We think Elizabeth must have a crystal ball—She has an inimitable ability to manage, balance, forge, foresee and plan. Contagiously enthusiastic about friends, family and the activities she is involved with, Elizabeth has a focused appreciation for present-time as well as an energy-plus approach to the future. She is one of those stylish and accomplished women who begs the question, “How does she do it ALL?” Join us as we answer this question about Elizabeth, mother of three and founder of Elizabeth Pounders Communications in Memphis.
Describe your professional background and education.
I graduated from St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, then from the University of Virginia in 1989 with a French major; I did graduate coursework in French for Diplomacy and Journalism at Georgetown, and then got my MBA at Vanderbilt in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. I have worked in Washington, D.C., and New York City in both online journalism and television production. After almost a decade at FedEx in the Communications department, I launched my own Communications and Marketing practice.
How do you balance work and family?
I have three daughters—aged 17, 15 and 11. WHEW! I am finding that being available to these teenagers now is even more important than when they were young and couldn’t pour their own Cheerios! The flexibility that comes with working for oneself is the greatest benefit. I am able to be present for my children while maintaining a professional presence in a healthy way for me and for my family.
Do you find that your profession comes in handy for everyday encounters, such as talking to your children, negotiating a purchase, or simply interacting with friends, family and people you meet each day?
Absolutely. I think we are drawn to careers that come easily to us.
I have always been communicative, if not overly so, and that has typically served me well. I was very involved in ballet and theatre growing up, which engenders self-confidence physically and psychologically. Being in front of people gives me energy, and I believe I present myself consistently with all kinds of people. I trust that no matter who I talk to or what situation I find myself in, my communication skills work to my benefit, hopefully making others feel at ease and comfortable enough to share what is on their minds, too.
What skills and tools are foundational for effective communication in a digital age that is often overwhelming? How do you narrow it all down for your clients?
This is actually a tough question, because of course you are supposed to say: “put DOWN the iPhone/iPad/computer to look UP and communicate in person!” No one even talks on the phone anymore! However, the ease of texting or emailing to move processes and plans along without needing face-to-face interaction is simply part of our daily communications diet now. I have to say, this is an adapt, adopt or be left behind proposition. You need to be in tune with technology at the same rate as that of your youngest child!
We found out that you were also a high school French teacher! Do you think fluency in more than one language contributes to success in the communications and marketing field (even if you are only working with people who speak one language)?
Bien Sur!!! Speaking French is one my proudest accomplishments. You can actually feel the synapses of your brain working overtime to keep up, so it becomes a real balancing act and challenge to get your point across. Speaking another language requires patience and discipline, which are qualities that come in handy in so many areas of a successful personal and professional life. It is intoxicating, besides the fact that French, in particular, is such a beautiful language!
What are some basic words of wisdom (free advice) you can offer based on your professional experience?
I believe a woman can have it ALL–but just not all AT THE SAME TIME. Timing is critical to both building a career and investing time in the most important relationships of our lives–our spouses, children, friends, etc. I see younger women putting pressure on themselves to try to juggle all this. It is impossible and a recipe for failure. You have to respond to the life circumstances you are in. Over time, all of those things can be accomplished. Time is friend and enemy both, so you must come to terms with it.
You are modeling one-on-one to three daughters, every day, how to be a devoted and involved mother without losing sight of who you are as an individual. We want to know how you do it “ALL”!
You need to have your own identity to be the best mother/wife/partner you can be. Once I was given a great pick-me-up; a friend had stolen the airline safety card from her flight and passed it to me. It clearly demonstrates that the adult should put on the oxygen mask before the child or both are in jeopardy. I think that is a really symbolic metaphor.
Do you have a favorite activity or set of activities away from work?
I am an avid marathon runner and I have also climbed Mount Everest….……
No, those are both LIES! I have done neither of those things, but this is the spot in the interview for me to causally drop accomplishments like that in here. Here is the truth: outside of work I spend most of my time with my family. I may meet my mother or friends for a glass of wine at the Grove Grill, which is conveniently located near DAC, my gym. Because I do work for myself, I have made it a priority in the last year to maintain friendships via scheduling lunches and such to keep up.
Do you have a specific mentor? How has that person influenced you?
Best advice you have ever received? Favorite quote?
I have a framed quote that was given to me by my mother when I was going through a very difficult time personally and it remains a favorite–itundergirds the notion of determination and your own self emerging after a hard period:
“In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.” -Albert Camus
Another favorite: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” –Emerson
Favorite vacation or travel destination?
Do you have an all-time favorite book? What are you currently reading, and is it on an E-reader or old-fashioned paper?
A book everyone should buy is Strengths Finder 2.0, a personal assessment strategy by Tom Rath. The overall notion of Rath’s approach is that we should focus on our unique strengths. If you are looking for professional direction, I highly recommend this book!
Just for fun, I am currently rereading The Great Gatsby. So much more fun when you don’t have it assigned for homework! I am pretty committed to holding the actual paper book in hand, then placing it on my bookshelf as an accomplishment or trophy once completed!
Do you have a playlist of favorite music for a dinner party or a workout that you can recommend?
I am unabashedly a fan of pop music, Top 40. That’s me. Maybe because I have three daughters—it’s just what is always on.
Favorite escape or guilty pleasure?
Making chocolate cookies from scratch; sleeping, a much needed and favorite healthy escape (no mother EVER gets enough!); and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
What three lighthearted things could you not live without?
Favorite beauty product(s) you can’t imagine not using?
Trish McEvoy “BEAUTY BOOSTER–Anti Fatigue Cream, Enriched Primer and Mask—provides instant lift, minimizes fine lines, ensures extended foundation wear” I don’t know if it actually DOES all that, but I like that it’s TELLING me that it does! I’m in!
Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry?
Actually two: three silver/gemstone bracelets made by Ippolita that ‘jangle’ to announce my arrival before I enter a room! (a Christmas gift from someone special); and an iconic Cartier love bracelet on my right wrist. It is screwed on and I never take it off. This was a gift to remind me how important it is to love myself. It is very special.
Do you have any must-have clothing items on your wish list (or already in the closet!) for your spring / summer 2013 wardrobe?
I have a passion for shoes! My current wish list has only one entry: a pair of bronze Gucci sandals I saw at Saks in New Orleans in February and should have bought, but I ran out of time (plus I remembered all the OTHER pairs of bronze sandals I have in my closet … ha).
Who do you rely on to help you make it through each day/month/year?
OMG—It DOES take a Village! This is like my personal Academy Awards speech, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my OWN academy! Here is where I get to shout out to my parents; my wonderful housekeeper and nanny of 14 years, Lonzetta, my carpoolers and fellow moms (Stefanie, Liz and the list goes on!); Gina at the Nail Station and Terry at Today’s Classic Design; Carter and Martha (who work for me). Three children and a house and a life just require a lot of coordination and adults and driving and communication and activity and clothes and shoes and STUFF!!! Thank you to everyone important to me who helps keep my life running and supports me and my efforts! I happen to think my children are outstanding, so my village of wonderful people seems to be doing a pretty stellar job!
Thank you Elizabeth!
And thank you to photographer/web designer Keith Montgomery for the wonderful images of Elizabeth!