Go with your gut feeling | Magnus Walker | TEDxUCLA

Translator: Bob Prottas
Reviewer: Leonardo Silva Hello! My name is Magnus Walker.
I was born in 1967 in Sheffield, England. I left school at 15,
and I came to America at the age of 19. Well, 8 weeks ago,
I didn’t know what a TED talk was, and to be honest,
I’m not quite sure why I’m here today. But I do appreciate the opportunity
to be with you guys and share my story, my journey,
and my hopes, and my dreams. You know, having left school at 15,
for me, I didn’t really have any future. Well, I came to America 28 years ago, and that represented
the land of opportunity for me. And in those past 28 years,
I’ve been able to build three things: a successful clothing company,
a film location business, and also restored, raced, driven, and collected quite a lot
of classic Porsches. Porsche is a passion for me, and I’ll talk
about that in detail in a little bit. But all 3 of those things
share one common bond. I had no education in them. I didn’t really think I was
going to end up in that particular field. I didn’t really know where I was going. But all three of those things
have a common thread, common bond. And that common bond for me
really was freedom. Freedom to do whatever I wanted to do,
and a dream sort of to be able to — I suppose, live my life to the fullest,
and do whatever I wanted to do. So coming to America really was a journey, and I’ll start my journey in 1977. 1977 in England was sort of a special year. We had this Punk Rock thing going on, and we also had
this Royal Jubilee thing going on. But for me it was a start
of a very memorable moment. My father took me to
the London Earls Court Motor Show in 1977. Back then I fell in love with this car.
It was a white martini Porsche. Now any kid growing up
in the world in the late ’70s, early ’80s,
chances are you probably had a choice of three cars on your wall:
Porsche Turbo, Ferrari Boxer, or Lamborghini Countach. For some reason I chose Porsche. I even wrote a letter to Porsche
when I was 10 years old, and essentially said to them,
“I want to design for Porsche.” They wrote back to me, and said:
“Call us when you’re a little bit older,” which I thought was pretty funny,
and they sent me a sales brochure, and 35 years later,
they’d end up writing me a letter back but I’ll get to that story
a little bit later on. So I am this young kid
growing up in Sheffield. Sheffield’s a grim northern steel town
as shown by this picture right here. There wasn’t necessarily
many Porsches on the road. So I filed that dream away;
I had the poster on the wall, and I was watching Motorsports
as kid, also in 1977. England had James Hunt.
He was a Formula One world champion. And we also had Barry Sheene. He was
a two-wheel motor GP champion back then. So even though I didn’t grow up
with any sort of fancy cars — my father was a salesman,
I grew up in a working-class background — I did have this dream early on, and somehow this dream involved Porsche. Back then, I was also a pretty competitive
middle-distance cross-country runner, sort of a solo sport guy, and I used
to love getting out there, and running. I became quite competitive. I joined this club called
the Hallamshire Harriers, and this guy called Sebastian Coe
set quite a few world records, and ran at the ‘80, and ‘84 Olympic Games,
and he was sort of inspirational to me. Around that same time,
I also fell in love with something called heavy metal music. Growing up in Sheffield,
there were a lot of rock bands. It may have been sort of a slightly
depressed, grim, northern city, but there was a lot of music,
and a lot of fun. So, I fell in love with Porsche, doing some middle distance
cross country running, fell in love with heavy metal music, and I had decided by the end
of the fifth year I would leave school. I left school in 1982, basically
with two O levels, and no real future. By that time, I’d also figured out
I could go drink in a pub. So for some reason that was great
for going to clubs and having fun, but wasn’t so good for a middle-distance
cross-country runner, and an athlete. So that sort of faded away. But a little thing
that stuck with me was the passion, and sort of the drive,
and I think to this day, those memorable moments
earlier on are still with me. I’m still running around.
I’m still chasing around. I’m still running after my goal. So I bummed around on the dole
for a little bit doing odd jobs, and stuff like that. And I started to hear
this comment quite a lot: “Cut your hair, and get a real job.” Well, I was on the dole,
working construction, living at home, no car, taking the bus to places,
and for a year or two, that was okay. By the time I turned 17 that I decided,
“Okay I’m not going to cut my hair but maybe I should think about
getting a job.” So I actually took a yearlong leisure
and recreation study course sports management at a college. I heard about this thing
called Camp America. What was camp America? I didn’t know, but found that Camp America sent kids to work on a summer camp
in the United States of America. Growing up as a kid, of course,
I watched a lot of American TV. Most of the shows I loved centered
around action and cars, Starsky and Hutch, Dukes of Hazzard, CHiPs.
So I had this American Dream. It involved Evel Knievel;
anyway, long story short, I took this leap of faith,
and I applied to Camp America. It was a little bit of a strange feeling. I’ve had these
strange feelings in the past, and somehow when my gut
tells me to do something, generally it’s a good thing.
Hence go on your gut feeling. So by pure luck I supposed,
I was accepted into Camp America, got on a flight to New York,
took a Trailways bus from New York. That’s the bus I took to Detroit.
Detroit was great. It was similar to Sheffield,
former industrial city. It also happened to be this sort
of automotive hub of the United States. But I wasn’t in Detroit.
I was 30 minutes north on a summer camp, working with inner-city underprivileged
kids that happened to be from Detroit. And that was a big culture shock for me,
because you know I’m this heavy metal guy from Sheffield, North of England.
I’m in the middle of nowhere. I had to adapt pretty quickly. So I adapted pretty quickly
on this summer camp, and when that camp was over,
I got back on that Trailways bus, and I took that bus out west,
landed in Los Angeles, 1986, Union Station 4 a.m. in the morning. I’ve watched all those TV shows, but I found myself being awakened
on a park bench at 6 am in the morning by a LAPD guy, who told me:
“You can’t sleep here.” I was a little disappointed. I’d seen all these shows in LA
but where were all the beautiful people, where were all the rock stars
and movie stars? That wasn’t happening in downtown LA. But quickly I found my way to Hollywood,
and over the next couple of years, I sort of did a few odd jobs. But there was one pivotal moment
that happened within 3 days of being in Los Angeles. I found myself at this YMCA hotel,
right off Hollywood Boulevard. I went shopping on Hollywood Boulevard, and saw these great PVC alligator print
pants that were on sale for $9.99. So I bought myself a pair,
but they didn’t really fit good. So I went back to the youth hostel, bought
a sewing kit, and sewed them inside out, and decide I’m going to the street that
everyone was talking about called Melrose. So I ended up going down there to Melrose,
and walked into this shop that was called Retail Slut,
it was a punk rock shop and there was a guy working there
that was in a band called Faster Pussycat, and his name was Taimie.
Pivotal part to a story here. Taimie says to me —
he realized I was from England, started a conversation:
“Where did you get those pants from?” I said: “Hey, you know,
I got them from England.” I had to think quick on my feet.
I said: “Why? Do you want to buy them?” Just sort of jokingly, and he said,
“Sure. Yeah, how much are they?” At this point I hadn’t thought
about selling these pants but I said the first number
that came to mind, $25. He said, “Okay. I’ll take 8 pairs.” So I ran right up to Hollywood Boulevard,
bought 8 pairs of pants, went back down,
and sold them to him $15 profit per pant. I realized in that one hour transaction,
I’d made more straight away — literally within being in LA for 3 days,
than I’d made in a whole week working construction in England. So I thought, “Maybe LA is a place
for me, it seems pretty easy. They speak English,
a lot of rock and roll.” It was Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, it was
a great time over the next few years. Fast-forward to 1989. I’m selling second-hand clothing
on the Boardwalk in Venice, going to yard sales, buying old Levi’s, cowboy boots, western shirts.
I’m in the clothing industry now. Venice Beach back then was
a major tourist attraction, a lot of European people coming through. Little by little this grew into a business
which became known as Serious Clothing and we ended up outfitting
everyone from Alice Cooper to Madonna, and everyone in between. We started wholesaling
to a small chain called Hot Topic. Back then Hot Topic had five stores,
and would grow to over 500 stores. So we sort of went from making
a little amount of clothing to making thousands of pieces of clothing. Well, in 1994, we realized being in Venice
wasn’t so easy for a clothing company. We moved downtown, and rented a loft
in a warehouse for the next 6 years. Serious Clothing then started doing
a lot of music videos and also a lot of outfits for magazines,
and stylists who call in all the time. Serious Clothing had its own unique style. We took fabrics that were
not necessarily garment fabrics. We used some car seat fabrics, and made
them into jackets, and things like that, non-conventional materials,
thinking outside the box, and basically doing what we like to wear. Well, by 2000, we realized we’d paid
two people’s mortgages and we needed — Hey, let’s buy our own building. So we ended up finding this building — Oh, that was me back then,
forgot that little picture. So that was me pre-beard,
that’s sort of circa 1994. Serious was one of the top 10
clothing companies to watch. So anyway, 2000, my wife Karen
found this building in the Arts District. People said, “You’re crazy,
no one wants to be there, former desolate industrial area.” Long story short,
we took another leap of faith. Our gut feeling felt good. Why we’re paying two people’s mortgages when we could own our own building.
So we bought that building. About a year later,
right after 9/11 in 2001, there was an article in the LA Times,
about loft gentrification. We got a phone call,
would we be interested in renting the building for a music video? Bang! Before you know it,
we’re in the film location business. Well, hey, we’ve been filming scenes
since 2001, over 100 days a year, doing things from low-budget still shoots,
to big-budget movies, and over a dozen reality shows
like America’s Next Top Model. We met a lot of interesting people, but we
didn’t plan to build a film location. We were building our dream,
live-work house, where we lived upstairs and operated our clothing company
out of the downstairs. So we’d accidentally fallen into another
somewhat lucrative business. This is LA, it’s movie town, we’ve met
quite a lot of interesting people. They always say: “How did you get here?” Well, we tell them,
we followed our gut feeling. Remember that story, I was a 10-year-old
when I fell in love with Porsche. Fell in love with Porsche
as a 10-year-old. I didn’t buy my first Porsche till 1992. Serious Clothing had become
quite successful, and from ‘92 to 2000, I was racing around getting
quite a lot of speeding tickets. 2001, I took my aggressive
street driving to the track, and joined the Porsche Owners Club.
I went through their program. I learned how to do club racing,
instructing, and for the next 5 years was doing 50 track days a year. Turn around to probably 2008-2009, I’d
spent a lot of money racing and decided, “Okay, my next passion: I love these cars. Why don’t I try and restore
a few of them?” Well, I didn’t have any
mechanical background, but I had passion. I often say that passion
goes a long, long way. You know, if you’ve got the will,
and the desire, and put the motivation in, and focus, things tend to happen. Also a little bit of luck, and a leap
of faith really help out as well. But I asked a lot of questions,
and I started restoring a couple of cars. So I got a little bit of interest
in European car magazines, and I started this blog online. Well, there is a thread on this Porsche
forum called Pelican Parts. And I called my blog
Porsche Collection Out Of Control Hobby. And I was sort of like a catch-all
of what I was doing. And so this was sort of going
to become a pivotal point where it was like something I really
really enjoyed to do. And I’d start restoring these cars. Well, about 2 years ago, a pivotal moment
in our life happened again. About every 10 years these pivotal moments
seem to happen by accident, or they’re just naturally evolving. We never had this five,
ten-year planned business model. We always go back to follow your gut,
do what you love to do. So having been in the film industry,
we got quite a lot of people interested in making little TV shows,
and stuff like that, but we weren’t quite ready
for the exposure, or the compatibility wasn’t quite right,
or it just didn’t click. So I got a call from this Canadian
called Tamir Moscovici. Well, he’d seen a couple of articles,
and he was a film director, also a Porsche guy, and he was looking
for something edgy for his reel. He was sort of sick of doing Bud Light
commercials and figured, hey, maybe there’s more of the Magnus’ story
than meets the eye. So we had a couple of conversations,
and Tamir ended up flying down to LA, little over two years ago, on his frequent
flyer miles, a complete leap of faith. His original idea was to make
a short YouTube documentary. Well, our thought was, “What’s the worst
that could happen here? We’ll drive around, race around
in my favorite Porsches for 4 days, and maybe get
some good footage out of it.” Well, what turned out to be a 32-minute
documentary was shot over 4 days. So we shot, I think, in February of 2012,
and we released a trailer in June of 2012. We didn’t know
what would happen with the trailer but somehow it got picked up
by Top Gear and within the first day it got over 50,000 views,
and all of a sudden I’d just found this thing called Facebook.
I figured I should get on that. I didn’t really know much about it. So I got on Facebook, and at this time
I don’t even have an iPhone. So I’m not really internet savvy,
but all of a sudden, I keep getting all these friend requests
from all these oddball places, you know, Spain and Indonesia,
and I’m thinking what’s going on. Well, this trailer for that 3-minute film,
Urban Outlaw, that Top Gear picked up, it got blogged, reblogged and reblogged.
Well, this was pretty exciting. So this was a leap of faith project,
everyone was sort of working on a shoestring budget,
bro down buddy favorite type of thing, and they were doing this
sort of on the side. So, little by little I started posting
the film was going to come out. Well, to me being sort
of a production type of guy, we shopped it around a few film festivals. Somehow it got into this thing
called the Raindance Film Festival which I described as the rainy version
of Sundance, that’s in England. I’m from England, what are the chances
that you get to premiere your film in front of an audience similar to this? So Karen and I flew to London, and we
premiered the film in Piccadilly Circus on a Saturday night
around 10 o’clock, and it sold out. There was a buzz about this film. Well, we decided, “Okay,
we’re going to release it online.” So October 15, the film went online,
and probably 2 weeks after it came out, I got a phone call from Jay Leno. Jay Leno had seen the film,
and wanted it to be on his garage show. Well, that started the Avalanche of what
has happened for the past 18 months. All of a sudden, this is my life before
Urban Outlaw came out, and this is my life after. Now at this point, we’ve been doing
Serious Clothing for 20 years, and we weren’t quite as motivated
as we once were. You know, we always said we design
what we personally like to wear, but over the past few years
we’ve sort of been treading water. So we took this leap of faith,
and decided success really is the freedom
to do whatever you want to do. So we decided we were going
to close Serious down. This was the baby that had enabled us
to get to this point. Now it wasn’t like we gave up on Serious,
we still had all the patents and samples. But what it did was once we decided
to pull that band aid off, it allowed us some breathing room. We didn’t know what was coming next, but
we knew it was going to be something good. So once we closed that door,
probably in the past 18 months I’ve probably done a hundred
magazine video TV show interviews. I think by closing Serious’ door,
it opened up all this freedom to travel. Remember me telling about Porsche,
and that letter I wrote as a 10-year-old. About a month after the film came out,
I received a letter from Porsche. Basically they’d seen the film and was
sort of impressed with my Porsche passion, and realized they’d written me
a letter 35 years later. Ironically in the film, Tamir asked me: “What do you think Porsche would think
about you doing it?” I said: “I don’t know. I hope
they’d be smiling and be happy.” So Porsche wrote me a second letter. I wish I had the first one,
but I do have the second one. They invited me to go visit
them in Stuttgart, and tour the museum which I went to do. Purely by coincidence,
I had been there on 9/11 2013. Well after that
there was at the LA Auto Show. We did a couple of events with Porsche. Hosted these events
in my garage in downtown LA. It was a worldwide dealer event,
it brought all their dealers over, and incorporated me into this workshop
where Porsche was talking about what Porsche does restoration,
and Porsche classic. I think they sensed I have this thing — Porsche passion is what I said it was, and it’s something that
you can’t really build, and you can’t market, and you can sell it.
It’s just sort of there. So from then Porsche integrated me into
this workshop, invited me out to an event in Essen, Germany, and basically started
to invite me out to places, and incorporate me into
their commercials coming up. The Porsche connection was quite simple,
but what we hadn’t expected but also came from the film,
was we got approached by Nike. We got approached by Oakley,
and then we had a visit from Bentley chief designer, and we
also had a visit from BMW, and Volvo. It’s almost like these people
were thinking I was some sort of focus group,
and they were asking my opinion on what did I think
about certain things. I’m scratching my head
a little bit thinking: “I’m just a guy doing my own thing,”
but you know people seem to have responded to it. Well, I get a lot of emails from people
who talk often about the video, and the greatest thing I suppose
separate from people liking the cars is the fact that people found the film,
and my story inspirational. So if there’s one message
I can leave you with, for me — what I’ve done over the past 28 years
involved a lot of leaps of faith, always going on my gut feeling
when things sort of seemed awkward, that was often the case to know,
“Hey we’re on the right track here,” and just stay motivated, stay dedicated.
We never asked anyone’s opinion. We just did what we like to do,
and it seems to have worked out quite nice for us.
We don’t know where we’re going. I often say I’m on this open road,
along for the ride. We’ll see what comes next,
but I really appreciate all your time, and allowing me to share my story.
Cheers and all the best. (Cheering) (Applause)

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Post navigation

100 thoughts on “Go with your gut feeling | Magnus Walker | TEDxUCLA

  1. A quite inspiring story to follow your guts instinct. The "ethics" of all these businesses is rubbish though (Porche, Nike, etc). All bad businesses for the environment and working kids in China!

  2. You sewed some pants? And collected cars, take notes kids. Every choice he made could have easily been wrong, a streak of luck, like he had is rare.

  3. His wife of 21 years, Karen Ann Caid, must have also played a big part in their success. Unfortunately, she died in 2015.

  4. Wow, that was awesome. I lived in Sheffield with my mum. A little while, from Bo' ness Scotland. Came to USA when I was 19 years old as well….. I agree do what your passionate about. Awesome story .

  5. All of these TEDx talks and no one has been able to slow the rate of children dying from starvation… currently one child every thirteen seconds, or, "two million three hundred and sixty six thousand" dead in twelve months!… but hey, let's all listen to unnecessary verbal diarrhea!!!

  6. Leap of faith- luck – and guts to follow your instincts trying to do that for a long time i guess maybe it's not in me – too scared

  7. unlike many successful people that give Motivational talks….he does not talk with his hands or move around. I like it. He's very calm, grounded, centred, also I think he has a lot of grounded power still by maybe not cutting his hair/shaving. Native peoples believed there was spiritual power in their hair. I just found him very calm and i really noticed the lack of moving when he spoke. Pretty cool.

  8. How are the subtitles generated? I noticed they correct his grammar sometimes. Is that an AI bot doing that?

  9. Run, Forrest, Run!

    "Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing." – Forrest Gump

  10. Glory of deceit, sure all you have to do is lie and you're a great salesman. Not really impressed. It all started with a lie, the pants from England.

  11. A lot of people may think Magnus' success was luck and passion, to some degree absolutely, but the most priceless lesson from Magnus is the fact that a heavy metal guy can sew and redesign pants just because he had to.

  12. I have trouble concentrating as soon as someone says, "Sheffield, England". Such wonderful, wonderful knives have been made in Sheffield over the centuries that it boggles the mind of any knife lover. This is where the Barlow knife factory started in 1660, and while it has changed ownership, it is still there, and still making Barlow knives. They do cost a bit more than the few pennies they cost in 1660, but they're worth it.

  13. Highly inspirational video. This is the kinda stuff life is all about. Follow your dream and doing what you want. This man is awesome.

  14. Anyone else thinking about that famous John Lennon quote? Anyone also wondering if ZZ Top are missing a member?! : )

  15. I love it. A man that truly would embrace the unconventional and, most importantly, his self. And to think that you consider yourself as just "doing your own thing" as well, so humble. I love how well-focused you were for so many years on what you consider a "Porsche passion," as well, super cool to see! I'm gonna grow a beard just as bold one day just to be able to reminisce and remember this video. That's some truly great work and it really goes to show how irrational so many people of the conventional can be when you think about the worry that people put on school being this whole centerpiece for neing able to just always survive and that's just simply not true in todays environments like we dont need to carve spears and shi*. You figure shi* out as you go and you literally go from move to move and just work on your passions, like for me its football, and the rest takes care of itself. But you have to maintain competence and your taking of risks always by doing, not just planning, is the big meat and potatos.

  16. pretty good for having alight vision whats next. just being at the right place at the right time. never judge a book by its cover. love to be in the light as is with bigfoot, to know all is to be all!

  17. Don't wish to take anything away from this bloke but I just wish people would realise that what goes for creating 'the american dream' is often everybody else's 'foreign nightmare'. They thoroughly abuse their american exceptionalism through the dollar and petrol dollar and vast swathes of wealth effectively come from modern slavery out of China or taking oil and resources with no concern or accountability from foreign countries. America palmed of all of its debts from its fraudulent mortgage market on the rest of the world by debasing the dollar (quantitive easing). Britain does the same . I realise this is hard for most people to take and I will probably be met with a ton of abuse and insult but that is just making the Bible prophecies come true..I will send you a messenger..he will be bitterly reviled, that's me, person non grata, I turn up with a new weaving machine and the luddites want to kill me.

  18. This guy has the same in common as everyone else who's become successful in life which is he met the right people. Take the jean selling part for example. Success is conceived somewhere and then after that it grows from thereon. A lot of rock stars start out like this. It's all about meeting the right person who wants to promote your skills and capitalize on it.

  19. This guy reminds me of the guys here in Texas. They look bummy, talk slow, and put u to sleep😂😂not in a good way!!!😵 this guy sucks lol

  20. Fella needs a haircut

    Edit: what a thoroughly boring man. You started a few businesses. Clap clap. Now bore off, would ya?!

  21. There's something sad about a man that loves his hair so much that when he starts to go bald, he keeps the hair that's left and wears a hat 24/7 to hide the balding… SAD.

  22. "Go with your gut feeling" doesn't always work, actually I would say there are more people who have failed this way than succeeded. One key element to Magnus' success is how he's implemented his ideas. He skipped mentioning the hard work he's done and that's where most of people fail. My takeaway of this clip is actually his definition of success: "Success is really the freedom to do whatever you want to do."

  23. Magnus literally looks like a homeless dude and he's one of the most amazing people I've had chance to listen here.
    Great speech, I love it. Also, anyone noticed how his hair and beard are so long that mic is almost invisible? 😛

  24. Many people resent haircuts and shaving but Damn!
    This ignores the fact that Many have gone with their gut to places like Jonestown Guyana.

  25. The advantages with "going with your gut" are you can only blame yourself or take full credit. However, if say family,friends,experts etc tell you to take one action and you don't, you are labelled hard headed and don't expect much help any more. If you make the right decision then they will assume you don't need their help and will not offer it. This is why flipping a coin is still my preferred method.

  26. What to do if you haven't felt that fire inside of yourself, that feeling to go for it (whatever it may be)? If i had that passion for something I would risk it all,because without passion,that fire in your gut you are just a lost man trying to find a light…

  27. Since I was a child I dreamt of creating a table top game. Ever hid this in my heart. Then over two years ago, I decided to turn this to reality and began to rack my brain, designing, creating. It all happened secretly in my basement. By day I work in office, am a dad of three and I didn't dare to share my dream because I thought that it is just me who would like it. Magnus' speech inspired me so much, that I showed my creation to my friends and they all were blown away, encouraging me to producing and selling it. And now I take the leap of faith, crowdfund this thing and quit my job. Gut feeling. Do what you love to do. And my guts say that it is the right thing! Thanks so much, Magnus!

  28. If I went with my gut feeling all the time I'd constantly just be grabbing girls assess and running people over with my car. But that's just me.

  29. My issue is that my passion is making the world a better place and positively affecting a few peoples lives that need help . I used to be good at it then I grew up had bills to pay made myself into the fake me the work world demanded from me . Now I ended up with a disabled husband from him fallowing his " therapy " his Harley . And now his disability pays the bills and I'm not working . I have no idea where my life should go now . I'm his physical therapist maybe that's where I am intended to be I wanted to be a pt for kids when I was a kid but then I dropped out of highschool and had kids and did not want to go back to school so maybe this is it for me for now . I just learned a lot in this text thanks .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *