Who Is Tim Baker?
You know... when I was a child I found joy in dreaming, observing people, things and culture. Figuring out how the world worked. I asked lots of questions. Usually to my Dad who had lots of answers. However, in my late teens I said barely a word for almost two years, instead I watched and observed the world, and how people interacted.
After being thrown out of every school I enrolled in, I wanted to find out what I was doing wrong and what people didn’t like about who I was, and why I always found myself being rejected. So I modelled a “better” version of myself from imitating great communicators, on people that girls seemed to be attracted to and that had lots of friends, people who made others laugh. So I became that person.
Later on I got snapped up by a guy who said I’d be great at sales and marketing, I didn’t know what that meant but now I think it meant my thin veneer of likability was just enough to qualify me as a good salesman. The sales and marketing I worked in was on behalf of large multi million dollar charities.
I wanted to be the best at my job so I copied again. This time mimicking the best salespeople in the company, I watched how they spoke and learned how far I could push someone to buy without them loosing their shit at me. It was much further than I would have thought and much further than what felt natural to me. I started making more sales and it was the first time in my life I would make more than $100,000 a year.
It was around this time I traveled to Amsterdam. I tried Psilocybin while over there and it was during this lesson (I’ll refer to it as a lesson) that I realised the true value of peoples attention. I realised my job required peoples attention every day. All sellers are fighting for your attention. Radio, television, billboards, magazines, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok.. And it was in this moment I realised attention is something not just valuable, but sacred. The attention people give to their children is what forms the the adult they become later in life. It is a truly precious gift, one to be respected and honoured.
I slowly realised that I didn’t want to be a pushy salesman anymore. I wanted to do something different. With my good friend Neil Rollins I set up a charity sales and marketing company in the U.K. this time it was on a pay as you feel basis. No more being pushy and preying on those who couldn’t think as fast as our employees. People could decide in their own time and give the amount they wanted.
Our clients were small charities, not multi-million dollar ones. Just the little guys looking to get ahead and help more people. I liked that idea.
Around the same time I had an online business, selling gadgets, lighters to be exact. I managed to strike a deal to have those lighters stocked at a place called Timpsons in the U.K. who were trialling them on their website with a view to rolling them out around 600 stores. Well, unfortunately for me the “Zippo” brand made a call to timpsons threatening to pull their stock if they continued selling our product so we lost that deal. But it still makes me chuckle that a 25 year old working from home had one of the largest lighter companies on earth sweating.
Crypto was starting to rear its head for the first time in the markets around 2016 and I was on the bandwagon. So you can imagine I was making a ton of money having two businesses and skyrocketing investments... but someone else was making a lot of money then too. My cocaine dealer.
I started doing cocaine every weekend, on nights out with friends and at festivals. I had an addiction and a wallet and several dealers who would deliver and that meant I could have it whenever I wanted. I became a very high functioning addict.
While this was all going on, along came the man that would make me internationally famous, Donald J. Trump.
As I mentioned earlier I like to observe the world.
I mused as I watched the endless press spewing out of the television, radio, online magazines and newspapers and also peoples rhetoric. I must have sat and watched for 45 minutes while the family I was having dinner with prattled on and on about this orange, oafish, bumbling, dim witted, racist, sexist (you get the gist) American businessman turned presidential candidate.
But it wasn’t until my friend James O’Brien and I were on a train heading from Bristol to Cardiff and I was riffing about my next idea for a business (toilet paper) there was a light bulb moment. After I finished blithering on about my idea for stocking boarding schools and nursing homes with toilet paper James looked at me and with a cheeky grin and in typical Irish fashion said, “You know what would be good? Donald Trump toilet paper.”
I think he was a little surprised a few weeks later when I told him we had a 40 foot shipping container with 50,000 rolls of this stuff on the way.
The next 3 years were mental, we were selling out of shopping trolleys in Edinburgh, London, Oxford, Bristol Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge all over. Not counting the other businesses I was making money hand over fist. Between November 15 and December 24th 2018 for example I made in the region of $80,000. One day in bath we sold out in 4 hours and took home $14,000.
My friends Neil and Rob joined the “Bog Roll Barons” and were packing stock into every nook and cranny of storage space they had while selling them anywhere there were people willing to buy.
But as the working and travelling increased so too did my drug use.
A bloke from the associated press took some pictures while we were at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the next thing I know we were in the The Sun, Daily Mail, Huffington post, Ladbible and dozens of other publications, the folk back at home wanted to speak to me so I agreed to an interview on the Channel 1 Breakfast Show, Jeremy Wells gave me a shoutout on Seven Sharp, Stuff and the New Zealand Herald also picked up the story.
But while everyone was laughing at the boyish looking Marketer turned professional practical joker.. I couldn’t help but feel like the saddest clown on earth. My drug use was out of control. I was texting my dealer at 5am before work, getting up and vomiting into the toilet in anticipation of the explosion of endorphins my mind was desperately craving. I was in hell. Trapped.
Everything started coming apart when my mum and girlfriend found out how serious things were. They were pretty pissed, obviously. But their anger came from love, so they encouraged me to get clean. I started going to Narcotics Anonymous which is where I first had the idea for Kiwis For Good. NA helped me in an amazing way but I thought, what about people who are struggling who don’t have the confidence to get off the sofa, head to a place they have never been, and speak in front of a bunch of people they have never met? What if there was another way to share stories and hear others which didn’t require getting off the sofa.
I decided to return to NZ, and I was faced with a choice. Do I continue to use my sales and marketing experience and abilities to build companies and recruit, train and retain staff and make myself a millionaire by setting up some boiler room of 20 staff selling solar, double glazing, insurance, finance or do I go with my heart and use those same skills to generate cash flow which helps others.
Money never, ever made me happy. What made me happy as an entrepreneur was serving my clients, providing products and services which people loved. But the greatest satisfaction of all was knowing that these crazy ideas which started as a tiny spark in my head put food on the table and paid the rents and mortgages of people. What really gave me joy was giving others a hand up.
3 years in, Kiwis For Good maintains itself independent of any corporate or government support, we have grown in spite of 6 separate lockdowns and we now have a team made up of of volunteers, counsellors, sales staff, designers, editors, web developers and a 2IC in training, which I hope one day will allow me to take a holiday.
I owe all this to one thing. That no matter how hard it got, no matter how many times I was knocked down, when things seemed like they were never going to get better.
I just kept going.
Get back up and put one foot in front of the other.
Just keep going.