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I Was Told I Was Too Young To Be Ambitious

#SWAAYthenarrative

Lauren Maillian, 32


Marketing Maven and Brand Strategist, Founder and CEO, LMB Group

Having begun her entrepreneurial crusade at 19, it was inevitable that Lauren Maillian would become a marketing and branding powerhouse if only because she was able to begin a successful business while simultaneously tackling her first year of undergraduate studies. "Sometimes you have to crouch before you conquer," says Maillian, who went on to build an enviable empire. Now, not only is she a go-to branding consultant, TV star and author, but she’s also a rockstar mom of two, proving how symbiotic the relationship can be between entrepreneurship and motherhood.

1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?

I like to think that this career path chose me. I have always been a connector of people and ever since I was a child I was incredibly inquisitive. My curiosity and empathy has been the hallmark of my ability to story-tell so masterfully. Getting people's attention and keeping them engaged is the cornerstone of a great marketer and that has always been me. Personally, my greatest achievement is my two children. Professionally, my greatest achievement has been my bestselling book, The Path Redefined because I know that I've positively impacted countless women around the world who are trying to find their purpose amidst building a career and often a family.

"Personally, my greatest achievement is my two children."

2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?

Although I’ve never actually been told to my face that I couldn't do or achieve something because of X, Y or Z, I’ve always been doubted. I almost wish that someone would have explicitly told me why they thought I wouldn't achieve something so I could prove them wrong!

I know that as a black woman, the bar is always higher, the scrutiny even more intense, the microscope amplified on your every move. It's always been an implied bias that I've had to work against everyday, and it's just par for the course.

3. What was the hardest part of overcoming this negativity? Do you have an anecdote you can share?

I've achieved a great deal of success at an early age, so being young, more specifically, too young to accomplish X has always been the background music to my life's playlist. Best piece of advice I can share with other young ambitious women is a quote from my book, The Path Redefined, "sometimes you have to crouch before you conquer."

"I know that as a black woman, the bar is always higher, the scrutiny even more intense, the microscope amplified on your every move. It’s always been an implied bias that I’ve had to work against everyday."

4. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?

I #SWAAYthenarrative everyday just by being present in the world and by fully showing up as who I genuinely am. I feel that my inclusion at the table--through board meetings, companies, campaigns, press, and keynote speeches--was my way to change the minds of those around me. By merely showing up and doing the work, I was swaaying the narrative and defying stereotypes.

5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?

Don't be discouraged! There has never been a better time to be a woman determined to succeed. We all need to keep fighting and earning our way to the top so that we can open all the doors that have been closed for other women to come join us at the top because they've earned it!

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Self

How To Treat Yourself Like A Queen

Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!


I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.

The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.

Reflecting On Myself

Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.

This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.

Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!

1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.

This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!

2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.

Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.

3.) Appreciate how far you have come!

I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.

4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be

If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!

This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.