Former Armidillos Kamahl Barhoush and his new bride Liz Dunn have had a whirlwind few months with relocating to Melbourne, an appearance on Channel Nine’s newest game show Million Dollar Drop and a wedding. Here’s their story.
How did the two of you meet?
K: We met in Armidale in 2002, when Liz lived there for 6 months. We maintained a friendship over the years until 2007, when we met up again and our relationship moved to the next level.
L: When we first met, we never thought for a moment that we would end up in a relationship.
Describe your marriage proposal …
K: One of our favourite activities to do together is running – particularly along St Kilda beach promenade. One trip to Melbourne, we headed down to St Kilda for a morning run, and I had a beautiful diamond ring (made by Richard Andrews) tied into the laces on my shoes. It was a very nervous run along the sand. On a grassy path just in front of the marina, I asked Liz if she would like to go for runs on the beach with me for the rest of our life. She replied, “Yeah, sounds good” and continued stretching.
My reply:”Ah … I’m not sure you quite understand the question.” And when she turned around, I was on one knee, ring in hand. The look on her face was priceless – and it is needless to say the run ended right there!
L: Kamahl completely caught me off guard with the marriage proposal! I was very moved that it was such a personal, intimate moment – given that he’s someone who likes to sky write his feelings. It was a very special day.
What prompted your move to Melbourne?
K: We moved to Melbourne in November 2010 for 2 reasons. Firstly, Liz has all of her family down here, and they are all very close. Also, my training as a Life Coach and Business / Executive Coach was taking place in Melbourne, and we saw the move as a great opportunity to start our new business in a high population base.
The objective of our business (The Executive Success Institute & PTBusinessEDGE) is to create a business model that can operate from anywhere, taking just 2-3 days per week to manage.
Melbourne has already proven to be a great place to set up such an enterprise and although we miss our Armidale friends dearly and look forward to the day we return, we are loving the opportunity to be around family, old friends and a wonderful cultural centre.
What was the selection process that got you on to Million Dollar Drop?
K: Liz’s stepmother works at the Metro Fire Brigade and received an email as a casting call for the show; they were looking for couples from every cross section of the community.
She forwarded the casting call to our email and I immediately set up an application form, that I attached to the back of our website www.3shockingtruths.com. We had the call up the next day and spent the next few weeks attending 4 call backs, auditions and, once accepted, went in to the Channel 9 studios to be a part of the promotional team for still shots and film shoots for ads.
L: In the auditions they are looking for people who can keep their composure on camera and can work together as a team. We were in front of a camera from our first audition and received some direction about how to talk to each other and how to move the money in a short space of time.
How did you feel when $600,000 dropped on the first question?
K: It wasn’t as bad as it seemed. We went in with a clear strategy and knew that the chances were a couple of easy questions that we would breeze through and a couple of really tough ones to thin out the money. It just happened that we had the hard ones first. The other factor that helped, was that we agreed there was no money to ‘lose’, only an amount of money left over that would be pure winnings.
L: I looked at the remaining $400,000 and thought, “That’s a lot of money!”, so was able to look ahead quite easily. When we dropped another $220,000 on the third question, I thought our game was over. We had watched a couple of other games being filmed and had decided we were going to approach each question individually and hope for the best.
Did you splash some of your winnings on your wedding, and how was the big day?
K: The wedding was already planned and prepared; it was at the Waterfront Station Pier Seafood Restaurant. The function room upstairs has a 180 degree water view and overlooks the berth of the Spirit of Tasmania. The day was unbelievably great fun, a welcome catch up with family and friends and a party night that was well reflected in the bar tab!
Our entry into the room was led by a Lebanese drummer and all 180 guests joined in for a rhythmic dance for about half an hour, which really set the tone for the night.
The wedding cake was also a reflection of our lifestyle, as we had asked Corporate Cakes in Melbourne to make us a cake with a replica his and hers running shoe on top. I had no idea how amazing and true to life the shoes would look, down to the finest detail – the Asics rep would be proud!
L: As Kamahl said, the wedding was already planned – and you only see game show winnings once the show goes to air, so at that time there was no guarantee we would ever see the money! It did really take the pressure off, though. While we’re building the business and after moving interstate, there were a lot of ‘outgoings’, so knowing that we had a windfall was a relief in the lead up to the day.
The day was better than I could ever have expected! We had one of the only sunny days in Melbourne this summer! It was a very, very special day; we spent the evening dancing and laughing.
Are you still planning to take Liz’s family overseas, and why?
K: We are planning to make the trip to Lebanon a regular event; we have much loved family there, and it is often hard for them to visit Australia. The next trip will be in March 2013. In March in Lebanon, you can snowboard the alps and 30 minutes later be swimming in a sun-kissed Mediterranean – it truly is a wonderful and somewhat surreal experience.
Liz was, of course, welcomed with open arms, and my young cousins ask after her now more than me!
How has this recent publicity helped towards starting your new business?
K: The publicity from the show has helped lift our profile quite a bit. The website (www.3shockingtruths.com) with the free book that I wrote on facts and myths of ‘Corporate Diet’ was given a plug by Eddie (McGuire), and as I write this, there are 277 people signed on from right across Australia. This, along with the other national and international attention that the site has been getting, is very quickly turning the site into a hub for people who are fed up with the empty promises of a $53 billion industry that have a vested interest in people staying overweight!
Our other business, The Executive Success Institute, is also moving along at a very rapid rate. We have run a business seminar series for the fitness industry, with a 2-day training in April that has exceeded expectations already. We have signed corporate clients for 1-on-1 business coaching and have been asked to consult and deliver business training to Personal Trainers in a nationally based Personal Trainer college.
Finally, tips on how to get selected for TV game shows?
K: It is all about standing out from the crowd. I was in a game show a few years ago, where the application had to be mailed in. With 10,000+ applicants, an A4 letter quickly gets lost among the piles, so I sent in my application letter, attached to a large toy, mailed to them in a large post box.
For the Million Dollar Drop, the application was via email, and again, there were thousands of one page written applications. I sent the casting company an email with a link to my website, and on it there was a page that was written like a comic book with loud background music and plenty of photos. They called us the next day, and the casting process began.
There is an aspect of this that I teach to my business clients with their direct response marketing … if you want to be noticed, send a ‘lumpy mail’ package. ‘Lumpy mail’ gets put on top of the pile (as you can’t stack anything on it), is opened first and is memorable.
The last direct response campaign I ran was a tennis ball, with my business card, sent to gyms in a post pack. On the ball was written, “Are you playing on the court in your business, or watching from the sideline?” This led to a 65% response rate (as opposed to an average 2%-3% for mail outs).
Thank you Kamahl and Liz.