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    Industry insights: Myf Warhurst on feminism, media and quitting while you’re ahead

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    This is Part One of our Industry Insights interview with media legend Myf Warhurst. Stay tuned for Part Two next week, where she shares her top advice for women in media (and what it’s like to interview Germaine Greer)!

    By Annette Wagner

    There are more women than men in Australia. Our female population has hit 12 million, but there are still 96,300 baby boys to be born from the fellas to meet the 12 million mark.

    So, it is encouraging to know that our media isn’t all white middle-aged males dominating cameras and microphones, and that the people on our screens and radios accurately represent the population.

    Hang on. Do they?

    While it is necessary to discuss parity for the future, I think it’s equally important to focus on and support women that are making a difference now. Thankfully, Myf Warhurst has been making a difference in my media world for a longtime.

    Myf is an endearing favourite of many musically-minded people and her increasingly broader creative industry hosting ability comes with intelligence and a welcoming selection of canapés, putting both big name interviewees and lucky audiences at ease.

    After studying Music Education and Arts at Melbourne University, Myf started writing music reviews for Melbourne street paper InPress, then landed the job as editor. Since then, her rise as a well-known Australian doyen has been steady and continues to grow.

    On air with Triple J, she started with her first radio bi-weekly segments for Merrick and Rosso’s Drive program, then moved to hosting the Net 50 request program on Saturday nights, then hosting weekday Lunch shift and The Trashy Lunchtime Quiz, before finally hosting The Breakfast Show with Jay and the Doctor. She was coerced by Peter Helliar to join him as co-host on their Nova breakfast show which ran from 2007-2009 and then returned to ABC Local Radio hosting the summertime afternoon program.

    Of course, it’s not just her voice we have come to recognise, it’s that welcoming smile and her authenticity. Her television appearances include many, but captaining a team on Spicks and Specks from 2005 to 2011 certainly accelerated her recognition and popularity. It provided the leverage Myf needed to see her own six-part series realised, Myf Warhurst’s Nice, and since then, if you follow her on Instagram, there isn’t much we don’t know about her, and her cats, Terry and Steve.

    Far from any Cat Lady connotations however, she’s currently on the airways hosting lunch with Myf on Double J, is also a regular presenter on The Project, is the go to hostess with the mostess at many speaker events, and continues to be a contributing writer for many publications. To be honest, it’s a life I envy a little, backstage at Coachella and interviewing childhood crushes or current creative geniuses.

    Having just returned from a well-deserved week off in France and the UK, getting back to work on Double J and between the next hot bed of creatively inspiring people attending some other enviable event, I asked Myf to answer some questions about her experience so far in media which she kindly obliged.

    Be warned, inevitable music and pop culture puns throughout.

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    Clearly, your intrinsic love of music and pop culture have been your driving force, maintaining your career direction since you started working. Have you ever been distracted or challenged to continue on your own tour bus? Inspired to do something else, or perhaps even a little dissatisfied with your direction? If yes, what helped you get back on your bus?

    I constantly think about doing other things. I want to write a book, become an architect, fulfil my dream of ice skating for Australia at the next winter Olympics, do another stage show (like the Spicks and Specks live show we toured around the country), go back to University. It’s just down to having the time and the vision. When you’ve got a full time gig people don’t realise that it’s much more than just the hours on air, it’s a full time gig, so it’s hard to indulge all the other dreams. But I will never stop having harebrained ideas about what I want to be when I grow up.

    Not so long ago you took a gap year, or two, and based yourself in the UK. We actually spoke before you left and I recall you saying that you’d never had the chance to do it in your 20’s, and it was the right time to take a break. How did you find re-establishing yourself in a different market, and/or focusing on your writing? Were there any lessons learnt?

    I had such a magnificent time living in London. Career-wise it probably wasn’t the best thing to do, as it’s hard in my game (which is essentially a personality game) to establish yourself in an industry that has no idea who you are and don’t care about what you’ve done. To be honest, I think I left my run a bit late. I really wish I’d tried to do it when I was much younger, say in my 20s. It felt so right for me to be out of my comfort zone, it was really healthy and what I needed at the time. Fortunately I was able to get quite a bit of work from Australia while I was there so I could keep myself afloat. In my dreams I’ll do it again one day but it probably won’t happen. Not right now.

    On reflection of your media industry experience to date, highs and lows, here and abroad, was there a time or realisation that it was going to be a different journey for you from those of your male colleagues? How do you find the culture for women, from when you began, to now, in both radio and television?

    This is a tough one to answer. I’ve always been a strident feminist, even when I began, but it’s interesting to look back now and I realise that I’d never thought of myself in a minority. It’s funny, it’s only been the last few years that I began to recognise the lack of women in the media. It’s changing, fortunately, but it’s only been the last few years when TV shows have become conscious of not having all male panels (on panel shows in the UK, this was the norm and I found it quite odd). I also didn’t think as much about the male dominance in radio world either. As I get older, I notice it a lot more and I make every effort to make sure everything I do is diverse.

    When finishing Spicks and Specks, you said, “I’ve been lucky enough to experience many great things. I’ve seen Frank Woodley’s privates, been naked under a desk with Pete Murray, and met many of my childhood musical crushes. Life can’t get much better than that, so this seems like the perfect time to wind things up.” How did you know that it was time to seek out another challenge and end what had been a huge part of your career for 6 years? (Because being under a desk with Pete Murray did sound good!)

    Yep, Pete and I have never been naked under a desk again, sadly. Finishing Spicks and Specks was a decision Alan, Adam and I made together, and I think it was the right thing at the time (although I haven’t been offered many other gigs since, and will probably never do a TV show as loved as that again). I think leaving under our own steam was good – in TV, you normally get sacked so we thought it might be a good thing to go out on a high. And we had done the show for a long time. It felt right to hang up the boots. I do miss the boys though, and working with them. It was one of those special right time, right place, right people shows. They only come once in a lifetime.

    Annette Wagner is a designer, marketer, creative consultant, artist and writer. She is also on the board of the Creative Women’s Circle. Obsessively passionate about the arts and the creative process, she is determined to not talk art-speak and instead focus on supporting and sharing concepts and insights most creative types crave to know.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Interviews with Creative Women, Regular Columns | Comments Off on Industry insights: Myf Warhurst on feminism, media and quitting while you’re ahead
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    Managing people 101

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    By Jes Egan

    Managing and leading people successfully is a harder task than it may seem and often something that you have to work at just as hard as your job. Learning to manage someone can become easier with experience as you’ve developed these skills over time. Here are a few tips to consider.

    Manage yourself first

    Managing yourself may seem easy or unnecessary, but managing yourself so that someone else who works with you can feel confident in what you are doing is key. If you want to inspire and motivate someone to do their best, you have to show that you are also managing this yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses.  Leading by example, passion and determination is infectious.

    Be consistent and flexible

    Try and be consistent. Don’t be the type of manager where your staff feel that they have to gauge your mood or temperament before they approach you. Allow them the confidence to feel that they can approach you for anything: a problem or a success.

    Stay flexible though. It’s not being inconsistent but allows you to change direction when the task at hand needs it.

    Treat people how you’d like to be treated

    Leading by example is key, creating a good work environment where people feel respected, safe and confident is a great combination and can allow your employees to thrive. Think about the type of environment and how you’d like to be treated or spoken to and do all you can to ensure this happens.  Consider people and show compassion when needed- you can get the best out of people when you do this.  Acknowledge good work, especially when someone or a team does a good job.

    If you have multiple employees, ensure you give equal treatment, they don’t have to be treated exactly the same but don’t show favouritism or give one special treatment over another.

    Get to know your employee/s

    Showing a healthy interest in your employee’s lives outside of work will help make you an interested and involved employer. You don’t need to know every detail of their lives or be their shoulder to cry on but having an interest in what they are doing on the weekend or their hobbies or children can really help you to get to know your employees. Having interests outside of work is healthy for an employee and acknowledging this can help develop a great working environment.

    Trust your workers

    Trust your workers and encourage them to do it their way and try not to get too caught up in the finer detail, let them do that and empower them to take charge of their jobs. Don’t get angry if they don’t do it exactly how you’d do it. Allow them to do it their way and you may learn how to do it differently. If you give people your trust, I have found that they may go out of their way to ensure they don’t disappoint or lose that trust.

    Be clear

    Ensure you are clear in your tasks and are specific with what is needed to be done. What you get out of people  can be related to what you put in, so explain why things need to be done and share your vision. Communicate and value the people who work with you – make sure you listen to their ideas.

    Take responsibility

    Be responsible – if a problem is pointed out, help find a solution and don’t focus on the negative or what was done wrong, just find a way to fix it. If feedback is given to you in the form of a problem, understand it and try to resolve it, making sure that you feed information back to them on how you’re resolving it. If there is a human error or a mistake made by a team, don’t throw your employee/s under the bus, instead focus on making it right and sit down after it is resolved and debrief on what went wrong and where so you can ensure you don’t make the same mistake next time. Remember, mistakes happen, it’s not always a bad thing in the long run, so learn what you can from it.

    Managing people can be a hard thing to do, check in with your staff, see how they’re going. Don’t take it too personally if some of their feedback is negative – work on finding a way to make it better.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist, a university lecturer, and small business owner who can creatively be found cutting up a storm at paperchap.com. Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Regular Columns | Comments Off on Managing people 101
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    Five tips on working from home

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    By Jes Egan 

    Working from home seems like a great idea in theory. Ever tried it? All of a sudden you look at the clock and it’s 3pm, you’re still in your PJ’s and you’ve not actually done anything that actually classifies as work. Here are a few of my tips to get you started working from home.

    Shower

    Shower, get dressed and get ready for work. It may be a bonus working from home that you don’t need to make the effort as you’re not leaving the house. Think again: if you take advantage of this it can keep you in the wrong mindset. You want to try and position yourself that you are actually at work. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to have your face made up or your good clothes on, but set your day up like you are going into work. Start in your normal routine, shower, get dressed, have breakfast and your morning coffee. Then take a seat and get ready to work.

    Sit down

    You need a place to work – seems obvious, right? It is, but allocating a specified space for you to sit down and work can help to make you focussed and keep you in the right mindset. While you are in that space, focus on making it where you do your work. If you have a separate office or desk that is great, however not everyone will have this option in the house, so making do with a kitchen table or the couch are often the compromise that needs to be made. If you can try and have one space that you do your work, instead of moving around from seat to seat, this will help you train yourself that when in this space it is work time. You need to be comfortable so pick a seat that you are comfortable in. You don’t want to keep getting up (and getting distracted) but don’t get too comfortable, otherwise you may be like me and be tempted to have a little nap on the couch.

    Time

    Do your best work in the morning? Or not quite a morning person? Part of the bonus of working from home is picking your hours. Ideally if you can set work hours, give yourself a certain amount of time to do what you need to. It can easily be the case that you’ll still be working long after you planned to stop because you haven’t had to leave the ‘office’ to get dinner etc. Having a work / life balance is desired, however this is a difficult balance to find when your work and life are in the same place. I find setting hours that you are going to be doing what you need can help with this as it can make you focus on completing the job and hopefully stop you from getting too distracted.

    Lists

    Being a huge fan of lists I can’t recommend this more. I write at least one a day. When working from home set yourself a list of tasks to do in the time frame you have set. This can help set a focus for the day and stops you from finding something else to do when you get up to get a coffee. It also stops you from looking at the clock at 6pm then realising that you haven’t really achieved what you wanted throughout the day and wondering where the day went. Put the items that you least want to do at the top of that list, tick them off first so it’s not as tempting to procrastinate. If there is one large task for the day, break it down into smaller tasks in the order that you need to do them and work through them systematically. Tick the items on your list off as you go so you can see how you are progressing.

    Minimise the distractions

    Distractions can be one of the hardest things to mitigate. Do you know what you get most easily distracted by? If you’re on the computer, is it surfing the internet or email? Close all of your browser windows and only have visible the page / program that you need to work in. Same goes with your phone. Put it just out of reach, so if a call comes through you can hear it but you’re not tempted to pick it up to check Instagram or to send a message. Any other things that easily distract you, try and keep them out of your line of sight or hearing range where you can.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist, a university lecturer, and small business owner who can creatively be found cutting up a storm at paperchap.com. Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Regular Columns | Comments Off on Five tips on working from home
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    Australian Women in Art: Jacqui Stockdale

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    This the first post in a new series on contemporary Australian Women in Art, by creative all-rounder Annette Wagner. 

    Like most of you, I’m inspired by so many amazing artists, both male and female. I especially have a long list of Australian female artists that I sincerely admire, and have many questions I’d like to ask each and every one of them. It’s no secret that being an artist anywhere requires dedication and determination, however, I want to understand specifically what it takes to be a female artist, here in Australia. It’s no feminist stance; it is merely a closer look and more importantly, a show of support. I’ll be chatting to women currently exploring, actively creating and nationally and internationally contributing to the art world. I’ll ask them questions that aim to explore their beginnings, influences, career highs and lows, finding representation, challenges of being a female artist in Australia, being acknowledged overseas and what they are doing now that we can all support.

    I’m very pleased to introduce Jacqui Stockdale, our first contributor. I’ve admired Jacqui Stockdale’s work for a long time as it evokes something quite powerful from her poised stills, like a theatrical performance unfolding.

    Jacqui has won the Doug Moran Contemporary Photography Prize 2012, is a past winner of the Belle Art Prize and the Hutchins Art Prize. She’s had residencies in Barcelona, her work has been shown at the Louvre, Paris and is in collections nationally and internationally.

    Best known for her theatrical portrait photography, figurative paintings, drawings and collages, her practice explores cultural identity, folklore and the transformative nature of masquerade and ritual in society. Her most recent work, The Boho series, currently showing as part of the Adelaide Biennial 2016, is a series of portrait photographs, which are part performative direction and part collaboration.

    Jacqui Stockdale The Boho landscapesJacqui with her works The Boho Landscapes

    Collaboration with the subjects, including Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins and the striking physical presence of Arun Roberts who Jacqui discovered and felt compelled to include in her series. She has also collaborated with friend and artist Kate Rhodes who worked with her to transform the imminent magical object, a spear, embedding it with personal objects, elevating its underlying meaning and importance. Collaboration with Rose Chong Costumes, which transforms the subjects and transport you to her setting along with her enormous painted backgrounds of Australian bush landscapes, reminiscent of the Impressionists from the Heidelberg School. The framing sets the stage. Combined, the outcome engages the audience and completes the theatrical translation.

    After recently meeting with Jacqui, she explained how almost fortuitously this project came together, with both subjects and objects presenting themselves to her during the process of the series. The success of this is evident with all elements coming together, and working well, demonstrating her skill, confidence, intuition and most importantly it allows the viewer to be lost in her performance.

    What in your personal life influenced you to choose and pursue a career in the arts?

    A combination of having a natural flair for drawing and painting as a kid, encouragement from both parents and an artistic sensibility. The fear of having to choose to be a nurse.

    What other jobs did you have before you committed to your art full time?

    I worked at KFC, was a cleaner and a life model.

    How many proposals did you write before you got your first grant/residency/exhibition?

    Good question! In my attempt to write a grant, I would feel ill and dizzy. It took a long time to get good at it, maybe two decades, but now I am fluent. I’d say I wrote about six before I landed a yes.

    I discussed this further with Jacqui when we met, and she said that getting assistance from others helped enormously. People who were stronger writers, or were familiar with proposal writing and she stressed how important their support has been, and continues to be, to review her work and provide feedback.

    'Where I Stood' Missy HigginsPart of her work Where I Stood with Missy Higgins

    How did you achieve gallery representation?

    Once I finished my art degree at the VCA I moved to Hobart and after two years I was approached by Dick Bett and represented by Bett Gallery. It was a good start.

    Was there a turning point in your career that made you believe that the status of an artist is equal to a ‘worker’?

    I’m not sure if it is equal, it’s just very different, and there are pros and cons to being either.

    Were you ever discouraged or had setbacks that derailed your career?

    Yes, of course. There was a time in my mid-thirties that I felt like there was no one out there. I had just returned to Melbourne after 10 years of living in Hobart, Sydney and Darwin and expected to be picked up by a gallery straight away. When this did not happen, given I was working solidly, I began to get really down. You can see in the work I made from that period how dark I was feeling.

    But maybe the work was really rich with meaning, not sure! It started to pick up once I was approached by Helen Gory Galerie in 2006.

    What are your least favourite and most favourite things about being an artist?

    Least favourite thing is dealing with my tax, most favourite is working on my own terms and having the luxury of living a very creative life.

    What do you do to keep yourself optimistic and motivated?

    I dance swing and tango, do ten yoga salutations in the morning, then give thanks to the day, run really slowly around the hood, eat good food, breath deeply, jump on the trampoline with my son, laugh with friends and have ping pong parties every so often.

    Do you think there is a gender imbalance in Australia supporting female artists operating in our current contemporary art system?

    Yes, but I don’t feel it personally.

    Do you feel that Australian female artists have fewer resources, crucial financial support, to go into making and producing art?

    Yes, I think they do, particularly within the realm of motherhood and needing to take more time away from their practice to raise children than men do, though this is gradually shifting as men step in. I know some women who feel guilty about going to the studio while their kids are in childcare. It made me work really hard during those hours, but I always managed a manicure/pedicure. I must say that regardless of these inequalities, I have always surrounded myself with very positive, independent female visual artists (and musicians). Their drive to forge on rubs off on you.

    Beyond the specific political and ideological issues involved in the subjection of women, what does success really mean and how is it achieved to you?

    Success to me means working steadily on my practice over many years and making a living from my art (as well as being subsidised by teaching, grants, nice patrons).

    What is the best advice you have ever been given?

    10% talent 90% perseverance.

    Jacqui has recently collaborated on film and animation with Michelle Jarni, producing a short film about the process of her ‘Super Naturale’ series of portraits.  You can also check out her new series The Boho at various locations in Adelaide and Melbourne.  

    Annette Wagner is a designer, marketer, creative consultant, artist and writer. She is also on the board of the Creative Women’s Circle. Obsessively passionate about the arts and the creative process, she is determined to not talk art-speak and instead focus on supporting and sharing concepts and insights most creative types crave to know.

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    Posted by: Emma Clark
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