The Bucket List Guy

In this video, Trav Bell recounts the journey that led to his moniker as 'The Bucket List Guy.’

Creating a list of goals

Nick: I wanted to have you on the show for a number of reasons: to talk about creating meaningful goals or a meaningful life, coaching, and also public speaking. But before we dive into those subjects, let's touch on how you became known as ‘The Bucket List Guy.’ And as The Bucket List Guy, what do you do?

Trav: That's a good point. I'm still trying to figure it out. Someone actually called me the bucket list guy, about 12, I think it's now 13 years ago. So prior to that, I'm obviously getting a little bit grayer.

So I’m in Ocean Grove now about an hour and a half out of Melbourne, grew up surfing, still surf, surfing, lifesaving, swimming competitively. So I was always kind of a jock, and that led me to do a physical education degree in University.

So I moved to Footscray from Ocean Grove, that was a bit of a culture shock. And I started my physical education degree there, and I had no idea what I was going to do. I thought I was going to be a high school PE teacher or something like that.

And then this guy came in, Tony Hewitt, doing this thing early in the 90s, mid 90s, it’s called personal training. And he was getting paid a whole $200 an hour like in the mid 90s. And here I was basically as a kid, swimming teacher for beer money, getting whatever per hour.

And I was just fascinated, he trained some celebrities, he trained some wealthy people, and he was getting results, more importantly. He'd really coached them to get results—way more results than the average gym. I was just fascinated.

So he said this before the internet, before Facebook, and all the rest of it. I subscribed his magazine, went to his conference, get his book. etc., I just did everything he said. I was fascinated. So I followed him around, and I did everything he said and got my first personal training client in the mid 90s.

You know, as a coach, you get one client just look after them really really well. It's not hard to grow a coaching practice, let alone a personal training business. So Heather was my first client, and got some great results, she’s a whole other story. She referred everyone in the English speaking language and then grew my business, I think my record was 63 one hour personal training sessions in a week and I did that for like three years.

I was running around doing everything with them. Didn't investment my money very well. But then started to bring on other trainers. I know that's a real long answer. Got one of the first personal training studios in Melbourne, and had 13 personal trainers working in our Richmond studio. One of the trainers said ‘I wouldn't mind doing one of these studios.’

And I investigated what franchising look like, and that was the first franchise of personal training studios in Australia. Jai started a Canterbury personal training studio, and as a result, we built up a chain of, I think, 21, 22 personal training studios around Australia and three states.

Had a truckload of personal trainers working under that umbrella. Then we're just having a conversation earlier, letting some toxic people into the system who thought they could do it better than me. Quickly became a tail-wagging the dog kind of situation. They rallied everyone against me. Some other stuff going on in my life. It was like a perfect storm for me slipping into depression albeit mild.

The doctors wanted to put me on heavy antidepressants. And I trained too many clients that were on antidepressants that were just kind of sleepwalking through their life. I said, no I don't want to put a band aid over the top of it, I wanted to get to the root cause of what I was going through.

And I went through every course I did, I went to Burning Man, I did Ayahuasca, I did Tony Robbins walk on fire. It was actually fun enough, Nick, to work out my values and did all the live coaching courses.

And it was around that time that I actually came across ikigai as well, you know, around that time, and that combined with Tal Ben-Shahar, a positive psychologist who worked under Martin Seligman, the grandfather, if you like, of positive psychology.

And he's got this book Happier, that was gifted to me by a friend of mine, who basically said, ‘Here's a book on happiness, Trav, you miserable, prick, work yourself out.’ So I did that. And it's got a Venn diagram in that and it's NPS processor. It's what gives you meaning, what gives you pleasure, and what are your strengths, and in the middle is your calling.

I'm doing all this, working out my stuff. And I did got to the root cause of what I was kind of going through, did this NPs process, and I got motivational speaker. I'm an educator by trade like you, I can't help it, I love helping people.

And around that same time, a friend of mine, actually in one of these seminars said, ‘Trav, you're in a lot of these seminars, you're investing a lot of money. Why don't you teach this stuff?’ And I was like, all the world's came, the planets aligned. And I went, ‘Yeah, that's why I'm here.’

So working on some of my stuff, but I really want to pay it forward. So I'll put on a talk, and I was absolutely crapping myself, put on a talk about a month later, I learned NLP, learned all the life coaching stuff, all my entrepreneurial history, I've really only owned my own businesses, I've never had a corporate job in my life. So I've put all that into a three-hour seminar.

Halfway through the seminar, I only had about 40 people that came to the seminar, I nearly had to pay them to be there. This is again about 13 years ago. But halfway through the seminar, I showed the group that I had since I was 18, I'm 50 now, so since I was 18, I've had a list to do before I die, I've actually written down.

And I picked it up in a book somewhere, I've always had that compass, that North Star, that reason for getting out of bed in the morning, that reason to get off the fence and make decisions. There was always like my reason—it wasn't to be a millionaire, it wasn't about the time or the money, what I would do with that time or money, because time and money are just resources.

So we build businesses, we have careers, we have jobs. And if you do that, well if they're optimized, they should spit out time flow and cash flow to allow you the owner of that job career business to go and do the things that you really want to do in life, because it’s not about the time and the money, it is what you do with those resources.

So I've always had this philosophy and build something that you're really proud of, a legacy if you like. And I started telling the group some of the things that I've done in my life and some of the stuff I've written down since I was 18. And I asked the group who else has got one of these lists actually written down out of their head separated from their to do list?

And no one does. No one. What the hell do you get up in the morning? How do you make this stuff? Most people still today, Nick, ask most people, ‘What are your goals in life?’ and they'll give me three answers normally, and that is, especially here in Australia, pay off the house, put the kids through school, do a bit of travel when I'm older.

It's like dude, is that your goal? That's it? People don't get to do the trouble of it because you know, what the movie was all about, The Bucket List movie was all about. So at the end of the seminar, Joe, one of the personal training clients at the time, said, ‘You have this list to do before you die stuff. It's like a bucket list. You're like the bucket list guy.’

I’m like, lightbulb moment, and I went home and registered, and then reverse engineering and ever since in that moment, I decided to go online before it was COVID. And here I was with all these bricks and mortar, commercial leases of gyms all around Australia.

And you know, one of the books that I read at that time was Tim Ferriss’ 4-hour Workweek. So he's with me with all this burden, all of these gyms and overhead, running a big business. And here's Tim Ferriss running everything from a frickin’ hammock in Thailand. I like that business model. Freedom is one of my top values. But like I said, I've been doing that ever since.