Laura Saltman, KLN '94, was focused on building her career in celebrity journalism when a series of tragedies pushed her to look deeper. Now, she's a consultant and author who helps her clients balance their career pursuits with their spiritual lives.
Saltman transferred to Klein College as an undergraduate because it offered a unique program in radio, television and film, which put more emphasis on the contemporary media of the day than the traditional journalism program which she had begun at Ohio State University.
"I just loved that Temple was a little more forward thinking at the time," said Saltman.
After graduation, Saltman moved to Hollywood, where she quickly built a successful career as a producer. She was living out her dream as an on-screen journalist for Access Hollywood, which covers entertainment news. She describes her life during that time as "revolv[ing] around celebrity gossip, dissecting TV shows and interviewing stars on red carpets.
Everything changed when, within the space of two years, her brother died from cancer, and her father from suicide. Her grief caused her to reassess what was important, and to begin to seek answers to the deeper questions surrounding the purpose of her life.
Saltman had been skeptical of spirituality in general before these tragedies. She had read books like those by guru Deepak Chopra and felt that mainstream spirituality expected readers to take their ideas on faith. Her journalism background wouldn't allow her to accept their ideas without pushing back.
"As much as some of it resonated with me," Saltman said, "I was still a journalist. I didn't take anything at face value."
True faith, Saltman says, comes from finding and knowing the answers for yourself. "A lot of people's faith is based on what they've seen it in other people. Until you get to the proof yourself, you won't be able to believe it."
Saltman applied her journalistic tools to the questions that she was confronting. She began a three-year investigation into her personal values and beliefs. The result was her first book, "The All of Everything," a spiritual toolbox to guide others on similar journeys.
The success of the book led to a coaching career, enabling her to work with clients whose circumstances she understands well. Chantel Rusher, a young media professional working in Detroit, found Saltman through Instagram. She enjoyed scrolling through Saltman's feed and decided to reach out, not really expecting to hear back. To her surprise, Saltman responded immediately, and became Rusher's mentor.
Originally Rusher sought out Saltman as a media coach who could help her figure out how to break into the industry. When finding a job proved tough, though, Rusher found herself confiding in her professional mentor about more personal concerns.
"She really really listens. She has a lot of wisdom. She knows how to connect everybody. After I talk to her, I start feeling better about myself, and about my life and about the universe in general," said Rusher. "She told me not to feed those negative thoughts, don't feed that energy."
Rusher began to take Saltman's advice. She showed herself love, fostered positive thoughts and even bought a copy of her book.
"I actually got a job. It's crazy, I was reading her book, I was picking up all these messages and I literally got a call and got the job the next day."
Helping people like Rusher is at the heart of all of Saltman's work.
"I've noticed that as I've gone along in my life since my dad and brother died, that I do come across so many more people who have lost a sibling, who have lost a parent. We kind of attract to one another," said Saltman. "That's why these books are so important to me, because I want to help people who have had that experience in their life understand that there is a reason for it, and you can pull yourself up out of darkness and depression."
Her new life as a spiritual guide, however doesn't mean that Saltman has turned her back on entertainment media. She just encourages her clients to be careful about how they consume media. She counsels media studies and production students to find their own way, and create work they can believe in.
"Create your own story," Saltman advises. "Don't look at someone else's story and make your version of it. Create your story."