Exeleon Magazine

Lauren Imparato: The Woman with a Vision

It is said that vision with action makes for a powerful reality. Lauren Imparato has cultivated the same thought in her entrepreneurial journey to empower women leaders from varying backgrounds.

Through her one-of-a-kind global leadership organization, The Association, Lauren has brought together a group of extraordinary women leaders. According to her, “We’ve built The Association into something that works for women by women in a way that’s applicable to society.”

In this interview, Lauren Imparato talks about her journey, The Association, and, most importantly, her vision going forward.

What according to you makes one a powerful woman? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

I really think that being a powerful woman comes from the core values instilled in you that you can’t see and don’t exactly talk about. In essence, a powerful woman shows integrity and sticks to their word; not just for others, but to be true to themselves. If you promise yourself that you’re going to do something, ensure that you’re meeting your own expectations and following through, whether it’s with your own projects and ambitions, embracing the drive to strive ahead in your career, or focusing on self-care so you can wake up and do it all over again.

Leadership comes from within – it shouldn’t seem forced, trite, or repetitive. In life and business, I’m very much myself. Raw Lauren is what you see and what you get. If you work for me, with me, alongside me, or you’re a client, you’ll get the same version of me. That’s something that I know resonates with many people.

What is your earliest memory as a leader/entrepreneur that you remember?

Ironically enough, my earliest memory as an entrepreneur was my first lemonade stand in the summer. And I can say without a doubt, I learned more about entrepreneurship in those moments than you can imagine. I spent that entire summer getting my first lesson on profit and loss, ethics, making in-the-moment decisions, and catering to the customer.

My second foray into leadership was at the high school where I grew up in Northern California. Lacrosse was an east coast sport that many of my cousins played, and I envied them. I wanted to play that sport at my school. I decided to campaign at my high school and ended up starting the first female lacrosse team in Northern California.

It took months of hard work; petitions, budgeting, and actually teaching people the game. During lunch, I’d hold clinics throughout the year and try to convince women to play this as a spring sport instead of the other typical options my high school offered. We ended up winning a bunch of championships.

A few years ago, I saw a woman on the streets of New York wearing a sweatshirt with my high school alma mater that said, “Women’s Lacrosse” and it made me proud. At a young age, I had to figure out how to take an idea and bring it to fruition, convince a bunch of people, and make it happen.

What were the biggest challenges when you took the leap of faith and started your entrepreneurial journey in 2009?

Fear. I’m not personally afraid that often, but I was remarkably afraid. I hadn’t been fired or laid off during the financial crisis and was doing well. I went to a good school, and I loved it; overall, I was comfortable.

The idea of getting over the fear of quitting was the hardest thing for me. The day I quit, I was a ball of nerves, and my palms were sweaty. I was risking something I was good at where I was financially stable to go off into the unknown. But I knew that fear is something that you face and it’s natural to be afraid, and you really have to battle through it or else you won’t get anywhere.

What would be your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs struggling to take that leap of faith?

Entrepreneurship is romanticized these days. So many people say if you do a good job and follow your passions, everything will work out. But truthfully, it’s more complicated than that. You have to have a business plan and be meticulous about it. You need to know that your plans might change, and it will be hard, diligent, and repetitive work.

If you’re ready to work hard and stick to a plan, know that being in the trenches on a day-to-day basis is a reality. But if you have the drive and passion, trust your gut and jump in headfirst.

Talk to us about your global leadership organization – The Association and what it stands for.

The Association is a first-of-its-kind global leadership organization for career-driven women that uses data science and a proprietary leadership methodology to create a vetted group of Elite, extraordinary women.

The Association curates ‘Your Personal Board of Directors’ for each member to help these women assess and achieve their greatest goals, challenges and opportunities in their career and life. We have officially rolled out 20 boards across the globe in cities including New York, LA, the Bay Area, London, Boston, Madrid, Miami, D.C., Philadelphia and more, and will continue to debut new cities quarterly.

What it stands for is simple: it’s a non-girls club female organization. Yes, we are women, but we’re not just a girl’s club where you can chat and complain. We make a point with our structure and methodologies to see how you can extract value spending time with The Association. It’s less of a sisterhood, and more of an organization. We’ve built The Association into something that works for women by women in a way that’s applicable to society.

What does a day in the life of Lauren Imparato look like? How do you ensure work-life balance?

Having just had a baby in September 2022, I have a different day-to-day life than I did even two months ago. But whether it was pre- or post-baby, I know that work-life balance is a tough thing to find. That said, I make sure I talk to somebody I love every day, share a meal with loved ones and exercise every day. Usually the second I’m up, and often times before I start anything like having a glass of water in the morning, I’m talking to my co-founder, Janelle Hallier, who is based in Spain and 6 hours ahead of me. After we connect, I try to get some exercise in before I get back to The Association because we have teams on the west coast just about to start their day.

My days don’t have structure, but it’s emblematic of the life of a founder. Chaos can happen within minutes and things change quickly. As an entrepreneur, you need to pivot and be flexible, whether that’s in your personal life or with business.

I also make it a priority to turn off. In my first business I founded back in 2009, I never turned off or took a vacation. I worked seven days a week and was constantly on the edge of burnout (and trust me, I got there). Now with The Association, I make a point of learning from my mistakes and ensuring that when I’m on vacation, I’m 100% on vacation. That means I’m not on my phone between dinnertime and my coffee in the morning and instead I’m focused on being present. I trust my team I’ve built to keep the momentum and know they can do it without me while I take the time to regroup.

Looking back at your journey, what would you have done differently when starting out?

Honestly, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Not because I think I did it perfectly, but because the way I did it taught me so much along the way. The first business I did alone and didn’t have a co-founder. I purposely didn’t work with investors and turned down various opportunities. That led to a lot of extra work, challenges, and stress, but it taught me how to man the ship of a skilled business.

Now my cofounder, Janelle, and I work great together as a team. Looking back, I wish I would have had my own personal board of directors or an unbiased place to discuss balancing business, answer my questions, face challenges, and how to look at opportunities. But that’s why we created The Association, so women can now access that whether they’re an entrepreneur, VP, CFO, or artist.

Finally, what does the future look like for The Association? What are you most excited about?

The Association is in a big moment of growth. We have 20 boards across the globe which is incredibly fast in comparison to how long we’ve been at it and how meticulous we are with member acceptance. We’re about to hit a tipping point for growth which will really help change the fabric of working women and their careers. I’m most excited about the fact that we’re launching our first app and are planning our first global retreat. We have members around the globe that will meet for the first time which will add exponential power to the organization and these women, personally and professionally.

I’m most excited to be able to bring The Association to life for women who have been seeking out opportunities to connect with like-minded innovators in the way that both Janelle and I were looking for in our own lives. While there are countless women’s groups out there, there are very few that cut through the noise of negativity and competition to actually empower and energize each member to be the best versions of themselves. At The Association, we’re hyper-focused on uplifting the individual and the collective.

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Nikki Gal Exeleon Magazine Women

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