“You can’t build an uplifting work culture without trust. Your employees have to be honest with you, you have to honest with them and I think creating a culture with ongoing feedback is important.”
Lauren founded Career Contessa, a career development platform which provides resources and tools to help women build successful careers, after working in recruiting for a tech company and experiencing the gap in career development resources available for women. Since they didn’t exist, she decided to create them. Lauren founded Career Contessa in 2013 with a very simple goal: create a career resource site completely dedicated to women which, unlike the average job database, took into account the unique challenges women in the workplace experience including the gender pay gap and minority representation in leadership positions. Today, Career Contessa helps more than 1 million women and is much more than just a portal to apply for jobs, but rather, a place where women can gain a competitive edge in the workplace through original career advice, job opportunities and an inside look at companies hiring, e-learning courses and direct access to expert career coaches.
In February 2018, Lauren launched The Salary Project, a free platform which provides women with transparent salary data through an anonymous and private salary survey, personalized salary report, and comprehensive database collected from thousands of women across the U.S. and abroad from every industry, experience level, and background. Lauren was compelled to create this resource because knowing how your salary compares to others in your field is power, plain and simple.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you please share your “backstory” with us?
I founded Career Contessa in 2013 after experiencing a gap in career development resources for women who might be job searching, soul searching, leading and managing, or trying to find new ways to advance within their careers. With women accounting for more than 50% of the workforce and the workforce being less defined than ever before, it seemed crazy (and outdated) that a resource for us didn’t exist.
Formerly, I was a University Recruiter for Hulu focused on hiring, employer branding, and program management. I have a Bachelors in Education from the University of Oregon and a Masters in Communication Management from the University of Southern California where I wrote my thesis on millennials and career resources.
What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
I grew up with zero religion or spiritual practice but then when I was 12, we moved to Florida and attended an Episcopalian school. We went to church every day and attended Mass every Wednesday. I had no idea I wasn’t “allowed” to take communion — I thought it was a snack! This was my first introduction to religion and spirituality. Then I went to the University of Oregon for college and met a lot of people who were spiritually engaged and yoga/mindfulness was an actual class you could take. Later, I married a Jewish man and have been introduced to that culture and religion so it’s been an interesting experience to say the least.
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
Personally, I recognize the major shift that occurs when I practice mindfulness and visualization. I’m more thoughtful, less anxious, and I make better decisions. For my business, it helps me stay focused. It also helps me ride the “waves of entrepreneurship” much, much better.
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
It’s a mix because one of the reasons for my success, is that we build quickly at Career Contessa. We’re creative problem-solvers that get a lot done with few resources, but I don’t think we could do that without a genuine integration of mindfulness. One of the things we have at Career Contessa is work-from-home Fridays. I also let my team know that WFH Fridays are not a perk — they’re a productivity and mindfulness tool that allows us to focus on just the work on Fridays. I think that helps a lot.
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
I think knowing your boundaries is incredibly important. I know I can push myself really hard for three weeks but, after that, my personal and professional life starts to slip. I will batch my calendar including travel, meetings, etc. so it’s three weeks on, and one week in a more “off mode.”
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
I started keeping a gratitude journal in September 2018 and it’s made a huge difference in making sure I ride a more balanced wave in entrepreneurship. Instead of rushing from one thing to another, I’m taking time to really enjoy the “win.” I’m definitely experiencing more joy because of this daily practice. Less striving for perfection, less of the comparison game, and more just being. Setting goals and moving toward them day-by-day.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I love this question because I 100% agree that no one is “self-made.” If I had to pick just one person, which is extremely hard, it would probably be my dad. He’s been an entrepreneur for years and he is extremely giving with his time, advice, and guidance from client proposals to product development and even HR. I’m so grateful to have a person who I can ask questions to non-stop and trust to have Career Contessa’s best interest in mind. What I know about myself, and my “process” for things, is that many times I need to talk through them a few times before I can come to a decision — thankfully my dad is also very patient!
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
First is trust. You can’t build an uplifting work culture without trust. Your employees have to be honest with you, you have to honest with them and I think creating a culture with ongoing feedback is important. Next, is clarity. Hire smart employees, give them clear direction for what the company needs and the results you want. I’ve noticed that all employees are more engaged when they have a clear idea of what “success” looks like for their role. The third is transparency. Provide additional context, don’t keep secrets, or create a culture of “favorites.” And, lastly, I’d recommend a culture that values wins and failures as a team. Companies are rarely built by one person so build a culture that celebrates the company/brand being elevated — not the individual.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Wow! This is definitely a loaded question! For me, it would be kindness — especially to ourselves. I’d love to see more women embrace the unplanned, ditch old narratives around success that don’t serve them, and practice more kindness toward themselves each day.
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
https://www.instagram.com/careercontessa/?hl=enCareer Contessa | LinkedIn
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About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Authority magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live