Episode 55: Non-alcoholic Fun Choices with Kirsten Chalmers

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Shivani Gupta (00:39)

Welcome to the Ask Shivani Podcast. Today I have Kirsten Chalmers. There are so many things that I want to speak to Kirsten about. But let me tell you about her. She originates from South Africa. She did her honors degree in psychology. So, a pretty smart cookie and a heap of HR and consulting roles of blue-chip companies as well. In 2001, Kirsten migrated to Australia and worked in the corporate sector to and then she has worked and trained management staff in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Korea, and it keeps going a lot of about interviewing techniques, so you can understand why I'm a little bit nervous interviewing and asking the questions of the AskShivani podcast to Kirsten today.

In 2005, she returned to her true passion of psychology, in 2020, COVID struck and Kirsten life like a lot of people changed, she was very dissatisfied with some of the things that she was doing. And she decided to take some time off to recharge our batteries, which we can all relate to as we head towards the end of this year. And during a time off, she decided to take a break from alcohol, needless to say that the decision was a lot bigger than COVID. And she's going to be talking to us a lot about alcohol intake and how it affects everything from cope managing COVID, to parenting, to mental health to sleep mood, there are so many of these areas that we want to speak about. And so, she now sees a contribution as making alcohol free options super valuable to everybody. And her business is called Point Zero Cellars, which I love that name. Into some questions, we're going to talk a little bit about different things. And I had this great experience with some zero alcohol the other day, but firstly, welcome.

Kirsten Chalmers (02:21)

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. What a lovely entry. So let me, I hope I can keep it up.

Shivani Gupta (02:28)

I'm sure you can. And I love that accent coming through too. So, it was always good to let people know that you're originally from South Africa. Now, I know I've talked a little bit about that in the intro already. But one of the things I think is so important, Kirsten, is that people have these massive highs and massive lows, right before we get to where we have. So, can you take us through some of those, they might be in your business life or personal life, but take us through a little bit of those that really have helped you arrive to where you have today?

Kirsten Chalmers (02:56)

Yeah, good question. I think immigration just as a start is probably one of those times where you have to forget everything you've ever done everything you've ever been all the connections you've ever had, and have the courage to step up and go - okay world, I think I can take you on. Lucky, I did have a husband. So, I can't say I did it on my own. But before my husband and I decided to have kids, we thought we'd give this a go. He's actually an entrepreneur himself. So, he started a business and I was the support person. So that's hence why I carried on in corporate. So yeah, I guess there's that it's a big change. But also, the fact that yeah, we have this very intrapreneurial thinking in our family. So, each time I've made a change in my career, or at home, it's always been I can do it. It's always been, you know, let's just go for it. So went into corporate loved it. And again, lots of highs there. So corporate is fun, it's exciting. It's, you know, you play the corporate game, as a female, you're trying to, you know, hit all those levels trying to break through that ceiling. And I'll talk about how alcohol, you know, was part of that, and it did serve me well for a while. And then, you know, I thought of kids, and I think you sort of retake stock again as another change in your life. And you think can I cope with a 12 - 14-hour a day and still contribute to a family? And of course, unfortunately, the answer was no, I don't think we'd balanced it by then in the corporate world.

So, I did wait go back to my study life and again, you know, total stranger walked in with 2 billion pregnant bellies over sort of four years of study. So always look like the very odd student compared to the rest so stuck out again. But yeah, it was good. It was the best experience to be able to do something intellectual while having children. And yeah, went into private practice having had a business already. Again, you change most people went - Are you sure you want to jump straight into private practice? You haven't really worked for someone else. And I went - Yep, pretty sure I can do that. So did it love it. Done that for 10 years? More than 10 years and then like you say COVID struck. It must be just a change for Kirsten again, because I just didn't love sitting in front of a, I know we're doing it today and it's offered some great opportunities to talk that's for sure. And I love that we do all this kind of stuff. Now podcasting, but counseling to me is on a different level. And I wasn't enjoying counseling on telehealth, and I know heaps of psychologists are still doing it. They're doing a beautiful job but I also had a therapy dog. So, I think that made a difference. I worked with kids predominantly, I think that makes a difference too. And yeah, just decided change number. What is it? Three, four, I lose count. But yes, that's where we are today. Was that a good summary?

Shivani Gupta (05:47)

That's awesome. Tell me a llittle bit of the vision behind the point zero. And I know, again, I touched on it a little bit. But tell me a little bit about your journey around that. Maybe the ups and downs of that to get and start off as business for Point Zero Cellars.

Kirsten Chalmers (06:01)

The ups and downs in terms of my journey with alcohol or the business?

Shivani Gupta (06:06)

Well, kind of the alcohol bit that got you to the business.

Kirsten Chalmers (06:10)

So yeah, so alcohol has been a huge part of my life. And I can't say it's been a bad part, or that would be lying. Even though we partied as a family, so that South African family very similar to Australian, you know, barbecues outside, that's the climate is similar. So, I grew up with, you know, drinks flowing. And when you had people over, you had alcohol. I started drinking at 15, which is I know it’s pretty early. I was smoking at the time, too. I have ditched that 20 years ago, so that I ditched much earlier, hubby doesn't smoke. So that went quickly. And yeah, so as I say, in the corporate world, I found that making connections was so much easier if you were doing it. You know, at a restaurant, you know, you could do all the stuff you needed to do behind the desk. But if you really wanted to catch up with the CEO, or be known to that upper echelon, that was the way to do it. And so, I learned that real quick, in my first job, I was 23 when I got my first management role. And I can squarely place that out that I was talking to the CEO at the pub at it was a catering companies that so they had an internal pub, I don't even know if companies still do that kind of thing. But yeah, and I knew that that was the place to be. So, it served me really well. But there was a downside. So, it also, my dad used to drink too much. I used to call him an alcoholic. I'm not sure if I was just a nasty teen. Because if I reflect back, he's, he's passed. And so, I don't know.

But yeah, there would be the downside, the party would always end and the party didn't always in nicely. And dad would you know, you'd scuttle when the party ended because dad's mood was unpredictable. And so, I had that in the background, that alcohol wasn't always great. And then as a parent, I grew up as a parent myself, I fell into the mummy drinking culture, you know, as you got your play all day, you're sitting there and you're chatting to other people. And why wouldn't, why would you take a walk when you could have lunch and have a glass of wine and sort of chill. And then of course, the whole culture of work, you've got to reward yourself, you're such a, you know, you've done such a tough job as a mum, and so that, you know, the marketing in alcohol is huge. And I fell into all those traps, and then that's when COVID happened. And it was by chance that I went out took my time off work. I said to myself, okay, well, let's do a health kick. At the same time. You know, if I'm going to take time off, I can't complain about being stressed. I can't complain about, you know, too much socializing. So there really is no reason to drink anymore because my reasons were socializing or to chill. And those weren't a problem. And then I suddenly realized alcohol was not that easy to stop. That came a bit of a surprise. I was like, oh, wow, I really gritted my way through the first 30 days, and everyone does the dry July on January.

Let me tell anyone out there right away, you're doing the hardest part and you're not getting to the good bits, right. So, I by day, 45, I remember distinctly because I looked at my diary, and I suddenly went feeling heaps better. Like suddenly, all the psychology that I knew, started to surface, I slept better. I looked and felt better. I was less angry, less cranky, less under the pump, like I didn't. Yeah, it was completely different. And I thought this is good. I can do a year. So, my plan was a year. So, we are a couple of weeks shorter of the year now. And then yeah, I think I'm a bit of an all or nothing girl, I threw myself into the literature. I read everything about, you know, the sober, curious movement, and I didn't get too heavy about how bad alcohol was because I knew for me, it had its place. But I certainly learned how toxic it is, no matter how well you manage it, it's a toxin you're introducing into your body, and it has massive effects that we regularly downplay. And so, I had to try other versions. I was so used to the culture of having a glass of wine that I find it really tricky. My hardest part was what to put in that glass when I'm standing in front of someone. So, when I did get to hang with people, I sort of felt I felt naked. I felt like you know, when I stopped smoking was the same. What do I do with my hand? I used to put a pin in it and saying - deal, I just felt naked and the wines and options out there didn't seem great. So I went back to South Africa, not physically just kind of back to my roots, spoke to some people got some samples, and started thinking other people should do this too. You know, the big thing that's missing once you get past the first few weeks, what what's missing is the ritual. I don't want to take the ritual away, I don't want to take the fun away, I don't want to take the party away. So now I rock up with my bottle. And I don't care what's in your bottle and don't want to have the discussion. Are you, you know, recovering alcoholic? No, I'm not. I just want to rock up like you would rock up and have a coffee with me and not asked me whether there was caffeine in it. You know, people don't ask dumb questions. Just enjoy. So that's where I have ended up.

Shivani Gupta (11:21)

That's amazing. I love that. And I just love the fact that you've gone. You know, I want to be able to have the choices like somebody does with the tops wine where we don't have that which we can get into. I want to hear more about Point Zero Cellars, just to stay on you and how you address problems. Challenges that come your way? Do you have a process or a way like some people – Right, this is how I attack it. This is how you do it. What do you do when you get challenges which I know you've had 1000s are off? Do you have a bit of a system or a process when they come your way to kind of go - Right, let's go, let's go into this way!

Kirsten Chalmers (12:00)

I've actually yeah, I've thought about that. I think what I do, I do a period in my head that's kind of like pre prep. So, before I sort of launch in, everyone sees me launch into something and I think, Oh, she's just taken that on. But now there is actually some pre prep involved. And I'm a student by nature. So, whenever I'm making a decision, I have to gather lots and lots of information. So, I think I've read about 12 books in the first three months and got to know every podcast got to know, you know, social accounts just really threw myself into who are these people that aren't drinking? Can I relate to them? You know, gee, I actually like them, not just can I relate to them. These are great people. And these are people that are not boring. And that they actually people don't want to hang with like I suddenly sort of you find your tribe, I do throw myself into not just the business, but the whole, I sort of become whatever I'm doing next. So, when I was a psychologist working with kids, my kids, you know, they'd been when I did my thesis, it was on four-year-old, because I happen to have toddlers. And when I did, when I went to schools, I was working. I love primary schools more than high schools because my kids were in primary school.

So, you know, I just tend to live there. And then it feels really authentic. When you work from that place. It feels really natural. Because what I choose in terms of the alcohols and it's not a business decision, it's more of a yep, that's something I would do and I can put my belief behind it because I'm 100% convinced. So, when I'm convinced, no one can tell me otherwise I just get really passionate about something. And yeah, and then it's all about that. And then it was developing the website and just having fun in this environment because I think business is about passion. It's about fun. And like I say because I have a husband who's intrapreneurial himself. I have a rock behind me so I can't lie he is my rock. And you know, I do and we ran. So, I can tell you the date was the May 20. We went for breakfast one morning and I said I need to I want to do something different and literally that's when we came up with the name Point Zero Cellars, it was at a little coffee shop in Temple Stowe which is like a local area here and we just weren't, what we actually went with Point Zero on its own and believe it or not there's a clothing brand Point Zero which I have no idea but they obviously do ethical clothing and so Cellars was a play on selling and sellers and yeah I literally came home that day checked with a name was available registered an ABN and got started.

Shivani Gupta (14:43)

Amazing, amazing and when we look into the future. Tell me a little bit about what are your future aspirations and how far do you say that do you see those three to five years out? What are you seeing where do you want to land? What are the things you want to do?

Kirsten Chalmers (14:57)

I think again going back to immigration our theory is always give it two years I remember when we first were told about immigration with everyone said you know it can be the worst two years of your life but just make it two years don't stop under those two years. And so, I've taken that into my private practice and now into this business my plan is the first 2 years need to work. And that is obviously reinvesting in the business. I don't expect it to make a heap of money. It's more okay so of building, I guess the brand building the selection of offerings. So, we now are going to be importing spirits from Canada. And we are importing a beer and ready to drink, which they call RTDs. From Canada as well. So, you know, you've got to have a reasonable brand, I don't want to, I didn't want a huge range, because I can't be everything to everyone. But I wanted to, you know, started with a few things. And now we've reinvested to grow a bit bigger. And it needs to be substantial within two years. So, within two years, it needs to cover the salary I would have earned as a psychologist, and then I'm hoping it goes from strength to strength, to be honest, I think it's a good time for it. I think the world is open to it. And I think there's more than one player and we all have a voice. And every time someone in the industry says something, I applaud them and want them to say more, because I can't do this on my own. My voice is little. So, you need some, you know, impetus behind you. And I think that is there.

Shivani Gupta (16:35)

Absolutely and I recently was at an event where I heard the founder of sober beer, and this low dose gin speaking, and it was just phenomenal. And I've been drinking both of those, which is great. And it's lovely to be able to send drinking, though, especially with some people that don't know me that well. And you take your bottle of gin, they're like, oh, are you going to G and T's? I'm like, yes, I have.

Kirsten Chalmers (17:01)

And I love that you yeah, I love that you're so casual about it. Because it should be that simple. It shouldn't be a big deal, right? You shouldn't have to look at can I see your bottle to see, you know, what level of alcohols in it? What is that? It's crazy.

Shivani Gupta (17:15)

Some of our culture is because like, yeah, you know, I remember one person will tell that to find all you know, zero 0% alcohol, they're like, that's just flavored water. What do you pay for it? So, it's really interesting that - yes, but I don't want a soda water every time that I go out. So, it's really interesting that I'm speaking to you about this, because I've only just started implementing some of those smaller changes.

What about leadership philosophies Kirsten, when you look at certain philosophies, obviously, you've worked corporately, you've had your own practices, now you've got your own business. So are there things that you go this is kind of what we live by, this is what we try and implement and how we live and work.

Kirsten Chalmers (17:51)

I think one of my biggest lessons about leadership was one of my good mentors said, you know, you've got to work yourself out of a role. So, you know, you sort of hand over to people below you, because if you hold on to that role, all you ever going to be able to do is that role, but if you start to delegate, you move up to bigger things. And so, I've had some amazing mentors. In fact, my boss at Accenture, which was Anderson Consulting, we're still good friends, today, we go for walks during COVID. And I'm telling her about my business, and she's so supportive, and she was my manager. And she, you know, she just was what I would call a good leader, she didn't, it's not about being possessive about your space in an organization, it's about bringing people with you, because you can't do it alone. But it does take some guts, you know, you've got to take, you got to stand up and talk sometimes when others want to hide behind you, and that's okay. But then you also sort of encourage them to stand up as well. And even in psychology, I think, um, you know, having coaches. So, it shifts from the corporate world is more sort of meant, you know, you've got your mentors, and you've got your managers and that kind of thing. When you in your own practice. And, you know, you probably know this yourself being your own business. Private Practice is very similar in that you operate on your own. But I made sure I was working. So, we had independent businesses, but I was working with other psychologists. So, we would debrief over lunchtime. And again, it's about finding people with common goals, common values, people that will push you know, you know, often find people that were quite different from me, so I'll be very go for go for go for it. And they'd be a bit more. Kirsten, have you thought about this? And I'll go a bit I shouldn't really, shouldn't I so is that you know, I needed the cautious one to balance me out. Because I am the one that will just go, what are you waiting for? Like, you should be doing this. Go do it. So yeah, leadership is not about being telling people what to do. It's about finding what they want to do. Letting them find a space to grow. And I guess, yeah, building teams that way because you need them. You need other people behind you.

Shivani Gupta (20:10)

Yeah, beautiful. That's great. And Kirsten, what about your wellness? What do you do when you're sitting in a coffee shop with your husband who's also an entrepreneur. You know, maybe it's about switching off and how do you guys switch off but what do you do for your own wellness when there's so much a few that you give out? So right rituals or systems or exercise, whether it's mental or emotional, what are some of the things you do around your own wellness to manage you?

Kirsten Chalmers (20:37)

Well, I love nature. And I think, again, it comes back to my roots in South Africa. If I could go to a safari regularly, I would do that in a heartbeat. Since I don't have a safari available, we do tend to go to really simple, simple places. So, we tend to head up to farmlands, we've got a farm, about two hours away. It's 60 acres of nothing. Basically, there's no electricity. Well, except for solar. There's tank water, no running water, there's no there is surprisingly Wi Fi which was a surprise to me. It happens to be a tower that's pretty close. But yeah, it we've got some, we take the dogs, it's got a little, you know, little dam, and I love photography, I forget to do it sometimes, which is frustrating, you know how you want to go back to your old hobbies, especially pre kid hobbies, I would love to take more photographs. But I love design. So, if I wasn't doing that, I paint, there's a painting behind me and I design, so the little, little cottage that we have there, I've painted bright colors, the walls are bright colors, you know, I do collages of pictures. So, I'm kind of just very basic really go for walks. So, I'm not a huge gym bunny, I find that all too overwhelming. I've preferred Pilates or something chilled. I'm not great at reading books, I find I can't concentrate. I think that's a bit of ADHD there. But so, I podcast, I've discovered podcasts in a big way. And so generally regularly during the day, I will have at least half an hour where I say I'm just in my room and I've got plugged in literally plugged into someone else's story. And that's what I tend to listen to someone else's story. Or I tend to have a little sort of part of me I love. I love prison stories and you know, psychology in sort of strange ways that I'm trying to understand. So, some psycho psychological thriller type thing. So yeah, just I guess I lose myself in all of that I can do it. But if I don't do it, yeah, it's I like everyone by the end of the year, you need a break.

Shivani Gupta (22:50)

Absolutely. And thank goodness be almost there. Yeah, at the time of this recording. Kirsten, where do people find you? They want to know more about your business, they want to know more about you? What are the best places to come and find you?

Kirsten Chalmers (23:03)

Well, I guess the easiest is to follow me on Instagram. So that's the handle is @pointzerocellars. But on my website as well, I've just done that today, actually, I thought it'd be good to put a little call out anyone who's at a restaurant or at a pub or whatever, who is not finding what they like on their menu to just drop me who they are, like who this restaurant is that they can do it anonymously. So, I've got a little tick box I don't want my name mentioned while I'm happy to have my name mentioned. But you know, just a place where people can say, you know, I've been to this great place and I couldn't find nonalcoholic options and of course online as well. We do offer you know, purchases there, but I don't want it to just be a home thing. I want us to be able to go to restaurants, bars, clubs, anything in venues and be able to flick through that menu and have some really great options. So, people can either jump on that and get involved or they can you know, order through us so yeah, so https://www.pointzerocellars.com.au/ it's probably a good spot to.

Shivani Gupta (24:04)

Love it. I might even have to fill those out. It was we've had all these different dinners and things on and we've had two dinners this week, which has been lovely to get out and do things and neither of those places not one nonalcoholic drink because I looked for it was going to be quite rich and I thought I'll balanced one out with the other and I'll always going to choose food beautiful food have a beautiful one. And self-upright. I'll just order myself a nonalcoholic wine. Nothing. So, I ended up with sparkling water. So, I will might even feel that and let you know that right?

Kirsten Chalmers (24:42)

That would be fantastic. Yes, you're right. It's beautiful restaurants they should have them and we ordering beautiful food.

Shivani Gupta (24:51)

Yeah, and not one nonalcoholic so I will just send you that same please contact because I would like to go back and eat their. Not always have to feel like I don't want to spend 18 dollars for a glass of wine or a cocktail and secondly, from having such beautiful rich food and then go okay, as I'm getting older, maybe I'll either choose one or the other or half of it.

Kirsten Chalmers (25:10)

That's exactly what I said and you know, I'm all for spaces so you know have it in between you know, have one to start. Have one have a space in between have something less and then maybe finish off with something lovely but you know it's, remember the day I don't know if you've ever done it. But were you diluted with you dilute a beautiful wine with soda water? That’s such a bad, that’s such a no, no, don't do it.

Shivani Gupta (25:32)

I'm not sure I think especially when I was at Uni., I did that. But I think that was a money saving exercise related. Kirsten I could talk to you all day, I am going to go and check out that website. And just so excited that you are doing this work. And I think a step ahead thing that I think that this area will continue to grow and giving choices to men and women. But you know, for me having you on this podcast is having choices for me is pretty awesome. So, thank you for being on here today.

Kirsten Chalmers (26:02)

Pleasure Shivani. And I should mention go to the venues tab when you're looking for where that form might be because you might get lost. So right on the venue. It's on the venues tab if you're wondering should do that.

Shivani Gupta (26:15)

Put down your favorite restaurants and get them to start stocking some nonalcoholic beautiful wines and drinks. Thank you so much for being on.

Kirsten Chalmers (26:22)

Thank you Shivani, that’s been lovely. I really appreciate the opportunity

I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.