He started educating himself in psychology through his marketing degree. Somehow he ended up in the IT industry. He initially started writing copy for an advertising agency - “Instead of writing songs I was writing copy, it was the same thing”.
One of its clients was Movex which was the distributor of Casio amongst other things. Its management asked him to be head of marketing for the region which made sense to him as he was touring it a lot with Lung Slug.
That got him into the corporate world. Then its general manager, Paul Heath (now CMO at Foxtel), left, got a job with Netcomm and soon after rang Verykios and asked him to join the company to commoditise the market.
“That gave me the money to start 1World in 1994. The reason I did was because I had to tour. And that’s how I got in my own business, distribution and IT,” he says.
“When we sold 1World in 1998, I ended up going into business with Scott [Frew] who was a good friend of mine. We met at Netcomm because Netcomm bought Micro Networks of which he was an owner. We hit it off, became good mates, didn’t know who swore the most, who was the craziest and so on.“
Frew needed a frontman for his business. Nick said “okay, let’s play” and joined LAN Systems. The rest as they say is history.
“I never wanted to be a something. I never wanted to be a somebody,” Verykios says. “I had this stuff in my head based on that almost hippy environment I grew up in, this one idea - I didn’t want to borrow anybody else’s dreams. I was the kid who didn’t want to be anybody else. I rebelled against a lot of things. I rebelled against my MBA. I didn’t take it because I didn’t like the way you could buy them.”
The answer is important because at it’s base is Verykios’ mantra – don’t borrow anybody else’s dream. It’s part of the weave that binds all these different Verykios careers and threads together including his long relationship with the Dalai Lama, who he first met in 1996.
At that time, Verykios was doing a lot of youth counselling with young girls and women who had attempted to commit suicide. The Dalai Lama had heard through his advisors that Verykios was successfully using a combination of Buddhism and psychology to help the girls.
“He asked me to write a book about how I do it. The problem is every single case is different. I’m lucky enough to be able to articulate what they need to know based on all this stuff that’s out there, that you can read about.
"So if they know about something and but don't necessarily realise it, then you can tell them what they already know. And because it’s theirs they’ll use it,” Verykios says.
“But for nearly 20 years the Dalai Lama’s been on my arse, ’Gotta write a book, gotta write a book, gotta write a book’. I can’t write the book. I can’t make it whole. And he says that’s the whole point. I know he’s trying to teach me something but my thick head can’t work it out yet and when it does I’ll write the book.”
Three years ago he, his wife and his daughter spent time with the spiritual leader in Dharamsala, the hill station in Himachal Pradesh, renowned for its large Tibetan community centred around the Dalai Lama’s activities.
“All that stuff that I do gives me the ingredients for what I need to do to create the right kinds of careers for people. You don’t create a $250 million company in eight years because Scott and I are really smart.
"Spending eight years bringing in people that you’ve already created careers for and then including them in a new phase of careers is what does it. We could die tomorrow and this place would still keep going.
Verykios says that what it all comes down to is that belief he has. “It's about trying to get everybody to understand the importance of not being a somebody.
But that doesn’t mean don’t be a nobody. Don’t borrow anybody else’s dreams. Stop reading business books. Read biographies to be entertained by them, to be inspired by them, not to emulate them.”
Make a difference
His own dreams included the need to be able to make a difference. One way was to start building orphanages. When he sold 1World for the first time he was financially able to do so.
He has now built four - one each in Cambodia and Vietnam, and two in India, handing them over to the respective governments to run once they are finished and up and running.
“When I was travelling from ages 18-24 to Africa and some Third World countries I just saw terrible stuff that shouldn’t be happening. I said to myself, ‘I’m a coward if I don’t do anything about it’. They were the noises in my head, the operating committee in my head. So I started to do something about it.
“The four orphanages have been handed over to the government and that’s the important point. The governments won’t start on their own but if you can make a hero of the government they will. “They will try and deter you until the point you’ve got the orphanage ready then they will take it over and say ‘thank you very much, look how good we are’.”
Verykios is planning his next orphanage for Myanmar (Burma) Why, Myanmar? Simply because it is so bad there.
“The orphans are monks and the way they are treated is just terrible,” he says.
Verykios admits though it is going to be most dangerous project he has tackled so far. He has been copping a lot of pressure from both his daughter and wife not to do it.
"So I’ve got to find a way to make it not dangerous. Not find a way to not do it,” he says, pragmatically. Already, there may be a way where he doesn’t have to be front person. There are meetings to come in a few months time that will explore that possibility.
And then there’s ambition, that quiet conspirator somewhere inside us all. What has it got Verykios thinking?
“Every day, I wake up and realise the future is not what it used to be. Tomorrow will be different circumstances. I don’t want to hold myself to anything but what I do want to do is more of this stuff.
“I do want to get to the point where I can do a closed five-year retreat and I’ll try to convince the Chinese government to allow me to do it in Tibet. It won’t be until my daughter has finished school. My wife’s expecting it. She knows it’s going to happen. Five years of freedom for her not having to deal with this lunatic. That’s what she says. I don’t think I’m a lunatic I think I’m a bloody saint.”
We both burst out laughing. It’s not arrogant, it’s just bloody funny. And it binds all the threads that are Nick Verykios perfectly.