Today’s #welldesignedlife series is with a seriously inspirational biz lady! We love that she used her passion and past (awesome) experiences to help other women find their path. When we were first introduced to Lauren, we instantly knew she would be the perfect fit for this series – and she didn’t disappoint! From practical tips to encouraging inspiration, we soaked up so much goodness from our time together!
Let’s start off with an introduction! Tell us about yourself. Roles you play and what you do.
Sure! My name is Lauren and I’m the founder of Career Contessa— an online platform facilitating honest conversations from real women about work and life—so you can achieve fulfillment and balance in both. Prior to Career Contessa, I was a Recruiter at Hulu and I also wrote my master’s thesis on women’s career resources. Simply put: my roles have changed, but my passion for women’s career development has always been strong.
I launched Career Contessa in 2013 as more of a passion project than anything else. I had just found and started my dream job working at Hulu and the #1 tool I used to help me figure out what career path I wanted to pursue—and how to get there— were conversations with successful career women.
Most of us don’t find our dream job straight out of school. We slowly twist our way through jobs we don’t like until we get a glimpse into a career that might be the right fit And when you do get that glimpse, you’re extremely eager to learn more about it. Using my own experience, I launched Career Contessa as a collection of informational interviews with successful women to answer what her job was and how she got there in order to provide inspiration, information, and career direction for others.
Fast- forward to today, I left my job at Hulu in 2014 to focus on Career Contessa full-time. Since then, I’ve re-launched the site, grown our content and team, and work each day to bring valuable advice to women looking to find, start, or thrive in their career.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in life so far?
I’m really proud of myself for having the guts to take a risk and plunge into entrepreneurship. I left a job I loved, at a company I loved with a solid paycheck, to build something from scratch. Taking a risk and being in the unknow is SO outside of my comfort zone, so I constantly need a high-five to remind myself that the adventure is worth it.
Tell us about your big dreams. Where do you want to go, what do you want to do, and why?
Honestly, right now my big dream is to turn Career Contessa into a thriving business. I love what I do and I love the impact Career Contessa has on women’s lives and careers. I have no doubt that this is a valuable (and necessary!) resource however, turning that into a business is challenging.
What are some struggles you’ve faced in achieving your dreams so far? Have you learned anything from them that you want to share?
Coming up with great ideas is not hard— it’s executing and testing your ideas that is hard. Also, we all experience failure at some point in life, but when you’re building something from scratch, you’re going to experience failures much more often and that has been really hard for me. I’ve had to switch my mindset and not see failure as a negative.
My struggles include building and optimizing a website, creating content that women love and relate to, building a readership, marketing, and the big one is getting focused. If you don’t get focused on one specific thing then, you spend all day reacting to emails, interruptions, etc. Focus is how you can actually make progress.
What three daily things can you not live without?
Besides my friends and family, I’d go with my Nespresso, Fitbit, and Headspace app.
What is something you strive to be intentional about? How do you design it into your life?
I’m trying to be better at cutting myself a break. I have high expectations for myself, my business, my relationship, etc. But negative self-talk or not enjoying living in the moment because you’re always worried about the future doesn’t help.
Now, I’m taking the time each day to recognize 3 things that went well in my day/life. I write the 3 things out in my phone’s notes section before I go to bed. At the very minimum, I can say that I’m practicing being more mindful and that’s a huge accomplishment!
How do you create balance in your life?
I don’t believe or strive for a 50/50 balance in my life, so just re-setting my mindset has allowed me to feel more balanced. I like to work. I like to cross things off my to-do list, and I give myself the opportunity to accomplish at least one thing that I wanted to do that day. Maybe it’s conquering my inbox, maybe it’s taking a walk with a friend, or maybe it’s cooking at home. People talk about balance as if it’s this thing they will never achieve, and that’s the type of thinking that keeps people on the non-stop hamster wheel of life.
What does your daily routine look like? Is there anything that helps you feel most successful at the end of the day?
Mornings are my favorite time. I feel the most centered and the lack of interruptions makes it easier for me to focus. And although there is no such thing as a daily routine, here’s what it would look like if it went perfectly planned:
5:30am: Wake up and go for a walk. I usually listen to a podcast and try really hard not to check email or social media.
6:30am: Shower and get ready— something you must do if you work from home.
7:00am: Breakfast and glance over emails. Answer anything urgent and write out my to-do list for the day.
8:00am: Work on projects that require more creativity or focus. For example, I’m workingon this interview at 7:20am. I might create our email newsletter, put together a presentation for my next webinar, etc.
11:00am: Check-in with our Community Manager
12:00pm: Lunch. I try not to eat in front of my computer but it does happen, a lot!
12:30pm- 4:00pm: This is when my energy drags the most so I will schedule meetings, team check-ins, or less creative projects during this time.
5:00pm: Editorial meeting. We do this later in the day because some people are part-time on our team, but also because we usually get assignments turned in throughout the day. When we meet later in the day, we have that content to take into account. During these meetings, we plan out content, social media, upcoming interviews, etc.
8:00pm: One last check-in and looking over my calendar for the next day.
What checklist(s) do you live by?
I make a to-do list each day that includes mostly work and always one thing for myself. Usually that one thing is making time to exercise, but it could also be time to run to the grocery store when it isn’t busy. C’mon, we all know that is a luxury!
What do you wish you had more of in life? What about it makes it so special?
I wish I had more time to travel. Life gets busy and that keeps me from making the time to travel and have new experiences. I’m a creature of habit, but I’ve noticed that traveling is one of the best ways to break habits (good and bad ones) and clear your mind from the distractions of daily life.
What do you wish you had less of in life?
I wish I was better at separating my personal life from my business. When you run your own business AND you work from home, it takes a ton of willpower to separate the two. I can’t let my self-worth run on the success of Career Contessa and that’s something I need to do less of.
Are you willing to share a story with us about a time in your life when things felt out of control? How did you get back on course?
This happens to me all the time! Running my own business has been challenging because there are so many moments that are out my control and you HAVE to get comfortable with uncertainty.
Recently, we had a set back at Career Contessa in terms of monthly growth and I couldn’t understand why. On paper, we were doing everything “right,” but the data wasn’t there to support that. To get back on track, I break up my challenges into bite-size challenges and work backwards to find a solution. For example, if our traffic referrals from social media are down, then I will focus on finding a solution to one channel like Facebook vs. all of social media at once.
Do you have a life motto?
Yes, everything happens for a reason!
If you could share one thing with our readers, what would it be?
Clarity comes from engagement. This means that answers don’t come by thinking hard about the solution. They come from getting off the couch and engaging with other people, experiences, opportunities, etc.