So What Do You Do, Lea Ann Leming, Chief Content Officer for SheKnows Media?

Lea Ann Leming revisits her early career and discusses SheKnows' steady achievements

Lea-Ann-Leming

Lea-Ann-Leming_smWhen Lea Ann Leming says her best advice is “be fearless in your career choices,” she’s sharing some tried and tested wisdom. Years ago, when she was unsure of where her career was heading, she took the risk of trading a graduate program at the University of Chicago for an internship in the media industry — a bet that has clearly paid off. Leming’s willingness to try her hand at untested ventures is a quality that has carried her to successful heights throughout her career, from her auspicious start at CNN as a founding member of CNN.com at the dawn of the Internet age to the numerous thriving digital businesses she has co-created and launched. Now, at the leading women’s media group SheKnows Media, she is spearheading dramatic changes within the company — the platform already has more than 75 million unique page views a month across its five brands — as it swells in size and reach, with the bonus of fulfilling her mission of “identifying and developing talent” (through staffing and SheKnows’ Experts Among Us blogger program) and making a difference in women’s lives.

Here, Leming revisits her early career and discusses SheKnows’ steady achievements.


Name: Lea Ann Leming
Position: Chief content officer, SheKnows Media
Resume: Began her career as founding member of CNN.com and CNNfn.com (now CNNMoney). Was VP of content strategy and news features for CNN Interactive in 2001, then a VP of strategic planning for Turner Broadcasting in 2002, where she helped develop the premium gaming service, GameTap. As a founding member of Turner’s New Products Group in 2004, she co-created new digital businesses like TheFrisky, CNNgo and Eatocracy. Went on to launch HLNtv.com as the head of HLN Digital. Joined ABC News Digital as an executive producer in 2012 and SheKnows Media as chief content officer in 2014, where she oversees content from its brands and influencers, social media and the Emmy-award-winning SKM Video Studios.
Birthday: “I’m old enough to have worked on the launch of CNN.com in 1995.”
Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Education: Bachelor’s in English from University of Tennessee
Marital status: Coupled
Media mentors: Scot Safon, CMO and EVP of The Weather Channel; Betty Cohen, founding president of Cartoon Network. “I can’t claim him as a mentor, per se, [but] Ben Sherwood, who ran ABC News when I was there, is my model of impeccable leadership.” (“Each of these people is wildly smart, a visionary, ethical, kind and, most of all, actively encourage ideas from all levels of an organization.”)
Best career advice received: “Your job is not your life,” from Maggie Bellville, VP of Hitachi Consulting, Inc., former executive at Cox and Charter Communications
Guilty pleasure: “Real estate. I can look at houses and apartments online for hours. [Another] guilty pleasure of mine is — even though I don’t work in television news right now — TVNewser. I still go there several times a day.”
Last book read: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Twitter handle: @laleming


Throughout your career, how did you develop the qualities that led you to becoming a visionary and the person spearheading the launch of products?
At the beginning it was happenstance. And then it was curiosity. I actually met somebody at a party in Atlanta and she worked at CNN and said, “There’s this new division called CNN Interactive and you might want to check in with them.” She hooked me up with a friend who introduced me to the head of CNN Interactive, and at that point CNN Interactive was honestly like some forums and CD-ROMs. The guy that became my boss said I was the first writer ever hired for CNN Interactive, which is now CNN Digital. By the time I joined, we changed direction and were building CNN.com. That was the very early days [of] consumer Internet and there weren’t a lot of models to look to in terms of what a news website should look like and what roles people should play. We made mistakes along the way but, ultimately, we also built great stuff and a great team. It was all about experimentation and trying things.