Ollie Ollerton: ‘I locked myself in the house for 3 months to change who I was’

In this episode of Small Business Snippets, Anna Jordan meets Ollie Ollerton, entrepreneur and star of SAS: Who Dares Wins

Welcome to Small Business Snippets, the podcast from SmallBusiness.co.uk. Today’s guest is Ollie Ollerton, founder of BreakPoint and star of SAS: Who Dares Wins.

We discuss the goal setting as well as diversity and inclusion in business.

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Ollie Ollerton podcast transcript

Please note that this podcast contains discussions of suicide.

Hello and welcome to Small Business Snippets, the podcast from SmallBusiness.co.uk. I’m your host, Anna Jordan.

Our guest today is Ollie Ollerton – entrepreneur, former Special Forces solider and directing staff on the hit show, SAS: Who Dares Wins.

He joined the Royal Marine Commandos at the age of 18, touring Northern Ireland and Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. After returning home he was recommended for Special Forces Selection. Following the six-month process, Ollie was one of five candidates to pass the selection out of an initial 250 who signed up for the course.

These days, Ollie is the CEO of BreakPoint, a firm giving clients performance tools and insights based on Special Forces expertise along with protein supplement, Battle Ready Fuel and fitness app, Battle Ready 360. He left SAS: Who Dares Wins UK in 2020 and now fronts the Australian version of the programme.

We’re going to be talking goal setting as well as diversity and inclusion in business.

Anna: Hi Ollie, how you doing?

Ollie: I’m doing really well, Anna. How are you?

Anna: Yeah, not bad. Not bad.

I want to jump right in here today and just ask you a bit about your business life. Tell us more about what a typical business day looks like for you.

Ollie: Yeah, typical business day for me. Let’s just go on today. I mean, what time is it now? It’s 9:30 in the morning.

My day starts at five o’clock. Between five o’clock, and I’d say about eight o’clock, there’s only one person involved with that process and that’s me, it’s all about me. It’s focused on me. That really is the time where I invest in myself. I don’t need to go into the too much detail about the routine, but that involves my fitness. So, I’ve been for a 7k run this morning with the dog. I’ve got a sauna, which I go and meditate in for 20 minutes.

Before I do that, I come downstairs, I go through my goals, my main goal, which is what I call a C-type goal, hopefully, we’ll go on to what that means. I write that out and visualise what that feels like, what it looks like, what it feels like, really important. I then have six points of gratitude. That’s my first initial process. As soon as I wake up, together with a hot lemon, of course not just a hot lemon, it’s in water. I don’t chew on a hot lemon.

Now, this is my perfect day – I don’t do it every day. I don’t beat myself up when I can’t do it, or I’ll just give myself a little bit of flexibility on some days. As long as I’ve done that, regardless of how my day goes, I’ve won every day. It’s really important for me to having done that process, especially on a school day.

For me today, it will be then going and working on my business. I mean, I’m known for TV, I’m known for SAS: Who Dares Wins. Not too long before it, because it’s quite a story in itself, that was my sole focus. It was all about BreakPoint, starting my business to help other people through my experience of things that I’ve learned – not just in the Special Forces, but more so, what I learned from when I broke down – my crisis in life. It was my biggest battle, but my greatest discovery. BreakPoint is all about helping people to understand how we can change, how we can be the best version of ourselves.

We’ve got a lot of changes at the moment with our business, we’re starting to build up more online platforms, we’re letting go of more physical assets. So that’s happening at the moment, so we’re really starting to consolidate and to accumulate, if that makes sense.

What you’ve talked about there’s also a lot around the challenges of running a business. You touched on it earlier, that around 2014 you had a period where you couldn’t find your purpose. Tell us about that, and how you went about finding your purpose from there.

Ollie: Yeah, it was. It was an epiphany for me. Because I didn’t even understand that word: purpose. When I joined the military, I didn’t understand what purpose meant – I wasn’t there. I didn’t join the military at 18 years old, going ‘I’ve finally found my purpose,’ and then blah, blah.

I wasn’t, if you want to call it, ‘spiritually connected’ at that stage. Now, 2014 is when I came back to the UK, but 2011-2012 is where I had that real struggle. That for me was where I basically hit my lowest ebb.

Now for me at that point, I’d been thinking that happiness, success, this, that and the other. It an external fix, it’s something out there that’s going to make us happy, make us feel fulfilled. When I hit rock bottom, I was prepared to be responsible for where I was in life. I was prepared to stop blaming my environment, I was prepared to stop blaming other people for where I was, I was prepared to take full responsibility for whom I was, where I was – and to be quite honest and brutal about that.

That was such an amazing thing for me, because that then forced me to look within. But the thing is, the way we’re wired, we’re programmed to think that everything is external.

If we don’t get the grounding of who we are and create that strong foundation of who we are, create that root system that can sustain any storm, then we’re not going to evolve in life. We might make certain kinds of changes and evolve slowly, but when you actually start to look within and understand that’s where the answers are, that’s when you start to make those quantum leaps. That was that was it for me in 2011. I was like, ‘This isn’t what happens.’ Suicide was on my mind – I didn’t attempt suicide, but sometimes I started to think about it all too often. That was a wake-up call for me to say, ‘No, it doesn’t end like this.’ I actually remember hearing that voice: ‘It doesn’t end like this, Ollie.’

That was enough for me to go, ‘Right, I’m doing something about this.’ That for me was what BreakPoint is all about, I was prepared to no longer accept the way I was. I was no longer prepared to accept the patterns of behaviour that were keeping me locked in the repeat habit loop of monotony.

With BreakPoint I was prepared to step into that discomfort, which I knew was short-term, provided I had a destination in mind.

For me, the first part of that was to take away all the negative things that can be easily identifiable negative habits that were holding me back. It’s that simple, isn’t it? Make a list of all the things you’ve got going on in your life or things that you spend your time on a social basis, work basis, relationship basis. Write them all out and then make a list and put a put a tick next to them, if they’re positive or negative.

That was easy for me at that stage in 2014: my relationship was toxic, my relationship with alcohol was toxic. They were the main things that had stopped working – my relationship with finances was toxic too. It was all those things that I had to start working on. That’s easy to make a list of, as long as you’re prepared to identify with yourself, be honest and take responsibility. Responsibility is such a key word that, as long as you’re prepared to be responsible for happiness. I see so many people out there who just are not authentic. I see them lying to themselves on a daily basis and they’re telling lies to themselves, but they, as far as they’re concerned, they’re keeping face to the outside world, they’re pleasing the audience, but they’re lying to themselves.

“In 2014, my relationship was toxic, my relationship with alcohol was toxic, my relationship with finances was toxic”

That, to me, was 2014. That was that change, where we know, it wasn’t an overnight fix. It was something for me where I had to start chipping away at it – tiny, tiny steps. Within six months, I made so much progress, started to get so much clarity that I wanted to share that. That’s when I came up with the concept of BreakPoint.

Now, again, just around that, a lot of people, when it comes to business and stuff, people want to start their own business, they want that independence, they want that control over their lives. Some people are stuck going on, ‘I just don’t know what I do.’ But the thing is, forget what you do, forget the product, forget the service – you’ve got to focus on you. Because once you focus on you and you get yourself grounded, the product or service or thing you want to offer the world will come. You can’t do that from a place where you’re broken.

I mean, it must be the case because you think that being in the military and having a clear mission, and that is your thing to achieve there, I think there are parallels between that and being in business, that you have your business goals. I think this is an ideal time to bring it back in. Talk to me about C-type goals and what that means.

Ollie: Yeah, well, C-goals are so important because look, the way we wired. Well, let me talk first, there’s three types of goals. We call them A-type goals, which are their goals, you can do now A-type goals, that is the language of the ego. The ego wants you to chase A-type goals, because the ego knows there’s probably 100 per cent chance that you’re not going to fail. The ego is not going to be offended when you fail, because it’s scared of failure. The ego is so scared of failure. So, A-type goals is what we’re inclined to chase because we know we can do it. It’s like me saying next week, I’m going to run 100 metres. Now the audience might go, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ I’m sure they wouldn’t actually. But the thing is we’ve done that A-type goal, because we know we’re going to complete it. We’re pleasing the audience, from the outside world looking in, we’re an absolute success. Now, people don’t actually understand that if you’re not challenging yourself, if you’re not pushing yourself, then there’s no growth, maybe the only person you’re fooling is yourself.

So, let’s go on to B-type goals. B-type goals are probably what a lot of people think is that is the correct formula. That is a goal that we know that with a little bit stretch, a bit of planning, we know we can achieve it.

C-type goals are goals that on the face of it are just pure fantasy. The problem is the mind. If it can’t see the path to the goal it negates that it can be done. As soon as you can’t see that path, ‘Oh, no, I can’t do it.’ Your mind is focused on the how, not the why. When you’re focused on the why the how becomes possible, when you’re focused on the how you’re going to look for every obstacle there is, before you and then, especially if you don’t take action quickly, because the universe loves momentum, if you don’t take action quite quickly, your mind will come up with 100 reasons why not to do it. Before it, you’re so focused on why it can’t be done, you’ve actually lost what you’re even setting out to do in the first place.

“C-type goals are goals that on the face of it are just pure fantasy”

C-type goals – let me give you an example there. When I came back in 2014, I locked myself in the house for three months in Cornwall, because I needed to make those changes, I needed to change the blueprint of who I was. My C-type goal was BreakPoint, starting a company, a globally identified brand recognised for the positive growth and development of others. I was still drinking and I was still abusing myself. Can you imagine what my mind was saying? Yeah, you want to start a business helping other people – look at the state of you. How can you help anyone? You can’t even string a sentence together – now you can’t shut me up. But at that stage, my mind was telling me, ‘You’re an idiot.’ We think we’ve got this 1000-person audience round us laughing and critiquing this, but there’s no one there. It’s just your mind.

This is the biggest battle. Once we get over that and say no, that is my C-type goal. I don’t need to know the path. I don’t need to see the footprints. I am the footprints. I’m going to create them once we understand that and just head to that vision of what that looks like and, more importantly, what that feels like because we need to add the emotion. That is the one thing that will pull us through here. That’s exactly how I passed SAS selection. Amazing, isn’t it?

I understand that when you when you wanted to set up BreakPoint, your friends and family were a little concerned about that. How do you overcome it when people who say they have your best interests at heart are limiting in their belief of what you can do?

Ollie: Yeah, we’ve got to be really careful on this because, your family and it’s not always the case. Just because they’re your family doesn’t mean you love each other and get on that. I really understand that.

But really, you listen to them because you love them. They’re trying to help you as best as they can because they don’t want to see you fail. That was really it. For me, it was it was almost like an intervention. It was like I was running out of cash, I was in the house, I just come back from my typical role of being overseas in a war zone earning a fortune and my family would just say no right thing, really. It did make sense to the outside looking in, go back to Iraq, go back on the circuit, do that job earns a load of money behind you in the bank, and then you can start this company called BreakPoint. It does make a lot of sense. First of all, I knew going back to a warzone was so toxic for me. I didn’t actually tell my family what went on overseas. I don’t know, I never really talked about what went on in general in the military. But they didn’t understand what went on and how toxic that was for me.

In a little bit of self-doubt. I came back from there thinking, I was fighting my mind again. Then all of a sudden, I was like, ‘I’ve been doing this in this house for three months.’ I was meditating, goal- setting and doing everything, all this stuff that I never thought of or tried before, because I had nothing else. Then I can remember getting back to the house after that, probably the day after and shouting the top of my voice, ‘Just give me something!’ Give me a corporate client, phone ringing or something, something happening, as nothing was happening.

Honestly, two days after that, I get the phone call from Foxy, one of my best mates. He said, ‘Mate, you want to do a similar thing that you’re looking at with BreakPoint, would you like to do that on TV?’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? That was like, ‘Oh, my God’ people don’t believe in the universe and positive thought and visualisation. I’ve been visualising for all that three months about me and Foxy being on a big stage, influencing so many people. Then all of a sudden, we were given the best platform in the world: the TV.

You were on the UK version of SAS: Who Dares Wins for some time, but you were let go from what I’ve read, because Channel 4 weren’t happy having four white men fronting the show? How has that affected your approach to diversity and inclusion in your businesses, if at all?

Ollie: That was an interesting time for me, because I can remember that phone call coming in. At the end of the day, there were a lot of people being challenged with diversity issues and everything else.

The thing is, as soon as I got that information, I wasn’t prepared to sit there and start blaming diversity, blaming this, blaming that, blaming our ancestors, all this, for slavery, et cetera, et cetera. I just looked at myself straight away. As soon as I heard that message, it was like I got what I wished for.

When I started off in that house that I wanted to create a global brand. The more I stepped into that world of TV, it was taking me further and further away from that. So, for me at that time, when I got that call, we’ve just been given the opportunity for SAS Australia. Now, I was already being taken away from a business for quite extensive periods of time every year with SAS: Who Dares Wins in the UK. To then negotiate a second one, I just started to see my business slip away. So really it wasn’t time for me to leave that. And I’ve been sort of wishing that my soul was saying, ‘This is not where you were aiming to be.’ I didn’t set out to be a celebrity, it’s very much a sideshow for me. But really, for me, it was like I said, as I’m listening to the words on the phone from the exec, and in my head, I’m smiling. I’m going, ‘You got what you wished for.’ It’s a hard pill to swallow, isn’t it? Because I’ve never gone up and said, ‘Here’s my notice, you’re taking me away from a business.’ Because it’s a pay check, it’s comfort, isn’t it?

Now, when it comes back to your question, Anna. I said in The Sun paper, I don’t care what colour, what size, what shape, I don’t care who’s on my team. Everyone should be picked to do the job. As long as they can do the job to the best of their ability and contribute to that team, it doesn’t matter who they are.

I’ve worked with all kinds of different races and, sexes and genre. As long as people can do the job, it doesn’t make any difference. It really doesn’t make any difference. It’s so important that you don’t go the opposite way and say, well, because of that person’s race, we need to have that person in the in the team, that is toxic.

What is the most rewarding part of running your businesses?

Ollie: My service to others. Life changed for me massively when I left the military. All I was thinking about, and one of the main reasons I left the military, was money. I just didn’t understand. I’ve always had expensive taste and back in my military days, I did like to party. I actually thought working was just a just a means to pay for your social life, which was probably the wrong way to look at it. So, when I left, I was just chasing money, money, money, money, money. Money was in the driving seat. I went out to Iraq and I went all over the world to war zones and got paid a fortune.

Looking back, there was no difference. There was absolutely no difference. I got paid a fortune, but I was still had this mindset of lack because money was in the driving seat.

The time that changed me is when I went over to Southeast Asia and was involved in an operation to rescue kids from child prostitution and slavery. I didn’t know the gift that was going to give me. I wasn’t paid for that. I paid to do the operation with my money I earned from Iraq. That was just incredible, because it’s the best investment I’ve ever made with the best return on investment. That’s when I understood the power of helping other people.

In this day and age, I would say the majority of people are more interested in about how many followers they’ve got on Instagram. Even in a close-knit team, people are using each other as a ladder to get to position, we’ve lost the ability to collaborate over compete. When you work for the same organisation, we should be really looking to collaborate. You look at two waves out in the ocean. When they crash together, they cancel out. When you see two waves join, they create one formidable force moving forward, unstoppable. It’s really important that we learn to collaborate. But that really changed everything for me, because all of a sudden money was pushed to the side.

“You look at two waves out in the ocean. When they crash together, they cancel out. When you see two waves join, they create one formidable force moving forward, unstoppable”

My focus then became because that was the DNA that was the heartbeat of BreakPoint, what was created there in Southeast Asia. That was helping other people my life in service of others that then became the passion, the mission, the driving force – the money became a by-product. That changed everything.

To anyone that is in business, I would 100 per cent suggest, yes we have to have our financial goals, but what needs to be in the driving seat is how you’re serving others, because every business is serving someone, how we’re helping other people. I think it’s innate to feel good about helping our fellow man, fellow woman, to evolve in this life, isn’t it?

Anna: I think it’s great to see the focus, especially for smaller businesses, towards having a purpose and giving back to communities these days. That’s really encouraging to see.

Ollie: I think, really, at the end of the day, you’ve got to make sure that that mission statement is your purpose statement, your values. It’s so important, you should never overlook that thinking, ‘I need to earn X, Y, Z to pay for X, Y, Z.’

When I came up with a BreakPoint I kept saying my mission statement. As soon as I have any kind of stress or duress and I mentioned that mission statement to myself, it gives me a sense of purpose, a sense of enthusiasm and a reason for being.

Anna: I can’t follow that, so I think we’ll end there! Thank you ever so much for coming on the podcast, Ollie.

Ollie: Likewise. Thanks very much, Anna.

You can find out more about Ollie at ollieollerton.com. You can also visit SmallBusiness.co.uk for more on vision and purpose for your business. Remember to like us on Facebook @SmallBusinessExperts, follow us on Twitter @smallbusinessuk (all lowercase) and subscribe to our YouTube channel, linked in the description. Until next time, thank you for listening.    

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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