Strivin & Thrivin E12. Craig Watson

Strivin & Thrivin Ep12. Craig Watson – Director & Founder at Recstra & Tapod podcast co-host

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“Recruitment as a service is broken in the agency model” 

This week on Strivin & Thrivin, we catch up with Craig Watson, Director and Founder of Recstra, the platform for HR specialists looking for more flexible working hours. Recstra allows you to choose the hours you work while saving companies on excessive recruitment fees. 

Craig tells us, from a young age he knew his talents lay in accounting and economics so, naturally, he concluded he’d grow up to be a “Super Accountant”. With the nudge from his mum, he trained to be a teacher, leaning on his personable skills and people qualities. 

Today Craig is a family man who has established a successful career in recruitment. While his day job is at Recstra he also co-hosts Tapod, a podcast about talent acquisition. During his downtime, he catches up with family and spends his weekends being a surf lifesaver. 

“I stumbled and stumbled and stumbled along for many, many years,” Craig tells us as he recalls his career journey and the defining moments in which he was able to identify that his strengths lay in working with people. 

We broach the topic of in-house versus agency, during which Craig highlights the major pitfall of agencies is the race to fill seats rather than source a quality hire. 

“This race to the bottom, it’s all about who can fill the role quickest because the quickest person gets paid. So it affects quality and there’s this pressure by agency owners for people to get the job done”. 

We establish that to Craig, the importance of recruitment is being able to add value and finding the right people in order to do so. This means understanding each recruit and being more approachable. 

“If people are more comfortable with you, they’re more authentic”. 

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. During our conversations, we cover everything from diversity to the impact COVID-19 has had on the talent pool. Listen to hear more from Craig on switching careers and taking the plunge on new projects. Available now on Strivin & Thrivin! 

FULL TRANSCRIPT 

Laura: I’m your host, Laura Johnson. And today I’m lucky enough to have Andrea Kirby as my wonderful co-host. Today we’re thrilled to be joined by the wonderful, Craig Watson.

Okay, Craig, to get us started, can you tell us a little bit about your career background and your current role?

Craig: Yeah. Well, it’s a really hard place to start because I’ve done too many things, to be honest. I started off, I studied as a teacher, a secondary school teacher and went traveling to the UK as a teacher and was going to go for six to 12 months. Within a year, the agency that placed me said there was a position in the agency in London. So, I went in there and then, I suppose, because there were so many Aussies and South Africans and New Zealanders working in the office and it turned over so much, I was lucky enough to be promoted to general manager within about eight months. And then, I stayed there for a while, probably about six or seven years, and then decided to go to Papua New Guinea as a volunteer on a deserted island for a year, which was kind of fun. All sorts of things happened out there.

And then moved home to Melbourne, into a branch manager’s role with bloody Adecco. That was in the agency world for a while, and then did Rec2Rec for about five or so years. And it was during that time that, because all I was doing all day was speaking to recruiters, both agency and in-house and also business owners or recruitment owners. And we did some stats and found out that about 28% of recruiters were leaving the industry because they felt they didn’t fit into the hours required.

Every agency said start at 8:30, finish at 6:30. And we all know as recruiters that you interview people when they can be interviewed, which is either lunchtime or after work. You’re always on. And people had things like life that were getting in the way and just weren’t fitting. So evolved this idea to say, well, why don’t we develop a community of recruiters who have flexibility and can work the hours they want to work, but get paid for every hour they work instead of this race to the bottom if you like for an outcome. So that’s what Recstra was born from that. I’ve been working on that now for, gee, I still call it a start-up, it’s been about three and a half years now. So yeah.

Andrea: So, it’s interesting that you talk about this race to the bottom for recruiters, and we’re talking more about agency as opposed to in-house. What’s your take now, having worked both sides, and we’ll get onto TaPod in a minute, but now having spent a lot more time in the in-house recruitment world, along with agency, what’s your take on the relationship between the two?

Craig: It’s ever changing based on need. But what I’ve come to the conclusion, and I’m quite happy to be proven wrong, is that the value piece that agencies talk about, so charging 12, 15, 18, 20, 25 percent to place someone into a business, the perceived value is only perceived on the agency side. Unfortunately, recruitment, there’s a lot of skill involved, but there’s also an element of luck and timing, particularly in a hot market. You might know someone that you’ve just met five minutes ago. Next thing a client says, “I need someone that matches perfect”. Two days later and a couple of phone calls, you’ve made a 15% placement fee on that, which might be 20,000/ $30,000. Where’s the value in that? What have you done for that work?

And by developing Recstra over a long period, we thought that the professional services model, so pay for activity, which can be tracked, all of the candidates driven during that project are owned by the end client. You’re not charging for each candidate that’s placed, it’s much more of a partnership model. And I can’t see agency in their current form, the traditional form, can develop real relationships. It’s a supplier arrangement at best. Transactional supplier arrangement, which can be thrown out or brought in at any time. And that’s not what we’re about.

You know yourself, everyone in your world, Andrea, are recruiters, internal, some external and these people are so brilliant at what they do. And yet they’re reduced in the agency world to being a pawn for an outcome on this big slab of money. So, this race to the bottom, it’s all about who can fill the role quickest because the quickest person gets paid. So, it affects quality. And there’s this pressure by agency owners for people to get the job done, to get a bum on a seat. And to me that doesn’t demonstrate value at all.

Andrea: So going back to this brilliant career that you’ve had, which sounds a lot like mine. You’ve fallen into a lot of things and made decisions on the fly. Has there ever been a point where you’ve stopped, and maybe it was with Recstra, but the point of this is going to be my next step and I’m going to work towards it? Or have you just made the decisions as they’ve come up?

Craig: I stumbled and stumbled and stumbled along for many, many years. I think, if I or other people consider me with any level of maturity now, it’s been a very late bloom. I just moseyed along, smiled and opportunities came my way and I never really thought too much about it. But you’re right, Recstra was an 18 month to two-year strategy piece I’ve built. And what if this happens and what if this breaks? Because at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is… I don’t want to say reinvent. That’s not fair because other people have done very similar things, but build a model that has to re-educate every talent acquisition partner that we wanted it to work with and every recruiter that wanted to work with us. So, it’s not as much as a sell as a re-education. So, we had to think, what if this bit doesn’t work?

Now, there’s been subtle changes. At the start, it was all about the professional services pay for activity. That’s it. Then, when we sat back, and we realized the other thing, when we first went to market, we thought our model fitted smaller businesses that didn’t have a recruiting function and had a very, very small recruiting budget. That’s what we thought our market was. And as it’s evolved, it’s been supporting Talent Acquisition functions in times of stress, whether it’s volume stress, or specialisation that they don’t have the capacity in house force. So that’s where we’ve come in. And with that, with every large enterprise, all of a sudden, procurement gets involved and HR gets involved.

So we were, if you want to call it the selling cycle for Recstra, we’ll talk to Talent Acquisition people and they’re saying, “Oh my God, this is great. This is perfect. It’s going to reduce our external partnership costs. You’re going to work with us. We own all of the candidates you drive. This is just brilliant”. And then procurement come in and finance and say, “Hang on. Wait, wait, wait, wait, Wait. You’re saying that what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years, paying only for outcome and recruitment, you want us to pay before there’s an outcome?”.

So, sometimes it got too difficult. So, then we also went back and did all this research on how many dedicated hours it took our recruiters to fill a role. That’s not time, it’s hours of activity and said, “Okay, if we work out on hours of activity, that we would be billing from the prop services model, we can come up with a really low fixed fee model that suits everyone”. So, we’ve also done that. And some… No. I can’t say. I was going to say, less forward thinking enterprise. But that’s not fair because probably some of them are listening now. So, I probably just lost 12 clients. But the ones that probably couldn’t take the leap of faith, let’s say that, in the education piece have opted for the fixed fee.

And then other clients that are a little bit more forward-thinking, I think, and understand that recruitment as a service is broken in the agency model, and we need to find something different, have jumped on board. We’ve been so lucky with some of the caliber of the clients we’re partnered with and the relationships we’ve been able to drive. Really, really lucky, because a lot of it’s been almost like beta testing all the way through. So, we’re learning every single new client we’re still learning and making little tweaks. So, great.

Andrea: So, you’ve got an education background, which I imagine would have informed a lot of the way you work. What value has being a teacher given you?

Craig: Yeah. Look, that’s a really good question. And I’ll say this, I’ll say that there’s university education and university of life education, which I got from a load of traveling and I value the university of life a lot higher because you learn about yourself. You learn about what you’re trying to do, what you’re trying not to do. Much like yourself, Andrea, I went to England, and I found for the first time in my life I could be myself because I knew no one over there and it was big and you just sort of become a different person, but the different person was the real person that was there that you’re pretending not to be, if that makes sense.

Andrea: Yeah, it does.

Craig: So, I learned a hell of a lot and got to experience a lot. And then, in Papua New Guinea, a completely different experience because we were in a school that only had electricity from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. So, at night you had candles. And I was on a volunteer allowance and the local currency, the kina, crashed by 30% about two weeks after I arrived on a really low volunteer allowance. So, I ended up having to grow my own fruit and veg and spear fish every night just to survive.

Laura: Wow.

Craig: So, it’s these funny little life lessons you learn, you go, “You know what? There’s nothing that’s really too difficult because you always overcome stuff”. Even in the last couple of days, the recruitment market is red hot or white hot. There’s so much out there. And in our network or our community, we haven’t got enough recruiters. And so, I’m taking on some of this stuff and there’s a lot of also… Oh God, the candidates out there are getting offered four, five, six, seven, eight opportunities at once. And managing candidates is super difficult. And just this morning I was thinking, “Ugh, help”.

“Ah, shit. What the hell?”. And then I just took a deep breath and I thought, “You know what?” I’m going to wake up tomorrow. I’m going to have the same amount of hours in the day. If I start putting all this emotional energy into this now, all I’m going to just get a headache, I’m going to snap at my kids when they get home. Ah, just stuff it, just take a deep breath and focus on something else for 15 minutes and then go back to it. Because you don’t learn that from university.

Laura: No. Having that chat with Angela yesterday, just about what you learned from moving to different countries. And I think the big thing you’re saying is resilience. And just that every time you do it, you forget how hard it is, but you just get on with it. And just the resilience that it builds. And then that resilience just helps no matter what you do in life, what career you go at. And a bit like your example there that you could get so worked up with having that volume coming at you and all these people wanting different things. You’ll be like, “Do you know what? It’s not going to matter in five years time, it’s not going to matter tomorrow”.

Craig: No. And that’s it. I think as humans, we build things up so much and I know… Look, I’m learning, like doing the podcast that we do now, in the last two years I’ve learned so much. I knew nothing about a lot of the diversity inclusion areas that we cover and challenges that we cover. And I’ve had the opportunity to talk to these people that have taught me so much. I’ll give you an example. You know, Jo Lockwood, right?

Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Craig: We interviewed Jo Lockwood probably six months in. And we were still really learning how to do interviews. And we started talking about pronouns. And I’m an English teacher. And they, them pronoun was so hard in my head because grammatically that’s a plural, right? And of course, people probably who choose those pronouns consider themselves either plural or… But for me, how do I say that person over there is they? I couldn’t. And Jo broke it down so easily. She said, “If you were at a pub and you’re sitting at a table and someone at the next table left their mobile phone and walked out, you’d think to yourself, geez, I hope they come back”.

Laura: Yes.

Andrea: Yeah.

Craig: It was just as simple as that. It was just these things that I learn is that you built up with years of, I don’t want to say prejudice, but you’re moulded by your parents and where you grew up and the types of people that you hang out with. And every single person, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re never learning. So, if you surround yourself with smarter people, you’re just picking shit up all the time and you just add it to who you are. So, that has helped me enormously just by talking to other people and learning little bits. That’s really interesting.

Andrea: And for those that don’t know, Jo Lockwood is a brilliant transgender woman who has featured on a number of our events.

And if you get the opportunity to look at Inclusion Bites, her newsletter and the work she does, definitely do that. She breaks things down so simply for you. So, Craig, you talk about always surrounding yourself with the smartest people and making sure that you’ve got those people with you. So, you’ve partnered with-.

Craig: Sometimes you’ve got to have someone who’s a little bit dumber than you, so it makes you feel smarter.

Andrea: Oh, I was trying to give her a compliment.

Craig: First time I’m in a room with a microphone-

Andrea: So, you were sitting at lunch at one of our events and you met this fabulous woman, Lauren Sharp across the table from you. And the two of you started talking about doing something together and it is the brilliant TaPod podcast. Tell us a little bit about how the two of you came to that decision and how you worked out how you’d worked so well together.

Craig: I don’t know if we both remember it exactly the same way, but I remember it as being her idea. I could say it was mine, but I remember it. So, we were at one of Andrea’s events, probably around about two years ago. I think it was the second event I’d been to and these events are great because you just, when someone says, “Go and sit down”. You just sit down and you’re not sitting with mates. You’re sitting with people you don’t know across from, next to. And I was sitting next to Lauren, and we just started talking and where do you work? How long you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then from my memory, Lauren said something like, “I really want to get a voice or something or do something like a podcast. I don’t know”. And I said, “Yeah, I’ve been feeling exactly the same thing”.

So, we talked a little bit more about it. And then I think about three days later, we went and had a coffee and then the week after we bought some equipment and just went for it. And Andrea was our first guest.

Andrea: Yeah.

Craig: And just today, we just put up our 90th podcast today. So-

Laura: That’s awesome.

Craig: Yeah, but like this thing about learning, God, so we were doing… Because there was no one really doing stuff like this in Australia, really exactly like this. There’s obviously people doing podcasts and stuff. So, we were talking to people and sometimes we get them back. And then just only recently, about six months ago, we realized, you know what, these people who have a voice in their industry have now got voices in plenty of places. They’re talking at events or they’re hosting their own webinars or they starting their own podcast. And we’re going to break it up a little bit and just go, okay, we’re going to listen to forums in the last week and find out what people think are the biggest issue. And then we’re just going to try to track down the world leader in it.

I think just two weeks ago, there was an article published by Pavi who is in our network about imposter syndrome and saying that coming out of COVID that with the change in responsibility for a lot of Talent Acquisition people, some have gone into HR roles, some have included internal mobility, taken on these bigger roles. A lot of people were starting to say, “Well, do I belong? What right have I got to be here?”, I said to Lauren, “Let’s just find the best person in the world to talk about imposter syndrome”. So, I just Googled, world’s leading expert in imposter syndrome and this lady Maggie came up and it said in Washington, DC, so I just emailed her and said, “Will you be on our podcast?”. She’s a commentator on CNN and writes articles for Forbes, and blah, blah, blah. I said, “Would you be on our podcast?” She said, “Yeah, I’d love to”.

And so, the day before, I went in to do just a little bit of research. She’s got her own podcast, listened to it. I thought, “Wait a minute. She’s Australian”, I just assumed she was… And she’s from Bairnsdale in East Gippsland and she’s become the world expert in imposter syndrome. So, the first question we said, “Look, I Google world leader and you’re a world leader in imposter syndrome. You’re a girl from a farm in East Gippy. Do you ever feel like an imposter yourself?” And we just went from there. And so, we’ve just gone on a little tangent lately where we’re trying to talk to people just outside, but we’ve got this voice, of expertise and experience. And it’s been so much fun because again, talking about having smart people in the room, I reckon, in the last two or three weeks, I’ve learnt more than I have in the previous, probably 18 months. So, it’s been really good.

Andrea: Well, great. I’ve been a guest three times, haven’t I? Now in the last 18 months, and that’s what you say.

Craig: Well, I didn’t say they’re better caliber.

Andrea: So, I guess you’re a lot like me. We’ve fallen into things, we’ve created things. We’ve both created our own businesses now, but along the way, we’ve met some fascinating people who have helped us and given us some of those light bulb moments. Tell me about some of those light bulb moments or one of the best bits of advice you’ve received.

Craig: I think probably about 20 years ago… Yes, I’m old… About 20 years ago, I’d just got back from overseas and was floundering for a little while. And I started this little video production business where we were doing family histories or sporting club histories. They’re like little documentaries, right? And my business partner was Max Walker who’s an ex- test cricketer for Australia, won Logies for being on Wide World of Sports and things. So, people knew him. He did the Aerogard ads in the seventies and all that sort of thing. So, a lot of people knew him as Mr Walker.

Andrea: I was going to say.

Craig: Yeah, “Have a good weekend Mr. Walker”.

Andrea: “Have a good weekend Mr. Walker”.  We’ve just aged ourselves, Craig.

Craig: I know. Right. It’s fairly black and white, I’d say. One of the things he told me, which has always resonated was, because we used to go out quite a bit and people would come up and ask for his autograph and he’d always talk to people and always be nice. And I used to say to him, “God, you must be all the time having people come”. He said, and he actually used these words. “If I can give you one bit of advice, never say no to anyone who asks to buy you a cup of coffee. You, know, at best, you’re going to learn something or start a new great partnership. At worst, you’re going to get a free cup of coffee”. So that was just, always be open, always have yourself open to people and make yourself approachable. If someone’s too scared to talk to you, you’re going to miss out on an opportunity.

And I don’t know how well I do it. I really don’t know how well. Other people definitely can judge this, but always like to try to keep my ego at the door and just be a mate to people, first and foremost, and then go from there. And I don’t know whether I’m smart or not, but most people would think that I’m not smart. Most people would think that I’m just the type of guy you’d have a drink with down in the pub or have a chat with. And you know what? If you can be that person and make people feel comfortable… And it’s also part of the art of being a recruiter, I think, if people are more comfortable with you, they’re more authentic. So, you’re getting the best of them too.

Andrea: So, one of the things that I’d like to know is, when you were little, did you want to be a fireman or a policeman? Or did you have bigger plans?

Craig: That’s a really good question. I can’t remember when I was really young, what I wanted to be. All I could remember when I was about year 10, 11, 12, I was really good at accounting and economics. So, I decided I wanted to be a super accountant. And when we were doing university preferences, because back then we didn’t have career counsellors, my mum sat me down and said, “You’re a dick head. You’re good with people. Go and be a teacher”, So, I just did what mum said. That was it.

So, we talk about how it’s only, probably since Recstra that I’ve had and now TaPod, which is just amazing, fun learning experience, prior to that, there was no real strategy around what I wanted to do. And I probably pissed a few people off, my parents included, because they were probably thinking, “He’s just sort of floating through life”. And I was, but-

Laura: It’s worked out.

Craig: I never felt like I could do anything different. Look, all I loved doing growing up was sport. And then I was too short to be any good at that. So, it’s just, I’ll just do stuff and just did stuff. And now this is where I am now.

Andrea: And it’s funny. And it’d be terrific to get new grads and kids in university to listen to this because there’s so much pressure now that they have studied something. And I used to recruit the articling clerks for a law firm. Three years out, most of them are not lawyers anymore. I trained as a librarian, you trained as a teacher and here we are towards the later end of our career, doing something completely different, I guess-

Craig: Yeah.

Andrea: What would be your advice to the youth of today?

Craig: I’ll spin that a little bit and I’ll give a bit of advice that I think is right for me being a parent with my kids, I’ve got a kid in year eight and a kid in year six, and I feel it’s my role as a parent to keep opportunities in front of them for as long as possible. I think kids of today have, like you said, so much pressure. They’re being forced into streams at school at an earlier age. They’re being pigeonholed. That’s always happened, I guess, especially even a long time ago when there were tech schools and high schools. But I just think that if any of my kids was a tradie, a business owner, something that’s from a profession, I’d back them in whatever they wanted to do. I just want to keep the opportunities there for them because they’ll create themselves out of opportunity.

And I was lucky with my parents. Although, mum slapped me around to be a… Well, not physically… To say, “Do a teaching degree”. See, if I didn’t do a teaching degree, the only thing back then that you could really travel on properly and know that you were going to get a good job without having it all pre-organized, was teaching or nursing in the UK or you’re going to end up in a pub. That was probably the three areas. So, I was lucky enough to have a profession that allowed me to travel the world and do what I wanted for the first year or so that I taught over there. I got all school holidays. I got to see all of Europe and paid for it. Just lucky.

So, I just think that advice would be, keep your opportunities open. It doesn’t matter what age you are when you think you want to do something. If you think you want to do, do it. Go for it, but be open to the fact that going down one path doesn’t mean you’re committed to that path forever. That’s sort of, I guess.

Laura: I think that’s great advice because even if you think about it, even if you’d committed to something, 20 years later, so much changes. Even if we look at what’s changed over the last year, there’s opportunities now that didn’t exist a year ago, let alone, when kids are coming out of school.

Craig: Well, if you look at the whole tech industry… And again, I don’t want to keep harping on age, but we had a couple of Apple II computers in high school, I think two for the whole school. And even in the last five years, there’s probably been 20, 30, 40 career paths that have emerged that never existed. Everything from app development to some of the security stuff. And I know it’s mainly tech based, but there’s robotics, there’s AI, there’s so many different things. And my kids are doing these in school now. They’re doing robotics as a class. Unbelievable. And they’re doing AI. So, there’s opportunity there. And we don’t know what’s around the corner. Last year, like you said, is a prime example. The world changed and it changed forever.

In Australia, we’re experiencing negative population growth for the first time almost ever. And that’s because we’re not getting migration. And in fact, people who are not residents or maybe even are residents but migrated here are going home because they don’t what to do. There’s a strong pull from home when there’s something major happening. And the tertiary industry is missing out on international students. The whole world of work, of social interaction has changed. And here in Melbourne, we went through some really tough times last year and most of us have already nearly forgotten about that, the staying at home for a hundred plus days.

But the longer lasting effects of this are going to be four or five, six, 10, 20 years because of this lack of people. I had so many discussions over the last couple of weeks on how are we going to fill the roles that we need to fill in Australia? Does it mean that everything moves remote, and we start outsourcing again when we’ve gone through a period, probably five years anyway, of insourcing when we weren’t doing outsourcing? So, no one can predict. If last year taught us anything it’s that you can’t predict anything for the future.

Laura: No, that’s true. I think the other thing that going back to the population not being able to bring people over and people going back, I think it will be interesting to see what happens from a skills point of view over the next few years, because there’s so much about skills development at work, but also bringing in skills. And then that’s transferability that happens in an office environment.

If we’re not having that and we can’t bring skills in what happens? How are we going to start training people? Or how can we make up for that gap? And I think you’re right, that’s what it is, it’s going to be that longer lasting effect that we’re still trying to work out in a year, two years, five years’ time.

Craig: It’s crazy. The grad programs for the big consulting firms and anyone who runs big grad programs, where are they going to get their people from? There was always a percentage of international students offered long-term visas to take up grad positions because of the need. The need is still going to be there. Just the talent’s not there anymore.

Andrea: But I think this is where Talent Acquisition starts to expand their skillset in being able to recognise the adjacent skills that someone has, that can then with the right resources, be trained up to other jobs. And at the moment, if talent acquisition people are thinking their role is about recruiting in external talent and not looking at their internal marketplace, they’re going to fall behind even more than perhaps they are now in terms of just being CV pushers and those sorts of things. And I think this is the real opportunity for us, as people in the industry who sit over the top of it, to step up and start showing and talking about new ways to work with and find people for roles.

Craig: Yeah. And I think that also when I was running Rec2Rec, I did a lot of recruitment training in agencies as well. And one of the first bits of training I used to always do was say, “Okay, what does it say on your business card?”. And most said, “Oh, recruitment consultant”. Okay. And I go, “Well, how often do you consult to your clients?”. You don’t, which is the same for talent acquisition. You need to consult to your hiring managers. If you’re a real estate agent in Double Bay in Sydney and someone walked in your front door and said, “I want a three bedroom home with an outdoor area and maybe even a pool. And I want to spend 500,000 bucks”. You’d tell them, “You’re dreaming”.

If a hiring manager comes to you and says, “I want a person with five years experience over three different verticals, blah, blah, blah, and this is the salary range”. We’ve got to be strong enough to be able to tell them they’re dreaming, not to say, “Okay, we’ll go and look for you”, because these are the things that Talent Acquisition has the opportunity to do is to step up and be consultants to their business.

Andrea: Exactly. So, one of the things I know that you do, because we’re Facebook friends and I see all your sunset photos. Is that you spend your weekends as a surf lifesaver.

Craig: Yes. So, I have been involved with the Venus Bay Surf Lifesaving Club since I was eight years old, except for the time when I went overseas and I just came off a four-year term as president there, just finished about a year ago. After my family, it’s everything to me. It’s impossible to describe because it’s where I grew up. I had dinner nearly every Christmas on the beach, on patrol as a teenager. It makes me feel safe but it makes me feel needed, but it also gives me an opportunity to give back with no expectation because it’s an Australian institution being a surf lifesaver, and it’s a volunteer. It’s the only emergency service in the world that is both volunteer and also a sport and also hooks into the major emergency services with ambulance, fire, and police. And my kids have come through Nippers now and they love it.

Again, opportunity. If they said to me, “I don’t want to do it.” I don’t care. It’s their choice. I’ve been involved with a number of rescues over the years and just to know that someone’s gone home to their partner, their parents, their girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever, because some of us were on the beach that day and looking out for them, is a really warming feeling. And also the other thing is, where we are at Venus Bay, we’re the biggest community organisation in the whole shire. So, we’re really lucky that we get to do community work, advocating other organizations. So, the local CWA ran a little op shop, and the council were going to close it down because they wanted the land. So, we ran the petition for them first, and then we presented to council on their behalf and got them to stay.

And it’s just stuff that you can do. We love it. We just love it. And also, being on patrol because mostly people look at bloody Bondi Rescue and they think something happens every three minutes. And let me tell you, it doesn’t. Most of the time. You’re doing stuff all. You’re just standing out in the cold and sleet. But it gives me a huge opportunity to unwind. I know, Andrea, you spend a lot of time at the beach. I stand on patrol. I stand in ankle, deep water, looking out to see whether there’s swimmers there or not. And it just helps me just decompress with everything. So, I get just as much out of it as anything that I put into it, but I’ll probably keep doing it until I can keep walking or I can keep re-qualifying because I’m not much of a swimmer as it is, so as long as they’ll have me, I’ll probably keep doing it.

Andrea: You do a lot. You’ve got TaPod, you’ve got Recstra, you’ve got your family and the surf lifesaving. And most importantly, you’ve got the ITAs coming up in September, the Internal Talent Acquisition Awards. So, tell us a bit about that and also tell us how you balance it all and how you find the time to achieve everything that you do.

Craig: Well, we’re only putting on one of any. How many do you put on? Gee.

Andrea: Too many.

Craig: I’m really lucky that I work with Lauren because we’re complementary, but very different. So, she’s a detail person. I’m not a detail person and we work well. Sometimes there might be some agitation on one side. The other one calms them. So, we’re very lucky. And we spoke to a lot of people. We spoke to you in the lead up to the first ones. And last year was this unique opportunity to get some celebration and some reward and some thanks backing into our industry. They just took it in the neck last year, really, really badly. And we wanted to reward some people, the people who deserved it and really show what this industry is as a community.

And we were lucky. It was an online virtual event. So, I think the real test is this year when we do a live one and we’ll find out… We can look back at that when it’s done and seeing whether it’s a success or whether it’s a total cock-up where we’re really excited because it’s going to be an opportunity for everyone to get glammed up, have a nice meal, have a few drinks, have a dance, have some entertainment and give out, doubled from last year, 14 key awards to really fantastic people in our industry. There’s a lot of things, with everything, with every event, there’s stuff you forget and making a ship out of God knows what, and then chucking it in the water and then realising there’s leaks everywhere as you go and just plugging leaks and then get to where you’re going in the boat, and, see, that wasn’t that bad.

So, we’re really looking forward to it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s super exciting. And you know this, Andrea, there’s a lot of vendors or suppliers or partners to Talent Acquisition that really want to support things wherever they can. And some of those people are super smart too. Super smart and we’re lucky. To put on something like this. It’s a lot of work by a lot of people. And if it goes well, the people who are in the spotlight, the front get all the plaudits, but there’s so many people that… What do people say? It takes a village to raise a kid, or something. Let’s say the we’ve got an amazing village of people helping us out.

Andrea: So, the next bit is, how do you balance it all? How do you fit all of these different things in because they’re each in their own way, time consuming.

Laura: Absolutely.

Craig: I have a to-do list that end of the day, it’s bigger than it was at the start of the day. And I might’ve ticked off two things and added another eight. And like I said earlier, you just got to be in a position where, when you go home and you know that this is the time, whether it’s five o’clock or whether it’s 11 o’clock or whether it’s two in the morning where you’re going, “I’m stopping now, and energy has got to be put elsewhere because this is still going to be here tomorrow”, and yeah, there’ll be someone yelling for something tomorrow. But the reason I started running my own business at the start was to get some flexibility into my life. You don’t necessarily get that because you work more hours, but at least you’ve got an element of control over when those hours are.

I can drop things and go and see one of my kids do something at school. If they’re going up at an assembly to get something, or if they’re doing a school sport, I’ll just block it out of my calendar. And I don’t care what it is. I’m just not doing that. So, the answer, I guess is, it’s a constant juggle. It changes from day to day, but I kind of like it. I know I want to retire one day and you know, like Lauren said, she goes, “Don’t worry. I’ve got a cheeky quick pick in the $80 million lottery tomorrow” I said, “If we win that, we’ll just be able to focus on passion projects”.

Andrea: Nice.

Craig: My whole life, the things that I like doing most are the things that I get paid shit for, I’d love to be able to do that. But at the end of the day, you got to do stuff, you got to roll up your sleeves and do stuff that’s dirty. Well, not dirty. Stuff you get paid for as well. And so, you got to find time for it.

Laura: Exactly.

Craig: And it gets harder because I’ve spoken directly to you, Andrea, about this before, but any person running a business needs to get to the point where they can work on the business, not in it. And I’ve read books about it, but I don’t really like reading self-help books. But I’m no closer. I get sucked into the day-to-day operations.

I’m still recruiting because sometimes I can’t find a recruiter. And then when you get stuck recruiting and, just for instance, yesterday, got an offer, an acceptance. Oh, good. Phew, there’s one off, I’ve got a bit more time. He withdrew this morning. So now I’ve got to go all the way back to the start. So, it just constantly changes.

Andrea: Yeah.

Laura: Just looking at time, we’re going to have to wrap up because Lauren’s on next. Okay. To wrap up, our last question is always, who else would you like to hear from? So, when we go out and ask for more guests, who would you like to hear from on the podcast?

Craig: I think it’s probably less who I would like to hear from, but more who my network and the group I’m involved with would like to hear from. And I think it’s people who are in the same area that they’re doing. Because everybody, no matter how networked or how many friends they have, still at some stage, believe they’re an island. And if you can share as many stories of people who are going through the same shit that other people are going through and facing the same challenges and just getting up each day and getting through it. And I think that it’s like a problem.

I don’t even know. I was going to say some saying, but I can’t remember it. Something about the sharing of problems. And it helps a lot of people. If someone says, “Oh, I suffer from the same thing as you”, or, “I’m going through the same things as you”, then you go, “I’m not on my own”.

Years and years and years ago, I used to write a blog when blogs were popular in recruitment and got lucky enough to get quite well read. And I’d go to events where, not like this, where I’d never been talking before in a formal. I’d never been on video or anything like that. And people come up to me, “Oh my God, you’re Craig, you write this blog. You wrote on that is exactly how I felt this, dah, dah, dah”. That’s all I think you need. And the most important thing that there’s other people out there that are facing the same challenges and learning how they may overcome them, gives people a bit of hope or gives people something else to put in their toolkit.

Laura: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with that. What was it? A problem shared is a problem halved. Or something like that is the saying.

Craig: Yes.

Laura: Something like that. Anyway.

Craig: Told you, making sure there’s smarter people in the room than me.

Andrea: I’m taking away from you today about just yes, remembering it’s all going to be there when you wake up tomorrow.

Laura: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for today. I really appreciate it.

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