JOHN’S STORY

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Meet Australia’s leading business coach for pursuing purpose in your life and business

An immigrant with a drive for business at a young age.

Born with an entrepreneurial bent, John Sikkema knew his life calling would involve solving problems to help others generate business and build community. 

After his Dutch parents moved to Tasmania from Holland when he was 5, John quickly learned English and started to dream of one day becoming so successful that he could empower others to be successful too. 

He soon put his business acumen into practice, and as an 11 year old, started selling golf balls he found on the golf course next door to his parent’s home. At the age of 27, John utilised this same energy and ingenuity to forge a successful career in finance, which saw him making more money than Australia’s Prime Minister!

Living for the next business win, John was travelling on the shifting sands of success

With momentum and the economy on his side, John continued his winning streak and established Garrisons, a financial services company in his hometown, Hobart. John’s life carried all the hallmarks of success but he was operating out of a narrative that more money equalled greater significance. His business approach made him a prisoner to a heavily leveraged lifestyle by pursuing what society and the business world told him he should want, with very little margin if the economy faced a downturn.

With no end goal in sight, John was living for the next win

John is the first to admit that when you are busy running your business and chasing the next win, it’s difficult to miss important cues in your personal life. From the outside, John met the definition of success but he had adopted a business model that required him to put in 80+ hours a week, taking him away from the people he loved. While cracks started to appear in his marriage and his health, John still resisted any signals to change. Until…

A recession and car crash become a serious wake-up call

More pressure mounted on John when the Australian recession in the early 1990s hit and interest rates soared to 17%. With business and personal debt escalating, John was driving to his Hobart office one morning when the fog clouded his vision and he experienced a near fatal car crash. Being so close to death made John face the reality of his situation. He had been living a life that didn’t reflect his core values. While he wanted to have a strong marriage, be a present father to his four children, enjoy good health and be part of positive social change, the hours he was spending in the office was leaving him with nothing leftover to invest in the areas that really mattered to him. Things had to change in his business and it had to start with him. 

The turnaround that led to 65 offices nationally and a $40 million sale

Everything became a lot clearer for John when he stepped away from his business and took a stocktake of his priorities and how these were reflected in his life. It was not easy, but with the help of an Executive Coach, John reduced his working hours down to 50 and started to invest more time with his family and local community. He was able to breathe again and look at his business from a more strategic perspective, transforming it so that it could become a vehicle for social change. Following seven principles he describes in his book Enriched, John expanded his finance business into a franchise, opening 60 offices across Australia. At the age of 49, John sold the company to a Packed backed ASX listed company for $40 million.

Life of impact and adventure

Selling Garrisons gave John the freedom to pursue his childhood dream and mentor others to use their entrepreneurial gifts so their business not only thrives but achieves social impact both locally and abroad. As co-founder of Business on Purpose and Chairman of Empart, an NGO bringing transformation to some of the poorest regions in Asia, John activates entrepreneurs and business owners to realise their potential by discovering their life purpose and leveraging opportunities to integrate this with their businesses.