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How A Career Change Helped A First-Time Entrepreneur Find Her Calling To Solve America’s Aging Problem?

“I lost my position in a non-profit, struggling to figure out how to take care of my grandparents who raised me. I looked into myself and took the leap and started an intergenerational learning center" - Charlotte

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"I lost my position in a non-profit, struggling to figure out how to take care of my grandparents who raised me. I looked into myself and took the leap and started Learn More, Live More – an intergenerational learning center."
– Charlotte, Founder of Learn More, Live More

What do you do when the world serves you lemon?

Most would say make lemonade.

But for Charlotte, it means more than that. Finding a silver lining also means digging deep into her passions and calling for life. After losing her position at a non-profit, she drew on inspiration from her life, being brought up by her grandparents; and started Learn More, Live More to help tackle the issue of 'Graying America' by promoting lifelong and inter-generational learning through unique classes and social activities. We would say, she took the lemon and planted a tree – by empowering people to learn, she has made a lemon-churning machine.

Today, we hear from Charlotte first hands how she started her journey as an entrepreneur and why Learn More, Live More continues to offer unique and empowering classes.

Hi Charlotte, can you introduce yourself?

Yeah, I am the founder and owner of Learn More, Live More in Chicago. We offer classes in unique arts like mandalas on vinyl records and calligraphy for the left-handed (and right handed, too!), jewelry making, stress management, and soon Chinese cooking. Some upcoming programs in the works are dog training, vegan and raw cooking, and home-buying. We hope to offer these in the winter or late fall. We also have some products up, created by instructors, and will have our "Anything You Want To Learn" service up on Verlocal soon so you can learn a topic of your choice through personalized coaching according to your schedule.

What was the story when you first decided to start your own business and how were you motivated?

A few years back in college, I took a class called Graying America, which paired us with senior citizens and taught us a variety of topics related to that community and aging. I decided to focus my final paper on why it is important to have volunteers provide companionship in nursing facilities, focusing on the fact that we all deserve an A+ standard quality of life. As part of that research, I learned how powerful intergenerational interaction is to quality and length of life as well as specific physical benefits to social interaction. Flash forward to winter of 2015, I was struggling to figure out what to do career-wise after losing my position in a nonprofit to take care of my grandparents who helped raise me. I looked into myself and what I truly wanted and, without any doubt, registered Learn More, Live More in February of 2016 as an official business. I have since been nurturing it in the direction of an intergenerational learning center based on those ideas and research I did for a class project.

Where does your inspiration come from? What made you want to pursue your passion?

My inspiration comes from wanting to improve the world around me. Yes, there are many offerings because I want to offer as much as possible for all our students. We haven't found a good way to offer this on Verlocal yet, but we also offer an "Anything You Want To Learn" category to expand your horizons on any topic you would like us to research and coach you through with a customized learning strategy and plan. The concept is that there should be no limits to what you want to learn.

How would you describe the link between your classes/products and the community around you?

I started Learn More, Live More in the community I grew up in – Edgewater. I grew up on Edgewater's border, though, close to Uptown, and hope to engage with the Uptown community more as time goes on. Our goals involve engaging people of all ages with our classes and eventually mix those age groups together – from children to senior citizens- in an intergenerational learning environment to better each individual in ways that extend to the community.

How long have you been living in Chicago? What would you recommend to someone who just moved to this city?

I've lived in Chicago all my life and I've got to say, it is an amazing place to volunteer. Chicago is a wonderful nonprofit-filled city. Volunteering not only helps you meet people and make connections, but with all the things you could volunteer for, you can contribute to something that you care about. Plus, it's free and can be a way to learn something new too.

Tell us about your favorite moment since you and your instructors started teaching classes.

I've got to say the best "moment" is when everyone gets to know each other outside of classes. We have launched a student ambassador-liaison program, with which I am still reaching out to former students. This program includes such students as well as volunteers and others who have taken interest in our organization in our staff get-togethers. Seeing everyone interact and the presence they give make me think, "Charlotte, you're doing the right thing".

What is your favorite class/piece of work & story behind it?

My favorite class right now is Kerry's Reclaim Your Joy Book Workshop that is based on a book named just that. Kerry not only gives her input and insights as a licensed and professional therapist and also life coach, but she also gives you exercises to apply in your life. It is both personalized and general, and we share only what we want to. The class I attended in September was so lively and caring. Each person participated with their whole heart, filled with good intentions, and also offered tips and tricks they've been using in their lives to manage their stress. I learned a lot about myself during that experience and also about the science behind stress.

Any recommendations to someone who might want to start their own business?

Make sure you have clear goals and ideas both short-term and long-term, but don't be afraid to make changes to those ideas and goals when you need to. Do an intense amount of research at any step of creating your business. Also, save like nobody's business for your business because it will cost more than you think. Even if it doesn't, at least you have an extra safety net!

There is no limit of learning, no matter where you are, who you are, or what you want to learn! Learn more about Charlotte's experiences and stories with us.

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