Written by Jan Jaben-Eilon Wednesday, December 29 2010
Snapshot: Natalie MacNeil
Natalie MacNeil is co-founder of Imaginarius, an award-winning media firm known for its groundbreaking work in animation, games, and interactive innovations. The firm’s most recent production is Out of My Window, an online, interactive documentary. MacNeil is frequently quoted and interviewed in the media discussing entrepreneurship, personal branding for women, and new media.
She is best known, however, as the founder and editor-in-chief of “She Takes On The World,” a blog for career-oriented women and female entrepreneurs. “She Takes on the World” has received international attention as one of Forbes’ 10 Best Career Sites for Women and ForbesWoman’s Top 100 Websites for Women. It is also the 2010 winner of Blog of the Year at the Stevie Awards, dubbed “the Oscars of business awards.”
In 2010, MacNeil was recognized as Canada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Impact Organization. She graduated with honors in political science and business from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, where she resides.
Womenetics: How did you come up with the idea for “She Takes on the World?”
Natalie MacNeil: I came up with the idea in my sleep actually. It was a true “light bulb moment.” A few years ago I decided I would start a blog, but didn’t know what my focus would be. In the middle of the night the idea literally just popped into my head, and I woke up to take some notes. It’s a good thing I jotted down notes because in the morning I didn’t even remember what had happened until I read the notes.
Womenetics: I looked at your website and there’s a lot there. How do you describe “She Takes on the World?”
MacNeil: “She Takes on the World” is a business and lifestyle blog for career-minded women and women entrepreneurs. The team of contributors covers a lot of topics because we want to support a well-rounded entrepreneurial lifestyle. You’ll find articles on business, personal branding, money, social media, work-life balance, and more.
Womenetics: Who is your audience and what exactly are you giving them?
MacNeil: The “She Takes on the World” audience is women of all ages, from all backgrounds, and from all parts of the globe. I think we provide women with good advice and guidance, but most importantly we inspire them to dream bigger and believe in their power to achieve greatness.
Womenetics: How do you make money through this website?
MacNeil: “She Takes on the World” was never about money for me. I mean, as the site has grown, I have generated modest revenue from it, but making money from “She Takes on the World” wasn’t the reason why I started it. I have a media company with a business partner, and that is my full-time job. In the future, though, I will be expanding “She Takes on the World” a lot, and from the expansion there will certainly be opportunity for monetization, which will allow me to keep on growing the site.
Womenetics: I saw that you asked Arianna Huffington who inspires her. Besides Huffington, who inspires you, and who inspired you as you were growing up?
MacNeil: Growing up I was inspired by a lot of the strong female characters in the books I read. Today, I am inspired by so many different people. Some are no longer living, like Napoleon Hill, some are very well known, like Hillary Clinton, and many others are people I have built relationships with through “She Takes on the World” and my business. Inspiration is all around us if we are open to receiving it.
Womenetics: What is your long-term career goal?
MacNeil: Right now I’m focused on growing both my business and “She Takes on the World.” I’m also working on my first book, which I hope will be the first of many. Long term I want to focus on reaching and inspiring women through multiple media channels. I want to see more women at the forefront of the most successful companies and in powerful leadership positions. I also want to bring more opportunities to girls and women in developing countries so that they have a chance to reach their full potential, too.
Womenetics: You are still young, but what did you want to be when you were very young?
MacNeil: I always wanted to have my own company when I grew up. There was a long phase in my life where I wanted to be an astronaut, too, because I think seeing our planet as a whole is an incredible experience. I still want to go into space one day but I’ll do it on a Virgin Galactic shuttle or with another space tourism company rather than as a NASA astronaut.
Womenetics: What do you do for fun?
MacNeil: My idea of fun involves traveling and exploring new places. When I’m at home, I love watching movies, reading, and playing games with my dear friends.
Womenetics: You seem to travel a lot and cover a lot of ground. Describe for us what a typical day is for you?
MacNeil: I have been to more than 50 countries around the world. I used to travel a lot more than I have been lately though. More recently, a typical day has been waking up early for a coffee and “social media time” where I schedule updates for throughout the day. Then my business partner and I review the day ahead for our media company, Imaginarius. Our digital media projects keep us on our feet all day until we break to work on our “passion projects.” This is when I switch gears to work on “She Takes on the World” and write articles for other media outlets. I usually go to the gym before dinner to clear my head and stay healthy. In the evening I often find myself continuing to write and plan for the next day’s adventure.
Womenetics: How do you think your generation of women will change the world?
MacNeil: I think my generation is ready to lead and we will see positive change with more women leading. This year at the Women: Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium, where I interviewed Arianna Huffington, I was recognized as one of America’s 50 Most Inspiring Young Women [Editor’s note: MacNeil describes the award as a “U.S. and Canada thing,” and says that she spends a great deal of time in the United States and that most of her readers are here.], and I had the opportunity to connect with other young women who are leading organizations and business. Many of them are leading social ventures that are already making a huge impact in the areas of education, maternal health, and human rights. It left me feeling, without a doubt, that we will change the world.
Jan Jaben-Eilon was a founding staff writer of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Since then, she has been the international editor of Advertising Age magazine and has written for such publications as The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Journalism Review, and Consumer Reports. She is the author of soon-to-be-published (There is) Life After Cancer. Jan and her husband have homes in Atlanta and Jerusalem.