by Dr. Iain
Astbury is one of the directors of Pattaya Properties, a company which is
involved in property development and sales in Pattaya, but not time-share,
he was quick to point out. He is a man who has a very successful record in
real estate, but he is also a man who has experienced the depths of
despair. A despair so deep the average person would not have been able to
crawl out of it, but Rob Astbury has used those lows to not only develop
himself, but to be of benefit to others.
Rob is an Australian, born in a small country town in
the state of Victoria. The youngest of five boys, he was a typical Aussie
schoolboy in many ways, mad about football (Aussie Rules) and developed
into an athletic champion. This was not because Rob was a natural athlete,
in fact in his initial athletic foray he had come last and been the butt
of schoolboy jokes, but because he then trained harder than anyone else,
he succeeded. Even at that stage in his life he had discovered the
principle of cause and effect. “I didn’t think I was as good as the
others so I worked harder at it and prepared myself.”
He loved music and used to listen to the DJ’s on
radio. Following secondary school, he enrolled in Radio School in
Melbourne and after 8 months got his first job in a country radio station
as an announcer. From there, it was the round of radio stations, working
his way steadily up the ladder.
His next career development was accidental. While doing
traffic reports from a helicopter they were forced to make an emergency
landing, which they did on Australian TV Channel 10’s helipad. He was
met by an old friend who said the TV station was looking for a sports
newsreader. In one accidental meeting he joined the glittering world of
He stayed with Channel 10 for five years, becoming the
number 1 sports presenter in Australia at that time. He was then offered
the largest contract for a sporting media personality in the history of
Australia to join Channel 9. He accepted and worked there for another five
His next significant life movement was again
accidental. While covering a sporting event in Western Australia he was
injured in a traffic accident when a car being pursued by the police
rammed the stationary taxi he was in. He suffered severe neck and back
injuries, requiring prescription analgesics very regularly. This in turn
led to a dependence on them, which was then followed by drug abuse. His
career and his health hit a very low ebb.
There was a very expensive and very public court case
over the accident. His problem with drugs became common knowledge and he
became unemployable by the media. The results of his claim should have
been enough to tide him over, but his solicitors were dismayed when the
final judgement was not in Rob’s favour. Suddenly, the former media star
was left holding a bill for $3 million for legal expenses. A fire sale of
everything that he had gained in the super-star years was necessary, and
when everything was sold he still owed $300,000 to his solicitors.
His family, other than his mother, disowned him. Nobody
would give him a job. He actively contemplated suicide; however, his
mother who had stood beside him, was a woman with tenacity, grit, faith
and a very good woman. Rob thought, how could he let this woman down? He
decided to plug on.
I asked him how did he feel about his rejection by some
of the members of his own family. Did he harbour resentment? His answer
was an immediate, “No animosity. People are people.”
He moved to another part of Australia, put the glamour
days behind him and began work in a real estate office. The knowledge that
hard work could help him overcome obstacles was to be his saviour. He beat
the drug addiction on his own and became a public campaigner to motivate
others who were experiencing this problem, and he also rose to become one
of the top ten salesmen in the 560 office company within two years.
But that was not enough for Rob Astbury. The boy who
won athletic championships was now the man who kept working harder than
anyone else to become Marketer of the Year and finally Salesman of the
Year. He paid off all his debts. He was his own man again.
Around this time he made acquaintance with an old
school friend who was running an advertising agency in Bangkok and Rob
visited the Kingdom. “I was blown away by Bangkok. I made Thai friends.
I began to see more of the country.” Then three years ago he was given
accommodation in Pattaya and on his first morning downtown went into the
offices of Pattaya Properties. He was offered the position of
international financial property consultant. “I though about it for
about ten seconds, and took it!”
Rob’s definition of success is: “Where you reach a
standard or a point where you don’t think you can do any better.” For
a man who has won many awards, this is probably very true for Rob Astbury.
He now feels that he is no longer under pressure, as he
was in Australia, and can relax and enjoy some other interests and
hobbies. He has a house and garden he enjoys. He has a long term plan to
try and do something constructive about the road toll in this country, and
has become an active worker for the less fortunate through the Pattaya Gay
Festival and support for the Heartt 2000 charity.
His advice to the youth was a simple, “Follow your
heart. Don’t ask too many questions of people. Just do it. There are too
many devil’s advocates out there trying to stop you.”
Rob Astbury is certainly someone who has followed that advice.