Apart from at book signings, this is the only other place I get writer's block. About me? Well, that's not exciting to me because I know all the answers. But I've managed to cobble a few thoughts together below which will hopefully give you a better idea of my own personal and professional journey.
(For the fashion-conscious, this shirt I had made from a sarong by French artist Pilioko I bought in Vanuatu, then took to a tailor in Bangkok, with this photo taken in Zurich, Switzerland. But that's another story.)
My story so far ...
Mrs Greenman, my kindergarten teacher at Waterfalls in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) wrote on my report: "Stuart loves stories!" How prescient she was. I love consuming them and I love creating them.
Zimbabwe, you say? Yes, my family has roots in southern Africa dating back to 1823 -- with some eminent pioneers in our family tree: swashbuckling soldiers and diamond hunters. And given I have a small percentage of 'African Hunter and Gatherer/ Xhosa and Bantu' blood in my DNA, at least one of my ancestors shared my interest in cross-cultural relationships (my wife is Thai).
I grew up devouring World War 2 story books and Hardy Boys detective novels. My love of reading came from the same place as bazillion-selling author Wilbur Smith found it -- Cordwalles Prep School in Pietermaritzburg. How amazing that a school's DNA can inculcate that.
A recent DNA test also showed I have around 10% of Iberian blood, and a small percentage of Central Asian blood. So, while I've always considered myself a global citizen, it's now scientifically proven and explains my gypsy ways.
I've lived in 9 countries and travelled to around 75 others. A story partly told by the collection of flags sewn on the sleeves of my now-ratty motorcycle jacket. (Motorcycle touring is my happy place and I've ticked off Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Nepal on that list.)
I was a wildly unsuccessful musician in my university days, but it did result in a few good outcomes (free beer and interest from ladies being among them). Songwriting is just another emotional expression, and I've written around 150 songs over the years, performed in some fun pub bands, and always been on the fringes of the music industry, including doing security for Duran Duran's change room, and managing Tim Freedman up to the point of his first Top10 hit (he had many, many more after that). Performing on stage is where I'm arguably happiest in life.
Speaking of wildly unsuccessful, I studied Psychology and Mass Communications at Macquarie University, Sydney, and just scraped the tree-tops to earn that piece of parchment. My interest lay more in our campus radio station 2SER-FM where I produced and voiced music and talk shows. Ironic then that I'd later earn certifications from the esteemed Copenhagen Business School in Neuroscience and Neuro-marketing and remain obsessed by the science of creativity and engagement.
My formative career was in the ad industry, working as a copywriter and creative director (like James Paterson, Salman Rushdie, Bryce Courtenay and Peter Carey) for some of the biggest agencies and some of the biggest brands in the world, and winning a few gongs along the way. (If you've ever watched Mad Man, yeah, I lived that life!). Being a young punk, I thought I could it better, and proved it by co-founding the LloydMartin agency, running it successfully for 8 years, before doing the big sell-out thing to a US multinational group. Happy days!
My avowed aim then was to pursue my passions. It was me and a typewriter against the world. I've since published 19 non-fiction books, selling well over 100,000 copies, and hundreds of feature articles for travel, marketing and music magazines (including a 3500-word photo spread in National Geographic Traveler and a few pieces in the US entertainment industry trade rag, Variety). The biggest buzz was probably outselling Harry Potter in Thailand, going toe-to-toe in the charts in 2000.
Overlapping this was a decade of corporate training and development in creativity and storytelling skills development, in which I covered the Asia Pacific region like a manic preacher evangelising living life out-of-the-box. (And out-of-a-suitcase -- I was on the road averagely 200 nights a year, doing four countries and 6 workshops in one memorable exhausting week.)
Covid brought all of that to a grinding halt. And made me reflect on the madness of that peripatetic lifestyle. So I wrote a book on pivoting, and pivoted my own life: now I'm home 365 nights a year, with my beautiful wife and cats (Rocky and Rolling), amid the vineyards of a country town in rural NSW. And loving it. It gives me more time to indulge my love of watching rugby, and listening to African Jazz and Latin Reggae.
And probably one day I should write the story about how I did all of this while undergoing cancer surgery and treatment (for two completely unrelated Stage 4 cancer episodes) over the last 8 or 9 years.
But that can wait, because I've too many other stories I want to share first. And then there's motorcycle trips. And then ... and then ... After all, as a Lloyd I have got a lot to live up to.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Cheers! Stuart.