TV Interview from 'Campbell Live' 2004

2007-06-13 Griffins Gadgets Blog: Seeby Woodhouse on his $24.3M Sale

posted Dec 21, 2008, 7:49 PM by Seeby W

Below is a Q&A interview with Orcon founder Seeby Woodhouse who this week sold his business to state-owned broadcasting network operator Kordia. Read what Seeby has to say about nuclear power, local loop unbundling and taking Orcon to $100 million in revenue.... Sourced from Griffins Gadgets

PG: Congratulations on the sale to Kordia.

SW: Yeah, it’s the end of an era but the beginning of the next phase.

PG: Any sadness losing ownership?

SW: A little bit. Anyone gets attached to things, whether its spouses, companies or dogs. I’m the sort of person that believes in branding. That’s why I chose Kordia, they have absolutely no intention of re-branding the business and they want to keep it running largely as a separate entity. Hopefully I’ll be able to look back in a few years and say, wow, now it’s New Zealand’s second largest or even largest telecoms company.

PG: You said at the press conference you had something like 50 offers for Orcon over the last couple of years.

SW: It was more like 50 offers since people started getting more interested, which is more like over six or seven years. Once every couple of months, someone would come along.

PG: Did Vodafone have a sniff around Orcon?

SW: It was more that Ihug was for sale. There was a bidding war for Ihug. They got it and probably wanted to bed it down. I was aware they were potentially interested in additional acquisitions but I felt if we were going to be acquired by them, they probably wouldn’t want multiple brands. The company would have been rolled into Ihug and that wasn’t something I wanted.

PG: Why was it so important to you that Orcon maintained its identity and structure?

SW: It’s basically my baby. It would be a different story if someone was to buy it and suddenly Orcon no longer existed. I’ll still have involvement in the business for a couple of years as consulting director. I’m able to take my money off the table now, relax a little bit, but still have the upside of the business, the challenge and the things that I enjoy.

PG: Is that a fulltime position?

SW: No, it’s a consulting directorship. The time is variable.

PG: What will you do next?

SW: I don’t want to make any hasty moves. If I did that, I could potentially get drawn into something I don’t understand as well. There’s a temptation when you’re cashed up to invest in silly things and fritter it away. The thing about Orcon, since I was 15 I’ve been passionate about business and it was the business opportunity I was initially excited about. Telecommunications came second. I had a burning passion in the early days of Orcon for a good five years, working 16 hours a day solid. If I do anything in the future, I want something that’s going to get me that excited.

PG: I looked back at the TV3 interview you did in 2004 which was very interesting. You weren’t a networking guy, but you were trained as an electrical engineer?

SW: That doesn’t teach you much about computers. I didn’t really use any of my degree. I was also pretty computer illiterate when I started the company so I had to learn fast. These days I’m tech savvy, I didn’t even have a computer when I started the company.

PG: You’ve made some moves at Orcon in the area of content, the deal with Digirama, plans for IPTV, as this Web 2.0 thing takes off, do you want to get into the content side of the internet?

SW: Yeah, in some ways content is easier than access, because you don’t have to have a load of boxes that physically exist. The advantage Sam [Morgan] had with Trademe, was that if something grows really fast, you just stick in more servers. With Orcon, if you want to grow something fast you need infrastructure. Telecom’s got a worse problem with that than we do. I’m probably going to sit tight for six months to a year, take some long holidays, do some travel and not worry about things. If I have any interest at all, it’s in things like sustainability and biofuels. Global warming is a big concern of mine. Maybe there’s an opportunity to make some money but do some good at the same time. Maybe introduce something like solar energy to New Zealand that’s actually going to help. It’s something I’m investigating. Alternatively, if I enjoy being retired a lit too much, I may not do anything.

PG: You’re 30 now right?

SW: YES, 30.

PG: It’s interesting how goal orientated you’ve been throughout your life from when you got your first bank book as a kid through to wanting to take Orcon to $100 million in revenue by the age of 30. Did you get there?

SW: No, the turnover is a bit lower than that, but I think it will only be a year or two off target. I’ll still be involved with the company by the time it hits $100 million. But the real issue has been our margins being squeezed having to resell Telecom’s broadband and LLU happening a lot slower than was thought. There have been some unexpected difficulties. Our revenue is still growing pretty fast.

PG: Looking back to 2003 – 2004, it seemed that Orcon was more willing to embrace the Telecom wholesale regime than some of the other ISPs who were a lot more vocal in their criticism of Telecom. Do you think that gave you an advantage, that you were more willing to play ball with Telecom than your competitors?

SW: I don’t think it gave us a huge advantage, but we weren’t so distracted by regulatory arguments. My attitude is you should make the best of the situation you have. At that time it didn’t look like we’d end up with local loop unbundling. Theresa didn’t expect it was going to happen, let alone myself. I don’t think we got any concessions from them, but the working relationship was the most amicable and productive of any of the ISPs. That assisted us a bit, even on small things like fault resolution. The Telecom guys were happy to work with our guys. We weren’t going to report faults that weren’t true, we weren’t going to bitch and moan.

PG: You talk about margins being squeezed. Have the economics of reselling Telecom’s wholesale products deteriorated?

SW: They’ve always been bad. The issue is that there are less and less dial-up customers sustaining the ISPs. It’s a global problem. Telecom has issues with making money out of broadband as well. I’m sure dial-up is more profitable for telcos than broadband. Someone like Telecom with toll calling and fixed line rentals, those things are declining. Broadband revenue is going up to replace those, but Telecom has one set of revenues going down and another set going up. ISPs have internet revenue that is profitable being replaced by internet revenue that isn’t profitable. With LLU telcos like Orcon will get access to the physical phone lines as well as additional services like IPTV. That will be fine in the future. The issue at the moment for ISPs is if a consumer spends $40 a month on a phone line, $20 on tolls and $40 on broadband, traditional ISPs don’t get to attack much of that and even if they do, most of the money goes to Telecom in the form of a wholesale arrangement. Under LLU you might buy the line for $15 and whack on as many services as you can. Then it sorts to become more profitable.

PG: You’re getting out at a time which for New Zealand is the most uncertain. Some of your competitors like CallPlus and Woosh are banking on WiMax to expand their networks, then there’s the big investment needed in unbundling. Is that why you chose to exit now with all that uncertainty ahead?

SW: The uncertainty was one reason that I chose to exit, but I’d been doing the same thing for ten years, I need to slow my life down a bit and have a bit of a change. Also I’ve started to become more interested in things like global warming. With the uncertainty there’s also huge opportunity, around unbundling. I’m sure Kordia will do extremely well out of their purchase. I may not have done so well by not selling because without sufficient funding you can fall flat on your face. I was concerned that if the capital started drying up, because Orcon was always self funding, my wealth forms the company. If the company was going to do anything it would have to make a profit so we could reinvest it. That’s been the strategy all along.

PG: So everything was funded out of revenue at Orcon throughout?

SW: Everything at Orcon from day one was funded out of cash flow. It was started with $100

PG: During the first dotcom boom, did you feel a sense of urgency that you had to get capital to take advantage of it?

SW: At that stage I didn’t understand how a venture capital relationship might work and the issue is they may only ask for 20 per cent of the company but not be prepared to pay what you want. They always want a good chunk of the business and then there are usually effective control clauses, so even if they only own 30 per cent, effectively they can remove you as a director. I’ve always been opinionated about what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to have the risk of bowing down to someone else and be depressed about it. Whenever a proposal was presented to me, I was reluctant. I said to myself, I’ll just try and grow the business as fast as I can, if it grows a bit slower, I don’t care.

PG: Orcon always had a reputation for very good service. How did you instill that culture?

SW: It comes from all those cheesy sayings, the customer being king, that type of thing. But it was important for Orcon to differentiate and the piece of copper you’re selling is largely the same thing, like petrol stations all sell the same gasoline but they all charge different prices. They differentiate through branding. I always thought we had to differentiate in as many different areas as we could and a lot of the time, ISPs were doing a pretty poor job on service. We made it one of the things we were going to differentiate on. One technique I employed early on was that we hired non-technical people like myself for the call centre rather than geeks. You can’t teach a geek customer service. There are only a hundred questions that will ever be asked at a help desk and you can teach someone the answers to those. We got happy, bouncy customer services people and taught them what they needed to know.

PG: Did you have any mentors?

SW: people come and go. There are people who will say, I helped Seeby out. But not really, I’ve always had a strong vision about where things should go. Most of the mentors’ advice I’ve had over the years, I’ve ended up disregarding.

PG: Was there anyone in the telecoms industry you admired as a young businessman?

SW: The Wood brothers were an early inspiration, because they were in game a year ahead of me. It was always a case of me having to catch up to Tim and Nick. They did really well exiting a few years ago and got more money than Ihug sold for (to Vodafone).

PG: And the successful exit at the peak is the real sign you’ve made it, isn’t it?

SW: It was certainly planned, choosing Kordia was planned as well. It was important to be Kiwi owned, there’s no risk of Kordia being taken over by an Australian outfit. I’m proud of the Kiwi heritage. Obviously, getting what I thought was a fair price was important. Ultimately I didn’t necessarily expect, even a year ago, to sell. But I started thinking, what does this business need? All internet companies are becoming phone companies and all phone companies are becoming internet companies. Then they’re all becoming converged media network companies. Looking at the regulatory environment after the Government’s announcement after LLU, we did the Siemens deal so we had vendor finance, but what we were lacking was media expertise and a network. We were going to have to build the network and invest in media technologies. Kordia as a network and broadcast type company, had the two pieces of the puzzle that we lacked.

I thought either I’m going to have to get a venture capitalist onboard or load the company up with heaps of debt. Take on a whole lot more risk where potentially it could fall flat on its face or sell it to someone who can extract the value. There was the risk that I could try and do all the stuff Kordia is trying to do, by myself.

PG: CallPlus has secured US$450 million for its WiMax plans. Maybe there’d have been an appetite for investment if you’d wanted to go that route.

SW: I was surprised by the CallPlus thing. I think it’s a real figure, but it’s probably a line of credit, so it will have to be drawn down over time and they’ll have to build the network. And its debt funding. If you borrow $450 million, you’re paying 40 – 50 million a year in interest. Just because they have $450 million, doesn’t mean they’re won’t be saddled with debt and crippled by it, in much the same way Woosh is. They’ve spent $100 million plus building a network and don’t yet have the customers to sustain it. If CallPlus goes and spends the US$450 million and only gets 100,000 customers, it will be a bit of a disaster.

PG: What’s your view on wireless technologies. Are you optimistic that some of these alternative models may work?

SW: There are a lot of variables. There’s a lot of uncertainty around the Government’s spectrum auctions. CallPlus has the same concerns. Wireless technology rests on having the right spectrum available at the right price. If it goes for a horrendous price and Vodafone and Telecom pay to block out competitors, it could be a moot point. One technology doesn’t tend to replace another. When email came along it didn’t replace the fax machine, when the fax came along it didn’t replace postal mail. Now we’ve got postal mail and couriers and FedEx, faxes, email and instant messaging.

The biggest success will be the company that can offer a seamless solution, wireless and wired technology, TV and phone calling together. I’m not just talking about multiple things on one bill, but being able to use your internet service wherever you are and pay in a consistent manner. We’re a long way away from that.

PG: Where you nervous when Vodafone bought Ihug, seeing as Vodafone @ Home is aiming for one converged device that acts as fixed line and mobile with seamless switch over?

SW: I saw it as an advantage but I wasn’t threatened by it. Orcon’s got an MVNO agreement with Vodafone anyway. We’ll be doing the same type of services, just in a different way. It just depends what pieces of the puzzle you have control over and which pieces you don’t.

PG: Did you benchmark the sale of Orcon against the $41 million sale of Ihug in terms of what you were looking for?

SW: It’s difficult to compare the two. Certainly, in terms of customer numbers, we’re 80 per cent the size of Ihug. It would have been nice to get more but I’m not unhappy with the sale price. We have different ebitda figures and more customers have multiple services with Ihug. They’ve a more established voice base. I got a fair deal and Kordia paid a good price.

PG: How do you feel about the fact that your staff is effectively now public servants?

SW: They’re not really. The Government has very little input into how Kordia is run apart from maybe appointing the board of directors. It’s certainly not the case that the Government wanted to do this to create a competitor to Telecom. They’ve some great products they want to sell like DVB-H (mobile TV). They haven’t had a lot of interest from the ISPs in terms of taking some of these services up.

PG: What’s been the reaction to the sale from staff.

SW: It’s been good, there’s been no tears. People have said it’s the end of an area, but once they realized there’s no change in job descriptions, they’re not suddenly Kordia employees, they’ll still be managed by the same people, there’s no redundancies, they’re okay with it. I’ll still be popping into the office, I’ll still be around for at least two years in an advisory capacity.

PG: And Scott Bartlett, your lieutenant, will be the CEO?

SW: Yeah, essentially I’d already stepped back a bit anyway. With a company the size of Orcon it’s important to spend a lot of time thinking about what’s next. You can’t get too caught up in the day to day issues or you can wake up and find you’ve been going in the wrong direction for two years.

PG: So the future, alternative energy technologies, are there good opportunities to invest here?

SW: I’m passionate about business, that’s number one, New Zealand is number two. The thing I’m concerned about is basically if we’re already past peak oil [production] and some of the wells start to dry up and the price goes to US$120 a barrel, then New Zealand is at serious risk of collapse because we haven’t got the densely populated cities. If you had a global price shock like the 1970s, the countries that do well will be the ones that have all their population gathered in one place. With New Zealand, everything in this country is run on gasoline, you have to have a car, and public transport is not good enough. We have to stop this urban sprawl. People need to get into more densely populated areas where there’s a subway infrastructure. We’re obviously not going to be able to build that infrastructure in the next five to ten years. If there is a serious oil shock, New Zealand will be at its mercy, particularly for things like exports.

The only country that will do well is Brazil, because 60 – 70 per cent of their cars run on ethanol produced by sugar cane, which is six times more effective at producing ethanol than corn.

New Zealand should be able to produce ethanol technologies and the Maui gas fields.

We should be working on complete energy independence.

PG: You’re moving out of a field that’s complicated enough and into one even more so. Are you going to go on a fact-finding mission to some of these places using alternative fuel sources.

SW: I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ll try and work my contacts, ask government officials. If a light bulb switches on in my head and I decide the best thing to do is buy a heap of land in the South Island and start growing sugar cane, that’s what I’ll do.

Solar generation or green homes.

If I can start a company that provides green technology to homes, it’s a way to start.

PG: How’s Orcon Racing going?

SW: It hasn’t been in operation this season.

PG: What happened?

SW: We didn’t sponsor the car this reason for two reasons – Orcon is focusing on call to action marketing rather than branding. Potentially motor racing is going to become a bit un-PC. Because I have environmental concerns I started thinking gasoline is in short supply, there’s all this concern about global warming, we don’t necessarily want to be involved in a sport that in two years time everyone is up in arms about.

PG: You did a sabbatical a while back right?

SW: Yeah I’ve seen a good portion of the planet. I’ll do some more.

PG: That’s the plan, take some time and explore?

SW: Yeah, I just came back from China so I’m a bit tired. But there are a lot of things I want to see. If I’m interested in environmental things, it may give me a better perspective while I’m traveling. One of the huge un-harnessed technologies is wave power. The ocean is always moving. If we can have submerged power generators creating power by the motion of the sea, that would be ideal.

I get the feeling we need to keep our nuclear material for use in the future. I don’t think it’s a smart idea to go burning it all up. We may need it for exploring the stars or powering space ships. It would be really sad if we saved the planet but in 500 years time we’ve got these ambitious plans to colonise the stars but were 20 pounds short of uranium or something.

Posted by PETER GRIFFIN at 19:49
Labels: ,

Lunch with Unlimited: The serious Seeby Woodhouse

posted Dec 21, 2008, 7:33 PM by Seeby W

Fiona Rotherham talks to Seeby Woodhouse, the 28-year-old founder of Orcon, the country’s fourth largest internet service provider, about entrepreneurship and ambition. Sourced from Unlimited

By Fiona Rotherham, Auckland  Unlimited Magazine / Issue 68 / Tuesday, 1 February, 2005

Where did the name Seeby come from?

Both my parents were librarians and my father was into Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce which has a lot of made-up words. So Seeby is made-up. I’ve searched on the internet but there isn’t another Seeby in the world as far as I can tell.

You began your business in 1997 with $100, your parents’ computer and working out of your bedroom. Have you ever borrowed money?
I asked the bank once if I could have an overdraft and they said ‘No, because you don’t have a house or other security’, so I thought I’ll never bother borrowing again. We own the building that our data centre is in and all our equipment. Because of my risk adverse stance, we were able to ride out the free internet era, unlike some people who got pretty burned by it.

When did you know Orcon was a goer?
The first three years are real blood, sweat and tears. I worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day. It was real hell and you didn’t know if you were going to survive or not. It took maybe five years before we got everything sorted.

Did participating in the Young Enterprise Scheme at school make you entrepreneurial?
My interest in business actually came from the 1987 sharemarket crash. I remember my father breaking open my piggybank in about August 1987 to put more money into shares and then a month later losing everything. Those corporate names — Chase, Ariadne and Rainbow Corporation — all stuck in my mind. For years I kept the prospectuses because they were so glossy and interesting. I didn’t understand the numbers — I thought: ‘One day I’ll be like these guys and understand what’s going on.’

How ambitious are you?
I admire people like Larry Ellison but I don’t have the same aggression. My personal hero for a long time has been Virgin’s Richard Branson because I think business has to be something you enjoy.

What hours do you work?
These days I’m trying to stick more to a 40-hour week, so I can go to the gym and do all those normal things. But when we get busy 70- to 80-hour weeks are not unheard of.

What’s so good about running your own company?
Whenever I’ve worked for other people, I’ve always had ideas about how things could be done better but no one has ever listened to me. I can’t stand inefficiency so running my own company allows my to fix the things I see need to be fixed.

Your business model has changed — now half your revenue is from wholesaling to other ISPs and you’ve also been gobbling some up.
There used to be around 160 ISPs and there are 70 now. It was 90 last year and of those 20 acquisitions around a third of have been bought by us. We’re going to become more of a retail organisation this year.

You’ve won a lot of awards lately, including Ernst & Young’s young entrepreneur of the year.
I’m a person who likes to measure things and I’m competitive. I like to win, so I entered a whole lot of awards, and much to our surprise ended up winning a whole lot of them.

What are your other interests?
I’ve always had an interest in motor sports. We’re sponsoring a V8 touring car. Hopefully in six months’ time I’ll be racing in one of the endurance races.
I’ve got a couple of hundred books on business. I’ve always been a bit insecure about my skills, so a couple of years ago I bought all of the first year law books in the Auckland University bookstore and went through them all in a week.

What are your expansion plans?
World dominance (deadpan).

Well, 2005 goals then?
We’d like to double in size again. I’d like to sit back a little bit more from the day-to-day operations. We’re already nationwide in Australia but we haven’t been piling on customers over there. I’d like to see a stronger trans-Tasman brand. And also in 2005 we’d like to be one of the companies that trips off the tongue when people think of an ISP.

Aren’t you getting married soon?
I am engaged but the wedding is a little while off yet. That’s one of the reasons I want to get a general manager in so I can go on a three-month round-the-world honeymoon without worrying too much.

Young Enterprise Scheme Allumni Interview

posted Dec 21, 2008, 7:13 PM by Seeby W

This Interview is from 2005 - sourced from the YES website

Age: 29

School: Glenfield College

YES Company: Swift Swan Developments

Current career:

I am currently a director and owner of four companies, however my primary role is that I am the Managing Director and 80% shareholder of Orcon Internet Ltd. I started Orcon while still in university, and have grown it to the 4th largest Internet company in NZ by revenues in around 6 years. We have been ranked as the second best ISP out of 88 in NZ by readers of Netguide and we have won North Shore enterprise business awards 3 years in a row.

Greatest achievement:

I started Orcon with nothing but an old computer and a couple of modems, and have never put any other money or equipment into Orcon since inception. Orcon is 100% self-funding amd we are debt free. We have a network that covers the whole of Australia and NZ. We sell wholesale products to nearly 100 other Internet companies. YES was invaluable to me because it gave me the knowledge of how to set up a company, and the confidence to just go out there and do what I thought was possible.

Greatest flop:

Well - I wasn't doing very well at university in 1997 because I found a lot of the study a bit boring, and my knowledge from the YES scheme about how to start and run a company gave me the confidence to drop out of univerity to start my Internet business. This decision was also made because I was very interested in the Internet and I saw how fast it was growing and what a huge opportunity there might be.

Career changes:

I have really only: been to school, been to University, dropped out of University, run Orcon and continue to run Orcon (successfully I think) - So I haven't really had any time to change careers. But you could say that my YES knowledge helpded to change my career from doing an Engineering degree into becomming an entrepreneur (see above - greatest flop)

Career expectations:

My goal for the business since inception has always been to achieve 100% growth per year. I have done this every year except 2003. My major goal for 5 years is to reach $100M per year turnover with a minimum of 20% net profit margin. At this stage of the business I think that I have used up my YES experience, however I am now a member of the govornment's HiGrowth project to get 100 NZ I.T. companies to $100M turnover in 10 years ( - so hopefully my goal will be attained. Interview: I am into flow state again

posted Dec 21, 2008, 4:28 PM by Seeby W

 Seeby appears to have had a dream run of it. He doubled the size of his company Orcon for most the years that he ran it, and then last year sold off his start-up for $24.3 million to state-owned network operator Kordia. You could be forgiven for believing that he landed with his proverbial bum in the butter. This couldn’t be further from the truth however. He tells us how it wasn’t all plain sailing, how he is overcoming his demons and how he is pushing himself to his next level to prove to himself that he is not a one-hit wonder, all while sticking to his ‘work hard , play hard’ maxim.

Things were running smoothly with Orcon, but the regulatory environment changed and I turned 30 and thought, what do I want to do with my life? What’s happening in the world? I had done Orcon for nine years. It’s been ten months since the Orcon transaction, and I have had six months off.


I used to have goals that scare me. I need to go back and expand on them. When I first started Orcon I used to dream about the biggest things I was going to take on. I keep my goals in my head. I know what they are. With Orcon, the master goal was to double the size of the company every year. Seven years out of ten we did. It shows you the power of setting goals. I came up with the name Orcon even before I knew it was going to become an internet company.


I knew the internet was going to be big, and I had to be in it. I didn’t really know about computers. I think the reason I succeeded is that I always viewed it as a business, not an IT thing. I wasn’t an IT geek playing around. At one stage there were 160 ISPs in New Zealand, but many were started by very technical people that just thought it was cool, and didn’t necessarily know how to sell to people or grow a customer base.

I got into a kind of flow-state where you can’t think about other, distracting things. If you are not thinking about anything in particular your mind starts to wander to all the problems in your life. When you are focused it’s difficult to be miserable. You get practiced at flow-state. It is like a muscle. I believe all truly successful people aim to get into that state. The things that do it for me are communicating with people and mulling over ideas.


I think flow state is one of the most enjoyable human states. It’s not happiness, necessarily, but it’s transcendent. The first few years I would sleep under my desk and do 16-hour days, but I’d be super-excited when I woke up. It would be go-go-go all day and suddenly it would be 2am and I’d think, I’d better sleep or I’ll collapse. Then I’d do it all over again. In the beginning I burned the candle both ends. I worked really long hours, but it was not a conscious decision to sacrifice anything. I had a purpose. I couldn’t have done it if I was frying burgers, for example. I mentally carried my body because I was so excited.


My own personal demon is that I am a one-hit wonder. My identity was wrapped up in Orcon and my success personally was tied to Orcon’s success.  We all have stuff we worry about. For six months I didn’t have a business because I was looking for the right idea. There were some real interesting moments during this period. Some good, some not so good.


I am an only child – so am very comfortable with my own company- but am equally able to push myself to besociable. I like to think I can see things from different (opposing) perspectives. I pride myself on being open-minded. I am getting more and more in tune with my intuition. It’s a growth thing.


I think I am a naturally good at visualization. You need to be able to build those pictures in your brain of where you are going. If you doubt yourself, your chances of success will be a lot lower. This is something I also focus on.


Hard work on its own is not something that produces results. There are plenty of brilliant scientists or people that go to university, but I’m not sure there are many university professors that turn out to be millionaires. It is not necessarily intelligence or hard work that creates success. It is something indefinable.


I could probably trace back the success of Orcon to a few key decisions. One decision a month that turns the company into something else, or an email you send.


The first year I did every single thing under the sun from the banking to customer service to technical things like setting up the service and doing the web site. I used to be a sales rep for Eriksson, selling cell phones. I cut my teeth on salesmanship and understanding the customer.


One of the secrets to my success is that I am a real generalist. I don’t specialise in any area. I learned to delegate quickly, and to get other people up to speed quickly. I had to rely on others to tell me how the internet worked.


I was eleven in 1987. The sharemarket crashed, and my parents, who were plumbers, had got in two months before because everyone had been saying how much money you could make – but the people that really made all the money knew it was going to pop and got out. I remember thinking that my parents didn’t understand what was going on.


I was interested so I would ask my uncles, who are lawyers, what is the definition of a company? What is a partnership? How does the law work? What’s bankruptcy? I basically became a sponge. As a simpleton I just ask all of the dumb questions over and over again.


There is no one thing it takes to be successful, but there’s a need for desire. My hero is Richard Branson. He has fun. I don’t understand the idea of working yourself to death. I would rather have less money and less success, and still enjoy myself. I tend to keep my work separate from my personal life. I work very hard, but once I switch off I want to play very hard. You need work to drive you.


I met Richard Branson when he came to New Zealand. He had an event in Auckland, and I talked my way in and went up to him and introduced myself. I knew he wouldn’t want to hear a whole lot of bull so I just asked for two minutes, and then he could get on with the rest of his life. I had the idea at the time that there was a deal in it.


I am not completely driven and consumed by things. It’s satisfying to see something growing, but for a lot of rich people it’s not about the money, it’s having the ability to build something and make a difference.

I’m a Libra, the scales. I’m a very balanced person. I’m ambidextrous, and I play music.


I will never read a romance novel because I would rather do that stuff in my own life. I enjoy reading politics, history, business and science. I don’t see much point in fiction, apart from The Lord of the Rings and the classics and science-fiction stuff. I want to read a book to learn something.


I have started a new company buying and selling carbon credits, and focusing on emissions reduction and sustainability. I want to do some good and be a pioneer and prove to myself that I’m not a one-hit wonder. It is a calculated risk, but it doesn’t matter much whether something is risky, just that I am passionate about it. The feeling I have about global warming and related technology is the same I had about the internet. It’s good to be back with that feeling.


I believe in humanity’s ability to engineer our way out of problems. We just need to focus on it. There is a huge industry around petroleum, and in the next twenty years that will shift to sustainable hydro, wind and other sources. Now that petrol is going up in price the solutions are starting to appear, and I want to be part of them.


If we don’t do something we are going to be screwed. Experts are saying that less than one percent of global GDP will solve the global warming problem. One percent of everyone’s salary is nothing.


Business is about making money and doing some good. I don’t want to have 20 houses on the side all losing money and putting a strain on civilization, just to save tax. I wonder why some businesses do that sort of thing.


I feel like a dummy sometimes but I know I have a really high IQ. One of my skills is to take all elements of a problem, put everything into my head, and come out with an answer. It’s like playing chess.


The key to success is figuring which are the right people to keep on board and which are the wrong people. A lot of my business partners have had opposing value sets or been personally difficult to work with, but they have had skills that were not my own, so it has worked.


It comes down to gut feel. I can read a CV, do phone interviews and spend hours thinking about whether someone is right for the job. But the impression I get in the first two minutes will be right, and only recently have I started to follow that. Staff are super-important, and I’ve always focused on hiring great people. I got to around 100 staff, but you can’t be the one good person in the company and have 99 losers.


I have always been right but I have not always trusted myself. I have hired some people where everything seemed to be perfect on paper, but when I first met them I thought they might be a bit a problem– they were introverted or mousy, or they complained as they walked in that they couldn’t find a car park. Those tiny little things make a difference.


Some of the more difficult times - I had an accountant that committed fraud, and the company nearly went under. Problems with the IRD had been hidden. That taught me never to abdicate responsibility. You might not like accounting, but you must always keep an eye on the money.
Seeby Woodhouse At a Glance:
·         YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) Alumni.
·         Cashed up the tune of $19 million following the sale of his internet business Orcon.
·         Managing Director of Green Carbon Limited at
·         Seeby has been involved in starting and running numerous businesses over the years encompassing Internet, mobile, IT, hospitality, radio, property and finance. 
·         He was the New Zealand Young Entrepreneur of the Year and HiTech Young Achiever of the Year in 2004.
·         Futurist and investor, accomplished public speaker.
·         Not a dull boy – regular feature on

Goalgetting Tips for Today

 Learn how to get into “flow state”- practice the art of concentration on something that you love.

Always be willing to create new goals that excite you, once you have achieved the ones you  set  out to do.Try to surround yourself with people who complement your skills – not carbon copies of you.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! – as the saying goes. Remember to find balance.

Be prepared and have a plan to handle positive and negative stress– even in times of major success.

Always continue your education – in whatever form that takes – even if it involves teaching yourself.

Learn to listen to your “little voice” –your intuition.

sourced from an interview on Live My Goals Blogs done by Dwayne Alexander

1-4 of 4