If you are an Aussie reading this and thinking "Sally Obermeder" - you need to check yo self... immediately.
If you are from the Northern Hemisphere... I will forgive you.
Sally Obermeder has been gracing Australian TV screens for as long as I can remember (according to Wikipedia that means 2005). Her TV presence started with Sydney Weekender team (when little ol' Carly was in Grade 5). Since then, Sally's onscreen resume has grown exponentially earning her celebrity status in Australia and leading her to host Channel 7's afternoon show The Daily Edition. You can also regularly see Sally on Sunrise and The Morning Show.
It is Sally's offscreen life and resume that had me jumping around my apartment with excitement when she agreed to this interview. I have become quite familiar with her story over the past couple of years and yet, as I write this intro blurb I still feel all the feels. It is a mixture of everything; happiness, sadness, resilience and some serious girlboss vibes. This is a lady who has turned lemons into lemonade some many times that she should be awarded a Nobel Prize.
Alrighty, to tell the Sally Obermeder story with even just an ounce of justice it deserves, we must go back to 2011 where after several years of trying, Sally and her husband, Marcus Obermeder, conceived a little girl through IVF.
Several years of fertility treatment and the hardships that come with that, would have been enough to test anyone's character. But this is just the beginning. When Sally had almost reached her due date she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Little Annabelle was delivered the day after the shock diagnosis and a gruelling eight months of chemotherapy began.
At this point, I would have 100% forgiven Sally if she decided to retreat. After years and years of trying for a baby, this was meant to be the happiest period of her life. But Sally Obermeder did the opposite of retreat, she f*cking rose up!
October 2011 was the month she was diagnosed, and within the following 5 years Sally has;
- Completed 8 months of chemotherapy
- Underwent her first mastectomy
- Completed 3 months of radiotherapy
- Underwent her second mastectomy and subsequent reconstructive surgery
- Launched a lifestyle blog – SWIISH.com with sister Maha Corbett (nee Koraiem) (which has since launched an online store component and become a 7-figure business)
- Released book #1 - Never Stop Believing - about her journey in commercial TV, adapting to motherhood and her battle with cancer.
- Began hosting Channel 7's The Daily Edition
- Released book #2 (originally an ebook thanks to some seriously silly publishers) - Super Green Smoothies
- Released book #3 - The Good Life
- Began the surrogacy process over in the US (which saw the successful arrival of the adorable Elyssa in late 2016)
... just to name a few (and I am being serious when I say that this isn't the full list).
Sally Obermeder is the ULTIMATE go-getting woman and I am so so so freaking excited to share her with you today in this interview.
Brace yourself, this is my favourite interview in the Go-Getting Gal series...
Get to know Sally in 30 seconds...
Tea or coffee?
Pizza or burger?
Pizza, with extra chilli thanks!
Chocolate or candy?
Your best friend would describe you as…
I’d like to think that Maha would say fiercy loyal, funny, giving and warm.
Name three items you can’t live without...
My girls, Marcus and Maha. Sorta 4 things I can’t live without, ha!
What are you reading right now?
Becoming, by Michelle Obama.
What is your current obsession?
Pic’s Peanut Butter, but smooth only please. I literally have it with everything, apple, banana, brownies – everything!
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
What did you study?
Bachelor of Commerce with majors in Accounting and Marketing
Bachelor of Science (Naturopathy) but I left after 2 years
Diploma of Journalism
Now for the deep dive…
You have been in the spotlight for quite some time but what was your life like pre-fame?
I worked for a decade in finance. So straight after uni and I loved it. I had amazing friends and I was happy working my way through my career and finding my place in the world. It was also a time before social media (remember those days – LOL) so in a way it was a simpler time.
What did your childhood look like?
As a child I was obsessed with brushing my teeth. So throughout my childhood all I wanted to be was a dentist (funny, right?). That all went south once I did work experience at a dental surgery and realised I wouldn’t like it because it’s actually really hard to speak to the patients considering they have their mouths open and can’t talk!
I also wanted to be a TV presenter, and I’d sit and learn my notes for tests by pretending I was presenting the news. I would set up my desk as the news desk and put on, what I thought was my “news voice”. Mum would come in and ask me what I was doing, and I’d say back that I was reading my biology notes as if it’s the 6pm news. Tragic but true, ha!
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What made you want to go down the media career path?
I think deep down, I always knew that I wanted to work in television (besides the teeth infatuation). I wanted to be a newsreader. I was just too afraid to try it as journalism was seen as a risky career choice – the perception was that there were not many jobs available, and no job security. So I went down the safe path and became an accountant instead. Needless to say, I really didn’t enjoy it. So when I was in my late 20’s, I decided it was now or never if I was to pursue my dream of working in television. I left my job in finance and began volunteering anywhere and everywhere I could to get experience. It was a lot of hard work, and still is. But I’m so glad that I made the decision to go for it.
In your first book, Never Stop Believing, you wrote about your journey with cancer. But you also wrote about struggling to crack into the media industry. What was the biggest hurdle you faced?
Going through cancer and the corresponding treatment is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Cancer is so brutal, not only on you but on your family and friends, so seeing my loved ones go through that was also incredibly hard. Tough is an understatement.
When you finally cracked into the media industry, did you feel like you had ‘made it’ or were you onto the next goal?
For the first 4 years I just did lots of free work, to get whatever bits and pieces of experience that I could. On the side I became a personal trainer and Pilates Instructor to pay the bills. Funny how bills don’t stop when you are chasing your dreams!
Eventually I managed to get a job as a researcher at Sydney Weekender at Channel Seven. From there it was Today Tonight and then The Daily Edition where I am now. There’s a quote by Harrison Ford where he says, “I realised early on that success was tied to not giving up." Most people in this business gave up and went on to other things. I simply didn’t give up and that is why I feel as if I have made it. I really believe that’s true. There is no doubt in my mind that the only reason the transition happened was hard work and tenacity.
If you could go back to your 20s and change one thing, what would it be?
I think back to my 20s and they were filled with angst, feeling like I wasn’t good enough and didn’t belong. I never felt brave enough to go, ‘[TV] is what I want to do.’ So I’d love to change that mindset, because in reality we must do what makes us feel happy. Life is short, you never want to die wondering so have a crack. If it doesn’t work, no problem – at least you tried.
Obviously, your experience with cancer has become such a big part of your story. But you rose out of it much stronger and with a renewed sense of purpose - you and Maha authored your first book together, then founded SWIISH. How did you find the drive or motivation or whatever you want to call it to not just survive your cancer treatments / your first year of motherhood but to absolutely thrive in the way that you did?
For me personally, I think one of the benefits of having a body covered in scars is that you see every day what you’ve been through and you’re reminded that you’re a survivor and that you’re lucky to be here. Even though my hair and eyebrows have grown back and I feel great and so well, every day when I get dressed and see my scars, I remind myself of how grateful I am to be here – this is the kind of motivation from within that is second to none.
You wear a lot of hats. Here are just some:
- Host of The Daily Edition (Channel 7)
- CEO & co-founder of SWIISH
- SWIISH model
- Mother to two adorable girls
- Wife to Mr. Obermeder
- Influencer / public personality
- Chief of Maha’s bride tribe
This question is so cliche but how do you get it done?
I’d like to think that I’m no different to so many other mums and dads, I think we’re all just juggling lots of balls and in the air and trying to not get knocked out by them when they come crashing down hahaha!
How I manage the juggle varies based on the girls ages and their corresponding needs. They are first and foremost so I work around that. I have an amazing husband, Marcus, and together we do it. But it’s not always easy.
Because I’d been through a tough time when Annabelle was a baby, I wanted my experience with Elyssa to be very different. I wanted to do everything myself. But I wasn’t looking after myself properly. I was still looking after Annabelle who was adjusting to a new sibling and still managing the huge growth of the SWIISH business. I was up all night and I was really tired and not only was I not taking care of myself, but I wasn’t asking for any help. Consequently, I got so run down that I eventually got an infection and my eardrum burst, and it was only when I had blood pouring out of my ear, that I realised I probably should have put my hand up and asked for help.
Even I – someone who knows the importance of good health – sometimes still struggles with asking for help and accepting when I need to take a break.
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I can’t recall exactly what she was saying here (especially as she talks non stop now 😱), but I do recall the overall feeling. One of happiness and gratitude for simple joys, like the sunshine and the smell of coffees being made and the general bustle and noise of the markets. And the little hand holding mine, chatting away and as she talked she had no idea how much she was filling my heart with love. ♥️♥️♥️
I know that one of your goals this year is to dedicate time just for you. I love this! But I always struggle because “I could always be doing something more productive with my time”. How have you been going with your ‘soul refresh’ time?
Soul refresh time for me this year is SO important. I must look after myself much better in terms of having a break and saying no to things or having a massage or going for a walk or trying to take up meditation (that hasn't quite worked yet) but I've tried, you know. It was definitely easier during the holidays, now that work is back in full swing I am finding it more challenging. But I also knew it would be so I am actively trying to find those moments, rather than just waiting for it to happen magically.
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Have you got any advice for people like me that struggle to enjoy downtime guilt-free?
Being a mum makes that harder because you feel like you have to be there for everyone but it’s funny because as soon as you take a break and have some sleep and nurture yourself, you’re better for everyone. There’s no way you’re going to go the distance without looking after yourself, and as someone very wise recently told me (it was Marcus), it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard and I think of it pretty much every single day is “your best quality is also your worst quality." And when you think of it, it is actually so simple yet so profound. I’m disappointed I didn’t think of it myself! My boss and one of my best friends, Sarah Stinson, said it to me years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. Whenever I apply it to myself or anyone else, it is so good and so clever. If I think of myself, my best quality is that I work hard. But what that can mean is that by being focused (good quality) I can become blinkered, and I can ignore the people around me (bad quality). It lets you know what your faults are and how you can change.
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Who is a go-getting gal that you look up to or admire?
I admire strong female entrepreneurs who enjoy great success in their careers – in particular, I find Arianna Huffington, Sophia Amoruso, Jess Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jo Horgan from MECCA super inspiring. If I was faced with the opportunity to speak to these strong female leaders, I would say ‘thank you for lighting up the path for others, for those who didn’t believe in themselves and showing the possibilities for females in today’s society’
Any final pieces of advice for go-getting women reading this?
Resilience is something that you need in life, and it’s like a muscle. By that I mean, if you exercise your legs every day then they will get stronger – and resilience is just like that. You have to start small, and you’ve got to keep going. Of course, you also have to let yourself have a cry and allow time to be down but then you have to get back on the horse, pick yourself up and keep going.
That’s it, folks! I would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to Sally Obermeder for agreeing to this interview. And to her wonderful assistant, Shaunagh Scott, for being so incredibly easy (and patient) to work with!
If you want to get some more Sally in your life (which you ABSOLUTELY should) you can:
Chances are, if you like one of the sisters, you will love the other. So be sure to check out Maha (the other half of the sister duo and SWIISH).
- Follow Maha on Instagram >>> @maha_corbett
I also highly recommend you check out SWIISH
As always, thank you so so much for reading,
(Pssstttt before you go.…. do you want more go-getting goodness delivered straight to your inbox?)