Who is Kurek ?

Get happy, then rich


Kurek Ashley has had his share of highs and lows.

He's been homeless in Los Angeles,living in a Cadillac. Made awad of cash acting in films withJohn Travolta and Chuck Norris,then spent it on so much cocainethat he held a gun to his head andtried to pull the trigger, ending uphomeless once again.

All before bouncing back inAustralia as a motivationalspeaker and performance coach,helping the Brisbane Broncos tothe premiership in 2000 and inspiringbeacher volleyballers NatalieCook and Kerri Pottharst toOlympic gold in Sydney.

Now he's watching the moneyroll in, riding a $40,000 HarleyDavidson, as his business, SuccessInternational, goes gangbusters.But it took some dark experiencesto shape him.

Growing up in Chicago in the1960s and '70s, his father was aconstruction worker and hismother had some "relations"with mafia boss Sam Giancana -until he was murdered some timelater as he was about to go to trial.

"Mum still calls me from timeto time and says: `Remember so and-so? He's just been found in acar trunk somewhere', or `Uncleso-and-so's just been whacked',"he says.

In his teens, Kurek decided hewanted to be an actor and movedto LA when he was 18, where he"starved" and lived in his car,while searching for acting roles.

His persistence paid off and, in1983, he got a part in Two Of AKind - with John Travolta andOlivia Newton-John.

"John was a hero of mine, sowhen I started work on Two Of AKind, I saw John and Olivia walkingto lunch and I went over andsaid: `I just wanted to thank you,sir, because you saved my life. Youwere a role model for me. I wouldbe dead in the streets now or acrook or something, but I identifiedwith you and that kept megoing"'.

"John got tears in his eyes andgave me a big hug and saidnobody had ever said anythinglike that to him before, withoutasking for something in return,so we became friends. It turns outhis mum died of alcoholism andmy mum was an alcoholic ... wehad lots of stuff in common."

A friendship blossomed and ayear and half later, he workedwith Travolta again in the moviePerfect, with Jamie Lee Curtis.

Other acting jobs came and went.

Kurek was in Lock Up with SylvesterStallone. Then, in 1989, as he rodethe crest of a wave, he had thebiggest turning point of his life.

While filming Delta Force 2 withChuck Norris in the Philippines, ahelicopter stunt went terriblywrong. The chopper was hoveringabove a dormant volcano and, justas Kurek stepped off the rails toallow the cameraman to adjust hisview, the engine cut out and it fell260m down the side of the volcano.

Five crewmen, including his closefriend Mike Graham, were killed.

"For two years after that, I had apistol in my mouth and cocaine upmy nose. I drank and smoked like Iwas trying to kick myself off theplanet, then had that magic daywhen you wake up and realise -things have got to change and I'mthe one who has got to change it,"kurek said.

Kurek spent five years workingwith Anthony Robbins, theworld's leading motivationalspeaker, until a job offer coachinga sales team in Australiabrought him here, where he metan old contact who wanted toproduce Ashley's seminars.

He ran five free seminars a day,six days a week, for eight weeks."I even spoke in shops and toeight people in a hair salon, justtalking about how you can improveyour life and trying to sellpeople into my course," he said.

"One day I was speaking at arestaurant in Woolloongabba and Istart saying: `Who remembers whocomes third in the Olympics? Youdon't see bronze medallists writingmemoirs or on TV. Who caresabout third? When I've finished,this girl comes up, looking p**** *off, and says, `I'm Natalie Cook - Icame third in the Olympics!'"She said she was upset becauseeverything I said was true."

Cook told him: "Here I am -third best in the world, but withno book deals, no commercialdeals, no endorsements. I knowyou're the right person to get mewhere I want to be - winning goldat the next Olympics in Sydney.

But I don't earn much money, sowill you work for me for free?""I thought: Wow, that's a goodjob - I mean, what an adventure!What a challenge! And you couldsee in that girl, she had the makingsof a champion. Think abouthow hard it is to get out of yourcomfort zone and go and ask a totalstranger to come and work for youfor free for two years," he said.

Kurek worked with Cook andKerri Pottharst, "dealing withtheir mindsets and attitudes tofear", and on September 25, 2000,the beach volleyball team wongold on Bondi beach: "That wasreally something, probably themost satisfying thing I've done."

Around the same time, heworked with the Brisbane Broncos,providing mental performancecoaching. He recalls helping ChrisWalker get out of a mental rut: "Inthose days, Chris was famous fordropping the ball and people werecalling him butter-fingers and itwas just getting worse. So I toldhim I knew what he was thinking,when he got the ball.

You're saying:`Whatever you do, don't dropthe ball this time, don't drop it,man', but the ball still slips out. Iexplained if you're saying: `Dropthe ball', then your brain willfollow the command becauseyou're brain can't hear `don't' - itonly hears `do', so I get him to tellhimself: `I am the best ball-carrierin the game'.

The words I am are the most powerfulin the Englishlanguage - they're your identity,what you are. If you tell yourself Iam something, you will becomethat identity over time. Chris hadhis best season ever."

Kurek made his first millionthree years ago after branchingout, devising a year-long coachingprogram where he would giveindividual sessions once a week fora year, charging $27,000 a person.

"I've been sold out every yearsince. I used to take 15 clients, nowI only take 10, to give more time todo other projects. I figured outhow to leverage myself by doingpublic seminars to 500 people at atime, all paying $1200 for a two daycourse. That's $500,000 for twodays' work. You can see how themoney starts adding up," he said.

Ashley has just written his firstself-help book, How would loverespond? and plans on growinghis seminar and coaching businessin Australia, but insists it'snot about the money.

"Money gives you freedom andthat gives you choices. That'swhat it's all about. Sure, I boughta $30,000 Harley and added $10,000of chrome, but I figured if I'mgoing to have a mid-life crisis, Iwant a shiny one!" he said.

But Kurek says anybody whomakes money, without workingon themselves first, will end upunhappy: "Most big lottery winnersend up depressed becausethey realize money isn't the answer.Work on yourself, be happyin yourself - and money is justthe icing on the cake."

Kurek's golden rules...

1-Ask yourself how youcan add value formore people

2. Fortune is in thefollow through - act,don't just think

3. If you're notnetworking, you're notworking

4. Remember, in order tochange things, you mustchange first

S. Be a visionary andfocus on your goal, don'tlook behind or sideways,always move forwards

Money is just icing on the cake:Motivational speaker and adviser Kurek Ashley

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