Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where's the action?

I know it's been a little quiet here lately - just a quick reminder that my non-fiction reading and writing blog Read Up On It for Australian online bookseller Boomerang Books is being updated on a weekly basis.

This month I have been mainly obsessing about character deaths, doing NaNoWriMo, wondering if Australia Post think I live at 12 Grimauld Place and, of course, reading up on the Rugby World Cup. Good luck to the Wallabies!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beer and Brewer magazine spring 2011 - Chuck Hahn for the Hall of Fame

You may not know Chuck's name straight away but if you drink beer, there's a good chance his name is in your fridge right now. 

Dr Charles "Chuck" Hahn has devoted over four decades in three countries to the task of brewing those best beers, crafting beers for some of the biggest names; Coors, Lion Nathan, Hahn, James Squire.  Armed with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an insatiable love of great food and beer, he cut his teeth at Coors in Colorado and Tooth in Sydney (forgive the pun, please) before founding the brewery that made him a household name - the Hahn Brewery.  When the rights to make and distribute that beer sold to Toohey and moved home, he changed the brewery's name to the Malt Shovel where, he says, they make beer they want to drink and "sell whatever is left over".

Thankfully they don't manage to drink all of it, and there's enough James Squire (and their fascinating Mad Brewers' range) left for the rest of us.

I got to interview Chuck for his induction into the Beer and Brewer Hall of Fame (see their spring issue for 2011). I spent a thoroughly fascinating and slightly inebriating two hours talking beer and brewing with him in the Malt Shovel Brewery where Chuck insisted I try most if the beers (and gave me an excellent Mad Brewers Stout Noir to take home). We talked about swimming, marketing, James Squire and John Boston, and, of course, beer.

Why yes, sometimes I do get paid to write about drinking beer. You can commence hating me in three, two, one...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Party Party

Anyone who knows me can tell you, I love a good party. So writing this piece for Executive PA's April/May issue on ensuring your office bash goes with a bang was right up my alley. I got chase up advice from some of Australia's most experienced event organisers, including Ray Shaw, Managing Director of MCI Australia  and Australia's longest accredited meetings manager ("36 years and I still love it!"). Here are some of his tips to get the most from your night.
  • SET THE SCENE. The quality, delivery and style of the invitation gets people anticipating - make it irresistible!
  • GET THEM THERE. Make sure parking or transport is readily, and preferably freely, available. Consider offering transport or taxi vouchers,
  • ON THE NIGHT. The event itself reflects on your company - keep it social but professional.
  • KEEP THE FEELING GOING. Follow up with photos or mementos and friendly communication to extend your event's impact long after the last reveller leaves.

This is an exerpt only, for the full text, please contact me.

No, the *other* type of wet willy.

This was published in MX, Australia's free public transport daily, on 1 September.

The most amusing bit, for me, is that in Ireland the term "wet willy" means when someone dampens a finger and sticks it in your ear and wiggles it, to squick you out. Over here in Australia, it just means damp penis.

So. I have told MX's readership (three quarters of a million and counting) that a hairdresser stuck his penis in my ear. No, wait - BOTH ears.

Sadhbh Warren on haircuts

I’m beginning to regret deciding to save cash by getting a haircut at a hairdressing college. I’m the only person there, and all the other students are merrily chopping away on mannequins.

A trainee starts swearing and frantically rubbing her doll’s head with a cloth – she has mixed up something wrong and it’s a good thing she’s not using a real person (things you never want to hear your hairdresser say: ‘‘Oh my God, her ears! They’re melting!’’).

So far, I’m not too worried. They tell me that they make sure the students are capable before they let them near real people. But the trick is to get the student with lots of training, and I don’t.

I get the middle-aged guy called Ray who has cut hair for 10 years untrained and has decided to formalise his qualifications. His enthusiasm is only spoiled by his inability to hold scissors steady. Ray takes a deep breath, and wanders around my head looking confused. My hair is lifted and combed and dropped and combed and squinted at.

Eventually he asks ‘‘What is your hairstyle?’’

I explain that I don’t have a hairstyle. I have hair and lots of it. A huge, flaming-red mane capable of swallowing whole paddle brushes for breakfast. I’m too lazy to straighten it, so it does what it likes, occasionally attacking people who get too close on trains.

I am steered to a basin and Ray gives me the head scrub of a lifetime. I am stunned by the various blows to the head and the fact Ray’s technique includes a double wet willy at the end to ensure he has got all the shampoo out of my ears.

Once my hair has been washed, it needs to be towel dried. Ray approaches this task with enthusiasm. Perhaps he likes drying hair. Perhaps he hates me. By the time he is finished, I amamazed to see any strands left on my head.

So is Ray. He begins to cut, and cut and cut some more. It’s all going fine until the head teacher walks by. He leans in to look and Ray jerks the scissors in surprise, taking off far more than he planned to. Then he has to trim, bringing it all to the same length.

It’s almost done and SNIP! the teacher wanders by again. Ray sighs and starts to trim further.

Eventually he puts down the scissors and picks up the hair dryer. I can see by the way he is blow-drying that he is trying to give me volume. I don’t need volume. If my mane grows any larger, it’ll be capable of eating Tokyo. I tell him this. He sighs and puts away the roller brush.

Just a little? Please? He waggles a paddle brush at me.

And, semi-concussed and frightened that if I refuse I’ll get another wet willy, I give in. The mannequins reflected in the mirror watch, their mouths all open in silent screams. As I stumble out the door with what seems to be a beehive on my head, I think I know how they feel.

The girl at the desk asks if I’d like to try any other treatments from the students. They’re doing free waxing...
I didn’t know that I could move that fast – it must be my new aero-dynamic hairstyle.

Sadhbh Warren is an mX reader who is no longer dangerous to sit next to.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Time Smart day - from Executive PA magazine

This was a very fun one to write - an office day optimised for performance according to recent studies in human chronbiology, psychology and accident statistics. This is an excerpt, please contact me if you'd like to see more.

We talk about our daily rhythms but have you ever wondered how to make them work for you in the office? Chronobiology might just have the answer to finding the right time every time.

Chronobiology is the study of our biological rhythms and cyclic processes and among these rhythms, the circadian, or daily rhythms, are the most extensively studied as they have the biggest effect on our lives. By keeping an eye on the daily biological clock, you can work with your - and your co-workers - daily rhythms for the best results.

When is best to send that email? When should you do mundane tasks? And what's the best time to tackle tricky issues - like asking your boss for a payrise?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Best of Foo

So, last night I was on Goat Island watching the Foo Fighters play their new album. Which was awesome. I won the tics by entering a competition on V Music. They wanted vids from fans on why they should go. I figured they would be about a billion, "OMG I luv the FOos!!1!" type entries, so I pleaded with them to send me. For Science.

The exact science was that, with the engagement party on Sat, I needed to check my bloke, P, was in fact hotter than Dave Grohl (who I had formerly believed to be the hottest man alive before meeting P). Need to check before the wedding, donchaknow. For Science.

P has forgiven me. Probably. I discovered something useful for our relationship at the gig - curling my hand into the RAWK horns symbol stops my engagement/wedding rings from flying off while moshing. This is a useful thing to know.

Anyway, it was an awesome gig. 38 songs, plenty of pricking about. They exhausted us. I noticed they played a lot from the earlier albums and their latest album is really stripped down, both in the production and the videos. Don't believe me? Check out White Limo, a Motorhead-esque song with a handcam shot feel, starring none other than Lemmy. And Rope, the next song, only took a day to shoot.

What was really noticeable was just how much fun they were having. How much they were chatting to each other, the audience. The sheer joy in the music. They closed with "This is a Call", their first ever hit.

They've already scheduled two extra gigs - one last week to benefit Christchurch, one on Sunday for the QLD floods. At 11am, they announced they were doing another gig tonight. In the Manning Bar, on Sydney campus. I can see roadies and rigs out my window. The 900 tickets went on sale, one per person only, from a few small independant record stores - Red Eye and Hum. Sold out fast. Apparently the Hum queue was far longer than the Apple one accross the road.

They're still doing stadiums, and selling tickets on site before shows to try and deter scalpers. But from this close - and it is close, their roadies are outside my window - it looks like the Foos are trying their best to play their music for the fans and for the music. Supporting little record shops. Playing for charity.

I'm not sure what the hell is going on. But I approve.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bring on the Sunshine - Sunshine Coast business destinations, for Executive PA Magazine Feb 2011

Here is a prime example of being careful what you cover when you're broke. Writing this was an exercise in torture - all those descriptions of stunning beaches, tropical balmy days and great food. I'm well overdue for another holiday there!

Also, the title amuses me as it's one of my favourite things about Australia generally. 

It’s known for the 300 days of sun it gets each year, with over 30 high-quality venues and endless exceptional activities, it’s as a business event destination that the Sunshine Coast really shines.

(This is a clipping only, for more please contact me.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PORTFOLIOS AND PAs - Executive PA magazine piece published in October

Every job has its low points and some days it feels like the good bits of your role are bits you get to do the least of. Imagine a job where you do what you enjoy and command an excellent wage for specialising. Wouldn’t it great if you could cherry-pick the best bits of your job and jettison the worst?

Maybe you can. It’s called a Portfolio Career and, according to the experts, many of us would be naturals at it.

With a portfolio career you work multiple part-time jobs that combine into your full-time role. This could include part-time or contract employment, self-employment options such as running your own business, as well as charitable and volunteer work. Portfolio careers are usually built around a collection of core skills and interests, and you call the shots on what skills you want to use. Dr Barrie Hopson, co-author of “And What Do You Do - 10 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career" believes that many PAs already possess the skills needed for a successful portfolio careerist.

“People who thrive on portfolio careers are self starters and excellent time managers who cope well with stress and pressure. They love to learn and can multitask. Typically portfolio workers are also well organized and do not need careful supervision. They are used to becoming effective team members quickly and just as quickly to move out to become part of a new team or take on a new role.”

Is it for me?

Would a portfolio career suit you? According to Dr Barrie Hopson, co-author of “And What Do You Do - 10 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career", it might just be your dream role if you are:
Featured Cover Story
  • an excellent time manager and organiser
  • able to work well under pressure
  • happy with little separation between your work and the rest of your life
  • a risk taker
  • self directed
  • high energy and assertive
  • comfortable being your own boss
  • not hung up on financial security
  • a networker and marketer
  • can work to deadlines and learns from mistakes
  • a self-starter
You can find more information, and further suitability quizzes, online at

This is an excerpt only, for more information or to see the full piece, please leave a comment or email me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Executive PA magazine October 2010 - Leave Work On Time

From an article I wrote on productivity, published in October by Executive PA magazine.

"Dolly Parton thought it was tough working nine to five, but for many Australians that’s a short day. We work more than two billion hours of unpaid overtime each year and some of the longest days worldwide, according to a survey by The Australia Institute.
If you can’t remember when you last left at five and reckon Dolly has it easy, learn to leave on time with these five tips and tricks that start first thing each morning – and some before that."

Please contact me if you would like to read more, or for more information.