Lisa Messenger is not like most. Equipped with nothing more than passion and a strong sense of determination, Lisa defied all the odds and did what everyone said couldn’t be done. Building a magazine from the ground up is a challenge in itself, but doing it at a time when print media is on rocky ground is another thing entirely. Equipped with nothing more than passion and a strong sense of determination, Lisa defied all the odds and did what everyone said couldn’t be done when she launched The Collective Magazine in 2013 (oh, and did we mention she had no previous magazine experience?). A hop, skip and a few years later The Collective is absolutely thriving and has expanded into a fully-fledged multi-media brand, with presence in over 30 countries, and it’s all thanks to Lisa.
So we thought who better to kick off our #IAMWOMAN series than this gorgeous go-getter who is the absolute embodiment of an empowering woman!
You’re a role model to so many, who are some of your biggest female icons and why?
My biggest female icons are really reflected in The Collective magazine – it’s like my version of a fan letter! Amongst our cover stars we’ve had Martha Stewart. I had the absolute joy of flying to LA to visit her offices. Her story is truly fascinating from Wall Street to media doyenne, she now has over 8,500 products to her name and her headquarters is like a Willy Wonker’s factors of interiors. It was bliss! My other role models are, of course, Lorna, who I put on the first ever issue of The Collective, and fashion bloggers like Margaret Zhang (yes, another Collective cover girl) who proves the power of passion and what you can achieve as an independent creative. My fantasy future cover star is Amy Poehler, whose book Yes Please I’ve just devoured (Amy’s people – if you’re read this…)
What is your proudest achievement?
Launching the Collective magazine with absolutely no prior magazine experience, into a magazine industry that was crumbling, when everyone said that print magazines were dead and that good news didn’t sell. I didn’t believe either statement and, thank goodness, my gut feeling was right, as we’re now sold in 37 countries and have amassed a huge community unlike any I have ever seen. I was also not just proud, but amazed, humbled and mesmerized to receive an invitation to spend a week on Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson and a small group of entrepreneurs who are far wiser and smarter than I am. My twenty-year-old self, who failed her first try at accountancy and couldn’t afford toothpaste, would be utterly amazed.
What makes you the most proud to be a woman?
Seeing so many other female entrepreneurs who are no longer trying to walk like a man and talk like man when it comes to business, but are doing things their own way. This is actually the reason I wrote my new book Life & Love to help people to understand that you can be feminine and ambitious, vulnerable and invincible, driven by compassion – and that’s exactly the complex contradiction of characteristics that make other women who really know themselves and own themselves so likeable to work and collaborate with. My team will tell you I’m known to sit in my office and sob – like really bawl – whilst reading the amazing emails I get from readers saying how The Collective has helped and inspired them. Is it wrong to show my soft side? No way. Ten minutes later I might nail a kickass deal worth millions. My mantra is always “anything is possible,” and I think we can achieve far more if we honour every side of ourselves.
Why do you think it’s so important for women to unite as a sisterhood and empower each other?
Well, what’s the alternative? I was around in the eighties, when it was all dog-eat-dog, shoulder pads and you were expected to stab others in the back to get ahead. But, I do not believe that a culture of fear, suspicion and judgment is a productive and creative environment. Why not praise other women who are achieving? They’re showing us what’s possible! I’m always a bit worried when I post on social media about something The Collective has achieved – maybe we’re sold in a new country or my new book figures have come in. Will people think I’m boasting or arrogant? But The Collective community is go giving, they’re always quick to celebrate with us, and seem genuinely happy for our achievements. And then, in return, I’m genuinely happy for theirs.
What are some examples of some small ways we can empower the women around us in our day to day life?
Smile. That’s it. You don’t have to do anything ground-breaking or staggering. I saw someone post on Facebook yesterday about how their boyfriend always waves at strangers in the street, and when she asked why he explained that he’d once read an article that talked about the number of people who were planning to commit suicide but didn’t because someone smiled at them. So, now he smiles and waves at everyone just in case! How amazing is that? Small acts of kindness can be so powerful, whether it’s to other women or men.
What or who keeps you passionate or inspired?
I am very lucky to have found my “why” in The Collective – to create a community of like-minded people who can inspire and lift each other up. This keeps me both enlivened and grounded every day. Then, of course, there’s also my fiancé Jack, my amazing team and my family, who I talk about in Life & Love in great detail (gulp!) I haven’t always appreciated but learnt the hard way that a support system really is the key to success and happiness.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with the Lorna Jane Sisterhood?
Oh, there is so much, most of which has been passed down to me from friends and family, like an advice-relay. This week I posted on my Instagram page “Behind a lot of successful people there is a lot of unsuccessful years” which is something that everyone should remember – especially on a hard day – and is the reason I wrote both my books Daring & Disruptive and Life & Love, to show the warts and all journey it took to get here, and why it’s still so worth the struggle.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with women of the world?
Every week, every day, every moment, every second you have a choice to flip your attitude to gratitude and flip your perspective. We all have the power within us, we just have to remember this.
We’re giving away 1 of 3 copies of Lisa’s new book LIFE and LOVE. Comment below and tell us in 25 words or less, how YOU stay INSPIRED to reach your dreams.
Competition closes March 31st. Each entry will be judged on the basis of creativity and originality. Please leave your email address so we can contact you with your prize.