Lisa Sugar was moved by an insatiable appetite for celebrities and a passion for pop culture to join with her husband Brian in 2006 to transform a hobby into the reality of POPSUGAR. Since then, as editor in chief, she has grown POPSUGAR into the go-to web destination for a primarily female audience across such areas as entertainment, celebrity, fashion, beauty, fitness, food, romance, parenting, and more. Thanks to her vision and drive, POPSUGAR is today known for its distinct voice as well as its premium editorial and video content created and shared fresh daily.
Lisa Sugar oversees a staff of 60 editors who create content for the 18 lifestyle and entertainment websites that comprise the growing POPSUGAR network. She previously served as a media planner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and at Young & Rubicam and began her career at Showtime and Fox, leveraging her degrees in English and psychology earned at The George Washington University.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I was fortunate enough to be raised by amazing, loving parents who led me to believe I could do anything I dreamt of. My father taught me how important it was to find a job doing what I loved. I watched my father lead by example with his career. He was a confident leader, inspirational speaker, and the most stylish man in the room. Combine that upbringing with an inspirational life partner who is also a passionate entrepreneur, and I continued to learn from watching him motivate people every day.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at POPSUGAR?
Each job I've had has taught me something important. Starting out in the advertising agency world I learned a lot about working with a team and in a client-based industry. I learned to think differently and challenge myself to be creative for various brands. Along the way I learned tactical organization and executions on projects as well as adapting to situations. Most importantly I learned to figure out what I loved and what I didn't enjoy so I could move forward into a career that I was more passionate about.
What have the highlights and challenges been starting and growing POPSUGAR?
We started the company when we started a family. We wanted to create a culture that felt like you were just having a great time with your closest friends and family. It's a challenge to maintain that feeling with over 350 people, but we continue to try hard whether it's open-office seating where you can approach any exec at any time or making sure to find time to visit our offices in other cities.
Other specific highlights include reaching 34M unique views every month -- 1/4 women age 18 - 49, having our live online video show be picked up by a network, and driving over $1 billion in retail sales through ShopStyle.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
I felt it was impossible to create content back in the early 2000s if I wasn't working in NYC or at some big media company. However, training myself to write every day to get into the habit of creating content and being creative led me to grow a large audience who was interested in what I had to say. I would tell anyone who wants to work in media to just start now. There are so many talented people we find each day that are starting at earlier ages and I love finding new voices and talent for our growing team.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Work hard, be nice.
I believe in finding a job you are passionate about. When I am hiring I look for individuals who start to geek out with excitement when talking about what they want to write about or who they are inspired by or what TV shows make them tick. If there is no authentic passion from the start then it's never going to work.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
My work and family life has been blended since we launched POPSUGAR. I have an "always on" mentality where I am attached to my phone or computer so someone from work can reach me even if I am driving carpool for one of my daughters. Carving out time to do mom jobs is just as important as work to me. Every day is a blend of being present with my family and working efficiently at the office and then usually again once the kids are asleep at night. I also believe it's important to recharge. Taking family vacations is the best way to clear my head from work and reset.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Figuring out how to blend work and life. Learning to work with your company to find that balance as well as what you can divide and conquer with your partner at home. No one can do it all so figure out who is good at what and how to tackle it whenever it fits into your day.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Watching Oprah build her empire and seeing the influence she had on women in the US was incredible. She is talented, powerful, and relatable. The way she extended her brands over the years from her show to a magazine to an entire network. She is one of the most trusted personalities in the world and an inspiration to me and many other women.
What do you want POPSUGAR to accomplish in the next year?
I want POPSUGAR to be one of the best companies to work for, to see more of our shows on other screens, to continue to grow our audience, and be a part of our audience's daily routine.