Dynamic Duos: The easiest decision that led to the greatest partnership

In this week's Dynamic Duos, The Brag Media's CEO Luke Girgis and editor-in-chief Poppy Reid discuss how a shared hunger for growth led to the creation of the company and the success they've had since.

In Dynamic Duos, Mumbrella each week asks two colleagues with a professional and personal affiliation to share with readers the importance of workplace relationships in an increasingly hybridised world of work.

Luke Girgis:

I first met Poppy Reid in 2017, when I was doing due diligence on the publishing industry before launching The Brag Media. I had made a point of meeting as many editors and publishers as I could, and Poppy was by far the standout meeting. She was so open-minded, ambitious, and knowledgeable, and I learned a lot from our conversation.

I later found out that she didn’t want to meet me because she thought it would be a waste of time, and the fact that I rocked up to the meeting on a skateboard probably instantly confirmed her suspicion. But hey, she was so polite and open with me the whole meeting despite all the bad signals which is a huge credit to her curiosity and integrity. Poppy is the complete opposite of a social climber, she gives everyone a chance.

A few months later, we met again at Bigsound, a music industry conference in Brisbane. We spent a week hanging out, and I was even more impressed by Poppy’s energy, creativity, and sense of humour. I knew that I wanted to build The Brag Media with her, lucky for me she accepted the role even though I told her there’s a good chance our business wouldn’t survive more than six months.

Poppy loves a challenge and never shies away from risk.

Over the past few years, Poppy and I have built The Brag Media into one of the leading youth and pop culture media companies in Australia. We’ve launched a number of successful brands in Australia, including Rolling Stone, Variety, and even acquired the publication where she first started as an intern in the music industry, The Music Network. We’ve also hosted a number of major events, including the Rolling Stone Awards as well as a number of events for brands such as Lexus, Jim Beam and Magnum.

Of course, we haven’t always gotten things right. We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, and to be clear, I’ve made the biggest mistakes and the worst calls of the two of us. No matter how big or stupid my error, Poppy has always had my back – it’s something I will never take for granted.

We’ve had a lot of fun along the way, worked long hours, laughed a lot, but most importantly we’ve built a team of amazing people who are all passionate about what we do and turned The Brag Media into a valuable company.

The Brag Media is a company that we can both be proud of, it’s always evolving and we’ll never stop saying that we’re building the plane while flying it.

I’m so grateful to have had Poppy with me since day 1.

Poppy Reid:

I’d been in contact with Luke over email for a year or so before I met him in person. At the time I was editor of The Music Network, while he was heading up an indie record label, and he would pitch me stories from time to time. He was also managing bands and I was impressed with the traction he was getting with pop group Little Sea. Little did I know though, behind the scenes he was plotting a media sector takeover.

On the day I met with him, I was running late from another meeting. If I had known he was scoping me out as a potential business partner… Well, I probably would have been just as late, but more apologetic. We talked at length about the independent media sector in Australia under the guise that I was offering advice as he readied the launch of his own media company. I remember being rather candid with Luke. I may have even noted that his idea to launch a music media company in a tumultuous time for both music and media due to new technologies was absurd. But Luke’s fearless attitude toward invention and community-building was just as strong back then.

It was the easiest decision in the world to decide to build The Brag Media with Luke. He was just as hungry for growth then as he is now, and our visions for the company aligned well. He’s been my mentor, cheerleader and voice of reason ever since. I vividly remember early wins like smashing our revenue targets and unlocking the ability to hire high performers, and his unwavering support of an investigative piece I worked on, which opened us up to Australia’s strict defamation laws, which currently protect abusers.

Our relationship is built on trust and transparency, which means we can call each other out on our bullshit and it’s always met with a compassionate conversation and an understanding nod of appreciation.

Luke on Poppy:

Most memorable moment with Poppy: At the height of Australia’s MeToo movement, Poppy was at the forefront of helping victims tell their stories, and driving real change amongst leadership across a lot of the music industry.

I’m still in such admiration for everything she did and does in this space, I truly believe she has meaningfully contributed to making the music industry a much better place.

Best word to describe her: WhatAFuckingBoss.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour she has: She’s made a memoji of herself that looks like an alien bald baby and every time she sends it to me I want to throw my phone out the window.

Poppy on Luke:

Most memorable moment with Luke: I’d been on Luke’s case about acquiring the rights to operate Rolling Stone in Australia since the beginning. He didn’t seem too motivated to make it happen, but when I explained that I’d been a fan of the brand since I was a pre-teen and it would mean the world to 12-year-old Poppy if we could continue its legacy here, things seemed to move a lot faster. Granted, Luke knew I would work my arse off on making Rolling Stone work, but he also likes to make dreams come true. I love that about him.

Best word to describe him: Visionary.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour he has: I’ll do both!

Annoying habit: He’s obsessed with In-N-Out Burger, so when we travel to the US for work, guess who makes me document this obsession with photos and videos of him smashing cheeseburgers and standing in front of neon In-N-Out signs?

Endearing behaviour: Luke is always open to having his mind changed and is aware of the importance of differing opinions. He and I don’t always agree, but we respect one another wholly.

If you and a colleague would like to submit your story to Dynamic Duos, please email Lauren at lmcnamara@mumbrella.com.au.


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