Nick Halikopoulos, the ‘debilitated’ kid who turned into one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, talks to Neos Kosmos
Most people complete a ‘bucket list’ of important dreams yet to be fulfilled when in their middle age or near the end of their lives.
The thrillionaire Nik Halik (shortened from his birth name of Nikos Halikopoulos) completed his list at age eight when he was confined to staying at home by debilitating childhood illnesses and allergies.
A chronic sufferer from asthma and a host of allergies until he was ten, his world was confined within the walls of his family home in Melbourne, but his mind travelled beyond through books and his imagination. It was during this time that he developed a bucket list that he is spending his life fulfilling.
“That list was my script. In other words, I was the actor, the producer and director of my own screenplay since age eight. I have been acting out my screenplay,” says Halik. “I am accountable to that eight year old, to that young spirit of curiosity in me.”
Of the 10 goals that he set for himself, Halik has fulfilled eight of them and he is busy working out on the last two: “To walk on the moon and to go to the space station on a rocket and live there.”
As things are at the moment, Halik is on standby to head to the International Space Station as a fully trained cosmonaut for the Russian space program. And his business plans for space travel may yet give him a shot at the moon.
Halik is part of a consortium that is setting up operations across Australasia to offer space flights to wealthy individuals in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.
It will take on Virgin Galactic, the much-publicised space venture by English entrepreneur Richard Branson.
“This is a multimillion dollar business. We will be offering trips at $95,000 and the great thing is you will be in a cockpit – just you and the pilot as opposed to Branson’s Virgin Galactic where you basically sit at the back of the bus with six other people.
“What Branson is doing, I already did with the Russians back in 2003 [when he went ‘sub-orbital’ and flew to the outer limits of earth’s atmosphere],” said Halik. But he will not be drawn further about this venture, but added that more details will follow soon.
“There are going to be exciting developments in the coming years. I am an entrepreneur and there is nothing better than monetising your passion. And I tell everybody that if you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”
“I am very good with sales. I know how to negotiate with people, with organisations. I personally negotiate with governments. To join the space program I negotiated with the Russian government. I had dinner with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin,” said Halik, who made a big fortune in his late 20s through smart investments in property, start-ups and the financial markets.
“I had to do all the exams and all my medicals (to qualify for the space program). I was the only civilian training alongside professional astronauts and cosmonauts.”
And what Halik likes besides business is thrills. He is styled the ‘thrillionaire’ (one of his businesses is The Thrillionaires) and his quest for adventure has taken him to unusual places.
Before returning to Australia in March to visit family and look into his business concerns, Halik had just come back from a self-funded trip to a live active volcano (see the video of Halik’s experience on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdhfV-8dbCE) on Ambrym Island in Vanuatu.
“I slept in an active volcano, I wanted to experience lava and it was 930C where I was. I need to be inspired. I get my greatest ideas going on the most crazed adventures.
“I have been in space now, I have had lunch on the Titanic, I slept in the Great Pyramid of Giza (see attached box),” says Halik.
“I live an eight-months-on, four-months-off kind of life. For the eight months on, I am entrepreneurial, I am hustling every day, I am out there doing business. I do not discriminate between week days, weekends and public holidays.
“Every day is an opportunity, Every day that you are above ground, every day that you are breathing is an opportunity. I approach every day as if it is my last day. That is how I am able to escalate, that is how I get more done very day. I believe in being optimised.
“I just want the rush to feel alive.”
The drive to make things work his way was set early in his life. His parents, who had emigrated from Greece in the 1950s, both worked – his father, Konstantinos, as a truck driver, his mother, Victoria, as a machinist for Toyota. The young Nik was raised by his sisters, Victoria and Georgia. His older brother is Jim.
“As a young child, I saw everyone in the neighbourhood had colour televisions, we had a black and white set. They had video recorders and we did not have one.
“I worked out what needed to be done. It was more about how to work out how to financially liberate my parents and look after them,” said Halik.
Halik’s father had been a gifted bouzouki player in Greece and he also performed when he came to Australia in the 1950s. His talent rubbed off on Nik, who took up the bouzouki under his father’s guidance before moving on to the electric guitar.
At an early age, he “monetised his passion” for music. As a teenager set up a music school utilising every room in the family home.
“I was always business-oriented. I was also a very disciplined saver. My first business was the music school and I had five other teachers working at the school and about 50 students,” said Halik.
He also worked with bands around Melbourne and as a session musician.
When he was offered a scholarship to a music school in the United States, Halik decided to go.
“I left Australia when I was finishing high school and moved to California with $30,000 in my pocket,” says Halik.
“I had always known my endeavours would be overseas. I knew there were opportunities there. I wanted to expand my mindset. All my mentors were based in the US. I was very entrepreneurial and America is a very entrepreneurial country. There is no country like it.
“You can criticise the US but there are 25 million people wanting to migrate to America right now. It is a melting pot of ideas, the greatest adventure. I like that hotbed of entrepreneurialism. In some countries of the world there is no inspiration, no nourishment.”
Halik built his fortune in America. He is now the chairman and chief executive office of the Financial Freedom Institute, Lifestyle Revolution, LLC, Money Masters Global and is co-founder of iCoach International. He owns private homes around the world, one in Los Angeles, the other in Miami. Not to mention homes in Greece, Morocco and here in Australia.
He has become a financial guru as well as a businessman involved in a number of ventures across the globe. Today, along with his numerous businesses, he has developed into a financial motivator who has shared platforms with leading business and political leaders.
“Thirty per cent of what I do is public speaking around the world. I have spoken with (former US president) Bill Clinton, Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Alan Sugar,” he said. Through his companies he has provided financial education to over 300,000 people around the world.
In 2011, he was invited by Steve Forbes, along with 25 other investors, to draft a monetary rescue plan to help Greece out of its deep financial crisis. They came up with a 10-point plan that is to be found on Halik’s’ website www.mybigfatgreekmess.com
It is a subject that draws passionate concern from Halik and sharp criticism of the way the situation is developing in Greece.
“Greeks are instinctively entrepreneurial. Just look at the gene pool. We were merchants and merchants are entrepreneurs. If there were opportunities in another country, they would buy a ship and trade.
“There are a lot of Greeks who have not understood our origins and our history. We were merchants who were not reliant on the kivernisi (government), we went out there and we would hustle.”
Halik said that politicians in Greece, Australia and much of the western world in general face the same problem – they focus on creating jobs not entrepreneurs.
“Creating jobs is employment austerity and mitigates the thirst for financial freedom,” he said.
“Creating jobs for employees means that you are basically capping their income and their money-making potential is limited. When a government creates more entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs earn more money which means the government earns more from taxing them.”
In the 1950s, Greece faced a massive labour drain through emigration. Halik says that today the country is facing a brain drain as unemployed youths seek their fortunes beyond Greece. And they are on the right track.
His advice to them is: “Sharpen your skills, go out there and add value. Socrates said that in life you are measured by your contribution.”