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Stella-Prize long-listed au­thor Sonya Voumard's Skin in the Game is orig­i­nal, in­ci­sive and hugely en­ter­tain­ing. The daugh­ter of a Euro­pean refugee mother and a jour­nal­ist fa­ther, Voumard re­counts with aplomb her pas­sion­ate but ques­tion­ing re­la­tion­ship with jour­nal­ism and the na­ture of the in­terview. There's a dis­as­trous 1980 uni­ver­sity en­counter with He­len Gar­ner which forms the seed for her fas­ci­na­tion with the dy­nam­ics of the in­terview and cul­mi­nates in her con­nect­ing again with Gar­ner more than three decades later to work out what went so wrong. There are the in­sights of a ca­reer played out against the chang­ing na­ture of jour­nal­ism in­clud­ing the au­thor's time as a Can­berra cor­re­spon­dent. And there are re­veal­ing and ten­der por­traits of Kings Cross, of grow­ing up in subur­ban Mel­bourne, her fa­ther's love of jour­nal­ism, and a fam­ily jour­ney to the Bonegilla Mi­grant Re­cep­tion Cen­tre where her mother's Aus­tralian life be­gan.

Through­out it all Voumard is a sharp­shooter, never afraid to hold a mir­ror up to her own life and prac­tices as a jour­nal­ist, to dig deep into the ethics of jour­nal­ism and the use of power, and to sen­si­tively ex­plore the in­ter­twined na­ture of life and work and per­sonal re­la­tion­ships. The writ­ing is at turns sharp, funny, direct, strong and af­fec­tion­ate.

‘I've im­mense ad­mi­ra­tion for how Sonya Voumard so deftly wields a writer's scalpel, both on her sub­jects and her­self. To­gether, these dis­patches pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sider's ac­count of Aus­tralian jour­nal­ism and a foren­sic look into the myr­iad pit­falls in­volved in telling peo­ple's sto­ries.' Ben­jamin Law, au­thor of The Fam­ily Law and Gaysia

Sonya Voumard is a Syd­ney-based jour­nal­ist and au­thor whose work has been widely pub­lished in ma­jor Aus­tralian news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary jour­nals. She has lec­tured part-time in creative non­fic­tion and jour­nal­ism at UTS. Her first novel, Po­lit­i­cal An­i­mals (2008) was in­spired by her time as a po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent for the Age in Can­berra. Her crit­i­cally ac­claimed book The Me­dia and the Mas­sacre: Port Arthur 1996-2016 (2016) was longlisted for the pres­ti­gious Stella Prize in 2017.

Why So­cial Me­dia is keep­ing you broke. It seems we are sur­rounded by vi­sions of suc­cess and life­style in our mod­ern world. With Face­book, In­sta­gram, Youtube and Snapchat tak­ing the world by storm we have seen the rise of twenty some­things sprawled out on a yacht on Syd­ney Har­bour, get into huge debt to head over to Cir­cuit in Barcelona, and let's not for­get the never-end­ing dis­cus­sions about smashed avo­cado! With the fil­tered and edited pic­tures of course come the seem­ingly end­less hash tags that go with it that are de­signed to show off the amaz­ing life­style they are ap­par­ently liv­ing. #wishy­ouw­ere­here #nowork­to­day #sor­rynot­sorry

We all know some­one who likes to flaunt their in­cred­i­ble “in­sta-life­style” for a bunch of likes a bit too much. It's hu­man na­ture for peo­ple to want their friends and fam­ily to be in­volved in the fun things they do. Not all this show­ing off is de­signed to stroke their ego, or to make you feel bad about your life. How­ever, it seems to have be­come part of mod­ern so­ci­ety that peo­ple will post only the good stuff on­line these days. All too of­ten, these peo­ple are work­ing a job they are not pas­sion­ate about, and are us­ing their hard earned af­ter tax dol­lars to flaunt a life­style that isn't a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of their ac­tual life­style. In fact, what they show us is of­ten far from it. What is more wor­ry­ing than this is that it's not sus­tain­able.

I grew up in subur­ban Perth, and most of my mates were straight. I also didn't have any men­tors in my life to help me build wealth. I left school when I was 16 – be­cause I hated it. Back in 1996, be­ing gay in high school not only wasn't very cool, it was down­right dan­ger­ous. My sex­u­al­ity was a huge se­cret, and I spent much of that time with the un­der­ly­ing fear, every day, of be­ing beaten up. I hated the fact that I couldn't be my­self and that oth­ers were able to dic­tate how I felt sim­ply be­cause of who I was at­tracted to. So, I left school as soon as I could to get a job and make some money, be­cause what I learnt from ob­serv­ing suc­cess­ful peo­ple is that they took con­trol of their fi­nan­cial life and didn't an­swer to any­one. In my case, I couldn't wait to get away from feel­ing like shit at school and tak­ing on the world on my own. I wanted a life­style where I could do what­ever I wanted, when­ever I wanted and with whomever I wanted.

I was for­tu­nate to ex­pe­ri­ence the joys of dial up in­ter­net, ICQ and Nokia brick phones that would sur­vive a 10 storey fall. I grew up play­ing on the road and I knew every kid in my street. I am so happy to have grown up when I did, and be­fore we en­tered the dig­i­tal world we live in now where there is both an on­line life and a ‘real' life. Long be­fore peo­ple be­came “In­sta-fa­mous”, be­fore 14 year olds could ever be la­beled as “in­flu­encers”, be­fore 6 year olds had iPads and cer­tainly long be­fore you could video chat with that cute 32yo guy in Brazil from your apart­ment at 3:40am on a Tues­day morn­ing.

So, what does this have to do with build­ing wealth? Well apart from the fact that flights to Brazil are not cheap, to state the ob­vi­ous; your on­line life is not real and will rarely help you fi­nan­cially. What re­ally mat­ters, is what your ac­tual life looks like when you switch off all your de­vices. I've spo­ken to thou­sands of peo­ple over the years about in­vest­ing and I've found the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are drift­ing through life with­out a clear fo­cus on their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion or with very lit­tle, if any, plan­ning for the fu­ture. Build­ing long term, sus­tain­able wealth takes time, com­mit­ment and an understanding of the un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­pal of de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

“I start early, and I stay late, day af­ter day, year af­ter year, and it took me 17 years and 114 days to be­come an overnight suc­cess” – Lionel Messi

I love this quote, not be­cause I have any real in­ter­est in soccer (apart from some of the play­ers of course) but be­cause the same prin­ci­pal ap­plies to any­thing you want to be­come good at. Real suc­cess takes time.

With most things in life, find­ing the right bal­ance is the key to suc­cess. It's okay to go on a cool hol­i­day, or buy that new car, or eat out at that fancy restau­rant (and it's okay to post pics to prove it) but un­for­tu­nately some peo­ple are not look­ing be­yond the next bunch of likes, or feel good com­ments, and fail to plan for the rest of their lives.

Where do you want to be in 10, 20, or 30 years from now? What sort of life­style do you want to be liv­ing? The scary re­al­ity for a lot of peo­ple is that they are drift­ing down a river not re­al­iz­ing there is a steep wa­ter­fall com­ing up just around the bend. Re­gard­less of where you are at in life right now, you have the choice to bury your head in the sand and hope for the best, or start pay­ing at­ten­tion to your fi­nan­cial life and take con­trol of your fi­nan­cial fu­ture. Af­ter all, no­body is go­ing to do it for you!

In the fu­ture, what will mat­ter are the re­sults you have been able to achieve through the plans you make today and the in­vest­ments you make to­mor­row. Ask your­self, is what I am do­ing in my life right now get­ting me closer to, or fur­ther away from what I want to achieve? #lets­ge­treal

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