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Rising Star Audrey Lawrence of Disruption Media On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

An Interview With Edward Sylvan

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Audrey Lawrence.

Audrey Lawrence is a multiple TEDx speaker and has received national media coverage and celebrity endorsement for her work as an author and broadcaster on the topic of success. Her forthcoming book Success Reset -Upgrade Your Mind, Upgrade Your Life connects science and business practices to achieve personal success and has inspired a Television Show​.

Framed by a lifelong struggle with severe dyslexia, Audrey has studied and received certifications from the finest institutions in the world, including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Berkeley, and more. Today she shares her passion with audiences on T.V. radio, workshops, speaking, and more.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I’ve always been a big fan of the Authority magazine, and I’m excited to share more about my story and what brings me to the stage.

Looking back on it, my non-traditional upbringing prepared me for big goals. I got comfortable being uncomfortable as a kid who lived all over the world. Each move brought a new school, a new set of friends, sometimes a new language, country, and culture — shaping my coping skills, agility, and building a certain fearlessness about new situations.

But, military life began to wear down my family. I watched my parents shred on priorites of money and custody. At an early age, this gave me insight into what truly matters in life . . . and the tradeoff of “doing the right thing” over “the easy thing.”

When I was eight years old, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. But week over week, I saw her fight back and regain her health. From my earliest memories, I had an up-close lesson of what it takes to be a warrior. This taught me to be relentless and never take failure as an answer.

As a teenager, the terrible experience of finding my father dead in my room, the day he committed suicide, was one of the worst in my life. But it taught me that I have to let go of the burdens of others. These are not my battles to overcome.

The thread that ties my childhood and adult life together is my severe dyslexia. I stumbled through impediments of learning traditionally. I learned to channeling the grit of persistence it took to read even a simple sentence. I became an award-winning designer, thriving because I could use the creative part of my brain like armor to offset my struggle to read like others.

But ultimately, I knew I wasn’t challenging myself to the maximum. I took a step back and tapped into the tools that empowered me as a child. I challenged myself to lean into my weaknesses, learning in new ways. I wrote a book about capturing success through the struggle, Success Reset. I’m still learning how to harness the power of perceived defects. But I know that I become a more authentic version of myself when I accept my own truth and embrace my vulnerabilities.

In the moment, hardships don’t always feel like a benefit. I now see hardship as a growth opportunity;

Life is sticky; turning that sticky into the glue to build meaning has been my purpose.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

My initial dream was to publish my book Success Reset (forthcoming). I wanted to share the power and science behind self-disruption with others. Along that path, I learned that publishing a book can take years . . . and I wanted to get my message out sooner. So I started my podcast, The Self Disruption Show.

I happened to have a meeting one day with a TV producer and was challenged why television wasn’t a perfect medium for my mission. Bingo! It’s so funny how things can be right in front of us, and we don’t see them until someone intervenes in our path.

It took all of 5 seconds for me to process how a TV show is the absolute best way for me to share the tools of success with diverse audiences. 1 Thing We Should Know was always a seed inside my head; it just needed another person to help me identify it.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I remember the day my design business went up in smoke. I was a designer for high-profile clients. My success was built on partnerships with local NYC companies. Then came a dreaded call “We’re moving manufacturing overseas, and we’ll be returning your last order.” The voice on the other end of the phone sounded gutted. I put on my best “phone smile” and wished them the best of luck in the future. Inside though, I knew that without this vendor, I’d have to do some major shuffling in my life.

Design was paradise for me. My dyslexia didn’t stop me from creating harmonious spaces for my decerning clients. But with this door closing, I knew that I’d soon have to embark on new encounters. From every angle throughout my life, dyslexia was embarrassing, and I felt ashamed about not seeing words like others. To me, words float and blink on a page. Beautifully constructed sentences (to most people) look more like a drunk text message to me.

But this phone call I received felt like fight or flight. I could fight and try to rebuild my design business, or I could take the opportunity and fly to find a new avenue. I chose the latter.

Studying data science at MIT was my new avenue to leverage my dyslexia. The same connections I found with shapes and patterns in design also translated to data points and numbers. With my foot in the academic world, I began devouring as many classes as possible; I started to see more connections between business skills and neuroscience and the connectivity to success. It Turns out interconnected reasoning is a hidden gift of dyslexia, connecting ideas in new ways. As I understood the science behind success, I started to rewrite the shame and embarrassment that followed me around for years . . . and I began to create my playbook. Connecting tools across multiple disciplines blended for what I call hackable success.

I self-disrupted to reset success, hence my book Success Reset. And it’s exactly what I went through after my design business went under. I’ve spent the last half-decade unraveling the science behind what makes people successful; and, I’ve tested it out on myself ;). Throughout my portfolio, from my television show, 1Thing You Should Know, to my podcast, to my book, Success Reset, I break down the rules for personal success and help apply them . . . without having your business go up in flames :)

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?

Great question! How much time you got! When I shifted from becoming a designer to an influencer teaching the power of self-disruption, there was a steep learning curve.

First, writing my book was a challenge. I’m frequently mistyping words and mixing up letters. Let’s just say autocorrect made some “NSFW corrections” in some of the early drafts of my manuscript.

And then there was the time when I was a bit new to digital media and still figuring out the ropes in my podcast. On one of my first shows, I double-checked everything before my guest came on so we could hit the ground running and not waste any time fighting with tech. After we finished, I went back to edit the footage and realized that I hadn’t turned the camera or mic on. Oops! I guarantee that never happened again!

We’re human; when you prize effort over perfection, you move your goals forward. I know tomorrow will bring mistakes, which is a good thing because it means I’m trying new things. And I just keep trying . . . and reminding myself of the lessons I learned from the past and of the mistakes, I don’t want to repeat.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The most interesting project has got to be producing the TV show 1 Thing We Should Know. This has brought many exceptional and creative ideas forward and tells the stories from the world’s greatest thought leaders in a very relatable format, highlightling practices from my book. If you’re looking for ways on how to transform your life and achieve success — this is absolutely it!

Now I can’t talk a lot about the most exciting project because it’s in the early stages. But my 1 Thing We Should Know production team is also developing an extended “take-home” program that highlights a powerful Ivy League classroom project. I host this new creation with a leading professor at the top business school, bringing the success method from the classroom to everyday life. The tools for business can be tweaked to help find more profound outcomes in life. We borrow ideas from the boardroom and shift them to the living room so great results are not just for the few with access to fancy education . . . but for all who want to find success wherever their journey takes them.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

It’s an old piece of advice that stands up to time: Find your why! Tapping into the passion and purpose of your why can be a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation. Write it down; sticky note it on your mirror; set a daily reminder on your phone. Answers like fame and money usually won’t take you to the finish line unless you’ve been touched by great talent (and maybe some luck). If you are an ordinary person (like me) with extraordinary dreams, learn your deeper truth and remind yourself of your why to fuel you through the low moments.

Motivation is NOT the key to success. Motivation, like inspiration, is a love affair with an idea. Use the “honeymoon phase” to make a plan and create a system that will weather good and bad days . . . and the inevitable failures. Before you know it, there will be far more good days than bad. Failure only happens when you quit. It’s just part of the process of learning new things.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is the cross-pollination of culture and ideas. Algorithms that help you find friends on Facebook, connect with news on Google or find work opportunities on LinkedIn all attempt to create diversity in your digital world. They don’t.

In my third TEDx talk, which will be broadcast in May 2022, I talk about how this actually creates a “diversity desert.” It is harder and harder to come by organic diversity in this increasingly digital world due to the algorithms that mandate our day-to-day life. These recommendation systems that I had an up-close look at while studying at MIT continue to create a smaller and smaller box of exposure. Our social and news feeds are geared towards serving content from like-minded people, products, and services — the exact opposite of what true innovation is, culling diversity as a by-product.

Science shows us that success is built around surrounding ourselves with various voices from a broad spectrum of experience and backgrounds.

Film and television offer the perfect medium to help “undo” the “anti-diversity” that the internet algorithms adhere us to. Challenge yourself to embed diversity to counteract Big-Tech’s algorithms.

On my podcast, I bring in a diverse set of guests from world-class authors to American Idol pop stars. One size does not fit all.

Constantly be on the lookout to identify where your life is getting bogged down by the “same thing.” Challenge yourself. Add diversity to your life through new experiences and in what you watch and listen to.

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

  1. Opinion is different than experience. When getting input from others on your journey, consider if they have really done what you want to do? Or are you listening to hearsay?

When I was in the early stages of publishing my book, Success Reset, I asked my network of fellow authors how they acquired a publisher. “Getting one of the ‘Big-5’ publishers to pick up your book is impossible,” a self-published author told me when I was asking for advice about how to find an agent for traditional publishing. Time and time again, each author I asked told me the exact same thing.

I was dubious, though, since I realized each author I was interviewing was self-published. “Did you try?” I challenged them after I started to see the trend.

To my surprise, most of those wielding the advice of “impossibility” didn’t even try to find an agent to publish their book traditionally; they were making major life decisions built on opinions and assumptions from people and articles on the internet. They had no relevant experience. I discovered I was listening to opinion over experience.

After this discovery, the answer was clear to me. I tossed aside the urge to heed the warning of “impossibility” and pushed through self-doubt to land one of the best literary agents in the country; if I had listened to the hearsay, I wouldn’t be here today.

2. Same data different outcomes

Picture a 13-year-old girl decked out in a suit of armor and wielding a sharp sword. Is she:

  1. Headed to a Halloween party?
  2. Joan of Arc

The input data to this scenario is the same, but the outcome relies on our connection to purpose and future goals. Joan d’Arc, was a young warrior armed with a set of unshakable values that guided her unswerving actions on the battlefield. Knowing in her heart that all battles are first won or lost in the mind, she knew why she risked her life. Her faith in God empowered her to lead the French army to a decisive victory over the invading English at the battle of Orleans.

As she once proclaimed, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” Her heroic accomplishments demonstrate how value-driven purpose can transform even a mere child into a change master. When Joan changed herself into a warrior, she changed the course of French history.

The lesson of the story? You can “cook the books” and find data to support your point of view, but value-driven purpose will guide your desired outcome.

3. Passion is limiting

I’m a nationally award-winning designer. Emmy-winners and politicians topped my client list. But I wanted to do more with my life, and the opportunity was primed when my business shut down. When I stopped believing that design was all I was ever going to do, it opened the doors to new passions in my life. Sometimes, we think our passion is the whole story, but it can be just a chapter in our book of life.

You don’t have only one passion, and it isn’t your only purpose. Science shows we have multiple deep interests, so forget the monogamous mentality about the one thing you were meant to do. This limits the full scope of your personal success. Move out of your comfort zone and try something new. You might just find your passion blooming in other places.

4. Fear is fleeting

While fear is embedded in humans to protect us from imminent danger, it also can disrupt our ability to embrace new experiences. The fear of burning yourself on the stove and mincing your fingers (instead of onions) keeps us alive and our digits intact! But, the fear of trying unknown activities can halt your success in life if not constantly challenged. A fascinating study required participants to converse with complete strangers on a train. All of the participants were uncomfortable about having to strike up a conversation with “unknowns.” After the experience, many participants actually enjoyed talking to strangers and mentioned that they’d start implementing it more into their lives. This showed just one way how we misjudge perceived uncomfortable moments with false fears.

If you’re scared about the next step in pursuing your goals, remember that fear is normal and fleeting; pushing through the fear creates momentum in your brain, a kinetic force that impacts other areas in your life, freeing you from the “fear chains” that constrain you. In my book, Success Reset, I share tools to unleash this momentum: And how to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

5. The path changes, but the mission stays

Throughout the experience of failure and accomplishment, it sometimes feels like the path you’re walking has entirely shifted. It has! But, it doesn’t mean that your end goal has changed. If you don’t course correct from the learnings of your experiences, renegotiate your plans, adapt as you go, and refine your purpose — are you really progressing towards your goal?

I always had a dream to aid others in practicing self-disruption, sharing what I learned to help more become successful. Growing up I got the pep talk of “Reach for the stars, girl.” Great . . . how the heck does someone apply that! As humans, we get minimal direction on the roadmap of life and fewer tools to actually get us there. This is where I stumbled across my mission.

In my book, Success Reset, I level the playing field by democratizing the tools from business and science to advance our personal life. This led to the development of my podcast — The Self Disruption Show. On my podcast, I interviewed exceptional guests, but I knew that I wasn’t reaching enough people yet with the fantastic advice the audience was hungry for. So I launched a radio show that airs to more people.

The more I focus on my goal of helping others apply the transformative tools from business and neuroscience; my path shifted entirely different and exciting direction, with more open doors than I could keep track of. TEDx invited me to their platform multiple times. I joined other podcasts, and radio shows to share about my book. And now 1 Thing you Should Know is the television show in development. It’s exciting to see each episode come together and share valuable information from the world’s biggest thought leaders with simple takeaways for all.

The path has changed significantly, but the mission remains the same.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

“You can only meet your audience as deep as you have met yourself.” Emmy-winner Kate Sullivan shared this piece of advice with me when we chatted on my podcast about Season Four of the PBS TV show, To Dine For. The key behind thriving and not burning out is feeding and growing yourself to bring a deeper connection and purpose to your work. If you’re unable to nurture yourself, there will only be left over for others.

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. :-)

To paraphrase Barack Obama: One voice can change a room. If it can change a room it can change a city. And if it can change a city it can change a state. If it can change a state it can change a nation. And if one voice can change a nation, it can change the world.

Your voice can change the world.

I found my voice by working through how I thought dyslexia was holding back my life and reshaping my beliefs about how my “disability” really wasn’t a “disadvantage.” It was my new ability. When I understood my advantage, doors started to open right and left for me. I went to school and studied as much as I could; Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and MIT were just some of the schools that taught me to challenge preconceptions of myself.

Empowerment of a person’s voice comes from accepting the stickiness of life, embracing the doors this challenge can open, and applying those learnings forward to reach a broader group of people.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Gosh, just one!? The first person that pops into mind is my literary agent, Michael Snell.

Being dyslexic, writing a book was no joke. After I had finished the last chapter, I felt so accomplished! This was my goal, and I just pushed through every preconception that society had conditioned me to think. I had no plans for the book after I wrote it, but then my tremendously supportive husband challenged me, “How can you write a book about tools for success and self-disruption if you stop now? This needs to be published. You should pursue this goal to the next level!”

You know that gut-check moment when your internal hypocrite meets your own medicine? He was right.

Design and data science I knew…I had no idea about the publishing world. So I dove in headfirst. I wanted to be able to tick the box and at least tell myself (and my husband) that I had pursued the journey of self-disruption to the end.

I learned that it takes years and usually hundreds of submissions to find the perfect agent. To top it, I needed a book proposal to send to agents, which would mean more writing (one of my nemeses). After weeks of more writing, I hit the send button on a 60-page book proposal to a single agent, Michael Snell. The rest, as they say, is history.

I feared that my proposal would sadly be overlooked and die a slow death under a sea of submission corpses. I mean, as a dyslexic, “The bluebird sings in the old oak tree” reads to me as The sigs bullbrid in the ole tee ork. I was certain that someone in the professional, literary world would dismiss what I feared was a hot mess of a manuscript.

But Michael Snell saw the potential in the purpose of my message and rescued my concept from living a lonely life on my laptop. With his mentorship, I created a podcast and radio show. Soon after, TEDx caught on to the content in my book and gave me a platform to share with a wider audience. Ultimately, this brings us to where we are now: the TV show 1 Thing We Should Know.

Even though I have all the knowledge of how to prawith ctice self-disruption and constantly try to put myself in uncomfortable situations to force personal growth, I still needed the magic of someone believing in me — Michael Snell. He discovered me, and in the process, I found myself.

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

​​The evolution of an expert takes passion, keen curiosity, and extensive research. Only then can we share this knowledge with the world. While becoming an expert requires an unending pursuit of education, collaboration, and constant practice, it demands one more thing — constantly pushing ourselves to the next level.

Albert Einstein says it best, “If we always do what we always did, we always get what we always got.”

Opportunity simply lies in doing things differently.

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. :-)

In 1999, long before “Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was a common phrase, Marc Benioff founded Salesforce. Benioff is a master in self-disruption. The balance of innovation with an Ohana problem-solving view of the world is a delicate ecosystem, positioning Benioff as a rare leader.

Throughout his career, Benioff surrounded himself with successful businessmen to constantly challenge him. Apple’s Steve Jobs, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and Four-Star General Colin Powell are just some of the powerful mentors Benioff was akin to. In Success Reset, I discuss how Benioff’s used these mentors and deployed a dynamic framework to demand nothing but success.

Benioff’s career and ability to live a life of self-disruption 2.0 is vastly inspiring. Let’s make this breakfast happen! ;)

How can our readers follow you online?

I love engaging and exchanging ideas with fellow self-disruptors. I share a free newsletter on My podcast, The Self Disruption Show, is available on all major podcast platforms. And Instagram is a fun place I share easy tools for success enthusiasts.





TedX: Audrey Lawrence — YouTube

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

The pleasure was mine. What a delight! Thank you to Authority Magazine and the readers. I’m energized when I can empower others on the exciting edge of overcoming fear, creating self-disruption to achieve more… because I have been there.



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group

Specializing in acquiring, producing and distributing films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subjects