Lauren Klein: Community Builder. Mango Ninja. CEO of Girlmade.

When I was first putting together the concept of #ClimbYourOwnLadder, I knew that Lauren Klein was the first person I wanted to interview. I met Lauren a few years ago when we were both speaking at a conference about communities and social business. She is a creative, a collaborator, and a genuine heart as well as the mother of two amazing young women. She is passionate, vulnerable, honest, driven, and someone whose story inspires me every day. My bet is that Lauren will inspire you, too.

Lauren Klein is the author of Mango: Peeled Apart to Find the Heart, a collection of recipes and a story of how food and tradition connects our hearts.

Lauren is currently the CEO of Girlmade, an organization dedicated to building up a community of young women in science and entrepreneurship. You will hear from her how she is a connector of ideas and people in the name of making our world a more diverse and creative place.

Lauren has over 20 years experience as a leadership coach and community designer with Fortune 500 and international businesses. She brings all this and so much heart to her role with Girlmade.

Lauren Klein is also the author of Mango: Peeled Apart to Find the Heart, a collection of recipes and a story of how food and tradition connects our hearts and therefore I call her the “mango ninja”.  Yes, that’s her over on the left. She is brilliant and gorgeous. Read on.

what inspired you to create

girlmade?

I wasn’t the founder, that credit goes to Ashley Clift Jennings and Alex Ellison. They found a gap in our market and decided to fill it themselves. They both have founded their own companies - Parlor Shows and Dunce Labs - and are entrepreneurs themselves, so they ran out of time for Girlmade and it wasn’t generated revenue like their current businesses. Unfortunately, right now, there isn’t the investment in our market in young women, so they couldn’t monetize it. Since I have two amazing young women who are entrepreneurial thinkers, I felt it was my personal obligation to buy the business and cultivate the community. [I’m] always a facilitator, connector and community weaver. Additionally, at Executive Networks I worked with many great women and in other companies have worked with female networks so I know how important these are in business today. I have a passion in this field to help people broker new possibilities within our Reno/Tahoe market community of educators, business with parents and students and [the] extended ecosystem.

What rituals are a key part of your day/week and contribute your well-being as an entrepreneur?

Time management, self management, delegation, asking for help and ferocity. I’m comfortable with many doors getting slammed in my face. Resilience skill practice. I have a strong internal compass and want to help connect people to people, information, content and opportunities to make them fly. Again, it’s all about coaching and connection with compassion (my three C’s) [and] finding people’s gift areas and trying to help provide them with guidance to work in that area.

When have you felt the most vulnerable? What do you do to release fear?

Recently I had someone tell me that we are not focused enough and need to tighten up our mission and purpose to gain more clarity. That made me cry. The founders and now myself are working hard to gain that clarity in the market to raise visibility while creating relationships that can lead us to create a sustainable program of workshops to help women play big.

Currently I spend most of my time doing exercise (CrossFit and running) along with journaling. I journal every single night. I focus on what I did to make a difference, what I could have done better but didn’t and then assess what I can do the next day to be a better version of ME.

Lauren Klein, CEO of Girlmade, stopped by to donate these perfect blankets made for Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation kids by local girls at the Girl Empire Conference.” [Photo credit: Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation/Facebook]

How has community contributed to your success? How do you nurture a sense of community in your life and your business?

My watering can is filled when I collaborate with others to play big. I’ve always been like this. I work best when I’m around other passionate people who want to make a difference. Change Makers are addictive and powerful people who can make things happen are even more exciting to engage with in order to drive change.

Girlmade is a community of female entrepreneurs who are busy trying to play big. I get energy around these amazing women who want to help others. I donate a lot of my time to non profits, schools and friends and network connections. That feels great to help and make a difference in their businesses or lives. I really enjoy making deep and lasting connections. It fills my watering can. In my personal life, I’m blessed to have amazing daughters who are my biggest fans and yet I’ve taught them to give me critical feedback. They often do so. They keep an eye out for me and try to help me. I feel we have created a core team that is outstanding.

what does #climbyourownladder mean to you?

We must listen to that internal voice very closely. We must be firm with our resolve. We must not compare ourselves to others. We must look to align ourselves with others who build us up, hold our hands and make us a better version of ourselves.

connect with lauren on twitter at @thelaurenklein