It goes without saying: Lisa Messenger is an inspiration. Whether you’re a thriving business (wo)man or a budding entrepreneur, her success story is one worth following. With a resume that boasts CEO of the Messenger Group, founder and editor of Collective Hub (which is now distributed to 37 countries), author/co-author of 16 books, and BFF’s with Richard Branson, to say she’s impressive is an understatement.
Known for her tendency to grab life by the horns, we caught up with the daring and disruptive CEO to chat about her pathway to success in life and business, ahead of her appearance at The Wellness Festival. Below she reveals what it’s like running Collective Hub, and how she remains healthy, stylish and sane in the process.
Meet Lisa Messenger, founder & editor of Collective Hub
What was the first step you took toward making your dream a reality?
I got really clear on my vision and my “why” and then I tried not to overthink it and just got in and started. I think we over complicate business and indeed life a lot. Truth is most of us don’t know what we’re doing until we start doing it and we figure it out along the way. If you know your “why” the “how” has a way of working itself out.
Having a very clear “why”, which for me is, “to be an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs living my life out loud showing that anything is possible”. And from there having an unwavering self belief, failing fast, surrounding myself with an awesome team and amazing friends, hiring my weaknesses, putting my health as an absolute number one not negotiable priority, not taking myself too seriously and having loads and loads of fun.
What would you say is the best and worst part of your job?
Well I am terrible at detail and I despise all things operational – HR, legal, leases, IT etc. BUT the awesome thing is I’m not afraid to admit this, so I surround myself with fabulously talented people who love these things. I LOVE everything creative – the big crazy audacious dreams. I am great at vision, strategy, leadership, coming up with totally off the wall out of the box solutions and ideas. And I’m a great connector – I have a knack for putting the right people in place. So I guess in a nutshell, without too much detail, that is the best and worst. I LOVE who I get to meet and hang out with every single day – it totally blows my mind – and I love my team, they are like family.
What part of your job would people find most surprising?
It’s so hard to say. Honestly in any given day I probably do at least 50 different things traversing multiple business units. We have so much going on now across 37 different markets and so I’m kind of the brand architect – I sit across the top and kind of ensure that we keep thinking big and that it all flows as it should. Some kind of surprising things might be: I almost never get to the office before 10am, my dog Benny comes to work with me every day, and I sleep 8 – 10 hours every single night.
What has been your biggest setback and how did you overcome this?
Oh my goodness! In 15 years of having my own business and going through all sorts of iterations of my life there have been numerous. The biggest though was my binge drinking in my 20s. I gave up alcohol altogether on November 08, 2004 so I’m almost 12 years without a drink. That wasn’t about giving up alcohol but it was about being courageous enough to really look at who I was and what wasn’t serving me to be the best version of myself. It was keeping me small and I was using it as a crutch. This is different for everyone but that was the saboteur in my life at the time.
If you had the chance to start your career again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. Every single bit has made me who I am today. Every single hardship and time of adversity has absolutely been a catalyst to build me up and give me the resilience and tenacity to be doing what I am doing right now. I needed so many business skills and so much personal development to be strong enough to launch Collective Hub. So, yep, even when it’s been hideously tough (and it has been many times) I am grateful for it.
What is the best advice you’ve been given and what advice would you give your twenty-year-old self?
That absolutely anything is possible. I know that for sure now. Unquestionably. You just have to think and dream bigger and the rest will follow if you hold it tightly enough.
What tips would you have for someone wanting to take his or her business global?
Ok – so probably don’t wait for someone to give you permission or for government grants or anything else. I literally found out where the biggest global magazine distribution conference was being held and I backed myself – I jumped on a plane and went and met 13 distributors back to back in one day. And you know what, it was rewarded over and over. Every single one of those people saw the glint in my eye and my passion for what I was doing and every single one of them took Collective Hub on. That was four issues in. Again, just take a risk, back yourself, educate yourself and just start. No one is going to hand you the magic elixir.
What tips do you have for being a good boss/leader?
Be a great communicator. Understand that everyone has different motivators. Some are motivated by title, others money (not many in my world), others by recognition, others by having animals in the office etc. Be kind. Be fair. Reward people. Empower people. Create an extraordinary workplace where people love to be every day. Create an extraordinary vision and be able to communicate it to everyone so that they can see the greater goals. Also let each individual communicate their own vision and support them to achieve it.
How do you create a positive, healthy work environment?
I kind of answered it above. For me our office in 15 years has never looked like an office – I purposely create anything but. It’s a home. We are a family. We have our animals in the office. It is always floor to ceiling windows with loads of natural light and fresh air. We always have loads of plants. The music is pumping. We do Barreclasses together. We finish at 4pm on Fridays and all hang out together. I hope it’s a really fun, flexible environment that caters for the team and the individuals. And we never take ourselves too seriously.
How do you maintain a sense of wellbeing with such a demanding career?
My health is my absolute not negotiable, number one priority and so I have certain times locked out in my diary for excercise and just general me time. I also learnt a few years ago that when I’m in the office I’m busy – putting out fires and reacting a lot of the time. And just being a leader and supporting the team. But my really productive time for strategy and visioning is always outside the office walls. Don’t be afraid to do things your way and set your own rules is what I say.
First thing I do in the morning: Sadly, check my phone – Insta, Twitter, Snapchat, emails (we have a LOT going on overnight being in 37 markets)… Then I get up and generally go for a run, swim or walk at Bondi.