Greg as Author & Speaker
I started writing when I was 15. I started speaking a little younger but it was years before I said anything of great interest.
I’ve always enjoyed writing and exploring ideas with people. In fiction I enjoy putting characters through the mill to see how they react. I like to understand why people do things and how they deal with the consequences of their actions. I like to understand what buttons activate people to do positive and negative things. How does one go about pressing those buttons? How does one stop those buttons being pressed?
In earlier days I wrote plays for the amateur stage. I directed and acted in some but I was always fascinated in the journey from idea to finished product on stage with a live audience. Working in business is no different. It’s idea to finished product. If the consumer doesn’t like the product or service the run is short lived. Politics is different. It’s a flawed process that has to be constantly monitored and should never be trusted. The consumer always complains.
Writing is about capturing the trauma of people trying to survive or achieve through emotional, physical and spiritual life. There are successes and failures. Nothing stays the same. The wheel of life is constantly turning. Characters are continually evolving, coming and going. Success is never assured. Failure never lasts. Art is a reflection of life but unlike a painting, play, film or novel, life does not stop at a given point. Hollywood ends with a wedding or death. In life that’s just a junction in a river that keeps flowing.
As a kid on the farm I learnt simplicity and the allure of routine. Routine is both comforting and constricting. When my father died our world of routine and simplicity was torn apart. Naturally I screamed injustice. Later I realised this is an inescapable part of life. The injustice comes only in the timing and circumstance. Setbacks and regrowth are at the centre of all art and life. It’s the nature of entrepreneurialism. It’s at the heart of politics. Do you lie down and feel sorry for yourself, which is tempting, or do you get back on the horse knowing for sure it will throw you a few more times until the Grim Reaper steals both you and horse.
I’m fascinated by the human condition. I was bewildered when I first read the Greek Tragedies of 500BC. I saw the players grappling with the same issues as we do today of love, hate, betrayal, loyalty, power, petty politics, generational tensions, self-interest while trying to make their world, if not the world, a better place.
Over thousands of years humanity cannot seem to escape its innate flaw. We improve machines and gadgets around us but not ourselves. We crave for peace but get bored if peace lasts too long. Our wisdom dies with age while new versions of ourselves are condemned to making similar mistakes. Humanity needs tension, friction and contrast to motivate and individualise ourselves and the groups within which we live. We love battle, or virtual battle, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It is the essence of marriage and sport. It is the essence of politics and football. It is the essence of business. Cinema doesn’t work without all that we don’t like about humanity.
Many years ago I was lampooned by some senior staff when I first joined the Hawke & Keating Governments in 1990. “We thought you came from a political background, Greg, but you come from an artsy/education background. You must find it a culture shock working at the highest level of politics in Canberra?” they sniggered. “I thought it would be a culture shock,” I answered. “In the arts hours are long and in politics the hours are long so that’s the same. As we’ve just finished watching Question Time the only real difference I can see so far is that I’ve always been used to good theatre.” The tragedy, then and now, is that those living within politics as a career still don’t see it as bad theatre. They are focused on the game of politics rather than the purpose of politics – to enhance your state and country.
In life we constantly write our own plots. I’ve given lectures on what I call the Four Languages characters speak. Public Language, the language we use in public, the way we want other people to see us. Private Language, the language we use with our closest confidents, which is often in conflict with our public language. Soul Language, what we really think about people and things but are never game to articulate out loud. Hidden Language, a dormant language that erupts through crisis and tragedy revealing new aspects of ourselves. It unlocks the underutilised part of our brain. It can be positive or negative and makes you wonder whether you really know yourself. The interaction of these four levels of language by a good writer make us complex and interesting characters.
I do believe there are few born villains. Most of us, if given the opportunity, prefer to do good things. Unfortunately many of us aren’t given the opportunity and it can bring the worst out of us rather than the best. But I remain a positive cynic. Governments can produce better outcomes. Business can be less ruthless. We don’t have to have the enormous divides between rich and poor. We can be better parents. We can be nicer to each other. We can be nicer to ourselves. It’s a matter of whether we want to. The Dark Side is always talking to us, but just because it talks and we listen, it doesn’t mean we are its puppet.
I like writing that explores life’s complexities, flaws and hypocrisies. I like talking about ways to improve ourselves and the world around us. I often say “Stories are the currency of life; the richer the stories the richer the life.” We are all capable of rich stories but it often means moving out of our comfort zones. That’s the rub. Most people like to stay within their comfort zone and blame others for life’s problems. It’s easy to complain. It’s much harder to devise and implement and be accountable for both success and failure.
I have contributed to newspapers and spoken at many conferences and universities. In the end we are all just people playing in different sandpits. I enjoy the concept that we can improve ourselves as people and not just improve the machines and gadgets around us.
My latest novel, “The Two Heart Conspiracy: Mother is Coming”, is the first of a trilogy. It was launched by ex-Speaker Harry Jenkins at Parliament House and will be launched in Mandarin in China next year. Both current and past Australian Prime Ministers appear to have forgiven me for killing them off in the year 2020. It still leaves them a few years to do good things. I enjoyed writing The Two Heart Conspiracy and the feedback has been positive with a raised eyebrow on occasions from people who thought they had me pigeon-holed. I encourage you to hit the button on the home page and download to your Kindle or buy a hard copy. If you want a signed hard copy email me and I’ll drop it in the post with a $25 invoice.
You can also look at twoheartconspiracy.com for more detail.
I charge for speaking at some conferences, some I do for travel and accommodation costs only, and others I do for nothing because I enjoy the subject or support the cause. So feel free to invite me to speak at something you feel I might find interesting. I’ll always have the twist of the positive cynic and I know how to engage an audience. Email me direct from any part of the world. I like travel. I like meeting new people. I like listening to other people’s ideas.
I do believe we can make the world a better place. In fact, that is the name of my government consulting company, “Making The World A Better Place Pty Ltd”. It always raises an eyebrow and wry smile from the security guards when I swipe my Parliament House pass in Canberra. “We need all the help we can get,” they say.
My business to business consulting is done through G-Lach Pty Ltd, a company I started with my son Lachlan when he was still in high school. Now he’s moved on and is forging his own interesting life building mathematical models at CSIRO. A running gag in my family revolves around Harry Chapin’s 1974 song Cats in the Cradle. Whether it be my son Lachlan or my daughter Emily, we all know that making time for family and sharing life’s stories is far more important than billable hours or getting a run in the press.
None of us go to the grave wishing we’d spent more time at the office.
For more information on The Two Heart Conspiracy: Mother is Coming, go to twoheartconspiracy.com
Feel free to email me on email@example.com or call on +61419724654