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Laura Gisborne: From Poverty to Philanthropy

A story of transformation from abuse and poverty into profit with purpose

Published Date:May 30, 2017 | Blog Category: eWomenNetwork
eWomenNetwork, Phyllis Smith

Laura Gisborne's story is truly one of rags-to-riches. Raised by a teenage mother in poverty and the violent death of her father, Laura climbed her way out of the dark side and started the first of her nine companies when she was only 23 years old. She is dedicated to giving a percentage of all of her profits to charity, and requires that of her clients as well. Laura's story will shock you, and inspire you to live your life with purpose. 


Watch the video to see the entire interview with Laura or click here to listen to the podcast.

Highlights from My eWN Podcast Network Interview Laura Gisborne

PHYLLIS: Welcome to Spotlight on eWomenNetwork. We are the premier success system for women entrepreneurs. And I’m just so excited about how my show has transformed and we’re turning it into a Member Spotlight; we’ll spotlight only eWomen members. But we’re only really focusing on members who have amazing stories to tell. You know, the kind of stories where when you’re listening you go “Really? What?!” –that kind of story. But also really stories of success, so they’ve gone from “Rags to Riches,” or it’s a journey of extreme that takes them from one place, of you know, maybe dark despair or maybe some kind of quirky, crazy career into something of real success. Then we talk about some guidelines, some guidance, some advice. In the second half of the show, that person will also offer you advice to help you grow your business and succeed and plow through; teach you, give you that inspiration that you need to plow through whatever it is you’re going through to help you get to the other side. Someone I’m going to introduce you to today is actually one of my favorite people, her name is Laura Gisborne and Laura has a story that is wrought with abuse, but yet phenomenal success in where she is now. She is a beautiful woman, inside and out, and I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know her at eWomenNetwork.  She’s a platinum member, and she’s just an amazing human being. Laura, welcome and thank you so much for being with us today.

LAURA: Thank you, Phyllis, I’m honored to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

PHYLLIS: So, I mentioned that you started your life in a very dark place. [Chuckle] I, don’t know if it started from birth, but if you would kind of just give us that look into your past. You’ve written a book about it, so it’s not a secret, and tell us about… your past. About what you had to go through and survive to get to where you are today.

LAURA: Yeah, thank you for asking. And I would say, Phyllis, that my story really begins with my mother’s story. My mother was a teenager when she left home and she was on her own and fell in love with a young man who was also a teenager and found herself pregnant in 1965. She lived in an apartment with three other girls in a two-bedroom apartment, and made about $100 a week. She was really distraught when she found out she was pregnant and then two weeks after she found out she was pregnant, my father was stabbed and killed in a drug deal that went wrong. He was dealing drugs; he was 18. And you know, it just… I think that everybody involved here was doing the best they could, but they just didn’t have any resources and didn't have any access. And so, without being judgmental, abortion was illegal at that point. She tried to have a procedure and it didn’t work.
Obviously, I’m here, I would say God had a bigger plan. And she managed, but what happened through really all of my childhood is a series of, just experiences I say were tough for people in the developed world, you know? We do a lot of work internationally now, so these problems of child abuse and sexual molestation and poverty by American standards are different than what we see in other places in the world, but it was still a really tough journey. I knew that one of the things that I felt I knew as a child was that really, if her life could have been different if I hadn’t been born. You know? That so much of the struggle was related to her being a single mom, and then being in relationships that weren’t healthy and she just really never had a chance to work on herself and you know, it was just an ongoing struggle.

So, as a young woman, when I started having my relationships, you know, I lived with a man who beat me on a regular basis. I was severely anorexic, and I worked two jobs and went to school and just always tried to be more and do more and be enough - but it never really was enough, until I hit bottom. And a woman that I worked with came to me and said, “It doesn’t have to be so hard.” I didn’t really understand what she was saying, but she took me by the hand and took me to a place where I could start to get counselling on a sliding scale for you know, $25, because that’s what I could really stretch to do at the time. And somebody also handed me Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life –and that really started the trajectory of me seeing the world as a different place and getting help, and you know, thousands of dollars and many, many hours later, years later I would say, of a lot personal development, the life I live today is a life that I didn’t really dream of as a child; I didn’t know it was possible. And so, the work we do now with Legacy Leaders Global is to be able to help other young women and children in the world that just don’t know that it can be different. And, if we give them an opportunity and they want to have that opportunity to expand and grow, it’s amazing what happens.


PHYLLIS: Yeah and you’re such a positive person. I know that you’ve been experiencing some health issues with your husband, but yet you still come back and go, “Yeah, he’s still around.”

LAURA: [Laughs]

PHYLLIS: I mean, he’s here, and we have got, you know hopefully we have another fifteen years. So, you know, I just, it’s that outlook, but when you were growing in that environment…that positive attitude and mindset is so critical to surviving. Do you agree?

LAURA: Yeah. I do. I do, and it’s actually something I’m working on right now. I’m working on a TEDtalk actually around this; around resilience. Some people are resilient and some people shut down. I don’t know what that is. I think that I have a very deep connection to source and to God and have a deep faith, but again in the darkest hours, what I really realized, Phyllis, is in the darkest times, you know the times I was sitting on the side of the road, beaten up and just crying, I really was never alone. You know? I made it through. There’s a great give in having these really tough experiences that happen for us so that we can see that, you know, maybe the law of contrast; the beauty of it. And you just, you know, referenced my husband. My husband is 56 and just had an emergency quadruple bypass, about a week ago Tuesday, and you know, it’s a humbling experience. It’s a shocking experience. We’re very, very grateful that he got to the hospital when he did, and at the same time, you know, the sweetness that’s on the other side of living life full out, and watching him with our now-adult children have this incredible connection and communication, I think it’s the fabric of life. I think our lives are very, very rich.

PHYLLIS: What is it when you’re sitting on the side of the road, and you’re crying, is it retrospect that you had faith back then where you felt you weren’t alone? Like when you’re sitting there- when- I mean most of us when we’re curled up in a fetal position – [Chuckle] – Right? We think the world is coming to an end and… and it’s a very difficult moment. There is something that gets us out of bed.

LAURA: Yeah.

PHYLLIS: So, did you have that sense back then, or is there something else that came to you that made you get up and just move on?

LAURA: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m really thinking about, you know, being in that space and being in that experience. Today, I would say that I have children and I have motivation for family; for people that I love. I can see how that would get me through, right? But at the time I really was alone, you know? I was completely ostracized from my family and they weren’t healthy either, so it was really just... No place to go and I don’t know the answer to that, but I can tell you that I just… I looked to that to be the Divine, and I look to that to say that God had a bigger plan for me to be here, otherwise I wouldn’t. You know, otherwise I would have… I never had thoughts of suicide, I never had thoughts like “I don’t want to live.” And you know it was so many days, Phyllis, when you come from an environment when you are experiencing consistent abuse and neglect as a child. What I found is that other people that I’ve spoken to, right, over the years, is that it’s truly a survival. There’s something about getting up the next day, there’s something about “What can I do now?”

And since this the context of how we serve other women business leaders, there’s a place, too, of like, some days it’s not necessarily that same violence but it feels completely overwhelming. It feels like there’s so many things to do and there’s so many places we could be going. If we choose to go to a place where we feel guilty about it or feel bad about ourselves, we don’t make progress. So sometimes it’s just that next step and getting into action. So, I’d say, really being at rock bottom, from what I could perceive and feeling really alone as a young woman, what I could do is the next step. What I could do is get up and go to work the next day. What I could do is get up and go to class. I think I always had, because I wanted to get an education. Nobody in my family ever went to college, right, so my mother said to me as a kid, “You’re really smart. You can be a doctor or a lawyer. These are going to be your only tickets out.” Right? So, I knew that I had to go to community college, and then I had to get myself into state university, and then got into law school. Like there were these places of “What’s the next step?”, and I think in life, in business, when you look back, and this is present for me right now because of Scott’s situation, we were sitting in the emergency room… [Pause-eyes welling up with tears] Two weeks ago today, and uh… You know after we had the conversations about power of attorney and life insurance and where everything is legal, right? He looked at me and said, “If this is it… I’m good.” And I said, “Well, Okay… Thank you and are you sure?” [Laughs] And he said, “Yeah, I really am. If this is it, I’m good. I’ve lived so well for this short period of time, for 56 years.” and I said “Okay, and if it’s not it, then what? You know, if we get some more time, what do you want?” He said, “I just want more of the same.”

Transcription services provided by our eWomenNetwork member,  The Sweet Support Company

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Author, Phyllis Smith                                                                    

Content Manager, eWomenNetwork                                                      
Program Director, eWN Podcast Network                                                     

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  • Linda F. Williams, MSWon 08/05/2017 02:36 AM


    Your authenticity is refreshing. I have followed you since I located the literary agent business you had prior to focusing on your current mission. I was drawn to you because who you are was translated through your photograph - sparked something in my spirit and I felt an immediate connection. The video interview confirmed it.

    May God continue to bless you in all the ways it matters most.

  • Anne Garlandon 06/08/2017 04:40 PM

    Inspiring message of hope, courage and drive - God did have another plan for you Laura and for your husband too! I am happy to read you both are "good". Blessings

  • JENNIFER PHELPSon 05/31/2017 06:05 PM

    Great message! Thank you, Laura & thank you, Phyllis!

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