Cup Four

Person: Laurie Lonsdorf

drink: medium brewed coffee from Grand River Coffee and Chocolate (Tanzanian blend)

It started with a tweet. Laurie Lonsdorf, a former Michigander turned Washingtonian, announced she was moving back to Lansing. Weeks before the move, Laurie decided to get a head start on meeting people and started connecting with Lansing residents over Twitter. That is how we originally met. We started talking and I learned that her profile picture, which depicts her wearing a tiara, and her Twitter screen name, @Princesslons, corresponded with her business moniker, the Princess of Persuasion. In Seattle, Laurie worked as a Self-Employed Marketing Copywriter and Communications Strategist and picked up the princess guise to become memorable and attract her clientele.

Marketing is my major and entrepreneurship is what I love so I was interested in hearing her story and she was interesting in getting to know another new face, which meant she was a perfect pick for cup number four. I picked a coffee shop downtown and when Laurie walked in, I immediately recognized her from her profile picture. We ordered our coffees—she had an iced brewed coffee, I ordered a regular—and found a spot on the oversized leather couches near the big windows overlooking the activity of downtown. It didn’t take me long to ask the question she’s been getting a lot lately, “Why did you move back to Michigan?”

After graduating from high school in East Lansing, Laurie left for college in Colorado and eventually ended up in Seattle where she’s been for the past 20 years. While she liked the city, she realized it was time for a change. A good friend from high school was considering moving back to Lansing and convinced Laurie to join her. She still had friends in the area and found the entrepreneurial feel and great hospitality of the community appealing, so she decided she would relocate her life back to Lansing.

I was fascinated with her role as the Princess of Persuasion so I asked what steps she took to get there: did she get a Masters Degree? Where did she find her clients? How did she handle the highs and lows of self-employment? Her answers—

No, she didn’t have a Master’s Degree, “But by now I should have a Ph.D. from the school of Hard Knocks.” Laurie picked up books and taught herself along the way—she created her business based on trail and error. She realized that she couldn’t wait around for permission to start a business; she had to take action and put in a lot of hustle. She knew to stay in business she would have to go out and make a name for herself so she attended networking events like crazy. That’s when she found the tiara and decided to take it to events as a way to break the ice with people. She was right—it got to a point where she walked into a room and people would call out, “Hi Princess!” 

I had to stop and ask—networking is hard enough as it is, how on earth did she find the willpower to walk into a room with a handful of business professionals while wearing a tiara? She said it wasn’t easy. From the moment she put the tiara on in her car to right before she walked into the room, she wondered what she was doing. Nevertheless, she pushed through the fear and the courage to be unique and stand out paid off—her business Seattle started to grow.

While Laurie has moved back to Lansing, the Princess of Persuasion hasn’t quite made the move. Laurie is still deciding whether to rebuild the Princess of Persuasion business in Lansing or look for a J.O.B. (how she refers to any position where her boss is anyone other than herself). She also wasn’t sure how the community would respond to a tiara-wearing newbie, so she decided to get a feel for the community first. 

There was one other thing stopping her. While she was good at her job copywriting, it wasn’t what she was truly passionate about doing. Laurie loves to get out and talk to people, not sit around and write. Her challenge is to decide what she’s truly passionate about and find a way to make money doing it. I’m in the same boat. I’m often asked what I want to do after graduation and, as much as I wish I had a straight answer to give, the truth is that I don’t know. I’m still trying to decide what I want to be “when I grow up”. 

I think I was happily naïve in thinking once I figured out what I want to do post-graduation I’d have my whole life figured out; but after talking with Laurie, I realized that the question—what do I want to do with my life—never goes away. Circumstances change; opportunities arise, interests wax and wane. My life is at a crossroads right now, and there’s a high probability that in 25 years, I’ll come to another (with a lot more thrown in along the way). However, what Laurie helped me realize is that while they are stressful sons of a gun, they also create opportunities to shake things up, get a change of scenery, meet new people, reevaluate what is, and is not, important.

I look forward to running into Laurie at one of Lansing’s many community events and hearing about what she’s up to—hopefully the next time we meet, we’ll both be a step or two closer to knowing what our next job might be. I have a feeling we will. Over the course of our coffee, Laurie’s story proved she was willing to take chances, to put herself out there, to work hard until she found what worked. As long as she packed up those skills and moved them to Michigan with her, she’ll find a fantastic J.O.B.—or successfully rebuild her freelance business here—doing what she loves.

I hope I can do the same.