E9 Craig Hollywood – The Power of Connection

Back of House, Front of Mind

“Back of House, Front of Mind” is a podcast presented by Healthy Mind Menu, an industry-led initiative that aims to improve the lives and normalise conversations around mental health for those working in the hospitality industry.

Welcome, Craig Hollywood

Craig Hollywood is Western Australia’s Local Hero for 2022 as part of the Australian Of The Year Awards. He is the Founder of the volunteer-led for purpose organisation Short Back & Sidewalks, a group that provides positive connections and breaks the stigma attached to vulnerable members of the community across Australia, one free haircut at a time.

SBSW was founded by Craig as a result of observing a service delivery gap within those in need in the community. He has been an active member of SBSW since its establishment, volunteering at all levels. Currently, Craig is responsible for the national expansion and strategic partnership of SBSW, and his passion and drive has helped to grow its service delivery across Australia.

A Civil Engineer with over 20 years of experience, Craig understands the power of a sharp new haircut, as well as the importance of meaningful conversations. His remarkable story about positively impacting communities through the simple act of giving a free haircut is inspiring the next generation to give back.

Podcast Show Notes/ Recommendations
Learn more about Short Back & Sidewalks

Tell us how you spend your days.

Principal Technical Officer at AECOM, a global engineering consultancy. Currently working on two of WA’s larger Metronet projects, Yanchep Rail Extension and Thornlie Cockburn Link, providing engineering designs and coordination for civil packages.

CEO & Founder of Short Back & Sidewalks, an entirely voluntary organisation established in Perth in 2015 to provide haircuts free of charge and free of judgement to those members of our community who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. It is the only service of its kind in Australia.

Keynote speaker, traveling Australia telling the story about the power of connectedness and the power of an idea. They are things we all have and things that shouldn’t be dismissed.

Have you ever worked in the hospitality industry? 

Once upon a time, I worked at Subiaco Oval, as one of those annoying people selling pies that would walk past and block your view of whatever event was on, and I also worked at Mcdonald’s, a life-altering experience. My experiences in these roles taught me that to get anywhere you needed to work hard. These roles would give me the opportunity to buy things like tickets to a concert or new trainers, and also the power of collaboration and work in a team environment, where everyone played a role, and if even one of these areas was to break down, it had a negative impact on everything, likewise if everything worked well, it was a sight to behold.

Can you tell us about your career and how you got to where you are today?

I always loved construction, how things are built and how they work. I remember doing tech drawing and engineering design in school and immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do. Because to be honest I didn’t really like anything so that was a stroke of luck. I liked civil engineering because it was something you could recognise and visualise, as opposed to mechanical or electrical.

I’ve always had a strong attention to detail and I think that’s helped me a lot in my career, because most of the time, things have to be exactly right or else it all goes wrong. Having this attention to detail is something that’s not only helped with my role in the engineering sector, but also with creating Short Back & Sidewalks, and being able to visualise and strategise. 

Without my experience in the engineering sector, working to deadlines and being able to operate in a certain way, then Short Back & Sidewalks wouldn’t have been going for as long. I’m lucky now that I can work alongside other people with similar approaches and mindsets in helping the organisation get to where it needs to go next.

Explain the reasons why mental well-being has become important to you.

I’m aware of the effects of mental health challenges and specifically the role that addiction plays in all of that. We lost a close family member who battled their demons, one of those demons was alcohol, when I look back I feel that this was the reason I started a charity to help people in this position, because it could be anyone’s family member, we don’t get to choose. Every time I see someone on the street or someone who is battling, I think of that family member.

How do you handle stress, negative thoughts and emotions?

I have an ability to operate quite productively under a lot of stress, and deep down I probably thrive on it all, and can get the best out of myself the more stress I’m under. I’ve always been busy, for as long as I can remember, whether it be through work, now Short Back & Sidewalks, I used to present a radio show on RTRFM, and also DJ a fair bit, so life has always been busy and a combination of loads of different things, which I believe (for me) is important to do, to avoid being bored. Plus you’re not here for that long, right?

How do you prioritise self-care and balance it with other responsibilities in your life?

I’ve had to think about this lot more over recent years as life has gotten more busy. I’ve always been physically active, so I’ve played football (soccer) most of my life, I’ve now started going to acupuncture and some meditation. As well as that I go to CrossFit every day and have done it for the past 10 years. As a 40 year old I feel this is even more important now.

Can you tell us about a person who has had a significant impact on your life?

I don’t really look to anyone or anything specifically in regards to this. If you try and be someone else or do things in a way that were successful for someone else, ultimately if that’s not who you are then it’s not going to work.

I’m influenced and inspired by people that you feel comfortable with when the chips are down or when you’re in a crisis. People who have give that sense of calm in knowing they’ve been there before and can handle it. This can happen in any situation in life, the calm and the guidance you can get from others who can lead during those times inspires me.

What is something you’re currently working on that you’re excited about?

Short Back & Sidewalks has just signed an invitation to receive $400,000 of Federal Funding from the Albanese Government. Over the next two years, we aim to deliver the service to disadvantaged people in regional and remote communities across Western Australia and then expand to other states. Communities include Albany, Broome, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Port Hedland, Karratha-Roebourne, Carnarvon, Derby-Fitzroy Crossing, Esperance, and Kununurra-Halls Creek.

Creating a sustainable revenue stream for Short Back & Sidewalks generated by the hair industry is a challenge I’m also excited by.

If you could simplify your philosophy on life, how are you living? What do you tell yourself each morning when you wake up?

You’re awake, you’re alive, you’ve got clean air and food on the table, live life, be yourself, things could be a lot worse.

How do you approach goal setting and achieving success?

I usually subscribe to running like a bull at a gate to most things I do, which is great and has resulted in a lot of success, but as I learn more, this has to be balanced by being strategic, taking your time, not accepting everything and doing everything at the one time. It’s taken me the best part of 40 years to realise this.

How do you inspire well-being in those around you?

Checking in with people, having honest conversations, asking questions, listening, and making sure that people know you’re there and can lend a hand if need be.

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Let’s make sure mental health is always on the menu!

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