247 – Turning personal tragedy in to a passion business with John Maher of Carmen’s Road Safety

247 – Turning personal tragedy in to a passion business with John Maher of Carmen’s Road Safety

A slightly different episode today. I have a fireside chat with John Maher, of Carmen’s Road Safety, who’s turned his family’s personal tragedy in to a thriving little passion business that’s making a very big difference.

Seventeen years ago, today’s guest was badly injured in a car accident which put an end to him being a highly successful insurance salesman. Two years later he lost his youngest daughter in a fatal car accident. As you would expect, John (and his family) went through a very dark time, until one day he read an article in the local newspaper reporting that four young people were killed in another car accident.

The fire in his belly was lit, and ever since he’s been travelling the country sharing the message of road safety with school kids and corporates everywhere. In fact, he averages 80 schools per year, and has been nominated in 2013, 2014 & 2015 for the National Australia Day Australian Of The Year awards.

This is an inspiring story of a successful small business owner who experienced devastating personal tragedy, to then rise above it and make a very big difference to the lives of thousands.

Plus I respond to a young listener who’s trying to break in to the world of marketing, I have a whinge about my lack of comments in the shownotes, and I (ever so slightly alter) a marketing quote from Guy Kawasaki ;0)

Yep, it’s another big episode to add to The Small Business Big Marketing Show’s archives.


Episode Timeline

  • 00:29  Welcome and overview of today’s episode
  • 02:42  Listener question: How to break in to marketing
  • 05:48  Insights in to 99designs from their CEO, Patrick Llewelyn
  • 06:47  Timbo has a whinge about the lack of comments left in the show notes
  • 10:49 Insights in to Netregistry from their CMO, Verity Meagher
  • 12:37  I introduce John Maher of Carmen’s Road Safety
  • 12:37  Interview with John Maher
  • 32:45  My top 3 learnings from my interview with John
  • 34:18 Testimonial from Arn Betteridge of Signature Clothing
  • 35:08  Motivational marketing quote of the week
  • 36:00  Wrap-up and insight into next week’s guest

Today’s Episode Sponsors (please support them)

Netregistry  Get your online marketing sorted!

99designs – Free 99designs coupon

The Small Business Big Marketing Forum

Resources & links mentioned in this episode

Tweetables – Share The Love

My Top 3 Marketing Tips from my chat with John Maher:

  1. We’ve all got a message to share. It doesn’t have to be an emotional one like John’s – just one that you are passionate about and that can positively impact a core group of people.
  2. Create a PowerPoint slide-deck. It’s a great way to articulate your message.
  3.  Be on the constant loo out for alternative ways to sell your product or service in to new audiences. John started with schools, and is now working hard at building a corporate audience.

Inspirational Marketing Quote of the Week

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on helpful marketing.”

Guy Kawasaki & Tim Reid
(I replaced inbound with helpful ;0)

Over to you!

Let me know YOUR #1 takeaway from this episode by leaving a comment below.

My guest and myself personally read and respond to every comment.

33 thoughts on “247 – Turning personal tragedy in to a passion business with John Maher of Carmen’s Road Safety”

  1. Timbo I concur with your message to the Unknown Young Person. I would add that they should consider setting up their own (part time) marketing business on, say UpWork. This would look good on a resume and give them experience. Tell your boss though. If they want to see a website that has benefited from great marketing feedback on your forum, they could do worse than look at ours, http://www.wealthontrack.com.au. (TImbo I have taken up your back linking offer :)).

  2. Leanne Isaacson

    Well Timbo and John – WOW what a powerful episode! Listened as usual in the car while I was driving and the tears well & truly mixed with the inspiration & also the awareness of the driving task at hand. Coming from the country where driving is part of our psyche and pure necessity, the story and message certainly struck a deep chord – especially with 2 (not so teenage now) kids myself. Certainly got me thinking of potential JV partners especially in Rural regions – will throw some ideas into the SBBM forum. (may be able to make use of my extensive LinkedIn network!). Thanks for sharing John – as Timbo says – we all have a story that can touch others & if it helps just one person, then telling the story has served us well.

  3. Thanks Leanne. Yes, please do throw some ideas for John in to the Forum. I feel like John’s just scratched the surface of the audiences he could share Carmen’s story with. Thanks for sharing your insights and leaving this comment 🙂

  4. Hi Timbo, great show with a very important message. I grew up in a small town south of Adelaide where there are a high number of fatal crashes on the fast and winding roads around this area. To come back from what John Maher has gone through and create a program that makes such a difference is epic!

  5. Agreed Gareth. Coming back is one thing. Turning it in to his life’s purpose is something else. He’s an amazing fella.

  6. Tracy Bagli Hooper

    Timbo, thank you for bringing John’s story to your listeners. John is doing the most important marketing. He’s marketing “life.” It takes the idea of “helpful marketing” to a whole new level, doesn’t it? I was so touched when John said that he has “the best job in the world” because he gets to take Carmen’s message out there and impact kids/families everyday. Also, Tim, your interviewing was superb: respectful, insightful, kind. Thank you, gentlemen.

  7. Thanks Tracy. Touching feedback. And yes, John is taking helpful marketing to another level! The question I have is how do business’s without such emotional messages take this line?

  8. Signature Clothing

    Hi Timbo, boy, what a mind shift for the SBBM podcast.
    Variety is the spice of life, so it was great to listen in to a different message this week, but as always, a marketing idea comes from all corners.
    With 2 daughters, one who flies or drives 6 hours home from her work every month to visit, the other occasionally going up in the rescue chopper for her job, as a parent I shudder every time I know they are ‘at risk’ on the road or in the air.
    Our only solace is knowing as parents we taught as best we could to recognise & avoid the dangers and hope the ‘Karma’ we earn from ‘doing good’ will reward us with keeping our angels safe from harm.
    Thanks for playing the audio clip, it was actually a great exercise to make it as I learned just how easy it is to think up an idea then lay it down as an audio track (or video message) and put it out there. So the win was mine more than your’s.
    And any people out there wondering if the ‘SBBM Forum’ is really for you.
    Stop mucking around, stop wasting money & irreplacable time and get in there.
    John’s message in this episode should have convinced you life is too short to take the ‘long way around’.

  9. Boom! Thanks Arn. Mate the amount of karma you’ve earned from supporting this show over the years is enough to keep us all safe on the roads. Glad you took a marketing lesson away from creating that testimonial. Loved it!

  10. To
    everyone who’s making comments here on my interview with Timbo, I want to thank
    you for your expressions of appreciation and I’d like to relate my “Carmen’s
    Road Safety” presentation to the 190 year 10 Highvale Secondary College
    students yesterday. A girl started crying very early on into Carmen’s story
    (which is unusual), but she was incredibly strong because she refused to leave,
    even though she has that option. At the end of the presentation she was one of
    the first students to come up to me and she gave me a huge cuddle, and told me
    that she had been to two funerals this week for her friends who were killed during
    the school holidays in the crash at Avonsleigh. What I do is tough on me and on the
    young audience but its life changing, and could be life-saving!

  11. Hi Timbo,
    Another great episode of SBBM. Whilst a little different from the norm, John’s message certainly puts things into perspective. Somehow that big new customer I missed out on last week doesn’t seem quite so important now.
    I think John’s story certainly has a great message for small business owners who often feel like they can’t get up and keep on going during the tough times.
    Putting my physio hat on, I’ve seen far too many people over the years injured due to road trauma. John is right that the emotional burden can often be far more difficult to overcome than some of the physical injuries.
    I wish John well with his ongoing talks to the school kids and would definitely recommend all secondary schools add such a talk into their curriculum. If it saves one life, then it will be worth it!

  12. Canine_Comprehension

    Thanks for that episode Tim. What a wonderful message – in relation to marketing and life!
    I can’t believe that he contacted every school in Victoria and he is not now giving these talks in every school! Such an important message.
    As someone working at getting my business in schools – the marketing message I took away from this episode is to spread my message far a wide.
    I wish this program every success in the world – thank you for the episode!
    – Sarah Macdonald

    PS: now I know what show notes are!

  13. I wish this program was everywhere in the world, Sarah! Thanks for your comments and feedback on this episode. John’s classic approach to old school marketing – eye-balling his prospects – is solid, and maybe one we forget all to often as we race towards to next bright shiny object online.

  14. Perspective is a powerful thing in business, huh Luke? In fact, in life. OK, that’s as deep as I get today ;0) Thanks for your feedback – always great to see past guests leave comments in the show notes. I love it!

  15. Thank you Tim ! I was in the car listening to this podcast thinking that when I got home I would email my son’s school with John’s information….low and behold …the ph
    one rings through the bluetooth and it is the Principal! The universe is really conspiring today to get his message out there so ….THANK YOU Tim from all us Parent’s of Teenager’s !!!

  16. Wow, Nat. That’s woo-woo marketing, right there! Thanks for listening and thanks for supporting John. Hopefully your son’s school goes ahead and books him.

  17. Hi Tim – I am hooked on your show! I listened to your most recent episode today & got my much-needed weekly dose of motivation and inspiration (amongst this cold, cold Melbourne weather).
    I work in a school and will be passing John Maher’s deets onto the appropriate personnel.
    I just love that he was able to find positives to his heartbreaking and lofe changing story.
    Thanks again!

  18. I’m glad to be able to fuel your addiction, Alison. And thank-you for passing John;s dets on to your school. He’ll appreciate it hugely. Consider your good deed for the day, done!

  19. Wow, talk about emotional WHY. Have to say, had a tear in my eye while i was driving Tim. Great to see a different kind of guest on the show. As much as the inspirational guests you normally have are (that are kicking some amazing marketing goals), it was a nice change of pace.

  20. Thanks Karl. Great feedback. As I said, John isn’t my typical guest, but it all worked out well in the end. I’ve got some great guests coming up, too ;0)

  21. I’m sure there was marketing GOLD in there, but I was very taken with the story…especially as I was driving with my two boys back from vacation. A mear 1200 mile road trip. Love his passion for impacting lives out of tragedy. Thank you for sharing this one. A bit different from the norm, but awesome.

  22. Hi Nick, I’m pleased you and your boys heard my family’s story, and it’s so important to understand the dangers on our roads…….over the recent 2 weeks of school holidays 4 Victorian students lost their lives. It’s so sad and so final & that’s why I take Carmen’s story to as many schools and corporate events as I can.

  23. Hi Alison, thanks for your comments and if I’m not already bringing Carmen’s Road Safety message to your students, I’d love to bring Carmen into their lives because her message is potentially life-saving.

  24. Hi Nat, thank you for your comments to Tim, and I’d love to bring Carmen’s potentially life-saving message into the lives of your schools students & importantly into your sons life.

  25. Hi Leanne, this was my first ever podcast and Timbo was outstanding and made me feel really comfortable & I’m humbled by all of the support my family and in particular Carmen has received here. Your mention of country areas is so relevant because “country drivers die on country roads”, and in the past three weeks I’ve taken Carmen’s story to almost 1,600 students in Hamilton (4 schools), Warrnambool (2) and Ballarat (3 schools). I know these students will be safer road users & indeed they are our future safe drivers who can change the culture on our roads. Thank you for your support.

  26. Hi Karl, thanks for your response & a tear is very acceptable and appreciated.

  27. Hi Canine, I can’t believe Carmen’s Road Safety story isn’t in every school either, but for that to happen I actually have to get invited into the school first and once seen by teachers & students, it becomes a curriculum fixture. But I have to get in first & that’s the marketing challenge. I’m thankful for those schools that bring Carmen into the lives of their students.

  28. Hi Luke, you know what people go through when injured in a car crash but you might not understand how important you are so on behalf of everyone you’ve helped. Thank you

  29. Hi Arn, cherish your children and I’m so pleased that you get to appreciate them. Thanks for your support.

  30. Hi Tracy, thank you and for several years I thought I had the worst job in the world, until Carmen made me realise that every time I told her story (no matter how upsetting for me), she was in my life…..I do have the best job in the world, I get to work with Carmen.

  31. Hi Gareth, thank you and I’m actually fortunate that I work with Carmen in my life and the expressions on the faces of the students who hear Carmen’s story are like Gold. so many students and teachers give me a hug though pure emotion after my presentation I know Carmen and I are making a difference.

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