DREAM CATCHER: LAURA PROBST
Corporate philanthropy consultant Laura Probst of Do Good. Make Money. got her start while working for a women’s empowerment group in Johannesburg, South Africa, helping women learn sustainable skills as an alternative to prostituting themselves and their children. She quickly realized that the long-term payoff of running their own businesses did not diminish the urgency the women felt to meet their immediate needs. She negotiated an arrangement for Woolworth’s to donate their slightly damaged and almost-expired food to the group. This helped the women feed their families, and Woolworth’s was thrilled by the solution to their inventory issue and the resulting good press. The company immediately started asking what else was needed, offering clothing, bedding, and additional supplies. It was Laura’s aha moment: If you can make doing good make sense for a business, then they will be glad to do more of it. Laura went on to work in fundraising and strategic partnership creation, attend law school, help her firm start a pro bono practice, and consult for various non-profits, including Step Up Women’s Network, before ultimately circling back to start her own referral-based consulting firm helping companies, causes and individuals do well by doing good.
What are three words that best describe your company? Nimble. Discerning. Results-oriented.
Five years from now I see myself and my company… Helping more high-profile individuals create purpose-driven brands. There is a lot of room in the purpose-driven brand space, and we’ve been fortunate to get some great early work there, so I think that will be where we focus next.
I gave up _____ to pursue my dream: Money! I had to take a big pay cut for that first consulting gig with Step Up, but I knew I was going to love the work and that it would somehow lead me to other things. And it has!
The key to balancing it all is… Recognizing that there is no balance. There are just times when you focus on different things, but there is no way to do it all at once. If I’m going to have a great business year, no question, I am going to spend less time with my kids. If I prioritize my kids, we’re not taking on as many new projects.
What makes you different from your competition? We are hands-on and really roll up our sleeves with our clients, working as an extension of their team. We don’t just deliver strategies – we get in the trenches with our clients to execute against plans and hold our team accountable for results.
My best advice, in one sentence, for launching a venture is… Do what you love, let everyone that loves you see your work, and you’ll get the right support you need to take off.
Best piece of hiring and/or firing advice is… Hire to your weaknesses and fire quickly – no good comes from holding on to a bad hire.
My best asset is… My loyalty and dedication to every project and every client.
My worst trait is… My perfectionism.
I always outsource… Accounting and calendar management.
The best people to work with always… Take time to give constructive criticism. I love when clients take time to give feedback on ways to improve – it means they care, they like the work I am doing, and want to help me do even better.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
What are three words that best describe you? Driven. Loyal. Passionate.
When you go on vacation you always… Journal every day.
My favorite TV show…The Americans.
My favorite band is… Mazzy Star.
My favorite food is… Pink Lady Apples.
I am most proud of… My family’s vacation vase tradition. When my husband and I got married, we wrote down every place we wanted to go in the world but had never been and put the pieces of paper into a vase. We each got ten picks. We pull from the vase on the first day of every new year, and that’s where we go on our big family vacation that year. We’ve taken our three children to Namibia, Mongolia, Chile, Singapore – so many amazing places and such fun memories.
Lately I’m inspired by… Brené Brown and her dialogue about vulnerability. Really good stuff.
My favorite candy is… M&M’s!
One thing I hope to pass along to my children is… Curiosity and compassion.
Being a mom and an entrepreneur means… Feeling fulfilled on every level. And being completely sleep-deprived.