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Finding Your Voice: Lauren's Story of Music, Poetry and Entrepreneurship

Updated: Jan 11

About the Episode

In this podcast episode, Chris sits down with artist and entrepreneur Lauren Best to explore her multifaceted journey in the arts and entrepreneurship over the past six years.

Lauren shares heartfelt stories, including the inspiring influences of her grandmother and great-grandmother, and how their legacies have shaped her path. She also delves into her recent projects, which span poetry, music, and community initiatives, offering a glimpse into her world where creativity meets entrepreneurship.

The conversation is a rich exploration of the transformative power of music, the joy of community collaboration, and the learnings from her entrepreneurial journey, offering listeners a deep dive into the life and philosophies of a passionate artist and entrepreneur.

Key Themes and Takeaways

Personal History and Inspirational Figures

  • Influence of Grandmother and Great-Grandmother: Lauren shares the profound impact her grandmother and great-grandmother have had on her life, instilling in her a rich heritage of resilience and creativity that has guided her journey.

The Transformative Power of Music and Creativity

  • Personal Empowerment through Music: Lauren encourages individuals to redefine what "singing well" means to them, promoting a sense of play and personal empowerment.

  • Music as a Tool for Innovation: The discussion highlights how music can be a potent tool for fostering innovation and thinking differently, drawing parallels between music and other domains such as sports and language learning.

Entrepreneurial Journey and Learnings

  • Adaptability and Learning from Experiences: Lauren emphasizes the importance of being willing to change plans, adapt, and learn from both successes and failures.

  • Embracing Failures as Learning Opportunities: Lauren advocates for viewing failures and rejections as opportunities for growth, encouraging individuals to maintain a curious mindset focused on learning rather than rigid metrics.

Community Engagement and Collaboration

  • Collaborative Projects: Lauren shares her collaborative projects with community groups, highlighting the value of partnerships in enhancing the impact of initiatives.

  • Fostering Community through Music: The conversation touches upon Lauren's efforts to foster a sense of community through music, including her role and involvement a choir camp that celebrated music and community.

Looking Ahead

  • Future Projects: Lauren discusses her upcoming projects, including workshops for parents and entrepreneurs, and her new collection of poetry that will be released as sound art.

  • Voice Coaching: Lauren shares her passion for voice coaching, emphasizing its role in fostering self-awareness and enhancing communication skills.

Interview with musical innovator, entrepreneur and community builder: Lauren Best

00:00 - 07:04 | Introduction and Background

In this segment, Lauren Best shares her multifaceted journey as an entrepreneur, which began inadvertently during her high school years when she organized and promoted concerts, eventually getting hired to produce them.

This early venture into the entrepreneurial world led her to freelance work, focusing on communications and web-related tasks, a path that allowed her to maintain a level of independence uncommon in typical full-time jobs.

Lauren reflects on her decision to forgo university to complete her debut album, a collection of songs penned during her high school years. This period marked the beginning of her deep dive into the arts, as she enrolled in the Royal Conservatory of Music's artist educator program.

Here, she collaborated with artists from various disciplines, learning to integrate art forms into educational and community settings to facilitate different learning objectives, such as teaching math through dance or exploring social studies through music.

Lauren recounts her involvement in projects that leveraged music for cognitive development, including research on its impact on aging populations through video games.

She developed a growing interest in technology and interdisciplinary approaches to make art forms, particularly music, more accessible and beneficial to different groups of people.

She also shares her experiences teaching early childhood music and one-on-one lessons in piano and voice, emphasizing the empowering role of arts in individual and community development.

Lauren's journey has been significantly influenced by her engagement with theater for social change, a passion that has remained with her since her teenage years.

This segment sets the stage for a rich discussion on Lauren's diverse experiences and the transformative power of arts in education and community development, highlighting her continuous exploration of the potential of arts to go beyond mere celebration and foster deeper engagement and empowerment. It paints a picture of a creative spirit.

07:24 - 16:55 | Family Influence and Upcoming Projects

In this segment, the conversation delves deep into the profound influence Lauren's great-grandmother and grandmother have had on her, both personally and in her entrepreneurial journey.

Lauren shares the rich history of her great-grandmother, Lucy Winford Bryce, a relentless and pioneering figure who was a missionary in India and a PhD holder in sociology from the University of Toronto.

She authored several books, including a groundbreaking parenting handbook in 1933, which has become the focal point of Lauren's current Ontario Arts Council-funded project to create poetry.

Lauren expresses her recent realization of the extent of the influence her great-grandmother had on her, describing her as a relentless individual who pursued academic achievements while raising six children and continuing her scholarly work even after becoming a widow.

This spirit of perseverance and determination seems to have been passed down to Lauren, shaping her perspective on education and her approach to her career. Lauren also touches upon her great-grandmother's deep connection with India, her efforts in adult literacy, and her role as a principal at a Christian college in India.

She shares her excitement about discovering more about her family history through her great-grandmother's works and the letters exchanged between her great-grandparents and their children, which offer a personal glimpse into their lives and times in India.

This segment paints a vivid picture of a family lineage marked by strong, independent women who have left a lasting impact through their work and spirit, inspiring Lauren to forge her path with a sense of purpose and determination.

It sets a reflective tone, highlighting the role of family history in shaping one's perspective and approach to life and work, and showcasing the rich tapestry of experiences and influences that have guided Lauren in her artistic and entrepreneurial journey.

It is a testimony to the power of legacy and the inspiration derived from the relentless pursuit of knowledge and understanding, even in the face of challenges.

16:55 - 31:20 | Recent Projects and the Importance of Collaboration

In this segment, Chris and Lauren delve deep into Lauren's recent projects and her journey into entrepreneurship. Lauren shares her experiences of relocating to Owen Sound and initially distancing herself from the arts, only to later rediscover a demand for arts space programming in the area.

This realization led her to establish her own business, which celebrated its sixth anniversary at the time of the interview.

Lauren emphasizes the value of collaboration in her projects, highlighting partnerships with community groups to enhance the impact of their initiatives. She recounts her involvement in various projects, including workshops for seniors and people living with dementia, and arts programs for children in collaboration with the The M'Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre.

A notable recent endeavor discussed is a choir camp where Lauren facilitated workshops and one-on-one voice coaching sessions. The camp, attended by over a hundred people with varying levels of experience, was a celebration of music and community, fostering a space for creative expression and learning.

Lauren shares her philosophy on singing, encouraging individuals to redefine what "singing well" means to them and to approach it with a sense of play and personal empowerment. Planning for Choir Camp 2024 is already underway!

The conversation also touches upon the parallels between music and other domains such as sports and language learning, emphasizing the importance of exploration, trial and error, and personal growth.

Lauren advocates for a more inclusive and expansive approach to music, where the focus is not solely on perfection but on the joy and benefits derived from the process of making music itself.

Throughout the segment, Lauren encourages listeners to embrace a mindset of continuous improvement, whether in music or other areas of life, fostering a belief that one can always get better with the right guidance and a positive attitude.

The discussion paints a picture of a passionate artist and entrepreneur dedicated to nurturing creativity and community through her work, with a deep-seated belief in the transformative power of music and the arts.

32:34 - 50:54 | The Transformative Power of Movement, Music, Voice and Playing Squash!

In this segment, Chris and Lauren explore the deep connections between music, voice, movement, personal well-being and the game of squash!

Chris initiates the discussion by sharing a personal anecdote about a unique meetup that integrated jazz music to foster innovation and creativity. He also draws parallels between his experiences as a squash professional and the joy and learning derived from music, emphasizing the importance of fun, physical activity, and learning something new.

Lauren responds passionately, highlighting the multifaceted benefits of music and voice, including health advantages, stress relief, and fostering a sense of community and cooperation.

She introduces the concept of embodied cognition, illustrating how movement and music can facilitate different cognitive experiences and foster innovation. Lauren underscores the therapeutic effects of singing, which can induce a trance-like state akin to self-hypnosis, and foster social cohesion.

Lauren laments the diminished role of singing in contemporary society, urging for a reconnection with one's voice, which she views as a portal to self-awareness and a tool for effective communication in business.

She encourages people to nurture creativity as a skill, fostering a grounded and powerful mental state that facilitates better learning and innovation.

Towards the end of the segment, Lauren shares her recent endeavors, including the release of her poetry book "Just Leaves" and her ongoing projects involving poetry workshops and voice coaching for entrepreneurs.

She expresses her passion for liberating voices through a collaborative approach to voice coaching that integrates the mind, body, and creative conditions.

Lauren also mentions her podcast, "Infinite Improvisation," where she explores the power of improvisation, aiming to demystify it and make it accessible to people from various walks of life.

The segment paints a vivid picture of a passionate artist and entrepreneur dedicated to nurturing creativity and community through her work, with a deep-seated belief in the transformative power of music and the arts.

52:00 - 56:11 | Looking Ahead and Advice for Fellow Entrepreneurs

In the concluding segment of the podcast, Chris asks Lauren to reflect on her journey over the last six years and share advice she would give to her younger self embarking on an entrepreneurial path.

Lauren emphasizes the importance of adaptability, learning from experiences, and maintaining a curious mindset. She advocates for a perspective that values learning over rigid metrics, encouraging individuals to embrace failures and rejections as opportunities for growth and learning.

Lauren shares a recent realization that it is essential to celebrate successes intentionally while also being open to learning and iterating based on experiences. She encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to be prepared for failures and not to perceive them as setbacks but as a natural part of the experimental process of entrepreneurship.

Lauren suggests adopting a proactive approach to handling challenges, including scheduling time to "freak out" as a way to acknowledge and move past difficulties.

She underscores that feeling discouraged or facing failures should not be seen as signs of inadequacy but as integral parts of the entrepreneurial journey.

Lauren advocates for a resilient approach, encouraging individuals to keep moving forward despite challenges, likening it to putting on a jacket and continuing to walk in the same direction during a rainstorm.

About Lauren Best

Lauren Best lives where the Pottawatomi River meets Georgian Bay, on the territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (now known as Owen Sound, Ontario). She is an interdisciplinary creative with a multifaceted community arts practice interweaving her work as a poet, musician, and composer/creator.

Lauren left her small Ontario town as a young singer-songwriter keyboardist and returned to become Poet Laureate Emeritus (Owen Sound, 2017-2019). Lauren is included alongside other Poets Laureate Emeritus in the City of Windsor’s South Shore Collections series, A Manor of Words: Poetry at the Manor 10th Anniversary Anthology (Black Moss Press, 2022). Her poems are published in Spike: Poems in the Time of Pestilence (Cannon Creek Press, 2021).

Lauren’s 2010 chapbook Resound Re:Sound is a collection of lyrics written in Owen Sound between 2004-2008. Lauren’s music has been heard coast to coast since her debut album release in 2011, and she’s collaborated across genres and art forms with work in music, poetry, theatre, film and digital media.

During more than a decade of community engaged arts, Lauren has partnered across sectors spanning education, cognitive neuroscience research, healthcare, social service, and cultural organizations. In 2022 she teamed up with Seattle-baed saxophonist Steve Treseler to create the Infinite Improvisation Podcast.

Lauren’s new performance pieces combine poetry from her first full-length poetry book Just Leaves (2023), also available as an audio book, set within a soundscape of keyboard and vocal improvisation paired with lyric melodies.

About the Rural Entrepreneur Podcast Series

The Rural Entrepreneur Podcast Series delves into the stories of rural entrepreneurs, exploring their struggles, triumphs, and the driving force behind their perseverance. The conversations are profound and insightful. If you're interested in being a sponsor or guest, feel free to contact us or book some time with Chris.

Post interview thoughts from Lauren on LinkedIn! Thanks!

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