Derek goofing around outside my house 5 days before his death
So DJ, as he was fondly called, was true to form and rode his bike 20km from his home in South Yarra and dragged me out of my house for a further 20km bike ride, followed by a coffee and chat. Then we headed back to my house to prop up on kitchen stools while my wife made us cups of tea and pancakes. DJ was part of our family like that.
As I watched him ride away from my house that day, I never would have imagined the positive impact his death would eventually have on me and lead me to create VA Platinum.
Today marks one year following his death, and although I miss him terribly and still had tears rolling down my face this morning, because of his passing, I have found my calling and am the happiest I’ve ever been.
DJ’s death gave me time to reflect on his amazing qualities and the fact that I didn’t feel that I was living the same full life he was. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful wife, a great son, an awesome business and the opportunity to travel. But I was squandering LIFE. I was going through the motions.
Here are some DJ qualities I have woven into the fabric of VA Platinum:
Genuine Joy – if I’m not finding Joy in my work, I uncover the reason and turn it around.
Authenticity – never say something you don’t 100% believe.
Transparency – all clients have access to our expense list and know exactly what their team earn.
Community – we only accept clients who are willing to share their best ideas with other clients in our community, plus you have to be a little bit cheeky and have a lot of fun.
Hard work – The results of hard work are satisfying.
Timeout for fun – don’t forget to stop work and get outdoors or go travelling.
We don’t need bigger cars or fancier clothes. We need self-respect, identity, community, love, variety, beauty, challenge and a purpose in living that is greater than material accumulation.
– Donella Meadows
As I make decisions in VA Platinum each day, I listen to my intuition and check in to ensure that the decisions reflect the values above. If they don’t resonate with the values, we don’t move ahead.
So if you’re wondering why you hear me use any of the above phrases like community, time out, transparency, now you know! You too should remember that’s it’s those we surround ourselves with who can have the biggest impact on us.
As I wind down my writing on the impact Derek had on helping me decide to create VA Platinum, to pay true homage to him, here are some other items I have learned personally from DJ and now encourage others to follow:
Time – he created it! Incredibly, he created huge amounts of time to stop and take photos, go on a trail running adventure, hop in the car and go for a long Sunday drive, or ride with his Pirates Sporting Club.
Adventure – there are too many examples, but one that springs to mind is when DJ and some friends rented ‘blue bikes’ that you see people riding around Melbourne and rode in the “Around the Bay in a Day”, where they completed over 200km.
Love – an open soul to those close to him.
Cheekiness – have you ever seen someone’s eyes truly shine as though stars were sparkling in the sky? DJ would have that when he was up to no good.
Good with money – he set a budget and stuck to it.
Grounded – Derek was a believer of living minimally. He had a big paying corporate role at ANZ, yet he still drove a 10yr old buzz boxcar, rented an apartment close to the activities he loved and rarely splurged on consumer items unless it added immense value to enable him to do more adventures.
Derek passed away on 4th May 2017 doing what he loved. He was finishing his bike ride on Melbourne’s famous Beach Rd with a group of friends and for reasons still unknown, he rode into the back of a parked car and died at the scene.