Inspirational quotes: they’re everywhere, more than ever. You can barely scroll through Instagram without coming across statements about “starting over”, “growing”, or “creating a life you don’t need a vacation from” before they start to lose their impact. Lisa Messenger is all for the inspirational quote, but she breathes life back into these ideas by example. There are few who better demonstrate the heights one can reach with self-belief and attitude as fuel.
Messenger started a marketing and publishing business, The Messenger Group, 10 years ago, after managing a PR firm and working in sponsorship. Doing things differently was her mantra and it inspired a new idea. Launched in 2013, The Collective is a business magazine focused on other up-and-comers as well as business moguls, fused with the aesthetic of a fashion magazine.
Instead of getting an investor on board, Messenger partnered with companies who sponsor the magazine in a number of non-traditional ways, like events, branded products and collaborations, across all its saleable assets (a unique approach she discusses in her book Daring & Disruptive). The Collective has tapped right into the zeitgeist – how many times have you heard the story of the Gen Y corporate quitting her job to start a small business? “The Collective is more like a community, our readers are made up of very a loyal audience of forward-thinkers who want to change the world,” Messenger says.
The magazine itself is an example of the can-do attitude it promotes. Stocked in countries as diverse as Lebanon, Belgium, Brazil and Mauritius, Messenger made inroads by turning up at a global media distribution conference in Toronto. “All these people thought, ‘Oh my God, these Aussie girls who have never worked in magazines before flew all the way across the world to meet us, we’ll give them a go!’ When you believe in yourself, all these other people start giving you a go.”
The Collective is not her only outlet. She has written 12 books and co-authored and contributed to many others. Her latest book, Life and Love, is about learning to do it all and be happy at the same time. “I’ve made a very conscious decision to be an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs and in order to do that I need to tell my story, warts and all, so people can relate,” she says.
Her advice is from the “love, light and happiness” school of inspiration, with quotes such as “Real creativity… is about colouring outside the lines, filling your life with colour and painting a rainbow over your corner of the world.” But it’s the kind we need to be reminded of in order to start taking it on board. Her natural, conversational style and deadpan anecdotes (as when she describes time spent on Richard Branson’s private island) comes across as friendly and approachable rather than preachy.
So how can you run an independent magazine distributed to 37 countries without getting stressed? Messenger list three things that help: “I have an amazing team,” she says. “Start-ups often think they can’t afford to employ people. The reality is you can outsource many things and there’s so many different ways to structure a team now.” Secondly, take time out. “I’m working a lot less from the office. I’m trying to empower [my staff] to get on with what they need to do [while] I take time out… Plus, every morning there’s a green smoothie waiting on my desk – that’s my only prima donna thing!” Lastly, she exercises every morning and meditates regularly. “It’s weird, the bigger and busier I get, the less stressed I am. When I’m making such big decisions on a daily basis I can’t afford to be stressed.”
Life and Love is available in selected bookstores and on The Collective’s website. The Collective is available at all good newsagents.