A native Detroiter, graduate from Michigan State University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Lauren Clayborne previously served as the Director of Community Relations for the Detroit Lions and has since launched her own endeavor. During her tenure with the Lions, she was responsible for building the comprehensive philanthropic programming of the Lions organization and she manages these efforts with Detroit Lions players, Lions Legends, and the Detroit Lions Women’s Association. Previously, Lauren has over 10 years of corporate partnership experience with the Detroit Pistons, Michigan State University Athletics, and the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA) and corporate brand and advertising experience with General Motors. Lauren has been awarded many accolades including the 2017 Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence and is also the co-founder of Christian Emojis, an iPhone Christian emoji app. She puts her passion of helping others directly into her work. She currently serves on the Board of Women in Sports and Events (WISE) and Sparky Anderson’s CATCH Charity for Children.
In her own words:
1. What’s your most important career accomplishment to-date?
Creating a business that has thrived over the last 10 years and continues to expand and grow is my greatest accomplishment.
2. How have you redefined leadership through your professional success?
Leadership is not a straight and narrow road. There isn't a handbook for it or an Instagram hashtag to follow to learn it. I've always been unsuspecting. The one that people would look over and be amazed at the results. I've been given the number 2 paddle and worked my butt off to be number 1. The best leaders are people who serve first and my professional success has been living proof of that. Leadership doesn't mean you have it all together, it doesn't mean you walk around your organization like a Tasmanian devil and exude fear on others, it doesn't mean that you know all of the answers, or that you're always right. Leadership is the exact opposite. God gives grace to those that are humble. Those that are willing to learn, mentor others, willing to serve, willing to admit that they're wrong - that's what REAL leadership looks like.
3. Why is civic engagement (volunteerism) important to you?
Civic engagement is very important to me. Obviously, it's naturally placed in my job description, but it's definitely a value to me and it always has been. If we're only as good as the cities that we live in, why wouldn't you want to serve and tend to it? "Success isn't about how much money you make. It's about the difference you make in people's lives." - Michelle Obama
4. How have you disrupted the idea of traditional leadership? How do you express leadership?
Even though we are all amazing professionals, one thing that I've learned is that each and every person can be focused on work and the task at hand, but they're thinking about life in the back of their heads. With that insight, I know that your job and work is just that, but I think it's that much more important to develop leaders in and out of work. If we can't focus on the totality of a person's development, it's a real miss. If you're winning at work and failing at home...guess what? You're still losing. It's probably not always the preferred definition of traditional leadership, but definitely the most sustaining.
5. What is a blue sky goal that you would like to accomplish in your career?
My blue sky goal is to one day become a League Commissioner.
6. Why did you choose to pursue your passion/profession in Metro-Detroit? How do you intend to impact the region through your work?
I'm not sure if I necessarily chose Metro-Detroit or if it chose me. I've been in the area for the majority of my life and to see how it's evolved has been breathtaking. I believe if our cities aren't better because we're in it, why are we here?
I intend to impact this region by giving it 100% all of the time. Whether that be in my personal or professional life, I plan to be the best giver and leader that I can. A person that plants a tree may never see the fruit of the seeds sown, but if you're constantly thinking of others, serving in your community, willing to learn and grow, you can't go wrong with that. If you're doing to do it, you might as well kill it every time.
7. What do you love most about owning your own business?
I love owning Christian Emojis because it was an opportunity to represent Christ in a fun and innovative way. My business partner and I noticed that there were few emojis that represented Christ and Christianity and the vision was born from there. I love being able to share this passion project with others and to see others using it across the world is humbling and exciting!
Meet Lauren at the Vanguard Awards! Click HERE to join the celebration!