On Wednesday 28 February 2018, Greg and I had lunch in Sydney. The two of us catching up was not unusual as we have known each other since November 1990, when I accepted his offer to join Temporary Solutions as a temp consultant as part of the Sydney accounting team.
This catch up was slightly different in that I had a very clear purpose for the lunch – to convince Greg to write a book about his lifetime of experience in the recruitment industry.
It’s not like the concept of a Greg Savage book was new: I had discussed it with him before. Greg had also been approached by a publisher previously and the posts that Greg was pumping out via The Savage Truth blog clearly lent themselves to being repackaged and republished as a book.
Greg had not dismissed the idea but neither had he committed to it. I had little optimism that the book would get written anytime soon due to Greg’s speaking, investing and board consulting commitments.
I suspected it would take a big push to have writing a book move to near the front of Greg’s priorities.
As we ate the conversation ranged across the normal topics – family, work, sport and recruitment industry gossip. Towards the end of the meal I jumped in with, what I hoped was, my key point.
“Greg, your experience in the recruitment industry, not just locally but globally is unique. Only Geoff Morgan and Andrew Banks could be regarded as comparable. You have to write a book to capture that history!”
It seemed to work. Greg expressed renewed enthusiasm for the many hours of work that writing a book would entail. The stars must have aligned because a few weeks later well-known industry journalist and publisher Lesley Horsburgh contacted Greg, not for the first time, about a Greg Savage book.
The first planning meeting, involving the three of us, was held in July 2018. Fast forward a mere 15 months later and The Savage Truth book is now available in hard copy – faster than even my most optimistic expectation.
Greg writes with authority, clarity and in a voice that leaves you in no doubt he has lived what you are reading. Any attendee of one of Greg’s keynotes or any regular reader of The Savage Truth blog will be immediately familiar with that Savage ‘voice’ that jumps out, unmistakably, from the page.
Naturally, some of the stories, lessons and advice from Greg’s 40 years in the recruitment industry are ones he has used in previous formats. What makes this book worth far more than the sum of all Greg’s many keynotes and blogs is the context that reflection across 40 years brings.
Specifically, I was riveted by the book’s first chapter; Gazing at Mandela, in which Greg describes, at length, his upbringing and schooling in apartheid-era South Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. The details of this part of Greg’s life would be known to very few people outside of his family.
This formative part of Greg’s life provides a powerful foundation for the reader to understand, appreciate and respect the way in which Greg thought and acted throughout his subsequent career.
As a person who I have rarely known to look back too often or too closely, Greg takes the opportunity, that a writing a book provides, to reflect on the wisdom of decisions he made at a handful of major forks in his life’s journey.
Leaving South Africa, studying in Australia, working in London, returning to Australia, leaving Hays, starting (then leaving Recruitment Solutions), joining Aquent, growing Aquent internationally, then starting, growing and subsequently selling Firebrand, are all decisions that have their own drivers and lessons. Greg shares these drivers and lessons in a way that is engaging, insightful and, as you would expect, forthright.
The book is split into two parts: Part 1 comprises ten chronological chapters covering Greg’s professional life from his upbringing in South Africa through to the present day.
Part 2 comprises 13 chapters that roughly equate to a ‘Greatest Hits’ of the hundreds (thousands?) of Greg’s blogs and keynote presentations over the years. Chapters 11 to 16 cover individual recruiter success. Chapters 17 to 23 cover leadership and ownership success.
As you would imagine, given the deep well of resources that Greg has to draw from, these chapters are full of comprehensive practical advice that’s 24 carat gold.
Greg knows what works. He knows what doesn’t work. He knows what translates across companies, markets and countries in agency recruitment; and what doesn’t. That’s what 40 years of experience gives you that can’t be replicated. Greg has seen it all.
That invaluable experience of Greg’s 40 years of being in the trenches, experience that has few global peers, will provide insight and inspiration no matter who the reader is.
Not only is this book one Greg can be rightly proud of, we can be rightly proud of Greg’s global accomplishments as a product of the Australian recruitment industry.
And, just quietly, I’m very happy that my gentle arm-twist over that Sydney lunch twenty months ago was so effective.