buying pound because of, because of the de depreciation.

If you fast forward, and obviously we had super, super low interest rates for such a long time and obviously they've started to really hike back up and that has made Life quite difficult for mortgage buyers, for current mortgage buyers

that are re-mortgaging or you know, homeowners as well. Um, but also for new investors entering into the market and it affects everybody. you know, it affects developers because when they're buying and they're building, they're using finance as well.

So obviously that has to push up the values because they need to pass that cost on. Um, And that obviously suppresses the, the return because, you know, higher, higher, um, higher build costs, higher land costs, um, higher values.

Obviously, you know, the rentals have increased as well with not in the same avenue as, or not in the same spectrum as, as the, as the property values. So, you know, for buyers entering into the market, it's now becoming that where they may be transacting at maybe 6% yield, they now need to be seeking 8% For an example. So it, it just makes it that it's difficult. There's a limited amount of supply at the moment anyway. Um, and so that, that has really come along in the past six months, I think.

There is the mortgage rates that are dropping, but they're nowhere near what they used to be. Um, you know, they're still very, very expensive. Um, so you, you have those problems that obviously, you know, we've had to deal with. Um, we switched the business model slightly. So we've now heavily focused on property management. Um, as well. We run that alongside the sales and that offers the business stability, residual income, um, which is, which is quite good.

Um, but you still have the same problems in the industry. You know, it's just very, very slow to do business. Of course, there is examples out there where people are exchanging and completing very, very quick. Um, but as a, as a. As the norm, you know, it's just very cumbersome. It's, you know, it's 6, 6, 6 months, four to six months for a buyer, uh, to complete on a transaction, you know, moving house. You know, you're selling. Generally a six month transaction and it's very, very painful.

Um, so there's a lot of businesses that are struggling at the moment through cash flow, really are struggling. Um, but like we say, out of every crisis there is an opportunity as well. So there's a lot of people that are sitting on money at the moment building up good cash reserves and you know, for the right thing, they're able to pick it up quite cheap and make good money from it. Cash is King at the moment. Definitely. Um, it's,

Matt: Cash is always king.

Darren: Always Yeah. So it's, uh, it is a big advantage at the moment. But, you know, those, those investors are, like I say, seeking those higher returns, whereas, you know, they would've been taking a couple of percent more six months ago. Um, but yeah, Yes,

Matt: That's really interesting. You talked, yeah. It's interesting you talked about how you've pivoted your business. Um, so you're now doing a lot more property management and my, I'm not a property expert, Darren, and I, what I hear you say is, um, you know, buying and selling property is good, but it, it's a bit boom bust. You, you know, it's, whereas property management is a bit more, um, of a consistent cash flow, right?

So it, it, it, it sort of covers your basic overhead costs. and then the property sales on top of that a wonderful thing. It's actually, I actually call this the show hammer effect for reasons I won't bore you with. Um, but it's, it's, it's really interesting that you, how have you found that switch to trying to generate smaller amounts of income, but on a much regular basis to help you, uh, through the, through this period?

Darren: Uh, it is been challenging because we've built the business up through referrals. You know, ever since I've run my own business, it's always been Referrals. We don't really have a large marketing footprint. We don't spend money on marketing at all. We have, we have a little bit of social media, but it doesn't, it's more brand awareness than anything.

It doesn't, we don't pay for any leads or business to come through that. So it, it takes a lot of networking, it takes a, a lot of relationship building to have, um, people and companies that trust you to refer clients to you. Um, but once you have those relationships established, the aim is that new business just keeps on coming in.

So we've, we've grown, we've sort of, we've, we've doubled the property management in the last year and we're looking to double that again in terms of the amount of properties that we have on the management. Um, and that is really a security for us. It's, um, firstly it gives the business a value, um, because if we were to ever sell the business, that's what, well, that's what we would be valued on.

Um, which is important for us, but it also provides security for all of the staff that all their costs or wages are covered. Um, and obviously gives us, um, um, hopefully some profit as well. And like you say, the sales on top of it are, are, the, um, uh, you know, is, is the extra bit of, is the extra bit of profit. And of course,

you know, when it's good, you, you make the most of it. Um, but when times are bad, you can almost fall back on that property management income. Um, so, so that's really been the plan for us. And, and, and it's definitely the plan this year going forward. We're of course, you know, eager and still doing more sales, um, you know, are still quite active there,

But really our, um, our focus this year is the, is the property management. So,

Matt: So where do you see, I'm just kind of curious, you, maybe you'll know better than, than most, but where do you see. where do you see things like interest rates, the economy? What? What's your sort of prediction if you have one? Or is it just like, we genuinely don't know. Cause it's just all so crazy right now?

Darren: Uh, I think everyone in some ways obviously can make a calculated judgment, but the reality is nobody actually knows what's gonna happen.

We've seen it with the property pricing. Everyone has had speculation that it's gonna drop. Others say it's fine. Others say, we're gonna have a boom. You know? No, nobody really knows.

But I suppose, um, I, I suppose my, my thought is that I think interest rates will drop, the base rate will, will come down nowhere near to back what it was. You know, I think those days are gone for quite some time. I think there's a lot of money in the system at the moment. You know, we're still, um, we've got all the bounce back loans, all the government's support through Covid as well.

So, you know, there's a, there's a lot of money circulating around. But I do think that investors are going to have to get used to these newer, newer rates and um, and something's got to give, I think, um, because developers are genuinely struggling to build. Um, and you know, for as long as they struggle to build, my view is that property prices will remain high because there is not enough coming through to the market, but there is still.

the appetite for people to buy it. Now whether they can or can't buy it, that's a different question, but they have the appetite to buy, move home, downsize, upsize. So, um, I really think that the government needs to, the main thing I personally think is the government needs to evaluate their planning departments to really free up and make the process easier for these developers which will, um, which will drive things forward.

So, um, so, let's see. Um, but yeah, I think in short interest rates will come down, but nowhere near to where they, nowhere near to where they were, um,

Matt: It'd be interesting, won't it, because I, I mean, I know you have, um, when we were talking before, you've got a, a, quite a new family, haven't you? And well, a new addition to your family a a younger addition. Um, my. My kids are the other side of the spectrum. Uh, so,

um, I've two boys both at uni, both sort of figuring out what they wanna do for a career. And I look at them and I think, how on earth are you guys in the next few years gonna get onto the property ladder with interest rates being the way they are, um, with, with, um, you know, with property prices being the way they are.

So it just doesn't make, I don't understand how they would afford, uh, unless, you know, I get involved and, and help them out. Um, but I, I think being a first time buyer in this current market, I mean that, I dunno what your experience is here, Darren, but for me that's, I, I, I, just don't see how a lot of people can afford to buy a property now.

Darren: It's true, but then again, I mean my parents probably thought the same. Me growing up, how on earth is how Kids can get this and somehow, you know, some of us do and, and some of us, you know, obviously rent. And I think

it, it, it is a difficult thing, but I, I also think that more needs to be done from the government. You know, it, it, it's all well and good saying, well, that's what the prices are. And, um, you know, but like I say, you know, freeing up planning departments, making it easier, um, making it easier for these developers to actually build out. Um, will, will, you know, relieve, uh, relieve some, some, some stress on the market.

Matt: Yeah.

Darren: I, I, I, do think it's gonna be difficult. I mean, now, you know, to buy into London, unless you are getting a big bonus or, you know, you run a very healthy pay packet, you know, the days of buying into london are, are quite difficult now.

Um, and, and it's not necessarily about if you've got the deposit or not. It's, it's also linked to your salary because the banks are going to lend, you know, between five to five and a half percent on, on your salary. So if you're on a hundred thousand, you know, they give you a loan of half a million pound, um, which is still a good loan amount. But then if you don't have the deposit for it, or you need, you need a higher loan to value, for example, it's just not gonna work.

And the, and the banks are restricting that, obviously, because they don't wanna repeat of 2008.

Matt: Yeah.

Darren: It is challenging. Um, I, everyone's trying to call down the market, but I don't think really people can call down the market, and I think the people that are responsible for doing it are pointing fingers outwards rather than inwards, is my view.

Um, we've seen it recently with talks of rent control in London. Um, you know, controlling, trying to control a, a, a rental price is, in my opinion, the worst idea ever because you are. Then landlords are going to leave the market. which means there's even fewer property available, which means actually the rents go higher.

Why not allow developers to build more, put more people into your planning departments, into your councils, and encourage developers to build. And therefore your rent won't increase as much as they have done. Um, that's, that's my, that's my view on it. But of course we've got a housing minister that doesn't last more than three months, so it's quite difficult to do isn't it? Um,

Matt: lasting longer than the Prime Ministers of the moment. No, it's true. And I, I, I was, um, I was reading in the paper the other day that they have this issue in Scotland. don't they? That they, cuz they have rent controls up in Scotland that actually a lot of the buy to let. Um, uh, guys now are just going, yeah, I'm out because I, it just doesn't make sense.

And so now there's a big shortage of property for people to actually rent. So, um, it is an interesting problem. So, I mean, prop.

Darren: You've got, just, just just to add to that, sorry. You, you've also got, because of the, because of the interest rates are so high now, um, and because of the, the property values, there's a lot of landlords that are now choosing to do short-term, lets to make back the loss that they, that they are making, because also the government is, you know,

putting a lot of tax, uh, implications on, on buy to Let landlords. So the idea of short term lets, is great, but it doesn't cater towards an individual or a couple or family, that wants to rent some 12 months, who actually it removes the availability of long-term property that's available to rent.

So actually the, it's a, it's a double edged sword here. You are making it, that there's not enough property available and the ones that are available are on short term lets. Uh, and you know, so you've got this problem with the rental market and also getting onto the property ladder. So it's a, it's a very, very tough time at the moment for, for property buyers. Um, so yeah, not, not sure how that's going to change.

Matt: No, I, I, I don't know either. Uh, Darren, it's an interesting one. I, I do know that my son at Uni. He's become very aware of things like Van Life you know, so I'm just gonna live in the back of a van for a few years, dad at uni, and save myself all that money. And I'm like, well, I, I can totally see why you would.

Do you know what I mean? It's, um, it's an interesting one. So let's switch gears a little bit. Darren what do you do? Um, I mean, you've talked a little bit, I suppose, about your, um, regular therapy, but do you do anything else to sort of fill your tank, recharge your batteries?

Darren: Traveling's the big thing. We've recently just come back to London. Um, but I was, um, uh, I was traveling with work, sort of a bit of a nomad following my partner. Um, and we did quite a bit in South America, central America, and most recently we were over in Southeast Asia.

Uh, real good buzz from traveling.

Matt: Hmm.

Darren: um, you know, mixing with different cultures, eating different foods gives you a satisfaction that's, you know, just in my view, brilliant. Um and, uh, yeah, very lucky to be able to do, to do both. So for me, the traveling is a, is a big thing, but obviously, um, the more you eat, you've kind of got to exercise a little bit as well.

Um, so, so do, do try and do the the both of them? No. Nothing, you know, no. CrossFit or marathons, anything like this. but Just, just general. General. Good. Um, good upkeep, um, general fitness.

Yeah. So, um, yeah, I think that's, that's the, that's the main thing for me. I'd recommend it to anyone, you know, if, if your job does allow you to work and you're good at what you do, and you've, you've got dedication to be able to, to, to get the work done in time, then do, do experience traveling, um, you know, try and live abroad.

Um, it's not, it's not for everyone. Not everyone can do it, and also some people don't want to do it. But if you do have itchy feet like I do, and uh, and you want an excuse to get up, try and find a company that offers that. And, um, yeah, it's, it's fantastic. We allow everyone to be hybrid, uh, to work from home.

Obviously some, some, jobs do dictate that, you know, we need to be a bit closer. Um, you know, we need to be around the properties, but for some of the staff, they don't need to be, so they can literally be anywhere. So,

Matt: yeah, can be anywhere in the world.

Darren: Good. good job satisfaction for them. So. um,

Matt: Yeah, no, I get that. I, I I get the, um, the, the appeal in the last few years of things like the digital nomad visa, which allows you to travel and, you know, work remotely because you've got a job and there's a lot of countries that are sort of welcoming you in now.

Um, it's interesting. Is it, how did you get started in travel? Did you just, just happenstance or was it, uh, very intentional?

Darren: Uh, I think, I think when I was younger I, I did enjoy, you know, any, any opportunity I got. I just wanted to go and see something new. Experience something new, or I've always been into food. I used to be a chef, so for me to go and try new food was always, was always good. Um, and I think just, you know, I was quite lucky with some of the jobs I did.

You know, my, you know, my, my salary was quite good and, you know, you'd go away at Easter and Christmas and things like this, try and experience new things and um, and then sort of fell into running my own business and kind of, um, took advantage of that a little bit more, you know, traveling and working abroad. and, um, sort of put a bit of a bucket list together, I suppose, of places that I want to go.

We did actually quite a bit of traveling through Covid. Once I managed to get out of the uk it was actually fairly easy to move around. But, um, we have a, we have an office in kuwait as well. Obviously my business partner's from there, so I do try and get out there once, twice a year.

Um, and, and then I was also sort of back and forth living in Dubai for about a year and a half as well.

So you know, that that kind of, um, , I suppose that urge to keep moving and to keep traveling is, is quite exciting, really. Maybe I'm running from something I don't know. but it's definitely, it's definitely a nice, it is definitely a nice experience. Plus I love the sun. Um, you know, that is the main thing. I, I would

Matt: yeah.

Darren: choose a summer holiday over a winter one. Um, so I think that's where it really started. Any holiday that I had, I would always choose a hot country. and then I think I just kind of exploited that and thought let's just keep going to hot countries.

And obviously South and Central America and Southeast Asia are all pretty much hot. So, um, so yeah, that was a real, real sort of bonus for me. But, um,

Matt: Yeah. Yeah, that sounds awesome. I'm, I'm very envious of people that, that travel. Uh, my

Darren: well I'm back here now in London, so yeah, no need to be envious now.

Matt: That's true. I was in London at the weekend. I, I don't envy people living in London. I'm not gonna lie.

Um, but no, just the travel. And I, I've been talking to my wife about it actually, because the nature of my job is actually, I don't need to be here. I, we could do, um, her job's a little bit different, so I think it's a slightly different conversation.

Um, But yeah, there's a, there's a possibility, you know, that idea of when Zoe, my daughter's sort of got through her exams in the next year or two to spend in sort of four or five years traveling before you get to the next phase of life,

why not, um, see the world in a different place? So what do you, what are your plans? Uh, your, I guess you, you know, you don't think too far in the future. You don't think four or five years in the future. But what if you had, if you had a little wishlist of things that, you know, could happen for you, for family, for the business, what, what would it be?

Darren: The business is still a startup, so we're two and a half years in and we're obviously still trying to grow that business. Not in terms of numbers of staff or, um, you know, we're just trying to stabilize the business, really. We, i, there there's opportunity coming I think, but also for us it's more about stability.

um, mine of that is really to be, um, more of an advisory consultancy business rather than being a team of 40, 50 people. You know, there's eight of us at the moment, um, including myself and Omar, and we plan to stick it to around that size, uh, you know, to keep it there.

So really, you know, over the next two years, three years, it's, it's, it's just about stability, regular income for us, um, to repay some of our investment that we've put into the business. we don't foresee wanting to sell the business at all. Um, it provides, you know, good long-term income for us both. Um,

so that on the business side of things, that's really it. Just navigating through the storm at the moment and, and trying to deal with, with that. Um, so that's, that's kind of our, our key area of focus and just keep trying to enjoy life, I suppose. Keep traveling, keep seeing different things.

Obviously I've got a 10 month old baby, so that's, that's an experience, uh, you know, seeing her grow up. So

Matt: It's challenging in its own right. yeah,

Darren: it is a challenge. And, um, you know, that that's the plan for us really. Um, so yeah, just kind of trying to juggle the two really. And, uh, and yeah, just, just, just enjoying it. Um, just trying to enjoy life. And, um, I know it's a bit cliche, but, um, you know, if you live every day, like it's your last, then, then one day you'll be right, won't you?

So, it's, I don't mean to go all out every single day, but you know, if there is one thing that comes up as a problem, you know, try and remember, you know, that, you know, it's tomorrow, for example. And just to, just to keep moving forward.

Matt: Yeah.

Darren: Yeah. Can be difficult. It can be

Matt: Top advice. Top advice. So, Darren, listen as we, uh, I'm aware of time, right? And, um, uh, these conversations always have a habit of going super quick. Um, but as you know, this show is sponsored by Aurion Media, which specializes in helping folks, people like yourself, people in business, uh, and set up and run their own podcast.

So I'm kind of curious if you had a podcast yourself, who would be a guest on the show and why? Anybody past, present, or future? Someone that's had a big impact on your life, who would it be?

Darren: I'd love to interview my granddad. Uh, he passed away a good few years ago now, but I think he would be one of the first people that I, that I'd get onto it. Um, a completely different life. He was, uh, he was the village man that everybody knew. Uh, so humble and. um, Yeah, just, just, just a, just a, an amazing guy. Um, sort of my hero growing up really. So I think that would be, that would be somebody that I'd love to, um, that would, that would love to interview. Um, I,

I'd actually like as well, um, Alex, Alex Ferguson as well for something, you know, growing up when I was younger. uh, I love football. Unfortunately, I support Tottenham, So it's not, it's not the best of. uh, It's never the best, it's never the best of years for us to be honest. But his, his, um, I think his mentality to just keep going year after year.

If you look now in football, managers really only have 18 months to 24 months. and he had this ability to keep rejuvenating. To keep, to keep, um, when somebody did leave, you know, and we see this in, in work life. You know, you can be an owner of a company and your your number one salesperson leaves and you've got to have this mentality to, to, to keep going.

And, um, Ferguson had that, you know, he had some really sort of big name footballers playing for him. They left or they got old and they retired and he kept having the ability to bring, to bring through people. I think it's an amazing skill to have that that

that sort of, um, man management or person management to be able to get the best out of someone.

So I think that would be my two to start with, um, might have to put for the others. But, um,

Matt: It'd be really interesting. Guess i, I mean, I I I can see why you'd like to interview your granddad, cuz I'd love to, I'd never really knew my grandfather, so I'd, I'd, be the same. I'd like, I'd, I'd just love to know what kind of people they were.

Um, but I like you, I'm not a man United fan. Uh, but I, I do think alex, Alex Ferguson is one of those guys where you're just like, I would love to have a conversation with you, um, and just. understand your sort of viewpoint on life because he was so successful and so dominant for such a period of time. The irony is, of course, um, for those listening outside of the uk, Alex ferguson was a football club manager, Manchester United.

Um, if Alex Ferguson was appointed to a club now, He would be sacked, wouldn't he? Because he didn't actually have success for a little while. Um and

Darren: he nearly himself at Man U as well.

Matt: Yeah. Really interesting, isn't it? And actually then it all came good for him. And so, um, so yeah, interesting podcast guests there. Darren. Very interesting podcast guests.

Darren: If you do get him signed up, let me know. I'd love to come on as a, as a joint host, so,

Matt: Yeah. Yeah. Be part of the Crowd.

Uh, let's do it. We'll do it live and we'll have people can, Um, no, that's awesome, man. Listen, how do people reach you? How do they get ahold of you if they want to do that?

Darren: Uh, so our website, I think it's here on the, on the banner as well. I'm quite active on LinkedIn, um, as well. So, you know, if you search, if you go onto our actual website, down at the bottoms, or the social media icons, we're on Instagram, we're on LinkedIn.

Um, and of course my details are on the website as well. If you just click on the, about us, all of our team is there. Phone number, email, um, and feel free to reach out and, um, yeah, I'd love. to have a conversation with anyone.

Um, anyone needs any help, advice? We do. I do some charity work as well, sort of helping, um, younger people, um, maybe people from, um, sort of less privileged backgrounds, really just to help them sort of sort out their CVs, give them some, some advice.

Um, it's a brilliant charity, um, run by a really, really good guy, Kevin. And, uh, yeah, just doing some amazing things. The details are on my LinkedIn actually. If you go on, just scroll down. to the, the, the jobs I have, or the roles I have, and it's, and it's there, um, bridging barriers, it's called. Fantastic. So, um, yeah, really good guy. So, um, yeah, anyone else wants any advice or help let us know.

Matt: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well do link through to Darren. We will of course, uh, link to Darren in the show notes. We'll also run a link to his LinkedIn profile and to the charity as well. Sounds great actually, uh, that whole side of things.

So, uh, Darren, listen, it's been an absolute treat, bud. Really appreciate you being on the show. Thanks for joining us. Uh, time has flown by, Uh, and, uh, all the best with the 10 month old, uh, as well as the, the, business, uh, and, and, and all that. But thanks for sharing. Thanks for being super kind with you, your wisdom and your insight, especially around the mental health thing. I really appreciate that.

Darren: Yeah, lovely. Thanks. Uh, thanks for having me as well. It's been great.

Matt: Oh, that's been fab. So there you go. Another Push to Be More podcast. Uh, big shout out again to Darren for joining me. What a legend.

Uh, enjoyed that conversation. If you do struggle with mental health or depression, uh, as I said, a good website, is a great place to go and access. Um, a whole, bunch of that, Counselors and therapists, they're all on Do check them out. Or campaigning against Living miserably is another good place to go. Um, so yeah. Thanks Darren again for joining me.

Uh, big shout out to Aurion Media four sponsoring the show. If you are an entrepreneur business leader and you are wondering whether podcasting can help you grow your business, do check them out A U R I O N media dot com. I'm sure they would love to hear from you.

Uh, and in case no one has told you yet today you dear listener, are awesome. Yes you are. It's just a burden you have to bear. Darren has to bear it. I have to bear it. We've just been created awesome. what can I do with that?

Uh, push to be more, uh, is produced by Aurion Media. You can find our entire archive of episodes on your favorite podcast app. The team that makes this show possible is Sadaf Beynon, Josh Catchpole, Estella Robin and Tim Johnson. Uh, our theme music was written by Josh Edmundson. And like I said, if you would like the transcript or show notes from today's show, do head over to the website, where you can find them for free.

So that's it for me. That's it from Darren. Thank you so much for joining us this week. Uh, until next time. Bye for now.