Exclusive interview with ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’ winner Martin Flood – Part 1

cap037I’m really excited today to be bringing you the first part of my interview with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire, Martin Flood. We chatted for ages, in a really wide ranging discussion which is studded with loads of useful tips, so sit back, relax, read and learn!                                    ————————————————

SH: Martin Flood, thank you so much for chatting with me today.

MF: It’s my pleasure!

SH: By way of background, what was your life like before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

MF: I was working in IT. It was banking and finance – incredibly boring – and I saw going on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire as a way out of my day job.

SH: Had you watched the show from its beginning?

MF: Millionaire first aired in April 1999 so I must have watched it until 2000. It was 2001 that I started studying for it, so for the 18 months, I watched it on and off. Never got to see Trevor Sauer’s famous half million episode, never saw William Laing’s half million dollar episode. I did see Paddy Spooner who was the first to win quarter of a million. I thought these people were geniuses. How could you know stuff like that? Towards the end of 2000, I got in my head that perhaps I could try for this. I went through a couple of stages; one was “if I got on, I might win a bit of money” then it was “if I really studied, I would probably answer a fair amount” and then I started to think “if I really went for this I could be one of the really good ones”. That’s where it all started, and so I rang a mate of mine and I said “are there any trivia nights? I need to go to some trivia nights”. And I went to the local RSL, and joining the trivia table, one of the ladies on the table said “are you going to be coming regularly?” And this was my first trivia night. I said ” I’m going to come here each week and I’m going to go on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and I’m going to win a million dollars”. I wasn’t saying it for her benefit, I was saying it for my own; to convince myself that this was what I was going to do.

SH: That’s interesting. Did you consciously learn self-talk techniques like that, or was that something that you’d always done, in terms of setting goals and motivating yourself to achieve them?

MF: Not always, but I did an Anthony Robbins seminar not long before then. That taught me a lot and I started reading books and listening to CDs by him and I realized that the only time before that I really set any goals and went for it was when I did my HSC*. I did a lot better than I have ever done anything else. I had that thought with Millionaire; that by the time I get to the hot seat, I had to have convinced myself that I am going to win the million dollars and then I would win it. Obviously I had to do all the work that would back all that up. Four years later – a year before I got in the Hot Seat (it took me a total of 5 years), I was convinced I was going to win it.

SH: After you were convinced, and had this strong mental attitude and this very,very focused goal, what steps did you take to prepare for going on the show?

MF: My first thought was I would start learning the Academy awards or Wimbledon winners. I still remember sitting at work (when I was supposed to be doing my work) looking at the list of all the Academy awards since 1927 and starting to learn them off by heart. I started doing lists. Rob Fulton (who was the first one to win Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, a month before me) was a really big list learner. It’s a really great way of learning a lot of stuff all at once – especially things like the Academy awards and Wimbledon winners – because they are the sort of things that get asked. I started on that and… I also remembered when I was at school, when I did well, I did a lot of past papers. My maths teacher always talked about how the person who does the most past papers before the HSC* will get the highest mark. And I was thinking “that’s what I’ve got to do”.

SH: Why did he think doing lots of past papers would help?

MF: You become familiar with the sort of questions that would get asked. Because if you go through them, you notice that some of them repeat. Of course I watch the show, and I used to write down questions, and then I started to videotape it and then I found that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in America had an online game. Australia had an online version as well – I typed up every single question – and the English one had online questions as well. I bought the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire book, which had a whole lot of questions. One of the questions in that book was one of the ‘get-on’ questions for me (which is when they ring you up and you do your auditions over the phone and they ask you 7 questions)… “Who designed the Guggenheim Art Museum in New York?”

SH: Is it Frank Lloyd Wright?

MF: You’re a genius, you should go on a quiz show! That was one of the answers in the book and that was one of the questions on the phone.

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And we’ll leave it there for today. By now you’re probably getting the idea that Martin wasn’t exactly an ‘overnight success’. His appearance on the show was just the tip of the iceberg of years of preparation. The interview continues next week, when we discuss the multiple choice answer options in ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’, their relative values, and how one certain aspect of human nature brings contestants undone, time after time….

See you then.

* HSC – Higher School Certificate. The qualification awarded on leaving secondary school. The score you get on the HSC determines the tertiary courses you can apply for.