It's no secret that I'm obsessed with Instagram, and it's amazing the number of great people I have met through the social media platform. Recently I was in Citlizen Wolf to pick up my bespoke t-shirt (which I'm wearing in pic below), when I bumped into Michael Le who was also in the Surry Hills shop. The funny thing is Michael and I know each other through instagram as we follow each other via his restaurant instagram account - instagram.com/greatauntythree but we had never met in person until then.
We had a bit of a giggle over this and took the pic above. Then I found out Michael has another instagram account @mike.physique and behind that instagram is a very inspirational story. I decided I had to share this amazing story and here are some questions I asked Michael about how he went went from this.....to this!
Tell me about your background?
My very first job was a paper boy at eight years old (you know back when those kids that carry a 'wheel barrow-like' with a whistle selling newspapers), at age nine I helped my parents at our family cafe in Kingsgrove, flipping burgers, making milk shakes and cappuccinos after school and on weekends.
My parents divorced when I was 10, as running the cafe became a burden on their marriage and consequently to the breaking point of their relationship. It changed my world forever.
I moved out at the age of 15, could not decide who to live with without feeling guilty and became rebellious and was too stubborn to come home. I worked at McDonald's and Pizza Hut and stayed with friends from the age of 16.
At 17, I met my beautiful partner, who is my rock - my everything and is now my beautiful and devoted wife. We have been together for about 16 years and have three beautiful children. She played a key role that helped me stay on track that is why I married her. It's not rocket science really.
I enrolled into TAFE and completed a diploma in Business Management and got a full time job at my corner store. As I developed my confidence, I landed a job as a retail assistant and was promoted to store manager within eight months and worked there for over two years.
With my new found skills and confidence, I decided to apply for an office job in 2002 helping the under privileged and highly disadvantaged find work, and dedicated a big part of my life climbing my way up the corporate ladder for over a decade. Eventually I ended up working at the Commonwealth Bank as a trainer and completed a post graduate degree with Griffith university during that time.
At this stage, I was familiar with hard work and had a sense of achievement.
In 2012, I made a conscious decision to follow my heart and get back to my roots and inner passion to open our very own cafe concept with only $20k that my beautiful mother gifted me to show her love and support.
My family were devastated when they discovered that I resigned from my career and showed very little support which I understand having experienced my parent's divorce through running a cafe. They could not understand why I would give up a stable career with "air conditioning" sick leave and annual paid holidays to 'slave in a restaurant' as they described. But, I wasn't prepared to explain my vision nor seek approval from anyone so I quietly mapped out a plan and executed it with the help of my wife and beautiful mother. I sold our investment property and together with my mother's $20k we went for it.
After eight months of searching Sydney wide, I knew in my heart it had to be Enmore. Enmore was where my fondest childhood memories of me and mum having lived there 35 years ago when we first arrived to Australia.
Now, nearly five years later, Great Aunty Three is still trading stronger than ever.
What inspired you to own a restaurant?
To be my own boss. Back then, I was not great at following orders from another person. Only recently I have learned to 'always be a student' and the day you stop learning is the day you stop living, so now everyone is my teacher.
Flexibility - spend time with my family friends and my children especially on school holidays.
Something I am passionate about is creating job opportunities and training people new skills and I absolutely thrive in an environment where I am able to be creative. I love creating recipes for the business, coming up with processes and system solutions, and just working with people in general.
You have recently taken on a body transformation, what was the motivation behind that?
I have always been an active person, love outdoor activities like jogging or dragon boating. I did it for me but most importantly, for my children, as I discovered that I couldn't keep up with them when playing at the park one day. Also, my beautiful wife played an important role too. After marriage and feeling content, I started to let go and not care about my health as much. I ate whatever I felt like and loved to indulge in yum cha every weekend and burgers, chips, ribs and kebabs. One day my wife reminded me of how unhealthy I have become. I realised how putting work first had affected my overall health so I decided to go back to the gym.
I was sick of getting the same results after so much time, efforts and money being spent on supplements and gym memberships. A few of my friends achieved amazing result by competing in body building so I thought to myself, "if they can do it I can too". I needed a change plus I really wanted a 6 pack which I never ever had before.
How did you actually make the transformation?
I did the following things:
Followed a very strict diet
Shut my self off from socialising; meaning no late nights, no smoking, no drinking
Registered to compete professionally
Found myself a contest coach (because I wanted to compete professionally)
Followed my diet and training plan to a tee
What are your three top tips for getting in shape?
Add resistance training to your plan and must be ready to commit wholeheartedly and consistently
Know your calorie consumption and track it
Prepare your own meals and follow a strict but realistic diet
What are your three top tips for people who want to go into business?
Know your product well
Understand your target market even more
Develop a brand and products that you wholeheartedly believe in
What do you love about Sydney?
I grew up in Sydney so it means the world to me. I have travelled around the world but Sydney is my home. Beautiful weather, beaches, the people and abundance of food. My approach to life now is very simple, I will sum it up with a few short quotes:
Approach each and every day with a grateful heart.
Always count your blessings
Be the hardest worker in the room
Always stay humble
Never give up on your dreams
Don't take no as an answer especially if you believe in something
Give more than you take