Sunday, March 8, 2009

Success Matters - The Irrepressible Allan Pease

I first had the pleasure of interviewing the mischievous Allan Pease back in August 1986 and I wrote one of my funniest ever features on him for the Geelong Advertiser. (It is impossible NOT to be funny when quoting Allan Pease.)

Allan popped up again in September 1997 when I did a phone interview with him from Sydney to promote his latest book and he confessed he was clawing his way out of debt. I wrote a humorous feature on the joke-a-minute guy for the Sunshine Coast Daily and then a year later I promoted his best-seller Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps in my popular weekly newspaper column, Family Matters.
When I launched into an interview in March 2008 at his spectacular Coast mansion with mesmerising ocean views, I reminded him of these previous encounters, spread over 20 years, and he quipped: “You really should stop stalking me like this!”
Yes, the master of the quick come-back will never be out-witted in the art of repartee. And as I was to discover his whole life has been dedicated to making a miraculous come-back.
He is the most resilient man I have ever met and provides us all with an inspirational Triumph over Hardship Success Story.
This cover story was published in BM Business Matters magazine in April 2008.

Mr Body Language Bounces Back

Internationally acclaimed Allan Pease squeezes in our interview and photo session between stepping off a flight from Cairns and dashing to Brisbane for lunch with the Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan.

I am treated to an early morning welcome from a perky Pease and his stunningly beautiful wife, business partner and co-author Barbara at their magnificent sprawling estate perched on Buderim Mountain with sweeping ocean views. And I meet their adorable children Brandon, 3 and baby Bella.

But the picture wasn’t always so rosy. Just 13 years ago, at 43, Allan Pease, renowned worldwide as Mr Body Language, who had audiences roaring with laughter, hit rock bottom. It was a mega crisis that would have destroyed a lesser man.

Back then he was reeling from a divorce, diagnosed with cancer and facing financial disaster, in debt for $1.48 million to the Tax Office.

“I was in a new relationship with Barbara and we lost all our investment properties, a 40 foot motor boat, waterfront home in Sydney, rare guitar collection and a farm with stud horses. It was all sold to repay debts. And then I got thyroid cancer on top of it. The first year I didn’t cope very well. In fact, I coped very badly. Thankfully, Barbara took over running the business."
Allan underwent harrowing cancer treatment and had a 50 per cent chance of losing his voice. It was a frightening time and the future looked bleak.

However the Ultimate Come-back Kid clawed his way back in a Hollywood-style tale of triumph over tragedy. In 1995 he and Barbara moved to England for a new beginning and the dynamic couple became more successful than ever before.

“At that time we were living in a little two-bedroom fibro shack in Sydney. I cried the day we moved in as it was a hard realisation of how low we had sunk financially. We put a map of the world on the floor and asked ourselves where is the biggest market? We liked the idea of Europe because everything is close with three times the population of America. We decided to live in England because they speak English! We put a pin in the middle of the map of England and it landed on a little place called Henley-in-Arden. So that’s where we went!”

Turning Point
“It was a major turning point. From then on, we decided we would only write best-selling books. Since that decision, we’ve had eight Number Ones in a row. The two of us together are far more powerful than I ever was on my own. We were reborn!”

Together they wrote Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps and followed it up with Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes, which took the UK and Europe by storm selling 13 million copies.

The mischievous Aussie who had grown up tough as a working class lad from the backblocks of Melbourne was a massive hit with 100 million viewers tuning in to his BBC television series on body language.

He presented seminars in more than 55 countries and captured his biggest market in Germany where he currently has a Number One box office hit with a quirky movie based on his light-hearted book on gender differences.

He’s a celebrity in Spain, France, Japan, Poland and even the far-flung reaches of Iceland! He coached Russian politicians at the Kremlin in how to tone down their aggressive body language in a case of Pease doing his piece for peace!

Setting a Record for Bestsellers
Allan is rated as one of Australia’s most successful non-fiction authors in history having written 14 bestsellers. He’s sold a total of 20 million books in more than 100 countries and his books are translated into 50 languages.

He is first and foremost a super salesman and marketing genius, having started in sales at the tender age of 10 selling rubber sponges door to door. At 17 he was Number One national salesman for a company selling pots and pans and at 21 was the youngest person to ever sell more than $1 million of life insurance.

In his 20s he studied every ‘ology’ from zoology and anthropology to sociology and psychology to become a self-styled expert in body language: how gestures and facial expressions reveal the inner feelings and motives of humans, mostly power plays, sexual signals and the common art of lying! He wrote his classics on body language and devised a hilarious stage show demonstrating the funny side of human behaviour. Audiences just loved it!

Another bout of cancer
But in the midst of his second wave of phenomenal success, cancer struck again, another devastating blow, when he was 48; this time the virulent cancer was in the prostate.

Usually an entertaining comedian cracking a joke a second, Allan is in a serious, reflective mood as he opens up about the trauma and shares his painful struggles.

“We came home to Australia and I got the diagnosis. I took a year off work to research my condition and was fortunate to have contacts around the world to give advice. I came to the conclusion to go the alternative way and went purely organic vegan and made my life entirely chemical-free, which meant stripping the house and changing our lifestyle, growing organic vegies and drinking spring water.

“I did this for six months but my family members were concerned and persuaded me to undergo conventional treatments. I had my prostate removed. But I still had the cancer so I had every possible treatment. According to the doctors, without conventional treatment, I only had a three-year life expectancy.

“Even if I survived, the radiation and surgery brought the risks that I would have no sex life and suffer incontinence and bowel problems. I even had a melanoma removed from my face. I know the cancer was all stress-related. But I decided whatever happened, I’d come out on top!”

Sitting chatting about the horrendous ordeal, Allan is the picture of good health, a resilient optimist and remarkably, a new dad through IVF!

Blessed with miracle babies
“It is incredible. It was considered an impossibility! I had no prostate. I’d had a vasectomy. Barb was over 40. We went to specialists who said ‘Forget it. It’s out of the question’. But we eventually found a doctor in Beijing who was pioneering new technology that extracts the male’s DNA to fertilise the eggs.”

Their two beautiful children are fraternal twins three years apart. The couple have four adult children from previous marriages, two grandchildren and two more grandchildren on the way.
“People ask me what it’s like to be a dad at your age and I say ‘It’s fantastic!’ I’m a real hands-on dad. When I had my children in my 20s I was working all the time but now I have time for Brandon and Bella. I’ve decided to live to at least age 90!”

A model mum
Barbara, a tall and slender former model, is radiant and obviously relishing motherhood as she dotes on her beautiful baby girl and prepares for Brandon’s third birthday bash!

“Believe it or not, as a bestselling author and CEO of our company Pease International, I can tell you that the highlight of my life is my children! Being an older mum has some real advantages as I am secure in my life and already established in my work. I am more relaxed in the way I interact with the kids and feel I have more to share with them, says Barb.

“I have also found that there are other would-be parents who I have been able to help and to some degree I have become a role model for many who have been unable to have children so far. Allan and I beat the odds with our two beautiful children and if we can, so can others.”

Allan is a staunch believer in the power of decision-making and goal setting. Once the couple decided they wanted more children they became completely focussed and devoted to achieving what doctors considered a miracle!

Driven to achieve
He has applied the same determination to other goals. He decided he wanted to play musical instruments and has now mastered piano, drums, bass, harp and guitar and is learning the saxophone.

The high achieving couple settled on the Sunshine Coast in 2000 and love the relaxed lifestyle. Allan is attempting to cut back his travelling and public speaking from 100 to 50 engagements a year so he can be at home in his idyllic Buderim retreat to spend quality time with his family.

And there are new books in progress. He is working on a biography called You Only Live Twice! For the irrepressible Peases 2008 is just the beginning of a whole new life!
Allan demonstrates some classic body language. "You're a pain in the neck!" "I don't like what I'm hearing" and the common hand-over-mouth gesture while listening is an exercise in self-control, which shows you he is stopping himself from telling you what he really thinks!

For information about Allan and Barbara’s books,resources and public speaking visit

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