Hey guys. I have avoided writing anything about this subject for a year and a half because I have been doing my best only to write great things about other people, however I think many people have been misled. So I feel that this must be done. I saw a post from Ken Wood of Universal Events in a community titled Past and Present Attendees of Chris Howard’s Australian Trainings…where he refers to me having been in “rehab” last year. Ken is supposed to be my promoter in Australia 😉 So the truth needs to come to light about Universal Events as they have been banking on lies for the last 18 months.
I had a great relationship with Karen Corban up until we began doing huge million-dollar events, and then Ken Wood jumped over from his previously unsuccessful computer company to “grow” what Karen and I had begun.
Universal Events immediately moved into beautiful offices on the water and Ken and Karen bought investment properties with the money I made them in our exclusive promotional relationship, yet as they processed all of the funds they continuously wound up short on payments to The Christopher Howard Companies. Then about 5 years ago for the first time, when they owed us several hundred thousands of dollars at the end of the year. They said they “did a clean up of the books” (from 5 years back) and instead of owing us money, according to Ken, we owed THEM a couple of hundred thousand. This put us in a horrible position with no warning and thus began the ongoing process of my having to sell off parts of my company to make up for their shortfalls and “Clean Ups.” They continued the process of “cleaning up” the apparently horrible books being kept.
This must-have happened three or four times. Which makes one wonder what Fair Trades would have to say about that.
All throughout the relationship, Ken was angry that I had an exclusive agreement with them. But that was what we signed and without it, he would have played out his same pattern of over-extending with sub-par players and all of the business would have fallen apart. So while I knew the exclusivity was vital, he was angry the whole time and constantly looking for ways to wiggle out of the agreement.
When we chose to go together to London. They found very quickly that they could not manage both countries simultaneously. I mistakenly let them use my name and they called the entity Christopher Howard Events in the U.K. They ended up owing us about 1 million dollars from the U.K. entity. U.E. then claimed that the U.K. business was a “separate business” and therefore they weren’t responsible for its million dollars worth of debt to us.
At that point, they also stopped paying their bills and it was in my name, so we required an immediate name change.
The U.K. business became “Think Big Education.”
So while Ken and Karen and U.E. continued to live large in Australia, based on revenues that flowed entirely from my organization, they withheld a million dollars from us, that really did damages to my organization at the time.
After a couple of years, the U.K. entity eventually got their debt to C.H.C. down to 300k.
Ken had also launched a company called “IT on Tap,” where he was offering internal systems management to many companies. All of the employees were so frustrated with the systems that the called it “IT on Crap,” which I would reprimand them for and tell them not to speak that way about our “partners” systems and that we would figure out how to make it right.
However, according to Think Big Educations employees, Think Big was a mess internally and may never have had real systems up inside. The employees were told that they were not allowed to tell C.H.C. what a mess it really was internally.
Ken and Karen wanted to shake the relationship with C.H.C. they wanted to end it. And it was primarily a POWER thing. they thought that they MADE me, and it was their attitude that they could MAKE anyone.
We did what we did together, both parties were important. Nobody MADE anyone.
But nonetheless…Ken’s anger with the exclusivity agreement, plus the fact that the audiences KNEW ME, not the promoter cause them to fear that if they left ME that the database which they OWNED sole access to, would follow me wherever I went.
So according to the employees of Think Big, Ken started a concerted effort and smear campaign against me in an effort to tarnish my name, and cause people to be more aligned with U.E.
Ken, had people look into my private life, and he began to make a concerted effort to paint me out as a constant partier and a Charlie Sheen type because I went out sometimes.
About a year and a half before they bankrupted Think Big Education in the U.K. The CEO of Universal Events, a Mr. Andrew Moon, wrote a report that said that not only Think Big Education, but also it’s parent company Universal Events in Australia were operating insolently and illegally. This was occurring because they were spending the money people paid for courses and depleting the bank prior to ever presenting those courses. (the people currently taking the courses are experiencing a huge drop in quality as a result of this) Andrew Moon was promptly fired by Ken.
I was informed at that point by employees within Think Big Education that when Ken realized this, he began an active practice of running Australian expenses through the U.K. entity in an effort to save U.E. in Australia while hastening the demise of the U.K.
CHC brought other speakers to U.E. to do multi-speaker events branded under CHC in an effort to help U.E. expand without damaging our exclusivity and simultaneously make more money. These events in and of themselves were profitable, but when UE didn’t pay the speakers from these events, it looked like C.H.C. wasn’t paying them. It was ridiculous..
At CHC we were continually promised that U.E. would make up on their U.K. debt. And I was not given a warning for what was about to come.
During all this time I was completely exhausted because I loved what I did, but I had taken on WAY too much for myself. I was teaching 15 hour days – 3 days straight every weekend and then flying to a different time zone to do the same thing. I was way in over my head. Continually finding myself in positions where I had to sell parts of my company, my dream, and make up for U.E.’s shortfalls while they launched a magazine, and other companies with the money I was earning was exasperating.
I became the cog in the wheel that was making everyone’s businesses’ turn. But I was on the verge of collapse. I was never in this for the money. I love the transformation. I love my audiences and I love building the dream. I was just spread way way way too thin.
Ken saw me as a moving part, as he saw all of the employees of Universal Events.
I wasn’t his employee. But he saw me as a cog in the wheel to be exploited.
I was tired of the way we were being treated and I started openly shopping for new promoters. (There are fabulous promoters throughout Australia. Jaimie McKintyre is a great guy with big things building. Roger Hamilton’s organization is top-notch. And he’s a gentleman and a scholar 😉 Jon Giann is a rock star, and Michael Burnett and Richard Tann have great things happening as well…Not to pump them up, just my thoughts. I’m not on the speaking circuit anytime soon as I have enough to keep me very busy right now.)
U.E. HAD to run our programs while they made their transition to other speakers in order to survive. But they were afraid I that my participants might just follow me wherever I went.
We had a meeting to negotiate contracts for the next year.
Ken said that I would no longer have business class airfare, or my hotel suites and that they wanted for me to do a new model with smaller rooms. I already felt like I was dying with the current schedule and situation so I said I couldn’t do that, it was my life at stake. I told them that I was stepping down from the stage the next year to more effectively run my organization and that my trainers would carry on. I also made the very dumb mistake of telling Ken and Karen that day that I was negotiating alone because my partner was too afraid because of his own personal situation.
The entire time this was going on, my business partner back in the states was scared to death that we might lose U.E. which was our major source of revenue. He was having financial issues of his own and he had a history of drug addiction and had his last business end because of it.
Ken then called my business partner and told him that I was a drug addict….and that the business was on the verge of collapse and that if he didn’t act the business would fail, and he would lose all of his money.
Ken offered two of my trainer’s promotion by U.E. instead of U.E. promoting me if the trainers could get out of their contracts that prevented U.E. from undercutting us with our own trainers which they were now trying to do.
Both U.E. as well as the trainers were strictly forbidden contractually from doing this.
I will not mention these trainers here, but they then attempted to get all of the trainers to revolt and dump their contracts so that they could be promoted themselves. U.E. loved this thought because they could pay them 300,000K for what they had to pay us 3 million for, and this was with zero thought as to the millions of dollars of value of the I.P. and trademarked content.
I had pretty much stopped going out and I was looking to get on a health kick and spoke with my doctor and I did some legal steroids as part of my new workout routine, which I now regret, but it’s what I did. Sometimes we do stupid things…
U.E. capitalized on this fact to fuel their “Charlie Sheen’ story.
There are many more details which I don’t want to boar with at this point. They will come out if necessary in a legal environment.
My business partner who was frightened to death that he was about to lose everything, and who also was very mad that I was looking to dump the primary promotional relationship, had me sign a fraudulent and illegal document which I didn’t realize said that he could take everything that I had ever owned. (there is much more about this, but not relevant here)
He began to call all of our employees and tell them that I was a drug addict and he knew how to deal with it. They began to spread lies, and say that I was shooting up in dressing rooms and all sorts of garbage.
U.E. began to more fervently spread the rumors that I was doing things that were very loosely based on truth, and some that were complete lies.
This way they could divorce the database from me, and blame what they were about to do in their companies on me.
My business partner called me, and was trying to talk me into going into rehab as he had once done. He and his previous business partner both had had stints in Betty Ford. Quite frankly I thought that it would be a good thing to do anyway, as I was driving myself into the ground, and I needed to find healthier ways to pursue both my dreams as well as to take time out and stuff. But something was going on that really wasn’t right, and I wasn’t aware of all that was happening behind the scenes with both him and U.E. But I could sense something not right. I also wanted to honor my training commitments so I was going to take a month at the very end of the year, instead of working in the office to do exactly something like that.
He finally called me and said “hey bud, why don’t you go to Betty Ford now, take a break, you’ll really like it there. It’s just like personal development, no phones, you’ll meet cool people….” Quite frankly, my biggest goal for years had been just to be able to take a month off and I was tired.
The moment everyone assured me that all would be O.K. with the business. I was thrilled to be able to take a month off when I checked in. When I got there, at admissions, and they said “What’s your drug of choice?” And I said “Steroids,” and they said come on for real, what’s your drug of choice…and I said that’s it. That’s what I’m taking now…
The moment that I checked in all sorts of things occurred which rocked my world and which I never would have predicted.
U.E. simultaneously bankrupted 3 of their businesses: Think Big Education in the U.K., Think Big Magazine, and IT on TAP. Simultaneously they launched an even bigger smear campaign against me. Which took the focus off of their bankruptcies. These things they did the day I checked in, and while I couldn’t do a thing about it.
They were supposed to pay us $450k in november/december. Instead they now wrote off 300k through their bankruptcy of their U.K. entity and they said that they couldn’t afford to pay us the money that U.E. owed us for Australia.
The email trails I gathered after the fact had Ken simultaneously writing emails to the lead trainer of my team saying “If C.H.C. can’t afford to pay you this month, which I doubt they will be able to, do you think you can get Johnnie to provide the remaining trainings directly for us.”
The lead trainer responded, “Just as we suspected, he’s willing to do anything.”
The idea was that if they could create a “breach” in our payment to our trainer, that the trainer could find a loophole in his contract that prevented him from undercutting us with them.
They did so many ridiculous and wildly shocking things that I’m not going to list any more here.
But I will make a few points. When they bankrupted Think Big Education in the U.K. it looked like I bankrupted MY Business, which is not the case. They took the money of the participants, spent it, and ran.
The AWA has done everything it could to provide those trainings that WE were never paid for to make up for the actions of U.E.
The huge problem that I still have with this is that if the knew that they were operating insolvently and illegally a year and a half before the bankruptcy, then they were allowing myself and my trainers to get up on stages and sell when they knew that there was a very good chance that they would not be able to provide the trainings. PEOPLE were hurt and lost money. My brand was greatly affected. And the fact is that Insolvent training is a very illegal practice. If people lost money. U.E. should be held responsible. In fact, Annette, one of our trainers was on stage selling for them, the day before they announced the bankruptcy and we had NO IDEA. And if they were truly running Australian expenses through the U.K. then there are even bigger things that ASIC and Fair Trades should be very interested in.
I have gotten back control of the AWA as of January of this year. After harsh negotiations with my ex-business partner. And now, it is time to clean up the other aspects of this whole debacle. I wish no one harm, but I also need to put many things right.
First thing is first, I’m done with the lies and what they have attempted to orchestrate to deflect from their 3 bankruptcies and in order to gain the allegiance of people who they once felt had allegiance to me.
I have no access to their email lists. So I have had no ability to communicate with the participants of the trainings.
– I do not intend to have this battle in public forums. I intend to have our lawyers handle it directly with the guilty parties
– If U.K. participants feel that they should pursue U.E. for insolvent trading – you now know the story behind what occurred out there
– Undoubtedly U.E. will respond to this and they will twist, spin and paint out more B.S. I in turn will look not to respond. But rather to have the lawyers work to put things right. As it is their job, not mine.
– They will likely attempt to tarnish my name more in response to this. And that is to be expected. I am a human being just like anyone else and I have made mistakes here and there, but nothing I could ever do would permit them to orchestrate what they have, and nothing could justify the damage that they have done to myself and many others in the market place.
– U.E. owns control to a couple of forums with my name on them on Facebook. They will have proxies and avatars attack my brand in order to create social proof and lead discussions in ways that look bad on me, they will do this in my own forums which I have no control over as has been the practice in the past. There is nothing I can do about that
– Over the past year while I was battling to get the AWA back, 300 grand in debt was built up in that entity. Which I have now taken back and I look forward to making good on that entities obligations, as we simultaneously build it up to epic proportions with brand new global initiatives.
– People may be concerned about upcoming trainings in Australia, as we terminate the relationship with U.E. I was the one who pushed for this round of trainings, because U.E. was not going to hold them, which meant that they sold trainings to people based on a two year time frame and then were not going to fulfill that. I came down hard on this fact, and they relented and said that they would give you this opportunity to attend. Because there are legal proceedings that must occur, it is my intention to have Pete Shaw provide the trainings for this year. As he has been an extraordinary trainer with the best RESULTS on the team. U.E. has an obligation to their participants to hold these trainings and Pete will do an extraordinary job. As of today, he is the SECOND PERSON that I have promoted to Master Trainer ever. Congratulations to Pete!! And I wish that the announcement was in a better context!!!
I have to step away from this discussion now, and focus on the incredibly bright future ahead.
The rest will be handled in another forum.
But the truth had to be known.
The benefit of this entire set of circumstances has been that I have achieved a greater level of happiness than I have ever had before in my life – genuine happiness, not dependent on any outside achievement or victory. It has been the toughest year of my life, but at same time, without a doubt, the most rewarding.
I have learned how to have a thicker skin, than anyone can possibly imagine which will serve me well on my path toward even greater accomplishments and contributions to the world.
We haven’t even started yet! The best is yet to come!!
With Love and Respect,