The group is a small slice of the internet where politics and divisive topics are left at the door, in favour of fun, humour, and kindness.
Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb are two of Australia’s most high-profile political journalists, but away from their day jobs, they don’t take themselves too seriously. They love to laugh, talk about the latest TV shows, and poke fun at each other.
For a decade, Sales has been the anchor of the ABC’s flagship current affairs program 7.30. Crabb, meanwhile, has often graced our television screens with her political commentary and as the host of shows like Kitchen Cabinet and Ms Represented.
The pair are close friends and have hosted a wildly popular podcast together for years, Chat 10 Looks 3, where they’ve built a close-knit community of (mostly) women, who openly share stories about their lives, books, TV, and cooking in a private Facebook group.
The people in this group call themselves the “chatters” and there are 45,000 thousand of them. The group is a small slice of the internet where politics and divisive topics are left at the door, in favour of fun, humour, and kindness.
“It’s a specific little place that you can go just to talk about books and cooking and funny stuff,” Annabel Crabb tells Shirley Chowdhary in the latest episode of Women’s Agenda’s The Leadership Lessons.
“I think they just wanted to find each other, and we were just the community fluffers, really. Nothing more. We’re in and out of that group, but it functions independently of us. It’s just people who love to get together and talk about the things that we talked about in the podcast.
“Obviously, not all social media could be like that, nor should it, but it’s nice to have a little oasis every now and again.”
Not only is the community a delightful place to be online, it has also cultivated a group of people who actively look out for each other in the real world, too.
“There have been some really beautiful things that people have done for each other in that group,” Leigh says, telling a story about a woman with breast cancer, who was on a trip around the country and ended up in hospital with an infected breast.
The woman’s breasts were really painful, and a nurse told her that cabbage leaves could help soothe the pain. She posted in the Facebook group, and within 22 mins, one of the “chatters” had delivered a cabbage to her. The same woman also took her laundry away and did it and brought her breakfast the next morning.
It’s stories like these that flood the group on a regular basis and bring a depth to the podcast community.
Speaking on this week’s The Leadership Lessons, Leigh and Annabel – who have just released a book called Well Hello: Meanderings from the World of Chat 10 Looks 3 – are refreshingly candid about their friendship, with Annabel saying the beauty of their podcasting and writing partnership is that it doesn’t feel like work.
“She makes it easier,” Annabel said. “If I had to sit down and record an hour’s worth of podcast in a day, just me, it would be stressful. I’d have to do all this preparation. But I know I can trust Leigh so much and I know exactly what we’re capable of when we’re together.”
“I could literally walk onto the stage at Sydney Town Hall with Leigh – zero prep – and be absolutely confident that we could entertain people for an hour.”
One of the things Leigh reflects on most is how the community around Chat 10 Looks 3 has reinforced the absolute importance of having good relationships with others, whether that’s at work or in your personal life.
“I think that for all the millions of self-help books that get written about happiness, fulfillment, success, and all of the rest of it, it sounds a bit cliché, but it really does, in the end, boil down to your relationships with other people,” she says.
“What makes a satisfying job? It’s partly the content of the job but a huge amount of it is the contact that you have with other humans as you’re doing it. And, friendships and female friendships, and the important role that plays in keeping you happy and having a feeling of well-being.”