How author and entrepreneur Lisa Messenger does it
Marie Claire: What is your current role and how would you describe a typical day?
Lisa Messenger: I am afounder, CEO, entrepreneur, investor. There really isn’t a “typical day”. However, I have certain rituals and routines that allow me to lead a very big, full life on purpose. I usually split my day in half (listen to the similarities not the differences, but just know that you need to give yourself permission to work your optimal routine).
Before 10 a.m. is a proactive “me time” where I fill my mind, body, and spirit. I meditate, journal, write my gratitude in our Collective Hub journal, exercise, listen to podcasts, and focus on a busy day. After 10am, it’s gone. Reactive time. At Collective Hub, we strive to ignite human potential through tools to inspire and educate through print (we publish approximately 60 books, journals, affirmation cards and dated products per year), digital content (collectivehub.commasterclasses, podcast—Listen to me RAWsocial media @collectivehub @lisamessenger @collectivehubkids @collective_retreat) and events (I do a bunch of gigs and we have regular community events).
So my day could be commissioning writers and designers, writing to myself, jumping on a stage for a speech, ideating and strategizing, attending a photo shoot or being photographed. , mentor other entrepreneurs, create social content, and a myriad of other things. We’re expanding massively in the US right now, so that’s a big priority. And as I write this, I’m currently in New York exhibiting and attending trade shows before jumping on a plane to LA for a bunch of meetings and events. Never a dull moment that’s for sure.
MC: How did you get here?
ML: My professional background makes no sense in terms of a logical sequence. But in retrospect, this makes perfectly illogical sense. This is a very important life lesson. Try a lot of things and you never know what experience you’ll get out of it to prepare for your dream job.
I started out as a riding instructor in England (it taught me to get up early in the morning and not be afraid to step in and get my hands dirty). I then became a conference and event manager. I loved the sponsorship side (brokerage) but I was not good at the details. It exposed me to a lot of different industries. I then took a job doing sponsorships for clients like Cirque du Soleil, The Wiggles and Barry Humphries. I wasn’t around long before I started my own business in 2001. But that job taught me everything that has become the foundation of my current business: thinking differently and doing business.
I’m in my 21st year of having my own business and it’s gone from being a “marketing agency” where I tried to be everything to everyone (overserve and undercharge – not a smart way to running a business). I then turned into a custom edition (accidentally after my own runaway success with my first book Happiness is… in 2004). In 2013, I tried to launch my own magazine, Collective Hub, which was in 37 countries in 18 months.
After 54 issues and almost five years, I closed it which is well documented (I wrote seven books during these five years by documenting each step in real time). Since then we have started producing dated books, journals, affirmation cards and products and the business has just exploded again. It was a little tricky in 2018, but when you really know your purpose, what I’ve learned is that sometimes you have to break something to make it again, stronger and more durable than ever.
MC: What was your very first job?
ML: As a riding instructor for an outdoor activity center called Boreatton Park in Shropshire, England. It was so much fun. I was able to meet other travelers from all over the world during my eight months there, which created instant friendships, travel companions and places to stay all over the world.
MC: And what was your worst job?
ML: I don’t think there is ever a “bad” job – anything I do in life – good or bad, I believe really teaches us lessons.
MC: What is your career advice to other women?
ML: Probably not to be afraid to try lots of things. It is only by experiencing different industries, geographies and cultures that we can truly get a sense of what ignites our soul. Too many people choose a career based on what others expect of them. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams. Don’t be afraid to fail. Know that it is from failure and adversity (however painful at the time) that the real lessons and springboards come. I know for sure that each time I hit rock bottom, that’s when I learned courage, tenacity and resilience. And while painful at the time, when I look back, those were the times – both personally and in business that really shaped me.
MC: You recently started working with Pureology for their Pure Origins campaign. How important is it to you to work with brands that you personally align with?
ML: I don’t do a lot of brand partnerships because I prefer to go deeper with brands that I really resonate with and share the same values – integrity and sustainability really stood out for me when we connected. Pureology is one of those brands that makes sense to me.
MC: The sponsorship included a photoshoot, documenting your hair’s transformation from a long brown mane to a short blonde bob. This is a dramatic change! How do you find your new ‘do?
ML: It was great fun. I just felt like a really dramatic change and the team was really accommodating. I suck at doing my own hair. But their products have really helped, especially the moisturizing conditioners and color fanatics, multi-taskers that go off as a spray.
MC: What does beauty mean to you?
ML: Beauty for me is above all an inner confidence. A strong sense of self. Unwavering self-confidence. It’s really true that people shine from within. And a few little pampering treatments don’t go astray.
Back to working life: how do you manage your inbox?
ML: So I TRY not to check my emails before 10am. And I try to have dedicated “email” time throughout the day so I don’t interrupt my flow of writing, ideating, strategizing, having team meetings . We can get way too “reactive” and glorify being “busy”. It’s really important to set aside specific time for specific priorities – email being one of them.
MC: And how do you deal with burnout?
ML: In 2018, after having a brick-and-mortar office for 17 years, we completely got rid of the office and decentralized the team. So I wrote a book, Work from anywhere detailing how we did it.
For me, I changed my mindset to focus on performance and productivity rather than office time and bums in seats. It gave me and my team a lot more flexibility to work how we want, when we want. As long as people are giving birth, I’m glad they’re enjoying a flexible lifestyle. Hustle culture is now out the window. For me, it’s a mix of work and play. I find that when you allow flexibility coupled with strong deliverables/KPIs, people tend to perform at their best.
MC: What did you buy that made the biggest difference in your productivity?
ML: My non-negotiables are my Apple Airpods, my Apple Watch, Monday.com, slack, and my HP Dragonfly laptop. All of this helps me be super productive on the go, wherever I work in the world. And we live between Bangalow, Sydney and the United States, so these things are my turn or my death.
MC: Describe your power outfit.
ML: So it’s very important to me and it really depends on what I’m doing. I believe outfits can really ground us. I talk a lot to a large audience – 400 to 10,000 people typically. I ALWAYS wear all black. I always wear pants instead of a skirt. I often wear my black Balmain blazer that I bought in New York a few years ago (power blazer that I bought as a reward for a big victory in the United States). And either black flat boots or Frankie4 sneakers.
The reason for this is that people have no choice but to listen to what I have to say, rather than focusing on what I’m wearing (great advice given to me years ago years by some great world speakers). I wear pants because if you need to sit on stage it’ll never be a problem from any angle (I’ve seen too many accidental stage flashes over the years to risk it) and flats because I’m always running around the crowd answering questions in the second half and I want to be ready for anything.
Now when working from home I often spend all day in my training gear (Nimble, Dharma Bums, The Upside, Aje Athletica are my favorites) after training and straight into zooms etc. Or ripped jeans (Framestore.com) and a white t-shirt. I also get to attend a lot of launches and events, that’s when I get super dressed. I like to wear a different outfit as often as possible, so I often hire something from The Style Squad.
MC: What is your current work bag?
ML: So for years and years I didn’t really spend money on bags or on myself. I put him back in the business. But a few years ago, I realized that as an entrepreneur and business owner, I needed to reward myself rather than throw everything back into the business. My favorite is Louis Vuitton. For every day I have the Neverfull MM. And I just bought myself the Keepall Shoulder Strap 25 in LA a few months ago for all my sporting and evening occasions.
FMH or office? ‘
MC: BYO lunch or takeaway?
MC: What’s on your desk right now?
ML: Airpods. Gratitude Journal. Portable. Iced latte. Iphone. Blank A4 notepad.
MC: Disconnect from e-mail?
ML: “Big love Lisa xx”