The Social Impact Heroes of Social Media: “I wish that someone told me that perfection is a scam.” with Gwen Lane and Candice Georgiadis

I wish that someone told me that perfection is a scam. Growing up, I was praised for good grades and being a high achiever so I tried to get perfect scores to continue getting that recognition. When I started my influencer journey, this was not a pro, but a con. Trying to get the perfect picture, using the perfect filter, and posting the perfect caption only led to one thing — procrastination. It kept me from putting myself out there because I was trying to be perfect. In reality, my audience could care less. They just wanted to see me, hear from me, and be inspired by me. And no photo or filter does that. It’s about the message and the story. I had to learn this lesson the hard way and I’m still a recovering perfectionist to this day.

As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gwen Lane, the founder of travel & lifestyle blog, The LA Girl. Since launching her blog in 2014, she’s partnered with brands like Disney, Facebook, American Airlines, Nike, Target and more. She’s passionate about helping other digital influencers make money and make an impact.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur and my first business venture was selling Airheads on the school bus in third grade. After getting in trouble because I was secretly competing with the student store, I evolved to selling Pokemon cards on eBay and making as much as $200 for a holographic card. I’d always find ways to make money with babysitting, tutoring jobs, and selling random stuff. After college, I had to get one of those things called a job. I did a myriad of things from teaching at a trade school to being a nanny, I always had a side hustle to make extra money. Most of my corporate experience in the past 12 years was working in advertising and digital marketing in the entertainment industry. I gotta admit, it was fun with lots of cool perks, but not very fulfilling. I started The LA Girl in 2014 as a creative hobby and I didn’t know at the time that it was going to be a successful brand. Since then I’ve worked with some of the most amazing brands out there including Starbucks, United Airlines, Chase, Capital One, Nordstrom, and so much more. I am so grateful to be able to partner with brands that I love and recommend their products to my audience. It took about two and a half years for me to replace my six-figure salary as a Marketing Director with my income from brand sponsorships. I knew that I had to quit my job because I was limiting myself to my salary and I wanted the freedom to own my time and travel more. While I was working, I started teaching at YouTube workshops and helping content creators monetize their platform. I quickly realized that this was what I really wanted to do. I started Spark Society to teach other influencers how to build their brand, grow their following and make an impact. I’ve helped thousands of influencers through my free community and resources, as well as my coaching programs. I wake up every single day, grateful and excited to be doing what I love to do and most importantly, making a massive impact in the world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

What I love about being an influencer is that so many random things can happen from getting invited to go to Vermont by Ben & Jerry’s to meeting Maria Sharapova at a dance class with a sunscreen brand. My favorite opportunity has been to go on a sponsored trip to the Philippines. As a Filipino-American, I’ve been to the Philippines before to visit family but have never experienced it as a tourist. I was able to visit the beautiful islands of Boracay and Palawan and see the country where I was born from a whole new perspective.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake that I made when I was first starting out was not having a media kit. A media kit is kind of like a resume for influencers that you send to brands when they are interested in working with you. It has your stats, follower count, channels, audience demographics, basically an overview of who you are and what your digital profile looks like. About six month into doing this, I was contacted by a fitness drink brand and they were wanting to partner with me. At the time, I had only gotten small deals with brands so I wasn’t sure if it was even paid. They asked for my media kit and I had to Google it and make one really quick so I didn’t have to tell them I didn’t have one! I used Canva, designed one really quickly and that resulted in my first $5,000 brand deal.

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?

I believe that as an influencer, my responsibility is to provide value to my audience and use my platform for good. Knowing my audience really well, they do care about social issues and they truly want to help. It was a natural fit to use my platform to build awareness for issues that I knew my audience cared about. I think that starting a conversation is the most powerful thing you can do. I’ve had conversations with my audience about mental health, being a sexual assault survivor, ways to volunteer in LA, and most recently I partnered with Clorox and The Laundry Truck LA to raise awareness about people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. The founder of The Laundry Truck LA, Jodie Dolan, first came to the idea through her volunteer work with Monday Night Mission and Shower of Hope. She said, “Seeing people have a beautiful and sometimes transformative shower experience, only to put their dirty clothes back on, gave me an ‘A-ha’ moment. Combining that need with our passion for clothing, I knew exactly how we could make a difference.” I am so grateful to be connected to Jodie and The Laundry Truck LA through Clorox’s What Comes Next Project.

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?

When I volunteered with The Laundry Truck LA in Highland Park, I was able to meet some people who used the free laundry service. I talked to a guy named Eric who relied on The Laundry Truck LA every single week to get his clothes washed. Every Saturday in Highland Park at the All Saints Episcopal Church, he would come to have a hot meal, a shower, and clean clothes. While it’s something we often take for granted, clean clothes can make a profound difference in securing employment or housing. It can boost self-esteem and give a renewed sense of hope and dignity. I saw the difference immediately from when Eric arrived to after he was able to have lunch, a shower and putting on freshly laundered clothes. We chatted about how he stays around the Pasadena area and frequents the public library. He looked happy and confident.

Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?

I tend to focus on social issues that affect women in Los Angeles, because that is my audience. Although I was born in the Philippines, I came to live here in LA when I was 5 years old and it is my home. I’ve lived in Downtown LA and even now where I live in West LA close to the Veterans Hospital, you can see the growing population of people experiencing homelessness. I think that it’s something that affects all of us, not just the people who don’t have anywhere to live. And when I shared about The Laundry Truck LA on my blog and social channels, there was a huge response of wanting to get involved and help.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

The three ways that people can help and get involved is to build awareness, donate or to start a fundraiser. The Laundry Truck LA started a challenge last month that asked participants to wear the same set of clothes for 3 days straight and to share it on social media to build awareness for the need for clean clothes when experiencing homelessness. Getting involved in challenges like these is a great way to bring awareness and spread the word. You can also donate directly to The Laundry Truck LA to help operational costs to provide the services. Another way to help is to start a Facebook fundraiser asking your community to donate whatever they can to the cause. This has become a trend for people celebrating birthdays, asking your friends to donate to a cause that you care about in lieu of giving you a gift.

What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?

I shared my experience with The Laundry Truck LA and Clorox on my blog and my social channels. I’ve been building my audience and connecting with them on a daily basis for the last 5 years now so most of them have been following me for a while. The posts got great engagement and inspired people to get involved. My top 3 tips for those who want to build an audience and use your platform would be to show up consistently every single day, put your audience first and deliver high value content that they care about, and lastly, be authentic and true to yourself, the right people will come, follow, and stay.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

I wish that someone told me that this was an “inside job.” And what I mean by this is that being an influencer and an entrepreneur is all about personal development. Yes, there are strategies and tactics but most of it is about taking action despite your fear and if you aren’t able to do that — the tactics don’t matter. You have to be okay with putting yourself out there, being judged, and knowing in your heart, mind and soul that there are people out there (not everybody) that need to hear what you have to say. I say not everybody because you have to be willing to not be liked by 100% of the people out there — that’s literally impossible. You have to trust that you will attract the right people and those are the people you show up for.

I wish that someone told me that perfection is a scam. Growing up, I was praised for good grades and being a high achiever so I tried to get perfect scores to continue getting that recognition. When I started my influencer journey, this was not a pro, but a con. Trying to get the perfect picture, using the perfect filter, and posting the perfect caption only led to one thing — procrastination. It kept me from putting myself out there because I was trying to be perfect. In reality, my audience could care less. They just wanted to see me, hear from me, and be inspired by me. And no photo or filter does that. It’s about the message and the story. I had to learn this lesson the hard way and I’m still a recovering perfectionist to this day.

I wish that I learned about meditation sooner. I didn’t start meditating daily until about a year ago and it has literally changed my life. It has helped me with fear, self-doubt, anxiety, all the stuff that you don’t wanna deal with when you want to make a massive impact in the world. I’ve learned about mindset a lot in the past few years and using meditation as a daily tool has helped me more than anything I’ve done. Whenever I am teaching and my students have questions about confidence and fear, I always revert back to meditation. And for those who say they don’t meditate — I always challenge them to try for one minute. I say “You can do anything for one minute, can’t you?” And then the one minute can become two, then three, then five then ten. I see a huge difference in my day when I don’t get to meditate (hey, I didn’t say I was perfect!) and it’s become my go-to thing every single morning.

I wish that someone told me that everything is just an experiment. I used to think that when something didn’t go the way I planned, it was a failure. But it was not a failure, my interpretation of the results is that it was a failure. I would beat myself up for not getting something that I wanted, but I didn’t realize that I had the wrong perspective all along. Things are simply as they are — they are not wrong or right. We interpret them as wrong or right. I’ve had students of mine that were scared of reaching out to brands asking to partner with them. So I asked, “What happens when they say no? It usually means not right now. It doesn’t mean your content sucks, or you suck as a person. You’re only making it mean that.” In reality, when a brand says “no” it’s because you don’t fit the criteria or they can’t afford you and that’s okay. I tell my students to trust that it means it wasn’t for them and something else is on its way.

I wish that someone told me that it was going to take longer than I think. I’m the kind of person that wants to see results right away and being an entrepreneur has taught me the hard lesson of patience. Growing an audience takes time. It takes time to build rapport and connection. It takes consistency and showing up every single day for people to realize that you’re not a scammer and you genuinely want to help them. I’ve had students of mine ask me over and over again, “how long is this gonna take?” and I always tell them that this is not something that you’re waiting for to end. This is a lifelong journey, you don’t just wait until you get X amount of followers then you’re done. This is about the long game and building a community for life that you want to serve and show up for because this is your life’s mission. It’s not just something you want to do for fun for a year or so, that’s a hobby. I believe that true influencers are those who are in it for good. Your passions can change, what you talk about can change, but truly, it’s about helping people while you’re still here.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe that you are influencer, whether you like it or not. We influence the people around us, our friends, family, coworkers, people we just meet. Maybe you don’t use the word “influencer” to define yourself but you do have the ability to make an impact, even on just one person. And that’s a powerful thing. You get to choose how to use that power, make it a good one.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is by one of my favorite authors, Cheryl Strayed who said “You don’t have a right to the cards you haven’t been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.” As someone who’s experienced trauma and abuse, I could sit here and hope my story was different. Or I could share my story and help others who are dealing with that too. And I choose to do the latter because I believe that am strong enough to do that despite the fear, guilt and shame. Not everyone is brave enough to share their story, and that’s why I’m here. Those who are able to pave the way for those who are not ready yet.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have brunch or afternoon tea with J.K. Rowling, she opened up the doors to a magical universe where anything is possible. When I read her books, I would find myself happily exploring the Wizarding World. I could relate to Harry Potter’s parental void and often hoped that my Hogwarts letter would arrive so that I could have magic and most of all, be with people who loved and understood me. As I grew up, I realized that I didn’t need to be a wizard or defeat the Dark Lord to deserve love and recognition. I’m doing just fine as a Muggle influencer, but Hogwarts will always be my second home.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’d love to connect with you on Instagram @thelagirl!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!


The Social Impact Heroes of Social Media: “I wish that someone told me that perfection is a scam.” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.