Lauren Eckhardt – How Your Unique Story Can Connect with Thousands
Nonfiction Authors Association Podcast | October 5, 2022
‘So how are we spending our time? And is it in a way that actually makes an impact on this world, or leaves this world a better place, or helps us connect with our purpose?’
Lauren Eckhardt is an award-winning, and best-selling author and ghostwriter who is passionate about helping impact-driven souls capture their life story in a meaningful book. Lauren founded Burning Soul Collective in 2020, after 12 years in the human resources field, to work with aspiring and career authors in pursuit of sharing a powerful and deeply impactful story or message. Burning Soul Collective is a SoulStory company led by passionate creatives and authors who will help you turn your life stories into a powerful book that sparks positive change in the world.
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In this episode…
- How to own your life journey and your personal strengths.
- How to make your story into a movement.
- How reflecting on your life can bring you closer to your purpose in writing.
- How finding your purpose can help you connect to your audience on a deeper level.
- Why every memoir can serve as a healing memoir.
- Important questions to ask yourself when writing your book, in order to connect with your audience in a deeper way.
- Advice on publishing your memoir.
- Three tips to get you started on writing your memoir.
Hello and welcome to the interview series for the Nonfiction Authors Association. Today’s session is with Lauren Eckhardt and we will be talking about how your unique story can connect with thousands. I’m Carla King, your host, and I’m happy to have you with us today. This interview will last only 30 minutes and you can find the replay on our Nonfiction Authors Association website and social media platforms including YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
And now I’d like to introduce our guest.
Lauren Eckhardt is an award-winning, and best-selling author and ghostwriter who is passionate about helping impact-driven souls capture their life story in a meaningful book. Lauren founded Burning Soul Collective in 2020, after 12 years in the human resources field, to work with aspiring and career authors in pursuit of sharing a powerful and deeply impactful story or message. Burning Soul Collective is a SoulStory company led by passionate creatives and authors who will help you turn your life stories into a powerful book that sparks positive change in the world. All good stuff. Hi, Lauren. Welcome to the podcast.
Lauren Eckhardt 0:54
Hi Carla, thank you so much for having me today.
Carla King 0:58
You were in Human Resources for 12 years, and you must be pretty conversant with, let’s say the human condition, okay. So does that relate? Or how does that relate to what pulled you into founding BurningSoul Collective to work with memoirists, I suppose. Mostly, right?
Lauren Eckhardt 1:12
Yeah, absolutely. That ended up being my passion. You know, like you said, you deal with so many different situations, especially across multiple industries–one of the toughest being the healthcare industry, was one of my biggest challenges within human resources. But one thing I noticed is this consistent theme. You know, people really struggled, in those moments, to own their life journeys, to own their strengths, to own their unique traits and what they’re able to bring. We prepare for job interviews, right? Like–how to write the perfect resume, how to have the perfect job interview, what exactly you need to say, how you need to ask. And so you would notice just this trend of everyone coming in, and you can be like, ‘Well, you could really tell who did their homework.’ And, you know, on a surface level, it was, ‘Great–good job, you did what you’re supposed to do.’ Usually they would win over the hiring manager.
So what broke my heart is that we would hire people in, and then I would get to know them, and I’m like, ‘None of what I know now about you showed up in the job interview. And it’s really a shame that it didn’t, because you’re amazing. And you bring a lot of these unique traits and skills that could actually benefit this position and make it better.’ And that’s kind of sad–that we’re taught to fit into this box. In this case–what the job tells you who you need to be, what you need to do, instead of owning how we can actually come in and make it better.
But it’s been like that since grade school, right? We’re graded on how perfect we are and every single subject to fit into the perfect student box. And we miss our own traits, our own strengths. And all of that shows up in your life journey. It’s all about bringing you to who you are today–the person that you’ve been shaped into. And there’s so much beauty, and empowerment, and inspiration that happens when those stories–those journeys–are shared with other people. It’s a shame that we’re kind of taught to not share those–to not embrace them. To not own them for what they are.
So when it came to launching a Burning Soul Collective, that was really a part of my mission. I want you to be seen and heard for who you are, and not for who you think you’re supposed to be in this world.
Carla King 3:30
Well, thank you for that. You’re giving us career advice, too. For those who are job seeking, get a little personality in your resume, right?
Lauren Eckhardt 3:38
It goes a long way.
Carla King 3:41
It does, doesn’t it? And I just want to point out this term that you used that made an impact on me, which is the word impact. You used the phrase impact driven souls. My mind goes all kinds of places when I read that. What does it mean to you? How does it relate to the business and what you do?
Lauren Eckhardt 4:00
I think a lot of us–I mean as souls, if you take away our body, right–a lot of us have this purpose in this world, really. We’re searching for a purpose or a place. We use impact driven souls related to Burning Soul Collective, of course, as a name, but it’s really about those who have identified that, ‘This is what I want to do.’ This ownership of that, unfortunately–it’s not morbid, it’s just the truth–that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. We’re not guaranteed an hour from now, we’re not guaranteed a minute from now.
So how are we spending our time? And is it in a way that actually makes an impact on this world, or leaves this world a better place, or helps us connect with our purpose? And there are people who have identified that, and especially in relation to this desire to share their story. They don’t see it as this necessarily self serving act that they’re doing. It’s truly, ‘I know I need to share this because I’ve seen the difference it makes in other people’s lives, and I want to help more and more people.’ Or, with a lot of what we teach is even how to take it bigger. It’s not just sharing your story. How do you actually bring that into a movement, per se? Or to make it a bigger impact by weaving in your strengths and other elements. But it’s the people who understand that we are here to make a difference. And I want to do that. And it starts with sharing my story.
Carla King 5:26
This is what we get to the heart of in writing workshops, and coaching, and all that–is how your unique story can connect with a universal truth. So I suspect when I ask you that–when you help people tell their unique story, you’re trying to help them connect with their universal truth. So can we talk about that a little bit? Is that the big secret? Or do you have other techniques to make their unique story connect with thousands of readers?
Lauren Eckhardt 5:55
I mean, that’s of course it, right. That’s a golden key a lot. But it is really connecting with them on the idea of–it’s not just the experience, it’s not just the event, right? It’s that connecting the emotion, the empathy aspect, that allows people to see their own life. It’s that reflection–the reflection of their life and your stories that’s so powerful. And what we really, really focus on are those periods of transformation through your life–rather good or bad. But you identify the significant events, and whether you were the cause of that event, or if the event happened to you, right? It works both ways sometimes with the significance. And what was truly the impact of it on your life, but moreso, what was that transformation?
My favorite quote in the world–the quote is, ‘No man is a friend, no man is an enemy. Every man is a teacher.’ And I love that quote, because it really looks at–what if you viewed every person in your life as, ‘What am I supposed to learn from this person?’ Whether they’re in your life for five minutes, or 50 years, right? Or every experience in your life. It has shifted the way I view even a bad day. Like I had a really bad day, and instead of going, ‘Wow, this is a really bad day,’ I looked at–what am I supposed to learn from this? And all of that adds to your transformation–your growth in life.
So being able to reflect on your past life journey, and really identify the significant events, but even deeper–the transformation that actually happened within you. Again, whether positive or negative, because it works both ways. Being able to share that, and be in a vulnerable and authentic place–that’s what really helps those connections. It allows a deeper level of connection than just keeping it very surface–like, ‘This happened, this was the result,’ etc. Now, what was the actual transformation that happened as a result of who you are? And honoring your weaknesses that played a part as well, right? We’re not perfect, it’s okay to admit that. So really pulling back the layers to do so.
Carla King 8:16
That’s a tough thing to do. And I know in writing groups–sometimes in the best writing groups–there’s a lot of crying that goes with this. And a lot of realizations. Because the writing process–for me, and I’ve heard other writers say this–and I think it was Joan Didion who said, ‘I don’t know what I think until I write about it,’ right. Do you see that?
Lauren Eckhardt 8:36
Amen. Yes. But there’s so much beauty, especially in memoir writing. A lot of my clients–they’ve gone through years of therapy, right? With essentially the topic or the situation that really affected them. And they are like, ‘I’m good, I’m in a great place now, I can write about this.’ But then it’s–once you write about it, and see things from a totally different perspective than what you have before, you shift even more. There’s so much more healing that happens as a result. There’s just a different approach to it. And writing is what gets you there.
Carla King 9:09
And the healing memoir is tough. I mean, there’s a genre of healing memoir. I am an adventure traveler, and I do adventure travel memoirs, and I know a lot of people do business memoirs. And I know that I–and people who have written business memoirs–also sometimes get to that spot. It’s like, ‘Wow, I didn’t even really know it was happening here.’ Do you think every memoir has a healing memoir aspect to it?
Lauren Eckhardt 9:36
Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s your life though, right? Again, I find that’s just part of your growth–is that you’re able to heal from so many different things throughout your life as well. It’s new perspectives though, too as you continue to go. I always say that every day you’re alive, you become a better writer, right? Because you experience new things, you gain new perspectives. You see new interactions that happen or learn something from someone new.
You become a better writer every day as long as you stay aware, and you pay attention. And I think because of that, we are finding new ways to continually heal, the more we know, and the more we’re able to see things from different angles. So, honestly, I feel like you can’t really write a memoir without some part of being healed in some way.
I actually had that conversation today with a client. We’re working on her memoir for the first time, and she was talking about how she realized once she was forced to take care of someone she loved–like step into this caregiver role–that she went from not having a voice, kind of shrinking away from the spotlight for years, to suddenly having to own her voice to be an advocate for this person that she loved. And that helped her find her power again. And when she said that, I was like, ‘Oh, I never looked at that before.’ Because I always said my biggest life changer was when I had my kids, because it gave me a new why that I never had before–to do the things that I do. But what shifted–and I didn’t realize it until she said it–was my voice became stronger. Who I am became stronger, because of the situation the time goes deeper, right? I had to constantly use my voice to advocate for them. And that helped me become stronger and who I am more set.
Carla King 11:30
I love that because you just made me think–I mean, that’s almost what we’re doing as writers, when we’re sharing our life lessons. Is stepping in as an advocate. Saying, ‘Okay, now whether your business or tech,’ whatever you’re writing about, ‘Here’s the mistake that I made. Here’s the journey that I went on.’ And that’s the rule of storytelling. I mean, the universal truth of storytelling is that you’re taking lessons from somebody who has come before you, right? And learning how to do better, or be a better person, or heal.
Lauren Eckhardt 12:05
Absolutely. And that’s why it’s so powerful to exchange those stories. I think, at least when the–and you might experience this too, Carla–when people find out what I do, one of the first things they say is, ‘Oh, I don’t have an important enough story. I can never write a book or share any stories. There’s nothing that happened in my life.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you lived. You live, you have stories.’
There are things that–I can guarantee–happened in your life, that brought you to who you are today that shaped you, that aren’t just things that you should discredit as not being important enough. I think a lot of people tend to look at things as, ‘If I don’t have a ‘big T’ Trauma in my life, it’s not worth writing about.’ Or, ‘This is not a story that’s going to help anyone, or impact anyone.’ But it’s a lot of those just everyday things, and again, by sharing them, we help each other realize we’re not in this alone. Or that there’s hope if I take one more step in this direction, and don’t give up, right? Doesn’t matter how little those experiences are. They can help someone else.
Carla King 13:08
And that goes beyond a legacy book, right? Because oftentimes, people write books for their families, or for an organization, to just target that audience. How do you broaden a legacy book into something that reaches outside family–outside the realm of people who know and love you already? Outside of the historical significance to just those people?
Lauren Eckhardt 13:35
I think it’s really knowing, ultimately, who your book is for and who it can indeed impact, right? And then you’re really looking at–what do they need to hear? What’s going to help them? I always say, what’s the point in their life?
I always do an Island A and an Island B analogy. Are they on Island A and they really want to get to Island B? If so, why? What is it on Island A that they want to get away from? What’s the vehicle to take them from Island A to Island B? And then what’s on Island B? And really writing in that realm–bringing it to life from a physical sense into your words–of how can you reach those people through what you include in this book, so that the message is impactful and gives them that hope of–’This is how I can live in a completely different way,’ right?
Because even those individual legacy family books–again, it’s–you were moved by that person’s life. And it’s important for other people to be able to honor that too, in the same way, and have the opportunity for the same impact. There’s so much you can do within that–with even just spreading the message on a bigger scale, right? Like podcasts, and other opportunities to get the word out there.
Carla King 14:47
Do you have any author stories to share with us? Can you do that?
Lauren Eckhardt 14:52
One of our authors, Jennifer Hobbs, she’s the author of a memoir called Calmed. It’s about her time as a combat vet, and some of the difficult situations they experienced during the war, and then having to come back. She’s incredible because she looks at things as post traumatic growth–how can we now take what we experienced and make a difference in our lives as we adjust back to what’s normal? And what’s really cool about what she did is that her memoir has been able to touch the lives of so many combat vets. One of our freelancers was on a plane to go to an event, and sitting next to someone who was talking about being a vet. And she’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, one of our authors just wrote this book.’ And he’s like, ‘I read it.’ He started getting really teary eyed about that connection.
I mean, she’s had so many situations like that from all across the US. But what’s really cool is that she went on to create a program that’s not just for combat vets. She thought outside the box and is like, ‘Who I really want to be able to help are the families of combat vets. To give them the tools on how to best communicate with the combat vets for every single stage that they’re in. Whether they’re fighting right now, or when they come back home, and they’re trying to make the adjustments.’ So she was able to take it a step further in a different way to be able to affect them. And it started with her book. And now she has this incredible program called Found that helps.
Jillian Bright–she wrote The Trouble With Wings, a beautiful travel memoir. And now she hosts retreats for women all over the world, to be able to inspire them and give them hope on finding themselves. Her book is about finding and stepping into their true purpose.
Susan Maples, author of Brave Parent–she speaks at conferences across the country about child and health development. She’s really created a movement behind this airway health mentality. And it’s just cool. I mean, it’s really all about, ‘I wrote this book. But what else can I do with it? How can I bring the message to new audiences in a different way that appeals to them?’ Susan, right now, for example–she wrote her book, and now she’s looking at writing a workbook, that then gives busy parents very actionable steps that they can apply each and every day. Versus just the information on why this stuff is important. So there’s always more. She wants to do a cookbook. and all these other cool things.
There’s so much you can do. And it starts with sharing your message, sharing your story, and then just growing from there. And we see authors doing that constantly.
Carla King 17:33
This is awesome. I did a podcast interview with Cheri Kephart not too long ago. And she’s a memoirist–ended up writing two other books. And she’s on her third, which builds on her healing memoir. So she wrote her book as an exercise in healing and self discovery, but also to share. And then she used it as a platform building tool. And we just heard from Ted Weinstein–a literary agent–who won’t take an author unless they already have a platform by writing articles, and everything. I just wanted to ask you–how do your authors publish once they’re finished with these books? Is self publishing enough? Do they do the whole query letter thing and get a traditional publishing house? I mean, what are you seeing happening in this memoir space when it comes after the writing?
Lauren Eckhardt 18:29
For many people, it’s going to be their personal preference, right? That’s something that we constantly coach on. We can’t follow anyone else’s path.There’s so many variables between the differences in goals, and values, and what’s important, that you have to choose what sounds good to you.
We see a lot of people just tend to go more into the self publishing space, just because–specifically in a traditional publishing level, as I’m sure you know–you have to have that following, right? You have to have that proof of that following. And that prevents a lot of people from even thinking about sharing their story. Because–I mean, especially as authors, right–it’s really the marketing, the promotion side. That’s just something we’re like, ‘We just want to write.’ We don’t want to do all of that. And of course, you have to. You have to be able to reframe how you approach marketing in, ‘I poured all this time and energy. I have a passion behind sharing this story. I want to get it in front of people it’s meant for.’ And just reframing it in that way.
But I would say most people tend to go for more for of the self -publishing. And so we are really teaching on–make sure you’re doing every step right and professional. Do not shortcut it. But it’s what’s most important to you. And I find a lot of people really like this idea of being able to get their book out faster, on top of it.
So I would say those are the two things. They don’t really want to spend all that time in advance building these huge followers to be able to win over traditional publishers. So they like the aspect of self publishing. But the other thing I say with that is–one of the best things you can do while you’re writing your memoir is to start building up your audience. Don’t wait until your book is out there, you don’t need the proof afterwards. Take Glennon Doyle–she was known for her blog posts before she wrote her book. It’s such a powerful way to build that community in advance. And then it makes your book so much stronger, because you know which one of your blog articles/posts are connecting with your target audience the most.
I might have my person wrong on this, but Malcolm Gladwell keeps coming to my mind. I think he was the one that–he builds his books based off the popularity of his blog posts, is that right? And I love that. Because then you know exactly what’s resonating with your audience so that your book is even more powerful.
Carla King 20:44
Well, thanks for that. And thank you–we are always urging authors to publish independently, professionally. That’s the key word. Take the time, don’t just put it up on Amazon, make sure that it’s been edited, and that it’s a real story. So thanks for that. And kind of got off on publishing, as I was thinking about the end goal. But in the writing the book part of it, I wanted to ask you about your advice. A tip or two about–what’s the best writing advice you can share with us to inspire our memoirist audience to get down to work?
Lauren Eckhardt 21:29
The best is hard.
Carla King 21:31
I know, right? Top two, or one, or three.
Lauren Eckhardt 21:34
Let me think of three. Number one is–you have to know your why, right? I mean, you have to know your purpose. And one thing that I’ve realized throughout my own experience–and the experience of my clients–is that you have to make sure it’s a deep enough why. And not just a common why. If it’s not driving you to complete your book and stay on track, your why is not good enough. That’s what it comes down to. You have to pick one that’s going to anchor you to the dedication and commitment to write this book.
Because what happens–every time we declare a goal, declare a dream–and it happens with every single client. There has not been one client that I’ve worked with where this hasn’t happened. They say, ‘I’m writing my book, I’ve signed up, I’ve committed with you.’ Suddenly life throws everything at them. It’s like an avalanche of situations and things that happen. It never fails. That’s why people give up. That’s why some people don’t complete it, or it takes 10 years.
So–is your why is strong enough to anchor you to that? Where, even when the world is falling apart around you, you’re still on track to doing what you want to do. And if it’s not, you’ve got to reevaluate that.
Number two is having very, very clear goals. Having very clear goals that are set. You have to have a goal in mind. Are you finishing one chapter per week? And then, how does that week look? Are you actually writing it for the first three days, and then you have one day of revision, one day of research, and then one day of bringing it all together again? You have to have very specific goals of what everyday looks like, and how your time is actually going to be dedicated. And you need–with that–a proactive plan, knowing that things naturally arise in your life.
What are you going to do to offset those obstacles that have occurred time and time and time again–standing in your way? What are you going to do to be proactive the next time it shows up? What’s your plan? And we talk about so many of those things in our programs. Let’s give you all the tools and the techniques, because again, it’s different for everyone, right? And everyone’s motivated by different things. You’ve got to find what works best for you.
Carla King 23:52
Great, thanks for those tips. That makes a lot of sense–a lot of sense. That commitment to writing–just writing it down, and making that commitment, and scheduling it out, right? Just putting it on the calendar.
Lauren Eckhardt 24:05
It’s simple things like that. So we have a program called the 30 Day Writing Challenge. And the point is to really get on track to write your book. It’s not to complete your book. If you complete your book in 30 days, that’s great. I always say you have to make sure it’s a true reflection of who you are. I mean, if you’re able to dedicate 30 days and a lot of time, you might be able to do it. I never rush the process for the sake of it.
But this 30 Day program–it’s really how to set you up with the right habits, the discipline–a lot of writers, they forget about that discipline part, right? We always like that motivation–the muse–to strike us. But the discipline, the consistency, is what makes it happen. So it’s helping you create that structure, put in the right goal setting techniques, the time management, prevention tools throughout. But again, it’s really finding the ones that work specifically for you. But it’s effective because it’s like, ‘Okay, these are very actionable steps that I can put into place for 30 days.’ And it makes a difference to kickstart your writing journey. So you have to have the right tools and techniques.
Carla King 25:13
Alright, where can we find that? And where can we find you on social media, and everywhere on the web?
Lauren Eckhardt 25:19
So our main website is burningsoulcollective.com. You can go on there and you can see all of our programs. Our 30 day Writing Program’s on there. And then our bigger one–our Soulful Author Journey Program–is on there as well. And that’s a full walk through writing, publishing, promotion, everything you need to do–like we were talking about earlier with publishing. But then you can also follow us at burning soul collective on Instagram, burning soul Collective on Facebook, and then we are on YouTube as well, and we like to provide some free trainings on YouTube.
Carla King 25:50
Sweet, thank you so much. And thanks for being our guest today, Lauren.
Lauren Eckhardt 25:53
Thank you, Carla, for having me.
And thank you to our listeners for joining us today and every week. For a list of guests and topics just check our schedule on the site, use your favorite search engine, or better yet, sign up for our mailing list at NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com.
Quotes from our guest
‘And that’s kind of sad–that we’re taught to fit into this box. In this case–what the job tells you who you need to be, what you need to do, instead of owning how we can actually come in and make it better. But it’s been like that since grade school, right? We’re graded on how perfect we are and every single subject to fit into the perfect student box. And we miss our own traits, our own strengths. And all of that shows up in your life journey. It’s all about bringing you to who you are today, the person that you’ve been shaped into. And there’s so much beauty and empowerment and inspiration that happens when those stories, those journeys are shared with other people. It’s a shame that we’re kind of taught to not share those to not embrace them to not own them for what they are.’
‘I want you to be seen and heard for who you are, and not for who you think you’re supposed to be in this world.’
‘So how are we spending our time? And is it in a way that actually makes an impact on this world, or leaves this world a better place, or helps us connect with our purpose?’
I mean, it’s really all about, ‘I wrote this book.’ But what else can I do with it? How can I bring the message to new audiences in a different way that appeals to them?’
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