There’s not many women who can walk into an industry they know little about, flip the business on its head and come out making a profit where others thought there was none, but that’s what Lisa Messenger has done, time and time again. From books to magazines, Lisa has operated as what she calls a ‘disrupter’ – literally thinking outside the box, applying what she learnt in one business to succeed in the next.
Her latest success story (and the object of my affections) is The Collective Hub – a community of game changers and thought leaders centred around a monthly print magazine (yes folks, I said print.) Since it’s deliberately quiet launch 18 months ago the magazine has gone on to be sold in 37 countries around the world, garnering a social media following of thousands (60k at last count) along the way.
I first became aware of The Collective magazine after shots of its elegantly designed pages began appearing in my Instagram feed. The content is very much about business, featuring interviews, tips and case studies of successful start-ups and industry leaders, but looks and feels just like a fashion magazine. The reason its cover ends up in my feed every month is because the magazine cleverly incentivises its readers to share photos of them enjoying The Collective, which they do, loyally and artistically, without fail. Through social media the readers of the magazine connect with and support one another – it’s like reading a beautifully designed, incredibly inspiring blog in paper format. In short: the answer to all my prayers.
I had the chance to hear Lisa Messenger, the game-changing CEO and Editor in Chief of renegade COLLECTIVE Group, speak at a publishing event here in Sydney last year. The key message of her talk was ‘anything is possible’ and she humbly and humorously explained how her life is proof of it. She spoke openly about her history with alcohol and struggling to find her way in her early career. Deciding to write a book on happiness ( Happiness Is…) as a way to pull herself out of this hole, she then boldly presold copies to corporate partners before she’d even finished – a skill she’d learnt from her previous job marketing events. That book went on to sell 36,000 copies (a best seller in Australia at the time shifting around 5,000.)
Lisa goes into more details about her custom publishing business (The Messenger Group), launching The Collective and the experience that preceded it in her book Daring & Disruptive: Unleashing the Entrepreneur. Although admitting to knowing little about publishing before starting out, Lisa is one smart lady. What she didn’t know she taught herself; investing in the training, staff and advisors she needed to reach her goals. Lisa is also adept at applying the skills she already knew to the new challenges before her; utilising her pitching and negotiation experience to bring her dreams for The Collective to fruition. Based on this personal experience, Lisa shares her advice and thoughts on creating a business you (the entrepreneur) believe in.
A lot of the advice and ideas contained in the book are beneficial for bloggers – particularly the chapters on collaboration and creative monetisation. Although the book doesn’t go into too much detail on exactly how The Collective makes money, Lisa revealed at her Publish talk that the magazine has around 17 revenue streams, of which traditional advertising and magazine sales are a tiny chunk. Instead, they run reader events, create branded products and creatively introduce the magazine’s sponsors to the readers in what appear to be rather more effective ways than a 1 page print ad. An approach many bloggers probably find themselves already following.
True to her word, Lisa’s book (and indeed the magazine) instilled in me the belief that anything is possible and gave me a few steers on the steps I need to take in order to achieve my goals. Now I just need to get on with it.
The Collective is stocked in newsagents, supermarkets and airports worldwide (although you do have to move fast to get your hands on a copy in my part of Sydney.) You can also subscribe online.
Daring & Disruptive: Unleashing the Entrepreneur by Lisa Messenger can be found here.
See also Happiness Is…