How I Started My “Side Hustle” 🙋🏼

You know when you’re humming through life, you make a few decisions, and a couple years later something small led to something much bigger? It’s a tale as old as time and one I know very well. Since beginning my “side hustle” about a year and a half ago, I’ve worked with incredible clients and people I consider friends and inspirations.

My freelance work began when my cousin’s Facebook friend, Lynn of Fresh April Flours, posted that she was looking for a virtual assistant for marketing and social media help. At the time, I was wrapping up my time working at Longwood Gardens, heading to graduate school, and actively looking for income to pay for my masters. I sent my application materials to this random human and the rest is history! Lynn and I have worked together now building her business while helping her spend more time with her adorable kiddos and entrepreneurial husband, Matt, who owns an awesome gym nearby in West Chester, PA! Our partnership is where it all began. I fell in love with what it meant to help creative, busy, confident, and self-starting people with what they love to do.

Since then, I’ve found myself working with a social media agency writing social media content for a Main Line painting and decorating company, John Neill Painting. I did some Pinterest work for an amazing food blogger, Krazy Kitchen Mom, down in Flordia. I helped launch a twentieth-anniversary campaign at Sovana Bistro, a restaurant near and dear to my heart, through influencer marketing, traditional marketing, and social media content creation writing. My dear friend and colleague and I have worked together to launch her blog, Corporate2Culinary, and I recently began working with the amazing and inspirational Shanna A. Hocking.

The best part about this all? It’s helped me afford my education, build relationships with incredible people, learn, and do it all from the comfort of my couch with coffee in hand.

There are days when working full-time, heading to class, and turning around to a list of to-dos causes me to chug coffee and take a deep breath, but I truly love it. I now have an LLC, a company card, a website, and more conversations brewing for potential projects. If you had asked me a year ago where I thought my “side hustle” was headed, I would have never thought it would lead me here — and I’m so grateful for it.

My advice to all looking for a “side hustle” or hobby. . . seek opportunity, do the job well, and never forget you’re working with people’s “babies” (for lack of a better word). You never know where one project will lead you! Go get busy!

5 Ways To Listen, Multi-task + Learn

There are about one million opportunities throughout my day where I’m typing, drinking coffee, talking, writing, listening, and brainstorming all at once. Simply put, it’s my talent. My commute into Philadelphia is HEFTY and I spend my train time wisely. . . often listening to my favorite podcasts. Here’s my run-down and recommendations for YOU to learn, listen, and continue your drive, your walk, your typing — what have you! The best part? They’re completely free on the Podcast app on your phone OR on Spotify (or however you choose to listen to audio).

1. Wall Street Journal’s Secrets of Wealthy Women

Wall Street Journal Secrets of Wealthy Women

There are some badass women in this world and host Veronica Dagher spills the tea with them on how they built big business while investing, saving, and living — and through the curveballs life knows how to throw. Get inspired every Tuesday to take risks and look out for yourself financially and in your career.

2. The Goal Digger Podcast

I’ll give credit where credit is due. . . Jenna Kutcher is a #bosslady in all things marketing and management. She grew her photography business to a seven-figure cash cow and she shows you how to, too. Her guest speakers range from creatives to her virtual assistant. She’s got curves, a supportive husband, and a new baby. . . what more could you want?!

3. Work Life with Adam Grant

I am a sucker for psychology and organizational dynamics and when it comes to the expert, Adam Grant is at the top of the list. My claim to fame is I’ve seen his office at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and actually worked on a project with some of his researchers. . . #NERDALERT. It was nothing short of amazing. Anyway, his podcast reaches into the challenges, opportunities, and mind trip that is Corporate America. I find myself listening with light bulbs floating around my head as I realize why my co-worker emails a certain way and how to temper my own bias during my day.

4. This American Life

This American Life exposes you to people from different times, places, and worlds all through your headphones. This particular podcast has made me realize life for me looks a lot different than others. It’s not necessarily professional development, but it will teach you some empathy along the way. . .

5. Secrets of Saving and Investing by NPR

Money talks and so does NPR! One of my goals in 2019 is to learn more about investing and begin putting more money in the market than my 401K. Learn everything from the basics to the intricacies about the ways you can save and the balance you should have in your investment portfolio (down to stocks and percentages).

BONUS: 6. Lore

And for the times that I don’t want to hear any more advice, marketing talk, and investing knowledge, I turn to Lore. . . an amazing, detailed, storytelling podcast based on folklore and times gone by. It’s not scary, it’s beautiful. I listen every other Monday religiously.

What We Can Learn from the Philadelphia Eagles

If you’re from Philadelphia or have watched any second of the NFL this year, you know the Eagles have given our city a rollercoaster season. We kicked off the season in September as Super Bowl Champions and have landed ourselves back in the “underdog” spot in the playoffs race. I’ve watched every week (sometimes with one eye open) and ended each game with my mouth wide open in shock #DoinkDoink. I had to stop and think. . . there’s something here to learn from this crazy green team.

1. Get Hungry

In the first years of your career, even in the first decade, you’ve got to be roaring for experience, knowledge, money, achievement, and whatever success is in your own mind. The Eagles won their first-ever Superbowl in 2018, and not without years of failure, learnings, and hustle. When their time came to shine and score, they executed. Treat every day like your championship is on the way. . . get hungry for your goals.

2. Trust Yourself & Your Team

I get chills every time I hear Coach Doug Pederson recount the famous play that changed Philadelphia forever. . . Philly Philly. Quarterback Nick Foles and Pederson huddled for moments before the Eagles secured their spot as World Champions, but only after Foles offered an idea to try a creative and gutwrenching play — one that could have gone very wrong. Without hesitation, Pederson agreed to the risk that made all the difference.

Take a page from Foles’ book and trust yourself to follow your gut, your experience, and those around you. And if you’re a manager, give a nod to Pederson’s honest trust in Foles and the Eagles to execute and let your team make big decisions with trust. One moment of trust between individuals can lead to a ton of confetti, a trophy, and celebrations, right?!

3. Be the Underdog

The best part of your twenties, in my experience, is that no one (literally no one) is expecting you to be perfect and it’s an expectation that you’ve got a whole lot to learn.

Lean into it. Get hungry, trust yourself, and know you have obstacles ahead that will give you the chance to prove yourself.

4. Be a Teammate

There’s a love-hate relationship going on in Philadelphia with Carson Wentz. He struggled in the beginning of the season, became injured, and Foles entered the spotlight for the second year in a row. Those two players should write a book on how to endure the press, an entire city, and the best defensive players in the entire NFL each and every week with grace.

Wentz has watched Foles take the role of savior these last few weeks and he’s done so with quiet support from the sidelines. And Foles, the comeback kid, has carried Philadelphia into another playoff season in twelfth hour yet again.

Every dog (underdog pun, get it?!) has their day. Both QBs have shared moments of glory and failure, but as teammates. It’s important to remember to support your team members through glory and guts and keep your eye on the prize.

5. Love Your Fans

Philadelphia has passionate fans. . . I think that’s the nicest way to phrase that. In every interview with an Eagles player, they thank the enduring and evergreen support of their fans. Never forget those that have been alongside you all these years as you find your way in your career and life. They’re the ones in the stands on the day of your championship. And never forget to say “thanks”. . . it never gets old.


Back to the Books: 19 First Days of School

I remember sitting at my college graduation thinking one long, life-changing, and priceless chapter of life was coming to a close. I had a sneaky and overwhelming feeling that I had a lot of learning left to do. I would have never (literally, never) thought I’d find myself in a desk at Penn only a year and a half or so later.

Lauren Grow and The Talk About Town

When I was working at Longwood Gardens, I was assigned a project with graduate students who were working on planning a conference on public horticulture. I remember being beyond jealous of their educational experience and slowly realized the nonprofit space was where I saw myself long-term. I don’t remember the exact moment when I decided to set sail on my not-so-straight path, but I found myself studying (and paying) for the GREs, writing my application essay, and deciding to send my application straight to Penn for their nonprofit leadership program.

I interviewed and to my shock, I was accepted on January 21, 2017. I’ll never forget stepping out of my office after getting word to call my mom and dad. I rode the wave of excitement for about 48 hours and then realized I was absolutely enrolling, but I was absolutely unsure how I’d pay for it.

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School Acceptance

I had a trusted mentor, and to this day my most adored role model, sit down with me at lunch one day. She told me to stay working full-time while attending school and to this day, her advice is what made the difference in the long run. I decided to target my job search to Penn, knowing if I could become an employee, my tuition would be covered. Fast-forward to August. . . I started my job at the University of Pennsylvania on August 21, 2017, and on the same night, I walked to my first class on campus for the 19th first day of school. So, yes, it worked out for me, but not without a lot of elbow grease, a lot of praying, and a lot of happenstance. I include this because paying for your education is possible – whether it be an employer’s benefits, scholarships, working at a university, or performing research. Don’t rule a masters program out simply because of cost.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

-Benjamin Franklin, Founder of the University of Pennsylvania

A masters program, or any supplementary education that will make you open your wallet in a big way, isn’t a decision that happens overnight. What I will say, however, is I often look back and wonder how in the world I found myself working in the nonprofit sector and making an investment in doing this work for the long run. I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey thus far, but trust your gut if you love something enough to invest in your educational experience. To anyone considering going back to school, do it. My path has provided me with unimaginable experiences, lessons, challenges, and accomplishments. I’ll graduate in May. . . I often wonder if I’ll find myself on the morning of my 20th first day of school? That’s a song for another time.

Lauren Grow First Day of School at West Chester University 2016
My 18th “first day of school” at West Chester University

How to Create Your 2019 Resolutions 🍾

December is filled with light, the best of home-cooked meals and desserts, unwrapped treasures, cocktails, and busy social schedules. Each year, the end of the holidays approaches (I cry a bit that Christmas isn’t for another 360 some days) and I look to January for a time of fresh starts and a life in the right lane for the winter months. 

I never thought of myself as too much of a goal person (my fam and friends might disagree with that one), but I’ve found myself making resolutions for the last few years. I used to swear them off thinking they were silly to create just because a calendar filled a page. Now, I have a list as long as my arm. We have to aim for something, right? 

I’ll share a few of my resolutions for 2019, but I first want to share some recommendations and suggestions I used prior to writing mine down.

1. Money Talk 

At 24, my mind is on experiences, savings, and the future. Some of my closest (and most successful) friends use a strict budget or old school envelope system to save their hard-earned cash. I set a savings goal for each money by quite literally transferring a lump sum from my direct deposit checkings account to my savings on pay day. Is saving on your mind for 2019? Keep it simple and shoot for a number you want to put in your savings every paycheck.

Not saving enough? Find a side hustle whether that be babysitting, freelance work from home, a coffee shop gig, or walking dogs. An extra revenue stream of income is one I have learned is worth every minute when financial planning.

2. Career

One of my favorite authors, podcasters, and influencers, Adam Grant, says we should change our 5-year-timeline thought process to where we want to be in a year – just 365 days. I’m in the process of discovering the next move for me by networking with 25 professionals in Philadelphia, almost all of whom are strangers to me! Get creative with a vision board, a list of must-haves, or create a spreadsheet with research for the future if you’re not looking for a move right now.

3. Off the Clock

Volunteering is a big part of my life, but finding time to do so can seem daunting. Time is, after all, money! Before you volunteer, make sure it’s a commitment you can really make, for an organization you share values with, and understand why you’re doing it. I have found some of my most meaningful conversations and connections come from those I made during volunteering experiences.

4. The Body

Need I say more? Everyone is always looking to be healthier, look better, and feel better. I’m no expert on this matter, but I know setting reasonable and achievable goals for exercise will make for a happier you and a happier schedule!

5. The Mind

Our world is stressful and aiming to become a better version of yourself can be exhausting in itself. “Self care” is all the rage, but my friends and I have had long conversations about what that means. Self care isn’t just a face mask, a manicure, or buying yourself that long-desired treat. Self care is identifying what’s best for you. . . whether that’s four workouts a week, a social media cleanse for a week, reading, family time, or whatever it takes to bring your mind peace. Me? I’m starting with a January social media and alcohol cleanse.

6. The Spirit

I put this on here because this is relevant to me in 2019. I think the spirit and mind are similar in identifying what makes you feel “whole”. In our crazy world, I’ve let church and faith fall to the wayside. I’m hoping to get back into a religion routine (which makes it sound less meaningful than it really is).

7. Splurge

Now for the fun. . . and yes, I put this last! How much are you putting in your piggy bank for the perfect gift to yourself? I know I need a new car this year so my extra funding will go to the perfect set of wheels. And, I always try to fit in a beautiful handbag once a year. Who can blame me for that?!

Creating your 2019 resolutions that you won't fail at

My Resolutions

I’ll try to circle back come 2020 (Yikes! Do you feel old, too?) on whether or not I achieved these goals!

  1. New career
  2. Less time on social media
  3. Read a book a month
  4. Graduate from Penn with my masters
  5. Say “no” more
  6. Launch The Talk About Town
  7. Lose weight
  8. Smile
  9. Travel
  10. Get my behind to church