Emerson College - Writing + Acting
Meet Lori Deschene, the founder of TinyBuddha.com, a website with simple wisdom for complex lives. Lori started out as a writer four years ago, working full-time for various start-up companies. She now freelances for magazines and websites, and also runs Tiny Buddha. In addition, she’s currently writing her first book, based on the wisdom from tinybuddha.com, which will be in stores next fall.
Lori grew up in Massachusetts, where she learned early on that success and busy-ness were the most important things in life. She was an overachiever all through adolescence. A straight-A, perfectionist, spread-too-thin stress case who needed to be the best at everything. She wanted approval. She wanted to do everything right. She wanted to feel valuable. Most of all she wanted to be happy.
After two decades of standing in her own way, she decided to get out of it.
So she ran away from everything. She spent months wandering all over this country like a feather in the wind. She held dozens of jobs on both the east and west coast, giving herself the perfect excuse to avoid forming relationships. She called herself evolved when really she was just afraid. She didn’t want to challenge herself; she wanted to escape herself.
Then she realized: all her problems started in her thoughts and beliefs. Her attitude created pain in everything she experienced. Nothing felt as joyful as it could because no matter where she went, she took herself with her.
It was then that she accepted:
-She will never know everything, but she can learn something new every day.
-She will never do everything perfectly, but she can be proud of her willingness to improve.
-Life will never be perfect, but she can still be happy now.
-She won’t always feel happy now, but she can work to increase the ratio of happy to unhappy moments.
These four ideas are the foundation for everything Lori does, and they are what built Tiny Buddha.
Following your bliss isn’t guaranteed to be lucrative, but it is far more likely to make you happy.
How did you discover your current job?
I always knew that I wanted to write, but for a long time I had no idea how to start. I was working in mobile marketing, touring the country with promotional campaigns, when I got a unique opportunity to blog.
I had joined this walk-across-the-country tour promoting fitness products. My job was to walk the Iams spokesdog at various points throughout the cross-country trek. The other walkers all had blogs to chronicle their adventure. I pitched a “dog blog” -- exploring the country through the eyes of a yellow lab.
Iams loved it, and that was the beginning of a long journey toward where I am today.
I leveraged that blog into a gig writing for a ‘tween magazine, and then leveraged that into a copywriting job. Over the past four years, I’ve written hundreds of articles for popular websites. I am still an active contributor to Discovery Girls Magazine, for girls 8 to 12 years old.
I started Tiny Buddha two years ago to do something meaningful with my online presence. It’s been the most rewarding writing I have ever done; but I know I wouldn’t have been prepared to start the site had I not written for so many other brands and websites first.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
It certainly helped that I had some high-profile friends in the San Francisco Bay Area that supported Tiny Buddha from the beginning. With their help, I was able to expose Tiny Buddha to a wide audience on Twitter, which positioned the site for an excellent launch last year.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
My day starts at around 8 a.m. On most mornings, I meditate for 15 to 20 minutes, and several times a week I jog at the park down the street.
I work from home, and right now I work a lot, so most of my day I’m on my laptop in my little office area. Since I’m writing my book, I sometimes work straight through the evening until 11 p.m. I have flexibility, so every now and then I break things up with a hike or trip to a coffee shop.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love seeing comments about how much Tiny Buddha has impacted people’s lives. I put all my heart into the site, so it’s an amazing feeling to know it affects people in a meaningful, positive way!
What is the most challenging part?
Right now, my schedule is a little challenging. I have a lot on my plate between the site, the book and freelance work -- but I love what I do, and I know why I’m doing it. That’s what keeps me going.
What is one lesson you’ve learned in your job that sticks with you?
I have a few, actually, and you can read them here: 4 Life Changing Lessons I’ve Learned from Running Tiny Buddha
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
There are far fewer challenges for writers now than there were in the past. With the advent of the Internet, there’s absolutely no barrier to publication. Anyone can set up a blog and start writing. If you’re passionate and good at what you do, you have boundless potential to develop an audience and share ideas that matter to you.
Of course it’s challenging to stand out. There are millions of blogs on the Web, and some niches are more saturated than others. But social media allows for some unique promotional efforts and provides instant access to potential collaborators. If you’re driven and creative, there’s no limit to what you can do.
Who are your role models?
My parents, my grandmothers and anyone who lives their life in accordance with their own values.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
“If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.” -Buddha
What advice do you have for girls who want a job like yours?
My best advice for aspiring writers is to write as much as you can. In the beginning I did a lot of low-paying writing gigs for different websites. I’ve also written my share of guest posts for other blogs for no money at all. But all those writing samples will help you get work down the line.
Can you tell us three things you love aside from your job?
Yoga, theater and traveling
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just one more thought: Conventional wisdom says to do what you love and the money will follow. I’ve learned that isn’t universally true. Following your bliss isn’t guaranteed to be lucrative, but it’s far more likely to make you happy than the alternative. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?