Dreaming More than One Dream: A woman who loves both Tech and Economics...Lauren Washington
Lauren has strived her entire life to follow her dreams. Dreams that will not only make her happy, but also the world happy. And while dreaming more than one dream comes natural to Lauren, the turning point for her to start her most recent startup was due to the heartache that manifested into panic attacks after finding out she was paid significantly less compared to others who she describes “were lacking melanin in their skin” with either equal or fewer credentials in comparison to her. This was a harsh reality for the young woman who fought tooth and nail to be prepared for the world by matriculating at some of the best institutions and programs throughout her life. Putting this fight into perspective, she earned a BA in Economics from Spelman College and a MA in Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences from Columbia University. Yet, while working for one of the TOP TECHNOLOGY companies as a Payments Risk Strategist, she describes experiencing a feeling of being stuck underneath the glass ceiling. But, not just “a” glass ceiling, a “double glass” ceiling that comes with being both an African American and a woman.
Despite always having courage, this experience forced Lauren to find the courage she was unaware existed inside of her. Instead of accepting how her prior employer was devaluing her, she fought back by releasing the shackles of Corporate America and their branding. She chose to focus and brand herself, because if she was going to be branded by anyone, it was going to be her own brand. Now, she floats through life because of the reassuring confidence that she is the only person who can truly hold her back from her dreams.
So what does “Dream more than one Dream” mean to Lauren?
It means, always lending your talents to more than one thing in life. “Just because you have aspired to be a rocket scientist, doctor, or lawyer, it does not mean that you cannot own your flower shop on the side. Does gardening make you smile? Do you have pictures of flowers as the background on your desktop just to remind you about what makes you happy? Well bring that passion to life and monetize it! Then put those flowers on your desk to remind yourself of your accomplishments and attract new customers”. Lauren stresses the importance of realizing that we are multi-faceted individuals. “It makes society uncomfortable when someone does not conform to the ideal box society wants you to fit in. Fight back! Why? Because if you will not fight for your dreams then who will?!”
Dreamers, how are you fighting for your dreams?
Lauren goes on to describe the childhood struggles of not being the most popular in school (and still not being the most popular), but she never let that hold her back. In fact, she describes it as being the catalyst for her success. She also discusses her passion for education. Whether it involved playing school as a little girl, writing theses on education and labor force participation disparities between races and genders, and even teaching courses to her coworkers at her former TECH company. She always found a way to have her toe in the education arena. Your passion makes room for you wherever you go.
So where does all of this leave Lauren today?
Despite everyone telling her to stay at her job where most would dream to work, Lauren chose to take a leap of faith by believing in herself, her purpose on this God given Earth, and her vision for success. Dreamers, it is important that we define success for ourselves and not anyone else. Because when we define success by others definitions then our own dreams become pigeonholed. And, what kind of life is that to live?
Lauren is living her life though. She is currently focused on her start-up company KNOB Technologies which stands for Knowledge Boxes. KNOB is a monthly subscription service to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics hardcopy resources. Subscribers can choose between one or two books per shipment and they subsequently return the book(s) once they are done using them. It is for people who want to sharpen their skill set or for those who want to enter into the STEM industry. The box even conveniently includes notecards for notes and encourages people to take snapshots of what they see as valuable information, and then upload it to the online KNOB community.
This is how Lauren believes she will change the world. And, although this is
Lauren’s first entrepreneurial venture into the education ecosystem, make no mistake, she has FULL FAITH in her abilities to succeed.
So how does one end up launching such a unique idea? KNOB was birthed out of Lauren’s dream to be a brilliant Econometrician. But, she felt herself getting away from this dream at her prior job. So, in true Lauren fashion, she took matters into her own hands. She chose to use KNOB’s bookshelf as a catalyst for her to get back to her economic and statistics roots. Today, her excitement grows while adding titles to the catalog! ShuEsq would like to think it is similar to the feeling we get when adding new shoes to our inventory.
But, Lauren has not stopped at KNOB.
You should know by now, ShuEsq is big on multiple dreams.
It is what we were built on.
Lauren has also launched Just-UX (pronounced “just us”) and DFAAW (Data for African American Women). Just-UX is for user experience researchers and designers. DFAAW is a place for African American women to voice how they deal with American society and to provide data to back up the allegations of their experience. Lauren desired to provide a platform for African American women to express their grievances for what they are experiencing and for her to use her statistical skill set to validate these allegations. Thus, she states, when people make comments attempting to discount these experiences, she has the available data, facts, and numbers to trump these arguments.
These are all multiple amazing avenues through which Lauren pursues her passion for sharing knowledge and advancing others through their careers.
Lauren credits her jobs, which have all been in completely different fields and environments, with allowing her to work with several programming languages, run whole products and projects from start to finish without knowing a single thing about the industries, to learning how to present to people up to the COO level. Lauren proclaims she knows she is confident because she has the brains and the grit to be a successful entrepreneur. And with that, she is excited to see how her leadership skills will translate into future endeavors. ShuEsq appreciates Lauren’s attitude that her success is inevitable.
However, Lauren’s dreams do not only resonate in starting companies. She overall desires to be a good human being in her day to day life. Whether it is turning Amazon shipment boxes into drop boxes for the homeless, volunteering around the community, or giving back to Spelman College’s Safety Net Fund, she always charges herself with the responsibility of helping others.
She also lives for the memories. Lauren describes how she is judged for the activities she chooses to do with her life. Activities, such as attending live music festivals where you are sure to find her in the front row of a few live streams. Last year, she even embarked on the incredible journey to go on solo trips. This is where she found her strength due to being forced to become self-reliant while traveling internationally. Talk about bravery! Lauren says this is just her style…being self-reliant with a middle finger to the world while having the kindest of hearts! She stresses the importance that we need to be caring, but we also need to be able to tell people to hit the road when necessary. This is essential if you are going to run a successful company.
So what advice does Lauren have? As ShuEsq too knows, no one will ever believe in you as you believe in yourself. So, Lauren stopped sharing her thoughts and instead chose to just let people see her thoughts come to fruition. She says bad vibes and negativity are ways of bringing you back down to the naysayers’ level. Tune people out, follow your heart, read self-help books, meditate, and focus on your spirituality. But, you MUST remind yourself that YOU ARE A BRILLIANTLY PHENOMENAL WOMAN. And do not forget, do everything with PURPOSE!
Thanks to Lauren for showing us what fearlessness and the refusal to accept less than what we are valued looks like. If you are somewhere that devalues you, regardless of how amazing that place may appear, remove yourself and really inquire as to what your passion is. As Lauren reminds us, we should be monetizing our passion, not just anything. Because whatever you are passionate about, someone will buy it!
As dreamers of multiple dreams, it is important that we support one another.
Have you supported a dreamer lately? Today?
Lauren is running a crowdfunding campaign for KNOB Technologies.
With that being said, make sure you visit the following link TODAY to make a donation to Lauren’s dream.
Also, discover more about Lauren’s other companies at:
Lauren also recommends adding the following to your reading list:
I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life by Joel Osteen
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches
by Steve Harvey
GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth