#9 Just Do It: Lauren Rinkey, Aggregator of Awesome, Artist, Marketer, Lady of the Swoosh

Lauren Rinkey

"There's someone you need to meet," my friend Sam shared with me. He followed up with an email intro that night. It isn't out of the ordinary that I'm connected by great friends who know someone I'd jive with, but my meeting with Lauren Rinkey at Kreation Cafe that Wednesday morning was beyond "jive." 

To date I had never met another woman in LA, that, upon first meeting, I saw more of myself in than Lauren Rinkey. It's her blend of business and play, corporate but entrepreneurial, meditation plus well-being focus, along with being the same age and a Jew-y transplant from cold places that solidified the kismet connection.

When we first met, I wanted to go on a 180 with Lauren and we brainstormed possibilities galore. It didn't drive forward then, but our friendship was reinforced through a shared love of building up businesses and passion for making changes to personally evolve each day.

I'm really impressed by Lauren's recent 180. From the excitement of working as a solo marketing consultant to the adventure of her dream role in Portland, Oregon at Nike. All of the twists and turns she made leading up to this big move knit a seemingly seamless package of a fresh start for Lauren. And Lauren had her eyes open to see that, despite the fear of a move into "corporate" and away from 300+ days of sunshine in Los Angeles, her dream job was hers to cartwheel right into. 

Lauren, you're someone who thrives off 180s. What is it about making big changes in your life that you find so exhilarating? 

I really do thrive off of 180s.

Firstly, I've always been fiercely independent. I suppose you could say I've always beaten to my own drum and always sought out adventure -- though in a somewhat calculated way. Secondly, I get bored easily. Not in the sense of I'm bored, I can't sit home alone, because I certainly thrive off of that too (perhaps too much), but what I mean is I get easily bored of some same people, places and things. I am perpetually curious and have a endless thirst for learning. Not learning in the traditional sense (I'm an MBA dropout), but in the sense of learning from doing, being, exploring. I feel most alive when I meet new people...experience new cultures...see new terrain.

I think we were put on this earth for a journey of growth; we were put here to evolve in every sense.

Tony Robbins spoke in a class I co-teach at USC this past year and he said, "If you're not growing, you're dying." That hit home with me in a big way. I believe that to my core. With that, impeding changes make me feel like I'm living in a live version of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.

There are so many paths...so many roads we can take. While it can be daunting, it's super thrilling. Another man I admire, Pete Carroll (Coach of the Seattle Seahawks), was another guest speaker in my USC class, and confidently said "I live my life thinking something good is just about to happen to me". This totally struck a chord with me too. I truly believe I live this way. I totally believe "you get what you give", and what you put out in the universe gets sent right back to you. Knowing this, I try to give my best always, and I live with this idea that uncertainty will likely bring some awesome things my way. 

The majority of people I know like to have their lives well planned out -- to know what the next 1, 3, 5 and 10 years look like -- as knowing this puts them at ease. For better or for worse, for me, the thought of that (knowing what's ahead) actually scares me (and totally depresses me). So the very notion of taking -- or tackling -- 180s when I want or need to is part of the way I design my life. We are all ever evolving, and the beauty of that is that we can make choices based on what feels right to us in each new moment. Bottom line: I have a far greater fear of being on a linear path in which I can see miles or years ahead than I do a fear of being on a non-linear path in which I don't know what's next. I thrive off of NOT knowing what might present itself next. That's what keeps this one journey we have on this planet interesting!

Share with us a few of your 180s and let's hear about the most recent!

180 for lifestyle...

Oh girl. My adult life has been all about 180s. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN and decided to go to school is Texas, while most of my friends were going to schools in the Midwest. At 20, I moved from Texas to NYC for an internship at Sports Illustrated without having ever stepped foot in the city prior to that. By 26, I realized, NYC was not the place for me. It was no longer fueling my soul. To be honest, I saw so many women - 5, 10, 15 years my senior - and just saw them on this same wicked city-driven hamster wheel that I was on-- work, eat, drink, repeat. And they weren't happy; they lacked real meaning in their lives outside of their careers. I didn't see how that was going to be different for me unless I changed things. So I 180'd to LA where I lived life healthfully, was closer to family, and in an environment I loved -- a place that beyond the beautiful weather was home to big thinkers, dreamers, doers, creatives, and every day there was an endless variety of diverse experiences to take part in. On any given night, you can choose to go to a house party in Venice featuring insanely awesome under-the-radar musicians, an Awards Show in Hollywood, or a networking event full of people vying to be the next Evan Spiegel. LA was where I realized that I loved living my life surrounded by a unique cast of characters who each share a common vision (to dream big), but from wildly different perspectives.

180 for a relationship...

I then 180'd to Chicago, technically for a boy, but I was fortunate to have had nearly all of my childhood best friends living there as well (which was especially good when the relationship with the boy went sour). I learned A LOT about myself during that time period -- my quirks, my fears, my insecurities -- WHOA. This was my first real look in the mirror. I ended that relationship (my first really serious one) and my first real job of seven years within a five-day period. Talk about an identity crisis. WOWZA. Brutal, yes, but something every twenty-something needs to shake them up at some point. :) At that point, Chicago, and the monotony of the Midwest, was absolutely not fueling my soul. While many were wonderful, I dated some of the most basic men ever...in which their favorite vacation destinations were the likes of Naples, FL and Scottsdale, AZ (both lovely cities, but as "if you could go anywhere in the world" destinations, consider me out). So, as a single, funemployed twenty-something, essentially free as I'll ever be, I wisely embarked on a two month journey around the world, with no real plan in sight. I booked flights as I went throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia, often meeting friends or friends-of-friends along the way. I saw new people, places, and things. And I began to feel like me again...the fiercely independent woman who somehow totally let that side of her go for a bit.

Career 180...

While overseas, I thought about where I wanted to live next, asking myself "If you could live anywhere...where would you want to be?" I decided I want to live on the beach -- so that's what I did. I returned home from my travels, told my friends and family I was moving back to Cali, and had no real plan in place. I crashed at a friend's house temporarily, started consulting for start-ups, and slowly began creating the life I wanted. Professionally, I was a bit lost as I was burnt out from my last job and wasn't sure if it was the corporate world, spirits or events that I didn't want in my life anymore, as they all blended together. All I knew is I wanted to work on projects I believed in with people I cared about. So I started doing just that. I quickly learned the types of working environments I liked and didn't like. And with each wrong step, I gained a new learning. And such is life. I learned that while I love being alone in my free time, I love being part of a team in my daily work life. In 2012, I was seeking more freedom and autonomy in my work life and by 2014 I was seeking some more structure and camaraderie. I was also getting more clearly defined on the types of jobs and companies that interested me, but with none of those having solid opportunities in sight, I just kept moving forward, taking meeting after meeting, day after day, because in my eyes you never know who you may meet next. And life is funny that way. In 2014, at SXSW, I met some folks from Nike in an intimate dinner party environment. We connected and stayed in touch over the year, and while Nike has always been my #1 dream brand, I never considered Portland (where Nike WHQ is based) as a city I'd live in; it really wasn't even on my radar as I had no real connection to it. Months later, I got involved in the brand building stages of a start-up modern meditation studio, based in...you guessed it...Portland. So, I spent some time up there and got to get a decent feel for the city. Still though, I loved my life in LA and wasn't considering a move. Fast forward several months later, and I get a call from Nike asking if I'd be interested in this newly created position on a fresh, new innovation team -- aka my dream role. I read the job description and literally responded with: "This is crazy. Did you design this for me?" So, with that, I had some very tough decisions to make. I took one beautiful, sunny long weekend in LA to give it some real solid thought and decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. The Swoosh! My dream brand. Working at the intersection of digital x innovation x culture x global events x hospitality x consumer experience design. Portland is a rad city with a killer dining scene, good music scene, and the great outdoors. It would still be West Coast living...and an easy plane ride back to LA (and SD for family) to get my fix as needed. So I did it. I listened to the brand's famous three word slogan, and quickly made the move up to PDX last month. This one has felt like a big jump. Bigger than the others in the past. I'm not sure if that has to do with my phase of life or the distance from my comfort zone (friends and family), but it feels like lots of change at once. In any case, I'm loving it. So far so good. We'll see what this new chapter brings!

Your 180s have led you to a lot of solo travel and city changes. What's something you learned about yourself in these endeavors that you wouldn't have known had you not made the 180s? 

So much. Wow. This is hard to narrow down to one thing. I've learned that traveling and experiencing new terrain pushes me into a flow state -- the present -- the now, and I crave that feeling. I've learned that discomfort can be a good thing. I've learned that I'm extremely comfortable with being alone and that being alone and being lonely are two very different things. I've learned I'm a true ambivert - generally introverted, but can pull out the extrovert card as needed. I've learned that my views about myself are not necessarily how other people view me. I've learned that people do not fit into boxes. I've learned that that vulnerability cultivates connection. I've learned that I'm extremely fortunate. I've learned that nothing is certain. I've learned that I only have room for good vibes in my life. I've learned that the paths we choose can take us on unexpected awesome life adventures. I've learned that we have the power to craft our lives however we desire.

What are your passions in life? How has your 180 change(s) supported you in pursuing your passions?

Learning. Traveling. Dining. Fitness. Wellness. Arts. Culture. Creating. Innovation. Discovering New Music. Live Events. Hospitality. Meeting New People. Connecting People. Crafting Unique Experiences. Building Community. 

At this point in your most recent 180, is there one thing that the community could do to support you? Or that I (Jordana) can do?

Jordana can continue to be the bad ass woman that she is. She can continue to build a community of bad ass women like herself and she can continue to include me in that despite my new hometown distance. I have never looked at distance as a barrier (quite obviously). If I need to hop down to LA, Austin, or Miami for an occasion, a meeting, or a date, I'm in! Again, I don't like rules, limitations or falsely conceived constraints. They make me angry. Breaking those false beliefs and barriers makes me happy. We are so fortunately global and have the luxury of technology and aviation to help us cultivate a community of bad ass, creative, heart-centered visionaries. And I thank you, J, for being a true leader, creative force, and force for good. The world needs more of you!

If you love Lauren as much as I do, connect with her on Twitter.