Every Friday in Survive and Thrive, we talk to communicators who are not just surviving, but thriving. Between COVID-19, reopenings and then rolling back, kids home from school…maybe forever (?), working from home, and not touching another human being for months, most of us are surviving, at best.
But what about those who are surviving AND thriving?
Perhaps they added a new revenue source or followed a passion or are taking a sabbatical or discovered they actually love homeschooling or completely changed careers. Today we talk to Lauren Howe, the owner of empHowered PR, about how she’s making the best of the worst crisis in a century.
February 14, 2020 was my last day of work in corporate America after I decided to quit my job. It was Valentine’s Day. And, as I like to tell people, it was the Valentine’s Day I chose to love myself.
As I packed up my office, I found a small sign that I received from a former boss that read: She believed she could. So she did.
I felt it was only right to pass the sign along to a colleague. So, I left it on her desk before I departed the building one last time.
You see, my corporate job presented the opportunity to frequently travel.
I loved exploring new places and meeting amazing colleagues across the country and around the world.
But I was also missing the opportunity to share the events of the day with my family, take my dog out for a walk, and watch my daughter grow from a child to a young adult.
So, I made the decision to love myself and I quit my job to satisfy a longing to be a more available mom, a less stressed-out wife…and to become an entrepreneur.
How I Chose to Survive and Thrive
Immediately after leaving my corporate gig, I took a few weeks off and then leaned hard into my dream of opening my own business.
At the same time, I also applied for a part-time job at my local bicycle shop, simply because I love riding my bike and sharing that passion with others—and they hired me!
As I began to share the news of going out on my own with those who owned public relations firms and sought their guidance, I also connected with an attorney, an accountant, an insurance agent, and my local Chamber of Commerce.
I was on well on my way to opening the business!
Then—about two weeks into the journey—the world suddenly stopped. Everything shut down and I quickly realized life would likely never be the same.
All of the sudden, I was living out a dream surrounded by the nightmare of pandemic, and I was unsure if that dream would indeed become a reality.
I promised my family—and myself—that I would continue to pursue my business. And, I never break my promises.
Opening a small business during a pandemic was certainly a challenge, but I chose to not just survive, but thrive.
Continuing to Learn
During those days when my inbox was empty and my schedule was clear, I took webinars on professional development.
I read books on how to effectively promote my skills and took an online class to learn how to draft and read contracts.
Networking (A Lot)
I used my LinkedIn network and reached out to independent consultants and other PR agency leaders.
I listened—and learned—from their experiences, challenges, and triumphs.
I dusted off my Public Relations Society of America membership card, enrolled as a member of the Independent Practitioner’s Alliance section, and attended Zoom chats with other “Indies” twice a week!
And, anyone willing to listen to me heard about my business and how I could help them.
Slowly, my client list grew.
Exercising (A Lot)
I realized exercising is good for my mind, body, and soul.
I find joy in taking walks in my neighborhood with my dog and hitting new milestones on my Peloton.
I also completed my first (virtual) triathlon a few weeks ago.
I might not get every job I pitch, but I realize that each pitch is an opportunity to share my expertise and knowledge.
It’s also the chance to learn about a new industry or product, and make a new connection, which could result in business later on.
As I enter my third month as principal and owner of empHowered PR, I am grateful for the many people who stood by me and believed I could.
So I did.