My Journey to Success: from Massive Debt to Millions

by | May 8, 2018 | Insurance Hero, Mannix Motivation, Sales Coach

I’ve got to admit that when we first started putting together all this online stuff and all the other online solutions that we’re providing, I was quite conflicted about showing people the wonderful properties that I’ve created around the world and the places I get to stay and the assets that I own. I just want to make a really big point; I’m not showing this stuff to show off. I’m actually showing it to you because I want you to understand what’s possible and to really highlight that, I want to share where I started from in sales.


I’ve had an amazing career and an amazing life, and I’ve been incredibly lucky. Financially, I’ve been unlucky a couple of times in my life. The first time was building an amazing business with a business partner through the ’90s in the child care space, having gotten out of law degree. Then, we had a massive argument. We had an absolutely massive falling out, and I can now take a lot of responsibility for that, but at the time, I’ve got to tell you, I thought it was all his fault. That argument resulted in me basically blowing up every bit of wealth that I’ve created.


That’s how I fell into sales. So I actually fell into sales because I was broke. I was massively in debt, to be straight up. A friend of mine said you can earn a lot of money selling photocopiers. I said, “man, you don’t know how much debt I’m in. I am so underwater, it’s crazy.” He said, “no, trust me. You’d be really good at this. You should do it.”


I’ve got to say it was amazing. I felt so lucky to fall into the job. I felt incredibly lucky to be surrounded by other really high-performing guys at the time. To be straight up, there were no girls in the photocopier space back then and the team that I was in. It really pulled me out of a massive hole, and I was able to basically pay back all my debts, and I was able to get back on top.


But then around three years later, I was involved in a massive skydiving accident and lost my best friend. I actually watched my best friend die. I want to tell you that messed with my brain quite a bit. And so I took the next year off. Pretty much spent all the money that I reaccumulated and got back to Sydney for the Olympics and was staying with a friend in his house. He was very kind to put me up. But I had no money. Once again, I had some debts because I’d basically spent more on my holidays and my trip than I actually had. I had to take a job. It was the first time I had really taken a job where I wasn’t totally in control. I was getting a salary of about $80,000, which sounds like a lot of money, but to be straight up, compared to where I’d been, didn’t feel like a lot of money. I had a chance to earn some commission. I did that for about 12 months. During that 12 months, I was walking to work because I couldn’t afford the bus fare because I was still paying off debts with the small amount of money that I was earning.


It wasn’t until I pretty much called it. I’d had enough — I’d just absolutely had enough of this. I know that I can be really good at this sales stuff if I focus on it. I know that I’m a smart guy. If I put my energy in the right place, I’ll be very successful. When I started applying all the stuff that I’m talking to you guys about, really diligently and in a really focused way and in a really committed way — the goal-setting stuff, the activity management stuff, the engagement strategy stuff, the targeting stuff, all the stuff that I’ve talked about — when I started putting all that together in my own life, that was when I went from earning an $80,000 salary and a bit of commission to doing just over $250,000 in my first year and just under a half-million bucks in my second year and round about $850,000 in my third year and then cracking through that million-dollar bracket.


The bottom line is I want you to know that I came from nothing. This is not the get rich quick plan. It took me five years to really get on top of things and another five to start accumulating assets that I really wanted in my life. The simple reality is no matter where you’re at, no matter how hard things are, no matter how much debt you’re in, no matter how crap your sales job is, no matter how disempowered you might be feeling right now, that’s where I was fortunate enough to start all this from. I’ve got to tell you that if that’s the space that you’re in and you’re watching this, you can use that as energy. You can use that as motivation if you just get your head around it the right way. And give yourself something to funnel that motivation into because there’s nothing worse than generating tons of energy and then doing all the wrong things with that energy because that just gets you further and further and further into the hole.


That’s why I’m so focused on saying hey, use this strategy, use these structures, use this plan to basically channel all your energy, your enthusiasm into the right places where you’ll get the biggest payoff so that you can get ahead faster than I did ideally. I want you to accelerate through this curve way faster than I did by just taking on some tips and strategies that I’ve applied and that are proven over the last 20 years around the world in over 25 countries, the best salespeople in the world. This is tried and proven, and guys, I’ve proven it for myself, so this is not me telling you how to do something and not doing it myself. This is one of my properties around the world, I’ll show you more in a future series. The bottom line is if you do the work and you do the right work, it’s pretty amazing where you can get to, no matter where you’re coming from.



  1. Sam @HubSpot (@samshoolman)

    Wow Dean – inspiring and honest story!

    I find it really helps when successful sales leaders, who’ve carved great paths and lives for themselves, peel back the onion to reveal some layers that existed earlier and even propelled them there.

    Than you for sharing.

    • Dean Mannix

      Thanks Sam. I love people that are willing to leave the safety of their home shores to build a new business in a new land! Failures are great fuel!

  2. Colleen Hayes

    As someone who has a lot of student loan debt – this post has me very excited. Sometimes it can be hard to see a way out when you’re on at the beginning, however, I can’t wait to apply myself in my new sales role!

    I am actually an entrepreneur as well and am struggling through fundraising. Would you ever be open to chatting about some best practices you’ve built up over the years?

    Thanks very much for sharing Dean!

    • Dean Mannix

      Hi Colleen. Check out my Sales Growth Blueprint e-book which should be out in the next few weeks – I’ll post a link in this comment section when it’s released. Once you’ve had a look at that and the free videos series that will follow, I would be happy to engage in a coaching conversation we can share on social.


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