Lisa Messenger – Owner & Creative Director of The Messenger Group

The Messenger Group and has worked globally in events, sponsorship, marketing, PR and publishing. On the back of her first book, she developed a custom funding and distribution model that is unique in Australia. She has since authored and co-authored a further 16 books and The Messenger Group (now comprising seven businesses) has custom published over 350! She’s trekked across India raising money for charity, ridden camels in the Sahara and experienced frighteningly communal showers in the Costa Rican Jungle.  She encourages entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation and lives life to the absolute max.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Passionate. Spontaneous. Open. 

What is your life motto? There’s always more than one way to do anything.

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I started this business the Messenger Group in 2001 – just over 10 years ago. In terms of success, it depends on how you define it. For me success is around having the freedom of choice and I think I definitely have that now. In the first three years, I was over servicing and undercharging and being everything to everyone. So from a monetary perspective I wasn’t successful at all. Now it’s more about the passion and love for what I do. You’ve got to be able to wake up each day, want to go to work, put in 100% and essentially love it.

How much time and effort did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? I think it’s an ongoing thing. The more I look for new opportunities, I see them everywhere. My dreams change all the time – so it’s all about staying inspired and inspiring others. My team and I have this motto: jump, and then your wings will grow.

What are the challenges in your line of work? I face a lot of challenges, particularly because primarily what we do is in the publishing industry which is often thought of as a dying art. We have flipped traditional publishing on its head which was a big challenge in itself because we didn’t have anything to benchmark against. There’s an abundance of challenges like cash flow, which a lot of businesses face. We’ve overcome that by really working out different ways to price things and different structures. One of the biggest things was taking an age-old industry and finding a way to completely rewrite the rules.

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I think the biggest thing was around structuring contracts earlier on; I think what’s really important is, as much as people say let’s do it on a handshake, things might be brilliant when you start out. It’s only when things go wrong when you need a contract to pull back on issues. An example is, in the past we had very lose contracts where we produce a book for someone but we wouldn’t put a timeline on and one person took two years and we lost a lot of money on that. But then again, you’re not learning if you’re not making mistakes. 

What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date?  Believe in yourself wholeheartedly and trust yourself, or no one else will. 

In your mind, is formal training essential? No. Absolutely not, in fact I’m almost opposed to it. I don’t mind if people don’t have a degree or formal training in what we’re doing, but for me what I always I look for is attitude.  You can be trained skill-wise but you need to be a natural fit in the team.   

Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? I think so, definitely, and I think that can come in many forms. For me personally I have a straight business mentor, spiritual mentor and I’m part of an entrepreneur organisation where I meet with a group once a month. My advice is, don’t necessarily get a mentor that is industry specific – choose your mentors wisely. Look for someone who’s open to change, someone who you respect and who you admire. 

What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career?  There are so many amazing networking groups now, like Business Chicks or the ABN. Definitely start attending those kind of things and be open to meeting new people. Look for inspiring people and see what their journey has been. You might be surprised what you can learn from them. Ultimately we all have to make our own mistakes; it’s how we ultimately grow.

What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? Luckily I haven’t felt like giving up a lot, but of course we all have those days and I think for me I have such an extraordinary team and that’s what keeps me going. The energy we have in the office is incredible and so we’re all in it together. I think that’s the most important for me.

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? To a degree but I think something much more important comes before that and that is about having the attitude and being open to every opportunity. There’s no point in having luck and being in the right place at the right time if you’re not open to it.

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