The Formula for Impact

The young public servant’s guide to doing well while doing good. With wit and insight, two career public servants lay out what you need to know to make your mark in government.


A letter to potential readers


I don’t know you, but tell me how I do…

You’re a public servant. I like you already 🙂

You didn’t enter the service to enrich yourself. You’re here to make an impact. But nothing (and no one) prepared you for how hard that would be. You’ve started to wonder, how can it be this difficult to do good?

Thankfully, you have your family and friends to lighten your load with their zingers about your cruisy, no-pressure, job for life…

If only working in government were the bludge everyone on the outside thought it was huh?

Public service doesn’t have to be this hard

If I’m right about where you are, the good news is, I’ve been there, too. That’s how I know it doesn’t have to be that way.

Starting right now, you can begin to bridge the gap between what you thought you needed to achieve success in public service, and what it really takes.

Your roadmap to making an impact in public service

Enter The Formula For Impact – a book I wrote for you (and the other 2 million public servants in Australia).

My book is your personal roadmap to achieving everything you want in your public sector career. It’s packed cover-to-cover with hard-won, plain-spoken advice from an insider.

That insider is me, Georgie Smith, with some help from my husband, Travis Bates. Yes, we’re a public service love story 🙂 However, more importantly for your purposes, we’re career public servants who still have an intact belief in government’s enormous potential to do good.

The Formula For Impact combines an incisive defence of the public sector with a battle cry for young public servants — all wrapped around a no-bullshit guide to making a positive difference.

Don’t quit - we need you

I wrote The Formula For Impact because, over my two decades in government, I noticed a disturbing pattern. Too many talented people enter public service full of purpose, only to leave in high dudgeon, ground down by the machine.

That’s a national disaster, because you are essential. Whether you’ve chosen local, state or federal government, we need you. This is the make-or-break century, and whether the world realises it or not, it’s counting on its public servants.

You CAN make a difference

You and I both know, the public service is vital, to communities, to our country and hell, I’ll say it – to the world. And it’s because public service is vital that I know you can make a difference.

The public service does things the private sector could never do. That’s why comparing government to the private sector is like comparing apples to deckchairs. Yet, so much training tries to “bring the private sector into the public service”.

Because government would be so much better if it were run like a consulting firm, or a start-up, or a Bitcoin mine…

When you’re playing chess, footy lessons aren’t going to help.  

Let me help you

What will help is insight and advice from someone who believes in the public service, someone who has thrived in the public service, and someone who continues to support excellence in the public service every day.

I’ve stood in front of the same obstacles you have; I’ve felt the same frustrations you have, and yes, I’ve ground my teeth down to nubs the same as you have. Through all of that, I found a way to leave a legacy I’m proud of.

Let me show you how to do the same.

All strength to your arm,



…PS Scroll down to learn what you discover in The Formula For Impact.


5 Part Process

289 Pages

The young public servant’s guide to doing well while doing good.

“How can I make a difference?”

”Why are things so slow around here?”

“Is the public sector for me?!”

Every day, new recruits join two million Aussie public servants striving to help our country thrive.

But whether you’re in local, state or federal government, without a roadmap it’s easy to get overwhelmed, lose hope, and quit. Unless you have guides.

With wit and insight, two career public servants lay out what you need to know to make your mark in government:

  • Why public servants are critical to solving Australia’s big challenges
  • How to master your greatest asset – yourself
  • How to attract powerful allies to your cause
  • The architecture of all problems (and how to solve them)

This book is for young public servants seeking impact they can be proud of.


FOR BULK ORDERS (8+ copies): buy enough copies for your team, and we’ll deliver you a webinar for free!

Why? Because we’re here to help you make a difference.

So if you’re willing to invest in books for your team, we’re willing to help you take it further! A webinar provides a conversation-starter, and then the book becomes something you can return to with your team over time.

To take up this offer, just email and tell us how many copies you want, as well as a little bit about your team. We’ll then set up a time to have a quick chat and recommend the best topic. Then a bit of logistics, and boom! More engaged team 😀

Part 1: The stuff they don’t teach you at work

Most new recruits get taught all about the records management system, how to apply for leave and all the other minutia of life in a big machine.

But for some reason, most government agencies don’t do the best job of grounding new talent in the information they truly need — the kind of foundational knowledge that sets you up to make a dent in the universe.

So the first part of The Formula For Impact will fill you in on the nitty-gritty — the torch-in-the-dark stuff that will make you say, “Ah, so that’s why…”.

Bonus: incredibly useful for responding to whatever charming comment comes back at you next time someone at a BBQ asks you what you do…

Part 2: Getting to know you

If you’ve been in government for a minute, you’ve met the person you don’t want to become in 10 years. There’s a word for those people: toxic.

This part shows you how to program your career GPS so you arrive at a different destination: happy and fulfilled.

Bonus: regardless of where your career takes you, working out your own motivations is a no-regrets option.

Part 3: Gathering superheroes

To make an impact, you’ll need a coalition — not the political kind, the Justice League kind.

This part shows you how to bring together a collection of superheroes you can work with to get shit done.

Bonus: being ace at working with, through and around other people is pretty much the shortest route to getting promoted.

Part 4: Outsmarting problems

One thing government is never short of is problems. Problems, problems, so many problems to solve. However, not all of them can be solved, and some of the problems that can be solved don’t matter all that much. So how do you choose what to tackle?

This part shows you how to find solvable problems, worth solving.

Bonus: the most easily fixable driver of overwhelm is a shortage in problem-poking skills. Solve for this, and your whole life gets easier.

Part 5: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The best change — the kind that sticks — is change that people respect. So not only do you need to solve problems worth solving, you need to do it in a way that makes people nod and say “yep, fair enough”.

This part shows you how to discover, design and deliver to a process that makes people glad you showed up and rolled up your sleeves.

Bonus: this is the part where all the rest of what we’ve talked about actually comes together to make the change that you want, happen.

Get it Now!

Starting right now, you can begin to bridge the gap between what you thought you needed to achieve success in public service, and what it really takes.






60 years combined experience as public servants.

Georgie Smith has government in her veins. As well as serving in local and state government in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, she also grew up in a family of public servants. She’s been surrounded by service since before she knew what it meant.

Georgie’s official public sector career started in a truly depressing outer suburban Housing Department office, then upgraded to the insanity of a Minister’s office, followed by the relative calm of the Queensland Ambulance Service, Marrickville Council, and then eventually her personal nirvana, the Victorian Environment Protection Authority.

Over a 20-year career in public service, Georgie saw great teams waste time and money on lousy training. More often than not, the training was lousy because it failed to understand, let alone have respect for, what makes the public sector unique. (And why it’s a GREAT thing that the public sector doesn’t work the same way as the private sector.)

So Georgie co-founded (with Travis) her own business, Upsides Training, to provide the government-specific training that public servants deserve. All delivered in Georgie’s no-bullshit style.

Georgie knows the struggle to keep your head up under the daily drip of criticism from people who don’t understand your realities. It’s why she’s committed herself to transforming how public servants see themselves and their role in society.

Her long term goals include thumping the table on The Project (at least Waleed should understand why gov matters, right?) and inspiring a generation to consider a career in government to be A Very Good Thing.

In her spare time Georgie enjoys starting gardening projects (that Trav finishes) and learning how not to suck at watercolour painting.

  • 20 years in public service
  • The one out front
  • Expect inspiration

Travis Bates started in public service in the mines and ports of WA, before he came home to inspect the abattoirs and landfills of Victoria as an Environment Protection Officer. After questioning the finer details (and odours) of his life choices, Travis moved from the field into operational policy. The shift enabled Travis to do what he really loves – working out how to do stuff smarter, safer, fairer, better.

That’s also where Travis’ love for training took hold — guiding new staff to transform abstract concepts into real-world wins.

After a sojourn as a member director on some of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, Travis decided that arguing with suits over basics wasn’t for him, and he joined Georgie in helping the public sector thrive through Upsides.

In his spare time, Travis is lead parent, head chef and a better-than-average DIY guy. He dreams one day of building a canoe.

  • 15 years experience
  • The one behind the scenes
  • Expect insight

Travis and I met in 2013, working at the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (one of those special places you never forget). We actually met while both Travis and I were advocating for our colleagues as union delegates.

I was actually the president of the union chapter, but needed to step down, because I’d taken on the responsibility of leading a big organisational restructure.

Travis took over the presidency, then gave me hell every inch of that restructure! But that process helped us really see each other’s character. The photos on this page probably give you a hint as to how that worked out – we got married in 2015, and our “Squisho” was born 3 years later.

When the world stopped in early 2020, we started asking ourselves what we wanted our legacy to be. Over hikes through our local forest, we gradually realised we had something important to say.

Our years of unique insights made their way to the surface. The result was our book, The Formula for Impact, and now, Upsides Training, where together Travis and I head a small team of passionate people with a huge goal – to reach all 2 million Aussie public sector workers and help them be their most awesome!

Upsides Training is our contribution to making our wonderful country the best it can be, by helping the people who help us all.

If you’re a dedicated public servant intent on being your best, we’d love to work with you!



Deep in the Great Otway National Park, these Redwoods here have never been used as plantation trees and have never been cut. Forestry experts believe that they could grow to become among the tallest trees in the world.


Deep in the Great Otway National Park, these Redwoods here have never been used as plantation trees and have never been cut. Forestry experts believe that they could grow to become among the tallest trees in the world.

I could have been so much more effective early in my career if I’d had Georgie’s toolkit at my fingertips. The practical guidance in this book, a distillation of many years’ experience and study, is a real gift to the next generation of public servants.

Sarah Overton

Georgie Smith is a rare gem in the world of public administration. She has a depth of knowledge that has been developed over many years and tested in some of the most robust public entities in Australia. Every person that needs to know how to be the best in any public service must read this book.

Scott Patterson

There is a great mix of humility and humour that is prevalent throughout this informative book which makes it an enjoyable read. Impact makes it seem like I am just talking with a friend at a bar, discussing the complexity and importance of being a public servant.

Joseph Sanchez

It is so much fun to read that I almost forgot I was learning something! After 10 years in local government I often feel I’m hearing the same ideas so your book is a breath of fresh-air.

James Lenihan

In clear contemporary language this book provides a fresh and invigorating view of the nature of public service. As an excellent primer for new graduates entering a career of public service, it lays out a theoretical framework that leads to practical decision making, based on the notion of public good. This book empowers the new public servant to sensibly and respectfully question the status quo, thus overturning the stereotype of a slow, bloated and unresponsive bureaucracy. Its thought leadership comes when most needed - at the beginning of their career - to create the foundation for a lifetime of true public service.

Karen Edson

Just finished reading the “The Formula for Impact” by Georgie Smith, a remarkable leader with whom I had the pleasure of crossing paths, albeit briefly, in the Victorian Public Service. My very honest summation of Georgie’s book is that it’s a clear blueprint for change, a guide I fervently wish every budding leader in the public service could read. The collective wisdom they would absorb, and the transformation the public service would undergo, would be truly monumental. What struck me was her unique perspective on disruptions. She not only helps leaders foresee these curveballs but deftly guide them in transforming these disruptions into manageable problems. It’s clear that “The Formula for Impact” is the culmination of Georgie’s years of experience, passion, and craft. Every page is suffused with her dedication and understanding, making the book a beacon for aspiring leaders. Kudos to Georgie for this enlightening work! It’s a must-read for anyone looking to make a real impact.

Matthew Armour

I want to thank you, Georgie and Travis, for sharing this book with me and my leadership team! The Formula for Impact, while written for young public servants, has assisted me in understanding how best to use my skills as a leader to provide what society needs from us as regulators! My favourite quote: “The purpose of every public service agency is to deliver what their jurisdiction needs in order to thrive” (page 18). A highly recommended book, even if you don’t work for the public sector.

Joanna Missen