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  • Hello, my name is Magnus Walker and I was born in 1967, in Sheffield, England.

  • I left school at 15 and I came to America at the age of 19.

  • Well, eight weeks ago I didn’t know what a TED talk was,

  • and to be honest, I don’t know why I’m here today.

  • But I do appreciate the opportunity to be with you guys

  • and share my story, my journey, my hopes and my dreams.

  • And I, having left school at 15, you know, for me I didn’t really have any future.

  • Well, I came to America 28 years ago

  • and that represented the land for opportunity for me.

  • And in those past 28 years I’ve been able to build 3 things,

  • a successful clothing company,

  • a film location business,

  • and also a restored raced driven and collected quite a lot of classic Porches.

  • A Porsche is a passion for me

  • and I’ll talk about that in detail in a little bit.

  • But all 3 of those things share one common bond,

  • I had no education in them and I didn’t really think I would end up in that particular field.

  • I didn’t really know where I was going.

  • But all three of those things have a common thread, a common bond.

  • And that common bond for me really is freedom.

  • Freedom to do whatever I wanted to do

  • and dream sort of to be able to,

  • I suppose, uh, live my life to the fullest and do whatever I wanted to do.

  • So, coming out to America really was a journey, and I’ll start my journey in 1977.

  • 1977 in England was sort of a special year.

  • We had this, uh, punk rock thing going on

  • and we also had this Royal Jubilee thing going on.

  • But for me, it was the start of a very memorable moment.

  • My father took me to the London Earls Court Motor Show in 1977.

  • And back then I fell in love with this car, it was a white Martini Porsche.

  • Now, any kid growing up anywhere in the world in the late 70s early 80s,

  • chances are you probably had a choice of 3 cars on your wall:

  • Porsche Turbo, Ferrari Boxer, or Lamborghini Countach.

  • For some reason I chose Porsche,

  • I even wrote a letter to Porsche when I was 10 years old.

  • And essentially said to them, hey, I want to design for Porsche,

  • And they wrote back to me and said, well call us when youre a little bit older,

  • which I thought was pretty funny and they sent me a sales brochure

  • and 35 years later they’d end up writing me a letter back,

  • but I’ll get to that story a little later on.

  • So I’m this young kid growing up in Sheffield.

  • Sheffield was a grim northern steel town as shown by this picture right here.

  • You know, there wasn’t necessarily many Porsches on the road,

  • So I filed that dream away, I had the poster on the wall,

  • and I was watching Motorsports as a kid also in 1977.

  • England had the James Hunt, he was a Formula 1 world champion.

  • And we also had Barry Sheene, he was a two wheel motor GP champion back then.

  • So even though I didn’t grow up with any sort of fancy cars,

  • my father was a salesman, I grew up in a working class background.

  • I did have this dream early on, and somehow this dream involved Porsche.

  • I also, back then, was a pretty competitive middle distance cross-country runner,

  • sort of a solo sport guy, and I used to love getting out there and running.

  • I became quite competitive. I joined this club called the Ellen Show Harriers.

  • They had this guy called Sebastian Coe set quite a few world records,

  • and ran at the ’80 and ’84 world Olympic games

  • and he was sort of inspirational to me.

  • Around that same time, I also fell in love with something called heavy metal music.

  • Now growing up in Sheffield there are a lot of rock bands you know, may it being a sort of slightly depressed grim, northern city,

  • but there was a lot of music and a lot of fun.

  • So, fell in love with Porsche, doing some middle distance cross country running,

  • fell in love with heavy metal music,

  • and I decided at the end of the 5th year I would leave school.

  • I left school in 1982, basically with 2 O-Levels and no real future.

  • By that time, I’d also figured out I could go drink in a pub.

  • So for some reason that was great for going to clubs and having fun,

  • but wasn’t so good for a middle-distance cross-country runner athlete.

  • So that sort of faded away,

  • but there was the little thing that stuck with me was the passion and sort of the drive

  • and I think till this day, those memorable moments from earlier on are still with me.

  • I’m still running around, I’m still chasing around, I’m still running after my goal.

  • So, I bummed around on the dole for a little bit,

  • doing our jobs and stuff like that.

  • And, uh, I started to hear this comment quite a lotcut your hair and get a real job.

  • Well I was on the dole working construction, living at home, no car, taking the bus places.

  • And for a year or two, that was okay.

  • By the time I turned 17 I decided okay,

  • I’m not gonna cut my hair, but maybe I should think about getting a job.

  • So I actually took a year longer in leisure and recreation study course sports management at a college.

  • And I heard about this thing calledCamp America”. Well what was Camp America? I didn’t know,

  • But apparently Camp America sent kids to work at a summer camp in the United States of America.

  • Growing up as a kid, of course, I watched a lot of American TV.

  • Most of the shows I loved centred around action and carsStarsky and Hutch, Dukes of Hazzard, CHiPs.

  • So I had this American dream and it involved Evel Knievel .

  • And long story short I took a leap of faith and I applied to Camp America.

  • It was a little bit of a strange feeling, and I had these strange feelings in the past,

  • and somehow when my gut tells me to do something it generally is a good thing.

  • Go on your gut feeling.

  • So by pure luck I suppose I was accepted into Camp America, got on a,

  • a flight to New York, took a Trailways bus from New York,

  • that’s the bus I took, to Detroit. Now Detroit was great, it was somewhat similar to Sheffield,

  • former industrial city, also happened to the sort of, automotive hub of the United States.

  • But I wasn’t in Detroit, I was

  • 30 minutes north on a summer camp working with, in a city,

  • underprivileged kids, that happened to be from Detroit.

  • Now that was a big culture shock for me.

  • Cuz you know, I’m this heavy metal guy from Sheffield, north of England,

  • I’m sort of in the middle of nowhere,

  • I had to adapt pretty quickly.

  • So I adapted pretty quickly on this summer camp

  • and when that camp was over, I got back onto that Trailsway Bus,

  • and took that bus out west.

  • I landed in Los Angeles, 1986, Union Station, 4am in the Morning.

  • You know, I’d watch all those TV shows but I found myself being awakened on a park bench at 6am in the morning

  • by a LAPD guy who told me you can’t sleep here.

  • And I was sort of a little bit disappointed, I’ve seen all these shows in and around LA but where are all the beautiful people?

  • Where are all the rock stars and movie stars?

  • That wasn’t happening in downtown LA.

  • But quickly I found my way to Hollywood and uh, over the next couple of years,

  • you know, I sort of did a few odd jobs,

  • but there was one pivotal moment that happened within 3 days of being in Los Angeles.

  • Found myself at this YMCA hotel right off Hollywood Boulevard.

  • I went shopping on Hollywood Boulevard and I saw these great PVC Alligator Print pants are on sale for $9.99.

  • So I bought myself a pair but didn’t really fit good.

  • So went back to the youth hostel, bought a sewing kit and sewed them inside out,

  • and decide I’m going to go to the street that everyone was talking about called Melrose.

  • So I ended up going down there to Melrose and walked into this shop that was called Retail Slut.

  • It was a punk rock shop and there was a guy working there that was in a band called Faster Pussycat.

  • His name was Taimie.

  • Pivotal part to a story here.

  • Taimie says to me,

  • he realized I was from England, struck up a conversation,

  • and saidwhere did you get those pants from?”

  • I said, “Hey,you know, I got them from England.”

  • I had to think quick on my feet.

  • I said, “Why? Do you want to buy them,” just sort of jokingly

  • and he said, “Sure. Yeah, how much are they?”

  • So this point I hadn’t thought about selling these pants but I said first number that came to mind, 25 bucks.

  • He said, “Okay. I’ll take eight piece.”

  • So I ran right up to Hollywood Boulevard, bought eight pairs of pants,

  • went back down and sold them to him $15 profit per pant.

  • I realized in that one hour transaction, I’d made more straight away, literally within being in LA for three days,

  • than I made in a whole week working construction in England.

  • So I thought, oh, maybe LA is a place for me, seems pretty easy.

  • They speak English, a lot of rock and roll.

  • It was Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue.

  • It was a great time over the next few years.

  • Fast-forward to 1989.

  • I’m selling second-hand clothing on the Boardwalk in Venice,

  • going to Yard sales, buying old Levi’s, cowboy boots, Western shirts.

  • I am in the clothing industry now.

  • Venice Beach back then was a major tourist attraction, lot of European people coming through.

  • And little by little this grew into a business, which became known as Serious Clothing

  • and we ended up outfitting everyone from Alice Cooper to Madonna and everyone in between.

  • We started wholesaling a small chain called Hot Topic.

  • Back then Hot Topic had five stores and would grow to over 500 stores.

  • So we sort of went from making a little amount of clothing to making thousands of pieces of clothing.

  • Well, in 1994, we realized being in Venice wasn’t so easy for a clothing company.

  • We moved downtown and rented a loft in a warehouse for the next six years.

  • Serious Clothing then started doing a lot of music videos

  • and also a lot of outfits for magazines and stylists who call in all the time.

  • Serious Clothing had its own unique style.

  • We took fabrics that were not necessarily garment fabrics for use in car seat fabrics and made them into jackets and things like that.

  • Non-conventional materials thinking outside the box and basically doing what we like to wear.

  • Well, by 2000, we realized we paid two people’s mortgages and we needed, hey, let’s buy our own building.

  • So we ended up finding this building.

  • Oh, that was me back then, forgot that little picture.

  • So that was me pre-beard, that’s sort of circa 1994.

  • Serious was one of the top 10 clothing companies to watch.

  • So anyway, 2000, my wife Karen found this building in the Arts District.

  • People said, “Youre crazy. No one wants to be there former desolate industrial area.”

  • Well, long story short.

  • We took another leap of faith. It felt good in our gut feeling.

  • Why were paying two people’s mortgages when we could own our own building?

  • So we bought that building.

  • About a year later, right after 9/11 in 2001,

  • there was an article in the LA Times about lofter interpretation.

  • We got a phone call, would we be interested in renting the building for a music video.

  • Bang! Before you know it, were in the film location business.

  • Well, hey, weve been filming since 2001, over 100 days a year

  • doing things from low budget still shoots to big budget movies

  • and over a dozen reality shows like America’s Next Top Model.

  • So we met a lot of interesting people but we didn’t plan to build a film location.

  • We were building our dream, live, work house,

  • where we lived upstairs and operated our clothing company out of downstairs.

  • So we’d accidentally fallen into another somewhat lucrative business.

  • This is LA. It’s movie town.

  • Weve met quite a lot of interesting people.

  • They always say, “How did you get here?”

  • Well, we tell them, “We followed our gut feeling.”

  • So remember that little story, I was a ten-year-old when I fell in love with Porsche.

  • So fell in love with Porsche as a ten-year-old,

  • I didn’t buy my first Porsche till 1992.

  • Serious Clothing had become quite successful from ‘92 to 2000.

  • I was racing around and getting quite a lot of speeding tickets.

  • 2001, I took my aggressive street driving to the track and joined the Porsche Owners Club.

  • I went through their program, learned how to do club racing, instructing

  • and for the next five years, was doing 50 track days a year.

  • Turn around to probably 2008, 2009, I spent a lot of money raising an decided, okay, my next passion:

  • I love these cars.

  • Why don’t I try to restore a few of them?

  • Well, I didn’t’ have no mechanical background but I had passion.

  • I often talk about passion goes a long, long way.

  • You know, if youve got the will and the desire and put the motivation and a focus, things tend to happen.

  • Also a little bit of luck and a leap of faith really help out as well.

  • But I asked a lot of questions and I started restoring a couple of cars.

  • So I got a little bit of interest in European car magazines and I started this blog online.

  • Well, there is a thread on the Porsche forum called Pelican parts.

  • And I called my blog Porsche Collection Out Of Control Hobby.

  • And I was sort of like a catch-all of what I was doing.

  • And so this was sort of going to become a pivotal point where it was like something I really really enjoyed to do.

  • And I’d start restoring these cars.

  • Well, about two years ago, a pivotal moment in our life happened again.

  • Weve seen sort of about these every 10 years,

  • these pivotal moments that seem to happen by accident, or theyre just naturally evolving.

  • We never had this five, ten year planned business model.

  • Always go back to: follow your gut; do want you love to do.

  • So I haven’t been in the film industry.

  • Weve got quite a lot of people interested in making little TV shows and stuff like that

  • but we weren’t quite ready for the exposure or the compatibility wasn’t’ quite right or it just didn’t click.

  • So I got a call from this Canadian called Tamir Moscovici.

  • Well, he’d seen a couple of articles and he was a film director, also a Porsche guy.

  • And he was looking for something edgy for his reel.

  • He was sort of sick of doing Bud Light commercials and figured,

  • hey, maybe there’s more of the Magnusstory that meets the eye.

  • So we had a couple of conversations and Tamir ended up flying down to LA,

  • little over two years ago on his frequent flyer miles, a complete leap of faith.

  • His original idea was to make a short YouTube documentary.

  • Well, our goal was what’s the worst it could happen here,

  • were going to drive around, race around to my favorite Porsches for four days,

  • maybe get some good footage out of it.

  • Well, what turned out to be a 32-minute documentary was shot over four days.

  • So we shot I think in February of 2012 and we released a trailer in June of 2012.

  • That first day, we didn’t know what would happen with the trailer but somehow it got picked up by Top Gear within the first day.

  • It got over 50,000 views and all of a sudden, I’d just found this thing called Facebook.

  • I figured maybe I should get on that.

  • I didn’t really know much about it.

  • So anyway, I got on Facebook and this time I don’t even have an iPhone,

  • so I’m not really internet savvy but all of a sudden,

  • I keep getting all these friend requests from all these other places,

  • you know Spain and Indonesia, and I’m thinking what’s going on.

  • Well, this trailer for the three minute film Urban Outlaw that Top Gear picked up, it got blogged and rebloggeed and reblogged.

  • Well, this was pretty exciting.

  • So this was a leap of faith project everyone was sort of working on a shoestring budget,

  • Bro Down buddy favorite type of thing and they were doing this sort of on the side.