Liz Elting of The Elizabeth Elting Foundation: “Realistic Expectations”

Realistic Expectations. The vital importance of a vision that aligns with reality can’t be overstated; while overnight, runaway sensations do happen — your Ubers, your Twitters — in most cases, a successful business takes time to grow and will occupy most of your time (what you don’t see in overnight success stories is the years of hard work it […]

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Realistic Expectations. The vital importance of a vision that aligns with reality can’t be overstated; while overnight, runaway sensations do happen — your Ubers, your Twitters — in most cases, a successful business takes time to grow and will occupy most of your time (what you don’t see in overnight success stories is the years of hard work it actually took to get there). You probably won’t hit a million dollars in revenue in your first year. You probably will spend some nights sleeping on your office floor. Your team probably won’t gel as well as you expect it to, and you’ll have unexpected competition. There are a million different wrinkles you could encounter, and having a realistic idea of what your first five years are going to be like can and will both help you be more productive and avoid unnecessary stress. Burnout can ruin you, but having a realistic set of expectations can help you avoid it by showing you that you’re on the right path to meeting your goals.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation. She is an entrepreneur, business leader, linguaphile, philanthropist, feminist, and mother. After living, studying, and working in five countries across the globe, Liz started TransPerfect out of an NYU dorm room. During her tenure as Co-CEO, she grew TransPerfect into the world’s largest language solutions company, with over 600 million dollars in revenue, 5,000+ employees, 11,000+ clients, and offices in more than 90 cities worldwide. Liz has been recognized as a NOW “Woman of Power & Influence,” American Express’ and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Woman of the Year,” one of Forbes’ “Richest Self-Made Women,” and is a recipient of the 2019 Charles Waldo Haskins Award for business and public service from NYU’s Stern School of Business.

About the Elizabeth Elting Foundation.The critical work of the future is breaking down the barriers that hold back women and marginalized people and advancing true equality for all. With an eye toward that future, the Elizabeth Elting Foundation is committed to promoting progressive and feminist efforts to eradicate systemic barriers, promote public health and education, achieve workplace equality, rise beyond the glass ceiling, and open the doors to economic independence for those society has far too often shut out.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Language has been my passion as far back as I can remember. My family traveled a lot, and I had lived all over the world before I even went to college: the United States, Canada, and Portugal. Once I started my undergraduate studies, I kept traveling, studying abroad in Córdoba, Spain and doing an internship in Caracas, Venezuela, and ended up majoring in Modern Languages. One of my French literature professors, more than anyone else, helped inculcate in me a deep love for language not just as a cultural object, but as a sort of communication technology, a schema devised to foster connection and collaboration. That perspective, coupled with my experiences working internationally and my interest in entrepreneurship, led me to the idea of building a different kind of translation company, that was a one-stop-shop for language solutions, providing the highest level of service and quality, with offices in every major city around the world.

I think beneath my love of language, what’s really at the root of it, is a desire to bridge gaps, to foster connection, and to do so in a way that shapes the world for the better. So after 26 years at the company I co-founded — and took from dorm-room startup to global industry leader — I left to pursue that passion in philanthropy. In 2018, I founded The Elizabeth Elting Foundation to bridge opportunity gaps for marginalized and underserved communities, with a particular focus on lifting up women. That work is more relevant today than ever, with the devastation the pandemic has wreaked on women’s progress in the workplace. To that end, in the last year, we’ve launched the Halo Fund — a multimillion-dollar initiative to help provide concrete and comprehensive relief to people suffering from the pandemic’s very real human consequences: food and housing instability, widening economic inequality, low access to healthcare, lack of childcare for working parents — and have partnered with the American Heart Association to launch the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund for equitable healthcare and social justice.

It’s the kind of work that gives me purpose and meaning, and I’m incredibly passionate about it.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I don’t know if I’d call it an “Aha moment,” but I’m fortunate enough to have had a successful career that’s given me resources I can put to work. My passion comes from the simple belief that those who can help should help.

I was raised to be very conscious of having resources that others don’t and to believe there is a moral charge, if not an obligation, to put those resources to good use. It seems like a no-brainer to me; we live in a society, a civilization, and everything I have I was able to build because of the vast cooperative network of private, public, and non-profit organizations and individuals who have together constructed this massive infrastructure of movement and communication and finance. Literally, nobody pulls themselves up by their own bootstraps. Even if you did, someone had to make those boots.

When I left my company, I knew what I wanted to do was dedicate myself fully to my philanthropy and advocacy. The first thing I did was launch a charitable foundation to bring those values to life and create opportunities for women and other marginalized communities to find their own paths to success, where they could contribute to this amazing human project in a lasting way with the dignity of full recognition. COVID-19 cracked open our structural gaps and forced us to refocus our efforts, but the mission remains the same: to make sure underserved communities have resources needed to thrive, whether in systemic terms or, in the case of COVID-19, in immediate terms.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I credit my parents and the work ethic they instilled in me. Thanks to them, I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. My parents raised me to work hard for the things I wanted, so I’ve had a great hustle since I was eight years old. But I didn’t always know I’d end up starting a business of my own; that came out of the realization that the path I wanted for myself hadn’t yet been paved.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

I always loved language. It’s where I ended up building my career, and Trinity College in Connecticut is where “love” became “detailed, committed study” under professors who felt the same way I did. My Spanish professor Arnold Kerson liked to say that gaining fluency in a new language was a beautiful thing because it gave you the key to a whole new world. I’d traveled extensively as a child, but that was a new idea for me: the sense of access, of history and community, of participation in something larger than yourself that doesn’t always come when you’re monolingual.

That was a lesson driven home by Kenneth Lloyd-Jones, my advisor. I remember that I came to him one day to talk about my plans for studying abroad. I was studying both Spanish and French and thought it would be smart to split my year abroad between both countries. Lloyd-Jones very smartly schooled me in how limiting an idea that was. He told me the culture shock and acclimation process was so huge that I’d spend most of my time before I left for France just adjusting to Spain, and then I’d have to repeat that process all over again once I was in Paris. That meant, he warned me, that I’d be reducing my experience to superficialities. And it was a month into Spain that I realized he was right, and that a year abroad needed to be a consistent, deeply immersed encounter with a culture and community.

It was also at Trinity where I found so much of the inspiration that would fuel me throughout my career. Dori Katz, who taught me French and Spanish literature, literature of the Second World War, and translation theory and practice, was an enormous inspiration. A survivor of Nazi Belgium, she was the first woman to be a tenured professor at Trinity. Her example showed me how powerful, how strong, how unlimited a woman could be — and how far I could go if I pushed myself. Among the three of them, the course of my entire life was set: a life devoted to the hard work of fostering communication between cultures and an unbounded entrepreneurial spirit fueled by one of the most incredible women I’ve ever known. And none of that was set on that rough, painful first day. The only day more important than day one is every single day that follows. The experiences I had, the relationships I built — both transformed my life in ways I never could have anticipated.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Authenticity, integrity, and the work we do. It’s really been about embracing who I am, what I care about, and the impact I want to make on the world.

I founded the Elizabeth Elting Foundation in 2018 to promote initiatives that lift up women and other marginalized people and underserved communities — from business to public health to education, venture funds, and scholarships. But this pandemic brought about an economic and public health catastrophe unlike anything seen in living memory, and the first true pandemic in the global era, where travel almost anywhere on earth is commonplace. It spread like wildfire, faster than we could understand it, forcing us to shutter our economy almost entirely. It has painfully underscored the structural inequalities that run deep in our country. The fact is that around 80% of the American workforce lives paycheck to paycheck. That’s a ridiculously large proportion of the populace that has little to no economic security, little to no savings, for whom a lost job or a medical emergency are an almost surefire path toward ruin. So we’re trying to start there: with on-the-ground relief efforts, specifically targeting overlooked areas and underserved communities to make sure we’re bridging the widest gaps and making the biggest possible impact.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

At the end of the day, it’s integrity or nothing. Either you stand by your word, or you don’t. Either you tell the truth, or you don’t. Either you do your job, or you don’t. It’s really that simple, and I think a lot of the problems we’re facing in the world today come down to not enough value being placed on integrity and forthrightness. It led to the financial collapse of 2008, and since then, we’ve seen more and more a brazen disregard for decency and fair play. We’ve got to treat each other better than that. We have to be better than that.

The other two would certainly be hard work — starting a business is a lot of work — and determination — you have to believe in yourself, your vision, and your ability to bring it to life.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

I don’t think that’s my place. Everyone’s situation is different, and even bad advice was offered in good faith. I can say I have few regrets about my career, and that even the mistakes and missteps were essential to getting me where I am today. We must all do our best to act with prudence, wisdom, honesty, and integrity. Everything else is just putting that into practice. The last thing I want to do is spread negativity or whatever you want to call it. The bad advice I got still taught me things I am glad to have learned. So in that sense, maybe there’s no such thing.

I will share a bit of wisdom that my parents shared with me to help me avoid one piece of flawed advice: when you’re a woman, people are going to tell you that you can either have a career or a family — don’t listen to them. You don’t have to “have it all,” but if that’s what you want, you can absolutely have both.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

I have to preface this answer with a little hard truth. On some level — at this moment, a year into a global pandemic that has traumatized each and every one of us — burnout is a fact of life. It can’t be entirely avoided and has to be something managers are ready to make accommodations for.

I know that’s not the answer many employers want to hear. But I’ve been saying it since March of last year, when New York City went into lockdown and the work-from-home economy lurched into existence. Think, for just a moment, about what it means to go from working in an environment designed to facilitate work and focus to one designed for comfort and rest, or from silence to screaming, crying children, or from a sense of security and well-being to the constant, complicated trauma and profound loss of the last year. You can bang the drum about needing to pull together all you want; the fact is that we’re going through something out of dystopian fiction in a way we have never experienced in our lifetimes.

So what we need to be talking about isn’t productivity, but mental health. Obviously, the world is still turning and we still, somehow, need to get work done. So if you’re going to ask your people to push themselves in the middle of this buffeting hail, you have to make sure they have the tools to do so, which means knowing how to manage fear, stress, and anxiety to the degree that they’re capable of it. Some of your team members may seem to be doing fine, but I can almost guarantee that the psychic stress is taking its toll in ways that may not yet be manifest. Now isn’t the time to be a taskmaster, but a cheerleader and support. And, critically, that may mean investing in the support your team needs to do their jobs — including covering the cost for mental healthcare, making available wellness resources, and making accommodations. In short, we have to be there for our people.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Number one, as I’ve mentioned before, is integrity. When you are true to your principles and are straightforward and honest with your colleagues and clients, people notice. Integrity — being who you say you are — builds trust. There may be people who seem to get ahead through dishonesty, but that never pays off in the end. The business community is a community, and it’s much smaller than one may think.

When it comes to credibility, it’s as simple as doing the work. Do what you say you’re going to do. With your team, your peers, your clients. You have to deliver on your promises.

And for authority, the answer is confidence and authenticity. You have to believe in yourself, your unique skills and area of expertise, and act accordingly. It’s not about being egotistical — you still need to be able to admit what you don’t know and collaborate with others who complement your talents — but you have to trust that you bring something uniquely valuable to the table. Never second guess that. And don’t waste time trying to be someone else. You’ll gain authority by being the best you.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

I think these have always been essential, but in a society that is more connected than ever, your reputation is vital. More and more, dishonesty, saying one thing but doing another, and making big promises but never delivering will be called out. Now, that’s not why you shouldn’t do these things. You should be honest and principled because that’s what’s right.

As for confidence and authenticity, of course those are more vital than ever. If you want to stand out from an ever growing crowd, you have to lean into who you are, what you’re best at, and what you and you alone bring to the table.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Don’t be afraid of risk. The scariest part of running a business is not knowing what you don’t know, and I think that has a tendency to be really paralyzing. The absolute worst mistake a startup can make is to be driven by fear; entrepreneurship really requires boldness and a willingness to take risks, which is hard to do when your money is on the line. Be brave, be ambitious, get outside of your comfort zone, and make sure you have the substance, a plan of action, and the work ethic to back it all up.

Give your team room to make mistakes. For your people to perform to the best of their ability, they need to know that they aren’t risking their jobs to do so. The fear of termination is not a powerful motivator for performance; it encourages people to think small, instead of outside of the box, and to work to avoid failure, rather than achieve excellence. That often means it’s up to you to shield them as much as is reasonable, owning mistakes while letting them keep their victories. Good morale is a key part of good performance, and knowing that there’s a net to stop them from hitting the ground should they falter gives your team the freedom to soar.

Manage your workload, acknowledge your limitations, and learn to delegate. The fact is that nobody’s brain can manage anything as complicated as a growing company by itself–you will eventually hit your limit, and your company will either stagnate or be plagued by institutional problems. “Grasping the whole web” is not actually a good way to run an organization; it’s just a good way to drive yourself mad.

Lead from the trenches. I’m a firm believer that a leader has to be, on some level, in the trenches, and your team needs to be aware of that. Whatever sacrifices you’re asking them to make, you need to be willing to take on yourself. If you act like you’re above them, if you lord your power over them or ask them to make sacrifices you won’t make yourself, they’ll only resent you, which will make it infinitely harder to get everyone going when the going gets tough. You’re the leader of a team, and that makes you part of it.

Go easy on yourself. The biggest challenges you’ll face are the voices in your head amplifying all of your worst anxieties. You don’t have to be perfect. Imposter syndrome is real, and I know we all look at other leaders and think that they must have it all figured out, but at the end of the day, successful leaders are people who know what they want and do the work to make it happen. Nobody knows everything, and I sometimes suspect all of us are just faking our way through to the best of our ability. But I want you to remember that the reason you embarked on this quest is that you had an idea you believed in and the wherewithal to follow through with it. Most people never even get that far. Celebrate that and keep moving forward.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

It’s not different from any other job or even life for that matter — there are highs and lows in everything. No matter how successful you get, you will always have challenges and setbacks, you will always have losses. Success doesn’t mean failing, it’s about continuing on through it all. I’ve grown a business from dorm room startup to international juggernaut, but I still experience self-doubt, worry, fear, and loss. I don’t think I’m all that different from anyone else. Disappointment is still a disappointment, and the thrill of success is always the thrill of success. I’m a mother in addition to a self-made entrepreneur, and the experience of raising my kids — their triumphs and losses, my triumphs and losses, the joys and sorrows of building this life and watching them build theirs — doesn’t feel less important or less big than those I’ve had in the corporate world. The highest-level politicians, celebrities, and titans in their fields are all just folks doing their best.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Some twenty years ago, I was on a business trip out to Gateway 2000. You remember, the computer company with cow prints on all its boxes? They were really big in the 1990s and early 00s, playing a key part in launching the home computer revolution by offering systems at consumer prices. Omnipresent on television. Anyway, we had a really good shot at getting them on as a client, so we hopped on a plane and flew out from Newark to Sioux City, Iowa where they were headquartered.

But the flight ran into a horrendous storm. It was one of those “I’m not sure we’re going to make it” experiences, all lightning and turbulence and darkness. We ended up running seriously late as a result and landed at 3 am for a meeting to be had a mere six hours later. And we weren’t even close to Sioux City yet! That was still hours away in the storm. By the time we finally got to our hotel, it was 7 am, so we really only had maybe an hour to get ready and head out all over again. To put it mildly, I was pushed to the limits of exhaustion while also very anxious about how the meeting would go. Despite that, we landed the account! The elation I felt when we got that contract was some of the purest I’ve ever experienced. It was all worth it for the thrill and reward of making that deal.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Selling my partnership stake in the company I built was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I am immensely proud of the work we did and the company my co-founder and I built together. Starting that company was one of the biggest adventures of my life, and it’s helped make me who I am today. But it really was the right time for the next chapter in my life. Closing one chapter to begin a new one can be scary, but if you aren’t at least a little scared, you probably aren’t really challenging yourself.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

By remembering that every challenge, every ending, every setback is an opportunity. Leaving gave me the chance to focus on my philanthropy, something I’m incredibly passionate about. The Elizabeth Elting Foundation was originally focused on working to bridge opportunity gaps for marginalized communities, especially women. But when COVID-19 hit, we changed our focus and launched the Halo Fund, a multimillion-dollar initiative to help provide concrete and comprehensive relief to people suffering from the pandemic’s very real human consequences: food and housing instability, widening economic inequality, low access to healthcare, lack of childcare for working parents. That last one is only getting worse, and we’re in the middle of a crisis that is setting women’s progress in the workplace back decades (something I’ve been writing about for months now).

Through Halo, the EEF partnered with the American Heart Association to launch the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund for equitable healthcare and social justice, which means we’re supporting initiatives covering our initial area of focus and then some. The AHA has really stepped up to the plate, marshalling its charitable network and fundraising experience to build a really comprehensive COVID-19 response alongside the Bernard J. Tyson Fund’s work toward supporting locally-led solutions to dismantle social and economic barriers to health equity. We’re putting our resources where they can do the most good.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Stress Management. This one is the big one, and the hardest to pin down. I know from experience how it can feel like everything and everyone is depending on you to work yourself as hard as you can. But the fact is exhaustion helps no one, and if you’re constantly expending mental energy with worry, there’s less time for actual problem-solving and rational decision-making. That’s right; all that stress you’re putting yourself through to protect your business’ future is actually getting in your way. Not only can stress lead to cardiac and breathing problems, but it can exacerbate cognitive decline, contribute to Alzheimer’s, and even in the short term, decrease your ability to solve complicated problems.

Write Down Your Goals and Create a Plan. I have always been a firm believer in setting clear goals, and think it’s really important to routinely think about, evaluate, and write down your goals, short and long term, personal and professional. Make a habit of pinpointing your goals, naming them, and putting them down in ink; it’s a great way to keep yourself on track and challenged, and it also builds confidence — especially when things are tough — because you can see how far you’ve come. It’s easy to lose track of your accomplishments if you aren’t making a habit of recording not only where you want to go, but also where you’ve been and how far you’ve already come.

A Responsible Fear. It may sound counterintuitive; getting your confidence up is always a big part of any package of advice for people starting businesses. There are lessons on how to “fake it ’til you make it” because confidence in you inspires confidence in your team, your investors, and your clients. However, the right kind of fear can be a valuable motivator — like the fear of not taking your shot, not reaching your potential, or not fulfilling your dreams. These are healthy fears that encourage both responsibility and risk-taking, keeping you perpetually on your toes instead of getting complacent or resting on your laurels. The right kind (and amount) of fear can motivate you to locate new opportunities, seek out new strategies and dig deep for that extra bit of energy needed to continually strive for more and raise the bar.

Realistic Expectations. The vital importance of a vision that aligns with reality can’t be overstated; while overnight, runaway sensations do happen — your Ubers, your Twitters — in most cases, a successful business takes time to grow and will occupy most of your time (what you don’t see in overnight success stories is the years of hard work it actually took to get there). You probably won’t hit a million dollars in revenue in your first year. You probably will spend some nights sleeping on your office floor. Your team probably won’t gel as well as you expect it to, and you’ll have unexpected competition. There are a million different wrinkles you could encounter, and having a realistic idea of what your first five years are going to be like can and will both help you be more productive and avoid unnecessary stress. Burnout can ruin you, but having a realistic set of expectations can help you avoid it by showing you that you’re on the right path to meeting your goals.

Take Care of Yourself. When I was starting my company, I fell into the same trap: if I oversaw everything, I would be able to make sure it was all running smoothly. And that was true, as far as it went; but as the company grew, it became more and more necessary to recognize that I couldn’t know every employee and their responsibilities or every manager and every project and keep them all straight in my head. And it was surprising how quickly we got to a point where delegation stopped being a luxury and became a necessity.

Take stock of what needs to be done, put the tasks that require more cognitive labor first; you’ll be preserving more of your energy and focusing on the essential tasks only you can do. The ones you can’t do–you can delegate those to someone else. Respect yourself, your capabilities, and your limitations.

That also means it’s critical to give yourself downtime to recharge. The temptation to push yourself past a point-of-no-return as though that little bit of elbow grease is going to make all the difference in the world is utterly self-defeating. I’m not telling you not to work hard, but to remember that work is only one part of a life well-lived. Figure out a way to balance your work and home life so that the one doesn’t intrude upon the other–or worse, the two blending into an indistinguishable and unmanageable mess.

Starting a business might feel like the hard part, but that’s because you haven’t experienced the day-to-day slog of it yet. Running your own company means nonstop stress: managing your finances, managing your employees, keeping your clients happy, ensuring quality of work, healthily maintaining and growing the company’s value, intelligently investing in the company’s future, worrying where your next client is going to come from — it can be a lot, and it’s not something you can simply leave at the office. For this exact reason, depression is the great unspoken affliction of entrepreneurs. So you have to take care of yourself, again, respect your limitations, and build a support network.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience, as far as I have experienced it, is the ability to stand back up when you take a big hit. I think it’s something most of us are capable of, and that often, all we lack is faith in ourselves (you’d be surprised how far that faith can carry you). That faith animates me at my lowest moments to chin up, knuckle down, and move forward.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

Just before my sophomore year in high school, I was severely injured by an out-of-control vehicle. My leg was badly broken, my skull was fractured, and I went into a coma (from which I woke up speaking French). I was incredibly lucky to be alive, but of course, when you’re at that age, things like fitting in at school feel like the most important things in your life. You see, I was just about to start at a new high school, and here I was: hobbling with a platform shoe, increasingly skeletal from the weight loss that came from months on crutches, and increasingly isolated. I had always been a happy, gregarious kid, but for the first time, I found myself friendless. My confidence was sapped. My self-esteem plummeted. And I was pretty terrified. But I found my strength, my ability to bounce back, in work. It gave me my purpose and identity, forming my new backbone out of grindstone and knuckles. I taught myself how to find a new footing and a new way forward.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

I like to think that I’m a very positive person. It’s important for me to use my platform to draw attention to critical and complex issues (that often don’t have easy solutions), but I really don’t like dwelling on the negative. It’s not productive or helpful to grimly stare at problems you feel powerless to solve instead of working within your ambit to make the world better. That’s always my big priority: how can I help? What constructive efforts are within my reach that can make this a better place for the next generation of women? Positivity gets me up in the morning and motivates me to do my best, every day, as much as I can. We need hope, and while I want to make sure people are paying attention to the things we need to fix, I also want to make sure I’m spreading a message of hope and being clear that no matter how big the problem, together, we can solve it.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

Pessimism paralyzes, and paralysis kills. You can’t predict the future, but you must do what you can to provide calm, steady leadership by renewing your commitment to the people who work for you. Set the tone, and everyone else will follow.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

My favorite by far is, “Work today like most people won’t so you can live and give tomorrow like most people can’t.” It’s a statement of ambition and drive, but also of community. It’s a reminder that we can’t just enrich ourselves and leave everyone in the dust because our success is also community success. My business thrived during my twenty-six years there because this is a country with universal, tax-supported public schools, an open system of roads and public transportation, and access to clean water. Nobody goes it alone — that was the point everyone seemed to miss when Obama said, “you didn’t build that,” — because nobody can go it alone. So yes, strive, fight, struggle, win, and make your fortune. But you only have that fortune because you live in a community that provides, collectively, a base of support. So I support philanthropy, of course, but also the robust, tax-supported social safety net and infrastructure system our massive economy could easily support if we had the will for it. We succeed and in doing so lift up our communities. Being wealthy should be a responsibility, not a license to do as you please.

How can our readers further follow you online?

I’m on Twitter and Instagram @LizElting and my foundation is on Instagram @ElizabethEltingFoundation. You can also find me at and my foundation at

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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