Jim Penman

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Jim Penman
Owner of Jim's Group
Personal details
Born (1952-05-25) 25 May 1952 (age 68)
Stourbridge, England
Children11 Children
Alma materLa Trobe University
ProfessionFranchisor, Historian

David "Jim" Penman is an Australian businessman and historian in the field of biohistory. He is the owner of Jim's Group.[1][2] He has self-published books, based partially on his work with a lab he funds at La Trobe University, to make claims on predicting human culture and history based on the activities of mice.[3] His books have been described as eugenics, drawing on racial stereotypes.[3][4][5] Penman described his ideas as being classified as conservative liberalism and neoliberalism.[6]

Early life[edit]

Penman attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School and Melbourne Grammar. His father, Tom Penman, worked in different trades, including as Chief Engineer at Carlton United Breweries.[7]

In 1974, Penman started a PhD under June Philipp, part of the ethnographic historians called “the Melbourne Group”[8] at La Trobe University looking at character as a key to understanding history.[9] Penman's thesis was rejected in 1981 and 1984,[10] after which he turned his part-time lawn mowing business into a franchising business between 1983 and 1989.[3]

Jim’s Group[edit]

Penman focussed on setting up and selling lawn-mowing rounds rather than simply mowing lawns, taking on sub-contractors and selling around 100 rounds between 1983 and 1989.[2]

In 1988 VIP Home Services came into the market in Victoria, which prompted Penman to systemise his own processes and create the Jim's Mowing franchise. Penman states that his mandate is to be fanatical about service to both franchisees and customers.[2] However, he has a reputation for becoming angry quickly and for "being a firer", with a high turnover at the Jim's Group national office. After firing his sister, the two have been estranged.[1]

After launching the franchise business in 1989, Penman expanded to include additional industries. The first addition was cleaning services, and by 2012 the franchise model had been adapted to over 30 service industries. However, Penman's business model was also criticised in 2012 for being inappropriate for managing the large number of franchisees.[11]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Penman was a critic of how Victoria's lockdown rules were applied to his franchisees, including encouraging them to continue work despite lockdown restrictions.[12] In August he discussed the possibility of legal action against the Victorian government, and in October it was announced that about 700 Jim's Mowing franchisees were joining a class action led by Carbone Lawyers.[13][14]

Research interests[edit]

Penman has self-published the books Biohistory and Biohistory: The Decline and Fall of the West about epigenetics based on his PhD.[3][15][16] His works have been critiqued as drawing "heavily on racial stereotypes"[4] and having a nationalist and eugenicist agenda.[5][3]

Penman stated that after his PhD thesis was rejected, he could not get an academic post and had to self-fund his research interests.[2] Penman gave $500,000 in funding to a team of researchers in the School of Psychological Science at La Trobe University.[15] He later funded The Institute for Social Neuroscience/ISN Psychology a research institute and tertiary education provider where Penman has a governance role on the academic board.[4][17] Tony Paolini, a senior lecturer in behavioural neuroscience who headed Penman's La Trobe research who is now president of ISN Psychology said "I think, basically, Jim has a lot of ideas and I, as a scientist, help to funnel those ideas into testable hypotheses."[15] As part of this work with La Trobe, Penman has co-authored some articles on calorie restriction in rats.[18][19][20][21] By Penman's account, he spends $1 million a year on research and wants to increase that to $2–3 million per year and start using CRISPR "to make both genetic and precise epigenetic changes".[22]

Personal life[edit]

Penman has 11 children, has been married four times and has described himself as an evangelical Christian.[23][1][24][25] He attends a creationist church.[26]


Jim's Mowing and franchise development:

  • J. Penman (1992) The Cutting Edge: Jim's Mowing, a Franchise Story ISBN 0850915171, 9780850915174
  • J. Penman (1998) Surprised by Success: The Very Australian Story of Jim's Mowing ISBN 0646912526, 9780646912523
  • J. Penman (2003) What Will They Franchise Next?: The Story of Jim's Group ISBN 9780975113202
  • J. Penman (2013) Selling by Not Selling: From $24 to a Turnover of $400 Million ISBN 0646360736, 9780646360737

Epigenetics, culture and society :


  1. ^ a b c Waters, Cara (2019-02-28). "'Wrath is my weakness': Jim's Mowing's 'ruthless' boss admits to sacking sister". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  2. ^ a b c d White, Sue (2015-11-14). "Meet the boss: Jim's Group founder Jim Penman". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  3. ^ a b c d e Amerena, Dom (2013-05-09). "The Founder of Jim's Mowing will Make you Smarter and Save the World". Vice. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  4. ^ a b c "How Jim Penman made enough money to be taken seriously". Australian Financial Review. 2019-05-13. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  5. ^ a b Patel, Josh (2017-04-30). "The 'Biological Turn' in History Writing". Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal. 4 (2): 280–297. doi:10.31273/eirj.v4i2.165. ISSN 2053-9665.
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kbf9SkguA_w. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Catherine Moolenschot (author) (2019-04-15). Jim's book : the surprising story of Jim Penman, Australia's backyard millionaire. Milton, QLD. pp. 6–9. ISBN 9780730368151. OCLC 1078404005.
  8. ^ Griffiths, Tom (2016-10-01). "Reading Inga Clendinnen". The Monthly. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  9. ^ Catherine Moolenschot (author) (2019-04-15). Jim's book : the surprising story of Jim Penman, Australia's backyard millionaire. Milton, QLD. pp. 26–41. ISBN 9780730368151. OCLC 1078404005.
  10. ^ Catherine Moolenschot (author) (2019-04-15). Jim's book : the surprising story of Jim Penman, Australia's backyard millionaire. Milton, QLD. p. 40. ISBN 9780730368151. OCLC 1078404005.
  11. ^ Bleby, Michael (9 August 2012). "Jim's fantastic empire". Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on 2017-10-06.
  12. ^ Gillespie, Eden (5 August 2020). "Jim's Mowing founder under fire after encouraging franchisees to keep operating during Victoria's lockdown". The Feed. SBS. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  13. ^ Anthony Piovesan (31 Aug 2020). "'Stupidity': Jim's Mowing to sue for millions". The Northern Star.
  14. ^ Anthony Piovesan (7 Oct 2020). "Jim's Mowing joins massive class action". The Northern Star.
  15. ^ a b c Gibson, Rachel (2006-09-16). "Weird science or the Jim workout our bodies need?". The Age. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  16. ^ "'We're all doomed': Jim's Mowing founder Jim Penman". 8 May 2015.
  17. ^ isncollege (2016-12-14). "Our Governance". ISN Psychology College. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  18. ^ Levay, Elizabeth A.; Govic, Antonina; Penman, Jim; Paolini, Antonio G.; Kent, Stephen (2007-12-05). "Effects of adult-onset calorie restriction on anxiety-like behavior in rats". Physiology & Behavior. 92 (5): 889–896. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.06.018. ISSN 0031-9384. PMID 17673267. S2CID 28041382.
  19. ^ Govic, Antonina; Levay, Elizabeth A.; Hazi, Agnes; Penman, Jim; Kent, Stephen; Paolini, Antonio G. (2008-06-26). "Alterations in male sexual behaviour, attractiveness and testosterone levels induced by an adult-onset calorie restriction regimen". Behavioural Brain Research. 190 (1): 140–146. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2008.02.013. ISSN 0166-4328. PMID 18367259. S2CID 25162204.
  20. ^ Govic, Antonina; Kent, Stephen; Levay, Elizabeth A.; Hazi, Agnes; Penman, Jim; Paolini, Antonio G. (June 2008). "Testosterone, social and sexual behavior of perinatally and lifelong calorie restricted offspring". Physiology & Behavior. 94 (3): 516–522. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.03.007. ISSN 0031-9384. PMID 18456293. S2CID 26642295.
  21. ^ Levay, Elizabeth A.; Tammer, Amanda H.; Penman, Jim; Kent, Stephen; Paolini, Antonio G. (May 2010). "Calorie restriction at increasing levels leads to augmented concentrations of corticosterone and decreasing concentrations of testosterone in rats". Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.). 30 (5): 366–373. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2010.05.001. ISSN 1879-0739. PMID 20579529.
  22. ^ "How biohistory affects human nature". Human Givens Institute. 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2019-09-18.
  23. ^ "How 'Jim' Penman from Jim's Mowing made his fortune". NewsComAu. 2019-03-01. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  24. ^ "God, History And Jim's Mowing I". Focus on the Family Australia. 2016-07-14. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  25. ^ Corr, Brendan (2020-03-18). "Episode 04: Jim Penman". Australian Christian College (Podcast). The Inspiration Project.
  26. ^ Catherine Moolenschot (author) (2019-04-15). Jim's book : the surprising story of Jim Penman, Australia's backyard millionaire. Milton, QLD. p. 45. ISBN 9780730368151. OCLC 1078404005.
  27. ^ "Review: 'Biohistory — Decline and Fall of the West'". Digital Journal. 2 October 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2018.