…I’m not sure it’s funny, but the biggest mistake I made, was trying to go it alone for so long. It’s really important in any business to ask for help and to surround yourself with people who have a similar vision and drive — bouncing ideas off of other people is a priceless commodity.
I had the pleasure to interview Pamela Schein Murphy, Founder + Creative Director of The Select 7. Pamela sees the world through the eyes of a native New Yorker — she was born and raised in Manhattan. Her ability to combine sensibility with vision planted the seed for The Select 7. Drawn to the excitement and fast pace of the media world, Murphy pursued literature, psychology and women’s studies at the University of Rhode Island and later earned her Master’s Degree in Magazine Journalism from New York University. Working her way through the ranks of print media, she worked at some of the publishing world’s biggest women’s magazines, such as Fitness, Mirabella, Elle, and Glamour. After successfully climbing the masthead, Murphy created her first independent venture, a national lifestyle magazine called Madison. For readers with an appreciation of the arts, culture, photography, and architecture, the magazine covered book reviews, travel, food, fashion, commerce, and entertainment. She went on to add Film Producer (with actor Ed Burns) and Marketing Director (of her husband, Chef Marc Murphy’s restaurant group) to her resume, and also ran The R.E.S.T. Initiative, a non-profit organization that brought massage therapies directly into chemotherapy treatment rooms, which she started after completing her own battle with breast cancer. Today, the program runs at the NYU Clinical Cancer Center as part of the alternative medicine practice. Most importantly, Murphy is the principal of The Select 7, a platform imagined from years of travel, research, recommendations, and list-keeping. The Select 7 is a curated exploration into the worlds of philanthropy, food, beauty + wellness, travel, fashion, interior design and social media by some of the most interesting people out there. The site unlocks the worlds of today’s top tastemakers, acting as an exchange hub for people who want both the aspirational and the totally obtainable to share their finds, recommendations, and ideas by inviting you into one person’s world for seven days. Murphy lives in New York City with her husband Marc and their two children, Campbell and Callen.
Thank you so much for joining us Pamela! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My trajectory has been less path and more circuitous route. I have always loved writing — my mom was a book editor, so I’ve been around words all my life. But I was never really clear on what I wanted to do until I got to college and started doing some feature writing. I loved the marriage of fact and fiction, so to speak, and I knew that it was the kind of writing I wanted to do. But that doesn’t mean it what’s I did — at least not right away. I did go on to grad school at NYU where I got my Masters in Magazine Journalism, and I worked at quite a few magazines before starting my own (Madison, a lifestyle magazine that focused on celebrity, fashion, beauty, travel and food, which we published from 1991–1994), but after that I bounced around a bit. I went from PR to working for a book agent at ICM to film production to marketing and branding for my husband’s restaurant group. And while all of those jobs had a similar theme: they all required incredible organization and writing skills, none of them fulfilled me the way the magazine work I’d done had. I missed telling people’s stories, sharing information and working to make something aesthetically beautiful as well. That’s where The Select 7 was born — from my desire to create again. But I can’t take full credit for it. It was actually a friend who suggested that I start a blog because I’m such a researcher and collector, but the idea of a blog didn’t really move me — it felt too narcissistic or something. So, it was actually my daughter (who was 12 at the time) who suggested a website, which was an idea I could really get behind because it combined everything I loved — a true digital magazine. And it was her who turned that thought into the reality of The Select 7 when she opened an account on weebly.com and gave it to me for Mother’s Day.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
The hardest part for me about this journey was that I literally didn’t know the first thing about starting a website. I mean, not one single thing. I hadn’t been in the space at all for so long, and the last time I was there, I was dealing with printers and distributors, not web hosts and SEOs. So, I did the only thing I could do — I sat down at my computer and stated researching. The site, which my daughter had started on weebly, needed to be a bit more robust, so I moved to Squarespace, and just started building it. There was a ton of trial and error, a number of design iterations and many, many accidentally deleted pages (you can’t imagine the feeling), but once I got the hang of it, it became like an addiction. And the ability to have an idea one minute and literally sit down, write it and push it out onto the Internet the next, is mind blowing.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I am about as Type A as they come, and once I start something, there’s not a chance that I’m not going to finish it — no matter what. I always joke that God invented the laptop for people like me who work 24/7, often in the middle of the night. And I love to build things, so the satisfaction in seeing everything come to life is what really keeps me going.
How did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Grit is all about sticking with it. For nearly 2.5 years, I built and maintained the site by myself. Alone — with not one other person helping me. And that was hard. It was exhausting and it was probably stupid. But it’s what I needed to do to make sure that the idea had legs, and once I felt it did, I was able to open it up and make the site even bigger and more successful.
How are things going today?
Things are amazing today! I have put together an incredible (and incredibly small) staff — a fantastic editorial director, an editor at large, an intern and a couple of staff photographers, and we are making things happen every day. It’s still super long hours, and I have a long way to go to be as successful as I’d like to be, but there’s nothing more rewarding then having an idea and feeling peoples support and get behind it. It’s intoxicating.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’m not sure it’s funny, but the biggest mistake I made, was trying to go it alone for so long. It’s really important in any business to ask for help and to surround yourself with people who have a similar vision and drive — bouncing ideas off of other people is a priceless commodity.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
In an era where we’re constantly bombarded with perfectly curated lives, The Select 7 seeks to fill a void. Our online and physical community is dedicated to growth and development and provides honest, entertaining, enlightening, and dynamic content related to living your best life possible in the most authentic way possible. Our weekly guests share everything from their favorite causes to business advice to beauty products and fashion tips, to reveal not just cookie cutter visions of success but what they are learning, reading, struggling with, and exploring as well as what helps keep them motivated. The Select 7 is a community of trailblazing humans and I really believe that it’s what sets us apart. The world is full of so much BS these days, and we cut through that clutter to offer something far more authentic than you’ll find almost anywhere else.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Working in the digital and social space, it’s so easy to be completely consumed, to always have your laptop open or your phone in your hand. But it’s imperative to take digital breaks. Your brain needs a rest and I find that taking a step back can really help you take a much bigger step forward.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Is it weird to rely on a teenager? Seriously, though, that person for me is my 15-year-old daughter. She has been my biggest supporter and I can always count her for the (sometimes brutally) honest truth. She has given me great ideas, shares her thoughts and advice and is amazing and helping me sort through images!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The Select 7 is, at its heart, a lifestyle website. And while that does mean our focus might tend toward the more material, we also recognize and truly believe in the importance of paying it forward. To that end, we think it’s imperative to start each week with a Random Act, so we spend every Monday talking about motivation or philanthropy. And while I’ve always believed wholeheartedly in the importance of giving back, it’s more important now than ever, because the only way we can create any kind of change in the world is to manifest it.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
A friend once said to me: Learn to love what you hate. And I thought, wow — Could you imagine what the world would be like if we all just learned to love what we (think we) hate? Obviously I’m not talking about Kale or exercise (although learning to love those things would be amazing), I’m talking about the word hate, and how, when you really break it down, it’s a word with no real meaning, except hostility. So if we could all look at what we think we hate and turn those feelings of hostility into feelings of love, the world would be so much better.