The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

News: The School of Life launches in Australia — December 9, 2012

News: The School of Life launches in Australia

This week, we got some questions to Sara Tiefenbrun – the new project director at The School of Life in Melbourne. I’ve followed The School of Life closely before and since its original launch in the UK, having attended a few classes in the Marchmont Street store. So was very excited to hear of its official launch in Australia after rumours emerged mid-2011.


The School of Life storefront in London

For those that aren’t quite familiar with the concept, what is The School of Life and how is it different from other event or learning providers?

The School of Life began in London in 2008, founded by the writer and philosopher Alain de Botton and others. Since then it has become a brand that is associated with some of the most interesting and groundbreaking thinkers of our age. We offer classes, tours, workshops and events designed to provoke and tickle the mind. Underneath it all is the exploration of how to live wisely and well.

The School of Life helps people to address some of life’s biggest challenges: How do you balance work with life? How do you stay calm in our digital age? How Necessary is a Relationship? Can love last a lifetime? The experiences equip people with ideas that help them to ask better questions, without necessarily providing all of the answers.

Because the classes are generally in bitesize chunks, they fit with a modern hectic lifestyle. We aren’t promising that one three hour class will resolve the biggest challenges in your life, but it will give you food for thought. And you might meet some interesting people along the way. Part of the appeal for many people is the sense of meeting a community of like-minded people – people who want to make the most out of their lives.

I think beyond that there’s warmth and wit in what The School of Life offers that sets it apart from other event or learning providers – it doesn’t take itself too seriously.


How did you discover The School of Life and what’s been your personal journey to date?

I learnt about The School of Life whilst in Melbourne when friends in London told me all about amazing experiences that they were having at events and weekends away. I had spent a decade in London working in documentary making as a director. At times I struggled with being single whilst many friends settled down and started families. It felt a bit like I’d stayed on at a party too long and everyone else had gone home. But there didn’t seem to be much guidance about how to tackle this portion of my life. If The School of Life had been up and running at the time it would have been a fantastic place to explore some of the challenges that I was facing in an intelligent and worthwhile way.

What role will Small Giants be playing in The School of Life Australia?

Small Giants is a joint partner in this venture with The School of Life UK. It’s a great association between two very strongly aligned businesses, particularly given the Small Giants family of companies includes Dumbo Feather whose mission is to inspire people to live with passion and purpose. Working together with the School of Life in the UK, Small Giants is managing the operational and strategic execution of the School of Life in Australia.

Why Collingwood?

The site is in the heart of Collingwood, which is a vibrant and incredibly exciting location for our very first term. As a launch location we couldn’t be happier!

Will be seeing a storefront similar to Marchmont Street in London?

Yes, plans are still falling in to place, but we intend to have a store front similar to Marchmont Street, selling curated objects and meaningful literature, including The School of Life books and more. This being Melbourne, we are also launching a café with excellent coffee on site.

What kind of event series and speakers will be kicking it off in the New Year?

Our program will be announced mid-December. We have started selling tickets to a week-long Intensive in February and the early bird tickets are almost gone. It’s led by Gaylene Gould, who is a key member of the UK Faculty with several local guest speakers. A key part of our offering will be The School of Life classes which have been devised and fine tuned over the last four years. These include: How to be creative, How necessary is a relationship? How to fill the god-shaped hole, How to stay calm, How to Face Death and more. These classes are going to be taught by the very best local facilitators. Other names involved will include creativity experts Jeff and Julie Crabtree (a husband and wife, musician and psychologist partnership), illustrator Matthew Johnstone (author of Quiet the Mind and Alphabet of the Human Heart), the British writer Oliver Burkeman (author of The Antidote – Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking), cartoonist Oslo Davis of The Age and Melbhattan and Melbourne based philosopher Damon Young author of Philosophy in the Garden and Distraction. Stay tuned for more information on some larger special events.

For a great round-up of upcoming events and news from The School of Life Australia plus other related goodness, subscribe our free email digests via The Fetch.

Interview: Melbourne local, Danny Almagor — September 3, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Danny Almagor

Name: Danny Almagor
Twitter handle(s): @atanajurat
Works: Late at night.

What is Small Giants and where does this purpose lead you?

Small Giants is a company dedicated to creating nurturing and supporting businesses we think are making the world a better place. It leads us to meeting lots of amazing people.

Congratulations on being awarded Ernest & Young’s 2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year – how does social differ from traditional entrepreneurship and what can companies do to become more conscious of their impact?

I think the term social enterprise should be renamed ‘business as usual’ and those that do not have a social and environmental agenda should be called ‘crap business’ or ‘business that adds no real value outside of itself’. There is nothing inherently bad about profits, but there is much good in caring about the people and environment around you.

You’ve registered Australia’s first B Corporation – what is this and what does it mean for Small Giants?

B Corporations believe that we can use business to solve social and environmental problems. It is a certification guaranteeing you are the real deal in ethical and sustainable business. We feel very honored to be a B Corporation and take it very seriously. We hope that this will spawn a large community of B Corporations in Australia and together we can be a strong force for a different way of doing business here.

You’re the resident Social Entrepreneur at RMIT and were also RMIT’s Alumnus of the Year 2009 – do you think universities can create entrepreneurs? Are social entrepreneurship elements being taken across to other disciplines and courses?

My role at RMIT is a great one but it is hard to see universities, with their complexity, bureaucracy and numerous competing agendas deliver what entrepreneurs need – less complexity, bureaucracy and competing agendas. Universities must still try, but I think the school of hard knocks is the best place to learn. Start a business, by your third try, you have just become an entrepreneur. As for cross discipline and cross course work, yes, elements are being taken to various disciplines, but more work needs to be done. Social entrepreneurship is an idea that should exist in every facet of our lives, or maybe we should call it social innovation. Fashion, engineering, art, science, teaching; you name it, there is a way to impact those around you in a positive way.

What was the process like when you started Engineers without Borders and what is a humanitarian engineer to you?

A humanitarian engineer is one who sees the plight of the poor and disadvantaged as part of their mandate as an engineer. Engineers are the interface between technology and people, and as such hold an incredible power to effect meaningful and lasting change for so many people. Water, sanitation, energy, infrastructure, connectivity, access, health. As for the start of EWB, the most important trait of all for anyone starting a business or a non profit is persistence. Never give up.

“Comparison is the death of happiness” is a quote you refer to often – what are your tips for staying happy and focused?

Balance. Think Mr Miyagi in Karate Kid. The problem I find is that everything keeps changing so balance is a dynamic target, but well worth pursuing.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Melbourne?

I work in St Kilda and love it. The Sun seems to shine there more often.

What’s next and when do you stop?!

I don’t understand that last word. Actually, its 1:30am so maybe its time for bed.

What next?


Featured job: Digital Editor, Dumbo Feather — May 7, 2012

Featured job: Digital Editor, Dumbo Feather

We have an amazing new dream role here on The Fetch blog. It’s for a digital editor for the iconic Dumbo Feather publication. The role is full time and based in St Kilda, Melbourne. More information is included below –>

An iconic independent Australian magazine requires a Digital Editor to lead Dumbo digital and web development, online marketing, PR and social media.

Published quarterly for seven years, and distributed globally to newsagents, retailers, cafes, boutiques and a strong subscriber base, Dumbo Feather is hailed around the world as a design leader, and as a magazine like no other. Acquired by a new publisher in 2010, it is in the middle of a rapid growth period. The Digital Editor will create and implement the strategy that will drive our growth and set Dumbo Feather apart in the digital space.

  • Managing the growth of the Dumbo Feather website, eNewsletters, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc
  • Moderating the Dumbo Feather’s website, facebook, twitter pages and comments
  • Social media channel management
  • Marketing and PR efforts across all digital platforms
  • Ensuring the e-newsletter is sent on time and to standard
  • Liaising with and managing bloggers / web contributors and growing our community of writers
  • Editing blog (and all web) submissions to ensure that all website posts are to standard and meet SEO requirements
  • Sourcing and editing imagery as necessary
  • Writing and researching features / profiles / content for the magazine and online as directed
  • Interviewing (phone and email)
  • Working closely with the business development manager to develop sales strategies driving online revenue and growth
  • Attending appointments and functions as the representative of Dumbo Feather digital
  • Assisting with the development of editorial plans, ad-hoc duties in line with your position’s responsibilities

Key performance indicators

  • Increasing current online engagement (time on site, unique visits and pages per visit)
  • Delivering features/content by agreed deadlines and to a standard that meets the Editor in Chiefs/MG’s criteria
  • Growth of social network communities and mailing list (including maintaining/increasing open rates
  • Managing interns and volunteers
  • And other duties as required

Selection Criteria

Must have

  • Experience managing a large (5,000 plus) community across multiple social networks
  • Experience leading complex web development projects.
  • Basic understanding of HTML, CSS and modern web standards, and experience in managing developers and front-end designers
  • Demonstrated understanding of the business of online publishing
  • Outstanding organisational skills
  • An ability to solve problems creatively under pressure
  • All kinds of ideas we haven’t had yet
  • A passion for extraordinary ideas, extraordinary people, and extraordinary magazines


Email the following to with:

  • Your story (500 words or less)
  • Why you’d like this job (500 words or less)
  • Your CV
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