CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Lisa Hollinshead, Founder & CEO of One Another Community

Lisa Hollinshead is the founder of PR agency Comms 101; international blogging network Global Social 101 and social enterprise initiative One Another Community.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I began my professional career as a publicist in London working for one of the biggest entertainment PR agencies: Taylor Herring. Here, I did the PR for Britain’s Next Top Model and The Apprentice.

I then went on to do the PR for a long haul airline and travelled the world in first class hosting travel journalists to destinations like Barbados, Antigua and Moscow. I caught the travel bug and decided to head to Australia on a one way ticket. I was just 23.

Upon arriving in Australia I was sponsored by Oglivy PR’s consumer division, Pulse Communications, where I managed the PR for LG Electronics and 20th Century Fox. A highlight was launching the biggest selling Blu-ray and DVD of all time; Avatar here in Australia. I also got to travel to Seoul with LG Electronics for the Life Tastes Good championships in 2010.

Since then I’ve gone on to work for some of the biggest PR agencies and brands in the world including (but not limited to): Frank, Herd MSL, McCann, Mullen Lowe, Maverick and represented: P&G, RB, Disney, Hilton, Maybelline NY, Samsung, Big W, Cancer Council, Diageo and Suncorp.

I set up my own PR agency in July 2017: Comms 101. I pride myself on my flexible workplace model, which involves working with senior PR professionals that have become parents, or moved to a regional area, who require flexibility in the work. Brands I have represented include: Sheraton, Marriott, Vision Direct, ADMA, Quality Dental, Pacific Boating, Urban Alley Brewery, Speedo and Navitas.

In April 2019, I was selected out of 800 applicants to take part in the BlueChilli SheStarts accelerator program for my tech start up, PAR-ENTrepreneurs. Here I gained many valuable skills to equip me with the knowledge of founding a tech startup, whilst building my network in the startup ecosystem.

I decided in October 2019 that PAR-ENTrepreneurs wasn’t the right fit for me to pursue long term , and decided that I wanted to pursue my dream of founding a tech startup that brought communities together – I just didn’t quite know what my solution was, or even the problem I was trying to solve at this stage.

In March 2020, I landed in Europe after winning a pair of flights to Berlin. I headed to Spain to spend time with my mum and granny. Only two days after I arrived, the European lockdown hit Spain. We were housebound with our flights home to Australia cancelled.

Luckily, I was safe with a loving family and full pantry. Despite this, the initial moments of panic and fear are not easily forgotten. And as I sat in the safety of my mother’s home, it hit me just how lucky I was and how difficult this whole experience would be for a huge number of people who didn’t have access to this safety I was afforded. It got me thinking – what would I have done if my grandmother didn’t have support?

Or if I was stuck in an unfamiliar hotel room with my son without assistance, for weeks on end? These were unprecedented times. One of the only bright spots throughout this entire experience were the acts of kindness we were witnessing. Neighbours singing together as night fell; friends checking in with one another, despite being apart; acquaintances making sure their elderly neighbours had groceries.

It was a moving depiction of humanity striving for goodness while society as we knew it was rocked to its core. And it was inspiring – I wanted to help make a difference for those in our communities who perhaps did not have access to this kindness. I found others who agreed with me, that making a difference both now and into the future was an essential goal that needed to be achieved.

So the idea for One Another was born.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead describes our mission at One Another best: “Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilisation starts. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” We are those citizens. We have the power, and thereby the responsibility, to help those in need.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Every day is different, the only consistent elements of my day are the gym at 5am, and daily standup at 12pm. with my team.

Whether I’m attending Zoom calls, pitching at a pitch night, meeting with partners or reviewing wires, every single day is different, and I love it so much. I feel like I’ve found my groove in the role as founder.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

It is all about flexible and remote working. Until my pitch night at Fishburners back in July, not one of our 100 + team of volunteers had ever met in the flesh. It has all been a whirlwind of zoom calls, conferences and standups.

It fits well into my routine, as I am a single mum to my four year old little boy Albie. I’m able to fit all my work into hours when he’s at daycare and after he’s gone to bed. I made a rule to not work weekends unless completely necessary, and also have Wednesdays with Albie each week.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

It means knowing when to shut the laptop and put the phone down, and not beating yourself up about it. It is also knowing when you have to step up to the plate and maybe ask for an additional day at daycare that week, or to work a Saturday, without feeling guilty.

Easier said than done, but it’s important to set boundaries and to make time for yourself and of course family.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started pr stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I believe that Covid-19 caused a lot of people to stop and reflect. It certainly did for me. I was at burn out before with far too much on my plate (Comms 101, and SheStarts accelerator, plus trying to be the ‘perfect’ mum). Something had to give.

When COVID-19 hit, I lost my clients for Comms 101, there were no events to cover for and I’d existed the accelerator 4 months prior. For the first time in forever I was able to focus my attention on one business and factor in time for Albie too.

I also became more aware of my health and how vulnerable we are as humans and that we can’t take anything for granted.

So I decided to only have an alcoholic drink if it was at a restaurant for a special occasion, so usually once a week. I also decided to take charge of my health, joining my local gym and going 4/5 times a week at 5am.

It may sound super early (which it is), however I finished up at 6 and find I have so much more energy, and am falling asleep no later than 9pm in the evening – which is much better for me in terms of routine.

I started regularly listening to Calm meditations twice a day (nighttime and after lunch), as it’s so important to be able to switch off. I also read a book for 20 mins before bed, rather than being on my phone before bed, and no phone.

Finally – drinking three litres of water a day has made a massive difference to productivity and my skin.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Books – Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Thrive by Arianna Huffington.

Podcast – Upsiders and My Dad Wrote a Porno (for giggles).

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

  • Business – Slack, Trello
  • Fitness – FitBit
  • Apps – Calm

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Probably Ariana Huffington, as Thrive changed my whole perspective on success.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Do what makes you happy, do it for yourself and always remember: Comparison is the thief of joy!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.