We interviewed Lora DiFranco, founder of Free Period Press to learn about her coaching experience centering on personal purpose. We’ve been hearing about the power of purpose for some time now. But, in this unprecedented time, leaders are finding that being able to tap into the power of purpose is the key ingredient to the employee experience. Here, we chat with Lora about what it was like to discover her purpose, and how it can help in her work and life.
Lora founded Free Period Press 7 years ago. It’s a paper goods company that is all about helping people unplug, practice self-care, and focus on the things that are most important to them, helping them out of the rat race of day-to-day. Some of the more popular products include the Habit Tracker Calendar, adorable stickers, the Schedule Magic Planner, and self-care and reflective prompts and journals.
Evan: A lot of the work around personal purpose starts with coaching, trying to sort through and understand your big questions. What are the things we can help people put their focus on to set a course forward? What led you to think about coaching in the first place, what triggered that spark to say, “maybe some coaching would help?”
Lora: I just went full-time with FPP in January 2020 and it took that first year of figuring out what my new routine was and where I wanted to take the business. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road. After a while I found myself getting stuck in the same rut asking, “Do I want to grow? Where do I want to take it? What products should we develop?” I found myself going in circles and I needed to get out of my head and talk to someone about this. Jen was the first person that came to mind. It was so helpful to brain dump all of the stuff your thinking and worrying about. It’s amazing how quickly it helps you get out of your head, get organized, and get some perspective on all of those questions you have as an entrepreneur.
Evan: I can recall when I was off working on my own. My solution was to team up with Jack and Jen so they could help me figure out the answers to those questions, but in your case not so much. You’ve accomplished so much already. In regards to purpose, how did the coaching questions about where do we go, how do we focus, the things you just mentioned, how did you lean into your personal purpose, and what was that process like for you?
Lora: The thing about being a business owner is there’s so much content out there and there’s shiny object syndrome. There are so many things you can be working on and marketing tactics you can be trying, it pulls you in so many different directions. I feel like I had strayed from why I had originally started the business and what I wanted to accomplish with FPP. Going through this personal purpose work, revisiting my values, strengths, vision for my life, and my business; it was so helpful to get grounded, remind myself of the big picture, and why I’m doing all of this in the first place. It has already changed the direction I’m taking the company because instead of focusing on the business metrics everyone tells you to focus on, I’m focusing on the company I want to build and the company I’m uniquely qualified to build.
Evan: That’s great. Maybe you could speak to this more like you mentioned, but one of the things Jen does, in particular, is finding the sweet spot between what matters most in your life and in your business. If you can unpack and discover that, it helps other things come to light. Where is the focus? How was that experience for you and how did it help you migrate away from the traditional business metrics to other decisions about your business.
Lora: There are a lot of things that as I was going into coaching seemed they were at odds with each other. For example, how do I grow a business, maybe hire employees, grow my product lines, but also keep the flexibility? I kind of like being a one-woman shop, having more ownership over my day, working from home. Those things felt at odds with each other. Through my work with Jen, it opened up the possibility that it doesn’t have to be either-or. There are creative solutions to all those challenges and you can create the dream scenario. You don’t have to give one thing up to achieve something else. It was the opening up to those new possibilities.
Evan: Yes, you feel less guilt about not taking the path that everyone thinks an entrepreneur should take – to scale the business until it’s xxx big. So how do I feel ok with that?
Lora: It’s really just creating a business that has a more unique story to it. Let’s say we have a thriving business, but it’s all remote. Or we have a thriving product business, but we don’t handle the inventory.
Evan: That’s great. So part of the process centers around being able to name your core gift. You don’t have to share specifics if you prefer not to, but what did it feel like when it came to finding all of these discoveries, things I’ve looked at and talked about come down to this one thing. What was that like for you and what did it feel like?
Lora: The phrase that we landed on for my core gift is “Utopian Tinkerer.” It comes down to me always thinking about what it means to live a good and full life. That’s what is always on my mind, though “Utopian” alone sounds philosophical and heady, that isn’t my style at all. I’m very pragmatic. I’m always experimenting with things, I’m trying things in my own life and trying things through FPP. That’s where the “Tinkerer” element came in. We circled around some different wording and when we settled on that, it really felt a bit like a Eureka moment, like peeling back the onion and we found something that was very much at my core. We found something that I had veered away from in my career journey. It felt like rediscovering some kind of childhood truth or nugget that was so true to who I am. It was a really interesting experience.
Evan: It’s not unlike what I’ve heard from others in this experience. They often take it back to their childhood, this thing that’s always been with them, this thing that has carried them through their career. It’s been hard to pinpoint what that thing is. When you think about that ah-ha moment, what you discovered, have you seen an impact yet on the way you go about your life and work or not yet, as it’s been fairly recent? What kind of results or impact do you see emerging from this work?
Lora: For me and for my core gift, feeling like being a “Utopian Tinkerer” is very core to who I am, I’ve already taken it forward and not been afraid to try different experiments. Keeping that “Tinkerer” mindset of knowing that just because I am making a decision, it doesn’t mean that it’s forever. Just trying out new things and Jen has really helped me with taking the first step in exploration. For example, if I’m thinking about moving into an office, it can be exploring different options and reaching out, it doesn’t have to be signing a lease. Big picture, it’s just having this framework has been helpful in business and life, thinking about what projects I want to work on and not taking on too much. Making sure I’m making my life as “Utopian” as possible.
Evan: I was wondering when you were going to bring the “Utopian” back in with the “Tinkerer”?! Who would you recommend this to given your experience, thinking about others that would benefit from this kind of work? Who should sign up and who should try this kind of work?
Lora: I think everyone would find a lot of value going through this process. Everyone could use that grounding experience of reexamining the path they are on and why, finding and reconnecting with their personal purpose. For me as an entrepreneur and a solopreneur, I definitely recommend that all business owners out there explore coaching because it’s so helpful to have an outside perspective and someone you can talk to about these things.
Evan: Great. Well, we appreciate your time, sharing your story, and your insight. We can talk about purpose a lot, but to hear from someone who has actually done it says a lot more. Thanks for sharing your story. We can’t wait to see what emerges for you as your “Utopian Tinkerer-self” and with Free Period Press. So many things are circling around leaders and business owners today, with the pandemic, the way things changed, and how it’s thrown chaos into our lives around work-life balance and things like that. What better time than ever to reconnect with those things and realize you are bringing your core gift to the world and there is purpose in there and how you can use that to help the launch forward. Thanks a lot and we wish you all the best in going forward.
Lora: Thanks Evan, happy to do it.
Are you looking to connect to your personal purpose? Whether you’re interested in our purpose coaching for leaders or our “power of purpose” retreat for groups, book a call to learn more.