Photo Credit: Daniel Soderstrom
Meet Laura Adrian, a Minnesota-based business and wellness coach empowering people to navigate everything life throws their way. Using non-invasive and practical tools, Laura helps people create a life they’re excited to show up for. Whether hosting a nature retreat or helping clients build their business, it’s clear Laura is passionate about what she does! Keep reading to learn more about Laura’s inspiring journey into entrepreneurship!
Tell us about Whole Life Elevation.
My business Whole Life Elevation is an offering of events, coaching, and retreats to help people live with their whole hearts as they journey through life. My path has been totally eclectic. At first, I fought this (why can’t I be normal and just choose 1 thing?!), but now I love it. It is totally a melting pot for creativity.
I weave together modalities that I’ve studied such as yoga, meditation, EarthWork, shamanic healing, mindfulness, energy healing, craniosacral therapy, somatic therapy to create events that make a difference in people’s lives. I am very practical so I emphasize how these modalities can make a concrete difference in the day-to-day.
Right now I offer anything from nature retreats to women’s earth gatherings to workshops on managing emotions to business coaching. Really this business is an expression of creativity—it’s the intersection of what people need, my skills, and what the universe wants from me.
The Early Days
Describe your childhood in one word.
Describe your childhood personality in one word.
When you were a little girl what career did you dream of having “when you grow up”?
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. In high school, I wanted to think about life for a living—like a philosopher—pretty close to what I do now!
What was your first job?
Babysitting at 11 years old.
The Learning Years
Where did you attend college?
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
What’s your degree?
Double majored in Chemistry and Environmental Science. Fun Fact—I changed my major officially 6 times. I was first Elementary Education and went from Social Studies Education to Biology to Wildlife Biology to Geology and so on. I have a lot of interests.
What was your first job out of college?
Research Chemist at Ecolab.
What did you do before starting Whole Life Elevation?
Chromadex Analytics—measured with 99.7% precision the quantities of nutrients in vitamins and supplements. HELL
Grasslands Consulting—Wildlife Biologist for tracking and monitoring endangered species in Colorado and Utah. Hiked 10-20 miles per day. Exhausting.
Stratus Consulting—Data Analyst for the lawsuit against BP for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Boring, but meaningful.
3M—Research Chemist for the Renewable Energy Division. Developed anti-icing coatings for wind turbines. Sounds cooler than it was.
The Entrepreneurial Years
What year did you decide to start your own business?
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own business
After I did my first yoga teacher training when I lived in Boulder, Colorado I wanted to be a professional yoga teacher. I loved yoga and it had a profound impact on me. I believed in my heart that if more people did yoga the world would be a more peaceful place. After teacher training, I worked at 3M. The best way to describe it is I felt like my heart was dying there…or in really any job I had had since college. I FELT that I wasn’t wired for the kind of jobs I was working.
How is your business different today than when you first started?
When I first started I was only teaching yoga weekly classes and doing 1-1 healing work with CranioSacral Therapy. Since then I’ve actually stopped teaching public drop-in classes.
I actually realized I like teaching around themes and I like offering deeper experiences such as workshops, retreats, and the annual Earth Medicine Women’s Gathering. In addition, my 1-1 sessions are much more eclectic and integrative. I weave together modalities that I’ve been trained in since such as somatic therapy, Vortex Healing, Reiki, meditation, EarthWork, and shamanic techniques.
What three lessons have you learned running your own business?
-Learn to love the process. There were so many times in my business when things weren’t working well. I would have 1-3 people in my classes or workshops. I would feel like a failure. Every now and then I’ll have an event with low sign-ups. Now I feel connected to the process and I’ll usually run the event anyway and have a great time doing it. I look at it as a learning experience and a way to refine my skills.
-Working more doesn’t mean better results. This is something I’ve learned recently and it has shifted the way I work (and play). Last year I worked like a crazy person 50-60 hours per week. I was working a few part-time jobs plus working in my business. I was trying to save money for a retreat property as fast as I could. It was exhausting. I could really only do it for a short time before I hit a wall and realized it wasn’t working.
Eventually, I dropped most of my hours working part-time and actually capped my hours at 30 hours per week. I actually work a little more than 30 each week, but that’s my goal. Since doing that I’ve been 10x happier, I’ve SAVED more money, and I’ve come up with offerings that are super fun and unique. I’m still saving for the retreat property, but I’m doing it in a way that is incredibly joyful and in alignment with my skills.
-Trust in my heart. For a long time, most of the years I’ve spent in my business actually, I had been following formulas of what I should and shouldn’t do. One example of this is teaching regular yoga classes. At the beginning of my biz, I liked teaching weekly classes, but over time I’ve felt less excited about teaching weekly classes. I continued to teach regular classes for a while, thinking I “should” do it. BUT what I noticed is that I like to go deep into themes and weave modalities together. That’s where the real magic is for me.
I recently gave myself permission to stop teaching weekly classes and it has felt so freeing. I can put that energy into creating new workshops and retreats which feels enlivening and energizing to me.
What’s next for your business?
-Follow my heart—no holding back! There have been a few ideas brewing including a weeklong yoga + nature retreat (Mexico, Alaska, or Crete’s Southern Coast are my top picks!), create a podcast, online course on money, and month-long courses on various themes. Give myself full creative permission to try things on and follow my heart.
-Cultivate inclusivity in my programs. This has been at the forefront of my goals this year. I’ve become increasingly knowledgeable and passionate about social justice issues. I want my business to be a vehicle for social justice. This means offering scholarships to people with income, people of color and indigenous people. It also means collaborating with folks to look at how we can create safe spaces at events.
-Work less. I know—crazy! But I’ve been working my butt off for the past few years. My goal is to work 30 hours or less per week so I can have more time to meditate and practice yoga. I also want to start setting up my business so I’m able to take time off to travel to Asia and study with teachers I’m drawn to. This means I’m going to need to hire people to help me with things—which is scary, but necessary.
What’s your strongest skill set that’s helped you succeed?
Probably the skill to learn from my mistakes and not take it so seriously. When things go wrong or don’t go as planned I’m usually the first to admit it and brainstorm what to do in the future.
On this journey, who have been your three most supportive people?
Not many. David Nelson, my best friend, has always believed in me. Marie Forleo who is a business mentor of mine— I took an online course from her called B-School which changed my life. The next probably my meditation teacher Mark Nunberg, who has deeply supported my spiritual practice with honest no BS feedback.
The Bumps in the Road
Have you had any hardships or setbacks in your business or personal life?
There was a particular time in my business when I had recently left 3M and started full-time in teaching yoga and offering 1-1 healing work where I hit absolute rock bottom. I had burned through all my savings and I had a serious case of Lyme Disease. It was summer and yoga classes were very small. This forced me to get a job working as an online chemistry tutor. At the time I saw it as a huge setback and I wondered if it was a sign to give up, but now I see it as a beautiful act of self-care—doing what I needed to do to feel safe and secure.
How did you overcome them – did they make you stronger or learn something new?
I am much more cautious about money now and I don’t view having part-time work to supplement my dream job as a weakness.
All About You
Did you always dream of owning your own business or was it a surprise on your career path? A surprise for sure. Didn’t cross my mind as a real career option until I was in my early twenties and realized that working for someone else stifled my creativity. Since owning a business I’ve had a couple of astrological readings say that I’m wired to own a business—individuality + creativity.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Meditation and yoga but both of those are technically related to my work. I love nature, hiking, and camping (also technically related to my work). I’m a total foodie and I love to cook. I’ve also taken 4 improv courses at HUGE Theatre—it was super fun and also terrifying. Interestingly I think I am a much better teacher and healer from these class and I don’t take things so seriously.
Describe your career path to-date in one word?
Anything that has to do with social justice and climate action
Age you’d like to retire at?
Work until I die (out of passion)
Travel location on your bucket list?
Many. Burma is top on my list—I’d like to spend some time meditating at a monastery there in the next year or two. Aside from that Bali and Peru. I really haven’t traveled much, so anywhere would be amazing!
Introvert or Extrovert?
Introvert, some people think I’m an extrovert because I love talking, but I need alone time!
Night owl or early bird?
Favorite podcast, YouTube channel, or blog?
Favorite business book?
Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt was extraordinarily helpful for me to cut down on my hours.
Favorite business tool?
Who are three female entrepreneurs you admire?
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