Mark Collard is one of the most respected and experienced experiential trainers and consultants in the world.
Based in Australia, he is the founder and director of playmeo, a small professional development company that specialises in helping people connect.
He is best known for his remarkably fun training workshops, dynamic keynote presentations and his three best-selling activity books including No Props No Problem (2018,) Serious Fun (2014) and Count Me In (2008.)
Over the course of his 30+ year career, he has delivered more than 2,000 program days and presentations which have helped 100,000+ people have fun and connect meaningfully with others in 11 countries around the world (translated in 4 languages.)
He has written five books and leverages a massive repertoire of 800+ fun group games & activities to exceed his client’s expectations.
He has produced 350+ video tutorials, worn-out 3 rubber chickens, formed over 5,000 circles and spent five months of his life in an aeroplane crisscrossing the globe to travel and find his groups.
playmeo.com attracts more than 45,000 users every month and has 47,000 YouTube subscribers to its popular video channel.
Mark’s story could start as far back as the kid he sat next to in kindergarten, but…
Let’s start with his reluctant decision to attend a ‘youth leadership’ retreat as an unassuming 20-year-old. A conscientious, polite young man, Mark was reluctant to give up any time over his Easter break because he had lots of homework to do.
Okay, he was a geek. He had very few friends, spent most of his time in his bedroom studying and barely knew what a girl was.
Thankfully, he did attend and is forever grateful.
The impact of this leadership event was akin to the power of a locomotive. He returned home, cried in the arms of his mother like he had never cried before, and took his first nascent steps towards becoming a leader, as much of his own life as his soon-to-be discovered profession.
He could not have possibly known this at the time, but Mark looks back today and believes his passion for helping people connect (with themselves and others) is solidly rooted in his experience at this four-day, residential, life-changing event. Interestingly, the very same interactive group games & activities that he enjoyed as a participant back then, now form part of the media he uses every day as a program leader today.
As he completed his Bachelor’s degree (Accounting) and earned a scholarship to study for his MBA in New York, Mark was very busy honing his program leadership skills as a youth group leader at his local church and working as a camp counsellor on summer camps in the USA.
Then, in 1990, fresh from being retrenched from a local management consulting firm, Mark was confronted with his second pivot point. He could easily have jumped back into another well-paid job (which he loved, but disliked wearing suits) or… he could pursue his passion for playing games and helping people connect (in shirt and jeans,) but he had no idea how this would pay the bills.
He moved back in with his parents, assumed a number of volunteer positions in the camping industry to keep an ear to the ground, and then, there was the serendipitous tap on his shoulder. He was in the right place at the right time.
Invited to undertake a six-month training internship at Project Adventure in the USA, Mark jumped at the opportunity and returned in 1991 to establish the business of PA in Australia. The business blossomed for ten years, and then, having built it to a level where he found himself in the office more often than in the field, he jumped again.
Mark had always believed that it was necessary for a group to “turn up” to get what he had to offer. After all, this was experiential learning, so you had to be there to experience it, right? But, even if Melbourne Australia was his only market (and it wasn’t,) he did not have enough days left in his career to get to every teacher, youth leader and corporate trainer in Melbourne alone to share what he had to share.
This inkling was the motivator of a third pivot.
The original 60-page monograph No Props was released in 1996. In the first decade of the 21st Century, Mark wrote his second and third books – No Props and Count Me In, both published by Project Adventure. Slowly, it dawned on him that books were a great way to share what he had learned without having to turn up.
Then, the internet happened. Leveraging the power of the interweb, Mark discovered that this was the simplest and most powerful way to share his expertise. So, he started blogging, every week. New activity ideas, videos and any information that he believed other people using interactive games would find useful.
He called his blog InspireYouGroup.com. In the course of the next two years, he attracted a massive following of 30K visitors every month. People clearly loved the content, so much so, that some suggested Mark should charge a fee to access it.
In 2012, following the surprise success of his free blog, Mark launched playmeo – an innovative online resource and a business developed on a subscription-based model.
Put simply, playmeo has come to represent his life’s work.
Mark continues to be super-passionate about sharing the fun and value of interactive group games & activities with program leaders all over the world. Happily, he doesn’t (have to) turn up as often as he used to, perhaps an average of 30 days a year. His time is largely devoted to writing and creating content for playmeo subscribers and users.
If you are responsible for the wellbeing of a group of people – and you like using interactive games – then playmeo has been designed for you.
playmeo is best known for hosting the largest online database of group games & activities in the world. When you subscribe, you get all of this (and so much more) in the palm of your hands. Subscribe to playmeo’s activity database today.
You can learn more about playmeo here.
These days, when not sourcing and writing new content for playmeo, Mark is often engaged to design and deliver many educational and professional development programs including:
Mark brings a natural warmth and energy to everything that he delivers. His fun and vibrant approach not only makes participants feel at home but also assists them to learn more from their training experience. Visit Mark’s professional website for more details.
He has worked with a long list of clients over the years, including schools, corporations, government agencies, community organisations and universities, in every corner of Australia, and a growing list of other countries including the USA, China, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Russia and Turkey.
In particular, Mark lectured at a major university for 7 years (2 x adventure education subjects,) worked at a huge summer camp in the USA for 8 summers and is listed on the ‘Expert Witness’ register of Victoria’s County Court for litigations involving the use and application of adventure programming activities.
Mark is a proud, card-carrying member of a number of state, national and international peak organisations.
In 2015, he was appointed as a Director to the Board of Outdoors Victoria.
You may be interested to know that Mark has…
Mark lives in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne with his gorgeous wife and son.
He counts his time devoted to inspiring groups to play, share and learn as some of the most rewarding and funnest times of his life!
Contact Mark Collard
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