At A Glance
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.)
Mark has written 5 books and leverages a massive repertoire of 800+ fun group games & activities to help people connect.
He has produced 350+ video tutorials (which have attracted more than 11 million views), worn-out 3 rubber chickens, formed over 5,000 circles, stayed in 300+ dodgy hotels and spent 5 months of his life in a plane crisscrossing the globe to travel to & work with his groups.
“Hi, I’m Mark…”
My story could start as far back as the kid I sat next to in kindergarten, but…
Let’s start with my reluctant decision to attend a ‘youth leadership’ retreat as an unassuming 20-year-old. A conscientious, polite young man, I was unwilling to give up any time over my Easter break because I had lots of homework to do.
Okay, I was a geek. I had very few friends, spent most of the time in my bedroom studying and barely knew what a girl was.
But, thankfully, I did attend and I am forever grateful.
Pivotal Decision #1
The impact of this leadership retreat was akin to the power of a locomotive. I returned home, cried in the arms of my mother like I had never cried before, and took my first nascent steps towards becoming a leader, as much of my own life as my soon-to-be discovered profession.
I could not have possibly known this at the time, but I look back today and believe my passion for helping people to connect (with themselves and others) is solidly rooted in my experience at this four-day, residential, life-changing event. Interestingly, the very same interactive group games & activities that I enjoyed as a participant back then, now form part of the media I use every day as a program leader today.
As I completed my Bachelor’s degree (Accounting) and earned a scholarship to study for my MBA in New York, I was very busy honing my program leadership skills as a youth group leader at my 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, I was confronted with my second pivot point. I could easily have jumped back into another well-paid job (which I loved but was not a fan of suits) or… I could pursue my passion for playing games and helping people connect (in t-shirt and jeans,) but… I just had no idea how this would pay the bills.
Choosing the Latter
I moved back in with my 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 my shoulder. I was in the right place at the right time.
Invited to undertake a six-month training internship at Project Adventure in the USA, I jumped at the opportunity and returned in 1991 to establish the business of Project Adventure in Australia. The business blossomed for ten years, and then, having built it to a level where I found myself in the office more often than in the field, I jumped again.
I had always believed that it was necessary for a group to “turn up” to get what I had to offer. After all, this was experiential learning, so you had to be there to experience it, right? But, even if Melbourne was my only market (and it wasn’t,) I did not have enough days left in my career to get to every teacher, youth leader and corporate trainer in Melbourne alone to learn what I had to share.
This inkling was the motivator of a third pivot.
I Wrote My First Book
The original 60-page monograph No Props was released in 1996. In the first decade of the 21st Century, I wrote my second and third books – No Props and Count Me In, both published by Project Adventure. Slowly, it dawned on me that books were a great way to share what I had learned without having to turn up.
Then, the internet happened. Leveraging the power of the interweb, I discovered that this was the simplest and most powerful way to share my expertise. So, I started blogging, every week. New activity ideas, videos and any information that I believed other people using interactive games would find useful.
I called my blog InspireYourGroup.com. In the course of the next two years, I attracted a massive following of 30K visitors every month. People clearly loved the content, so much so, that some suggested I should charge a fee to access it.
Hmmm, an Interesting Thought…
In 2012, following the surprise success of my free blog, I launched playmeo – an online membership platform that creates training workshops and resources that help people connect.
Put simply, playmeo has come to represent my life’s work.
I continue to be super-passionate about sharing the fun and value of interactive group games & activities with program leaders all over the world. Happily, I don’t (have to) turn up as often as I used to, perhaps an average of 25 to 30 days a year. My time is largely devoted to writing and creating content for playmeo members and other 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 join, you get all of this (and so much more) in the palm of your hands.
These days, when not sourcing and writing new content for playmeo, I am often engaged to design and deliver many educational and professional development programs including:
- Mastering Group Facilitation Skills
- Team-Building & Development
- Professional Keynote and ‘Playnote’ presentations
- Independent Facilitation of business meetings & conferences
- Delivery of various interactive conference sessions
- Master of Ceremonies
I bring a natural warmth and energy to everything I deliver. My fun and vibrant approach not only makes participants feel at home but also assists them to learn more from their training experience. Visit my professional website for more details.
I have 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, I 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 am listed on the ‘Expert Witness’ register of Victoria’s County Court for litigations involving the use and application of adventure programming activities.
I’m a proud, card-carrying member of a number of state, national and international peak organisations.
In 2015, I was appointed as a Director to the Board of Outdoors Victoria. I am also proud to form a part of the Advisory Team for Bottomless Bag Publications (established to honour and celebrate Karl Rohnke’s contribution to the adventure programming field.)
On A Personal Note
You may be interested to know that I have…
- Been struck by lightning twice (yes, twice!)
- Never been able to back-up a car while towing a trailer;
- Camped on the lawns of Australia’s Parliament House for three days (as part of a logging protest;)
- Walked gingerly on a bed of nails (a crazy stunt;)
- Been lucky enough to find five four-leaf clovers;
- Been unlucky to have my push-bike stolen five times;
- Seen a moon-bow (a rainbow at night;)
- Spent more than five months of my life (I estimate) trapped inside a steel tube (flying through the air at 800 km/h;) and
- Discovered that my eyes disappear when I laugh.
I live in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne with my gorgeous wife and son.
I count my time devoted to inspiring groups to play, share and learn as some of the most rewarding and funnest times of my life!