Lauren Berger is CEO & Founder of InternQueen.com and LaurenBergerInc.com, a frequent public speaker and the Author of All Work, No Pay and Welcome to the Real World. Based in Los Angeles, she oversees the IQ Agency, a campus marketing agency helping brands connect with ambitious young people.
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Why People Do What They Do – Lauren’s Top Business Book
Intern Queen – Lauren’s websites
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3 Value Bombs
1) Making eye contact in connecting with people is tantamount.
2) Use rejections as your motivation to be better and move forward.
3) Set up an ongoing stream of income so you can follow what you’re passionate about and live the life you want.
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(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[02:07] – Her area of expertise is in public speaking on internship and career advice
[02:22] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: You always speak to the last person in the room — make eye contact
[03:05] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: 4 to 5 years ago, Lauren didn’t have an office — just a virtual company with 2 employees based out of New York. Lauren was on vacation at the time and one employee suddenly called her and told her she was quitting. Soon after, Lauren was at Starbucks and she got another call from her other employee saying she was resigning, too…
[05:46] – When a door closes, a window opens
[06:16] – Use rejection as motivation
[06:53] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: When Lauren first started Intern Queen her source of income came from monetizing content, blogging, public speaking, and writing books. Her mentors told her that her biggest problem was herself because she did every part of her business by herself. A few years into Intern Queen, Lauren started a full-service marketing agency. She turned the focus of her business to the agency
[09:34] – “Passion doesn’t pay the bills”
[09:45] – Make sure you have an ongoing stream of income to live the life you want
[10:19] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “Just the game of it all. It’s just figuring out how to do it (scaling)”
[11:33] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “I think the expectation that after graduation you get a normal job”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Never take no for an answer. Rejection doesn’t mean no, it’s just not right now”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Making to-do lists for the next day”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – LinkedIn
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Why People Do What They Do – “I love reading about why people do what it is they’re good at”
[14:14] – Remember that anything is possible
Lauren Berger: I am prepared to ignite.
John: Yes! Lauren is CEO and founder of Internqueen.com and LaurenBergerInc.com. She is a frequent public speaker, and the author of All Work No Pay and Welcome to the Real World. Lauren, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Lauren Berger: Absolutely. So, I started my own business, which is Intern Queen Incorporated, almost nine years ago now. So, I’ve been at this a while. I started my business with $5,000 in personal savings in 2009. I’ve never taken on a dime of investment money, which makes for some pros and also some cons. I’ve just been growing this thing. So, it started out as a content platform where I would just help give young people great advice on how to get from where they are to where they wanna be. Today, I not only oversee our content platforms, and do the books, and the speaking, but we’ve also started an entire, full-service campus marketing agency. So, brands hire us when they wanna engage with college students in a unique way. So, doing all kinds of things, and just trying to do my best every day.
John: Well, every day doing your best is all we can ask for anybody, Fire Nation. So, Lauren, keep up the heat, girl. What would you say is your area of expertise? After all these years, what is the thing that you are most great at?
Lauren Berger: I would say I am probably the best at public speaking on internship and career advice.
John: What’s something that we don’t know about public speaking that you’ve found is really helpful to know for entrepreneurs?
Interviewee: I think that you always speak to the last person in the room. I challenge myself, whenever I speak, to make eye contact with every single person in that audience, at least once. Those are just some tips that have helped me conquer my fears and really inspire and motivate all kinds of young people.
John: Well, I’m kinda curious that this is gonna be a public speaking story, probably not but you never know, I’m just kinda curious what your worst entrepreneurial moment is to date. I mean, Lauren, you’ve had some bad ones, we all have, but what’s the lowest of the low, what’s the worst moment. Take us there, tell us that story.
Lauren Berger: You say it well, there’s been a lot of – I think as entrepreneurs we tend to talk about the good stuff. So, I think it’s so important to also talk about the bad stuff. The moment that I’m gonna talk to you about today, it’s not necessarily to do with public speaking, it’s running my business as a whole. So, I’ll take you back about four to five years ago. At that point, I’m based in Los Angeles, California. At that time, I didn’t have an office; it was completely a virtual company. I only had two employees and they were both out of New York City. When you’re such a small team like that, you know, every person is so important to you.
I had two employees that had both been with me for a little over two years, which is a long time for a small, young business like mine. I was on vacation in Napa, and I’ll never forget, first I go to Subway to get breakfast and Employee 1 calls me and she quits. Then, I go to Starbucks to do some work, and Employee 2 calls me and she quits. I was just devastated. I remember crying – I cried to them on the phone, which is probably something you should never do. Entrepreneur 101? But, I mean, I was crying, and I really just thought the end of this business that had some heat behind it – I thought it was the end. I thought it was a conspiracy theory. I’m like, “They spoke about this”, but I really just thought that it was the end of the world.
I mean, they were my people, and they were the only other people that were waking up every day working really hard, like I was, on this business. So, you know, I feel like, if I’m gonna tell you a “worst story” then I have to tell you how I got out of it. So, they both quit on the same day, I thought it was the end of the world. But, I did get passed it. I used it as an opportunity to hire people in Los Angeles, with the goal of one day getting an office. Which, about a year-and-a-half to two years later, I did. You know, today we have 10 employees and they’re all based in L.A., and we have an office that I’m sitting in right now. So, that’s probably one of my worst stories as an entrepreneur.
John: Yeah, it’s a bad story because, like you said, when things are early and you have a couple of key employees and they’re getting up and they’re doing the thing, and they know everything, you maybe haven’t established a plan, and the backups, and all the stuff that happens when a business has a little more time under its belt, can be really stressful. So, what would you wanna share with Fire Nation Lauren, learning from your mistake, what is the biggest key takeaway that you can breakdown for us?
Interviewee: Well, I would say, you know, it is true, when one door closes another opens. We all get rejected in life, I talk about this when I do my speaking, we all get rejected again, and again, and again. There is this myth that when you’re successful you don’t get rejected anymore. When this happened, in a way, I felt rejected by my own employees, which was a terrible feeling. So, I think whenever you get rejected, feel the feelings, do what you need to do, go for a walk, cry it out. But then, use that rejection to really motivate you and use it to sorta ignite the fire, as you would probably say, and really make that new opportunity happen. Because again, when one door closes another opens. So use that rejection as motivation to get to your next chapter.
John: Feel the feelings, Fire Nations. Feel the feelings.
Lauren Berger: Mm-hmm. Feel the feelings, go through them.
John: Lauren, let’s talk about one of the greatest ideas you’ve had to date. I mean, you’ve had a bunch, you’re an entrepreneur, you’re getting up, you’re doing the things, but what’s one of those “Aha” moments that really jumps out at you? Take us to that moment, tell us that story.
Interviewee: Yeah, absolutely. So, let’s see. I think the one I’ll share with you – actually, the way you phrased it during this interview just made me change my mind on which story I’m gonna share. I think a big “Aha” moment and an idea that I had that really worked out was, when I first started Intern Queen I was like many “experts” out there, where the way I was making money was by monetizing my content, blogging all the time, making video content, public speaking and writing books. That was really it. I remember talking to a lot of different mentors and they would say, “You know, the biggest problem with your business, is you.” It’s essentially, that you need to be there to do every part of it. God forbid anything happen to you, there’s no more Intern Queen. It’s gone, it’s not a scalable business.
So, a few years into running Intern Queen I started this full-service campus marketing agency, because I said you know what, “We have something really special here.” We had over 60,000 young people coming to Intern Queen every month to read internship advice and actually apply for internship opportunities. And I said, “Who would want this? Who would want all of these people?” And then I thought about the biggest brands out there, the Ford Motor companies, the Coca-Colas, the Michael Kors, and I said, “Wouldn’t those big brands love to activate these kinds of young people as sort of a street team, or campus ambassadors, as they’re called?”
So, I really turned the focus of Intern Queen into this whole full-service campus agency. So, fast-forward a few years to today, I still do all the content, that’s where my heart is. I love being The Intern Queen and doing my thing, I’m actually working on a third book now, but, what’s really turned up the revenue for us, and what’s really enabled us to scale as a business, is this campus marketing agency. The best part, is that it doesn’t rely on me to run on a daily basis. So, I think that’s probably the best idea that I’ve had, and also an Aha moment that you can take what you’re passionate about and find ways to scale it.
John: So, what would you want Fire Nation to really take away from that? I mean, what is the lesson that you really wanna make sure that we get?
Lauren Berger: I think there are a couple things to take from it, but what I’ll say is, a lot of people they start businesses based on what they’re passionate about. And I think that’s great, of course, I started Intern Queen because I was passionate about internship advice. But, passion doesn’t pay the bills. So, I would say that, before you start a business or as you’re starting your business, make sure that you have your eye on the ball. And in most cases, the ball is the money.
So, make sure that you have an ongoing stream of income that’s gonna enable you to live the life you want to live while doing what you’re passionate about. And, always think about scale. How can I create something that doesn’t need me personally involved on a day-to-day? So, that would be my takeaway for your listeners.
John: So, Lauren, in some ways, you’ve come full circle as an entrepreneur. Here we are talking, you have some things that you’re excited about, but what is the one thing that really stands out for you? What have you most fired up today?
Interviewee: So, let me take you back for a second. So, I started Intern Queen in 2009. I barely made enough that year to pay myself anything. In 2017, which is coming to an end right now, I doubled the business from where we were at in 2016. So, from 2016 to 2017, I doubled the business. I’m excited to try to keep up that growth and double the business again in 2018. I think what has me fired up is just, kinda the game of it all, figuring out how to do it. In 2017, a big challenge for me was hiring people. Once you start doing a lot of business, you gotta hire a lot of people, and you have to hire the right people. And I think, actually, the hiring and just the HR of it all was actually harder than the revenue, in 2017. So, I’m pumped about trying to figure it all out, keeping up growth, and keeping everyone happy.
John: Well, good luck with that because keeping everyone happy is a tough game that we play as entrepreneurs. But, Fire Nation, if you think that Lauren has been dropping value bombs, you are correct. More is coming up in the Lightning Round when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
Lauren, are you ready to rock the Lightning Rounds?
Lauren Berger: I’m nervous and ready.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Lauren Berger: I think the, the expectation that after graduation you get a “normal” job.
John: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Lauren Berger: Never take no for an answer. Rejection doesn’t mean no, it just means not right now.
John: What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Lauren Berger: Making to-do lists for the next day before I go to sleep. So, I’ll make my to-do lists at night for the next day.
John: Fire Nation, don’t trust the sleepy, grumpy, you when you wake up in the morning to make a good list, it’s gonna be a crappy list. Make it the night before.
Recommend one internet resource.
Lauren Berger: LinkedIn. It’s enabled me to connect with people who are essentially unreachable. I really believe, at any level in your career, whether you’re a college student or a seasoned entrepreneur – I’m always reaching out to people that I don’t know, yet I admire, and LinkedIn enables me to do it. So, that’s been really been the most magical platform for me.
John: Recommend one book and share why.
Lauren Berger: You know, I actually really like reading memoirs. So, I randomly read Barbara Walter’s memoir. But, I love reading how people do what they do. I’m reading the Joe Biden book right now. That’s my thing, I love reading about how people do whatever it is they’re good at.
John: Well, I wonder if you’re gonna like my new podcast that’s coming out soon called Memoir.
Lauren Berger: O-M-G, yes!
John: Audio biographies of the men and women who changed the world. What do you think?
Lauren Berger: Oh my God, I love it. I’m obsessed with just knowing what people do in the morning, how they totally run their day. I love that, that’s so cool.
John: And Fire Nation, don’t forget, All Work No Pay and Welcome to the Real World, both Lauren Berger originals.
Lauren, let’s end On Fire with a parting piece of guidance. Then, share the best way that we can connect with you, then we’ll say goodbye.
Lauren Berger: Absolutely. Am I providing the guidance?
John: Not me.
Lauren Berger: Okay, very good. You know, what I would say to everybody listening, is that anything is possible. I run a company called Intern Queen. I mean, really, that’s a business? Yes. And today, it’s extremely lucrative, and I’m killing it, and we’re gonna do even bigger things in 2018. So, my advice is that anything is possible.
You just gotta focus, and you have to hustle. I send out so many pitch emails every single day, and I was doing the same thing nine years ago when I started Intern Queen. So, it doesn’t necessarily get easier, it’s just a different kind of hustle. But, you’ve gotta hustle to get to where you wanna be.
The best ways to connect with me are on every social media platform @internqueen. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, everything @internqueen. And then, my websites are internqueen.com and laurenbergerinc.com. I’m super accessible so please reach out, happy to help with whatever you need.
John: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with LB and JLD today. So, keep up the heat. Head over to EoFire.com and type Lauren in the search bar. Her show notes page will pop-up with everything we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore. Listen, Lauren said reach out to her. She’s super accessible. So, Fire Nation, do it. Do it. And Lauren, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Lauren Berger: Thank you.
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