Laurie Gray – Founder of Socratic Parenting

[quote style=”boxed”]The most significant change is to come from a place of love rather than fear, and to look for my answers within myself rather than hoping someone else can tell me what to do, what to think or how to live.[/quote]

Laurie Gray is the founder of Socratic Parenting LLC and the author of three young adult novels (Summer Sanctuary, Luminis Books/2010, winner of a Moonbeam Gold Medal and a 2011 Indiana Best Book Finalist; Maybe I Will, Luminis Books/2013; and Just Myrto, Luminis Books/2014) and a parenting book (A Simple Guide to Socratic Parenting, Luminis Books/2014). An experienced trial attorney and child advocate, Ms. Gray currently works as a bilingual Forensic Interviewer at the Bill Lewis Center for Children conducting interviews in both Spanish and English and as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Institute of Technology (Indiana Tech). She has served on the faculty at the National Symposium on Child Abuse in Huntsville, Alabama, every spring since 2009.

Laurie Gray joined the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2000 as a full-time Deputy Prosecutor, Felony Sex Crimes division. She completed Sexual Assault Response Team Training and Childhood Trust Forensic Interview Training in March of 2000, and worked extensively with the multidisciplinary team at the Child Advocacy Center in Fort Wayne from its inception. After an extended maternity leave, Ms. Gray returned as part-time deputy prosecutor assigned to the Allen County Drug Court Intervention Program and Juvenile Sex Offenses though April of 2010. As the only local prosecutor who was fluent in Spanish, Ms. Gray worked as an interpreter in a capital murder case and translating documents on multiple extradition cases.

Ms. Gray received her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington in 1993 and began practicing as a civil attorney. Her private practice included personal injury (both plaintiff and insurance defense), workers compensation (both plaintiff and defense), medical malpractice (plaintiff only), labor and employment (defense only), immigration, criminal defense, and Court-Appointed Guardian Ad Litem or Attorney for Parent in numerous CHINS (Child in Need of Services) cases. Ms. Gray has served as an author and lecturer for various Indiana Continuing Legal Education programs and as the co-chair of the Women Lawyers Section of the Allen County Bar Association in 1998. She completed Civil Mediation Training in 2003 and has served as a court-appointed Spanish/English interpreter in both state and federal courts.

Ms. Gray graduated from Goshen College in 1986 with a B.A in Spanish Secondary Education and a minor in English Education. She spent her Junior Year Abroad at the University of Barcelona, Spain, and also completed a Study Service Term in Costa Rica. From 1986 through 1990 Ms. Gray worked as a Spanish Teacher and Foreign Language Chair at Whitko High School in South Whitley, Indiana. She also coached basketball, volleyball and academic teams and spent summers working as an interpreter in Guatemala.

What are you working on right now?

I have a number of projects that I am currently working on through Socratic Parenting LLC, which I use as my writing, speaking and consulting business. My second young adult novel launches on March 15, 2013, so I’m busy scheduling events and writing articles for that. The novel deals with sexual assault. Since April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the articles and events I’m working on will run through both March and April. I am also working on polishing my manuscripts scheduled for publication in 2014.

Where did the idea for Socratic Parenting LLC come from?

My husband and I are both attorneys, trained in the Socratic Method. When we most unexpectedly found ourselves with child (he was 60 and I was 38), I started asking some of the big parenting questions: What is Discipline? What is Respect? How do you raise a confident, caring child? I realized that these questions were very Socratic and began applying the Socratic Method to parenting in hopes of raising a child who knows how to think for herself. I read The Complete Works of Plato along with all of the typical parenting book and founded Socratic Parenting LLC  in 2005.

How do you make money?

It’s still much easier for me to make money as an attorney than as an author. I earn royalties off my books, collect speaking and consulting fees, and do contract work teaching and interviewing.

What does your typical day look like?

Wake up early, hopefully not before 5 a.m., and spend an hour or two before anyone else is up on writing, grading papers, or preparing presentations. My husband usually drives our daughter to middle school, so once they’re out the door, I’ll go to the basement and work out. I often watch a DVD or the Spanish channel (to keep my language skills sharp) while I exercise. Then the day could be more writing and working at the computer, or it could be volunteering at school, which a do a great deal of as the Vice President of our Parent Association, a lunchroom volunteer, coaching girls volleyball and basketball, co-chairing our spring book fair, and serving on the education committee. I also enjoy meeting other professionals for coffee or lunch to share ideas and inspiration. I try to keep most evenings available for family events, my favorite being a quiet evening at home where we have time to read together as a family. More often we’re busy with sports or other extracurricular activities our daughter is involved in. She’s a second degree black belt in Taekwondo and plays volleyball, basketball and soccer on her middle school teams. She’s recently joined a club volleyball team and has started rehearsals for the middle school musical in March. I like to be home for my daughter’s bedtime so that we can talk about her day, read together in bed before lights out, and stay connected. After my daughter is asleep I like to read in bed, if I can stay awake.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The ideas that speak to me tend to ignite either my curiosity or my passion. When that happens, I find myself reading everything I can about something which helps me to start articulating and envisioning the ideas for myself. Next thing I know it turns into an article, book, or workshop.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’ve started teaching online courses and have found them to be an excellent way to connect with others whose scheduled differ from mine or are not close geographically. Some of the discussions we have really help me to develop my own thoughts and ideas. The same is true of social media, blogs and online discussion boards. It is getting easier to connect with people all over the world whose values are similar to mine.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

The absolute worst job I ever had was working for my father on the farm. This included shoveling a lot of hog manure. When I was 16, I spent the summer tearing down a barn by myself. I was scheduled for surgery to repair a sports injury the summer after I started college so I wasn’t able to apply for a regular summer job. My father planted an acre of melons and I spent the summer weeding, picking and selling the melons at the local farmers market. It made me want to go to college and find a way to get paid to read, write and think! I also developed a strong work ethic, perseverance, and the ability to just dig in and get the job done.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Not a whole lot. I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve learned from them. Most of the mistakes I make are new and improved, as opposed to the same old ones. If I started over, I’d still have to make mistakes and learn from them. I might end up somewhere else entirely, and I’m not sure I’d want that. I am very happy with my life now and my prospects for the future.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Take the time to invest a very realistic marketing plan for your business. It’s easy to follow someone else’s lead and jump into someone else’s business structure. Take the time to develop a realistic vision and mission that fits who you are and who you want to become. Don’t buy into “pie in the sky” promises. Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst, especially when it comes to finances. Don’t give up your day job until you have a sufficient, steady business from your new business or you can get by comfortably for at least a year on your savings or spouse’s income.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I have thousands of Tokens of Change™ in my basement. It’s a wonderful product that I co-created back in 2007 thinking that I would make the investment financially and my partner would get out and sell the product while I continued devoting myself to my work as an attorney, author and parent. I’ve yet to recoup that financial investment, but it wasn’t more than I could afford to lose. I still have the product and am not ready to write the Token itself off as a failure, but I produced a very large inventory because it was so much more “cost-effective” before I really had the avenues to sell them. This has helped me tremendously to adjust my expectations with regard to books sales and I’m happy to say that I’ve never had boxes of my books just sitting in my basement.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If I had a million dollar idea, I’d be more than happy to share it. My idea for Socratic Parenting came from within me, based on my own curiosity and passion. As I look around me and see a need, I try to find a way to meet that need through my writing, speaking and consulting, and that is how my business is growing. That’s how you can find your business and grow it.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

The one thing that I can change is myself, and as I change myself, I find that the world around me changes as well. The most significant change is to come from a place of love rather than fear, and to look for my answers within myself rather than hoping someone else can tell me what to do, what to think or how to live. As I develop this habit or being myself, I notice that the people around me are more free to be themselves. Rather than competing from a place of fear, we begin to connect and cooperate resulting in exponential success for everyone involved.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

This question brings to mind a recent article in New York Magazine by Jennifer Senior titled “Why You Truly Never Leave High School” that’s been generating some discussion. As a former high school teacher, the author of young adult literature, and someone who has worked with kids professionally for decades, I tend to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Most people don’t know that I really hated high school. So much that I only went for three years. No senior year for me. Teaching high school for four years after college helped me to process a good deal of my own teenage baggage before moving on to law school.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

I use Facebook, LinkedIn, and HARO (Help a Reporter Out). I love being able to make new connections and keep up with friends and associates on my own schedule. Help a Reporter Out has been a very good way for me to market Socratic Parenting at no cost. I get three emails each weekday which I can scan through quickly and see if there is anything relevant to my field. Then I can contact the reporter directly and offer my expertise or input. I’ve made some good connections that way and been quoted as an expert dozens of times, some online, some in books, some even in popular national magazines. HARO is how I connected with Idea Mensch.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Regardless of whether you buy into Ancient Toltec Wisdom, if you make and keep these four agreements with yourself, you’ll become the kind of professional everyone wants to work with.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

One evening last week. My daughter caused it. She is by far my favorite entertainer. She’s got a quick wit and loves to make me laugh, especially at bedtime. Laughing ourselves silly or at least until we both have tears in our eyes is probably her favorite way to end the day. Mine, too, come to think of it.

Who is your hero?

My daughter is my hero. She is beautiful, brilliant, kind and capable. She inspires me to be and become my best in every way.

What is the mission statement of Socratic Parenting LLC?

Socratic Parenting LLC empowers all people to feel, think and act with their own spiritual awareness, clarity and confidence.

Do you also have a personal mission statement?

I do. It’s also one simple sentence: “I live and love with intentional gratitude and kindness.”

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