Military Muscle magazine launches with an exclusive interview with one of the stars of Channel 4’s hit TV series – SAS: Who Dares Wins – Ollie Ollerton. Military Muscle is the new health, fitness and lifestyle supplement found within Pathfinder International magazine.
“I joined the Royal Marines at 18 years old and that was back in 1989 and I went into 45 Commando” begins Ollie as we start our conversation reflecting on his time the forces.
“ I did my first operational tour in Northern Ireland and then went out to Operation Desert Storm in Iraq and to be honest when I came back from there I was a little bit disillusioned with the military as it wasn’t what I expected, it wasn’t at the sharp end of the scale enough for me.
I had two options really and that was go for Special Ops or go outside and I bumped into my troop commander from Desert Storm whom I told of my notice to leave and he pushed me towards Special Forces selection and he thought I had something about me to go and do it and this was the push I needed” continues Ollie and you could say the rest was history, but it was eventually.
“And so at 23 years old I went for selection and got near enough to the end, two days from the end in fact and I had a bit of an altercation and got caught and so we got RTU’d (Return to Unit) and I headed back to 45 Commando and it was a low point of my career and I didn’t know what to do. Do I do it all again or go and be a civilian?
In the end there were enough embers in the fire to complete what I had started and I went back and did selection all over again. I then passed selection in 1994 and joined the Special Forces, but to be honest there wasn’t a lot going on in my tenure.”
After some reflection, Ollie decided it was time to leave the military.
“There was quite an influx of lads leaving in and around the year 2000 and I left then too. To be honest I had no idea of what was ahead of me. I kind of believed that I had been at the top of my game in the military, so then I could replicate that in “civvy street” and it would be an easy thing to replicate…how wrong I was.
I came outside (of the forces) and realised there was a massive void, missing things like the camaraderie and I got lost in the circuit a little bit, but my whole drive was to create my own business and make a difference, do something different from the norm and not do what everyone does and fall into the circuit (work in security). But I did end up on the circuit and I did that for a couple of years and then went off to Iraq to work out there and that got a bit on top towards the back end of the tour, if you want to call it a tour and a few people started getting killed and it was having a negative effect on me and by that time I was living out in Australia and I thought it was time to get myself some stability. “
I tried to get a “normal” job if you want to call it that and I was trying to get into real estate but it just bored the life out of me and before I knew it I ended up with an organisation in Thailand and work as an operative to get kids out of child prostitution.”
It was Thailand which really sparked Ollie’s hunger to help people in their own lives.
“Before I knew it I was Ops Manager for this project and I don’t know what it was but when I went off to Thailand to help these kids, it really completed me, it fulfilled me and helping kids less fortunate than you was a huge positive, I mean these kids were being put into prostitution by their families and I couldn’t get my head around that.
Unfortunately that project had to close as there was a political situation rising and we had to close the organisation down which was a shock to me as all of the money I had made from Iraq, I had ploughed into this project and it came to an abrupt end which was devastating for me and after this I was kind of in a flat spin of what to do, I had no money left and I was in a very dark place.
Looking back it wasn’t pretty, I was on a path to self destruction and I wasn’t helping myself at all and I wasn’t looking after myself, mentally or physically.
It took me some time to unwind, but I did eventually find myself a job in oil and gas in Australia and I went through the routine of that and once again it was a “normal” job until 2014, when I returned to the UK with all intentions of setting up a company teaching the corporate sector skills from my military experience.”
I was struggling with how we could get exposure for the business and I was struggling with money and then out of the blue, Foxy (Jason Fox) range me with the opportunity to go and work on the TV channel.”
It was from this point on, Ollie finally found a platform to promote his offering and experience to others.
“It was like a gift from the Gods in terms of getting exposure and this would be the perfect platform to promote my company from. Whereas a lot of people from our background tend to steer away from this kind of thing in terms of exposure on TV, it was exactly what we needed.
And so we went on to film the first series and unbeknown to us we are now on our sixth series. The show has been really amazing and we feel it’s such a powerful show.”
I put to Ollie about SAS: Who Dares Wins being also a good recruitment tool for the military…
“Oh without a shadow of doubt and I think a lot of the good bits about the military are forgotten and the programme has been an amazing thing to be a part of, the programme is not entirely military, it’s about psychology and it addresses many issues that people face on a daily basis and we cover all kinds of stuff and I am really proud to be a part of that and I think the messages the programme sends are really powerful.
It was a little bit different at first being under the spotlight of TV, but it’s great to see how the programme has developed and help brings exposure to the projects that we have done outside of the show and everything we do and it’s a bit like Thailand really, we look to help other people and moving onto Breakpoint, that really helps me to help other people and for me that is therapy in itself.”
The conversation moves onto Ollie’s new project, The Breakpoint Academy and as Ollie wants to highlight, it is more about setting the correct mind set for veterans wanting to attain regular work, rather than being “beasted” on an assault course.
“So we have launched the Breakpoint Academy and we are helping and have helped veterans already get back into work. It’s not just a case of calling people looking for jobs, we put on a four day course, they don’t pay for the course, they come along and basically we put them through mind set coaching, performance coaching, some fitness and we have a go live day and by the end of that four day course we have a good idea of the capabilities of that veteran and see if they are good enough to then go on and do the second part of the training which is with our clients.
Our first client is a company called Orion Rail and basically we have got a number of jobs to fill and we’ve got companies now that we are speaking to and so it’s not just that one client and we will provide man power for anyone that takes an interest in the scheme and in employing veterans.
Veterans have so much to offer and certainly from my point of view, it took me ten years to transition and find stability and I don’t want others to have to go through that.
I didn’t bother really with resettlement and I think a lot of people don’t as when you sit there and you think of life behind the fence, you think it’s going to be rosy. The majority of people in the military don’t have a great deal of experience in civilian life and for me you kind of think you are going to rule the world and everything is going to be simple and when you come out to it all, you get a shock and we want to help transition those people and put them into jobs where there will be a guaranteed wage and its sort of like being in the military, you are working in a team and sometimes remotely, how we used to work in the military.”
Ollie goes onto explain the ethos of Breakpoint in more detail.
“We run some of the corporate side of things and Foxy and I have launched the 360 App which you can do a character assessment on. It is quite a high tech App and really everything we do is to push people beyond their perceived permutations and that doesn’t mean we are beasting people, Breakpoint is what stands between you and your goals.
The majority of problems we have comes down to mental capacity and to handle change so everything we do at Breakpoint is really focused around the mental well being side of things.
A lot of people have said “I wouldn’t call it Breakpoint” but Breakpoint is really a tool you can use to reach your aspirations, it’s about taking actions when you feel an urge or have an instinct to achieve your goals, it’s all about taking action on that instinct. That is really the whole concept of Breakpoint to smash your goals.”
If appearing in a hit TV series and launching the academy wasn’t enough, Ollie has a new book out too!
“Yeah I am really proud of that and to have a Sunday Times best seller (Ollie’s first book) was awesome and to be honest it’s not the sales so much as all of the money from the sales is for me to build the academy so any money I have earned from that has been reinvested into veterans but we are looking forward to my next book coming out.
The first book was really a biography and sets the tone and background of who I am and the next one which is called Battle Ready is about taking action about eliminating procrastination and about following a process.
If you have heard of the Haynes manuals then think of this book as a type of Haynes manual for the brain! It helps you understand how the brain works and helps us to improve things in our life. It’s Okay to fail and I find a lot of people are lost and who suffer with mental health issues is that they are still focussed upon the problem and the cause of what happened to them and that really is a bottomless pit. You need to invest in mental wealth and start looking at yourself and look at a plan of action.
And it’s what I call mental wealth, if you invest in yourself, get away from being on a loop on the cause of the problem that got you there, then you can start to climb the ladder step by step out of that bottomless pit and be on the path to recovery.”
Ollie’s new book “Battle Ready” is now available to pre order online via Amazon.
Ollie Ollerton was talking to Mal Robinson.
Read the latest issue of Pathfinder International & Military Muscle here.