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How She Got There: Lisa Sugar, Founder, President & Editor-in-Chief of POPSUGAR


Name: Lisa Sugar

Age: 40

Job Title & Description: Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief of POPSUGAR, and an author

College Name/Major: George Washington University, Bachelor's in Psychology

Website: www.popsugar.com and www.poweryourhappy.com

What inspired you to start POPSUGAR?

I started POPSUGAR because I wasn’t creatively fulfilled at my job and always wanted to write. While working in advertising, I started POPSUGAR on the side to share things I was excited about: a new show I would review, a fun article with great quotes, a new beauty product I had just tried. I made sure it was a different voice then everything else out there. It was a fun, positive, safe community and very fan-friendly. Once I started writing, I became addicted and couldn’t stop.

How have your company and your job evolved over the years?

Every year is something new, but overall, while the company has changed a lot, we have also held onto our tone and our core values. A lot of things that are important to our business were not happening when we started ten years ago; video is huge for us and it was not part of the original POPSUGAR, and Instagram, Snapchat etc. didn’t exist even three years ago. My job has changed as I am watching over so many pieces of the business. When I started, I wrote everything. I do miss that, because writing has always been something I love to do, but now I get to work closely with video, sales and marketing and partners every day.

What are some of the challenges you've had to overcome to achieve the success you have today?

One of the biggest challenges is learning when to pass on a project or task I love. As much as I enjoyed writing nonstop, it’s also great to have a team who can step up and run the show while I take on different responsibilities. The company has grown so quickly, and it’s amazing to see how all of our original jobs have changed so much, how much we’ve all grown as leaders.

What makes you the proudest of POPSUGAR?

What makes me proudest is seeing how much we are helping people each day. We get so many comments, emails, direct messages, etc. from our audience how our content moved them to make a change. We want to make women feel smart, confident, and encouraged to do whatever they want, whether that means trying a new workout or rallying people to vote. We are constantly encouraged by our own readers to keep delivering content that inspires them. I’m also proud of the employees who have been with us for many years and [have] really grown. To see someone come in in an entry-level position become a person holding a leadership position is so fulfilling to me.

What advice do you have for 20-somethings who aspire to build their own company and/or become editors?

The advice I would give is to start small and set realistic goals. If you want to be a writer, get yourself in the habit of writing every day. I used to keep journals, so that was one habit, but those were personal and just for me, so it was a huge change to write for others. I originally started without telling anyone, but people found the site quickly. When I was becoming addicted to analytics and seeing how often people would visit the site or comment on stories, it only made me want to write more. So while I was still working in advertising, I found time before work, on a lunch break, and at night. The key was updating a lot throughout the day, so I also learned how to be really quick. That helped too!

This time post-election has been divisive and difficult for many young women. How do you feel? How do you think the new government will affect us? What advice do you have for our readers going forward?

We publicly endorsed Hillary, and I was lucky enough to be at her event in NYC on election night, so that made her loss particularly devastating. The next day I had to reassure our team that at POPSUGAR we still accept each other for who we are, despite what the climate is like beyond our walls. It’s hard to know what exactly the next four years will be like, but I want our readers to continue to fight for what they believe in and stay as positive as they can be, and we will keep covering the issues that are important to them.

Lisa's book, Power Your Happy: Work Hard, Play Nice & Build Your Dream Life, is available on Amazon and in your local bookstore.

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