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Daily Inspiration: Meet Lauren Rose

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Rose.

Hi Lauren , it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I’ve always known that whatever I’d end up doing with my life, I wanted to prioritize helping others and giving back. Thus, I entered college as a nursing major– but quickly realized how squeamish I am– so I switched my major to education. After realizing I could receive a degree in a different concentration and later teach in that field, I felt like an educational degree limited me– so I switched to journalism. I entered a mass communications track, initially starting in front of the camera– but then I realized how much I hated seeing myself on TV– so I switched to production, working behind the scenes instead.

I loved utilizing my skills to tell peoples’ stories and spread important messages– but the pay was crap, and the hours sucked. So I continued onto grad school and received my master’s degree in strategic communications management. In this track, I helped developing businesses target their demographic, construct messaging, and create a three-to-five-year plan to get that messaging to its audience. Post-grad, I worked in social media, events, and philanthropic marketing. I was very successful in my career– I won four awards in my first year of work alone, on top of creating numerous community initiatives– but, ultimately, I felt like I was just making rich people richer. And I hated that. I quit my job, joined Teach for America, moved to Dallas, TX, and taught English in a Title I high school.

Five months later– at the age of 25– I was diagnosed with Stage IV papillary thyroid cancer. Unbeknownst to me, my tumors had been growing since I was a teenager. Having just moved to Texas, I ended up being a short drive away from the best cancer hospital in the U.S.: MD Anderson. I also had health insurance for the first time in my life. My incredible co-workers and my amazing students created an unwavering network of support for me, and I was able to make it through my treatments surrounded by love. To this day, I still talk to my students on a regular basis. I taught them as high school freshman, and they’re currently juniors in college!

After my cancer diagnosis, I re-evaluated everything in my life and began to live with intent. My then-boyfriend and I got married. We moved to Colorado just because we had always wanted to. We traveled more than ever before. We had a baby. We bought a house. We prioritized our health and changed our lifestyles. We dedicated every ounce of spare time to community service. We quit our 70-hour-a-week jobs and sought new opportunities that provided work-life balance. Instead of living how society told us to live– climbing a corporate ladder now and enjoying life later, after retirement– we lived purposefully and presently.

Today, I work for myself. I’ve created a career that combines both sides of my professional journey—strategic marketing and teaching– as well as my passions of food and community. I teach small businesses– mostly restaurants and nonprofits– how to develop their brand identities, use social media and other marketing tactics effectively, and how their businesses can give back to the communities in which they operate. I’ve worked with clients in a one-to-one fashion for the past five years, but this year I’m developing online courses so that I can assist more small businesses across the U.S. and beyond. I also utilize my own personal brand to promote local businesses, restaurants, and community initiatives.

I absolutely love what I do, and I can recognize that every single step of my journey has led me to my present-day career. My nursing major helped me solidify the fact that I wanted to help people, but in my own way. My education major showed me how to effectively teach skills to a group in an engaging, hands-on manner. My television reporting days taught me how to be a public speaker. My production days taught me creative technical skills like filming, editing, and producing content. My strategic communications major taught me how to develop brands and messaging. And my work in philanthropic social marketing showed me how impactful local businesses can be for their communities.

In my personal life, I am also a mother to a hilarious little boy named Harvey, a wife to an incredibly talented media specialist named Kory, and a fur-mama to a chunky, lazy dog named Frankie. I’m an avid foodie, a make-believe chef, a traveler, a party planner, and a volunteer. I love living in St. Louis, and I love doing what I can to help this city grow and thrive.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I wouldn’t say that my road has been smooth, but I do see the tremendous value in all of the challenges I’ve overcome along the way. I grew up with a single mom in a low-income household. We didn’t have any family around us, which presented its own challenges. My mom had her first child at 14, so she dropped out of school after 8th grade. She later completed her GED and became a massage therapist—she’s an incredible therapist, by the way—but her lack of ability to guide me through some of life’s major challenges like college, financial wisdom, etc., meant I had to figure out everything for myself. Hell, I’m still figuring things out for myself.

The difference today is that I view my journey as a secret weapon instead of viewing it with resentment or disdain like I did growing up. Because I’ve had to figure it all out for myself, I’m incredibly resourceful, determined, and creative. I don’t give up easily, I’m excellent at multitasking, and I can find a solution to any problem. I have a huge heart and passion to help others who have also struggled. These are all gifts my journey has given me.

Changing careers is certainly never easy, but it has kept me sharp and resourceful. I keep my skills updated, and I never only have one stream of income. I’m always looking for new opportunities, and I enjoy being multifaceted.

Being diagnosed with cancer definitely sucks, too, but it ultimately changed my life for the best. Without my diagnosis, I would’ve been afraid to take any risks or follow my dreams. I would’ve allowed myself to remain a cog in the corporate world’s wheel because I thought that was the smart and safe thing to do. I wouldn’t have had my son; before cancer, I never wanted biological children and only considered adoption (something we still hope to do one day).

I wouldn’t have traveled, I wouldn’t have started my own business, I wouldn’t have moved to other states just because I wanted to. Being diagnosed with cancer—especially so young—was an immense wake-up call that made me realize how important it is to live exactly how you want to live today– and every day– without waiting until “later.” Cancer made me more present, positive, and purposeful. As much as it sucks in general, I ultimately view my diagnosis as a gift.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a strategic communications consultant and educator. I help small businesses– mostly restaurants and nonprofits– develop their brand identity, construct messaging, identify their perfect target demographic, and utilize an array of tools to get their message to that audience. I also help businesses identify ways to make their company more philanthropic and giving to the communities in which they operate. I’m also a food and lifestyle micro-influencer who focuses on promoting small business and community service initiatives.

What sets me apart from others is also what I’m most proud of: my passion for giving back. Every single thing I do is done with the intent to help others. Everything is examined through a lens first: can I use this project to give back somehow? Can I help more, give more? If I sell a product, I’m donating a portion of the profits. If I have a spare moment, I’m volunteering or helping someone out. If I have a platform, I use it to raise awareness, raise funds, or ultimately give back in some way. If I’m working with a business on the verge of closing, I’m volunteering my services. Everything I do is done with my heart—that is who I’ve always been, and who I’ll always be. I’m really proud of that.

I am also super duper proud of earning my master’s degree at age 23. That means a lot to me. I’m proud of the awards my work has won; they gave me the validation I needed when I was young. And I’m proud of using my career to try to make the world better. I’ve helped businesses establish scholarships for women in STEM, I’ve created entire departments whose sole purpose was to identify ways the corporation could give back to its local community, and I’ve led countless corporate volunteering programs.

I hope to do even more in the future, but I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished by this point. Especially since I’ve fought cancer and raised a baby along the way!

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I absolutely love St. Louis and have since I first visited in 2015. I think being a transplant helps me see this city with fresh eyes. I view STL as a fun, buzzing city full of opportunity. The food scene is incredibly diverse and delectably delicious. The number of activities and events happening at all times is astounding; there is literally always something going on.

I also love how community-centric and family-friendly this city is. There are endless opportunities of fun for kids, many of which are completely free or very affordable. I love how many outstanding nonprofit organizations there are here, and how much STL commits to supporting small businesses. And I absolutely love the people—everyone is so friendly, chatty, and down-to-earth. I never feel like people are filtering themselves or faking it, and I love that.

What I like the least about St. Louis is its apparent “bad rep.” From my experience, it seems that too many people have this idea that STL is completely ridden with crime and has absolutely nothing good to offer. That’s simply untrue. I wish more people would give this city a chance, come visit us, and realize all they’ve been missing out on.

I also wish St. Louis would do a better job of putting itself on the map by attracting and retaining those people. With my professional background, it’s easy for me to recognize some of this city’s missed opportunities in facets like tourism and business. However, I have already noticed a positive shift in this city’s growth and reach in the seven years I’ve experienced it. I truly do think STL is on an uphill trajectory, and I’m stoked to witness its transformation.

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