Liz: Can you tell us a bit about your background? What was growing up like for you?
Laura: Yeah! I'm a Midwestern girl at heart. I grew up in Minnesota, but I moved around a lot as a kid both within the state and outside of it. My nickname was Smiley because I was only happy if the people around me were—I think both of those pieces of my childhood experience have made me who I am today. I learned early on about how much environment shapes our experience, and to understand that people everywhere are always connected by the same basic elements of the human experience. And obviously, I work really hard these days to help people be happy. Not because I need others to be happy to feel happy myself, but because I think it's so important to our quality of life and something we're not always sure how to achieve on our own!
Liz: It sounds like you have thought plenty about connections between your current work and your childhood! Did you attend college? If so, what was that experience like for you?
Laura: I did! I went to a really small liberal arts college in Northwestern Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Morris. That's where I first started studying sociology and gender, women and sexualities studies. It was really where I first started to understand activism, and my role in it, and the ways I wanted to change the world. I had some incredible opportunities in school because I was mentored by other women, and although I originally planned to go on to grad school, I decided that I was ready to jump into the real world instead. I didn't want to feel stuck in a classroom when things around me so obviously needed folks in the mix, with their skin in the game so to speak. So after college I ended up moving to San Diego to volunteer as an intern at Invisible Children, and I ended up working there for about 3 years.
Liz: Oh wow. Do you feel like that work experience helped you find your place with activism?
Laura: Absolutely. I learned a lot there about finding my voice (quite literally, since I had to learn to become a professional public speaker) and also really balancing the activist role with self-care. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by people all the time who cared about changing the world. It was an incredible experience and also showed me that it was possible to really help others get fired up and engaged in social change initiatives.
Liz: What did the path look like from your employment with Invisible Children to starting your own business?
Laura: It was an interesting one, for sure. As is typical in the nonprofit life, I wore tons of different hats during my time at Invisible Children. I did everything from public speaking to management, to assisting with their political advocacy initiatives, to helping their development team with grant writing. I got really burned out toward the end of my time there because I was just taking on what was needed for the team to survive. When my position was laid off (another unfortunate reality of nonprofit life!), I moved to Nashville with a group of friends. It was the first time in my life that I realized I was in charge. That might sound silly, but I'd gone right from school into a highly structured job and didn't really know what I wanted to create. I worked lots of part-time jobs and felt like I just wanted someone to tell me what to do next. Eventually I had enough and realized that I needed to be the one to take charge. I started asking myself the tough questions, like "Who am I? How do I want to show up in the world? If I could do anything, what would it be?"
I ended up finding a job as a personal assistant to a life coach and started there. I figured she might be able to give me guidance, and through working with her I realized that starting my own business was what I was craving...and life coaching is such a perfect meld of everything I care about: sociology, empowering women, and even doing work that helps others reach their fullest potential. It's my own form of micro-activism, in a way!
Liz: Can you summarize what it means to be a life coach?
Laura: Absolutely. A life coach is meant to be an impartial sounding board. I'm here to help women clarify and understand what they're seeking, what's in the way of them having it, and to co-create an action plan that gets them from point A to point B. I'm also a source of accountability and creative brainpower to ensure that you're moving forward and not getting stuck out of overwhelm.
Liz: That sounds great. Could you describe your typical client?
Laura: I typically work with creative young women who are in the process of determining their life's purpose but are stuck in that tricky stage of 'analysis paralysis,' or are seeking a more balanced and aligned lifestyle across the board. I want every woman to be living a life they're excited about and to feel empowered to do it in their own unique way.
Liz: Can you tell us a bit about what you will be offering at Woo Woo Weekend?
Laura: Yes! Something I'm really passionate about is the idea of intention. I think one major (and not obvious) source of unhappiness is that too often we just respond to whatever life throws at us, rather than being really engaged and proactive about what we want to achieve or experience. I'm thrilled to be helping to set the stage for a powerful and transformative weekend by hosting two intention workshops on Friday and Saturday night. We'll be taking the time on Friday to get clear on and share what our intentions are for our time together, so that we can get exactly what we most desire from the weekend. Saturday is where that life coaching accountability piece comes into play—it will be a chance to check in with ourselves and notice how we've been spending our time and how we can support one another in making the remainder of the weekend unforgettable.
Liz: Oh, I'm so excited!
Laura: Although I know the whole weekend will be incredible, I'm excited for how this aspect of intention will help to up the ante for all the attendees, by allowing them to understand what drew them to this experience and how they can continue to nurture this in their time at home as well. I'm excited, too!
Liz: Do you have any tips for attendees as they prepare for the retreat?
Laura: Yes! I'd encourage them to spend some time checking in with themselves in the days leading up to the event about what they're excited about and what they can both contribute to and gain from the event. Do a bit of research on each of the amazing service providers that are coming together, and allow yourself to really FEEL the excitement and anticipation—it's half the fun!
Liz: Well thank you so much, Laura. Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Laura: I'm so honored to be part of this experience. I think that getting in touch with our woo woo side is so important because it's easy for us to get bogged down in the more logistic heavy side of life. Embracing woo woo gives us a wider perspective, and a touch of magic never hurt. I'm looking forward to meeting all of the incredible attendees!