Laura Hertz is one impressive woman: a CEO, a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur and a cancer survivor.
Hertz earned her bachelor’s degree in Business administration from University of California, Berkeley and later earned her Master’s degree in Business from the University of Southern California.
She was one year out of Cal Berkeley and living in San Francisco with plans of moving abroad when she found out she had cancer.
“It was definitely hard and scary, especially at a younger age,” she said.
Hertz not only successfully battled the cancer, but turned around and founded her own company for social change. She is now the co-founder and CEO of Gifts for Good, a certified B Corp that sources corporate gifts with a social impact. With a company motto of “corporate gifts that give back,” Gifts for Good today helps support dozens of charities and social enterprises in 65 countries.
At the time of her diagnosis, Hertz had little idea of the heights she would rise to. She said she felt alone because she had just graduated from college and felt embarrassed to talk about her diagnosis with friends, as she was the only one going through it.
However, she kept a positive outlook on life and tried to see the good in a bad situation. When Hertz decided to share information on her diagnosis publicly she was amazed by how many other women related to her.
“I was so surprised by how many women reached out to me that they had been going through something similar, especially when I had posted about it on social media. A lot of people are really quiet when they’re going through that journey but I actually felt like it was a nice way to almost realize you’re not alone and kind of talk about it and find a way to support other people through it too,” she said.
Currently, she serves on the National Board for the American Cancer Society. The Society was founded in 1913 and helps support cancer patients and their families across the country using its network of 250 regional offices. Hertz is one of the younger board members and believes it’s important to have that representation because a lot of the time cancer has an older face connected to it.
“There are so many people, even in their early 20’s or teens who are going through that (cancer) but sometimes feel like they don’t have a community,” she said.
Battling through her diagnosis changed her outlook on life and showed her the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
“When you’re younger you can kind of feel like you’re invincible especially right out of college and the things you put your body through, going out and going to bars doing all those things, but I think just recognizing that no matter the age it’s important to always put your health and safety first,” Hertz said.
The unexpected challenging experience also served as a powerful reminder of how important friends and family are to personal wellbeing. It inspired her to be a positive force in the lives of her loved ones by encouraging them to improve their health and lifestyle. Regardless of whether one has cancer, Hertz realized that health and healthy habits should always be a top priority.
“I think looking for a support system when you’re training or working out and finding friends and family who can kind of support you in that journey too is so important and making it fun because at the end of the day you’re not going to enjoy it if you don’t make it fun,” Hertz said.