Elaine Rau’s team reached out to me last month with an idea to interview each other for our blogs. I enjoy connecting with fellow dancers, writers, and in this case, entrepreneurs, so of course, I agreed! Elaine Rau founded the blog, LadyBossBlogger, after realizing the company she worked for cared more about her sales numbers than her as a person. Like me, blogging for Elaine started out as a creative outlet and a way to make connections when she first moved from the U.S. to Honduras. Quickly, she turned it into a profitable online business.
We decided to exchange a list of questions to answer. Even though Elaine’s journey looks a lot different from a ballroom dancer’s, I think you’ll find we share a lot of similar elements!
Without further ado, please welcome Elaine Rau.
1. You had a dramatic start to your entrepreneurial life! After quitting your corporate career as a National Wedding Sales Manager in Chicago, you said goodbye to your life there and moved all the way to Honduras! Why make such a big move, as opposed to starting a new chapter in Chicago or another part of the U.S.?
My boyfriend’s brother was murdered and my boss declined my request to attend the funeral overseas because he said “it would affect sales” if I left for a week, so I quit and moved to Honduras because my boyfriend couldn’t come to the states due to visa issues.
2. You were very successful in sales, and that kind of skill set can transfer over to almost any industry. What made you choose the more difficult path of entrepreneurship over finding a new job?
Working 100% commission jobs definitely helped hone my entrepreneurial skillset. I loved the thrill of landing sales and never did well with salaried jobs because there were no growth opportunities or chances to make additional money for the fun of it. I figured if I could make sales for other companies, I could do that for myself. I liked and welcomed the challenge.
3. Why blogging? You mentioned in your interview with the Huffington Post that you lacked a creative outlet in your previous job. Had you considered blogging as a creative hobby before considering it as a potential business?
I worked as a blogging intern for this wonderful woman who had started her own blog magazine as something fun to do when I wasn’t working in the wedding industry. She didn’t make any money from it and had been running it for 7 years, so I didn’t think of blogging as a way to make money. It was more of a stress reliever, which is why I started my own blog so I could release stress from moving across the country to Honduras where I had no family, no friends, and no language skills to be able to communicate with the people around me. So blogging became my outlet once again.
4. Now that you’ve been running Lady Boss Blogger for a few years, is it providing the creative outlet you craved? Do you have any other creative passions or hobbies?
YES! I love the creative process. Now that it’s been 4 years, I’ve done less creating and more maintaining so I’m definitely seeking more creative opportunities to grow the business once again in different ways… watch out, some cool stuff will be launching soon! I also love creating elaborate scrapbooks to celebrate our wedding anniversary and the memories we make each year. I love creating scrapbooks to celebrate seasons in life – I created 6 scrapbooks for each of my bridesmaids to thank them for the wonderful memories and to encourage them for more to come!
5. One thing dancers, and creatives in general, commonly struggle with is imposter syndrome. Have you come up against imposter syndrome, and how have you dealt with it?
Yes, but ironically it happened later along my entrepreneurial journey than at the beginning. Perhaps because when I started, I gave myself more grace for not knowing things, but now that I’ve been in business for 4 years I thought I should know more and started comparing myself to people who have been in business twice as long as I have. My mentor reminded me to trust in the process and look back at how incredibly far I’ve come and how much I’ve done and not play the comparison game which usually comes right before imposter syndrome!
6. You built your blog by interviewing other female entrepreneurs. Have there been any common themes in terms of experiences or struggles that surprised you or stuck out in your mind?
No one knows what they are doing, they are all just figuring it out as they go along haha! I used to see entrepreneurs as the people in this world who had it together because they had a vision and ability to start their own business versus just applying for jobs and submitting to someone else’s plan, but in reality, it’s the total opposite! What I mean is, everyone is just figuring out life as they go along, so don’t take everything so seriously, just try new things and have fun with it!
7. Going “full out” and “all in” on a pursuit like your own business can be exhausting if you don’t take care of yourself. How do you avoid burnout? And if you’ve burned out before, what happened and how did you recover?
I burned out right when we went into the COVID lockdown. It was terrible. I took on way too many tasks thinking that I had more time and I stopped taking care of myself. I am still slowly crawling out of it a bit now. What it took was actually prioritizing my priorities and setting up new structures in my daily life that energized me such as monthly massages, weekly social hangouts, and daily skincare routines and at-home spa treatments. I stopped working to work and started rewiring my brain so that I can work to LIVE!
8. How has the 2020 pandemic affected your business and life in general? Paint us a picture of say, January to May to today.
January – I had loads of travel plans all set, planned, and ready to go, 2020 was my travel year!
February – My 2020 goals were all in full gear and business was booming.
March – I was aloof and not wanting to face reality, trying to pretend that everything was ok.
April – Business was going stronger than ever, but I was mentally exhausted and couldn’t keep up.
May – Depression set in HARD, I didn’t even realize I was depressed until after watching an episode of QueerEye, I realized I had the same symptoms as the person on the screen and they were depressed, so I started looking for help.
June – Trying to figure out my purpose in life and trying to recompose myself, but failing hard.
July – Finally started getting some structures in place in terms of mentorship, counseling, and balance in life.
August – Started enjoying life more and worrying less, I took the whole month off just to play now that things were finally opening up and getting closer to normal in Chicago!
September – Continued prioritizing balance and started loving life and business again.
October – Things are finally back to normal for me, I wake up with a smile and finally have my motivation and jest for life back! It definitely took longer than I had wanted it to, but such is life, you can’t force it, you can only live it.
9. As we move into the “new normal”, what’s next for Lady Boss Blogger?
I am going to continue enjoying life and creating good memories in life and in business that I can document in my scrapbooks. Tomorrow will worry about itself, I am focused on enjoying each new day as it comes.
10. You mention on your website that you have a special connection to The Micah Project. Tell us about that organization, your involvement and why it means so much to you.
My husband is what I call a “success story” that came from this incredible project. They reach out to boys who live on the streets of Honduras and give them a house to live in and an education so they have equal opportunities to grow and succeed in life like the rest of us. The Micah Project gave me a place to live for a month when I moved to Honduras spontaneously so I could find a place to live and get settled. It is also where my blog idea was conceived and where my business started so we make sure to give back to The Micah Project monthly!
11. Finally, I have to ask! Do you dance?
My husband and I are “kitchen dancers” haha! We love playing music and dancing to the beat as we cook or clean together. And one kind of dance might lead to the next… 😉 Sorry, TMI!
Shortly after this interview, Elaine launched a major shift in her brand. As she explains on the homepage of her website, her business had previously been focused on building income. Through her courses, she taught others how to start their own profitable online businesses. While she had experienced a lot of success, she started to feel something was missing.
She found that missing piece and a renewed sense of purpose in aligning her business goals with her religious beliefs.
Of all the entrepreneurial bloggers in all the world to reach out to me to exchange stories, I find it so fitting that Elaine was the one to do it. While I’m not realigning my blog or business with my religious or spiritual beliefs, I have shared my intentions to better integrate my dance life and the rest of my life as a way to find greater purpose in my dancing. Similar to Elaine, I’m sensing that I need something more than the next competition to continue on my dance journey.
This year has challenged us all a great deal (understatement, I know) and I think it has also triggered a transition for many of us. What was important before doesn’t seem so important, and what may have lingered on the sidelines now seems worth bringing into play.
Are you in transition right now? Know that it’s ok if it feels very messy and chaotic, and you’re not alone!