with greg layton

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In this Best of Series episode of The Inner Chief podcast, we feature CEO of KnowHow Property, Bushy Martin, on playing the long game and living a life by design not default.

I interviewed Bushy for this podcast in September 2018.

An architect by trade, Bushy is the founder of KnowHow Property. His team helps time-poor professionals that don't know who to trust or where to start to replace their income through property.

He is also the author of The Freedom Formula, a killer book I’ve read cover to cover. His other book, Get Invested, was named Best Personal Finance and Investment Book Award at the Australian Business Book Awards in 2019.

Bushy was named a Top 10 Australian Property Investment Specialist by The Property Investor Magazine in 2017 and he’s also the host of the Property Hub Podcast.

He also has an MBA in Business, Finance & Strategic Planning along with a land agent’s licence.

In this episode we talk about:

  • His journey from being completely broke and wrestling crocodiles in Papua New Guinea, to being independently wealthy within 15 years
  • How he came to see a better way than his father, who had slogged away for 40 years and had resultant health battles
  • What it takes to start and build a successful business, and
  • How he and his wife Sonya have helped more than 1,700 time-poor professionals secure over $600 million in property investments.

Connecting with Bushy Martin

You can reach Bushy on LinkedIn and via his website.

Books and resources


Dream like you're gonna live forever, but live like you're gonna die tomorrow.


On early life lessons

  • My old man was a stock and station agent, so every two years we were in a different country town. And, as a result of that, I ended up being about two years younger than everyone else in the class. And, because I was a really chronic asthmatic in those days, the only way I could keep up was to work twice as hard as everyone else. It didn't matter what I was doing, I was going 200%, whereas the rest of the guys were doing 100%. And, that became the story of how I approached everything from thereon in. And, that was great. It gave me some really good successes early on in life. But, it also had its downside in that I was pushing the envelope almost too hard and became a victim of my own success to the point where my health started to fall in.
  • I've gotta say I knew zip about architecture. There's no family history in it. I really knew enough to be dangerous. And, I scraped through the first year of uni by the absolute skin of my teeth. In architecture, it's totally at the discretion of the person who's looking at your design. And, some people will hate it, and other people will love it. And, it probably took me three years to work out that my way of actually getting through uni was to understand the lecturer, and what they like, and then give it to them.

On workaholism and breakdowns

  • That's been probably a bit of a signature all the way, man. It's just, “Well, what's the worst that can happen? Just have a go, and if it doesn't work, learn from it and then do something else.”
  • But, that was around that time that my workaholism, 'cause, mate, I was a fanatic. This whole work twice as hard as everyone else routine… the cracks were starting to show. And, I was married, I had a young son. Absentee. Never there. If I was there I was too buggered, didn't have time, no interest, useless. Surprise, surprise, lost my marriage. Massive wake-up call for me. I was one of those guys who, country boy, believed that you get married, and then you just work hard until you retire and survive on your super. So, I turned my back and looked around, and “Shit. It's all gone to shit.” And, that really forced me to have a really good look at what I needed to change. 
  • I was a recluse for 12 months, mate, 'cause my marriage had gone belly up, dad was having health issues. I managed to negotiate to do my masters in business at that time, 'cause I just needed head space. I needed time out from the world, actually. I just retreated from the world, and licked my wounds, and started to look in the mirror and say, “Okay. What are you gonna do differently here?”
  • My dad saw what was going on. He actually grabbed me by the collar and said, “Son, learn from me. Don't spend all of your life working for money. Start getting your money to work for you.” And, that was a pivotal moment for me, mate. It completely switched my thinking. And, from that point on, it was like, “Okay. I need to change my mode of operation here.” And, that started to lead me down the path that I'm now taking. So, everything from that point on was about, “How can I create passive income that then doesn't rely on me to deliver, because if I do that, I can get time back. And, if I've got time back then I can start living a more balanced lifestyle.”

On sharing success

  • I was pretty selfish up to that point, Greg. It was all about me. Everyone else, and everything else, was pretty much secondary to my single ambition to be a hero. So, my whole psyche turned around from that point. Time had always been the enemy to me up to that point. I was always in a gut-busting hurry to get things done. And, the combination of what I saw dad do, and everything else, was to learn the lesson that if you embrace time as your friend, and allow time to take its course, any success comes from … playing the long game. And, that's proved to be the case.
  • Everything I'm done from that point has always been about sharing the pleasure and sharing the pain. And, what I mean by that is that the businesses that we've run since are all based on everyone sharing in the pleasure and sharing in that pain. So, we're not into salaries anymore. We're into incentivizing each and every individual, making sure that everyone's crystal clear on what the business goals are and what their individual contribution is to that. And, that includes their personal goals. So, we have a really strong process now where every year, we have a vision process where we sit down for a couple of days. And, that planning day was about setting each others personal visions, about seeing how we were going against the business vision, and then creating a mechanism where each of us is supporting the team in achieving our individual and business goals to make sure, then, that we're creating a circle of safety around what we're doing.
  • KnowHow is a family. So, we're very careful about who we let into that family. Their values have gotta be right. And, that goes not just for the person who's joined but their family. So, everyone that comes on board with us, we'll spend time with their family to make sure that we're all on the same pathway. And … we also make it crystal clear to people that while you're gonna take personal responsibility for what happens, you're never gonna be in a situation where we're gonna cut your throat. Because, if you're part of the family, we'll support you through tough times.
  • And, everyone has tough times, mate. We all do. But, if we're creating that circle of safety around that, then the loyalty that that engenders, and the desire to wanna give back by each and every individual, means that the team performs really well. We interact really well. But, then evidence is in the interactions we have with our clients and customers. It's completely changed the whole ethos of what we do. And the success and the results that have flowed from that have been exponential in comparison.

On The WEALTH Clock

  • Accumulating wealth of any description is a cyclic process. And, because time is the most important ingredient that will impact on the end result, hence the reason why I refer to it as a clock.
  • So, the Why is the “W.” We spend a fair bit of time on that vision process, very similar to what we do in the business, actually. But, we then transfer that into the experience with our clients. So, we spend a fair bit of time going through what we call The Living by Design Process. So, if we get crystal clear around how someone wants to live, then that becomes both the magnet and the compass that's going to draw them towards that end goal. If it's compelling enough, and it's strong enough in their mind, then when they come up against the inevitable hurdles that will occur on that journey, then they've got enough attraction to it to stay the course.
  • But, it also means, if they're crystal on that, then every decision they make on a day to day basis, it acts like a compass. And, they can say, “Well, is this taking me closer to that or further away?” And, suddenly, life gets a lot clearer so that the clarity starts to come through by getting the why right first. And, once we're crystal on the why, it's really easy to monetize what that lifestyle looks like.
  • We then move into the Examine. And, the examine is getting crystal clear around monetizing that lifestyle. Because, once we're clear on how much your perfect lifestyle costs … It's that age old question of, “How much is enough for you, Greg?” So, it's getting away from what I was doing in my early days, which was just chasing career, and chasing money for the sake of chasing money, to, “No. Once I build up enough of a nest egg to give me that income, that's it. That's job done. That's all we need to do.”
  • Then, we get to the roadmap, which is Australia [inaudible 00:43:43]. We know where you wanna be, and we know what your capacity is, and we know what freedom numbers that you're working to, so … Let's pan a real quick example here. Let's say $120,000 is the figure that you're looking to [inaudible 00:43:54] to sustain that lifestyle. Then, at a 5% return, times that $120,000 by 20, so that's $2.4 million in income producing assets you need. And, exclude the family home from this, by the way, 'cause the home's not putting money in your pocket. It's a place to live, and it's your fortress, but it's not an income earner.
  • So, if we've got $120,000 as your lifestyle income, we've got $2.4 million as a nest egg number. And, let's say you've got 20 years up your sleeve to make that happen to a point where you don't have to work any more. Then your freedom number is two properties.
  • Then, we get to the “L,” which is leverage. And, I'm not talking about just leverage in the banks money. It's leveraging the expertise, and the [inaudible 00:45:07] team that's going to deliver this for you. So, one of the key things that's important, we believe, in property is to have an independent players in each and every key position. It's a bit like playing AFL or rugby. You need really good players in each. They're all independent of each other, but they all understand what the team strategy is. You're effectively the owner of that team. If you assemble the right team who invests in property themselves, so they know the ins and outs of what you're talking about, your only job is to manage that team.
  • And, once you've got the team in place, we then get to the “T,” which is the property treatment. That's the treatment side. It's only then that we're even starting to look at the property. Because, by the time we've been through that cycle, we've got right down to … You can afford a property of $600,000. It's gonna cost you $30 a week. And, we look at that year, one, two, three, five, 10. So, we paint this thing out. We actually project the model right out to make sure that the affordability piece is key.
  • And then, all you have to do, once a month, is have a look at the figures from the property manager and go, “Yeah, that's okay. Give it to the accountant at the end of the year.” That's about as much as it takes, mate. The final part is a Health check. So, every 18 months you're catching up. What's changed in your lifestyle? Has that lifestyle number changed? Is there anything else happening with kids, or schools, or other things that we need to take into account? Let's re-benchmark. Let's evaluate the properties to see what growth we've achieved. Let's re-balance the financing structure to make sure it's still humming along. And then we start that process again.

Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders 

  • So, for those that are doing the grind, that are up against it, that don't feel like they've got any time to do anything. Their weekends are spent ferrying the kids around, and they just don't have a second to scratch themselves, do yourself a favour and get on board with someone who's actually going to help you get crystal clear on what you're doing this for. So, it's going back to that process we spoke about, Greg. Is, get crystal clear on what is your ideal lifestyle. Spend some time doing that. Meditate on it.
  • Dream like you're gonna live forever, but live like you're gonna die tomorrow.

Stay epic,