Words I live by are “Every ‘no’ is one step closer to a ‘yes,’” and “The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the reward.”
Every life is a story. Loren Stephens is a storyteller. An accomplished writer, speaker, teacher and president of Write Wisdom Inc, her career has been marked by outstanding achievements in fundraising, film and theater production, corporate finance and the non-profit sector. Loren has cultivated donors into some of the most high-profile philanthropists in the country as a development executive for organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and the University of Judaism. Loren’s experiences and personal connections with her memoir clientele have established her as an eminent and well-respected leader in the literary and philanthropy communities.
After completing her own mother’s memoir, I Turned A Key and the Birds Began to Sing, in 2000, Loren created her company, Write Wisdom, Inc. to offer guidance for those interested in writing a memoir or life story. She and her team of seasoned journalists and editors recognize that within ourselves are experiences that can inspire others. Serving as a professional coach, editor and writer, Loren eloquently facilitates a completed manuscript and published book through her Provenance Press, Inc. division. Her reputation as a gifted listener and considerate interviewer has helped her clients create a lasting legacy of their lives for generations to come.
Loren Stephens holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Government from Cornell University, as well as a Masters from the School of Public Policy and International Affairs at Columbia University, where she was an Alice Stetton fellow.
An active member of her community, Loren mentors women through Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), and participates on the Speaker’s Bureau of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). She is a strong supporter of her alma mater Cornell University through their Alumni and through the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, where her family has established an acquisitions fund in honor of her late father, Seymour Meyer.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on four autobiographies with my team of journalists. We are in the process of conducting interviews for three of them, and one is in the printing/binding stage.
I am also organizing “Reinvigorating Your Writing Practice,” a writing workshop for both first-time and advanced writers.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
When I was a development executive at an international human rights agency, I interviewed my mother and wrote her memoir entitled I Turned a Key and the Birds Began to Sing. She became an overnight sensation when the book came out. I realized that others might get the same exposure and excitement after publishing their own life stories, and established Write Wisdom, Inc. in 2000.
What does your typical day look like?
First, I check my email and answer inquiries from my website about my company Write Wisdom and our services. Then I eat a quick breakfast and read the daily paper (yes, I still read a physical newspaper!).
I usually have an interview scheduled with a client. Afterward, I spend the rest of the day writing up my notes, working on a draft, and touching base with former clients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life through perseverance and creativity. Words I live by are “Every ‘no’ is one step closer to a ‘yes,’” and “The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the reward.” My father always told me that if his business was easy, everyone would be doing it. That was great advice.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am thrilled by the democratization of the memoir/life story genre. I believe that everyone has a story to tell. Memoirs are not just for celebrities, but for anyone who wants to share their experiences, wisdom and advice with others.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Before Write Wisdom, Inc., I had a multiplicity of careers: charity work, book editing, investment banking, development and documentary filmmaking. Throughout all of them, I learned not to be afraid to ask for what I want. I used these experiences to make sure I would not make the same mistake when I established Write Wisdom, Inc.
What is one business idea that you are willing to give away to readers?
I have an idea for a GPS for your luggage. I recently flew to Albuquerque and it took the airlines three days to locate my luggage. They told me it was “not in the system,” but I remembered seeing the baggage claim guy at the curb put a sticker on my luggage. I was truly incredulous! It turned out that it had never gotten on the plane in the first place. If anyone would like to work on this with me, please let me know.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would end the prostitution of minors in third-world countries. If I knew the answer to how, I would definitely be doing it.
Tell us a secret.
I have taken Cabaret singing lessons for the past five years. I love it because it is not unlike finding your inner writer’s voice. It requires complete focus, which relaxes me because I do not have to think about my “to-do” list.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1. YouTube. If I need to know what was on a newsreel during the Korean War, I go to YouTube and there it is.
2. Pinterest. It is a great way to organize my ideas, and I love seeing all of my inspirations arranged beautifully in one place.
3. Google. Memoir writing requires a lot of research.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. If you have had a bad day or feel like you want to give up, this book will tell you otherwise. It is a very exciting and inspiring read. I am so glad that Hildebrand focused on a runner/pilot during World War II.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@NYTimesDowd – interesting Tweets from New York Times Op-Ed columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author.
@HuffPostArts&Culture – I love to keep up to date with the arts community.
@BOMBmagazine – Interviews with authors and artists.
@NewYorker – Lively reporting and criticism.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
One of my clients is originally from Brooklyn, and she and her family used to spend the summers in the Catskills. She has fabulous comedic timing and paints a vivid picture of the “blouse man.” Priceless!
Who is your hero?
I have many heroes: my clients. Every person whose story I have written has overcome physical, emotional or financial challenges. They are all inspiring.
What can I do today to help someone?
I am blessed with an incredible network of business and personal friends and I can share my contacts with others, especially professionals who may need a little bit of encouragement.