Play Podcast

"I worked for Lendlease, I was their first advertising agency in the '50s. I worked for AV Jennings in the '50s, AV Jennings and those were the first clients of mine. So I worked in real estate marketing and soap marketing and fashion marketing, mainly fashion and cosmetics. It's all the same rules, just a bit more flowery with cosmetics than it is say for a brick dunny."

Episode 30

On creating world class places, telling it like it is and remaining true blue

John Singleton (AM) | Founder | John Singleton Group

This episode features none other than Australia’s advertising guru of all time, John Singleton – aka – Singo. It was a surreal moment for me when I sat down with Singo in his office at Mount White for what was truly an unforgettable experience. Having been interested in both broadcasting and advertising from a very early age – the opportunity to spend quality time with Australia’s most successful adman, have a chat, lots of laughs and most importantly learn from his life experience was both invaluable and incredibly inspiring.

I was granted this opportunity via working on his most treasured residential project to date – one of the most beautiful boutique, waterfront projects I’ve ever had the good fortune to work on in my 30 year career which will be launching in early 2024.

In this wide ranging conversation we covered everything from growing up in Enfield to discovering & falling in love with the beautiful Central Coast, rugby league, long distance swimming, what it’s like to live on a horse stud, discovering what it takes to create world class places and property developments, hosting a TV show, watching & writing ads (and songs) and reminiscing about the legendary parties he used to host at his first agency SPASM in Darlinghurst – back in the day.

Please be sure to check out the show notes to see his amazing Macaw Bird Collection (which is more like a zoo) and the young racing foals on his previous 200 acre horse stud / home at Mount White by going to propertymarketingpodcast.com.au and viewing the show notes.

So – without any further rambling by myself – I hope you get as much out of this conversation with John Desmond Singleton – as I did…Enjoy.

gallery
Transcript

Anthony Denman:
Thank you very much for making the time. I want to start in Enfield, and the reason I want to start in Enfield is because I want to understand what it was like growing up in Enfield as a kid? I mean, you could have probably, what, swam in the Cooks River, right? Or…

John Singleton:
No.

Anthony Denman:
… You could have been…

John Singleton:
You couldn’t swim there.

Anthony Denman:
You couldn’t swim in the Cooks River?

John Singleton:
It was just polluted to buggery

Anthony Denman:
Even back in those days?

John Singleton:
Yes.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
You’d get little silver fish, I don’t know what they were, which you’d take home and put in your fish, they’d die overnight. I don’t know what they were. No, actually, I lived, just out of interest, I lived in Dulwich Hill, Croydon Park, Ashbury, Enfield.

Anthony Denman:
Right. All those inner west…

John Singleton:
They’re all the same. They’re different now.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. To what it is today.

John Singleton:
Well, shit, yeah. But I go and knock on the door every few years and ask if I can see the…

Anthony Denman:
You do?

John Singleton:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Do you really?

John Singleton:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And they let you in?

John Singleton:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Do they know who you are when you turn up?

John Singleton:
I introduce myself, I don’t know…

Anthony Denman:
Right.

John Singleton:
… Whether they knew before.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
I said, “Well, when I was a kid, I grew up here. I just wonder if I could just have a wander, don’t want to come inside. Oh, no, you come in.” I’ve always got a cup of tea and a welcome

Anthony Denman:
How cool is that?

John Singleton:
But Enfield was, the difference was, we lived up, we had a cemetery next door, that’s why we got the cheapest house.

Anthony Denman:
Yes.

John Singleton:
Mum hated that. The great thing was with no traffic, we played Rugby League forcings back Henley Park was in the bottom, but we preferred the road. Cockylora. I don’t remember the rules of Cockylora but that was my favourite. And we used to use the big wall at Hastings, which is still a produce store. And it was just terrific place to grow up.

Anthony Denman:
So how did you discover the Central Coast?

John Singleton:
Well, dad worked in a battery factory, very modern now, batteries, back then it was a battery factory, old fashion is that – was there 50 years. Someone who worked at dad’s place got left this massive estate at Killcare. Lachlan Murray was his name, Lachlan Murray Estate. He flogged it around his mates at work. So dad bought a block, 150 quid, 10 bob a week. And we had them in our dining room. It had a big cross on it, our block, Killcare Heights Lachlan Murray Estate.

Anthony Denman:
So do you remember how big the land was?

John Singleton:
Yeah. Still there. My sister still lives there.

Anthony Denman:
Was it acreage? Or…

John Singleton:
No, it’s just suburban, but overlooking the Heights. It was supposed to be all Crown land, but it wasn’t.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. So was it overlooking the ocean.

John Singleton:
Yeah. with Binnoculars. Yeah. So yeah. Yeah. You could see the ocean. You’ve got a mile. You’ve got to go down to the bay. We used to go for two weeks holiday there every year. Not there, but-

Anthony Denman:
How old were you then?

John Singleton:
Oh, from age I can remember, we always went to Killcare. If we couldn’t get the Herald, you couldn’t Airbnb, and you couldn’t book it again next year. Every year, you’d have to get the Herald, go through the classifieds, you’d find the houses. And then we had to get the bus, the train, get off at Woy Woy, get the ferry, and then dad and I would go and find the house. And then we’d take the cases, not that I was going to help, well, mum and my sisters minded the cases, we’d take them to the house, where mum would spend the day cleaning it no matter how clean it was.

Anthony Denman:
So the only way you could get in there was ferry.

John Singleton:
No

Anthony Denman:
Was there a road?

John Singleton:
No, you could drive. But you had to have a car, we didn’t have a car. Not many people did, by the way.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
The only mates I had with cars, their dads were taxi drivers.

Anthony Denman:
It would’ve taken a long time to drive up there.

John Singleton:
Horrible. Twice, I got driven up by rich uncles. Twice, I hated it, because you were sick the whole way.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
So slow. When uncle Les or uncle Des said we were going to drive, I said, no. It was so much…

Anthony Denman:
So the train and the ferry across.

John Singleton:
Well, we had to walk, we walked two miles to a bus stop, then you get a bus to Burwood, then you get the train to Strathfield, get off it, and go on the steam train.

Anthony Denman:
What an adventure.

John Singleton:
Yeah. And then you get off at Woy Woy and get the ferry to Killcare.

Anthony Denman:
What an adventure.

John Singleton:
It was, mate. Excitement in the house for two weeks.

Anthony Denman:
Is that when you first fell in love with the Central Coast.

John Singleton:
Yeah. I thought, one day, I’ll live here.

Anthony Denman:
When you were a kid?

John Singleton:
When I was a kid

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. On holidays, you thought, one day, you’d live here.

John Singleton:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right. And you certainly did.

John Singleton:
I did and do.

Anthony Denman:
That’s very different to how you get up here nowadays. I mean…

John Singleton:
That M1.

Anthony Denman:
That NorthConnex.

John Singleton:
Mate, I thought it was bullshit. It takes me 41 minutes to get from here to the office in Paddington. My PA for 36 years, she lives at Northbridge, she’s found it’s quicker to get here than Paddington and my city offices. My finance officer, David, moved to Avoca.

Anthony Denman:
I live at Macmasters.

John Singleton:
I’ve been looking at Macmasters, mate, but Jesus Christ. I would love to have a place, I’ve done this now, I’m fixing it, I can’t do anymore here, going to build that. But it is wonderful up here still, mate.

Anthony Denman:
I love it. I live on acreage. I can’t believe how lucky I am

John Singleton:
Do you know theTesorio’s?

Anthony Denman:
I probably do.

John Singleton:
You would have to, because Ronnie has the biggest land, Ronnie is, they’re all lawyers, they’re all Italians. They had this big block and they divided it into six. It would’ve been better, in hindsight, if kept the acreage. But anyway, doesn’t matter, mate. The best house up there, best view, where the water at Macmasters has, the advantage it has over everywhere else, is when you look out, the shades of blue from Killcare are all one, the same from a Avoca, when you come to Macmasters, from up high, you get a very light green, shallow, then you get blue, then a dark blue, then a real green. So you see about eight or nine ribbons of colour every day, not just on a sunny day, more brilliantly. But Macmasters is, to me, the best coloured water, it’s Mediterranean. It’s very…

Anthony Denman:
Well, we might have to edit all that out, because I don’t know if I really want anyone else to know about it.

John Singleton:
No, I’m just talking to you. It’s right though, isn’t it?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. It is. It is.

John Singleton:
The colours. And when I was a kid, mate, Copacabana was half the price, because everyone preferred Macmasters. And now Copacabana people have worked out, it is Macmasters. They’re about the same price.

Anthony Denman:
Well, now it’s North Macmasters.

John Singleton:
Is it?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

John Singleton:
Like Avoca

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. That’s right.

John Singleton:
Well, that’s, because Copacabana…

Anthony Denman:
Well, it’s…

John Singleton:
… is so crooked as a name.

Anthony Denman:
It really is. I think that was George Brand and his cohorts, I think.

John Singleton:
Well, who changed Putty to Killcare?

Anthony Denman:
I quite like Killcare.

John Singleton:
I love Killcare

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. As a name.

John Singleton:
And Tallow is not so hot.

Anthony Denman:
No.

John Singleton:
That’s my favorite beach.

Anthony Denman:
I love it. You could be, if you were blindfolded, and it ended up…

John Singleton:
Shh, don’t tell anyone.

Anthony Denman:
No. We’ll keep that one quiet too, shall we? So it’s a big joint, the Central Coast, we’re talking about the Southern end, you go Wagstaffe to Norah Head, where the lighthouse, and then Wyong, people say, where do you live? You say, well, Central Coast. Well…

John Singleton:
Well, it’s bigger than Newcastle.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

John Singleton:
Combined, goes for miles. Look at what Rugby League have done, they’ve treated us like such shit. Do you know what? I’ve got two pubs that, The Elanora and The Railway, for State of Origin, it’s always booked out. How many tables we had about four o’clock on Friday?

Anthony Denman:
On Friday. At either one of those places.

John Singleton:
One table at The Railway and none at The Elanora. Only one booked. What we’ve got to do, we’ve had to change to trivia night, away from Origin. Well, mate, you can’t afford to have one…

Anthony Denman:
You’re talking about Wednesday night.

John Singleton:
This Weds

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Oh, okay.

John Singleton:
No one is interested.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s the Tuesday, for those people who’ve don’t know, it’s the Tuesday before the third State of Origin match. Yeah.

John Singleton:
Yeah. That’s right. Because this doesn’t go to air for…

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

John Singleton:
Anyway, we’re not here to discuss Rugby Leauge

Anthony Denman:
No, no, no, this is all really interesting to me. So it’s a big joint. The question I was going to ask you is, what is your favourite part of the Central Coast? Is the question.

John Singleton:
Killcare before the surf club. It’s the most horrible monstrosity of a building.

Anthony Denman:
That house you had down there, I was talking about it with missus the other night…

John Singleton:
Mate, I should have left

Anthony Denman:
Why did you sell that joint? I mean, that was the best house, like right on the…

John Singleton:
Yeah. But then they made me get rid of it because it was going to be Heritage.

Anthony Denman:
Right. Okay.

John Singleton:
And it was all fibro

Anthony Denman:
Right.

John Singleton:
Decided to get rid of it quick. They’re going to not let me remove it because it was fibro. Make it Heritage because it’s been there for, the original beach cottage.

Anthony Denman:
Right.

John Singleton:
And then I’m halfway through it and they start this fucking awful, so next thing, I’m next to a concrete jungle office block. The surf club. No, it’s not a surf club.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, the surf club. Okay.

John Singleton:
The surf club ruined it.

Anthony Denman:
Right. Okay.

John Singleton:
So then I had to…

Anthony Denman:
Because when you were going up there, obviously in the early, there wouldn’t have been hardly any built form whatsoever

John Singleton:
No. And I was going to build a new surf club, I laid the concrete for it, just a simple building where we have everything underneath and upstairs. My dad was a patron, I was a patron, and four generations were club champions.

Anthony Denman:
So you’re in the surf club, were you?

John Singleton:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
I swam in the first and last Palm Beach-Killcare race. Yep.

Anthony Denman:
What, from Killi to…

John Singleton:
From Palmy to Killcare.

Anthony Denman:
From Palmy to Kill, geez, that’s a swim and a half. Past Lion island?

John Singleton:
Just take your time, like walking.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
So…

Anthony Denman:
How long is that?

John Singleton:
About 10 miles.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Wow.

John Singleton:
10 kilometers. 10 miles.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. What time of the year?

John Singleton:
I don’t know, I forget.

Anthony Denman:
Fuckin cold

John Singleton:
There was a photograph of me and a mate, but someone’s knocked it off, probably my mate, except he’s dead. Had the first. But when we opened the surf club, I wanted to redo that swim, we just did it. Now you have to have permission from the long distance swimming or something. You’ve got to have one surf ski per swimmer, you’ve got to have one jet ski per two swimmers, you’ve got to have fitness and medical things.

Anthony Denman:
That’s ridiculous.

John Singleton:
Fucking fair dinkum

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah.

John Singleton:
Sounds like a full-time job. I mean, if you drown, you drown. Shark eats you, shark eats you.

Anthony Denman:
Unlucky.

John Singleton:
You can’t swim, you shouldn’t be in it.

Anthony Denman:
At least you’d be in the news. I mean, what are the chances of getting eaten by a shark, seriously?

John Singleton:
Oh, mate, chances are pretty reasonable, but negligible. Well, not like driving a car between here and Gosford or Sydney.

Anthony Denman:
Exactly.

John Singleton:
I went up to Haggerstone Island, 400 miles north of Cairns. The most beautiful fishing spot in the world. And there’s two Kelpies, and we went out fishing with the Kelpies. And there’s sharks everywhere. Most of them are reef sharks. If they’ve got a tip, they’re reef sharks. If they haven’t, you’re in trouble, they’re bull sharks and tiger sharks. But these things were unbelievable. Because a couple of people on the boat were being told, there’s no sharks, and those waters, they’re too shallow. Bullshit. There was 18-inch shark attack in Bondi this year, Maitland Bay was 9 inches, so I knew it was all bullshit. But then we have the kelpies there, and these people were just snorkeling around floating. And next thing the Kelpies, the sharks arrived, they dived in and chased the sharks away.

Anthony Denman:
No way. Stop it. No way.

John Singleton:
I’ve got it here. I can show it to you.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
I’ll show it to you after we finish. And they climb up the stairs, get back on the boat.

Anthony Denman:
No way. It’s nuts. So they don’t just herd cows and sheep, they herd sharks.

John Singleton:
They’re shark dogs. Instead of sheep dogs, they’re shark dogs.

Anthony Denman:
What a classic. I’ve got a couple of, I don’t know if you know the Italian Maremma Sheepdogs, the big white things. And they’re great guardian dogs. I never would’ve thought though that they could be…

John Singleton:
I’ve never heard of such things

Anthony Denman:
No. I’ll have to…

John Singleton:
I’ve always been brought up, dogs are supposed to attract sharks because their odour is more this and that.

Anthony Denman:
So…

John Singleton:
But true.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Well, I’m going to see it with my eyes.

John Singleton:
Yeah. I think they’re going to say, yeah, and you’ll also see there’s a mother and daughter, they just had a litter, I was going to get the last one, of course, what a dog. And I thought, no, better off to live here.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Yes. Not many sharks on Strawberry..

John Singleton:
No, my dogs are happy here, they’ve got couple of hundred acres.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. Was there ever a time in your life that you could have imagined that you would actually live on like 150 acres like a horse stud

John Singleton:
200. 200.

Anthony Denman:
200 acres. Did you ever have a sense that could ever happen in your life?

John Singleton:
No, no, no, no, no. Dad and I always dreamed of having a horse that would win a race, which we did at Tamworth.

Anthony Denman:
You’ve had a few of them. Yeah.

John Singleton:
No, not at that stage. When dad was here, we had one good horse, Veloso, who won the Sydney Cup, was favourite for Melbourne Cup, came fifth. And dad and I used to race greyhounds and pigeons.

Anthony Denman:
Pigeons.

John Singleton:
Pigeons.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
And Enfield, Goulburn, was the bike riding and pigeon racing capitals. Why? I don’t know. I don’t know the history of it and I was only a little kid, but I know we used to take the birds and then let them go and get a handicap. From Goulburn, they had to fly back to Enfield. So that people would at Croydon Park and they would get a handicap. Mate, beyond me, I’m a little kid. Sometimes you’d win, but you have to, and there’s no telephone, so you have to, the results would get phoned to a guy down the road, who also raced pigeons, we came third, we came fourth, we won a car. And then we raced greyhound dogs, and then we raced trotters. I’m driving in the $2,000,000 race in October.

Anthony Denman:
Sorry, say that again.

John Singleton:
There’s a $2,000,000 trot race and I’m driving.

Anthony Denman:
Are you really?

John Singleton:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Wow. You’ve obviously done it before. So you used to ride the trotters, did you?

John Singleton:
No, drive. I only had my first lesson about a month ago.

Anthony Denman:
No way. Did you learn to do that on your property? Or is that…

John Singleton:
No, I had to go to Bathurst.

Anthony Denman:
Right. Yeah. Okay. And what’s it like living amongst a horse stud? Living on a horse farm?

John Singleton:
Up here? It’s beautiful.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. On a horse…

John Singleton:
Because you can’t hear anything. All I can hear is the birds, because I’ve got the biggest collection of macaws in the world. They fly free. They fly anywhere you want. They go out in the morning and they come home. I tell people, quarter past 4:00, and they actually believe me. They come home about an hour before sunset.

Anthony Denman:
That’s amazing.

John Singleton:
And I’ve only had one missing or stolen. Unfortunately, it was bright yellow. I was one breed off getting the first canary macaws in the world.

Anthony Denman:
Got stolen? It must have like left.

John Singleton:
Well, no, stolen or killed or…

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Just didn’t come back.

John Singleton:
And it was a very nervy one, so very hard to catch. Some of them were friendly anyway, you could just catch them like that. They’d bite you.

Anthony Denman:
I’m really interested in that, connection with animals and birds and dogs and all that sort of stuff, and horses and what have you.

John Singleton:
We should have done, say the most beautiful picture you can take, I’ve only taken it with these things, is of a morning, when they come out, there’s only that much gate, when they come out. So if you are filming here, just set your camera up, they all fly, it’s like CinemaScope, IMAX, they all fly up and around your camera. If it works…

Anthony Denman:
Amazing.

John Singleton:
… Here, it would work a lot better than that.

Anthony Denman:
Amazing. How many are they?

John Singleton:
A couple of hundred.

Anthony Denman:
So how do you know they all come back?

John Singleton:
Count them in every day.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
And I have a bird woman, her full-time job, she knows them all by name

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
I don’t.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
I have one tame one who used to live with me until recently, 30 years it lived with me. She just had a baby and she turned on me.

Anthony Denman:
30 years, had a baby, turned on you, nuts. Do you reckon the love of that, and the excitement of seeing those birds come home, that’s somehow linked back to the thrill and the excitement of seeing the pigeons coming back?

John Singleton:
Yeah. Yeah. Because realising how smart pigeons are, and they are, they’re smarter than butcherbirds, crows, magpies.

Anthony Denman:
Magpies are really smart.

John Singleton:
Galahs

Anthony Denman:
Cockatoos.

John Singleton:
Yes. Well, up here, mate, there’s a plague Well, I did try with white cocky’s they’ll go and get their mates to come home and get free piss at Singo’s. But they did…

Anthony Denman:
They’re loud.

John Singleton:
It worked the other way. And they did more damage than, macaws did negligible damage.

Anthony Denman:
Right.

John Singleton:
Any of the neighbours who complain, I always fix it anyway.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
And most of the people, because it’s just a little bit of nibble, like they’re not wreckers, so most people think, look, it’s a small price. It cost me $50 for repairs last year, I’ve got to have the birds.

Anthony Denman:
50 bucks.

John Singleton:
Or whatever.

Anthony Denman:
What did they do? Nibble someone’s eaves

John Singleton:
I’m quoting someone here at the coffee shop, who said, “Mate, those birds of yours, they’re beautiful.” I said, “I hope they don’t cause you…” He said, “Well, it cost me 50 bucks last year on repairs and I think it’s worth it to have…”

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Totally.

John Singleton:
I tell everyone my Maccaws. There’s only been one bloke who’s a pain in the ass about it. There’s always one.

Anthony Denman:
You’re always going to have one

John Singleton:
Just fix his complaint and go away.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Nothing we can do about it. We live on acreage and we still get complaints on the dogs every now and then. What about that Bluetongue stadium that, geez, I love that stadium. I mean, it’s like, oh, it’s not Bluetongue anymore, is it?

John Singleton:
No, no, thanks very much. 20 years I wasted money on that.

Anthony Denman:
I love that stadium. I used to go to the SFS a lot, just the first time I went there, it’s almost like being on holiday, it’s like a mini SFS, you know what I mean? It’s got the same vibe.

John Singleton:
It’s beautiful.

Anthony Denman:
But you just don’t have the hustle and the bustle and the, it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as a normal stadium

John Singleton:
No, I think it was just a wonderful stadium. But I did put $50 million bank cash on the table and the stadium and we got beat by the Gold Coast.

Anthony Denman:
I know.

John Singleton:
Had no money and no fucking really coach who had a full team. Look at all the guys from the Central Coast now, like Latrell Mitchell, Nicho

Anthony Denman:
That Sandon Smith. You’ve seen that Sandon Smith, that Kincumber Colt, that young bloke for the Roosters, he’s a sharp player.

John Singleton:
No, I go and watch the local league and union around here. We put a Rugby Union team in the national comp, we shit in they abandoned the comp, and then didn’t invite us back. Really? We won the premiership.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, no. It beggars belief.

John Singleton:
Fuck me.

Anthony Denman:
It beggars belief, it really does. What’s been the most significant change that you’ve seen on the central coast since you’ve been coming up here?

John Singleton:
We got the NorthConnex a miracle. I bet, like you, as a resident here too, well, none of us believed it would be as good as it was. I’ll never do anything here, so I didn’t took no notice. There’s not even a sign now, comes from Sydney, so you can miss it easily.

Anthony Denman:
I know. It’s insane.

John Singleton:
But that, in M1, that takes us, my office in Sydney is in Paddington, I live here at Mount White, it’s 41 minutes Google Time, that’s plus traffic, but really it’s about 40 minutes from here to the city. My PA has been with me almost 40 years, she lived at Northbridge, she comes to the office here at Mount White, because it’s quicker than Paddington. My finance guy, he liked it here so much, he moved to Avoca. So now through that M1, this precinct of the Hornsby, which is Hornsby Council, Mooney Mooney, Mount White, which is Central Coast Council, it’s really closing the gates to the city and the opening of the gates to the Central Coast.

Anthony Denman:
The only thing that sort of irks me a bit is, why it’s not connected to the M2 coming back to the city?

John Singleton:
What a waste

Anthony Denman:
The fact that you’ve got to stop at those lights and you’ve got to turn, if you’re going the other way.

John Singleton:
Small problem.

Anthony Denman:
It’s a small problem.

John Singleton:
When you think of those days, we’re talking about that curly old road.

Anthony Denman:
I know. Well, I used to come up to Avoca and…

John Singleton:
Four or five hours, you might remember?

Anthony Denman:
I do. We used to come up to Avoca as kids and…

John Singleton:
Avoca.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. I remember the same thing.

John Singleton:
We used to call it Lake Urine

Anthony Denman:
It still is.

John Singleton:
Is it?

Anthony Denman:
It’s still, well, they are. Yeah. All of those…

John Singleton:
Thing I’ve got against Avoca, I love Avoca, but in my day, I haven’t been there for many years, except friends’ places, but I haven’t stayed there. And the mosquitoes in summer, mate, they were shocking.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Really? Because of the Lake.

John Singleton:
Yeah. Not as bad as Wagstaffe and Hardys Bay.

Anthony Denman:
Or Killcare. I think it depends on the season though. This summer, or last summer just gone, we didn’t know, hardly any mozzies for some reason, because we get them too. What I am interested, and you’ve probably seen it, is Gosford’s CBD master plan, where they’ve got the over the water.

John Singleton:
It’s terrible.

Anthony Denman:
Do you think anything like that will actually ever happen?

John Singleton:
The only thing that was any good was Gosford Landing, was O’Farrell’s day, and that money was taken and given to Barangaroo. The Gosford landing was beautiful, sandstone, da da da. Now, we’ve got a park, I just walked past one kid playing in that Corroboree Park, I don’t know what, called Leagues Club Park, very, very…

Anthony Denman:
At least it’s open green space though. I think…

John Singleton:
It’s not open. Because you can’t have green space on roads either side, the kids can’t use balls, they can’t take dogs, what sort of park is that? Have you ever seen a kid in it?

Anthony Denman:
I have, but not many. And I park, there are a fair bit, and you’re right, it’s not very well utilized. Maybe on the weekend, it is, haven’t really…

John Singleton:
Try and make, no, it’s not.

Anthony Denman:
It’s not?

John Singleton:
Try and make it worse. How could you get something less attractive than a Corroboree Park where you can’t even see the sticks. You drive past, all you see is a bit of fencing to protect you from highways either side, all four sides of the park, you’re kidding.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. Right. What do you think about that idea though, of building over the water? Because in that nice little cove, it is beuatiful

John Singleton:
Well, yeah, but it’s got to be an international design award. You can’t sit around an office at Wyong and design a world-class Barangaroo. There’s no reason why we couldn’t be Barangaroo, but we need to start again, and you need to remove the stadium and move it. They need to move the pool and move it to the hinterland. Gosford , hasn’t got a dive pool, hasn’t got a warm down pool, hasn’t got a water polo ground, it’s just one lap pool, freezing cold, on the harbour. They could get more money for that and build in the hinterland, anywhere, there’s tens of thousands. We don’t want housing out there, but we do want, nice to have an aquatic center where our kids could learn to swim.

Anthony Denman:
Thanks for that. I just want to give everyone a bit of context, so I’ve been marketing property over 30 years, and I’ve worked on a lot of really beautiful projects, but the visuals that I’m seeing coming out of this project, aesthetically, I think, I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve got a vested interest, or what it is, but I really do feel as though it’s some of the most beautiful property being marketed off the plan that I’ve seen. It’s a smaller sort of boutique Mediterranean inspired residential project located right on the water. It’s the sort of thing, and the level of design intent that’s gone into it, and the amount of consideration that’s been given to it, would be akin to anything anywhere.

John Singleton:
Including Sydney Harbour.

Anthony Denman:
In Sydney Harbour. Yeah. So…

John Singleton:
Well, I used to live on Sydney Harbour many times. The fact that I’ve kept those hours old enough to work. But the effect of a design like that, you don’t see, most of the houses are so vulgar, they say, look, I can afford to build a house on Sydney Harbour, it’s Frank Lowy, it looks like Westfield Shopping Centre, if it’s Gerry Harvey, it look like Harvey Norman, he doesn’t, he lives in the bush. But there’s a lot of people saying, look how much money I’ve got to waste on a house, there’s not much taste there.

Anthony Denman:
Money doesn’t buy taste. So…

John Singleton:
No, no, no. I think Caroline Bay is the most beautiful we’ve ever done. That’ll be the best up here by quite a street.

Anthony Denman:
How did you find the site?

John Singleton:
It was for sale for some time. And we just looked around at all the sites that were for sale. Most of the land up here is owned by the council and it’s not for sale. 3,000 building blocks. Imagine if a deal you could do with a building company, or even a small one, to put houses on those 3,000 building blocks. It’s already DA approved.

Anthony Denman:
It’s not like we don’t need any more houses. You know what I mean?

John Singleton:
You don’t need rezoning, they’re there. Mate, that’s too obvious, you say, just rezone them all tomorrow, put a bid for AVJennings, whoever it is, whoever is the builders, and get them to, you build 3,000.

Anthony Denman:
Do you still believe that if you build world-class that you’ll attract world-class?

John Singleton:
Yeah. Well, we’ve proven that, I think. We started with Bells. Mate, everything said, Killcare won’t work, Bells did. Pretty Beach House, ridiculous, killed them. Come back here, The Elanora, I paid too much for it. Really? And now it’s the pub in New South Wales, be up there with the Oak Double Bay, Neutral Bay. I shouldn’t have built a pub without poker machines at Gosford, financially.

Anthony Denman:
You’re talking about The Railway.

John Singleton:
Steakhouse. The railway. But it’s done a job. It was the first high rise. And the council took three floors off me after I started building.

Anthony Denman:
After you started building. This is Bonythontower, right?

John Singleton:
Thinking I’d stop, but I didn’t.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, you didn’t?

John Singleton:
I thought I’ll just prove a point here. But I didn’t make any money, I mean, I made no money, but I proved the point I was going to go ahead.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Food and beverage, right?

John Singleton:
Because The Railway, you go, it’s the best, you can’t get a better steak in the city. Jack’s Creek, that’s the best there is, Wagyu, the best aged on grass. But everyone told me, no one would pay that sort of money in Gosford, it’s only a few bucks more, well, try and get in there, very hard.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. No, I’ve been there. I had the pork steak, or the pork filler, or something, delicious.

John Singleton:
Oh, lunch is all right, but try and get in peak hours at night.

Anthony Denman:
We’re jumping around a bit, but that’s okay, because I did want to talk about food and beverage as well. And I think Bells of Killcare, which is now Wild Flower.

John Singleton:
This has done okay.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. And I was going to say, and you’ve got Saddles, which is a restaurant really in the middle of nowhere in Mount White. And I’ve been here a few times now, and every time I’ve been here, it’s been packed out like…

John Singleton:
There’s 100 bookings, minimum booked, that’s called booked out, for the next three months.

Anthony Denman:
It’s insane.

John Singleton:
It doesn’t mean you can’t get, because you sit in one of those Saddles and wait 10 minutes, there’s always someone coming or going. And there’s plenty of tables outside to just sit around and have a coffee.

Anthony Denman:
So Saddles, when John says you can sit in one of those Saddles, what he means is that at the bar, if you like, overlooking the kitchen area, all the chairs are actually horse saddles. You actually sit…

John Singleton:
Made by Heath Harris. Handmade.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Which is a local artisan saddle maker here in the coast. And so the question is, did you create all of these great places to eat, so you could actually eat somewhere that’s worth eating it?

John Singleton:
I’m not interested in food.

Anthony Denman:
You’re not?

John Singleton:
Not particularly, no.

Anthony Denman:
No. Really?

John Singleton:
No.

Anthony Denman:
So why did you…

John Singleton:
I love good food, but…

Anthony Denman:
So why did you create these wonderful places for people to go and enjoy?

John Singleton:
Well, I think it’s nice to sit around, one of the best things to do, is sit around and have a meal with friends, have a couple of wines, or a couple of beers, or whatever you want, just talk nonsense or irrelevantly. There’s something about being out of your home and work, no one owns it though, we’re all equal, we’re all sitting around a table, I’m not in your place, you’re not in my place, we can be far more open with one another, no one’s got an advantage.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. It’s almost like that pub culture then, isn’t it?

John Singleton:
I think so. Yeah. Pubs are the same. Pubs, I mean, only reason I drink, I don’t drink much anymore at all, if at all. But not through any strength of character, it’s through medical necessity. But it does make a terrific difference. A great thing about Australian culture is that, if you and I don’t know one another, we can walk into a pub, if we belong to a club, we’ll know someone there. And that’s why these Bible-bashing people don’t get, I mean, poker machines and alcohol, they’ll try and ban them all, they’ve all been banned, they’ll all be banned again, service will come and go, but you’re not going to stop people congregating, whether it’s at Corroboree or a public bar.
It’s a way to get together with your friends and swap yarns and swap stories, exaggerate, share some love, share some tears. It’s sort of like, in my opinion, not being religious, it’s like a confessional. R U OK? Day, my favourite charity. The reason we have so much less mental problems than United States, for example, is we don’t have all the psychiatrists telling us we’ve got mental problems, we have less. So everyone, I mean, when they first discovered bipolar, I was chastised for saying, “I wish it was around in my day,” because I had a pretty checkered youth. But if I said, look, I’m sorry, I’m bipolar, everyone would have said, oh, look, he’s fighting it, any excuse will do.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Where were we? Oh, yeah. Your newest residential project, beautiful waterfront thing.

John Singleton:
That’s the best location we’ve ever had.

Anthony Denman:
Yes.

John Singleton:
Not necessarily large, but the most beautiful we’ve ever done. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
The best as good as anything you’ll find in Mosman, or wherever, Sydney Harbour. So the only thing I want talk about is, one thing that’s been very difficult for the off-the-plan marketing category, especially in Gosford, is there’s been a lot of promises made around projects going to be built.

John Singleton:
Going to, going to.

Anthony Denman:
And they just, yeah, never happened. And sometimes in the off-the-plan category, when they do happen, they don’t happen well enough, they don’t manage defects and make sure that the project is beautifully finished, and there’s no issues with it, and that it’s everything that the marketer’s said that it would be.

John Singleton:
Well, they’ve probably got a different criteria. Because I live here, I don’t want to walk down the road, and people say, hey, the guttering leaks or something. So if anyone’s got a problem, fix it, don’t tell me, just fix it.

Anthony Denman:
You don’t want to be at The Elanora Hotel having a beer and…

John Singleton:
No.

Anthony Denman:
… Someone tell you that their gutters are leaking.

John Singleton:
I want to hear people say, it’s terrific. That’s great, but problems I don’t want to hear so fix them.

Anthony Denman:
So just on Saddles, accommodation, restaurant, day spa, conference centre, piano bar. I mean, the Carlyle of New York.

John Singleton:
Yeah. In the middle of nowhere.

Anthony Denman:
Hey, the Carlyle of New York, Upper West Side, isn’t it? In Mount White.

John Singleton:
I know. Plus it’ll have a neon sign with John Stephens or John Paul Young. It’s going to look like, it’ll be an oasis.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. It really will be.

John Singleton:
If you and I were outside for this time, and it’s getting about 12:00 now, people deciding whether to have a beer or wine, hey Singo to stay here because we like to have a couple of drinks, I said, mate, sadly, you’ve got Terrigal two star joints on the way to Gosford. Good tradie joints, but they’re not romantic. Nothing wrong with it, mate, they’re perfectly good. But you’ve got to go to Terrrigal or Bells.

Anthony Denman:
Not romantic. Yeah.

John Singleton:
There’s nowhere at Brooklyn, nowhere at Mooney Mooney. Peat Island’s been up for expressions of interest…

Anthony Denman:
I know.

John Singleton:
… For 30 years.

Anthony Denman:
It has. Yeah.

John Singleton:
I’ve put my thing in six times, never heard back from it.

Anthony Denman:
You have. Okay. Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
No one responds.

Anthony Denman:
That’s an amazing site, that one.

John Singleton:
Yeah. It’s going to be resort and residential. It’ll be good or bad.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. My kids are going to Grammar now and there’s a..

John Singleton:
How do you find it?

Anthony Denman:
Unreal. Unbelievable. So good. Mate, I’m an older dad, my daughter’s only seven and she started going, but the community around it blows my mind. It’s like everyone looks out for each other, like all the parents are looking out for each other’s kids.

John Singleton:
Where do they mainly come from, if you had to pick out five suburbs? Are they all from Terrigal? Or…

Anthony Denman:
They’re all around, no.

John Singleton:
Like Terrigal…

Anthony Denman:
No, we went to a…

John Singleton:
Terrigal, Avoca, Macmasters, that’s all there is here.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. No, we went to a…

John Singleton:
The rest is Sydney.

Anthony Denman:
We went to a, they’re all over, they’re right up Chittaway Bay. We went to a bloke’s acreage at Tumbi…

John Singleton:
Yes. I love Tumbi.

Anthony Denman:
… Just on Saturday night. The bloke’s a, lunatic, he’s got the excavator out creating a bonfire, and the winds going, in the middle…

John Singleton:
Yeah. Good on him.

Anthony Denman:
… Of two o’clock in the morning. Mad.

John Singleton:
He’s pissed.

Anthony Denman:
But yeah. But just a great bunch of people, you know what I mean? And just everyone just sharing stories and looking after each other’s kids.

John Singleton:
When we do that here, when Mount White, we have a bird show, or someone will have a horse show, just some excuse, three or four times a year, we get together. And with one exception, there’s always one guy who wants to ruin the party.

Anthony Denman:
There’s always someone.

John Singleton:
There’s always someone. And we have our usual one here, but the rest of them, we all look after one another.

Anthony Denman:
Really down to earth. I think that’s a big difference between say a private school, the Central Coast Grammar and maybe Kincoppal, for example.

John Singleton:
They don’t breed up themselves as Cranbrook kids.

Anthony Denman:
The level of pretence. There’s no…

John Singleton:
There is?

Anthony Denman:
There’s none. There’s no pretence. I’ve come across any pretence whatsoever.

John Singleton:
Did you send them to public schools first?

Anthony Denman:
No. Ava went, no, from…

John Singleton:
Because you know Pretty Beach Public and Terrigal Public…

Anthony Denman:
Well, we would’ve…

John Singleton:
… They’re in the top 100.

Anthony Denman:
I know. And we were going to send her to Pretty Beach Public, but the reason we didn’t, we’re out of area. And there was no guarantee that my son, Lachlan, would be able to go there. And I don’t know if you’ve been to the…

John Singleton:
What’s the cost?

Anthony Denman:
I don’t know if you’ve been to the junior school out there at Central Coast Grammar, but it’s brand new, like it’s a brand new facility. It’s all open plan, it’s beautifully designed, fresh air, great teachers.

John Singleton:
What do they charge there?

Anthony Denman:
15 grand a year.

John Singleton:
Is that all?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

John Singleton:
That’s a lot.

Anthony Denman:
Well, junior school. Yeah.

John Singleton:
Yeah. But my son, grandsons, by divorce, has to send his kids to Scots.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. That’s double.

John Singleton:
45 grand a year.

Anthony Denman:
Year. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

John Singleton:
That’s not to live in…

Anthony Denman:
I think it gets to 23 or something for the high school

John Singleton:
That’s double Scots.

Anthony Denman:
Double. Yeah. Incredibly good value. And you know what, it’s on 17 hectares. 17 hectares. You can’t even see the built form from the road.

John Singleton:
Unlike our school.

Anthony Denman:
Beautiful trees. Yeah. Yeah. No, it’s just…

John Singleton:
Well, Pretty Beach, I put all that garden in, and next thing Julia Gillard come with that red scheme Remember that? It’s like tin sheds all over my garden. And at Pretty Beach, I used to swim in that pool. Because sometimes, in the days when education was a bit more flexible, maybe you could do it now, instead of going to Enfield Public, where I was going, if dad got a week off, there’s two weeks, two weeks here, two weeks here, so there’s a week crossover, so sometimes dad’s week would fall into school. So you get a note from the headmaster at Croydon Park or Enfield, and you give it to Pretty Beach, and you went to school there for a week.

Anthony Denman:
Right.

John Singleton:
It was just a courtesy thing.

Anthony Denman:
No way. It’s crazy.

John Singleton:
It was terrific. And we used to, you know that pool opposite, which is now just mud?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

John Singleton:
We used to go and

Anthony Denman:
I didn’t even know there was like a pool there.

John Singleton:
That was terrific. I used to swim laps at Killcare.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right.

John Singleton:
Yeah. By where the jetty is now.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right. You might like this. Is property development polite and nice? Or is it more akin to being a blood sport?

John Singleton:
It’s funny, I can’t, when people say you’re a developer, the only good thing is you can’t donate to political parties, right? Certainly has an odour to it.

Anthony Denman:
Tell me, do you remember these words? “Next time you go shopping, I ask that you at least stop and compare the quality and price of the Australian made product with its overseas competition. When you stop and compare, you’re helping a mate and you’re helping Australia.”

John Singleton:
Won’t that be fantastic? That’s how it finished. That’s the True Blue.

Anthony Denman:
Hey True Blue. So there you wrote those words, right?

John Singleton:
Yes. I had a TV show called True Blue.

Anthony Denman:
Did you really?

John Singleton:
Yeah. True Blue Aussies. And Alan Cat, myself, John Williamson, we sat down after a TV show and wrote True Blue, mom and dad, all the things that were True Blue. And then John Williamson took it away and made it. He did an album first, he did a song called True Blue, did an album, it sold about 100 copies. But when I had Australian Made for Bob Hawke and John Brown, for Australia, I resuscitated True Blue and made it a number one hit.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. No, it’s such a good piece of communication.

John Singleton:
It’s fantastic. It’s John’s greatest piece of work. And if I was known to have written most of the words, it was really a team thing, you couldn’t tell, what did John do? What did Alan Cat do? What did I do? I had True Blue Aussies, I wanted a True Blue song.

Anthony Denman:
Is that the best way to sell anything? And what I mean by that is, because those words, they’re very direct, there’s not a lot of fluff to them.

John Singleton:
A lot of them you got to take, “Are you standin’ by a mate when he’s in a fight?” Or she’s in a fight, these days. It’s pretty rough stuff as well. Because we’re saying, in Australia, “You tying it up with wire just to keep the show on the road.” Or we’re just trying to patchwork quilt it, or we’re trying to make ourselves important, I still wonder.

Anthony Denman:
Where did you get the courage to say it like it is and why is that so important, do you think? In marketing, communication, and life generally, I guess.

John Singleton:
Well, I had a long time working with politicians, with Barrie Unsworth, Joe Bjelke, Bob Askin, right through to…

Anthony Denman:
Neville Wran?

John Singleton:
No, didn’t work with Neville. He didn’t need any help

Anthony Denman:
No.

John Singleton:
Wran’s our Man. No, my partner did that. And I just learned from all of them, particularly Paul, the way to sell something is just get into it, don’t pussy your foot around, you’ve got to really get into it. And you’ve got to be determined, you’ve got to be straightforward. It’s got to be comprehensible when people are not paying attention. Politicians, when they start talking, they tend to send you to sleep.

Anthony Denman:
What’s the difference between property marketing and advertising and say selling some detergent?

John Singleton:
They’re all the same. You’ve got to find out what people want and tell them where they can get it. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s, because I worked for Lendlease, I was their first advertising agency in the 50s, worked for AVJennings in the 50s, so long, long, Sir Albert Jennings and the first clients of mine. So I worked in real estate marketing and soap marketing and fashion marketing, mainly fashion and cosmetics I started off in, it’s all the same rules. It’s just a bit more flowery with cosmetics than it is say for a brick dunny.

John Singleton:
We got several million across the road at Ravello.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. I mean, what a great…

John Singleton:
That looks nice, doesn’t it?

Anthony Denman:
Project. I mean, that…

John Singleton:
Did you know that they stopped us building? You know where the canal is and where there’s a shop called Fork and something, Fork and Knife? And the council stopped us extending it, because it had to go over the canal. And the canal, it’s never flooded.

Anthony Denman:
Right. Water tables.

John Singleton:
Have they ever been to Venice? I mean, we can’t build over a canal.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Water tables.

John Singleton:
With the same design, da da da.

Anthony Denman:
No, Andrew Dixon did such a great job with that project.

John Singleton:
He’s terrific.

Anthony Denman:
He is really good. Yeah. I’m going to hopefully get him to do something at my joint

John Singleton:
I’m a lot more confident with him now. Actually, I think I held him back before, I didn’t realize how good he was, I really didn’t. And was only when I’ve let him go, I think, wow, I’ve been constraining this bloke, him and Michelle.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Great team. That saddles thing, I mean, yeah.

John Singleton:
Well, that’ll be world-class.

Anthony Denman:
That’d be totally world-class.

John Singleton:
It’d be a world-class fiasco. Well, it could be the biggest error in real estate history, it could also be a win. That’s why it’s paying 100 to one.

Anthony Denman:
So you’ve been labelled, a new business weapon, I think is what I heard, a businessman, a writer, an adman, a racehorse breeder and owner. Out of all of those career moments, which one have you enjoyed the most?

John Singleton:
Coming in the top 20 in the bull ride. World title bull riding.

Anthony Denman:
Did you really?

John Singleton:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
It might be being a driver of a trotter.

John Singleton:
Trotter. Yeah. I’ll do anything once, anything once.

Anthony Denman:
No, really, is there one standout sort of thing that you…

John Singleton:
No. I’ve thought about it, no. The whole thing’s terrific.

Anthony Denman:
Do you still love the ads more so than the TV shows?

John Singleton:
No, the ads have got so bad now, that they’ve got all the top young talent coming through, must be going, I don’t know this. I’m told by people who are still in the business, they’re going to social media and internet, they’re not coming to advertisingWe used to have brilliant young people. Now you look at most ads, you can tell at the end of the meeting, they say, oh, someone better do the free-to-air TV or radio. There’s very little really, really good ads on TV now. When a campaign does stick out, i.e. Cadbury, for example, you just see that warmth and empathy between family and kids and chocolates. It’s just they stand out like, look at car ads, they’re all the same cars going around in circles, something clever. You can’t understand the bank ads, they’re all monkeys and everything going to house loans.

Anthony Denman:
There’s no emotion. There’s none of that True Blue, helping your mate, that sort of stuff, right?

John Singleton:
No. But some of the good stuff is going back, Tooheys have gone back to, how do you feel?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. I saw that. The Ra Ra game.

John Singleton:
Yeah. How do you feel? Plus racing. So Tooheys have come back. XXXX will come back. They’ve got to come back to advertising that people love, not these ads that Mate their non-events. You can sit there now and I reckon you and I could watch, I wouldn’t tell you we’re doing it, three of us could watch four hours of TV, afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday night, Monday night, at the end of it, we got to sit down and just remember the ads we’ve seen. You’re not allowed to know beforehand because we’re asking now. How much TV did you watch last night?

Anthony Denman:
Ah, that’s a good question.

John Singleton:
Couple hours?

Anthony Denman:
Couple hours of TV last night. I watched the finale of Succession, actually, last night. That’s a Foxtel thing, so they actually don’t have any ads.

John Singleton:
No ads on that. How much on pay TV?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Well, the last time…

John Singleton:
On ads TV?

Anthony Denman:
Last time I watched pay TV was when I was…

John Singleton:
Ads. Ads.

Anthony Denman:
… Watching the Origin. Yeah. No, I…

John Singleton:
And who were the advertisers in that?

Anthony Denman:
Fucking no idea, couldn’t tell you.

John Singleton:
There you go. It’s terrible.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Haven’t seen anything memorable.

John Singleton:
It’s terrible.

Anthony Denman:
Nothing like, Hey True Blue.

John Singleton:
No. That’s just Australian, made. We could do with that again.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Totally. I love that ad. So we’re almost done. I just want to know, did you really hire the model Belinda Green to drive around your competition in a Rolls-Royce and give them copies of your best ads when you were…

John Singleton:
Did I?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Well, allegedly.

John Singleton:
Belinda would know

Anthony Denman:
Drove around in Rolls-Royce, you handed out copies of your best ads to your competitive agencies. And I think…

John Singleton:
Sounds possible.

Anthony Denman:
This sounds like…

John Singleton:
Also sounds like something I’d make up. I don’t know, I really don’t know.

Anthony Denman:
Well, maybe you did it.

John Singleton:
I’ll give you Belinda’s number, you can ask her. Well, I know when I was trying to chat her up, I was on TV, and I had to have a barrel girl. Because TV, it was a night show, well before True Blue, every night. And there was no audio cues, nothing, they’d say, “Next interview is Bill Smith.” They got ads, they’d say, wrote the book, what book? And then you’d be stuck with this (beep) for eight minutes. I’ve already asked him everything I could possibly ask. I don’t know you, what do you do? You got to try and make it a bit interesting somehow or other.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, mate

John Singleton:
I hated TV. Being on radio was fantastic.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Well, that’s the thing, like I’ve got to say, just in terms of scaling a business, like I own a small creative shop for 30 years, most of the creative guys I know, they’re in business, and they’re pretty much small boutique businesses that stay that way. It’s very rare for anyone to be able to scale a small communications company to the heights you have.

John Singleton:
You do it twice. The third largest, the first time. And the first largest by a mile, the second time. There won’t be a third time, unfortunately. I missed the parties.

Anthony Denman:
What do you put that down to?

John Singleton:
Oh, mate, I was just driven, absolutely driven, I didn’t do anything except work, work, work. And if you worked with me, you would have a shock. It was 8:30 start, if you’re late three times, you’re out, involuntary contract, no drinking at all during the day, get a coach to your weakness.

Anthony Denman:
I’m gone.

John Singleton:
Well, we had an open bar at 5:30…

Anthony Denman:
I could probably wait till then

John Singleton:
… And a party every Friday night. We had a free lunch, proper lunch, not just tomato sandwich, we had a choice of things. And it was the place to be on a Friday night, the party at Spasm in Darlinghurst, later on in Paddington.

Anthony Denman:
I’ve heard.

John Singleton:
And the Origin teams were named there. Australian cricket teams were announced there. It was the bar to go. And I reckon most of the clients come because they wanted to come to the party, I do. Blokes like Jerry and Jack Cowan and Kerry Packar are lifetime friends, they preferred the Friday nights. I’d make their meetings at 5:00 Friday, Saturday. If they didn’t approve it by 5:30, they miss out on it. Miss out on the cold beer and hot chicks.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, mate, they’re saying, that question I asked you before, I think you’ve answered it for me, what was the best time of your career? Because that, to me, that’s…

John Singleton:
The party time.

Anthony Denman:
That sounds like it to me. Do you read at all?

John Singleton:
I was a prolific reader until I was 12, I stopped reading, I left school, it all happened from there.

Anthony Denman:
Well, John, mate, thank you.

John Singleton:
All right, mate.

Anthony Denman:
I appreciate that so much.

John Singleton:
All right, buddy.

Anthony Denman:
Beautiful. Thank you very much.

John Singleton:
Pleasure, mate.

Anthony Denman:
Thank You. I really appreciate that.

About Us

The Property Marketing Podcast is an original podcast hosted by Anthony Denman, co-founder of Our Agency. In each episode Anthony talks to Australia’s most experienced property professionals, exploring their personal & professional stories whilst unearthing insights on how to create the most successful property brands possible.

If you would like to get in touch with us please fill out the form below.