What's my story

The story so far


At 5 years of age, I ran on to a rugby field for the first time, playing for Lane Cove Rugby Union Football Club. I continued playing rugby for the next 16 years. Clearly, I loved the sport.

I’m no Mensa member, but I was smart enough to understand that no matter how much I loved rugby, I wasn’t very good at it – certainly not good enough to build a career on it.

I also wasn’t very good at mathematics. Unlike rugby, I didn’t love maths. If I had been better at it (and if I’d loved it) I might have followed my dad into accountancy.

At school, I used to while away time in class by drawing in my exercise books. I mostly drew cars and houses. A vocational guidance counsellor suggested I might make a good architect. (The counsellor got this brainwave shortly after I mentioned that I enjoyed drawing houses.)

I went to the University of New South Wales to study architecture. I soon discovered that architecture was 5% design (which I loved) and 95% drafting (which I found boring). I left.

I returned to uni to study psychology and marketing research. (It was already becoming clear that I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career.) I went to work in a marketing research company. I sat in rooms listening to groups of women talk about laundry detergent.

The research company was owned by an advertising agency. The creative department was upstairs from my office. Every day as I sat studying computer printouts, I had to suffer the endless laughter coming from the creative department.

It got too much. I went up to see the creative director and said I wanted a job as a writer.

He asked me if I’d written anything. I mentioned a couple of poems that had been published. He smiled sympathetically. He handed me a creative brief and told me to come back when I was happy with what I’d written.

It took me 2 weeks of writing and rewriting before I had the courage to return to his office. He looked at what I’d written and offered me a copywriting job.


Greg AlderThose early, confused years were followed by a couple of decades of stability (career stability, if not emotional stability – I was now an advertising copywriter and a certain amount of eccentricity was acceptable, if not fully expected).

I worked as a copywriter and then creative director in advertising agencies in Australia and the UK.

I had finally found something that I appeared to be good at, and something I enjoyed. Perhaps I had found my element.

Probably my best-known campaign (in Australia at least) has been the Bundy R Bear campaign for Bundaberg Rum, created in 1994.

I started to learn a bit about business – both from working with my clients and also as a Director and shareholder of, first, Australia’s largest independent agency and then of Leo Burnett’s Sydney office.

I began to appreciate that advertising was just a small part of the picture. There was a whole lot more to a brand’s success than the ads I was creating – no matter how clever I might have believed them to be.


After a couple of decades of advertising writing, I could almost do it in my sleep. Perhaps I did. I was no longer being challenged. I’d get a brief, come up with a couple of concepts and go to lunch. I needed a change. Of career? Of location? I left Leo Burnett, unsure of what I wanted to do next.

As it turned out, it was location that was to change. Two weeks after leaving the Sydney office, I got a call from Leo Burnett in Mexico asking if I’d come over for 2 years to run the creative department of 30. The opportunity to work in a country with a language I didn’t speak was impossible to resist.

Whilst there, I was asked by client Procter & Gamble to run a workshop on how to write an inspiring creative brief. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of creating the material and facilitating the workshop. I ran a couple more workshops for clients and agency staff.


My assignment in Mexico complete, I returned to Australia. Having worked in businesses of between 10 and 300 people, I thought I’d try a company of 1.

I enjoyed the independence of working solo, but missed interacting with others. Two years later, I was persuaded to go into partnership with an art director and a strategic planner. I invested in the business, only to discover that my partners were completely dysfunctional – and rarely in the building. As a formerly irresponsible creative type, I found myself in the weird position of providing the emotional stability and work ethic needed to keep the machine operating.

The agency imploded. I was back to thinking about a change. Two ‘friends’ convinced my wife Sharon and me to go into partnership in a restaurant. As a keen cook, I’d always fancied the idea of owning a restaurant and so we rashly agreed. Things started badly when, after signing agreements, leases and guarantees, our friends revealed they didn’t have the money we’d agreed to invest.

It went downhill from there.

I will spare you the details. Suffice to say it involved secret accounts and fake bank statements. We lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We slipped into depression. Health suffered. It wasn’t a pretty time.


Some people are terrified of trying something new – and some people become increasingly terrified of trying something new as they age. Even if this had been true in my case (it wasn’t), our new impoverishment meant that we had to find a way or ways to recover our financial position, as well as rekindle our enthusiasm for life.

My love of running workshops had found a happy outlet when, in the early noughties, I started presenting workshops designed by Dr Wayne Lotherington PhD, founder of global consultancy Allsorts Habit Creation.

As a writer, I especially enjoyed teaching clients how to replace idea-blocking bad habits with creativity-igniting good ones. As I often say (to anyone within earshot), there isn’t a business that creative thinking can’t improve.

I was showing clients how to rediscover their creative selves, to innovate, present memorably, lead effectively and gain valuable insights into their audiences.

I started having fun again.


When a newspaper runs a headline STATUE SPEAKS, it’s a miracle. When I speak, it’s simply a business engagement. Facilitating workshops has led to invitations to address seminars and business groups.

It has also led to a number of projects which include an organisation created to foster and celebrate innovation in regional Australia, another helping businesses to develop their online presence, a third helping promote regional development and a fourth designed to improve the success rate (and reduce the churn rate) in the network marketing business.

A client to whom I consult approached me with the idea of running a conference for their industry. I convinced them that if we were to do it, it would have to be different from established industry conferences. We set two rules: The conference had to be challenging (we named it The Day of Confrontation) and there were to be no industry speakers on the agenda.

As well as teaching business owners how to win clients, I have written a book to help them keep clients. The Fine Art of Losing Clients will be published in 2014. This was a very easy book to write. I have witnessed the loss of many clients over the years.


So this is what I am doing today: branding, communications, innovation, regional development, workshops, new product development, conferences, books, public speaking and startups.

One thing’s certain: I will not get bored.


The code I try to live by

Behave honourably

Respect others

Help where I can

Do no harm


What’s In My Box Of Tricks?

One man, many hats

Historically, people’s names reflected one of 3 things – familial ties (John, son of Stephen, hence John Stephenson), origin (John from Lithgow, hence John Lithgow) or occupation (John the blacksmith, hence John Smith).

Such simplicity made identification easy. However it omitted important information. John the blacksmith might also be an excellent archer, a superb dancer, a skilled lock-picker or a fine cook.

Today, people move from job to job much more promiscuously than their parents did. When they move, they get a new business card. This business card is almost useless at telling you about a person – other than current title and how to contact them.

Since leaving school I have worked in direct mail, architecture, market research, advertising, corporate coaching, new business development, new product development, website design, social media and more. I’m not finished yet.

Applied imagination

I don’t consider these career changes. I have a single career. You could call it applied imagination. I have simply applied my creative skills to many different business sectors and diverse opportunities.

Even as I have changed focus, I have found ways to utilise skills I have picked up along the way to help me in my current task.

Customer insights

Did I gain insight from studying psychology? Or did I study psychology because I already valued insightfulness? I’m not sure. But I am certain that studying psychology has helped me in my communications career.

I search for the deep human truth that lies behind every fear, ambition, desire and frustration that we feel. I have sought to not simply communicate a message about a brand, but to forge an emotional connection with my clients’ audiences.


I have been fortunate to work on some major brands around the world. Clients have included McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Singapore Airlines.

I have learnt that the branding techniques that create global icons work equally well when applied to SMEs, charities, startups, events, niche products and professional associations.


Imagination leads to ideas. When implemented, ideas become innovations. Some innovations lead to startups.

If you need an idea for a startup, I’ll uncover one for you – or show you how to find your own. I have helped people around the world generate hundreds of ideas.

Current startup projects include new concepts in health & wellbeing, direct marketing, corporate governance, regional development and social media metrics.


What you can expect

More ah-ha moments

More second right answers

Drama-free creativity

Quiet expertise

Dinner – because I love to cook



From A to Z, except X

Past and present clients

I have lost count of the clients I have worked with. (Notice I write with, and not for – I consider every client relationship a partnership.)

I have helped them with branding, communications, audience engagement, digital marketing, strategy, idea generation and innovation.

Here’s a list of some of those clients:

AMPBundaberg RumNSW Roads & Traffic AuthorityLion NathanRegional Development AustraliaMcDonald’sCoca-ColaDepartment of Broadband, Communications and the Digital EconomyKellogg’sCommonwealth BankSubaruKFCCoolum Park Shopping CentreVolvoStarlight Children’s FoundationFritoLayToyotaKimberly-ClarkBudget Rent A CarArtlineNetwork 7LegoPenfoldsNokiaTelstraGlen Innes Severn Shire CouncilStocklandJalna YoghurtEnergexNotre Dame UniversityQueensland RailPanasonicNissanGovernance Institute of AustraliaLend LeaseAustralian Rugby UnionSuncorpSingapore Tourism BoardAustralian Stock ExchangeNutriciaSuperRatingsTrend MicroSydney BusesLexusAsgard FinanceAvisBell HelicoptersFairfax MediaAir Tahiti NuiUnited AirlinesCadburyJohnnie WalkerSealyProcter & GambleGlaxo Smith KlineBenckiserNew South Wales Business ChamberBT AustraliaCotteesPizza HutKraftPepsiAustralian Labor PartyJetstarJaguarWiltshireSouthern ComfortSanitariumCarlsbergPKF AccountantsMcWilliams WinesBDOSuperSavvyMirvac3 MobileK-Swiss • DirecTVCampbell’s FoodsGoodyearGatorade • Australian Laser Clinic • News Corporation • Clemenger BBDOColgate-PalmoliveThe Times Group IndiaJohnson & JohnsonTenterfield Shire Council Lonsec Fiscal

I would love to add your name to this list. Please get in touch. It costs nothing to have an exploratory chat.


What drives me

To help every client see a new way forward
(That and a mortgage)


The Fine Art Of Losing Clients


I have seen my fair share of client losses over the years.

I reckon I know what it takes to cause a client to leave.

I have written a book to help you understand what you need to do to cause a client to fire you.

The Fine Art of Losing Clients covers every technique you need to lose your source of income.

The book will be published in 2016. In the mean time…

  you can read a chapter here.


What clients say about me

An economic stimulus on 2 legs

Definitely want to have him present again

Very well respected amongst our team

Great guy, talented, inspirational, knowledgeable

An invaluable business resource

No clients were harmed in the production of these testimonials

Greg The Blog


I have opinions on lots of things. I express them in my blog.

They are mostly to do with branding, creative thinking, managing, innovation, human insights and design.

Have a look

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Why I write

I calculate I’ve written 10,000,000 words for clients


I write my blog for anyone who cares to read it