Book review: Full Throttle by John Caldwell & Trish McLean with Paul Little

cv_full_throttleI don’t think I’ve seen or read a flipbook since I was in intermediate. This isn’t a criticism; with two slightly different covers, Full Throttle is a refreshing change to the auto/biography genre, especially in an Australasian setting.

Full Throttle gives the life stories of CEO’s Trish McLean and John Caldwell, and the history of Retailworld Resourcing, in New Zealand and Australia. Despite being New Zealand’s second largest employer, RWR acknowledges that retail often gets a bad rap, and provides an excellent service to find excellent employees for high-quality jobs in New Zealand, Australia, and The UK. Through John’s story especially, you can see where a career in retail can take you, especially after the childhood he had.

As a flipbook, you read Trish’s story, flip the book over, read John’s story, and then read their joint story of building the business and brand of RetailWorld in the middle. The book uses a mix of first and third person, which I personally didn’t enjoy (I prefer first person), but there really isn’t anything wrong at all with it, just my own crazy reading habits.

Being a business thriving to one hit dramatically by the Global Financial Crisis, RetailWorld morphed into a franchise to survive. And is still going strong today. Trisha and John managed to pull through, despite some incredibly tough times, and tell a story that really shows what amazing working relationships (especially with the bank) can do.

“If you go from running one café to owning 10 cafes, you are no longer someone who runs a café. You are a business owner and you have to step up to that role. We are now franchisors; we are not recruitment people any more.”

The section about the business itself contains really great information for anyone looking into launching a start-up, or just generally interested in the world of business. The section has ‘take-aways’ at the end chapter, giving tips and hints Trish and John have discovered during their time together.

One thing I really did enjoy throughout Full Throttle is the sheer love both Trish and John show for their business and the people who help them do their job each day. I’ve always worked in really great retail stores, but I’m aware of debacles that can happen within the industry, and it’s refreshing to see people in charge of finding high-end management are actually fantastic at their jobs.

My one major criticism of the book is really only one based on my own background in publishing – the final draft needed a really, really good proofread. I’m distracted easily by hyphens and en dashes used interchangeably, a lack of a fullstop, or basic grammatical mistakes. But this doesn’t take away from what is, in essence, a really interesting story that you may not have necessarily picked up off the shelf.

All in all, a fantastic and engaging read for anyone interested in the world of business, or just looking to read about two interesting and totally different lives that came together to create a recruitment agency which still thrives today.

Reviewed by Kimaya McIntosh

Full Throttle
by John Caldwell & Trish McLean with Paul Little
Published by RWR IP Partnership
ISBN 9780473228279

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