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Laura Gariepy of Every Day by the Lake: “Your business is going to save you sooner than you think”

Your business is going to save you sooner than you think. I knew being self-employed would give me tremendous flexibility and freedom. I even knew that it would give me the space I needed to deal with hard things in my personal life. But, I didn’t know that it would ultimately save me less than two […]

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Your business is going to save you sooner than you think.

I knew being self-employed would give me tremendous flexibility and freedom. I even knew that it would give me the space I needed to deal with hard things in my personal life. But, I didn’t know that it would ultimately save me less than two years in. When my dad died in late 2019, my business let me walk away from the responsibility of work to be with my family and process my grief. I was out of the office for the better part of five months. When I was finally ready to return, I had freelance assignments instantly, which meant I could resume earning quickly.


Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Gariepy.

Laura Gariepy is the owner of Every Day by the Lake, LLC, a written content creation company that helps busy business owners and online publications stay top of mind with their target market. She is also the founder and creator of Before You Go Freelance, an online resource hub for new and aspiring freelancers that includes blog posts, podcast episodes, and coaching products. When she’s not in business mode, she loves to travel, spend time with family and friends, and daydream by her lake in Central Florida.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you for having me on the series!

I grew up in Millville, Massachusetts, a small town on the Rhode Island border. My hometown boasts one stoplight, about 5,000 residents, and a crime rate so low it makes Mayberry look dangerous. I was an only child, and I lived in the same house from birth to age 18. Both sets of grandparents lived within a five-minute drive, and I saw them regularly.

My mom stayed home with me until grade school and instilled a love of learning within me. My dad demonstrated the importance of a strong work ethic by often holding down multiple jobs to support our family. He also showed me an alternative to traditional employment by owning a business for many years.

Although our household had some ups and downs, I was blessed to grow up in a loving home and safe area. I credit where I am today to my family’s influence.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My father always told me to “stay the course.” Sometimes, he would append the message, saying, “stay the course, and you will be successful.” He said this to keep me focused and motivated — even when life got hard or moved too slow for my liking.

Since life is often challenging and I’m super impatient with the speed of success (aren’t we all?!), this life lesson quote is relevant every day. I think of it when I get frustrated or disappointed. It’s a reminder never to give up, to flex, but not break, and to keep pursuing my dreams because they ARE attainable.

Dad used to sign off many of his emails to me with this quote. I still read through them often. I write the saying on my whiteboard, and I even bought a framed calligraphy version for my office. But, most of all, I hear his voice in my heart, gently encouraging me with these words.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

The top three qualities that have helped me achieve success are:

  1. Determination
  2. Flexibility
  3. Abundance Mindset

I’ve been told by many people that I’m one of the most determined people they know, that when I lock my focus on something, I usually achieve it. They’re right. While I’ve experienced failure and ventured down a few paths I didn’t see through, I’ve ultimately accomplished much of my to-do list. I see this in the degrees I’ve earned, the professional roles I’ve assumed, and most importantly, the leap I took to start my business.

But, despite my determination (which sometimes borders on stubbornness), I’ve learned that goals can change. Life happens, and our worldview gets altered, which shifts our priorities. I realized that flexibility is required so that I don’t keep pursuing a target that no longer serves me, no longer furthers my ever-shifting definition of success and contentment. Sometimes, you just need to pivot — or close a door — even when others don’t understand or it’s painful to do.

A somewhat recent example of this is when I stopped pursuing my doctorate. I started the program to help me advance my career in human resources. When I decided to become self-employed, the degree no longer fit into the world I was creating for myself. So, despite some disappointment and pushback from others, I chose to put those studies on the backburner indefinitely. I may eventually go back to them, but I may not — and that’s okay.

Finally, I don’t know where I’d be without the abundance mindset. This worldview assumes that opportunities and resources are infinite and that they’re easily within my reach. It’s in stark contrast to the scarcity mindset, which is the belief that there’s not enough to go around and that I must hoard what I have to survive. I’m blessed to have been raised with this mentality — and never to have experienced dire enough circumstances to question it.

Due to this mindset, I’ve felt good about investing in myself and my business. I’m comfortable taking risks. I prioritize my life over my work. I’m confident that I can earn more money, but cognizant that I can’t create more time. Yes, I sometimes momentarily worry about my finances. But, I sincerely believe that if I stay the course and remain open to the possibilities, I’ll get everything I need.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

My first chapter followed a pretty traditional path. I went to college. I got a job — and then another, and another, and another…

During that time, I had a variety of educational and professional experiences. I started as a Journalism major because I loved to write and had been featured in a local newspaper. But I dropped that pursuit when I realized I didn’t want to deal with constant deadlines.

Then, I pursued an Early Childhood Education degree as I taught at a private preschool. After two years in that profession, I decided I couldn’t see myself doing it for the next 40 years, so I changed course again. At the time, I had a double major, so I dropped the Education component and ultimately graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

While I was proud of finishing the degree, I quickly decided I needed to go back to school for a Master’s. But — I didn’t want to be a psychologist, so I enrolled in an MBA program. I figured it would help me climb the ladder in my latest career path — Human Resources.

I got my initial HR experience in a retail setting as I went to school at night. During my Master’s program, I accepted my first salaried HR job. I had finally chosen a track I could see myself pursuing long-term.

And, I did. Over the next eight or nine years, I held various roles up to the Director level. I enjoyed serving employees in the retail, education, telecommunications, mental health, and manufacturing industries. I completed my MBA and even started pursuing my doctorate.

I made a decent salary, had solid benefits, and actually liked my boss. But, after ten years as an HR professional, I knew I needed to make a change. Being an employee no longer served me.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

In early 2018, I reinvented myself by quitting my job and starting a business. When I turned in my resignation, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I just knew I needed to reconfigure how I earned a living. I had a modest nest egg in the bank, which afforded me 12–18 months to figure out a long-term plan to generate income.

As I worked some part-time remote jobs from home, I launched a blog and started networking online. It seemed like the right path to take, though I wasn’t exactly sure why. Several months in, I got paid to write a guest post on another blog. It was an a-ha moment. If I could write enough articles, I could make a decent income.

After that, everything moved pretty quickly. I got my first recurring client within a month or so of the paid guest post. Then, I went to a conference and picked up more work. By the end of 2018, momentum kicked in, and by the summer of 2019, I replaced my corporate salary with my writing gigs. I had gone from an HR generalist to a freelance writer.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

Before I made the transition, I’d started saving for early retirement. My goal was to have enough money stashed away by my mid-forties, and I dreamed about never having to work again. Then, in late 2017, my grandfather died.

I had three days of bereavement leave to fly from Florida to Massachusetts, attend his funeral services, and come home. I was in the office Monday and Friday of that week. It just felt so inadequate, so rushed. It wasn’t near enough time to be with family and to process my grief.

I questioned how many more important personal matters would have to be rushed or ignored altogether. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, so I decided then to change my lifestyle before I reached retirement. Within two months of the burial, I gave my notice and prepared for my second chapter.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I actually rekindled an old skill set and professional interest — writing. During my HR career, I had to write correspondence, job descriptions, company policies, etc. But, there was little room for creativity, and writing wasn’t one of my primary job duties.

As a freelance writer, I get to devote much more of my time to the craft. While I need to adhere to client requirements, I often have a lot of latitude to be creative and strategically set the content’s tone and direction. I’m very grateful to return to writing. It was a significant part of my early years and has been an amazing way to support my family.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

This new initiative is going very well. There have been ups and downs in my business, but the overall journey has been positive. I haven’t seen the inside of a cubicle in years — and I plan to keep it that way!

Since I’ve learned so much by going freelance, and since I’ve greatly benefited from mentoring and coaching, my second chapter has grown an appendix! In 2020, I launched a resource hub called Before You Go Freelance as a way to pay it forward. It’s a mix of blog articles, podcast episodes, and digital products specifically designed to help professionals start a freelance business.

Currently, my main product is a private coaching program tailored to each freelancer’s situation and needs. So far, it’s been indescribably rewarding to help people achieve the same personal freedom and professional satisfaction that I have. While I’ll always freelance write as part of my business, my goal is to guide more aspiring freelancers in the months and years ahead.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I credit much of where I am to my father. He was my biggest cheerleader, always there with inspiration, encouragement, and support. When I was a kid, he owned a Sparkle Wash franchise, and it was helpful for me to see someone earn money outside of traditional employment.

I remember tagging along with him on weekends as he power-washed tractor-trailers, fleet cars, homes, and commercial buildings. We’d get up early, grab breakfast at McDonald’s, and go from stop to stop on his route. Most of the time, I just watched. But, sometimes, I got to help rinse off the cars and trucks.

It was precious bonding time for us. Looking back, I realize that dad was trying to balance supporting his family with spending time with us. Hanging out on job sites with me was one way he could achieve that balance. I’m grateful that he thought to do that, and I think he was grateful he was able to.

The flexibility of self-employment is arguably its greatest appeal. Although I didn’t pursue that route right away, my dad showed me that there were other possibilities to consider. I’m motivated by many things — but continuing to make him proud is high up on the list.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

There’s a new and interesting story unfolding almost every day, so this is a tough choice. But, I’ll share one that happened recently because it made an impression on me.

One of my private coaching program graduates tagged me on Twitter. They had just landed a great full-time job and told me they wouldn’t have gotten it if they hadn’t worked with me. I was overcome with gratitude that I helped them and deeply honored that they credited me in part with their achievement.

This graduate did phenomenally well in my program and is enjoying freelancing. But, they ultimately decided that they needed the stability and employer benefits of a full-time role, so freelancing will remain a side hustle for them. It makes me smile to know that I helped them find success in both professional realms of their life.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Yes, I absolutely have moments of self-doubt. I think they’re a natural part of life — no matter how confident of a facade we put up. Recently, I overcame a major struggle believing in myself.

For a long time, I’ve hated to pose for pictures. I’m much heavier than I was as a young adult, and I feel self-conscious about my weight. Because of that, I was still using a digitized film photograph of myself from 20 years ago as my profile picture across social media, my website, and other places I’m featured online.

I realized that I was really holding myself back by using that picture. Not only was doing so disingenuous (I’m not 16 anymore!), but it also prevented others from getting to truly connect with me. I needed to authentically put myself out there — for all to see — especially since I was getting more media attention (like this interview!).

So, I booked a photoshoot with a local photographer, had my hair and makeup done, and pushed through the anxiety and negative self-talk. The pictures came out much better than I anticipated. While I’m still a little nervous about potential mean comments, I know that I did the right thing for my business and myself. And, I know most people are encouragers, not trolls, so my fears are overhyped.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

Looking back, I can see I didn’t do enough in this area in advance. I did advise my fiancé and my mother-in-law (who live with me) that I would be quitting my job, but I didn’t really enlist their support at first. It was more like, “This is what I’m doing. Any questions?”

As I settled into my new routine and lifestyle, more detailed conversations happened. It’s still an ongoing dialogue as my needs (and theirs) change. For example, they now know that they shouldn’t do any loud chores while I’m working — and I know that I can’t expect total silence all the time. Eventually, we found our rhythm and harmony. Plus, I know if I ask for any help, I’ve got it.

Being a freelancer or entrepreneur can be lonely, so it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open. It’s especially critical to have other people who “get it” in your circle. I make it a point to intentionally meet other self-employed folks. They’re a great source of camaraderie, commiseration, encouragement, and inspiration. One of the best members of my support circle was my father.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I’m introverted by nature, especially in large groups of strangers. But, I know to be successful in business, I need to meet new people regularly. So, although that prospect is sometimes daunting, I bust out of my comfort zone almost daily.

The first time I really pushed myself for my business, I attended a four-day conference. It was local to me, and I won a scholarship that paid for my ticket. I couldn’t not go at that point.

I packed my suitcase and met up with people I had only spoken with online. A group of us shared a rented condo and rides to and from the conference venue for the week. At the condo, I was the shyest person, but I enjoyed getting to know everyone.

The actual event was held at a huge hotel, and there were a couple of thousand attendees. At times, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of people. I often broke away from the crowd to find a quiet corner for rest.

But — I also made sure to put myself in the thick of it. I needed to test myself, and, in many ways, I passed. I attended multiple lectures, took part in most networking opportunities, and toured the expo hall. My bravery was rewarded! I wound up landing new business.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Five things I wish someone had told me before I started my company:

1 . You’re going to be misunderstood. Traditional employment is the norm, so deviating from it makes some people question why. Often, they try to project their own anxiety about it onto me, even though I’m entirely at peace with my decision. All they can see is danger and uncertainty, totally blind to possibility.

  • Then, there are others who understand my decision but can’t empathize with what I’m going through. They can’t, but it’s not their fault. Unless you’re living a particular scenario, there’s no way for you to truly grasp what it entails, how it makes someone feel.
  • Being misunderstood makes me feel lonely sometimes. That’s why I have lots of freelance and entrepreneur friends. They “get it” and can offer true commiseration and support that outsiders can’t.

2. Shiny object syndrome is real. The internet is a busy, distracting place. There’s always some guru (or even trusted friend) touting the merits of a new email marketing service, website plug-in, social media platform, etc. I fall for the hype more than I care to admit, which wastes money, and more importantly, time. Since I’m aware of my tendency, I can take steps to redirect myself back to my intended path gently. But, know this — it’s easier said than done to take your head off of that swivel!

3. It really is who you know. There’s a lot of truth to the old saying, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While your skills and knowledge are important, your connections are even more so. I’ve seen this time and time again in my business. Leveraging the network I have, I’ve been introduced to clients, gotten PR, and received invaluable advice. That’s why I’m focused on growing and nurturing that network all the time. Any connection could have a major impact on my life and business — just as I could on theirs.

4. You need to watch your balance of freedom and responsibility. I love being self-employed. I get to put my life ahead of my work for both serious and frivolous reasons. But — it can be very easy to get derailed by all of this freedom. If I’m not careful, I end up taking advantage of a sometimes overly understanding boss (it’s me!) and procrastinating on getting through my ever-growing to-do list.

Ultimately, I’m responsible for the success or failure of my business. The eventual outcome will be a direct result of the small choices I make each day. Every time I put something off, I delay progress and run the risk of losing out on opportunities. But, every time I push through that wall of inertia, I move my journey forward and open myself up to new possibilities.

The bottom line? Freedom is why I went freelance to begin with. But, without my business, I can’t have it. That means I need to give my enterprise the attention it deserves to continue living a life that I love.

5. Your business is going to save you sooner than you think.

I knew being self-employed would give me tremendous flexibility and freedom. I even knew that it would give me the space I needed to deal with hard things in my personal life. But, I didn’t know that it would ultimately save me less than two years in. When my dad died in late 2019, my business let me walk away from the responsibility of work to be with my family and process my grief. I was out of the office for the better part of five months. When I was finally ready to return, I had freelance assignments instantly, which meant I could resume earning quickly.

No W2 job would allow for that. If I were still in my HR career, I would have very likely lost my current job. Then, I would’ve had to look for a new position, which can take months, delaying a much-needed paycheck. My business spared me from worrying about all of that. It let me put the focus where it needed to be at the most difficult and significant time of my life to date.

Here is my Five Things video link: https://youtu.be/va9aqBbXhhY

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?

If I could inspire a movement, it would show professionals that they can go freelance. That way, they’re able to work around their life rather than live around their work. One of the best things a leader can do is foster hope and illuminate possibilities. So it’s my job to show everyone that there are opportunities for success and happiness within their reach that they may have thought were inaccessible to them.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

It’s a toss-up between Chuck Mangione and Betty White. Chuck is one of the best horn players ever, and my father and I bonded over his music. I used to play the trumpet (and perhaps will again) and still listen to his albums almost every day. Betty White is just a great human being, and I’d be honored to learn more about her life direct from the source!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I’d be delighted if folks visited my website: www.beforeyougofreelance.com

My podcast, In a Freelance Minute, is available on all of the major podcast networks.

I’m also active on Twitter: @EverydayLake and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauragariepy/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Thanks again for having me on the series!

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