Skip to main content

This June PakMag turns 15 and I couldn’t be prouder.


When I first decided to start PakMag, I had never worked in print, I’d never sold advertising, and I’d just failed my English exam at University where I was studying to be a primary school teacher… and I didn’t have children.

I never dreamt that PakMag would be what it is today, and I am so grateful for all the wonderful experiences and opportunities, not only me, and my team – but hopefully for you – our readers. PakMag has been driven by passion to help make the lives of parents easier.

In the past 15 years we have…

  • Printed more than 3.5 million magazines.
  • Published over 266 magazines across 3 cities. 
  • Run over 400 free family events attended by over 300,000 local families.
  • Donated over $150,000 to local charities. 
  • Donated more than $1 million in advertising to support a host of local events and not for profit organisations. 
  • Given away more than $800,000 in prizes to families ranging from movie tickets to family holidays. 
  • Created the PakMag Mobile Parents Room (the first of its kind in Australia).
  • Contributed millions of dollars into the local economy. 
  • Achieved millions of page views of our content.
  • Helped over 1,000 Small Businesses to grow their share of the family market. 
  • Published 30,000 articles all written and published to help families. 

It’s been an amazing journey filled with twists and turns that has seen me travel the globe with my family, perform and create over 400 free community events, to disasters like putting signs up in the middle of the night, then have them removed by council 4 hours later…

So here are 15 life lessons I have learnt whilst growing PakMag to what it is today.

#1 Purpose gets you through the hard times

With a big enough why, you can overcome any how. We’ve survived cyclones, the GFC, floods, Covid shutdowns, theft, and so many hard times that I can’t share them all in this article. We have never missed a print deadline in 15 years – we have always delivered even when we could have easily given up.  Like the time we left the Easter Bunny head behind for our Easter Show, it was also the hottest day on record and all the chocolate melted, and I had a vomiting bug and could hardly perform.

I got through the event, had to book another night’s accommodation in Townsville, then got up at 3.00am to drive to Mackay and do it all again. I made it through, but it was a very tough 2 days – and I have had worse! What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. 

#2 Your support network makes or breaks you

Every person in your life should be appreciated. Do not take people for granted. Surround yourself with people who you can rise with. Make friends with people who want the best for you. Have a great team at work and at home that supports you as a leader, and ensure you are taking care of yourself too. And of course, if you take care of your team, they will take care of your customers, and that’s key to a great business. 

#3 Your heart will get broken (and you will break some hearts too) 

We’ve had plenty of businesses not pay their bills due to bankruptcy, and had times in the early days when we had to go without pay and work another 20 hours elsewhere to make payroll and make ends meet. Even when people do the wrong thing, try and do the right thing. I haven’t always dealt with things to the best of my ability, I know I have also hurt people’s feelings by having to do what’s best for the business and team, but I have always done things to my morals and values. If you lose your morals, you lose yourself. 

#4 Evolve, learn, and grow by investing in yourself and others

You have to step out of your comfort zone to get success, and the greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. Your business can never outgrow your mind so investing in learning for you and your team is imperative for success. The consequences of your good habits are in the present, the cost of your bad habits are in the future, so a commitment to learning daily is one great habit I have always had.

Never be afraid to grow and evolve, even though that may mean you lose and outgrow people along the way. The tighter we cling to an identity, the harder it is to grow beyond it. All the opportunities for growth are beyond your comfort zone. I have done so many things that I never dreamt of doing, and that I certainly don’t have the qualifications for…

My commitment to giving things a go, and saying yes to things even when they have scared me has seen me learn and experience so many amazing things that I am truly grateful for. If you put effort into growing something, then you have a garden. If you give nothing, nothing will come back. 

#5 You can’t please everyone and you can’t make everyone like you

Worrying too much about what people think of you will only cause you pain. You can’t please everyone, you are not a bar of chocolate. Your self esteem is not dependent on the validation of others. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not who someone else is today. Your only competition is yourself and to be better that you were yesterday. Until you work as hard as those you admire, don’t explain away their success as luck, it’s amazing how lucky you get the harder you work. 

What would you do if you weren’t afraid and didn’t give a damn about what people thought of you?  I have held myself back for so many years worrying about people’s judgement of me, and I’ve been afraid to shine too bright.  Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter. Rock solid confidence is infectious, and often those people who shine, help others shine too – so shine as bright as you can – we need more light in the world.

#6 Slow progress is still progress

One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making progress. It is better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all. Write one line, do one sit up, make one phone call, is better than doing zero. Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. And try not to get frustrated when things take longer, and obstacles arise. Everything happens in divine timing, and most times I’ve been having slower progress than I would like, it’s made what I am working on way better, so be patient. 

#7 Family First

The greatest thing you’ll ever do is to love and be loved by another person. There have been times when PakMag and my team got the best of me, and my family got the rest of me. Living with the constant guilt of trying to raise a business and a family takes a lot of dedication, but also self control and some very strong values and standards. I am so grateful that I have been able to live a life where I can do the work I love and base it around being a connected parent, even though at times I really struggled to find balance, it was more a blend.

In many instances your team will leave you as soon as something better comes along. At any moment your business, health, or life could end. But your true family are the ones that will always be there no matter what – so put them first.

PS, don’t argue with people you love, go argue with someone who drops a cigarette butt in a drain. 

#8 Look after your customers 

Without customers, you have no money. Without money, you have no business. Look after people who spend money with you. Some customers come and go, some are always looking for the best deal. Try your best to innovate and grow with your customers needs, but always stay true to your core business, and don’t burn yourself out doing more and earning less. Be loyal to those that show loyalty to you, and always look for solutions to their problems, so you never run out of work to do for them. 

#9 Look after your health 

You cannot buy good health. A lack of self-awareness is poison, reflection and review is the antidote, and this is especially true with our health. Take a good look at your health, give yourself a review – is there anything you can do better? Being in a constant state of stress or strive and drive will eventually catch up to you. You must look after the Golden Goose. Take care of yourself as you would the most precious item you own.

Be aware of what you allow your body, mind, and energy to be exposed to. Whether that be the fuel you feed your body, the things you allow into your mind, the physical stress you put your body through, or the types of people you hang around that negatively impact your energy or emotions.

Without good health, everything suffers. I have had several health scares, and I know that if I lose my good health I will lose a lot more. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and energetically, or suffer the consequences. Your life is often a reflection of your energy, and your energy is the most powerful currency on the planet, so look after it. 

#10 What you focus on grows

If you want to focus on the negative, you will see more negativity. If you want to focus on the positive, you will see more positivity. In a world that’s going through so much, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative. But there is so much positivity out there. Our brains are trained to look for the negative. In fact, 80 percent of our daily thoughts are negative, of which 98 percent are repeated from the day before. Do your best to be grateful, and try your best to focus on the positive – what you focus on grows.

#11 There is no perfect moment to start

If you want to start doing something, act now. Do not wait for a better moment, it will never come. I am the type of person who builds and creates things. When I started PakMag, I literally had the thought, and we went to print with the first edition 6 weeks later… If I had really thought about it, and done a business plan, I’d likely never have done it. Vision with action creates a powerful reality. If you don’t go after what you want you will never have it. “When is now a good time to start?” as Tony Robbins would say!

#12 Success equals perseverance

Do not give up. Stay dedicated to your dreams. Chasing them will have difficult moments, but it’s in these moments we show that we really want something. If you give up too easy, you never really wanted it. It’s like a marriage – you don’t just give up when you hit a tough time. You learn, you grow, you persevere. 

#13 Deal with negativity 

Hate, resentment, distrust and anger are the beginning of a disease, like cancer, it may kill your enemy but it’ll also destroy you in the process. This goes for toxic clients and people in your life too. You lose good people when you don’t remove toxicity from your life. I’ve learnt to hire for attitude and aligned values over skills, skills can be learnt, but attitude can be hard to change.

I’ve made the mistake of keeping toxic people for too long, and I lost good people in the process. Always hire slow, fire fast. This goes for friends and family too. If people bring you more pain than pleasure, the short term pain of removing them from your life is much better than the long term pain of keeping them – be it staff, friends, family, or clients. 

#14 Money is only as good as what you can do with it

Being poor is not having too little, it is wanting more. Kindness, generosity and faith in your fellow man cost nothing, and some of the happiest people on earth have very little. Life is meant to be lived, and enjoyed. Yes, we need to be responsible with our money and do our best to set up a life, but we also need to enjoy life, and most of the best things in life are free.

Make your money, and enjoy it too, don’t wait till you’re too old to do all the things you want to do. And don’t waste your life just focusing on making money, otherwise you may just end up with lots of money but depleted of health and happiness. 

#15 Be grateful

No matter how good you are at what you do, and how successful you have become, it can all be gone in an instant. Be truly grateful for the lessons you have learned, the growth you have experienced, and the blessed life you have, even if you desire more.

Ask yourself “If I had everything in my life that I really need, what would that be?” I am hopeful that you have that for your life. For me it is my family, people to love, good health, a place to live, and food to enjoy. The rest is just a bonus, knowing this means you can be at peace.

As the happiest man on Earth says – “May you always have lots to share, lots of good health to spare, and lots of good friends who care”. 


  • Bree James

    Bree James, epitomises ‘entrepreneur’. From starting her first official business at the age of eighteen, to running one of Australia’s most successful regional publishing companies, Bree has entrepreneurial DNA in every fibre of her being. The eternal solution finder, Bree’s innate ability to seize opportunity and fill market gaps has attributed to her huge success in the business world. But she’s more than just the driving force behind her own enterprises. Working with organisations around the country, Bree is also an acclaimed presenter, author, podcaster, travel writer, YouTuber, performer, and an inspirational mentor to small business owners everywhere. Her philosophy in life is to be brave, be bold and be brilliant.