It should have been gossip that brought Shelly Horton and I together, but was booze. Well, the booze industry.
The former gossip columnist was guest speaker at a Women in drinks event I attended for the drinks association yesterday.
The event was held at Diageo’s head office. Drinks companies, I’ve discovered, have the most fabulous bars hidden in them. Diageo’s has stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge … and blokes mixing delicious cocktails …
Shelly gave a very entertaining speech about vulnerability and confidence and how to make small talk and mentoring. She was fabulous. I gathered the courage to introduce myself afterwards and we immediately bonded over our short stints at Mamamia.
Then I mentioned that I used to edit Woman’s Day. She said she remembered me from there, but that might have just been politeness talking.
When I was working in weekly mags, Shelly was writing “positive gossip” for the Sunday papers.
I love the idea of “positive gossip” – it’s the good stuff, the babies, the weddings, the promotions, the new houses. Kinda what I call “ethical gossip” and was desperate to give a whirl in the weekly market, except nobody believed it would fly
But Shelly made a career out of it for six years. She reckons she went to 1500 functions during her time as a gossip columnist. Far out, that would kill me. I went to as few as possible, which means I’ve remained a fairly shadowy figure in the annals of Woman’s Day history.
Although when Shelly gave her tips to the crowd on making small talk at social functions, I realised I’ve nailed most of them, except for active listening. My panic at being a dull conversationalist means I talk waaaaaay too much in those situations. I need to work on more nodding and smiling and just interjecting with the occasional “Wow!” “Really?” “No way!” “That’s great!”
I was too shy to pose for a selfie with Shelly, so I’ve only got one of her with the Chair of Women in drinks (Australia) and the Chair of Women in drinks (NSW).
I was a bit nervous that Shelly would give me the brush off when I approached her, but she was the total opposite, really warm and friendly and open. I liked her a lot.
During her speech she told entertaining – but terrible – stories about becoming a TV presenter at age 24 in London and then being taken off camera in Australia because she was regarded – at size 12 – as too fat and not sexy enough for male viewers.
Crazy talk – she’s curvy and totally gorgeous.
Her bio for the event noted that her high school guidance counsellor once told her she was too opinionated. She ignored him and turned what he regarded as a weakness into a successful career. She has become one of Australia’s leading lifestyle and pop culture commentators across all forms of media: print, online, television and radio.
I’m a bit awed by where Shelly has taken her career. Aside from appearing on various TV shows including Today, she’s started her own video production company, ShellShocked Media AND does professional mentoring.
I’ve also become a fan of freshly pressed apple juice with a shot of Bulleit bourbon in it … nice work Diageo and Women in drinks, it was a great afternoon.
I hope there are a few great afternoons in your weekend and I’ll catch you on Monday with all the goss from mine – it’s gearing up to be a goodie!
Song of the day: No Doubt “Don’t speak”