A weekly Q&A with interesting people in the Australian Media Industry
Lisa Messenger
  • Name Lisa Messenger
  • Company The Collective/The Messenger Group
  • Position Founder and Editor-in-chief of The Collective & CEO of The Messenger Group
  • Interviewed by Social Diary on 26/11/2015
  • Q
    Describe your career path to date?
    A
    Such a mish-mash of fields - from horse riding instructor in England in my gap year, to real estate receptionist, to several years in conference and event management. From there I moved into sponsorship procurement for the likes of Cirque du Soleil and The Wiggles. Then on 22 October 2001 I started my own business as an "integrated marketing agency". I spent years creating content for various brands and then in March 2013 launched the Collective.
  • Q
    Can you tell us about The Collective?
    A
    I launched the Collective because as an entrepreneur I wanted to see something in the media that was the real "story behind the story" to inspire and empower the entrepreneurial community and to feature real game-changers, style-makers and thought-leaders. Within 18 months the print magazine was in 37 countries and we now have multiple extensions, including dozens of events per year. Its the most extraordinary thing I have ever been a part of. Having never worked for a magazine or in the media, my whole mandate is that truly anything is possible!
  • Q
    What do you love about your job?
    A
    Everything. Even on the hard days (and there are many) I love it. I just feel so incredibly grateful that I get to be the conduit for something that has become so big and empowering so many. Every single day my team and I received hundreds and hundreds of messages from our incredible courageous community telling us how they are following their dreams. And I get to work with the most unbelievable team who are like family. On top of that, the opportunities the Collective has created for me to meet the most inspirational thought leaders on this planet blows my mind every single day.
  • Q
    And what's not so great?
    A
    Being a "disruptor" and charting new territory is tough. We have grown so quickly in such a short time across 37 markets, so cash flow is definitely the toughest thing on a daily basis. We've gone from a business of a couple of million turnover with three staff to something substantially larger. I still own it 100% so every day I've got my hustle on.
  • Q
    Describe your typical day?
    A
    No day is ever the same at all and there is never a dull moment. I'm in an interesting position because I am the CEO of the business still as well as being the Editor of the Collective as well as writing books and doing a lot of speaking gigs - so being the face of the business and being "an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs". I swing between the entrepreneurial and start up world which is gritty, fast paced, intellectual, creative and exciting. And then I am also an Editor so with that comes lots of glitz and glamour. On a daily basis I could be mapping content for all our channels, deciding on covers for the print mag, attending events, doing high level strategy and visioning for our future, doing a speaking gig and generally leading and staying across everything that is going on. It is fast and it is pretty amped! I always manage to squeeze in some exercise... that is what keeps me energized and pumped up.
  • Q
    What is the best experience you've had in your career?
    A
    It's funny - pre Collective one big exciting thing might happen every few months - now quite literally there is something exciting that happens at least once an hour - be that a massive interview coup, meeting someone extraordinary, nailing a big partnership etc. I have the craziest, biggest, richest life on a daily basis. A few highlights in the past year would be having 4 days on Richard Branson's private island Necker with him; having an email from Anna Wintour as I was about to jump on a plane to NYC and meeting her a few days later (she loves the Collective!!) and being invited twice to be a part of the New York Times Page One Editorial meeting along with their 18 divisional editors. There are seriously highlights every single day but the busier and more exciting it gets the calmer I get - I have to or I would be on a permanent high (or permanently on the floor catatonic when cash flow gets tough...)
  • Q
    You have written over twelve books and co-written twenty more, can you tell us about your approach to writing?
    A
    Its a funny one. At school I did what was unceremoniously called "veggie English" for people who couldn't write. Now I write every spare second I get - I absolutely love it. When you live a big life there is fodder and inspiration in absolutely everything. I just write it all down as it happens and kind of use myself as an example of all the good and the hard times on this journey.
  • Q
    Which book means the most to you, and why?
    A
    Of my own they are all kind of reflective of where I am at the time on my path and they are all a legacy to that section of the journey. Happiness Is... was my first baby in 2004 and at the time I was incredibly unhappy so that was an important start to the beginning of my path to self-awareness. Daring & Disruptive was my bravest move because I just put it all out there when the Collective was not even 2 years old. People seem to have really resonated with it and so I just kept writing. If I can help people and let them know we are all human and show the good and the bad and keep it real, then I'm happy to use myself for this purpose.
  • Q
    How has social media altered your job since the days when you started out?
    A
    It's such a different world with social media and its certainly helped us build and connect with a huge community. I have a love hate relationship with it. I love it because I can connect personally with so many people and it's another channel for me to communicate my messages and have real time feedback. The downside is the amount of time it takes. I prefer to try to stay grounded and present in each and every moment and sometimes being "hooked in" can detract from that. I need to make a conscious decision to switch it off every day.
  • Q
    Do you enjoy attending industry events, and if so- which are your fave kind?
    A
    I attend so many events from those in the startup community, to corporate events to lots of launches and glamorous parties these days (the editor side of me). To be honest I love the ones most where I get to connect with awesome thought leaders who I can have really robust and connected deep conversations with. I'm not much for just swanning around doing small talk. I am so incredibly grateful for the number of events I get invited to and also the number I get invited to speak at these days. I get to meet such a huge diversity of extraordinary people from all industries and walks of life and there is an incredible richness in that.
  • Q
    The media landscape is going through a period of dramatic change- where do you see it in 5 years?
    A
    It sure is. I think as long as you have an extraordinary message with a strong purpose and a sense of "why" with a great community then you are in good stead. The biggest thing is that platform is irrelevant now. My message is clear and will never change - to be an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs and showing anything is possible. It is irrelevant if I am delivering it through the print mag, social media, online, books, events, speaking gigs etc. What media need to do is morph and change depending on where the community is and how they want to receive you. If media can work like this, I believe they will be in good stead for a solid future.
  • Q
    If you weren't an entrepreneur and CEO of The Collective, what would you be?
    A
    There is absolutely nothing in the world I would rather be doing. I've waited my entire life for this. Someone could offer me a billion dollars and I would not give it up for anything.
  • Q
    Your Instagram/Twitter:
    A
    @lisamessenger