Laura is one of those people in my life that you can go months without talking or hanging out even a little bit and pick right back up where you left off. We met when we were young and dumb and have grown up together, through two cross-country moves, lots of new jobs, and a few heartbreaks. When Laura had a super tough life experience a few years ago, I was completely floored by how well she handled it, and used it to fuel her creativity and passion for writing and photography. She's the best dog-mom, a badass boss-bitch, and a seriously great baker. Outside of her big, important marketing job at Buzzfeed, Laura also runs The Food Baby Blog, where she writes and posts lots of pics of "food that oozes" (her words, not mine).
Read on below to see how she was able to pick herself up after a big scary life change, how she uses lipstick to feel like a boss, and how spin has probably saved her thousands on therapy.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Every time I’m curious about something, I encourage myself to explore it.
Take up photography. Learn the guitar. Cook through the whole Martha Stewart book. Do something that makes you feel like you are developing a new skill every day, even if it has nothing to do with your career.
We are never finished learning about ourselves, much less the world around us. For me, it’s important to have a daily reminder that there is always a new challenge around the corner.
What’s your special sauce? That little trick you do before walking out the door to perk you up and make you feel your most you?
I’m a big believer in the “power pose.” Before every big meeting, big date, or difficult conversation, I turn on a song that I love and stand in a giant X to get my body in the same space I want my mind to be. It sounds silly, but it works! We often don’t realize the impact our body language has on our mood until we do something to change it.
Who are your mentors? Who do you look up to?
Sheryl Sandberg says that waiting for your perfect mentor is like waiting for Prince Charming. You can’t depend on someone else to come along and whisk you up to the top - you have to forge your own way and learn from everyone along the journey.
I have so many positive role models and mentors in my career with completely different leadership styles, and I learn something different from each one. I tend to gravitate toward strong women, but I also look up to a lot of strong men who support and encourage strong women. Beyond that, I have a lot of respect for leaders who value diverse perspectives on every level, not just gender.
What makes you happy no matter what? Like if you’re having one of those no good rotten days where everything is terrible, what’s the thing that pulls you off the ledge?
I may be a strong, powerful woman in the office, but I’m extremely sensitive and emotional by nature. It’s hard for me to move past a difficult situation or a let-down unless I can physically work through how I’m feeling.
When I go to spin, I allow myself to release whatever emotion is moving through me without judgment or shame. There’s something about aligning with the beat of the music and feeling that endorphin high that allows me to be my most vulnerable and raw self. It’s cathartic, and it always brings me back to the a place of peace.
Where do you shop for closet staples?
I love Aritzia! The flattering cuts and high-quality materials they use on their staples make me feel just as confident in a plain tee as I do in an evening gown.
What’s your formula for a killer outfit?
It’s all about what makes you feel comfortable and confident in your skin. Outfit-wise, that’s always changing for me. I go through phases where I only want to wear dresses, or a certain kind of pants. But no matter what phase I’m in, adding a bold lip and some heels always makes me feel polished (and kind of unstoppable).
What’s something you struggle with in your career?
I think everyone in New York struggles with work-life balance, and it’s no different for me. I usually don’t know where my boundaries are until I’ve already spiraled past them.
It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and glamour of it all, but it’s important to understand that your career does not define your identity. It’s something you’ve worked hard for and should be proud of, but it isn’t who you are. Once you can separate those two things, you can make much better decisions about what you should actually be doing with your time. I’m still working on that.
Tell us about a time when you hit a breaking point, a fork in the road? Have you ever wanted to quit and run away to Bali?
There are plenty of forks in the road. If you are great at what you do, there will always be another opportunity available. The key is to decide when it’s time to take it, and when it’s better to stick things out.
I don’t think I have this completely figured out yet, but my best indicator is boredom. If I don’t feel challenged anymore, it’s probably time to make a change. That could mean leaving your job, but it could also mean creating a new role for yourself at the same company. Where can you add more value? What problem does the company have that you could help solve?
Alternatively, you can quit and run away to Bali. Which admittedly sounds pretty great.
What is something you’d say you are always fighting against? What’s the thing you have to pep-talk yourself about?
I have trouble giving myself a break. I’ve always been an overachiever, and I won’t settle for “good enough” in any aspect of life. I put so much pressure on myself to be the best at everything. I want a skyrocketing career, I want a thriving social life, I want a hot body, I want to be an awesome dog mom - and on top of it all, I want to have spare time to focus on myself, go on dates, and catch up with my family. It’s exhausting.
I have to remind myself every day to be as gentle with myself as I am with others. I don’t have to get that promotion to be happy. I don’t have to keep up with the girls in the front row at SoulCycle. I don’t have to be the perfect role model every second of every day. These are achievements, not baseline expectations. And if I don’t do everything perfectly, that doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me human.
What is the skill you picked up as a kid/teen that you still rely on today (i.e. teaching yourself html/powerpoint/etc., getting what you want from mom and dad, making a great sandwich)?
Growing up, I was the powerpoint QUEEN. I used to make presentations in my spare time for absolutely no reason. I just thought it was fun. Then one day, I realized I could use presentations to persuade people, and all hell broke loose. I started making slideshows to convince my friends of my plan for a summer road trip, to convince my parents that getting a trampoline was a good idea, and pretty much every other argument I ever made.
My parents thought it was a waste of time (or at least a little strange), but they don’t think so now.
What are you most proud of in your life? Can be career or non-career related.
I’m proud that I have reached a place in my life where I know I’ll be okay no matter what. Regardless of what happens in my career, in my relationships, or just in life, I know that I can handle it and become a better person for it.
Like most people, I’ve been through a few very difficult years in my 20s. But I didn’t just bounce back from them - I used them as a springboard. I took the risks that I always wanted to, and got the life I never thought I could have. I’m proud that I had the courage to do it.
What is the one thing you throw on when you head out the door that gives you that warm glow from deep in the tummy that says, “I know I look good”?
If I need to feel great, I always go for a bold lip. It makes me feel like the perfect balance of feminine and fierce. My favorite trick is to wear it anytime I feel hungover. There’s something about lipstick that tricks people into thinking you have your shit together, even on days when you don’t.