Lisa HendersonLisa Henderson is General Manager of Olivia, the lifestyle company for lesbians. Most recognize the brand from its signature cruises, but Olivia has evolved over the years with a variety of community experiences… including the online kind at the newly launched Olivia.com. I asked Lisa to share her thoughts about the value of travel, the richness of community along with a few personal questions that gives us a glimpse of her money personality. Enjoy!

1. I’m forty years old and I’ve never spent money on a cruise. What can you say that will convince me to finally take one?
Olivia cruises are like a floating city full of lesbians. In addition to creating a community setting, the trip details, from the destination to the talent and events on board, are customized to create an amazing and unique experience. Each trip is a cross section of all walks of lesbian life from women who are not able to be out in their hometowns, to young women who heard about us on the “The L Word,” to women who have done well over a dozen trips with us. The ability to bring all these lesbians into one place on a ship or resort is extremely powerful for everyone. Every lesbian should do one trip with us and see.

2. What is your most significant memory about money?
When I was eight-years-old I started working at my father’s gas station. When I turned nine my father allowed me to hand out paychecks to our employee’s. I never forgot the look on their faces and how happy they were to see me. That is still my most favorite thing about money- the ability to create opportunities to pay people.

3. You’ve earned your living at various Fortune 500 companies. How is this experience different at a lesbian owned & operated venture?
Every company says that their business is about their customers- in this case, it is absolutely true. Olivia was founded as a vehicle for lesbian women to express themselves and it has never strayed from that central theme. The experience that Olivia provides is life changing for many, many women.

4. Is the “Olivia Credit Card” just meant for frequent cruisers or should every lesbian have one?
We would like every lesbian to have one- it is one way we as a group can show our economic influence. In addition, we have some new programs coming out in 2008 that will make having an Olivia Credit card even more fun.

5. Do you and your partner see eye-to-eye on money?
Yes. My partner and I have similar backgrounds- we both grew up poor. We are grateful that we are no longer in that space but I think that is what also keeps us humble. Our views on money are similar in that we rank it well below family and time together as a priority. My partner is not a “material/thing” person – her favorite possession is a great book which makes holiday and birthday shopping easy! There is no pressure or desire in our household to have things just because we can; besides, we both dislike shopping!

6. The Olivia.com socialization network is a place for lesbians to connect. I read somewhere that this online destination will even help members learn how to take control of their personal finances. Can you elaborate?
Olivia is really striving to help lesbians help each other. We have a resource center for women to post their expertise and a life section for our business partners to offer advice and help on financial services and other life items such as insurance.

7. Why is it important to have out athletes and other public figures as paid spokespeople for Olivia?
I think it is less about the “paid” part and more about examples and role models. These women/lesbians risk a tremendous amount, as we all do, to live an open life. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from a Sheryl Swoops or a Martina Navartiliova who step out and say, “This is who I am and it does not make me less of a person, athlete or celebrity.”

8. I understand that you sit on Hilary Clinton’s national LGBT steering committee. What role does money play in politics and specifically in the advancement of queer causes?
Money is in everything at some level. For me this role is about making sure we have a voice not only with Hillary but in the political sphere in general.

9. What is the most important lesson you intend to teach your daughter about money?
The most important lesson period is about being a good person. We speak about what it means to be kind, generous and caring. She is growing up in a privileged environment where money and material items are very much on the radar. When she comes home and tells us “so and so says her shoes cost more than mine” we tell her it is not the cost of the shoes but how you wear them, in a “You go girl!” kind of way.

10. What is “Cruise for Our Cause” and how did the idea come about? What do you hope to accomplish and is this a commitment for similar cruises in the future?
Cruise for Our Cause” is the first idea I brought to Olivia. I wanted to make a statement about Olivia on two levels: 1) we are going to be much more visible on a social cause front; 2) we are dedicated to creating entire experiences based on trip themes that will make each trip special and distinctive. For example, you should care less about the Caribbean for the third time if this time you are going under the banner of raising awareness and money for lesbian breast cancer not for profits.

More about Lisa Henderson
Olivia General Manager Lisa Henderson, has over 20 years of executive, go to market experience from top consumer packaged goods and technology companies. Lisa has also founded or cofounded several technology companies in the sports management, digital media and security space. Lisa has launched over 120 products or services globally and worked for companies such as Microsoft, Specialty Brands, Symantec, Walmart.com and eBay. Selected on several occasions as a leading product innovator, Lisa specializes in identifying new business opportunities for new and established brands.

Additionally, Lisa is an advocate and supporter of gay family rights, preservation of the Amazon, inner city youth development programs and breast cancer research via numerous not for profits were she sits on the board or is a key advisor. She has an MBA in finance and marketing. Lisa enjoys a wonderful family which includes her partner and 4 year old daughter.

Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.