Nik Halik is living the dream and he wants to teach the rest of the world how to do likewise.
Nik Halik claims he has been a professional musician, run with the bulls in Pamplona, rocketed to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere in a MiG jet fighter, climbed some of the world’s largest mountains, chased tornadoes, written a book and joined the ranks of TED talk gurus. “The Thrillionaire”, as he now markets himself, has also visited 133 countries during his 45 years on the planet and says he owns homes in the US, Australia, Morocco and the Greek Islands.
It’s a glamorous lifestyle that Halik began aspiring to while existing in far more straitened circumstances. “My parents were illiterate migrants from Greece who worked long hours in blue-collar jobs,” Halik says. “The closest thing to a holiday I remember from my childhood was a day trip to Phillip Island.”
Halik, a precocious musical talent, was able to move to Los Angeles at 17 to study at the prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology thanks to the nest egg he’d accumulated by giving guitar lessons. After returning to Melbourne he made good money throughout his twenties working as a session musician and playing live.
Then he started buying investment properties. Soon he was earning more from his burgeoning real estate empire than he was playing six nights in a band he’d concluded was never going to make the big time. He quit his night job and set about ticking off the remaining items on a list of goals he’d written down at age eight: become a rock’n’roll star; become a millionaire; own beautiful places all over the world; become an astronaut; walk on the moon; explore more than 100 countries; climb the highest mountains in the world; run with the bulls; go to the bottom the ocean to have lunch on the Titanic.
“Eight down and two to go,” laughs Halik, who began advising others about how they could emulate his “thrillionaire” lifestyle around the turn of the millennium and now markets himself as a “lifestyle strategist”.
Halik has appeared at wealth-creation seminars alongside the likes of Bill Clinton in Britain, was invited to address students at Harvard University earlier this year and is about to head to Tehran to provide business advice to sanction-afflicted Iranian entrepreneurs.
While elements of Halik’s message – identify your true purpose in life, attain the financial literacy the formal education system fails to impart, don’t get played for a chump by working a nine-to-five job – will have a familiar ring to anyone who’s ever furtively flicked through a get-rich-quick tome, there’s something distinctly Australian about the advice he now traipses the globe dispensing.
Firstly, Halik is dismissive of the magical thinking that pervades much of the personal growth/financial advice industry. “This idea that you put a picture of a Ferrari on your ‘vision board’ and then it ‘manifests’ in your garage, what a load of bullshit,” he snorts.
Secondly, he exhibits a distinctly Australian obsession with property. “If you want to retire rich you must invest in real estate,” he says. “Since I started in 1991, I’ve largely stuck to a simple strategy: buy two-bedroom properties in established suburbs in the $300,000 – $500,000 price range with a 10km radius of a major city. Never spend more than 5 per cent of the purchase price on renovations and try to get the seller to agree to allow those renovations to be undertaken during the settlement period. And never sell. I’ve now got a property portfolio worth tens of millions of dollars.”
Thirdly, the down-to-earth Halik insists he’s not interested in using wealth to big-note himself. “I wanted to be financially independent, to travel the world and have amazing experiences. It was never about fancy cars, it was about being able to be a cyber gypsy who could work two days a week and do what I wanted the other five days.”
While Halik insists relying on a job as your sole source of income is foolhardy, he argues being self-employed is often not much better.
“I’m all for people starting a business but too often that translates to just buying a job. You’re required to be present for the business to operate, you end up working huge hours and running what’s essentially an adult day-care centre for your staff and you’re vulnerable to being wiped out when a recession arrives, as it inevitably does.”
So exactly how is one meant to join the ranks of the world’s thrillionaires?
“Have an internet-based business which can be run remotely with a minimum of effort from anywhere in the world and use the income generated to invest in things that provide a passive income stream,” says Halik, who will be dispensing his wisdom Down Under in June and August. “That’s what will allow you to live the kind of lifestyle I’ve been able to create.”