What did Tina Brown do after her business (temporarily) collapsed in early 2020, due to the pandemic? 

Tina, the 190th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, went and built an extraordinary new business in an industry she knew nothing about.

Since 2007, Tina has been first the general manager and then the owner of Homestay Network, which provides accommodation and tours for foreign students. It was a fantastic business – until Australia’s borders closed in March 2020. 

Suddenly, Tina had a lot of spare time on her hands. She was wondering what to do next. And then she had an idea – what about starting not one but two local print publications?

And so the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Post (a monthly newspaper) and Northern Willo (a monthly magazine) were born.

Tina had no experience selling ads, writing articles, using design software, thinking of story ideas or managing a team of journalists – so she taught herself.

The Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Post, which began with a print run of 30,000, is now up to 60,000 copies per issue, and is set to keep growing. The Northern Willo was paused due to Sydney’s recent lockdown, but will restart next year. Even better, Homestay Network will also resume trading next year, as Australia reopens its borders.

So Tina will no longer have to worry about having too much time on her hands.

As the details of Tina’s story emerged during our lunch, the thing I found most remarkable was not that Tina had achieved so much in such a short period of time, but that she was so nonchalant about it all.

Tina is a remarkable person – she’s dynamic, optimistic and resourceful. She gets stuff done without making a fuss.