California-based Kiwi Craig Cooper was once struck by lightening on a New South Wales golf course. It was, by the accounts of the witnesses present at the club house, a spectacular strike and one which left Craig, at the time a lawyer, and his golfing pal, knocked out stone cold on the grass. In his latest capacity as a writer and wellness guru, it would be easy for Craig to embellish this fine anecdote as a life-defining moment and the point at which he decided to do things differently. But he nobly shrugs it off. The reason he’s begun a campaign to promote men’s health is, he says, partly a selfish one having battled various sicknesses as a child and later learning that he has a genetic predisposition to developing prostate cancer and type II diabetes. “I wanted to find out the best tools for me to thrive forward in everything mentally, physically, sexually and emotionally,” says the 52-year-old. “All the things that drive masculinity as well as peak performance as we age.”
Auckland-born Craig moved to Australia in the late 70s aged just 15. An avid surfer, he immersed himself in the culture of the Gold Coast. “It was great fun, but there was also a lot of aggro with the surf violence – especially against Kiwis,” he says. “It was pretty full-on. Everyone thinks that all surfers are cool with this aloha vibe, but it just doesn’t exist. It’s so territorial, so competitive.” At 21, he secured his high school certificates before graduating from Sydney University with degrees in law and economics. Moving to California, Craig then co-founded a mobile phone company and honed his wealth of entrepreneurial skills, investing in a raft of digital giants such the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. “When I first arrived from Australia, I thought it would just be for a couple of years,” he says. “But I fell in love with it. It’s such a rich lifestyle and the market is huge. If you have a successful business model, then you can succeed on a massive scale.”
Craig’s lengthy bio reveals a list of wide and ranging career paths such as working with Tony Robbins, founding one of China’s largest mobile phone retailers and co-founding Boost Mobile, venture capitalist, directorship at various web firms and serving as a Movember international ambassador. He’s a busy guy. “Making other men healthy is making me sick,” he laughs. “I need to start taking more of my own advice!”
That advice can be found in Craig’s new book, Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, External Strength and a Kick-Ass Life After 40. His mission is to make mid-life something to be embraced and excited about. A time of opportunity. “There is just so much misinformation out there,” says Craig. “I wanted to clear up the facts for guys of my age who, in general don’t research or discuss health as thoroughly as women. And we’re not 20 any more – the things that matter to us as 40-somethings are much different than when we were younger.” Communication is key to men’s mental well being too. Craig talks of the alarming suicide and depression rates of men over the age of 50 in the US, Australia and New Zealand: “We lack the true social network that we once had. We’re living in the most connected time in history, yet this generation of males is the most disconnected.”
Craig is also concerned that, for many of those who are ‘connected’, the digital domain is having a detrimental effect. “Social media is very significant,” he says. “Everyone just sees the highlight reels and thinks that others are leading perfect lives and then thinks that their own life isn’t working – which just adds to the anxiety. Financial pressures further compound this.”
Are older guys also struggling to keep up with today’s pace?
“They feel as though they are being left out of the conversation. There is so much focus on youth nowadays. All of the entrepreneurs and all of the tech stars such as Mark Zuckerburg are very young and that’s a big problem. What many don’t realise is that here in the US for instance, most businesses are being started by men of my age – 50 plus. I think we’re certainly made to feel as though we’re not as relevant as we were in previous decades. It is harder to be a man now because of all the pressures. Not that I’m saying it’s easy to be a woman.”
Finally, it’s vital people remember that just because someone appears healthy on the outside, it doesn’t mean that they are within, and health and fitness should not be confused: “I want to re-frame the clichéd notion of mid-life. Everyone over 40 has the opportunity to do, and be, better. It’s not just about achieving a certain physical look and weight. We need to focus on what counts and find the tools and techniques to develop the skills to do the things that you always wanted to do. There’s no need to expect to become an expert at everything. But we must take those steps to become passionate about what truly matters.”
Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces
Verve has two copies of Craig’s book to give away.