The long game

07 September 2018

Jayson Forrest

Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.

Smashed Avocado is a series of podcasts born out of a realisation that health, wellness and career success are very much intertwined. With John Purl’s AFP® no-nonsense approach to topics, he is on a mission to inspire others to learn, grow and challenge the way they do things.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term ‘smashed avocado’?

Perhaps it’s a tasty treat you hang out for at your favourite café. Maybe it’s one of those ‘in’ recipes you hear the kids talk about. Or perhaps you first heard about the term in an article penned by demographer and social-commentator, Bernard Salt, back in 2016.

Well, for Adelaide-based planner, John Purl AFP®, ‘smashed avocado’ means something entirely different. Instead, it refers to his popular series of podcasts that over 10,000 people regularly tune in to hear interesting interviews with people, ranging from successful habits though to fitness and nutrition.

So, for John, a senior adviser at Affinitas Capital, it’s hardly surprising that he takes health and wellness – and that of his clients – so seriously, which he believes is crucial in enabling a person to function at their peak, both personally and professionally.

“By looking after my health and wellbeing, it allows me to be better focused professionally, which is an important requirement for our profession. You need clarity of thought when dealing with the needs and expectations of clients. I’ve found that if you can push yourself physically through exercise, you are better able to handle mental stress,” John says.

“I use that resilience when it comes to work. So, by focusing on my health and wellness, it creates resilience and mental strength that is required at work.”

But he also admits that another strong driver for staying mentally and psychically fit is wanting to spend an active lifestyle with his son as he grows up.

“I want to be the type of parent who can play sport with my son, muck around with him and not be the person standing on the sideline  out-of-breath,” says the 37-year-old.

No pain, no gain

John is a devotee of CrossFit, which forms the basis of his fitness regime. CrossFit incorporates a blend of high-intensity training, such as strength and conditioning training, including weights, calisthenics, running, cycling and swimming. He does this form of exercise four days a week.

“The good thing about CrossFit is it enables me to work out whilst I’m travelling, which we all inevitably do at some stage throughout the year as part of our responsibility of visiting clients.”

John has been actively involved with sport since childhood and this self-awareness of his fitness means that he intuitively knows what works for him when staying in shape. This means he writes his own programs and training plans, as he knows what works best for him.

“So, from a personal training perspective, I control all that myself. That’s because I know my body and I know what I want to achieve.”

However, that doesn’t mean John takes an entirely solo approach to his health and wellness. He has also partnered with the AIA Vitality Executive Wellness Program, which through the 12-week behavioural coaching program, helps planners improve their personal health and wellbeing, as well as the health of their business and their clients’ wellbeing, through a lifestyle and wellbeing value proposition and advice offering.

The program features a series of workshops, with topics covering personal effectiveness and productivity, business strategy and value, and client engagement solutions.

“The program has helped to create accountability for me around my wider health and wellbeing, such as my activity levels, as well as reminders about health check-ups, which can often fall by the wayside,” John says. “And the program has also helped me make smarter choices around business growth through better client engagement and strategic conversations with my clients.”

Smashed Avocado

When it comes to health and wellbeing, John doesn’t believe in preaching to clients. Rather, he ‘acts and lives what he says’, which he believes is encouraging more of his clients to follow likewise.

“It’s one thing to say ‘live a healthy life’ and then go home and eat take-away every night. So, I’m totally committed to what I believe in and what I’m telling other people. And an easy way of delivering that to people was starting a podcast called ‘Smashed Avocado’.”

With 32 episodes under his belt, John is using these podcasts – hosted on the Wellness Couch website – to help others improve their health and wellness, as well as their careers and financial success.

“These podcasts are a great way for both Andy, an accounting friend of mine, and I to not only interview interesting and inspiring people, and explore their successful habits and share their learnings, but also for us to convey our journey and experiences, ranging from our personal and family life issues through to fitness and nutrition and all that fun stuff. The podcasts also help to keep us accountable.”

John says Smashed Avocado was born out of a realisation that health, wellness and career success are very much intertwined. And so, with a no-nonsense approach to topics, they are on a mission to inspire others to learn, grow and challenge the way they do things.

And with over 10,000 people regularly tuning into the podcasts, they must be onto something, with John confident their health and wellbeing message is resonating with clients and the general public.

In fact, John is adamant that his own approach to personal health and wellness is rubbing off on clients, helping him build stronger relationships with them.

“I have a couple of clients who I actually train with, which is great. But all my clients are aware of what my beliefs and views are on health and wellbeing. They see that in my delivery of work. I think that has really helped strengthen my relationships with them,” he says. “My clients are confident that I’m not coming into work either mentally or physically unfit to help them, which is enhancing the trust in the work I’m doing for them.”

The Big Four

John is clearly delighted by his health and wellness regime – both personally and professionally. But he is most satisfied by the work he is doing to help others improve their own health and wellness, as well as their individual financial success – clients and non-clients alike – through his series of informative podcasts.

So, what advice does he have for other planners who are looking to implement a program of personal health and wellness within their own practices?

“There are four things that I often talk about with anybody wanting to make changes or who have already started on their journey and need some guidance,” John says.

For John, these four things are:

1. Do what you enjoy;
2. Make it achievable;
3. Work out what it is you want to achieve; and
4. Surround yourself with like-minded people.

1. Do what you enjoy

“This is first and foremost in whatever you do,” John says. “If you’re not enjoying doing what you do, you’re not going to give 100 per cent, but you’re also going to convey that to those around you.

“If everybody in the office is into cycling, and you do it because that’s what they’re doing but you’re hating every moment of it, that’s going to come across when you’re out riding with the team. But also, you’re going to finish the ride but not feel enthusiastic or happy about how you spent the last few hours. So, doing what you enjoy doing is crucial.”

2. Make it achievable

“As you (or your clients) undertake your health and wellness journey, your targets to meet should be achievable.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who have lived quite an unhealthy life who suddenly decide that they’re going to get healthy by going vegetarian or begin training seven days a week. However, within two to three months, they typically drop off and revert back to where they were before.

“So, a good starting point is to make the transition in bite-sized pieces.”

3. Work out what it is you want to achieve

“If you don’t have a goal from the outset, then it can become quite uninspiring every time you go for a run or a weigh-in, or get out of bed at 5:30am to hit the gym before work. Having an end goal and clearly understanding what it is you are trying to achieve, will help you stay on track.”

4. Surround yourself with like-minded people

“This is especially important in the workplace. Having a living community who are all on the same page as you, not only helps you along your journey, but also helps others. So, in a workplace environment, it can also create a lot of camaraderie in the team, with people going for a walk or run together at lunch, as opposed to you doing it by yourself.”

The long game

But how do people surround themselves with like-minded people, particularly in the workplace, when they are a sole practitioner or work within a small team? It’s a problem John is only too aware off, having started out as a sole practitioner. He says this means having to “think outside the square” with where you can find a like-minded community.

“If you don’t have the ability to connect face-to-face with a like-minded community within the office or at home, then seek an online community. For example, there is a LinkedIn page called Executive Athletes. And there are similar Facebook pages, where you can be open and honest with the group and receive positive feedback.”

John says these four tips are all part of the “long game” that ultimately will see planners and their clients succeed professionally, financially and without sacrificing their health and wellbeing.

“With this comes an understanding that to succeed in your career, in your family life, in your business, in your pursuit to becoming a better and healthier you, you need to play the long game. To play the long game, you need support, education and encouragement, and that’s what drives me each day,” John says.

“Let’s face it, if you’re struggling in health or happiness, it’s difficult to be financially successful – personally and professionally.”


John Purl AFP®

Position: Senior Adviser

Practice: Affinitas Capital

Licensee: Lonsdale Financial Group

Years as a planner: Seven years

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