Gates Foundation
Good Housekeeping
Portia De Rossi

The Great Leadership Behind Good Housekeeping

 

Every time I pick up the newest issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, I can’t help but feel excited. You thought I was going to say “good,” didn’t you?  I am not that predictable and neither is this magazine or the Executive Editor behind it. Meaghan Murphy is a risk-taker which is part of her and Good Housekeeping’s charm as well as 'recipe for success'. She’s also a fireball or as I fondly referred to her during our interview a “hamster on a wheel,” whose endless energy and upbeat personality focuses on seeing the bright side of just about everything, both at home and at work.

 

Is it any wonder Good Housekeeping’s readership is massive or the value held within exceedingly appealing, even after 132 years in existence?  I think not.

 

With so much positivity flooding each page and leadership that prizes perfection, people, and possibility as naturally as she does breathing, Meaghan Murphy is committed to ensuring that Good Housekeeping fits into every woman’s wheelhouse. If you haven’t seen this September’s issue, dubbed the "kindness" issue and featuring Melinda Gates as guest editor, pick one up today. Just don't forget to read Meaghan Murphy’s interview below before you do. You will gain a whole new perspective on the magazine and lady who knows nothing of the word “idle” and by the looks of it, never will.

 

What is your personal mantra?

“Be the good you want to see in the world” is my current one.

 

Share a bit about your life today.

I am a mom of three - 7, 5, and 4 - who works in New York City. I begin my day at 5am every morning surrounded by a strong social circle, the likes of which all work-out at the gym together. That time is really important to me. Following this, I greet my nanny at the door, take my kids to school then commute to Manhattan.

 

My work as the Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping (GH) magazine is exciting, creative, current, and ever-changing. It keeps me on my toes and is a great deal of fun and enormously satisfying. GH gives me a place to explore and share all of my interests and ideas. There isn’t a better job in the world.

 

Once my day is through, I shoot home. Whether or not I arrive in time for dinner has little bearing on the importance I place on staying connected with my children. In fact, every night, the kids share with me the top three highlights of each of their days, a practice we instilled in our home early to help them see the “good” in their lives and the world around us.

 

My day ultimately ends with time spent with my husband followed by “lights out” at 10:17pm (religiously).

 

Add to that pot, my participation in our town’s culture and activities, including writing a column called “Meet The Neighbors” where I highlight the people and businesses within our community. I also spearhead "The Kindness Project" and recently took on the role of Chief Spirit Officer.   

 

How is being the Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping different than you could have ever imagined when you first knew you wanted to enter the field?

I am 41 and no longer 18 (when I began in magazines). Having evolved with the business, I’ve learned to stay true to my passions within this competitive industry and take risks. That has been the method to my madness. Good Housekeeping isn’t just a magazine. We are more. If you are just making a magazine today in this industry, you are failing your readers.

 

How many make up the GH team?

We are bigger than a typical magazine because we have the GH institute as well. I don’t have an exact count off the top of my head. I do know that what drew me to Good Housekeeping was how multi-layered Good Housekeeping is, from its foundation up.

 

How many issues are sold each month?

Our total audience is 30 million. We sell 16.4 million copies each month, in other words, one in five American women read GH.

 

Good Housekeeping has been a trusted brand for many years.  Describe your current readership and what's your recipe for remaining relevant?

Our audience is comprised of mostly women, ages 18-80, who expect the best. Thus, everything we share is tested to perfection. This magazine has been around for 132 years. If GH gives its seal of approval, our chemists/engineers have verified our results and remain accountable for them. We are the ultimate consumer advocate.

 

What is the biggest challenge you face as this magazine?

Not enough hours in a day.   

 

Who is your leading competitor?  And why are you better?

We have a ton of competitors: Better Homes & Gardens, People Magazine, Real Simple. I don’t worry too much about what the other guys are doing. We focus on us. We like to be first.

 

Share a tip that made you say  "genius" once you learned it.

My personal favorite demonstrates how to instantly chill wine. I recently shared this tip on The Today Show. Another is creating spin art with a salad spinner. My final favorite is protecting little hands from sparkler burns by using a solo cups as protective barriers. 

 

What's new on the horizon?

We are in full blown Halloween mode currently. That said, our September issue is definitely a “must read,” which features Melinda Gates as our guest editor and Ellen DeGeneres on the cover -- the queen of kind.  

 

Finish this sentence, "You should read GH if you____."

Like to eat, shop, find a little more joy in every day, and learn little actionable to-do’s to live a better life and enjoy improved health.

 

Share a social cause or cause-based organization close to your or GH's heart?

We are partners with WE -- a charitable organization that empowers change with resources that create sustainable impact.

 

When all is said and done, how do you want GH to be remembered?  

It is never 'to be remembered' as it IS and will always be an ongoing institution.  

 

It is nice to know that generations ahead will relish Good Housekeeping as much as me and my three daughters do today. It is a unique magazine, capable of mixing as much nostalgia within its pages as it does contemporary ideas and information. That’s a tough combination to achieve. Seems to me the powers that be at GH chose the right hamster (I mean lady) for the job when they tapped Meaghan Murphy to lead them as Executive Editor, don’t you think? Let her know at @meaghanbmurphy.

 

Many thanks to Meaghan Murphy and Good Housekeeping for making this interview possible