This week’s interview is with Lee Thompson, cofounder of the multi award winning travel company called The Flash Pack. Lee is an incredible Goal Achiever who convinced the Brazilian Tourist Board into letting him climb the Cristo Redentor Statue and become the first person ever to take a selfie from the top. As a result, the media attention propelled him and his business into the spotlight overnight. His website received 2.3 million hits in 3 days and the picture was viewed over 100 million times.
The Flash Pack has been featured in publications such as: BBC, CNN, TIME, Fox News, Huffington Post and many more.
***Co-founder of The Flash Pack Lee Thompson takes the first ever selfie from the very top of Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro ahead of the World Cup. Picture credit: The Flash Pack www.theflashpack.co.uk – please link online***
The Achievers Story
Tell us who you are, where you’re from and something that people would find interesting about you?
My name is Lee Thompson and I live in London. I am a cofounder of the travel company called The Flash Pack.
Give us a brief overview about the goal you achieved and why it was so important?
The goal I achieved was being able to convince the Brazilian Tourist Board into letting me climb Christ The Redeemer Statue and become the first person ever to take a selfie from the top.
Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end; where we’ve been, where we’re going, and everything in between. Give us an example of what your life was like before achieving this goal?
Before achieving this goal, I worked as a photographer and, I would say, I was a “cheeky chappy”. I’ve never been afraid, or embarrassed, to ask questions. I’ve always managed to talk my way into any type of situation and achieve anything I wanted to do. I never set out to fail at anything. I do this just by smiling, being a nice person, working the room and telling people what I want to achieve.
Help us understand what caused you to move in a different direction?
I’ve got a good eye for a picture (photo) and I like to think that I think a bit like a journalist. I came up with the idea, as a great way to publicize my travel business, The Flash Pack, without spending money we didn’t have at the time.
It started off with a few basic ideas to grab attention, such as: potentially going viral and telling everyone about my business. The World Cup was coming up and this seemed like the perfect idea.
Basically, I used somebody called a “fixer”. This is someone who generally works alongside a TV crew in different parts of the world and is, also, a translator. This gentleman was a great translator! I told him my goals and he started putting in some calls to all kinds of officials all across Rio De Janeiro.
After, finally, getting in touch with the Diocese in Rio, I was told “it’s a possibility” that I could go up to take some pictures from the top “but, it’s just a possibility”. We couldn’t get a definite answer from them. They kept saying “it’s possible but you need to speak to …. and he’s busy”. They made it very difficult for me!
So, I jumped on a plane to Rio. Basically, I was doorsteps away from the building where this gentlemen, who I needed to speak with, worked. Eventually, after a few hours, he came out. We chatted while we walked down the street. I said, “please, will you let me go up there to take some pictures?”.
He looked at me, and said I was crazy. I agreed. He, then, said “ok, see me tomorrow morning and we’ll go do it”.
The next day, the guy kept me waiting for about 2 hours before he finally showed up. I spent those 2 hours thinking “this is never going to happen”, then he arrived.
I started climbing the statue around 2:00 in the afternoon in May 2014. The climb itself took about 30 minutes to the top.
Give us an example of what your life is like today, since achieving the goal?
Before this “selfie”, at the top of the statue, nobody had ever heard of me or my business. Overnight, my business, The Flash Pack, just went crazy. Our website received 2.3 million hits in 3 days and the picture was viewed over 100 million times.
The media attention, around the picture, was insane. I appeared on TV all over the world, in newspapers up and down the world. I had celebrity retweets from people like Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki, Gordon Ramsey, Ricky Gervais and appeared on the Today Show.
My business went from a “back bedroom” to, very quickly, employing 2 staff members that helped keep up with the attention and sales we were getting. We moved into a nice office in London and we ran 6 group trips.
Since then, the business has been doing fantastically well, without spending any money on advertising!
Overcoming The Obstacles
If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that obstacles like fear, time and money among other things can prevent us from or motivate us towards achieving goals. What are the top 3 obstacles you faced, why were they obstacles to begin with, and how were they conquered?
There were lots of obstacles involved in pulling this off.
The first obstacle was persuading the Brazilian Tourist Board to let me climb the statue in the first place. This was extremely difficult. The board was not going for it and neither was the church. To conquer this obstacle, it took a lot of persuasion, time, and hard work.
In the middle, once achieving this picture, it was the fear that it wouldn’t go viral or that nobody would like it. I remember looking at the picture about 10 times trying to decide if it was good enough. Eventually, I just had to put it out there, which we now know was a great decision.
Finally – I’ve got a massive competitive side to me. I am trying to decide what I’m going to do next. What’s the next big PR stunt that I can pull off. Ironically, now, I’ve got media organizations coming to me asking “when are you going to do the next big thing and can we be a part of it?”.
Although I can’t reveal any information on that right now there are definitely some things coming up, so stay tuned.
The next part of the interview is the Triumph. The triumph is all about taking the success of achievement to the next level of personal greatness. The idea of greatness can be different for everyone. For me, greatness is all about the pursuit rather than the destination. What does greatness mean to you and how has achieving this goal contributed to that idea?
Greatness for me is being successful in what you do. When I worked as a photographer, I wanted to win awards and be the very best. However, that wasn’t good enough for me because I wanted to start my own business – which I did! It was never going to be a failure for me. I was always going to make it work and do whatever it took.
Roadmap To Goal Achievement
What is the best advice you ever received that helped you clarify and/or achieve this goal?
A couple of my friends, Rob and Paul Forkan, lost their parents in the Sri Lanka tsunami, 10 years ago, and became orphans. They started a flip flop company called Gandys. I met these guys when their business was based in their bedroom of a small flat in southwest London. They always said to me, “you’ve got to follow your dreams no matter what because you only live once”.
I guess it’s not really until something tragic happens to you that you realize you’ve only got one crack at life. For me, just being around those guys and listening to what they said was great advice. What they are doing and achieving now is awesome! Their flip flops are in every department store across the world right now. So, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily one piece of advice but just being around some really good and inspiring people.
What are some of the resources or tools that helped you achieve this goal?
Mainly, news organizations to stay current with what’s going on in the world.
What did you do to stay motivated throughout the process?
Prior to this picture, it was difficult to stay motivated because I needed it to happen. I kept a positive attitude and kept saying to myself “this is going to happen, they are going to let me climb the statue and take a picture from the top. I will achieve this goal!”.
Is there a book that helped you achieve this goal? If so, how?
Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School by Richard Branson.
The book is about how Richard Branson founded Virgin Atlantic. He did an absolutely amazing stunt which he talked about in his book. I would say this absolutely inspired me to do my stunt. He needed to pull off a big publicity idea to fight off British Airways.
British Airways was sponsoring the London Eye. On their opening day, he decided to hover above and gate crash it, with a big hot air balloon, saying “BA cant get it up”. It was a fantastic stunt that had me bursting out in fits of laughter!
What blogs and podcasts do you recommend?
I’m more into books and networking events but…
If you were advising someone on how to achieve the same goal or something similar, what specific steps would you have them follow?
To plan early – you can’t really plan enough for these things. I think planning is everything. The research that should be involved in something like this, or any big idea you may have, cannot be underestimated.
If I were to do this all over again, I would research it even more thoroughly, and plan every single stage of it:
– What am I going to do specifically?
– Is it an idea that has been done before?
– How am I going to get it out there in the world?
– What’s going to follow afterwards?
– Which media organizations are we going to get it out to?
– What’s the correct message to communicate as it relates to the company?
Don’t just be the person who says they want to do something and doesn’t do it… go do it!
What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Is there anything else you would like to share before we conclude?
My business, The Flash Pack does group trips based on the Flashpacking trends. It’s a bit like back packing for those who want to do it in more style and comfort and stay in nice boutique hotels every night! We like to say that we’re “roughing it in luxury!”