Lauren Marie Galley is an award winning teen mentor, TEDx Speaker, Amazon Best Selling Author, a recognized 2016 Changemaker by The White House for the State of Women Summit, 2017 UN Youth Delegate, a full-time college student and President of Girls Above Society, a non-profit 501©(3) organization dedication to empowering teen and tween girls to be confident while maintaining positive morals and values as they navigate the tough pressures of today’s media driven society. Lauren travels throughout the U.S. speaking at schools, universities, corporations and organizations on the topics of body image, leadership skills and self-confidence. Her signature “GIRL TALK” curriculum is designed to empower and inspire girls by raising awareness, developing communication skills and cultivating self-respect, when in turn empowering girls to create change in their world. After three years of creating, testing and collecting data, “GIRL TALK” launched in Ohio’s Massillon ISD 2016-2017 school year and will serve as the model for additional schools across the U.S.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
After being severely cyber-bullied in middle school, I realized that “mean girls” had become a severe problem amongst my peers. Our school made us sit through anti-bullying presentations, but they never felt relatable or realistic. I remember thinking to myself “I wish someone our age would stand up and do something about this.” That’s when I realized… Why should I sit around and complain about society when I could be the one to do something about it? After sharing my story to several local organizations and schools I realized that self-esteem is at the root of this problem. If girls knew how to be self-confident, we wouldn’t have the issue of mean girls.
Tell us about your business.
When girls are confident and know their self-worth, they can better navigate the tough pressures of today’s media driven society. GIRLS ABOVE SOCIETY is a 501©3 organization empowering young girls to lead with confidence, transform negativity into self-worth within a peer-to-peer safe space and starting the face-to-face conversations about the pressures girls face today. Girls are tethered 24/7 to a media that shapes girls and we work every day to ensure girls gain the tools of empowerment that allows them to blaze their own unique trail of greatness online and in person that inspires others. We are starting a new revolution of Girl Power.
- I am a contributor to Huffington Post and worked with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation as a selected Channel Kindness Reporter.
- My TEDx Talk titled #TextMe – The Elimination of Human Interaction gives a powerful look at the effect modern technology has on shaping the communication within today’s youth.
- My Ambassadorship with Secret Deodorant’s Mean Stinks Campaign in conjunction with Teen Vogue gave me a powerful platform to continue empowering girls to end the girl-on-girl bullying for good.
- Proctor & Gamble’s “Niceness Pays” $10,000 scholarship was awarded to me in January of 2016.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in Huntsville, TX.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first few steps I took to get Girls Above Society up and running was to start sharing my story locally, create a website, and develop the GIRL TALK curriculum. The first time I gave a GIRL TALK it didn’t even have a name yet. After seeing the success I had with the girls, I started brainstorming on what to call my new organization. I came up with the name Girls Above Society because an ideal Girl Above Society is so busy being true to herself and accomplishing her goals that she is totally unaware of society’s unrealistic expectations. In order to reach as many girls as possible, I created a website and developed a signature curriculum based around leadership and self-worth.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
The most effective way of raising awareness of Girls Above Society has been word of mouth. I never realized how many kind, caring, and selfless people there are out there until I started my non-profit. By traveling and speaking, I have gotten the opportunity to meet so many different people who are more than willing to help me grow my business without expecting anything in return. I will never forget these people, and therefore it is my goal to do the same thing for younger generations. If we don’t support others who are doing their best to make the world a different place, whatever their plight may be, then we will never truly see change.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My biggest challenges so far have been time management and not allowing other’s judgements and opinions to knock me off course. Being a full-time college student and running a business has proven to be extremely difficult, especially considering how important my grades are to me. However, this has taught me time management skills at a young age which will come in handy later. The other challenge I have faced is my “friends” judging me for pursuing my dreams. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my peers say things to me such as “Why are you wasting your time with this? Just come hang out with us!” Or my favorite, “She’s just doing that to make herself look good.”
How did you overcome these challenges?
I overcame the time management challenge by making productivity my biggest priority. Even if I only have 15 minutes free, I find something productive I can do in this time. By not procrastinating, I stay on top of things and manage to have free time occasionally, which I full heartedly take advantage of. “Work hard, play hard” has always been one of my mottos! When it comes to the negativity of others, I have had to learn to take my own advice. No one knows me better than myself, and I know that the journey I am on is one that is changing the lives of others. When I think about the special moments I have shared with girls in the GIRL TALK program, I realize that is all that matters.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I keep motivated during difficult times by imagining my future. This is a tactic I have used long before Girls Above Society came into existence. For instance, let’s say I am stressed about school and I’m studying for a test that seems impossible. I picture myself at graduation and realize that I will never get there if I don’t get through this test. The same thing applies to Girls Above Society. When I feel overwhelmed or as if I’m in a hamster wheel, I picture every girl in the United States going through the GIRL TALK Curriculum. I imagine that girl-on-girl bullying is no longer a primary issue in schools, and I’m reminded that in order to get there, hard work and passion needs to be put to use today.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
It’s hard for me to use the word “competitor” when it comes to my line of work because anyone working toward a more confident young generation of girls is someone I would work with and support, not compete against. However, there are several factors that make Girls Above Society extremely unique. The first, and perhaps most influential, is my age. I can relate to the girls on a level that others can’t since it was not all that long ago that I was in their shoes. The other is that the GIRL TALK Curriculum is video-driven. This creates a consistency across the board and makes the Girl Talk Leader’s job much easier with less preparation than other curriculums require.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice I received recently was to stop and appreciate the moment every chance you get. I, along with many entrepreneurs I’m sure, am very driven and always focused on accomplishing my next goal. Sometimes I forget to stop and appreciate the little things. I have made a conscious effort to do this more lately, and I have found that it is easier to find something to be happy about, such as how peaceful my dog looks while she sleeps or the way the sun peaks through the trees. It sounds cheesy, but recognizing the beauty around me makes my problems seem much smaller.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
My advice for other entrepreneurs would be to start today. I am so glad I started Girls Above Society when I did, because I have been able to make mistakes early on and at a young age. With every business, there is a learning curve, and you will make many mistakes. The sooner you start, the sooner you can get those mistakes out of the way and figure out what exactly your business looks like. What does it stand for? How does it change the lives of others? By creating a specific focus early on, you will feel even more confident about your journey. When I get an idea for Girls Above Society, I explore every angle right away before I give myself the chance to talk myself out of it.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My favorite business tool is my bullet journal. A bullet journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, planner, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all the above. It will teach you to do more with less. If you haven’t checked this out, I seriously recommend it! It may not be for everyone, but I recently started using one, and it has been a huge game-changer. I can already feel myself being more productive and using my time more wisely. Plus, it’s a great way to track my non-business-related habits, such as exercise or how much water I’m drinking. Your general well-being has a huge influence on your entrepreneurial skills!
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I am currently reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. I know I’m a bit late on this one, but I received it as a college graduation gift and am really enjoying it so far. The 7 Habits apply to not only business, but also life in general. I’m not even halfway through it yet and I already have a new perspective on judging others without knowing the whole story. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t picked up a copy yet!
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am currently learning about the public-school system and how school districts determine what programming they will use in schools. Since my curriculum is specifically designed for girls, I am looking for creative ways to get the girls alone for their GIRL TALK sessions. This has worked well on its pilot run in Massillon ISD in Ohio, so my hope is that I can use the same concept and strategy in other districts to spread the message of self-esteem and empowerment even further.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goal for the next few months is to have successful summer Girl Power Camps. My goal is to create new Girl Talks that have never been used before and to make sure that each separate group of girls gets a week jam-packed full of girl empowerment. Equal amounts of learning and fun is always my goal when running a workshop or camp. If even one girl’s life is changed by a Girls Above Society event, then my work is done!
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Hashtags #BeThatGirl #GirlsAboveSociety #GirlPower