Published in Womeninc, April 2009
by Diana Gabriel
With the renewal of spring upon us I hope that each of you can connect with that sense of wonder and possibility that spring offers. It is a time when we can look anew at our gardens and flowerbeds; we can dream. Like our gardens, the challenge of these times may leave us feeling like the brown messy landscape in our gardens. What makes the critical difference are those who 1.) can dream of possibility despite the mess and 2.) develop a plan that brings the possibility to reality. If we do these two things, the climate will change and we’ll be positioned to grow and flourish when that change occurs.
In the past, we’ve looked at those playing big and being intentional outside of our community. I’d like to look during 2009 at business women within our communities that exemplify these traits. Hopefully they will inspire you to feed your own dreams and move forward with intentionality. These are women who inspire me to keep stretching.
One woman who I believe exemplifies dreaming big, playing big and seeing possibility everywhere is Liz Beaudry, owner of Envision, a strategic marketing and design firm in Saint Peter. Envision believes that communication is smart business; they take a market savvy, common sense approach to helping clients achieve. I have found their design to be edgy and original as is Liz. She is a woman who is determined to make things happen despite obstacles along the way. Early in her career, a dream to work her way up in marketing in corporate America ended in a layoff. At the time, her husband had returned to school and they depended on Liz’s income. In addition, a tough performance review also brought the dream to a screeching halt when amongst other things her boss wrote “She approaches her communication with arrogance…” and “Others view her as a non-team player…”
“I was crushed. How I saw myself and how others saw me was not lining up. I began a long soul-searching process,” she says. It would be a long time before her dream was realized. Months after being laid off she was approached by a couple who owned several transportation businesses. The needed help with a variety of duties and she did everything from driving bus to answering phones to washing limos. Definitely not the ‘dream’ she had envisioned, but she learned about running a small business, doing what it takes to make it work, and communicating/working with a completely different type of team. She learned in the process that she was really meant to be a small business owner. This couple encouraged her to start her own business and several years later, her own marketing consulting business was birthed. Several years after that- she started the process to purchase Envision. Several years after that- she owned the firm…all before age 30. The young women who earlier had ‘rated’ low on communication skills now owned a communications firm.
“My journey here has been rocky, trying and gut wrenching. I think my success lies in the fact that I kept my eye on the ball, used my circumstances to learn, always looked for a win/win situation with people and trusted that God had a plan for my life- that He would show me how to move forward,” she shares. With this foundation she is fiercely dedicated to bringing her ‘best self’ to serve her clients and being a successful business woman.
Liz is also reflective and grounded in knowing who she is and her values. “I want my life to be about the impact I have on others. In other words, am I real/transparent AND inspiring/empowering towards others? The two seem to contradict in our society. The feeling is that you have to be ‘put together’ to be inspiring, but I want my life to be about being real, not having it all figured out. I walked through the process and fitted out sometimes, but in the end I realized my dream. It’s not about me; I just took the hard journey and gutted it out.”
“I also had a great companion to walk the journey with me.” Liz and her husband, Jeff, have a great relationship where they are committed to each others dreams and covering each others back to make those dreams a reality. They both dream big.
Lastly, another observation I’ve made about Liz is that she’s a futurist and dreamer; she sees possibilities everywhere. When you are in conversation with Liz she exudes and inspires possibilities. Just one year after purchasing Envision, her and her team launched Cards By Envision, selling high-end, letterpressed holiday cards to law firms.
“Coaching also helped me,” she comments. “During this whole process I could run possibilities by my coach. And I knew that I wasn’t going crazy; she was a great sounding board. She really challenged me to look at my values and strengths and operate within those. She asked the questions that brought silence on my end. Her questions caused me to think, to reflect. I still use her today to help me play big; she challenges me and can ‘keep up’ which is difficult with all of the ideas floating in my head on any given day!”
Are there places in your life where you have been hibernating and are ready to explore possibilities? What are you dreaming of? What do you need to be and do NOW so that you have a plan in place when the climate changes? How can you use negative circumstances you’re facing like Liz did to move forward into your best future and self? I look forward to hearing your responses. Please visit my blog to discuss these topics and converse with the people featured in these articles at www.dianagabriel.com/blog. You can also visit Envision’s website at www.thinkenvision.com.
Play the big game; I look forward to hearing your story