I’m a big fan of Laura Roeder. She’s doing a lot of things right and she has a great attitude. Her business is making social media easy, so you can create the business fame we all dream about.
In this interview Laura shares some super smart insights into learning anything you want, coping with setbacks, dealing with trolls and lecherous business men. And she shares her amazing philosophy on living the life you want…
Paul: What were your early talents and interests?
Laura: I was kind of a typical only child creating my own worlds a lot. I liked to write, and even better I like crafting personalities and relationships between them. One of my favorite things to do (which still sounds fun to me!) was to create profiles of girls and then document their interactions between each other. So I would draw a girl and name her and make a little profile of what she liked and her interests, and draw clothes for her, and then I would form a little collection and make a fantasy world of their interactions with each other – who hated each other, who was best friends, how they knew each other and how they met.
Paul: What do you think was behind your profiling game, what did you learn from it?
Laura: Hmm I’ve never considered that I may have learned anything from it until now, but maybe to think from other people’s perspectives? The fantasy was putting myself in other people’s shoes and seeing the world from their eyes. That’s what marketing is. Being able to think from your prospect’s perspective.
I also consider myself really successful at managing a team, and considering a situation from the other person’s perspective is really crucial there as well.
Laura: I also loved design, I loved making cards and banners and things in PrintShopPro.
And I’ve definitely always been a leader, I’ve learned to consciously hold back from bossing people around all the time! Whenever there was a group project I would run it, whenever there was a chance to be called upon my hand was raised.
Paul: So what have you learned makes a great leader?
Laura: I think there are many different types of successful leaders. Some people can lead “from behind”, kind of urging the crowd forward from the back but I’m really not that person. I’m very vocal, and I have a strong point of view that I very happy to share!
But if you want your ideas heard you can’t bulldoze people. You do need to be very confident in your ideas, and I think there can be a fine line between the two, between being confident and speaking over people instead of to them. A great leader inspires with a vision but includes others in that vision as well, makes them a part of it.
Paul: And do you think there is any connection between you being confident enough to put yourself forward as a leader and your profiling game?
Laura: I guess there is a connection, part of the fun of the profiling game was being “god” of my own little world!
Paul: Who were your influences growing up?
Laura: I’ve never been one to idolize others much, when people ask me who my influences are now, it’s my friends. It makes so much more sense to me to look up to someone you know, someone who is a “real” person that you can interact with. I never really had other people that I dreamed of being.
Paul: It sounds like you have a lot of confidence in yourself. Like you were raised with a high sense of self-esteem, would that be fair to say?
Laura: Yes, I was definitely raised with a high self esteem. I am that classic Gen-Y person that everyone complains about, people say Gen-Y is too coddled, too confident, thinks too much of themselves. I don’t think it’s possible to give a child too much support or encouragement.
I recently attended a Q&A with actor Jason Alexander and someone asked a question about dealing with your family when you want to go into entertainment, dealing with people being unsupportive. He said he believes that parents should never discourage their children. He said “the world shits on you enough, you don’t need it from your family too.”
My parents are incredibly supportive of everything I do and always have been. I think that’s been a wonderful thing for me.
Paul: What was the most exciting thing you remember growing up?
Laura: I really liked going into my dad’s office, I still do. When I was older I would work there, he is an architect. I loved going to houses he had designed, especially when they were not quite done and you got to see everything kind of half-finished and raw.
Paul: I want to try and understand how that self esteem works for you. Whether we are confident or feel like we’re lacking in confidence, we all come up against obstacles and setbacks. What is it that you tell yourself when things go wrong?
Laura: I can’t think of a good answer for this, I just genuinely don’t worry about it. Stuff happens. Things don’t go the way you planned. I believe you have full control over your reaction to any situation, so why choose to spend time upset about it.
Paul: I think there’s a whole world of wisdom in that answer, even if it seems normal to you. But haven’t you had to overcome any major challenges?
Laura: This is interesting because it’s a question that comes up a lot in interviews and I always feel like I have to “come up” with something good. Maybe I haven’t taken enough risks to get huge setbacks? Or maybe it is just a matter of perspective. I just don’t see anything that’s happened in my life as that devastating. Everyone goes through things, everyone has ups and downs, that’s life. So I guess it’s accurate to say I don’t give them much attention.
When a problem needs to be solved, you solve it and move on. But honestly I find that most mistakes, or setbacks or whatever don’t even really need your attention. It’s just a bump in the road and you keep moving forward. I think we can create a lot of anxiety obsessing about what could have been, or could have been done differently but you can’t recreate the past. Maybe I don’t learn enough from my mistakes? That stuff just doesn’t register for me very much.
Paul: When did you start to learn the skills that allow you to do what you do today?
Laura: In seventh grade I taught myself to code websites, which is not as impressive or complicated as it sounds. It was when “personal pages” or “personal sites” were really popular, before LiveJournal or Blogger or anything like that. You would make a site on Angelfire that served as a kind of blog and site about you, they were very popular with teenage girls.
So at that time, if you wanted to participate in this world you had to learn how to make websites so I did. I learned just by clicking view source and modeling what I saw, making images for the sites in MS paint.
Paul: Wow, I think you’ve just shared my philosophy on education, growth, life itself. Click “view source” and model what you see. That’s how I learned pretty much everything I do. You say it isn’t impressive or complicated. But it certainly isn’t common. Why doesn’t everyone believe they can learn anything they want like that?
Laura: It’s kind of funny to me. I’m constantly reminding people that none of us knew a single thing when we were born. Every person who knows how to make a website had a time in their life when they didn’t know. Every person who is great at negotiating big deals had a time when they’d never done a deal before and no idea what to do.
Yet you often hear people say “but I can’t do that, I don’t know how to do that”. Of course you don’t! You haven’t learned yet! I think many people have a very negative view of themselves, and what they can accomplish. But we all have the capacity to learn.
Paul: I couldn’t agree more. I see so many people giving up because they choose to believe that they are competing with a world full of “naturally talented” people who were more “blessed” than them. But not only are we born with nothing but potential and a few primal instincts, that potential stays with us, throughout our entire life, we just have to choose to fill it!