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How a steak sandwich changed my life forever

How a steak sandwich changed my life forever ---------- Campbell Butterss, Founder & Director of Inside Out, tells us the story that inspired him to follow a path of helping ot...

How a steak sandwich changed my life forever

How a steak sandwich changed my life forever


Campbell Butterss, Founder & Director of Inside Out, tells us the story that inspired him to follow a path of helping others to break free, and live a life they love.


My whole life I’d been desperate to know what my life’s purpose was. At 26, I took a step that was to bring me closer to that purpose. I got sober. This was something I desperately needed to do after growing up in an alcoholic home, which led to my own struggles with the bottle. All I can remember from my childhood is I just really wanted to fit in and feel like I belonged. Playing sport helped me do this to a degree, and luckily I was pretty good at it and managed to play at a pretty high level at both Australian Rules Football and cricket.

But the sense of belonging with my sport was sporadic at best and once the game was over I went back to feeling out of place… Square peg in a round hole, so to speak. That all changed the first night I got drunk. It was my Dad’s 40th birthday and I was 15 years old. The stars aligned that night. I now knew why Mum and Dad did it so much. For the first time in my life the world made sense and I became instantly charming and confident. I also had my first proper ‘schoolboy’ encounter with a girl. Alcohol was to become the answer to ALL my problems… Well, so I thought. For the next 10 years all I wanted to do was chase that feeling that alcohol and later on drugs gave me. Nothing else was really important, all my focus on my sport, school, family and friendships started to wane as I became more and more obsessed with the effect alcohol had on me. There was one problem, though. Alcohol wasn’t working in the same way it once had, and it brought me to my knees very quickly. I remember watching all my friends move forward in their lives with good jobs, relationships and, most importantly, a purpose.

I had got to a stage where I was living in my Dad’s study after a 12-month soul-searching backpacking mission, where all I did was get drunk and go from city to city and hostel to hostel. I went to Israel and didn’t even make it down to the Dead Sea. Now I was delivering beds for Captain Snooze three days a week and would often crash the truck due to my complete unmanageable state and, what was worse, I didn’t care. I was running out of hope.

My rock bottom came in April 2010 when, after promising myself I wasn’t going to drink that weekend, I found myself at a party that would normally have been my ‘pet event’ – 200 people, great music, pretty girls and all my mates – and I had had a skinful, but I felt like a shell of a person. I was dead emotionally and spiritually. I was sitting next to my best mate at the party wishing something would change. He turned to me and said, “Mate, are you OK?”. For the first time in my life I got honest and I said, “No, no I’m not, I have to go home”.

I got up and walked out the door, not really knowing where I was going. I went to get in my car (as I was planning not to drink) and drive home. As I opened my door a taxi rocked up… I got in that taxi and haven’t had a drink or drug since.

Almost four years later I’d made many improvements in my life, but I still found myself yearning for something bigger. On the outside, things had improved a lot. I was now functioning in society, earning money, paying bills, not getting speeding fines and even making my bed from time to time. As a result my self-esteem was improving, but the best really was yet to come.

It was just another Friday afternoon and my mate Jon and I thought it would be a nice idea to grab a steak sandwich. As I tucked into the sandwich, I asked Jon a question. No answer. Moments passed as I gazed back at Jon. I saw a sight I never want to see again – my mate was going purple and a dribble of vomit trickled down his face. Realising that Jon was choking, I handed him a glass of water. A piece of steak was so firmly lodged in his throat that all the water did was fill up over it like a plug, causing a drowning feeling.

Jon stood up, smashing glasses and plates as he went and staggered out of the back door of the café. The staff looked at me with absolute panic and I had absolutely no idea what to do next. Quickly I resolved that no mate of mine was about to choke to death in a crowded café.I followed Jon out the back and without fully understanding what I was doing, I turned Jon around and grabbed him around the waist Mrs Doubtfire style and lifted him up and dropped him down on the floor. 

The next 10 seconds were in slow motion as we all watched this piece of steak dislodge from Jon’s throat and land on the floor. My friend was on his haunches trying to regain his breath and then we hugged, relieved.

In typical bloke style, we shrugged it off and actually went back to the table and finished our meals. Yet everything had changed – a seed had been planted. I felt a rush that no drug, no beer, no girlfriend, no new car had ever given me before.

I knew that for the rest of my life my purpose would be to help people… but how?

Since then I’ve thrown myself into a journey of self-discovery and have been lucky enough to learn some incredible coping methods to help me move forward in my life. I know that a lot of people share the same doubts, fears and anxieties as I did and still do, so I decided to start InsideOut.

InsideOut is social growth hub for people to gather and hang out with people who have navigated their way through life and are following their dreams. We run events and workshops covering self-improvement, business and career direction, health and fitness, relationships and more.

At only our second event we managed to get 70 amazing people along who got to hear three incredible speakers share their stories of hope and passion.

Helping people break free and live a life they love is now my drug. I love and I crave it and life has never felt more free, hopeful, fulfilling and joyful. InsideOut has given me ‘that’ feeling, and it’s much more preferable than having to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on a daily basis.


Find out more about Inside Out and their next event coming on 4 July here. Nourish Melbourne Members, you receive VIP ticket prices to this event. Please email for details.