#ALB 57 – The Man who stood on an IED
On Christmas Eve, 2007 Royal Marines Commando, Mark Ormrod was out on a routine foot patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan when he stepped on and triggered an Improvised Explosive Device. He was airlifted by helicopter to an emergency field hospital when an innovative and dangerous procedure saved his life.
He woke up three days later back in the UK, with both legs amputated above the knee and his right arm amputated above the elbow.
He was the UK’s first triple amputee to survive the Afghanistan conflict. Doctors told Mark that he’d never walk again and that he should prepare himself for the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Mark thought otherwise though, and he hasn’t used a wheelchair since 2009.
Today, Mark Ormrod is a motivational speaker, performance coach, mentor and role model to other amputees, and an ambassador for the Royal Marines Association.
Please welcome to the podcast, Mark Ormrod.
Mark Ormrod – Good to see you. That’s a hell of an intro you gave me, by the way. You know, I hate that motivational speaker title. I find it very American. Like, I should be going out high-fiving people, and hugging them, but really it’s just me telling stories on a stage. But yes, it’s part of what I do, and I enjoy it. So, thank you for the great intro.
John Lamerton – But you’re changing people’s lives. I know what you mean by motivational speaker, ’cause everyone thinks it’s rah-rah, let’s turn the music up, everyone, I’ve been to some in the UK, stand up on your chairs, and get clapping, and we’re like, we’re British.
We’ll sit here and give you a polite round of applause.
Mark Ormrod – Yep, I remember my first Tony Robbins event, and I was looking around like, no one’s going to do this, this was in London. But they all got involved, they got sucked in. By the end of three days, everyone was hugging and high-fiving and you’ve been Americanized.
John Lamerton – Awesome.
Mark Ormrod – Yes! Everything was awesome.
John Lamerton – So, quick note of warning for the listeners. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on Mark’s accent, he is from Plymouth, and so we have now got three Janners sat around this table. we did our sound check earlier, and we said that we’re off to Asders, we’re all reet buheez.
Mark Ormrod – Innit, bey, geddon.
John Lamerton – Yep, so if today’s podcast descends into right bey, Right, yep, right mate.
Mark Ormrod – You have been warned.
John Lamerton – So one thing I’m interested, Mark, is what was Mark Ormrod the Marine like?
Mark Ormrod – Do you know what? I’ve talked about this a lot. It’s a little bit strange to say, ’cause I don’t want to sound rude when I’m saying it, but people always say, the situation I’m in now, have I always been this way, have I always been motivated, driven, and the short answer is yes. But from my perspective, it took me losing both my legs and my arm for me to see it. So when you say, what was Mark Ormrod the Marine like, I wasn’t much different to what I’m like now. There was the first couple years of my career.
I finished my training when I was 18. So I’m a young lad, you put a green beret on my head, I think I’m Rambo. Spent a couple of years just enjoying it. I was born and bred here in Plymouth like you just discussed, and so I know a lot of people once you earn that beret you walk around your chest out a little bit, and got a little bit in trouble, the first couple years, but then I knuckled down, and I got focused.
I’ve always been that kind of forward driven kind of way. So yeah, Mark the Marine, in the beginning, young, loving life, full of energy. Just out there being a lad. As we all do as we get older and we progress in our careers and our lives, we mature a little bit, apparently. And you settle down.
John Lamerton – Do you?
Mark Ormrod – Well, apparently you do. You know that was, off topic slightly but, one of the things someone said to me early in my career in the Marines is, it’s like being Peter Pan but they give you a gun, ’cause you don’t ever grow up. Yeah, no, it’s just always kind of this way. Just go in the Marines heated and focused and just wanted to grow as an individual and squeeze the most out of this short time that we get on this planet.
Jason Brockman – Ultimately, sort of go, you just went for 100 mph, exactly the same then as you do now?
Mark Ormrod – Yeah. I made a lot more mistakes back then, ’cause I was younger, but you learn from them, you move on, and hopefully you don’t make them again.
John Lamerton – Did you learn from them at the time? Or was that hindsight of being 20 years older now?
Mark Ormrod – No, definitely did not learn at the time. Like a lot of people, I think, some of the quote-unquote failures that I experienced, and the mistakes that I made, you get a bit down about them, and you dwell on them a little bit, but as you get older you realise, well, they weren’t really failures, if you learn from them, they were mistakes, but again, if you learn from them, you don’t make them again, it’s not a complete negative thing. And I find that I didn’t know I knew that, to look at things that way, until now when I’m older. Yeah, but it was fun. It was fun.
John Lamerton – I’ll bet. Going to different places, and having a machine gun on your back?
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, I mean, the first taste of combat I got was at 19. So I started my training in February 2001. 62 of us start, you start out 30, it was 30 weeks back then, it’s 30 now. 62 of us started, only 12 of us made it as what we called originals, which is from day one, to earning your green beret without getting an injury, without failing to meet the criteria and all that kind of stuff. So we joined in February 2001, finished in October 2001.
John Lamerton – That’s an interesting time to be qualified.
Mark Ormrod – Exactly. Right, so four weeks before we finished, when we’ve done all the Commando tests, we’re halfway through the live fire exercises, just about to go into the phase where you do all the marching and everything, and getting ready to pass out, we’re in the NAAFI and we witness 9-11.
So everyone’s like, guess where you boys are going in a couple weeks?
Being young, and again, thinking you’re invincible, and you’re Rambo, you get excited about it. Like, this is what we joined for. And this is perfect that this early in our career is when we get the chance to put all these skills you’ve hammered into us over 30 weeks to the test.
So passed out, pretty much straight away out of training I was through pre-deployment training to go to Afghanistan early 2002 on something called Operation Jacana. Now, for whatever reason, that didn’t happen to the scale it was meant to be. It became quite a SS, Special Forces kind of thing.
So we didn’t go, even after going through all the training, and then Iraq came around 2003. That then became our focus, and we did go on that. I think it was March 2003 I was one of the first guys, everyone says this, but I was one of the first guys out there on the ground, working out of what’s called now 30 Commando, so those barracks down in Plymouth.
And spent a couple weeks in Kuwait, just waiting, sat in trenches, just on that border of Kuwait, Iraq, ready to go over. Got given the signal and went.
John Lamerton – Is there a lot of waiting around?
Mark Ormrod – Oh, that’s all our military is, hurry up and wait. On the bus, off the bus. Get on the plane, off the plane. That’s 90% of what it is.
John Lamerton – But it’s being ready, it’s waiting and being at the ready at a moment’s notice?
Mark Ormrod – I mean, you get that green light, then it’s kinetic as hell for a short amount of time and then you go back and you wait again. But that tour left me a little bit disappointed. I was right with the HQ element, which is generally, I would say logistic style stuff, and planning and operating, where 2 Commando went in, and they took Palace, 40 Commando went in and they took over the oil fields, and I kind of just stayed around the Kuwait Iraq area working out of as by a Naval base not seeing a great deal.
I didn’t fire one round in anger, generally when you went and kicked a door down, the people just gave up straight away. There was no fighting. They would surrender. You’d take them away and someone would deal with them. Spent three months effectively sunbathing, listening to the conflict going on up North farther, seeing fighting going on in the distance, but not getting involved in it. ‘Cause that wasn’t my role. That’s why I’m always attached to a medical branch, active casualties and stuff. So I came home and I was like, That wasn’t what I thought.
John Lamerton – You felt like you’d just had two weeks of all inclusive? You’re all geared up for this, you’ve been training for, you’re all geared up for the aggression and all of the shooting and stuff and you go there and spend some time not doing any of that, and then you get sent home again. It’s like, what have I just done all of that for?
Mark Ormrod – It’s worse when your friends, friends that I went to school with here, in Plymouth and Dartmoor that were at 42 Commando, 40 Commando, up there doing the business and there’s nothing worse than when you’re sat at the back and you want to be up there with them, but you’re not allowed. I thought I was going to be down on my belt buckle with a bayonet in my teeth crawling through the sand and doing this for three months solid, because I was a young lad and I thought that’s what going to war was.
Jason Brockman – And 30 weeks training to do that.
Mark Ormrod – And the pre-deployment training leading up to that deployment, all the lectures you go to, the different training you do all over the country, jumping out of helicopters, and what we call FIBUA, fighting in built up areas and running around made up houses in Wales shooting up rooms and stuff. You think you’re going to do all of that stuff. And then you don’t do that.
And then you get there and you’re kind of day by day waiting, hoping, waiting, hoping, and the next thing you know it’s, “Well, lads, we’re going back home now.” And you’re quite deflated. So I came home. I came back for two months. I said already about I enjoy growth, personal growth and development, and I came back and I felt despite the lack of activity on my part out there, I still felt like I’d evolved a lot.
‘Cause I’d been out there and I’d seen it, and I’d experienced it and I’d been semi-involved in it, and then you come back here, back to normal life, and it was just strange that before you’d be at a night club, again, as a young lad, maybe someone big, and looks tough, maybe he’s drunk and you get that fight or flight adrenaline and then you come back and you’re in that same situation and nothing.
You’re just calm about it. You’re like, well, it’s just an idiot being drunk, and you think a lot more confident now, I can deal with that.
Even without just talking, I can just confidently talk someone down and I felt different. But ultimately I didn’t really done what it was that I wanted to do, so, that eventually led to me leaving early in 2006. Yeah. I came back, I started thinking, what am I going to do in my career? Did the usual things, I went to Norway a couple of times. I had some survival training out in the snow.
Boxed for the Marines for a bit. ‘Cause I thought that this spot came up for the boxing team, and I thought that would be all right, I’ll do a little bit of training in the morning and go home in the afternoon.
Four hours every morning, four hours every afternoon, eight weeks solid.
John Lamerton – Wow.
Mark Ormrod – Just hammering myself. And then I had a baby. My daughter Kezia came along early 2005 so I decided to leave. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out with Kezia’s mother but I was kind of, in my mind, after putting my twelve months notice in, I was already a civilian.
So I continued down that road not really knowing what I was going to do. Ended up working as a night doorman for a little bit. And then I took some money, an inheritance money that my grandparents had gave me, and some money that you’re entitled to through the re-education system in the military, flew out to South Africa, I retrained as a bodyguard because I thought then, I think I was 22 years old at that point, I thought I’d be walking around in an Armani suit, talking into my cuff, diving around protecting celebrities and that isn’t what the job entails.
And I couldn’t even get a job.
I was 22 years old, despite having a green beret, despite having experience at war, despite having qualified at a really prestigious close protection training school in South Africa people wouldn’t take me on, because I didn’t know anybody to get my foot in the door.
So after a little period of soul searching, life not going great, really not happy with the way things are headed, I decided to rejoin the Marines, which I did early 2007. Now, when I rejoined, one of the units, 40 Commando who are based up in Taunton, they were next in the roster to go to Afghanistan.
I had a choice where I could have gone, and it was either the Commando training centre in Exmouth which is a non-deployable unit, or 40 Commando who are next on the rotation. And I kind of felt it would have been a good tour for me. I didn’t know what to expect. I was basing it on my tour in Iraq, but because my life wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I thought it would be healthy to get out of the country, just get away from all these distractions and things going on, reassess my life, reprioritize, come back and take it in a more positive direction.
So I asked to go to 40 Commando. And so again, I got to the unit, we went through all the pre-deployment training, and I knew from the minute we did that it was going to be different because the training was different. It was a lot more intense, a lot more in detail. Just, you know, the next level up from what we did for Iraq. And then September we deployed. Mm-hmm. Yeah, 7th of September, 2007.
John Lamerton – So that’s three months later?
Mark Ormrod – Yep.
John Lamerton – That’s when the accident happened. Do you want to, I know obviously you’ve talked about this many, many times. Do you want to give us in your own words, the brief?
Mark Ormrod – So initially we flew out the 7th of September, I went to a place called Bastion, what you generally do some people will stay there for their entire tour, six months there. Other guys it’s just a holding station, where you will acclimatise to the weather, you will run some more training serials, out in the heat with all the kit on, to make sure that you can get your body ready for that.
Your equipment has to be carefully maintained in a different way in the desert as it would be to here. Oiling, and all that kind of stuff, so you get all your kit and equipment ready, and then generally you get thrown in the back of a helicopter, and flown out to what’s called a FOB, forward operating base, in Helmand, Kajaki, and all these places. So that’s what I did. I got there, spent four days acclimatising, attending lectures, checking all my kit and equipment over, getting them ready.
And then me and a group of guys were thrown in the back of a Chinook, and flown out to a base called Forward Operating Base Robinson which was in the south of the Helmand Province. And these FOB’s, you know what a HESCO barrier is?
John Lamerton – No.
Mark Ormrod – So a HESCO is basically you imagine, it’s a cage, like your dog’s in, but they will line it with some sort of material then fill it with sand and bricks and stuff so it’s like a ballistic shield and that’s what they build the perimeter wall to these things out of, so it’s not a brick wall, concrete structure, no, it’s just these giant sand bags, basically.
What these FOB’s are made out of, so not much protection. So we flew into FOB Robinson, we were working with American Special Forces, Dutch Marines, US Army, loads of different people, scattered all over the place. And our job was just to go out and dominate the area. Go get our boots in the ground, we conduct these different missions day to day, go out, meet the locals, provide them with security.
Our job was to win the hearts and minds of the local people there.
Some guys from other units were building schools for children and that kind of stuff. And we were just going out there and basically taking the fight to the enemy, not waiting for them to come to us. Going out there, conducting these positive missions, and then if we came into contact, we did what we had to do.
Now on Christmas Eve, me and a group of my friends were called up to the headquarters compound at the opposite end of the FOB and given this brief on the next foot patrol. Now it was a very brief brief, because the idea was that we would leave the rear entrance of our camp in two sections with eight men in each section. One goes north, one goes south. We were told to patrol the immediate perimeter of the camp and not go any more than 300 metres. Before that, these patrols would be out for four, five, six miles. Eight, nine, ten hours.
It was just a quick get your boots out on the ground, show the enemy watching you that you’re still out there doing something, even though we’re not really doing anything, come back in the front entrance of the camp, so now the opposite side, and then you have a couple of days R&R, open your cards and care packages from home, and try your best to enjoy Christmas, given the circumstances.
So compared to what we’d done, really, really easy, really, really basic low-level stuff. So the time came. The rear gate was opened. We left. I was second in command of the section went north, the other section went south. And we went out and did all those basic low-level infantry style things that we’d been doing to that point.
About maybe six, five and a half, six hours into it, both sections now find themselves on the opposite side of the camp at the front entrance, ready to secure the location and go back in and enjoy Christmas. Now my section, were on a high piece of ground, what we call the North Fort, it was always atop, you have these things called target indicators, so if you come under attack, you can quickly shout orders to us then, it sounds strange, but two fingers right of North Fort, so they know where the enemy is, and all that.
So we’re up in the North Fort, we’re up here. FOB Robinson is just beneath us, and then way down beneath that was the other section we left with. So we’re in a very advantageous position tactically because we can see everything, and also fighting downhill was a lot easier than fighting uphill. So our job was to protect the other section. They were getting to the camp, through the front gate, and get behind that HESCO perimeter wall.
They would then return the favour and protect us, when we come down off the high feature to where they were, climb up the little incline, get back in the camp, job done.
Really, really easy, basic stuff.
So we got up there, we got a little bit of tasking, guy in charge, a good friend of mine called Sean Helsby took half of his section and started giving what we call fire positions. I took my half and four or five minutes to my thumb, there was like a bowl in the ground.
Because it was so high up, you imagine like a ridge line, like a knife edge cliff or something, normally you would take cover behind a set of trees or bushes or rocks so you’ve got cover from view and if you can, possibly cover from fire. We had none of that.
So I thought, well, okay, we can get in this bowl, you know, it’s shaped like a bowl. Get on our bellies. We’re up high anyway, you’re only really going to see an inch, an inch and a half of our helmet, if you’re lucky. That’s the best protection we could get.
That’s what I thought at the time, looking back I know how stupid that was because that’s how they think too.
They know we’re going to do that, so that’s where they started planting IED’s and devices. So we jumped in. The guys started taking positions, I just stood back and observed for a little bit, making sure everything was cool. They then went thumb, they gave me the thumbs up that they were happy. I did a last couple last-minute checks just to make sure I was happy and that we were tight and defensive should we come under small arms fire. And then I started walking over towards the position that I set with myself.
And when I got there, I went to get down to my stomach, and as my right knee hit the floor, that was the minute that I knelt on and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device.
John Lamerton – Wow.
Mark Ormrod – Merry Christmas!
John Lamerton – Yeah!
Mark Ormrod – I do remember it all. I can give you a brief description of what happened if you like. I won’t go into too much detail. I’m quite proud actually, I’ve had six fainters and two criers when I’ve gone into detail about this, when I’ve been doing it on the stage.
John Lamerton – That’s a fair warning for the listeners.
Jason Brockman – Yes.
John Lamerton – I have watched the YouTube documentary, although I should have eaten before I watched it.
Mark Ormrod – So you’ve got to use your imagination a little bit.
The ground in Afghanistan is very sandy and dusty and dirty, so if you imagine a device goes off, it creates this huge dust cloud.
So temporarily, I’m blinded, I can’t see anything. I don’t know what’s going on. I was in no pain whatsoever. But my gut instinct, after my adrenaline had spiked, my fight or flight had kicked in, my gut instinct was we’d been attacked.
Now, I knew from where I was positioned, behind me, about 600 metres, down beneath us there was a small rectangular forested block and everything around it was just flat mud fields, so it always sounds funny when I say this, ’cause there’s all this chaos going on, and it sounds like I’m sat there really calm in my thoughts thinking of this, but it’s just all your natural instincts.
So I thought, if anyone’s going to attack us, if they’ve got any common sense, that’s where they’d do it from, ’cause they don’t want to be seen, like I said earlier, cover from view. So, in my head, I keep saying to myself, I can’t see anything ’cause of this dust cloud, turn around, turn around, turn around. ID where these guys are in the forested block, start shooting, when I start shooting, everyone else would start shooting, we had a big heavy machine gun 200 metres away in the camp, someone would have got on that and they would have just, you know, torn the forest in half.
So I’m going, in my head, turn around, turn around, turn around. Find where these guys are and start attacking. After maybe four or five times in my mind, of saying that, I kind of realised that I wasn’t moving, and I didn’t know why. So I didn’t really know what to do. I just thought, well, I’m going to sit here wait for this dust cloud to settle, look around, reassess the situation, make a call on the ground, do what I can to save me and my friends in case we’re under attack.
So it settles to about chest height, and my adrenaline is through the roof, I’m panicking, looking around hoping my friends are okay. Can’t see anybody. I decided to carry on waiting, carry on looking around.
John Lamerton – What are you hearing at this point?
Mark Ormrod – It’s so crazy, if anyone listening to this has ever been in a traumatic incident, when you’re looking at everything, it’s like slow motion. But everything in your head is like a thousand miles an hour, and there’s so many thoughts going through your mind. And it’s kind of like a scene in a movie, you just look around and it’s kind of echo-y and you don’t know what to think or do and you’re confused.
But all I was thinking, was the guys I was with, you know, I’m just hoping no one’s been hurt, but I couldn’t see any of them. So I thought I’d better just carry on waiting. Again, this is split seconds, but it seemed like a lot longer at the time, and this dust cloud eventually hit the ground and disappeared.
And as it did, and I’m looking around, I look down to where my legs should have been, and they were gone completely, from both knees down, on one of the legs my tibia and fibula were still there but it was almost like, this is going to sound really bizarre, but have you ever eaten a rib? When the meat just falls off the bone? So the bones are there, right? And they’re like clean, well, they’ve got mud, blood, and dirt on, but they’re just like clean picked.
The flesh and everything is just ripped clean off. And I kind of just sat there looking down, like, what’s happening? And it felt like a dream.
John Lamerton – Because you weren’t feeling it?
Mark Ormrod – I felt no pain!
John Lamerton – You almost didn’t believe what your eyes were seeing?
Mark Ormrod – It’s like after you’ve had four or five pints and you look around and you’re a bit floaty, and everything seems a little bit weird and surreal. And I’m looking, and I’ve got no pain, and I’m trying to process what’s going on, and this confusion in my head, and I’m trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do to stop this enemy that I thought attacked us and I’m thinking about all my friends and colleagues and panicking about them.
And then I look, and I’m like, what’s happened? This is a bit bizarre. Why don’t my legs hurt if they’ve disappeared? Anyway, I very quickly then thought about the rest of the lads, so I snapped out of it, looked around trying to see if I can see anybody.
And as I looked over my right shoulder, I saw Sean, the guy in charge. And me and Sean went through training together back in 2001, so I knew him really well and trusted him with my life.
And while I’m trying to process all this chaos, I just look at his face, and the shock was in his eyes, the colour was drained out. And I didn’t really even know what I was thinking right now. I’d completely forgot about my legs. I was just trying to process a million and one things. And then I looked at him, and I’m like, shit.
John Lamerton – It’s real.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah. But I still didn’t believe it. So I went to look back to my legs to kind of give myself that final confirmatory signal, and then figure out what to do.
And as my eyes swept the floor, I went to about the three o’clock position, and I saw my arm just lying there in the sand.
It was still attached, but from my bicep to my wrist there was no bone, it had shattered, it was torn open. My hand was still in pretty good nick.
But I remember, I just picked my hand up, and kind of put it in front of my face, and then just dropped it. And just started this huge scream of frustration. Now, I know, from the training, in that situation, all the guys around me are trained not to get emotional.
Because the first thing we want to do it to run in and help their friend, but we’re trained not to in case there’s other devices which incidentally there were six others around. They could set them off and kill me, or kill themselves. But I knew they all had these predetermined tasks that they had to undertake should this situation arise. And then they did it, like perfectly. No one got carried away or freaked out. Everyone got on the radio, called in the CASEVAC, to get me evacuated.
The other guys started coordinating a defensive position in case there’s a small arms attack, the guy closest to me was on his belt buckle with a bayonet pulling the floor up, marking the safe route for the medic.
They all did it perfectly, and the medic got to me really, really quickly, gave me some morphine, tourniqueted my limbs, and then went to drag me out and get me out of there. I won’t go into too much detail about what happened then, but it involved me having my right foot was still kind of attached to my thigh, there was nothing from the knee down, except this string, this muscle strand attaching my foot up the stem of my boot to my leg.
So they had to pick that up and put it on my stomach. I don’t know how the hell he got me out of this thing, because I read the report, and this little bowl I was in is now 12 feet deep by 15 feet around, and we’re on a high feature, so he gets me out of the bowl, down the high feature to the vehicle waiting, the guy driving back ends it, across this road, he’s going back up into the camp, up the incline, doctor fell out the back, and I fell out the back, they guy driving swings around, puts an arm out, grabs something to keep me in, grabs the femur bone, coming out my right leg.
I didn’t feel it ’cause of the morphine. He left the medic because the other section guys I talked about were still at the bottom of the incline, so he was safe. And then got me to the helicopter landing site, and the last thing I remember is the helicopter landing.
And then I blacked out and apparently died.
John Lamerton – It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing to think what you say about the team completely following the procedure.
Because it’s all well and good in training to say we’ve got a process, we’ve got procedure. This is what we do in the event of this happening, this is what we do. That’s great. But you said how much your adrenaline was firing, and you imagine the team, well you said, the look on the guy’s face, told you immediately, oh my god, how do you not react emotionally when you see a comrade in that situation and how do you automatically reactively, instinctively follow the procedure rather than your gut instinct?
Mark Ormrod – What I can tell you from a military perspective, is discipline.
It’s the discipline that’s beaten into us from day one.
That there are these procedures and systems in place for a reason. And the reason is, it saves lives. And that’s what it did for me.
If one of them had freaked out, especially the guy closest to me, his job is to mark the safe route for the medic, so he can get to me quickly. If he freaks out and doesn’t do that, you imagine the medic comes running in, stands on a device himself, boom. You’ve already got two dead bodies.
But they did everything so perfectly because they were trained to do it, they were disciplined to do it, and they knew how different the outcome could have been had they not done that. And I think also if I was to put myself in their shoes, had they done everything that they did, to the high level they did it, but I’d have died, they could have taken comfort in the fact that they did everything properly and it was nobody’s fault, you know?
And sometimes it’s a great thing in the military, the discipline, this is how it’s done, this is what we’re doing. Sometimes it’s not. In that situation it was a good thing.
Jason Brockman – And it’s the training, I guess, as well because actually it’s real world based scenarios and you do all that training in basic and all those deployment sort of training as well so you’ve actually practised that so it becomes actually something that you do instantly, kind of intuitively.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah. And the funny thing is, in training, you’ll cock it up nine times out of ten. Someone will make a mistake somewhere. But when it matters, and you have to do it and someone’s life actually depends on it, honestly, I don’t know how that’s my lasting memory for me is how perfect those guys reacted. And that’s the reason that I’m here.
John Lamerton – So you woke up three days later? Back in the UK?
Mark Ormrod – Mm-hmm.
John Lamerton – And do you remember the first conversations that you had with the doctors?
Mark Ormrod – So the first week in intensive care is quite hazy. I was on a lot of pain relief medication, and I was hallucinating a lot. So remember the Fresh Prince of Bel Air?
John Lamerton – Yeah.
Mark Ormrod – Do you remember that kind of high fade haircut that Will Smith had?
John Lamerton – Yeah.
Mark Ormrod – So, he came to visit me, and then the other Will Smith, he had the small haircut. Then another one, the medium. And then another one, with this, like you remember that Kid N Play movie, House Party?
And so I spent a day just hanging out with Will Smith. There were three Will Smiths in my room.
Then there was another guy driving like an ammo forklift truck around my room, putting ammo containers on the bed. Then an eight foot bottle of Ketchup, like Heinz Ketchup appeared in the corner of my room.
And I was just crazy, like off my nut on this medication to the point where probably four or five days in, I held my arm up, my right arm which was injured, out from under the bed sheet, ’cause I had an itch, and I looked at it and I started giggling.
And the nurse said, “What are you laughing for?” I said on this medication, all these hallucinations, it looks like my arm’s fallen off. Because to that point, I thought I was seeing a right arm with a couple fingers missing. And I was relieving itches on my body with an arm I didn’t have.
And she just looked at me, and I knew from the look, she was like, how do I tell him that actually he’s lost his arm right above his elbow. And I knew from that minute, but it sounds weird, but it was a fun crazy period. Just hallucinating, and nothing seemed that much of an issue ’cause of all the morphine stuff.
But again, what I say about those guys, when we’re talking about discipline and procedures and stuff, the way they weaned me off that medication, was perfect. They could have done it too quickly, or maybe took too long, but every day I woke up, and they were reducing things, it was the perfect amount for me to understand, bring myself back into reality, out of the morphine induced haze, and understand and accept the level of my injuries and what had happened.
So I didn’t wake up one day and just completely freak out ’cause they cut it too early. They did it so well that I was able to accept it gradually in a way that was perfect for me.
John Lamerton – Did you have the usual, when you have any loss or grief, whatever, you go through the grief process?
Mark Ormrod – Yeah I did.
John Lamerton – Denial, anger, acceptance. Did you start off in that phase?
Mark Ormrod – No, not really.
John Lamerton – Day one, you just said, this is what it is?
Mark Ormrod – I think there’s only two ways you can go. You wake up and you do say that, you say it is what it is, there’s nothing I can do, let’s crack on and figure this out, or you wake up and you say, why me? I hate the world. This isn’t fair.
And you spent months if not years in that mindset and you never make any progress. And I think just because of the military training I had, I woke up. I don’t know if it’s a personality trait or I was trained to be like I’m just matter of fact. Okay, cool, two legs above the knee, one arm above the elbow, right, when I get prosthetics, who’s going to teach me to walk? Let’s go.
And that was my mindset.
But there were two, I honestly say this, what is is now, 2019? So it’s been twelve years. There’s only been two times when I kind of went in the other way.
The first time was when I came out of intensive care, I went up to a single high dependency room, three and half weeks post-injury, the doctor comes in and tells me, you’ll never walk again. He’s been chopping people up for 30 odd years, he’s never seen anybody with two legs missing above the knee use prosthetics successfully full-time. So that was a bit of a kick in the teeth.
And then the first month out of hospital, my family was staying in a tower block of flats, and there on the bottom floor was a military welfare flat. So they wheeled me over in a chair, got in through the communal entrance, I got in through the front door of the flat, I couldn’t access any of the rooms, ’cause my wheelchair one-handed was extra wide ’cause you’ve got to steer it and accelerate it with one hand.
So I kind of sat in the hallway and had to pee in a milk bottle and eat my food out there, which was difficult. And I managed to stay in the house that night, got transferred through the doorway and up onto the bed in the bedroom, and I wheeled past a full length mirror. I’d only ever seen myself from the neck up shaving and stuff in the hospital sink.
And I used to be 6’2″.
I used to weigh, at my heaviest, like 16 stone, lift a lot of weights and be super fit, and there I was, I think I’m about three and half feet tall without my prosthetics on, now. And I was under nine stone.
Really gaunt, I was like a skeleton with a bit of skin on. And I always say this, no matter when I’m on a podcast or on stage, I just cried all night. Cried all night and said I can’t do this. This is not me in the mirror, I’m 6’2″, wearing tight t-shirts, training all the time trying to be this alpha male, and now I’m in a wheelchair, with one arm looking like I’ve just been dug up, and I don’t want to do it. And I broke down that night.
Then I woke up next day, new day, fresh start, and was like, you know what? Let’s just get on with it. Let’s go.
Jason Brockman – Just dealt with it.
Mark Ormrod – Mm-hmm. That was it.
John Lamerton – So when that doctor first said to you, I’ve got, was it 20, 30 years experience?
Mark Ormrod – Mm-hmm.
John Lamerton – You’re never going to walk again. Did you immediately accept that, and say, okay, that’s what this is from now on? Or did you go, no, bollocks to that? I’m gonna be the first one to prove you wrong?
Mark Ormrod – I spent about four days trying to process what he told me and then figure out a plan forward. I’m like okay, I’m going to be in a wheelchair now. I don’t like that because that means I need people to drive me places.
I didn’t know anything about being disabled. I didn’t know what was available. I’d need people to drive me here, care for me here, do this for me, do that for me. I’m going to be a massive burden on people. I don’t really want to do that.
But what’s my alternative? It’s to figure something out. And about six days after he came in, a guy came to visit me. I had no idea he was coming. His name was Mick Brennan.
And he walked into my hospital room with two prosthetic legs above the knee and he was blown up in Iraq in 2005. And he sat down and told me his story. And he took his legs off and he showed me how they fit and he told me the fitting process. He told me what rehab would be like. He told me what he had achieved, what I could expect to achieve. And so as soon as he left, I got my laptop, and this was back when you had to get on the Internet over dongles.
So I got a dongle, plugged it in, and I was starting to research triple amputees, prosthetics, just searching all over the world to see anybody who had my injuries that was living their life without being confined to a wheelchair. And I found some people and that was a massive motivator.
John Lamerton – So in that instant, the impossible became possible.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah.
John Lamerton – You suddenly realised actually it can be done, because I’ve seen it. This guy walked into my room, it’s Roger Bannister the four minute mile again.
Mark Ormrod – Exactly.
John Lamerton – It can’t be done, until it’s done. And then, oh! All of a sudden, was it three weeks or six weeks after he broke the four minute mile 14 people had broken the four minute mile because it is possible.
Mark Ormrod – I know. And I’ve always believed that, whether you want to be the best footballer in the world, a multi-millionaire, whatever it is, if someone’s done it before you, and you have the same set of circumstances, some people are born with severe disabilities and stuff and it may not be possible, but as long as you follow mentally and physically their processes you can get similar results.
So that’s what I did. I found a triple amputee out of America, called Cameron Clapp, flew out to meet him, spent three weeks with him and his team, whipping my ass, like training to be in the Marines is hard, I would very slightly put that three weeks just above it, mentally and physically how hard it was.
But I looked at this guy and thought, well this guy doesn’t use a wheelchair, he runs in triathlons, he swims in the ocean, he’s a surfer, he drives cars that have adaptations.
If he can do it, all I’ve got to do is copy what he did.
John Lamerton – It’s a blueprint.
Mark Ormrod – Exactly. It must have been really hard for him ’cause no one had done it before and he paved the way. But I went out there, condensed I think it was seven years of his time into three weeks. Came out with similar results. That was it, 9th of June, 2009, saying goodbye to the chap.
John Lamerton – I love that. There’s a story, have you heard of Scott Adams, the guy who did the Dilbert cartoons?
Mark Ormrod – No.
John Lamerton – He was diagnosed with a really, really rare disease. It affected his speech, so that he couldn’t get, at any time his brain wouldn’t access more than about 40 words, he had access to his words but he couldn’t get them from his brain to his mouth. And the doctor said to him, there’s no cure. There isn’t a cure, it’s a very rare disease, we don’t know any. He just said that that wasn’t what he heard.
The words he heard were: “Scott, you’re going to be the first person in the world to be cured of this disease.”
Mark Ormrod – Nice.
John Lamerton – And sure enough, it took him probably like three years, but he was given the all clear and he absolutely cured himself. And it was, he said, “The only difference was, in my brain, absolutely 100% believed that I was going to be the first person in the world to be cured of this incurable disease.” And it’s just amazing to see that. Well, apparently the brain can also come up with eight foot Ketchup bottles and three Will Smiths..
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, yeah. I like humour, I just finished reading your book on holiday, I’m big into that stuff as well. A lot of people in this day and age, I don’t know if it’s vanity or what, they’ll spend god knows how many hours and how many thousands of pounds training their body, but not their mind.
And I think, this is just my personal opinion, but we’re almost conditioned nowadays from birth to look at the negative. Like wake up in the morning, I’ve got my routine like I know you have. They’ll wake up in the morning, smack the snooze button three times, drag themself out of bed, have a coffee and probably a cigarette, turn the news on and read that there’s a terrorist attack, the economy’s shit, this politician’s done that, some poor kid’s been killed or something, and they don’t even know that their mind’s straight into negativity.
Then they get in the car, drive to work, put the radio on. They’ve got the same news, then someone cuts them off and they’re angry as hell. Then they get to the office, and they meet with their coworkers ten minutes before they get another coffee, and they’ve all had the same experience and you’ve got a bunch of people, all of them negative, and it’s not even half past eight in the morning yet, and they want to kill everybody. But no one does the opposite.
Although some people do, it takes a little bit of effort. So I get up, at 25 to 6 every morning, and I do at least ten minutes with my earphones on meditating. Then I’ll have black coffee, ’cause I enjoy that and then either I’ll go train, or do what I can before the kids wake up. And I have a routine, but it’s a positive routine. In the car, I listen to podcasts. My social media feeds are set up for positivity. On my personal Facebook, it’s great, you don’t have to unfriend anyone anymore, you can unfollow them. So if they’re just annoying you with all their drama and stuff you just got to unfollow, and they don’t even know you’ve done it. But then your feed is just full of positive motivational stuff.
And it just feeds your brain every day.
John Lamerton – I mean Facebook, social media is an echo chamber. What you see on there it just pops back at you. The more you like, you see a relative with the political side of things, whichever side of the fence you’re on politically, let’s not even go down the Brexit route, but whichever side of that fence you’re on, the posts you like will show you more of that.
So actually you start to believe that this is the way the world is because Facebook shows me that. All my friends agree with me. No, they don’t. All the friends whose posts you like agree with you. All the friends whose posts you ignore, or unfriend you don’t see those, and you don’t see that point of view. I saw a brilliant quote on positivity yesterday: “You can either be upset that roses have thorns, or you can be thankful that thorns have roses.”
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, yep.
Jason Brockman – It’s just the way you frame things, the way you look at them.
Mark Ormrod – I know, there are so many people, I don’t even think they’re aware of what’s happening to them when they give in, they will, like you say, they’ll look at a bad situation. I met with a friend on Monday or Tuesday and he’s a property developer, and he was talking about a building he’s gonna buy and he said, “It’s really bad, “there were like needles in there “and the ceilings were falling, “and people have been in there “and they ripped all the electrics out.” And he went, “Happy days they don’t have to work for me.” And I was like, that’s a helluva way to think about it.
John Lamerton – When a property developer says things are bad, you know he’s got a smile on his face.
Mark Ormrod – He was like, these vandals have come in and ripped all the electrics out and they don’t have to pay them. Brilliant. So he’s got a unique way of looking at things. It’s awesome.
John Lamerton – So let’s talk books. You mentioned obviously you read my book, “Routine Machine” available from all good books stores as long as they’re called Amazon. You were featured in that book.
Mark Ormrod – I was.
John Lamerton – Because a couple of years ago you went into your first Invictus Games, and do you want to tell us a little about how that came about and how you got on certainly your first and second time?
Mark Ormrod – Yep. So every December or mid December I would sit down and go through a goal setting process. I just literally for a minute I would put some sub-headings, health, finances, career, family, whatever, and then I’d just scribble down anything that’s in my head. I would just dump it out there.
And then I’ll kind of niche it down and then I’ll start the planning process.
And I’d go through that. And in 2006 in December, I was aware that Christmas Eve, oh, sorry that was 2016, I was aware that in 2017 on Christmas Eve is my 10 year what we call bang-iversary.
So I thought, well, what should I do to mark that occasion that I haven’t done. And I sat down and I kind of closed my eyes, at home in the office, and I envisioned a jigsaw puzzle and it had family, health, career, fun, and the middle bit, I’m thinking, I just sat there, my eyes closed, going what haven’t I done that I can do to fill that middle piece of the puzzle?
And it was sport. I’ve never done any adaptive sport because I didn’t like it in the beginning, and then when I went to America, my whole focus was on getting rid of the wheelchair. Everyone else was into sport and that wasn’t my goal.
So I thought, okay, I’ll do some sport. And I think the Invictus Games were in their second year now, I think they’d been in London and Florida, so I’d seen a lot of my friends competing, bring home medals, pushing through their personal challenges and barriers.
And I said, oh, I’ll give this a go then. I just jumped straight in the deep end. I can’t just decide to be a Paralympian and do that in less than a year, but this is the next best thing for me. So I applied, I had no idea if I’d make the team ’cause I knew nothing about the sport. I wasn’t in the cliques.
The only sport I’d done that was on offer prior to being injured was swimming and that was only for fun. But I made the team, fortunately. And I’d only ever planned to do it once. I thought, I’m gonna go there, train as hard as I can, do it once, tick the box and then pick back up in 2018, 2019 with other things.
So like I said, I was fortunate enough to make the team, and what did I do the first year? Hand cycling, rowing, and swimming. I went out to Canada, I did okay. What did I get? Two silvers, two bronzes, and what was really cool is Jaguar Land Rover was a sponsor and out of 21 countries and all of the athletes in those countries, they’ll give one award out for the best overall athlete, and I managed to bag that.
And my first games, like the first time at any sport and I was like, awesome! I went home, and I was like, that is great, but my set’s incomplete. I’ve got two silver, two bronze, I need two golds. Because my OCD won’t let me. So I said, well I’ll go get it next year.
The advantage I had the next year was that I knew a bit about the sports, the etiquette, the strategy, I didn’t think there was a strategy for going backwards and forwards on a rowing machine, but there is. And I proved it the next year when I stuck to my coach’s strategy and I got the two golds. What did I get in Australia? So two golds in the rowing, two golds in the swimming I think, bronze in the shot put discus and a silver for swimming as well.
John Lamerton – And so there’s still an imbalance there.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, no, but I let that one go. So I’m like, oh, I need to make sure I’ve got four golds, four silvers, three bronzes, ’cause in my frame I’m gonna put it in, it’ll be like four, four, three.
John Lamerton – I’m just trying to imagine you now in the gold medal position going hang on, I still need a silver, and slow down.
Mark Ormrod – No, sorry, I was going for silver, just because it would look better on my wall. But yeah, no I did that, and I came back and I was like, I’m happy now.
And I’m officially retired from competing.
For many reasons, but one of the main reasons is you’ve got like 500 people applying, and there are only 65 places this year. I’ve been twice, I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve got the benefit of it. I think you’ve got to move over and let someone else have a go. I’ve seen a lot of people who didn’t make the team, how it’s negatively affected them.
My phone was ringing for a week after Australia from people that I met in Canada that didn’t make the team who were upset about it. So it was like, well I don’t want to be greedy, I’ll back off now and let everyone else have a go.
Jason Brockman – What I find is really incredible is that you took part in several disciplines. It wasn’t just swimming, it was a lot of different disciplines, whereas you mentioned Paralympian, you only ever do one discipline, so that is amazing to win so many medals across different sports, different disciplines. I think that’s incredible.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, I mean, so I didn’t even know what I was doing. There are people I know that do more than that. They do eight or nine different events, you literally run from one event to the other for a whole week. Bouncing around competing. But I just did the ones which I thought, like I said, I didn’t know about the strategies, I just thought they were just brute force and ignorance. Just going like a lunatic for a short amount of time and as long as you fitter than the next bloke, you win. But I realised that it’s a lot more complicated than that.
John Lamerton – There’s a line you used just now, Mark. You said, “You can’t just throw yourself in the deep end.”
Mark Ormrod – Mm-hmm.
John Lamerton – Let’s talk swimming.
Mark Ormrod – Okay.
John Lamerton – So how did you learn to swim after the accident? What time was this? Was this for Invictus?
Mark Ormrod – So I used to be a very strong swimmer. I spent most of my time under the water ’cause I just love swimming underwater and it was faster. And about four or five years after I was injured, I was here in Plymouth, HMS Drake in that old swimming pool at lunch time, and I’d not been in a swimming pool for about six years.
The lifeguard was in there reading a magazine and I got in in the shallow end, right in the middle, between the two ends of the pool, and I started swimming, just trying to figure it out. And I got, imagine being a bird’s eye view, smack bang in the middle of the pool, and I started getting tired, so I let out a breath, and as soon as I did I started sinking like a rock.
John Lamerton – Your buoyancy is gone then, isn’t it?
Mark Ormrod – But it was never that way when I had legs. And I panicked, and I started sinking, and I threw my head back as I went down, and the water kind of got here, so it was lucky I’ve got a big pointy nose it was pointing out, and I just managed to go and get a little bit of air in, and it kept me buoyant.
So I literally did this, just taking these really small breaths paddling over to the side, grab the side and got out and I’m like, I’m not going in the swimming pool ever again. And I realised then that if I don’t have air in my lungs, I sink really fast. And I’ll be honest, it panicked me.
And it wasn’t until Invictus that I picked it up again and started learning how to actually swim and control my breath and how many strokes you have and when to pull to the other the strategy I’m talking about, knowing when to breathe out.
The first year I did it, in the 50 metre pull, my strategy was that I swim faster underwater so I would just hold my breath for as long as I can and go. And in 25 metres, it’s great. Is it 25? How long is it in Olympic? It’s 50 metres.
John Lamerton – Olympic is 50 metres.
Mark Ormrod – In the 50 metre, the one length, it’s great ’cause I got 30 metres underwater and then you can just griz it out. But when you’re doing 100m, you can’t do that, ’cause once you’re out, you’re out, when you just get slower, and slower, and slower. So again, last year in Australia, I changed my strategy a bit. I thought, I can’t just hold my breath and go like a lunatic for as long as I can, so I employed some strategy. Yeah.
John Lamerton – That’s really weird to see that you’ve gone from “I’m never swimming again”, to “I’m going to compete for a medal.” I think I’ve read before that you didn’t actually intend entering the swimming competition, is that right? You literally decided on the day?
Mark Ormrod – No, I was signed up for the 50 metre and 100 metre freestyle, but I’d met a friend, this is in Australia, I’d met a friend in Canada called Gary who was in my classification, he was an Australian Special Forces sniper guy, such a cool guy. We competed against each other in Canada, and his coach, believe it or not, is from Torpoint, from over in Saltash, his parents were over there, so we had that in common and we were sat down and we were at the heats ’cause my classification is so small, we just go straight to the finals, and I’m sat there talking to him, and the coach is like so what’s Gary in for this year?
And he said, 50 metre freestyle, 100 metre freestyle, 50 metre backstroke. I couldn’t do the backstroke, I just couldn’t get my head around it. And 50 metre breaststroke. I said cool, I’m doing 50 metre free, 100 metre free. He said, oh yeah, but they’re probably going to cancel the breaststroke. I said, why? He said, well, he’s the only one in it.
Now I thought that meant he’d just automatically get to walk over and get a gold medal. But they explained to me, no, they’ll cancel the event because they don’t run it that way.
So I said, well, this is at like nine o’clock at night, the night before we’re due to be in the final, so I said, well, listen, go speak to the officials and say I’m happy to jump in the race, all these people have come thousands of miles, Gary has trained for it, we’ll jump in, give them a show, and at least he’ll–
John Lamerton – I’ll be a pacemaker for him, I’ll be there for the first 30 metres.
Mark Ormrod – Right. So I turned up the day of the race, and behind the 50 metre pool is a 25 metre pool behind this screen. So I got into it and I thought I’d better figure out how to do breast stroke. So I’m doing this, like an ordinary breaststroke, and I’m going in a circle.
And I was like, that’s not going to work. Then I started doing this modified doggy paddle thing and it dragged me forward. And I thought, okay, that’s all right. And there were no coaches or anything, and I thought, well I remember when I watch everyone do breast stroke, they always put their head under the water, when they’re doing it, and I thought that might be a rule, so I thought I’d better figure that out.
So I started doing this weird thing where I was kind of bobbing and pulling, and bobbing and pulling, and I’d about ten minutes so I thought, well, all right, that will do. I figured something out. At least I’m going forwards. I’d figured out, I know how to breathe, I figured that out. I kind of figured the stroke out, let’s see what happens.
Yeah, I got in there and we swam, and I ended up winning. But only by 0.25 of a second, a quarter of a second.
John Lamerton – You gave them a good show then.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah.I don’t know what happened. At the end, because I knew about my breathing now, if I breathed out, I would have sank, towards the last ten metres I got water in my mouth, like one drop of water hit my tonsils, and I needed to cough, and I thought if I cough I’m going to sink and drown.
So I literally just drank the water. Every stroke I pulled I went and I was drinking pool water. And that was actually soothing the tickle in my throat which was nice, but I could see on the big screen, his yellow hat getting closer and closer out of my peripheral.
And I was like, don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop! And I reached out just in time, 0.25 a second.
If that was a 51 metre race, I’d have drowned. Yeah, it was awesome.
John Lamerton – 0.25 of a second ahead of a guy that trained for the race.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah. But that’s the brute force and ignorance thing.
John Lamerton – It is, yeah.
Mark Ormrod – You just got to, I figured out what I knew to do, the breathing, a kind of strategy when to pick up when to drop it back, I knew I had to go in a straight line, that’s what I do know, so I’m just going to do what I know. I know there’s a million other things I could have learned, but I didn’t have the time.
John Lamerton – So one of the things we talked about in the book was your rowing training. And the thing I picked up, I think I heard it on one of your podcasts, was about staring at the wall. This is where the success came from was the real boredom, the tedium of training day in, day out, just saying, okay, it’s five am, the alarm’s gone off, it’s the middle of February.
Mark Ormrod – It’s freezing at home in my garage as well.
John Lamerton – Do you want to talk us a little bit through that?
Mark Ormrod – I mean there’s not much to talk about, that’s what it is. It was literally, an alarm went off, got up, a little pre-workout black coffee, knew it was going to be freezing cold in there, went in anyway, and then it was what my training days are, short 20 minute session, 45 minutes, an hour of just backwards and forwards, building up endurance.
And at that time, I don’t think I had any decoration on my wall. It was just a white painted wall in the garage. So it was a case of literally going backwards and forwards, backwards, just staring at the wall.
And again, it was visualisation.
I’m going to butcher this quote, but it’s something to do with, the winning isn’t done when you step in the ring, it’s in the weeks and months leading up to it, the training is when you win.
And that was what I kept thinking of.
Every time I didn’t want to do it, I’m like, well, the guy that beat me last year is probably training now, so I’m gonna train. And that would push me on, motivate me. ‘Cause I was like, I’m not coming back with silver medals. I want the gold, and I’ll outwork anybody that turns up in the days beforehand to try and achieve it.
John Lamerton – I heard an interview with Mike Tyson about two weeks ago and he was talking about his training days. And he said that he would get up at five am, on a snowy day and he would go out, and pound the streets and he would run. He said, I know, the other guy..
Mark Ormrod – He’s not doing that.
John Lamerton – Or he’s not going out till 7 am and he’s going on the treadmill.
Jason Brockman – Yeah.
John Lamerton – He said, I’m gonna do what he won’t do.
Mark Ormrod – I heard that, was it with Joe Rogan?
John Lamerton – It was Tony Robbins.
Mark Ormrod – Oh that was, you’re right. I heard that one too. And that’s it, that’s what it takes, to win. Even though maybe the two hours before may not be a massive contributing factor, but mentally, running in the snow to a treadmill, I think is. That’s when you’re like, well he’s on a treadmill, he’s comfortable, he’s warm, he’s got his water bottle there, I’m going to go out in the snow in my shorts.
Right, where it’s freezing cold and I’m gonna force myself to do what the other guy isn’t willing to do. Now, when you get in the ring, and everyone’s tired and they’ve got no gas in the tank, that’s when you know you can force yourself to do what they’re not going to do.
John Lamerton – Do what you need to do. So let’s talk books! So your first book came out, talking primarily about the accident and the immediate aftermath of that?
Mark Ormrod – Yeah. That one kind of wrapped up when I got married in 2009 so four years before I went to America me and my wife Becky were married. That’s where that one finishes. So it’s very much a–
John Lamerton – A nice happy ending, you sail off into the sunset.
Mark Ormrod – Right.
John Lamerton – I’m never writing another book. That’s me done, I’ve got a happy ending.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, but that one’s very much, look at me, I’m the big hairy alpha male, macho man, I can kill people. Aren’t I great? Blah, blah, blah, guns, guns, knives, blown.
John Lamerton – I’m Rambo, yeah.
Mark Ormrod – But, again, I’m a young guy who has never written a book before. This new one is gonna pick up four weeks after I got married, when I went to America. And it’s going to be a much different book in terms of like, this is a civilian version. You’ve got the military one, the civilian one. This is more of the inspiration one of when I met Cameron, this is what they taught me about building the right people around you and what you can achieve from it.
It’s a lot of interviews in there, from people that were flying the Chinook that evacuated me, the guy that was holding my femur, friends and family that I’ve known for a long time, so we’re gonna recap the day that I got injured, but with their perspectives as well and then talk much more about overcoming obstacles, adversity, things we talk about here. Tools, techniques, strategies, that kind of stuff.
So we’re about halfway through, and literally two days ago, I just booked my ghost writer to come back. Hopefully get that out and ready for Christmas. And we’ve got a couple of other projects on the go. I want to write a children’s book hopefully, or a couple of them.
John Lamerton – Wow.
Mark Ormrod – I know this friend, I’ll show you after this on my phone, Just randomly I got a message one day and he’d drawn me into a superhero, so it’s got the prosthetic arm, the legs, I’m up with a cape on, flying above a city, and it says Invictus Games, No Limits, Rammers, which was my nickname in the military, and then someone said one day, I showed them, they said, that would be a really cool kid’s book.
And I was like, that would be a cool kid’s book. So I talked to her, we came up with an idea of how we’re going to approach it. And I’m more excited about that than anything else.
Just getting stuck in, I want to use it for, obviously it’s a children’s book, so children are hopefully going to read it, but there were things like dispelling myths about disabled people. It’s not like the old days where you would cross the street when you saw a disabled person ’cause you didn’t know what to do or what to say.
John Lamerton – Don’t ask any questions. Shh, shh. Don’t point, don’t look.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, I’m hoping I can try and make this, being disabled actually kind of cool. Where people are like, wow, cool bionic legs and they can do this and that. Obviously, I’ll ham it up a little bit in the book, being able to fly and time travel and kind of stuff, but I want to put tangible messages and lessons in it, like injury and change their perception a little bit.
John Lamerton – Have you seen Jocko Willink’s series?
Mark Ormrod – I haven’t read it. “Mikey and the Dragon?”
John Lamerton – Yes.
Mark Ormrod – I haven’t read them, but I listen to Jocko’s podcast. I asked him to go on his podcast a couple of months ago, we were talking on Twitter.
John Lamerton – Really?
Mark Ormrod – But I stupidly, didn’t know how big California was. And I was nine hours north of him, and I’m like, I can’t really drive down there, I’m meeting a friend, so I thought he would be like an hour away. But we’re trying to do it next time I’m up.
John Lamerton – That’d be fantastic.
Mark Ormrod – I am going to read that, though. He’s a cool guy.
John Lamerton – Yeah, now Jack, our oldest has got into them. It’s brilliant, it’s personal development for kids. But it’s written in the colour of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” style, but it’s all about discipline, and pull-ups and diet and friendships and dealing with all the crap that kids have to put up with at school. So there’s a lot of kids, a million kid’s books out there, but I think if you can get one that’s got the right angle, and the hardest part is getting the kids to pick up the book and read it.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, but I mean, they’re subliminal messages, in a way, aren’t they?
John Lamerton – Yeah.
Mark Ormrod – You make it fun, ’cause they want to read it, but they don’t even know that they’re learning things. You’re planting seeds in their minds, where, I don’t know, maybe the school bully reads it one day, and then he goes into his old routine about to bully somebody, and he’s like actually, this isn’t the right thing to do, you know?
-John Lamerton Yeah.
Mark Ormrod – And then changes because of what he’s read. So that’s what I’d like to do with these books. Kind of changes people’s opinions, perceptions. Bullying is one of the things I want to cover, ’cause I was bullied at school. So I want to kind of time travel back to meet myself when I was 13 when I felt bad about people picking on me ’cause I was fat. And teach myself, as a grown up in the book, lessons when I was a 13 year old. And I hope that people read it and be like, oh, cool, okay.
John Lamerton – ‘Cause you kind of want the people who are bullied to read that, but you also want the bullies to read it,
Mark Ormrod – Yeah.
John Lamerton – To realise what impact they’re actually having on people.
Mark Ormrod – Exactly.
John Lamerton – One thing I’ve been wanting to talk about was the options available for disabled people. So it’s no longer just you get disability benefits, and that’s your life. There’s so many options open with the Internet, with podcasting, with books and anything. You’re saying I want to create kids books, I’m writing this book, I’ve got a podcast, I’ve got a YouTube channel, I do this, and I’m flying off to Australia. If someone is newly disabled, or is actually thinking what can I do? It’s all right for you, Mark, that’s one line I keep hearing, it’s all right for you.
Mark Ormrod – Overnight success.
John Lamerton – Yeah, exactly. They see you here, now and think, well, it’s all right for him, he’s got it all made. He doesn’t worry about money, and he doesn’t worry about this, where actually, you’ve been there, you’ve done that. So what message would you give to that person who’s thinking well, I’m stuck in a rut, my mindset perhaps isn’t right, that I’m thinking oh, this is my lot, and that’s never for me, because, you know, it’s a Plymouth thing, we’ve had to put up with, right?
Mark Ormrod – The one thing I say all the time, when I’m meeting people face to face, to say to people like this is that, obviously I can’t tell you what the future holds, but if I was ever going to become disabled in my life, this is the time and day and age I’d want to do it.
You can run a business from your mobile phone. You can become a social media influencer and get paid to post stuff. You can literally, we’re saying how you go and we go through mobile phones as advancing equipment, I talk into my iPhone in my car, and I can do a podcast, and I can upload it, ready in seconds.
And you can start a career that way. You can bypass gatekeepers and things whereas, maybe you want to reach out to someone, and you need a bit of help, or support. You can ask them for something.
Whereas before you’d have to go get the Yellow Pages and search through it and spend a week, you just Google it, or go on social media and reach out to them. You can do whatever you want, and people do. I mean, look at these YouTubers. They make ridiculous money, right? My kids sit there, every morning, my daughter goes, can I watch Play-Doh movies on your phone? So I sit there, and I’m watching it, right? And there’s a pair of hands, and there’s a couple Play-Doh pots and they’ll open an egg, and then they’ll put the Play-Doh into a lollipop mould, and they’ll go, ooh! Ooh, Ooh!
And they’ve got 15 million views. And I’m like, what? You’re talking about Play-Doh!
John Lamerton – My kids, so we just went on holiday, so Jack, my oldest, and two kids that he made friends with on holiday have all got YouTube channels, so three of them are playing hide and seek in the hotel, with their phones, average of 150 views after a day. So these kids are watching other children they don’t know play, rather than playing themselves.
Mark Ormrod – My son asked me for an Xbox. A friend of mine gave us his Xbox ’cause his kids have got like 15 different consoles and he got the classic Minecraft, and I go in the front room one day and I’m watching him watching someone playing Minecraft in America. I’m like, your Xbox is in the dining room, go play it yourself. “No, I want to watch this kid.” And this kid’s–
John Lamerton – He’s having more fun than me.
Mark Ormrod – And I’m like, so this is my point, people say, disabled people, well, it’s all right for you, and there’s not opportunities. You don’t have to go work for Morrison’s from 9 to 5, in a wheelchair, you do whatever you want. Whatever you’re passionate about, if it’s collecting Pokemon cards, or playing with Play-Doh, or talking about baseball caps, you can monetize it from a mobile phone. And everyone’s got one, because I was driving down The Barbican the other day about nine o’clock at night, and I went past, you know, when you go to the main drag, and there used to be a club on the right called Lavish?
John Lamerton – Yeah I know that one.
Mark Ormrod – There were two people and I was assuming they were homeless people, sat there with sleeping bags with a smartphone watching a film. Watching a film on a smartphone and laughing. And I’m like, okay, cool, everyone’s got a smartphone nowadays. Right, well get on the Internet and everyone can start a business, get the information you need, do what they need to do.
John Lamerton – Yeah. Is the barrier to entry gone? If you go back to the likes of Simon Weston.
Mark Ormrod – Right.
John Lamerton – Well, he had to actually work hard. He had to write the book first, and then write to a publisher and say I’d like you to publish this book, rather than I just upload it to Amazon and it’s done.
Mark Ormrod – Right.
John Lamerton – He had to go out and get an agent, and get a PR, and also he had the big news coverage, but he didn’t sit there feeling sorry for himself, going woe is me.
Mark Ormrod – No, he cracked on.
John Lamerton – I mean he’s got this lovely saying, I found it the other day: “If you’re looking for sympathy, “it’s in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.”
Mark Ormrod – Yeah I know I’ve heard that before. And 30 years later he’s still mega successful.
John Lamerton – Yeah, he’s still doing public speaking, and he’s made that career of that.
Mark Ormrod – He did it the hard way, like you say. He had to knock on the doors to get on the BBC and the mainstream media because social media didn’t exist. And he did it. Nowadays I could go on, when we finish here, go on a livestream to 28 thousand people on my Facebook. You know?
So we’ve got everything’s there, and you know, kit and equipment. Right now, I’ve got 90,000 pounds of prosthetic legs on. I could not get in your house here in a wheelchair. No way. You’ve got four steps to get in here, and it’s upside down and there’s stairs everywhere.
John Lamerton – I’d have left you on the patio in the rain which would not be good.
Mark Ormrod – But you know, I mean that barrier is gone, and I understand not everyone gets these prosthetics, but there’s something out there that can improve your level of independence and take you closer to being where you want to be, whatever it is you want to do. So I hand on heart genuinely think we’re very lucky now, the disabled, that there’s all this stuff available.
John Lamerton – So the opportunity is there, a lot more than they were even ten years ago, but certainly 20 years ago. Social media has just opened up, and as you say, just about everyone’s an influencer now, about something.
Jason Brockman – But whatever brand you are as a company, if you’ll find someone who is absolutely evangelical about that brand and has got the ear of other fans and all they want is to reach their people. So this podcast, Mark, is called “The Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast” what does an ambitious lifestyle business look like for you? I know I’ve seen you work full-time as well as your own businesses, but what does that ambitious lifestyle business look like for you?
Mark Ormrod – You mean kind of where am I headed with everything? So I just rewind, we talked about the Tony Robbins seminar, the first one I went to was probably nine years ago.
John Lamerton – Was that Unleash the Power?
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, up in London. And I really got into that. And I went through all of his programmes. And this is probably a story for another time, but it was bizarre, I went to, and I knew what they were doing, I’ve studied NLP, up to master practitioner and coach level.
John Lamerton – Everyone agree, say aye!
Mark Ormrod – But yeah, you know when he’s building you up and getting you in the mood to go sell yourself, and I knew what was happening, but I really enjoyed myself. So I went to the back of the room to sign up for the next level. And then I told someone about it, and by the way, the ticket I got to UPW was free from a speaking engagement I mentioned his name and someone went, oh, we’ll get you a ticket.
So that was free, then I went back and I think I paid six and a half grand to go on this course, and I told someone about it, guess what? He gave me the money back. A company paid for me to go. So I go out there, I’m in Spain, doing the Life & Wealth Mastery, they get me on stage to tell my story.
I go out to the toilet, come back, everyone in the room has put 10, $20 in a thing to go on to the next one. So I go to Business Mastery in London. I’m at Business Mastery, I’m having a pee, and this black bloke stands beside me, he’s about seven foot, and you know how you can feel someone willy watching? So I’m peeing, like let’s get out of here, this guy’s massive. And I come out of the toilet, and this guy grabs me, and he’s like, I’m an American veteran, and he was a Platinum Partner. And that’s $60,000 a year to a Platinum Partner in Tony Robbins.
And we start talking, and he then goes, without me knowing to the Platinum Partners and then they pay for me to go to the next thing. So I do all these, like 50 grand’s worth of personal development that I’ve not paid for, except for flights and accommodations, paid nothing for. And everything that I learned along that way, I’ve actually implemented, so things like the way my family finances are run, investments, all making things, systemizing things. Compounding.
John Lamerton – Pretty good routine machine, there aren’t you?
Mark Ormrod – Pretty much, yeah.
Mark Ormrod – That’s why I love books like this so much, and now I implemented it all. And invested and this, that, and the other. So for the future that I’m just carrying on down that road investing in things, property, businesses, and diversifying all of that, so that I can get complete financial freedom, and then really carrying on just doing what I’m doing. I just love doing that. I’ve got so many plates I’m spinning right now, that’s taking me where I want to go, but I don’t think, I mean, I don’t need to work.
But I don’t think I’ll ever stop, because I enjoy it. I love doing it and it’s the challenge. I’ve had three meetings this morning about bits and pieces. And sometimes I sit there and I’m like, oh, that’s going to be a lot of work, I don’t really need to do it, but then I’m like, but I want to get my teeth stuck in. I want to.
Jason Brockman – As long as you enjoy it still.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah!
John Lamerton – And you know the difference you make in people’s lives as well.
Mark Ormrod – And that’s the thing as well! It’s not about money. It’s not, oh, I’ve got to do this and then all I’m gonna do is treat everyone like crap and work on the bottom, it’s I want to do this because I enjoy it, and there’s so many people that are getting helped. And then you get the nice email, and a nice tweet, and you’re sitting there and you’re like, this is really cool. I’m helping people, making a difference to their life, and earning a living to support my family from doing it, you know?
Jason Brockman – Yeah.
Mark Ormrod – That’s the magic formula for me.
John Lamerton – And you’ve done that by implementing, like we said, with the Tony Robbins step of going through all the courses. It would have been very easy, particularly as you say, people were covering the fees for you, to go, I’ve done that course, what’s next? Cool, what’s up. But you’re actually going, I’ve done that course, and now I’m going to actually implement the lessons. I talked about it in the book, about the frog and the chicken. Yeah, read that book. Read that book, read that book. What’s next?
Mark Ormrod – I met so many people like this. They’re like, oh, I’ve read that book.
Jason Brockman – What did you do?
John Lamerton – What did you do as a result of reading it? Ah, yeah, I didn’t really get around to that. So I’m reading the next book. And some people, that is the difference, I think between the successful business owners and the less successful, is just they’re implementers. They take the time to identify what needs to happen. Not just go in 100 miles an hour in any direction.
They take the time to learn it, they take the time to do these courses, to get mentors, to get coached, but then they don’t just go, well, I’ve got a coach. It’s like you training for Invictus. You know, I’ve got a coach.
Mark Ormrod – That’s all that I need.
John Lamerton – He’s telling me what to do. That’s all they’re for. He’s giving me a diet plan, so that’s it. I don’t need to follow the diet plan, I don’t need to actually eat the food, I’ve got the diet plan on a bit of paper here, that’s fine, that’s all I need to do.
Mark Ormrod – Yep. When I read your book, the other week, I was taking notes as I was reading. I was getting up first thing in the morning, sitting out on the balcony, with a coffee reading it, ’cause what I do is, I made the mistake in the beginning of trying to do everything I was reading in books, but then I was like, well that’s not even relevant to me, and I overloaded myself.
And I thought, well that’s useful for me and where I’m going. And I was taking notes in my phone as I was reading and now the whole thing is I add that to my routine if I don’t like to really call him to do this, but what I need to achieve, but add those notes in strategically and then take action. I geek out on it. I’m dumb. I’m a complete nerd with it all.
Jason Brockman – So specifically, what have you taken from John’s book that you’ve implemented? If you’ve taken anything yet?
Mark Ormrod – I’ll show you guys the notes later, but it just kind of reaffirmed for me the importance of routine, and the thing, I think there was a couple of times you’ve said now, what I took away was the whole patience aspect of it, of all right, you may not see results now, by changing that mocha choca tall latte with 16 shots of caramel for a black coffee, when you’re trying to lose weight, but in a year, just making that tiny little change will.
But that’s in respect of diets, but as for your finances, well, do I need an 80 pound phone bill? No, I’ve got a 50 pound one now, well, it’s only 30 pound a month, well after a year that’s what, 3, 400 quid. So that’s the thing for me, making those small changes. And that’s actually what I do Sunday night, I do the whole family finance thing every quarter, Sunday night is my time for that.
And I go back, do I need this? Do I need that? That’s too much. Chip that back. Are my savings on track? Ba-ba-ba, am I getting the best return? Geeking out again on that stuff. And it just–
John Lamerton – It’s very easy to sit and look at the phone and say, ugh, it’s only 20 quid a month,
Mark Ormrod – I know.
John Lamerton – And I’ve got to pick up a phone and actually speak to someone to get that changed. But that’s 240 pounds a year, for 10 years, actually chuck that Internet in there somewhere, and add like 10% compounding to all that, oh wait a minute, that’s four grand. Four grand for a phone call. Go on then.
Mark Ormrod – I know, and that’s just one example. But it’s like with, I’m not a PT trainer or anything, but for some reason people message me all the time about this stuff, and I say look, I won’t go into the science about why your body holds onto fat, but when you do these crash diets, and you lose loads of weight quickly, your brain’s like, oh my god, he’s starving himself, we need to use fat for fuel!
And then as soon as you eat normally again, it goes, blech, back on, because your body wants more fat, because it panics.
John Lamerton – Yeah, I’ve used up all my stores, so I need to stock up again.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, but if you make these little changes, like I say, all right, I mean you talked about the beer drinking stuff. All right, I’ll hit that on the head. It doesn’t make a difference today, or next week, but in a year’s time, financially, physically, mentally, you’ve made a massive, and that’s one thing!
John Lamerton – Financially.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, it’s one thing. People don’t have the patience to find anything out
John Lamerton – Yeah, ’cause the hard thing, is you have to have the pain of giving up the booze now, but you don’t get the benefit until several months later. And same with cigarettes. You get the beauty of actually being able to air in your lungs, and the financial benefits, and all the increased blood flow and all of that six months down the line, but you’ve got nicotine withdrawal now.
Mark Ormrod – I call it short term pain for long term gain. People said to me for a long time, when you lose your legs or a limb, you get a thing called phantom pain, or a phantom sensation, where you can feel the limb.
John Lamerton – That’s where you were scratching that itch with fingers?
Mark Ormrod – Kind of. You imagine, like for my feet for example, it’s like a lightning bolt hitting you in the toe, but you can’t relieve it because you can’t reach, there’s nothing you can grab and scratch. Or you’ve got the sensation of the limb still being there.
John Lamerton – Okay.
Mark Ormrod – So early on in recovery, the guys in America said to me, you ought to desensitise your legs. You take your prosthetics off, go start on a mattress then stand up and put weight on your femurs. Then go to a pillow, then go to a rug, then to a carpet, then to a tile floor. It took about six months. And the first time I did it, tears were coming down my eyes, just ’cause of the pain.
But I was like, short term pain, long term gain. I ditched the medication, I was on about 24 pills a day. Ditched them, this was 16 months post injury, ditched all that, six months later, no pain, no sensation, rest of my life, happy days.
John Lamerton – You built up your calluses.
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, short term pain, long term gain. And it’s the same with lots of things.
John Lamerton – If we have a problem with the staff, we need to have a different conversation or something. Do you want that short term pain, of “I’m gonna have a difficult conversation”, or “I’m gonna let that person go”, or “I’m gonna ask that girl out”, or “I’m gonna do something that’s really tough”? Or do you want the long term pain of being on your own in your bedroom for the rest of your life?
Mark Ormrod – Yeah, I agree.
John Lamerton – So this episode is going to be coming out in October. Your book, “Man Up,” is not going to be coming out long after that then?
Mark Ormrod – I’m hoping. I’m hoping November.
John Lamerton – Okay. Where can people go to find out more about that?
Mark Ormrod – Nowhere right now. But they will, social media. I’m on there every day, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, not so much YouTube, for a few vlogs every now and then. But Instagram or Twitter are the main ones. I’ll be tweet-agram-booking about it nonstop when it gets to the time.
John Lamerton – So basically, when it’s out, everybody will know anyway.
Mark Ormrod – Yep, they will. They will.
John Lamerton – And obviously they’ll still hear you on Jocko’s podcast, then as well?
Mark Ormrod – I hope so. And everyone else’s podcast I can get on. And mine.
Jason Brockman – Yours.
John Lamerton – Definitely, good. Obviously, you’ve got your own podcast as well. Is it just Mark Ormrod Podcast?
Mark Ormrod – It’s called the “No Limits Podcast.” I’ve been really slacking it the last two months ’cause of work. And I’ve just started one at work for the Royal Marines charity to do every Monday. But I’m gonna pick it back up now.
John Lamerton – I think, do you only ever record episodes in your car? Because it seems.
Mark Ormrod – It’s the only place I can get any peace. I just find a little quiet corner of a car park somewhere, just record my thoughts into there and upload it.
Jason Brockman – Brilliant.
John Lamerton – Any closing thoughts you want to leave us with, Mark, anything for the listeners?
Mark Ormrod – I don’t know, I mean I think I’ve covered most of it in the chat, just, what you were saying, if you’re thinking about something, the only way to make it happen is to take action. And we are lucky in the day and age we live in that you can do literally anything you want. These YouTubers make ridiculous money talking about Play-Doh.
If you’re passionate about something, whether it’s stamp collecting, or X-Men comics or whatever, and you think, oh, I’d love to make vlogs about that, just do it! But again, what we said just now, it takes patience for the success to come. Some people are mega lucky and they’re in the right place at the right time, and they nail it. Then most of us, it takes a good five ten years to see the results. But just go do it.
John Lamerton – We’re on episode 57 of this podcast now. Most podcasts average six.
Mark Ormrod – Okay.
John Lamerton – Because that’s when they rank and they’re going, ugh, it’s actually hard work. And there’s no one listening.
Jason Brockman – And they don’t see a return. They don’t see their return on the investment, they’re like, oh, I’ve got three hours out of my day, and I got planning, and you know. But some people can make–
Mark Ormrod – Short term pain for long term gain.
John Lamerton – Yep, that’s it. That’s it.
Jason Brockman – Thank you so much for joining us.
Mark Ormrod – It was a pleasure guys.
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