Go-Getting Gals: Creators and Hosts of Shameless the Podcast, Zara and Michelle

Go-Getting Gals
Go-Getting Gals - Creators and Hosts of Shameless the Podcast, Zara and Michelle | Go-Getting Gal Interview Series | The Chronicles of Carly

Go-Getting Gals: Creators and Hosts of Shameless the Podcast, Zara and Michelle

Welcome to the Go-Getting Gal interview series. Each month I will interview go-getting women from all walks of life and ask them to share their experiences; the good and the bad. Grab a notepad and get ready, these incredible women are about to drop some serious wisdom.

I am not going to lie to you or pretend to play it cool. When I got the 'yes' from Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews, well let's just say I was very VERY excited! School girl excited. These incredible women are the brains behind my absolute favourite podcast, Shameless.

If you haven’t heard of Shameless yet, well you are 1) yet to be bitten by the podcast bug or 2) stuck on a desert island without access to a good wifi connection. Regardless, I pity you. Shameless Podcast is THE podcast for smart woman that love dumb stuff.

And that leads me to Zara and Michelle. They are both supremely intelligent, exceptionally hard-working, go-getting gals.

Get to know Zara in 30 seconds...

Tea or coffee?
Coffee! And a lot of it.

Pizza or burger?
Pizza

Chocolate or candy?
Chocolate

Donald or Hilary?
Hillary, of course

Your best friend would describe you as…
Hmmm. Maybe talkative?

Name three items you can’t live without...
Phone, a hairtie and a jumper (I am perpetually cold)

Side note: give her a break. She has to endure Melbourne weather.

What are you reading right now?
How to be Perfect by Holly Wainwright

What is your current obsession?
The Cut on Tuesdays - the best podcast for smart women who love smart stuff (as opposed to, you know, the dumb stuff)

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Right now all I want to do is go to the Maldives

What did you study?
Journalism at RMIT

What do you do for a living?
Make content, I guess? I write lifestyle for Domain and plan and host and produce the podcast with Michelle every week for Shameless.

Get to know Michelle in 30 seconds...

Tea or coffee?
TEA! A million times tea

Pizza or burger?
Pizza

Chocolate or candy?
Choc

Donald or Hilary?
Lol. Hillary. Truthfully, I’m not a mega fan of her, but I despise Donald with the fire of a thousand suns, so...

Your best friend would describe you as…
Excitable

Name three items you can’t live without...
Laptop, concealer, sneakers

What are you reading right now?
Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

What is your current obsession?
Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane - the perfect true crime for me, no gore or horrifying details that will make me anxious, just amazing reporting on a truly mystifying case.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
New York!

What did you study?
Arts majoring in Media and Communications and Politics at the University of Melbourne

What do you do for a living?
I honestly have no idea! People pay me to share my silly opinions on silly things, basically. Writing/podcasting/consulting - I’m a bit of a slashie when it comes to working in the media. I’m fairly certain my family thinks “freelancing” is code for “unemployed”.

Okay, time for the deep dive…

Firstly, how was your week? Sorry, I had to….

Z: GOOD. I’ve caught up on a whole lot of sleep and read big chunks of my book which is always the best thing for my mind.

M: It was good! Lots of work, ventolin and eucalyptus drops because I’m struggling with the same stupid cold that I was last week. Having asthma is so sexy. Phlegm is also sexy. I’m very sexy.

What made you choose what you wanted to study?

M: I had no clue what I was passionate about, so did what any lost and confused millennial does - an Arts degree. I eventually landed on media and communications subjects because, through blogging, I realised that I got a buzz out of connecting with women.

Z: I always wanted to be a writer and to be honest, I didn’t know how else to go about that. I remember my first journalism class vividly: We were all told if we wanted to be writers, we were in the wrong course. I stayed there, because I had nowhere else to go, but it worked in the end. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of sorting out, first.

If you could roll back the clock, would you still decide to study that? Or would you have chosen another avenue?

Z: Would not have changed anything. The skills that course gave me were invaluable for working in this industry.

M: I wouldn’t change a thing!

You both worked for Mamamia. What was that like?

M: Formative. I learned so much at Mamamia and am grateful for my time there.

Z: Chaotic but incredibly formative, like Michelle said. I’ve never worked faster and never been so creative under deadline. It taught me a lot about what I wanted to do with my career and the kind of journalist I wanted to be.

And that's how you met each other?

M: Sure is. Unfortunately. Kidding. Not really.

Michelle, you recently left Mamamia, spread your wings and took on the freelancing world. What has that been like?

M: It’s been great - scary but great. I’d been toying with the idea of going freelance for a few months and was gently pushed into it by my boyfriend, friends and family. Every single day is different and each week brings up something new and daunting. It feels like I’ve been pushed off a cliff without knowing how to swim, but in a good way! The fear forces me to learn on the go. Along with pursuing the podcast, going freelance was the best decision I’ve made for my career.

Has it been easier or more difficult than you expected?

M: It’s been ever-so-slightly-easier, actually! I’ve been helped out hugely by other women in the industry who have been very generous with their contacts and time.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering going freelance?

M: Nike’s slogan is pretty spot-on. Aside from that, I’d suggest paying close attention to what angles, headlines and stories are cutting through for major publications - ideas and pitches are EVERYTHING when you’re freelancing.

Now I know this can be quite a hard subject to broach, but how do you manage your anxiety while ‘juggling it all’ - the podcast, freelancing and trying to be a functional human?

M: It really comes down to exercising regularly, practising mindfulness, and seeing my psychologist every six weeks! If I stay in that routine, my anxiety is normally pretty manageable. I actually love being busy, I think it keeps my mind distracted. If my mind is idle it tends to hurtle off into a million different directions, so I avoid that if I can!

And Zara, you have also left the Mamamia tribe and are now a lifestyle writer over at Domain. What made you want to make the change?

Z: I had been there for three years and was only 23. I loved the work that I had done but I got to a point - like a lot of people do - where I needed something different. I felt I had hit my ceiling and was desperate to see what other workplaces and newsrooms were like. So, I left.

Change can always feel scary or exciting (or both). How are you finding the new role?

Z: Great! Really, really great. It’s different work with different objectives which is a lovely change of pace.

You also recently had an amazing trip in Europe. I am heading over there for Christmas/New Years. Do you have any saving tips to help my bank account?

Z: Great question! No. I do not. My bank account does not have kind things to say about that trip. Watch your aperol intake? Does that count? Perhaps not over winter.

What about once a land in Europe… any ‘must see’ locations?

Z: Amalfi coast. Though, over winter I am not sure that’s my best tip. So let’s settle on Paris.

What gave you the idea to start Shameless and how did you go about creating it?

M: We’ve always loved tackling pop culture content, but felt like everything out there treated women like idiots. We knew there were so many people like us out there - who might secretly love The Bachelor, or the Daily Mail, but also want it to be dissected in an intelligent and thought-provoking way.

Z: We could never, ever understand how there wasn’t an outlet for the content that we loved to consume. We believed - wholeheartedly - that celebrity news could be the most accessible way to discuss important, universal ideas. We couldn’t find what we wanted to consume, so we made it.

Is this the first ‘side hustle’ you have both started?

Z: Yes!

M: My first real side hustle was my blog, The 20s Diary, which I earned money from when I was 20-21. I stopped blogging when I started my first full-time role at Mamamia.

What has been the hardest part about running your podcast?

Z: No one warned me how temperamental it would make my emotions. I can’t remember being invested in something as much as I’ve invested in this, and although that’s wonderful because success is a little sweeter, bad days are a little harder, too.

M: Most recently, probably the scale of it. We began Shameless as a hobby, and didn’t expect it to take off in the way it has. Which - don’t get me wrong - is AMAZING, but it’s definitely required some adjusting. I don’t think I’ve ever been on the receiving end of so much feedback (good and bad), so learning to not take things personally has been tricky.

Did this take you by surprise?

M: God, yes. Zara and I have always been ambitious, and aimed high, but we just did not predict that tens of thousands of women would be listening to our annoying voices every week!

Z: Yes. Absolutely. And I’m tired.

What is something you have had to be honest with yourself about?

Z: That people will genuinely dislike what we do.

M: I can’t be everything to everyone.

Out of all your accomplishments, what do you feel most proud of?

Z: Shameless. Bringing a community of people together who love the same stuff, who may not have had an outlet for it previously.

M: Shameless! I think working on something with a partner is really thrilling - you can celebrate the highs, but also brainstorm your way out of the challenges. It’s a really lovely and honest dynamic that works well for us.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

M: If you’re going to bring a problem to your boss, make sure you’re also bringing a potential solution.

Z: My mum would always tell me as a kid that if I was going to do something, do it properly. I am more than sure at the time she was referring to how I was cleaning my room, but it’s extended pretty well to my work life, too.

Who is a go getting gal that you admire?

Z: So many! I am quite partial to Jacinda Ardern at the moment.

M: Zoe Foster Blake. Pandora Sykes. Jamila Rizvi. Carrie Bickmore. Monique Bowley. Too many to count!

What’s next for Zara?

Z: I wish I knew. Keep writing, keep podcasting. Sounds vague, but I am not so great at plans.

M: I’d love to write a book in the next year or two! I’m not super confident in my creative writing yet, so it’ll be a step outside of my comfort zone, but it’s something I seriously want to do. Aside from that, radio, or maybe television? Lol do you love how totally chill and not-at-all-totally-unrealistic these goals are…………

What’s next for Shameless?

M: We have a few things in mind - I’ll be pestering Zara to do live shows as soon as possible (she will roll her eyes when she reads this)! Aside from that, we just want to focus on giving our listeners quality content every week - we don’t want to let that slide, ever. We’ve had people ask if we’re going to do two episodes a week, but quality is our absolute priority. Who knows? We might release another kind of podcast in the future....

Z: Making sure every show is a really, really good show. That’s most important to us - that despite what comes next, that’s the priority. Hopefully do some live shows, keep making content and maybe… do another… podcast? Maybe.

Any final pieces of advice for go-getting women reading this?

Z: If there’s something you’re craving, but it doesn’t exist, make it. Fill the hole. You don’t always need money or to know what you’re doing: Trust us, we had neither.

M: Whatever idea it is you’ve been brewing, just start! Time to stop thinking about it - start creating it today. Also (irrelevant but, you know, important) don’t waste your time on dickcakes. Life is too short for mediocre men.


That’s a wrap! Thank you so much for reading the second interview in the Go Getter Gal series with the creators and hosts of the Shameless Podcast, Zara and Michelle.

If you want to hear more from these incredible ladies you can:

And if you love receiving content made for go-getters, be sure to sign up for my newsletter: