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Pete O’Keeffe: “Spend less than you earn”

Understand you can make a profit but still go bankrupt, but if you have cashflow, you’ll be OK. Spend less than you earn. Use the 70:10:10:10 rule. 10% to savings, 10% to investing, 10% to tithing, live on the 70% left As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader […]

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Understand you can make a profit but still go bankrupt, but if you have cashflow, you’ll be OK.

Spend less than you earn.

Use the 70:10:10:10 rule. 10% to savings, 10% to investing, 10% to tithing, live on the 70% left


As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Pete O’Keeffe, International Author, Speaker and Mentor, who has started & run multiple successful businesses.

Pete & Janelle have 6 children, who they are extremely proud of. They have provided the same opportunities to their children as they have to Business owners to be successful.

Their children have gone to achieve in their various fields of endeavour, such as International Rugby Referee, & Doctor of Ophthalmology, Olympian, NZ National dancer, USA University scholarship recipients, NZ Army Special Forces, & PhD in Virus identification.


Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’m Pete O’Keeffe, the Co-Founder & C.E.O. of Global Business Success Ltd which I started, to help other B/O’s become successful Leaders in their community and in their own Business.

Global Business Success Ltd, leverages my 22 years of being a high-ranking Police & Army Officer, and rugby referee, and 23 years running multiple Businesses and training and mentoring B/O’s in the corporate world to become great leaders.

Besides starting and owning multiple Businesses, I have been a bank manager in 2 countries, and I have also been a property developer and started the Marlborough Property Investors Association and was their 1st President, and am now a Life member.

Not many people know but:

  • I have had my Pilots Licence since 1979, which includes an aerobatic rating, and I am rated on all single engine aircraft
  • I once ran myself so hard in an ultra-marathon, that I ran myself into the ground literally, and ended up in intensive care for 5 days
  • I have 6 children; Ben is an Ophthalmologist and international Rugby referee. Michael obtained a full football scholarship to Fairfield University in Connecticut and represented NZ in the 2012 Olympics, Louisa also obtained a full rowing scholarship to West Virginia University and is now an Industrial Engineer. Claire was a National dancer for NZ and represented Australia in the World X-Fit championships, Scott was in the NZ Special Forces, and Callum is doing a PhD in Viral immunology.
  • I have been involved in 4 major crashes that should have ended my life. Once in a Police car at 80mph, once on my motorbike at 60mph, once running the ultra-marathon at 5mph and once in a jetboat on a braided river hitting a bank at 25mph.
  • I have a lifetime of experiences.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I was sitting in my office. The phone rand and I answered it. It was someone wanting help with their business. I was so excited, a real live client, — my first one! They started asking me questions and I was giving them all the information they required. The WHY, the HOW, I gave it all away thinking I was doing a great thing. I was giving it to them for FREE!!!! All of a sudden, they said thanks, that’s all I need. Before I could get their details, they hung up. I found out later that they were from an opposition company and I had blurted out all my IP — on the phone, without getting their details. I felt so stupid!!!!

The lesson I learnt: Give people the WHY they need you. Don’t give them the HOW until they pay you!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Jessen James. We were 4 days away from leaving the UK, returning to New Zealand, when he stopped us!!! He is our Mentor, who we do exactly as he says.

Have you ever had a time in your life where you’ve started on a journey, only to find out it isn’t the right journey!

In 2014 Janelle and I bought into a Franchise in the UK as we had

  • no family,
  • no networks or
  • friends here.

It seemed the logical thing to do. We had coached many clients to success in NZ and had the testimonials to prove it. It was a natural progression, I invest time, I invest money, and we start to work with that particular franchise. But some Business owners were put off by the brand we were under. We were flummoxed. We hadn’t expected that. It was Janelle and I that were the coaches not the brand. People had had, bad experiences with other coaches using the brand. After 4 years I was running out of money. I was struggling to make this work and I came to the realization that something had to change.

I asked Ian, the Franchisor for help. Ian is 6ft, light wispy hair, slightly built, small piercing eyes, like a rat, and with a whitish complexion. He said to me “I’m not throwing good money after bad Pete. If you want to do something, then buy a territory.” “But Ian, that means even more debt upon my shoulders — how does that help me?” I was tired. I was stressed. I was Depressed. I had even got to the stage of having suicidal thoughts. I was in a pretty dark place. I felt very alone. I felt alienated. I was living day to day, and hour to hour. Something had to change. It was affecting my relationship with my wife Janelle. She was anxious for me. She sought help for me from the Mental Health team, who came urgently.

And would you agree that there’s only so much you can do without the help of others, or making a change to your circumstances when they’re that dire?”

“Janelle, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling really, really jaded with this. I mean, it’s just hard work. I’m tired of the daily grind. I just can’t do this anymore. It’s having an impact on my health, and the Business. It’s affecting us — I mean, we’re bickering all the time. You’re tired. I’m tired. Something has to change, because I’m not going to lose you or our relationship over this.

“Yeah, yeah. I agree with you Pete. It’s not so good is it? I feel the same way. I just think we should go back to New Zealand. And start again there. I mean let’s go back to doing what we used to do 5 years ago.”

And making that decision to go back to New Zealand — by getting control back of our lives was cathartic — it was a gamechanger. Relief washed over me like a wave washing up on the beach. That night I slept soundly for the 1st time in 2 years.

Have you ever been in a position where you’ve decided on a change of journey in your life, thinking it was the right move only to be stymied at the very last moment and you have to take another path?

So, we were set to leave Britain. We had given notice on our business premises, and given notice on our house, we had the container booked. We had a 1-way flight to NZ.

Then one Sunday night in September 2019–4 days before we were due to leave, we had dinner with Jessen, our good friend, mentor and confidant.

The conversation stopped us in our tracks and changed our lives.

Jessen is 5’10”. Slim build, deep brown eyes, dark luminescent skin, short black hair. He dresses immaculately and his intellectual candlepower could light up London if they plugged him into the national grid.

Hey Pete n Janelle, good to see you both. What happening in your world?

Jessen, we’re heading home and starting again in NZ.

Our Franchise, is just restricting me and I have no FREEDOM.

It’s closed around us like a noose around our neck.

We have to throw the noose off, as I don’t want to lose my marriage

So were heading back to NZ to do what we do best and without the restrictions placed over us Hmm, No you’re not Pete.

Well Jessen, this airline ticket says Heathrow — Auckland, I don’t see a return portion on here!!!! Besides we’ve given notice on our house and business premises and the container to load our furniture comes this Friday — 4 days away.

Pete and Janelle, you’re not going guys.

I have spoken to several of your clients and I’ve read your testimonials. You’ve done amazing work with you clients.

Look at Luke — you’ve helped him put an extra £46,000 every month on to his bottom line. That’s a 27% uplift.

What about Mike, he now stays at the upmarket hotels when he travels, yet 3 years ago, he looked over the fence at these hotels. You’ve helped him increase his turnover 5X to what he was making.

You are meant to serve in England here, and Business Owners in Kent need you. You both have a great reputation here.

You don’t belong in NZ, you belong here. I’m telling you now, if you go back to New Zealand, you’re being selfish!!!

Come and work under my umbrella, use my IP if necessary. You will become part of my company until such time as you’re up and running on your own again.

You guys are mavericks and I can see how the Franchise system has restricted you. You want to look after B/O’s, not have to stick to a system. Look, all you need is a little bit of direction.

Wow, Have you ever been in a situation where someone has said something to you that has totally changed your direction in life.

Janelle and I had some thinking and talking to do — over several strong glasses of whiskey!!!!!.

“Hey, what!! Pete, did Jessen just call us selfish?” Did he say we need to stay here to serve?

Wow, that has really rocked me.

Jessen is right we have made a difference to Business Owners here.

Jessen is seeing things we can’t see. I s’pose that’s why having an outside perspective is so important.

It does makes sense to stay Pete. That conversation over dinner with Jessen has really resonated with me.

You’re right Janelle I sat back too when he called us selfish. He doesn’t mince his words!!

He’s right, we have built our reputation and people love our maverick style of helping them put actions into play.

And they’re doing it.

I have compromised by values by staying in the Franchise and this is one of the reasons I wanted out. It made sense to go back to NZ, but I don’t know now.

I don’t like being called selfish, because I don’t think we are. We want to do what is best for our clients. I understand why Jessen said that though.

I think we should be staying.

I feel all of a sudden, a weight has lifted from our shoulders.

It feels right to stay.

Time to make some ph calls to cancel the container and get our house back. Oh, and we’ll go to NZ anyway for Louisa and Travis’s wedding, so we need a return flight.

That only cost a £110 extra.

It’s all falling into place.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes people can see things we can’t?

And I realised it’s never too late to change, especially when you take responsibility for the great decision.

And this is when I guess Peak Performance Business Accelerator was born.

Since we’ve started our Peak performance Business Accelerator and our Mastermind groups, we have helped more B/O’s in Kent, than what we did while in the Franchise.

In fact we have also launched our Corporate Leadership programmes through our other business, Global Business Performance.

That’s exactly what we do now and that’s why we’re so passionate about helping business owners because we’ve been there. We know how difficult it can be.

Now there’s nothing special about me, but there is something special about the system I have developed.

And what we realized is that there were just 7 Principles of Business that you need to know in order for you to be successful.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

To help B/O’s achieve FREEDOM, so they have more CHOICES, which means they can make even more MONEY and have more personal TIME

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

As a leader you will be uncertain about many things, especially when you go in to new territory. But you can never afford to be unclear or in doubt about your calling, your vision, and your ultimate victory. Where does such confidence come from — Your promise to yourself, “I am with you.”

Most importantly you must tame the tongue: the only blunt instrument that grows sharper with constant use! It’s easy to say the wrong thing when under stress of Leadership.

As a leader I am called upon to make decisions regarding relationships, money, time, values, opportunities, and disputes. My decisions show up on the bottom line. In that realm it takes longer to recognize your brilliance or your stupidity, because you’re forced to lead for long periods of time without the benefit of knowing whether you made the right call. By the time my crop starts coming in its too late to change my agricultural procedure.

When it comes to leadership, uncertainty is a permanent part of the process. Furthermore, it isn’t an indication of poor leadership, it just underscores the need for it; it is the environment in which good leadership is most often discovered. Since you’ll be constantly called to make Decisions with limited info, my goal should not be to eliminate it, but develop the ability to trust yourself and be courageous and clear in spite of it.

It is not my job to remove uncertainty, it’s my job to inspire, clarity, faith and progress in the midst of it. When I do that, I am learning to be a leader.

Leadership is a dynamic process in which a man or woman with a God given capacity influences a specific group of people toward his purposes for the group.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

Yes. After 4 years in a Franchise, making no money, I was tired. I was stressed. I was Depressed. I had even got to the stage of having suicidal thoughts. I was in a pretty dark place.

I felt very alone. I felt alienated. I was living day to day, and hour to hour. Something had to change.

It was affecting my relationship with my wife Janelle. She was anxious for me.

She sought help for me from the Mental Health team, who came urgently.

What sustained me during this time was my wife, and my God and my faith. I would be so pissed off now, if I had done something stupid with my life and not be around now.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

To Lead.

To remain calm.

To guide and positively support people.

To show people they are in control of the circumstances.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.” Effective leadership is not a popularity vote, and good leaders are not necessarily thanked by those they lead at the time. Often, it’s only in retrospect that great leadership is recognised and acknowledged.

Jim Rohn wisely noted “a good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well, and to help those who are doing well, to do even better.” It’s a case of “accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative”, setting standards for a fixture, and maintaining them throughout.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

With honesty and directness and be prepared to answer questions.

Don’t get involved in the emotion of the bad news.

Stick with facts.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

The common denominator of all success lies in forming the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do. If I find myself continually giving in to my moods, I need to change my approach to do doing things. Set standards that require accountability. Once new standards in place, work according to them, not moods. Self-discipline is a quality that is won only through practice. Successful people have learnt to do what hasn’t come naturally. They’re willing to confront discomfort, distractions and doubt — and act in spite of them.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

Emotions are problem driven — faith is purpose driven.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

  • There is No Strong Leadership — someone who is prepared to make a decision
  • No Common Goal as a team
  • No Rules of the Game for the Business
  • No Action Plan
  • Not everyone is included or involved
  • Risk taking is not mitigated against

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

  • View P and L’s every month and understand what the numbers are telling you.
  • Understand you can make a profit but still go bankrupt, but if you have cashflow, you’ll be OK.
  • Spend less than you earn.
  • Use the 70:10:10:10 rule. 10% to savings, 10% to investing, 10% to tithing, live on the 70% left

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

7 Keys to A Winning Team …

1. Strong Leadership

2. Common Goal

3. Rules of the Game

4. Action Plan

5. Support Risk Taking

6. 100% Involvement/Inclusion

7.Ongoing Training & development

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

If you make a PROFIT, but don’t provide VALUE — you are a THIEF

If you provide VALUE, but don’t make a PROFIT — you are a CHARITY

How can our readers further follow your work?

https://www.flow.page/peteokeeffe

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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