On Embracing The Opportunity For Growth: Dr. Elizabeth Goins

On Embracing The Opportunity For Growth: Dr. Elizabeth Goins

Leading up to our Summer ‘19 iteration of WORK, we'll feature select interviews with some of our conference's speakers and thought leaders. In this interview, communications leader Dr. Elizabeth Goins talks about going after your career with no roadmap. Click here for a look at Summer 2019’s conference schedule.


Dr. Elizabeth Goins earned a Ph.D. in communication from The University of Texas at Austin, an MA in strategic communication from George Mason University, and a BA in communication and English from Wake Forest University. In graduate school, Elizabeth researched how technology shapes the culture and communication of organizations. Now she helps executives and MBA students refine their communication skills like public speaking, interpersonal dynamics, persuasive writing, and interviewing.

What kind of support do you wish you had had when you were just starting out?

I wish that I had been more supportive of myself. No matter how many inspiring books you read or insightful conversations you have, you can’t really learn how to be an entrepreneur until you actually become one. I spent a lot of time criticizing myself for not having all of the answers; it felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.” I finally realized that there is no clear roadmap to running a business, and embraced the gaps in my knowledge as opportunities for growth.

How do you exercise personal and professional patience?

Being a teacher for so long really taught me about compassion. At first I would get defensive when students questioned my expertise or pushed back in other ways. Over time I realized that 9/10 times, it wasn’t about me. My relationship with students and clients changed when I focused on supporting them instead of convincing them. It’s much easier to be patient when you feel empathy.

When do you know it’s a “yes?” when do you know it’s a “no?”

If I feel a little scared and/or really excited, then it’s a definite “yes.” I love projects and people that challenge me to learn and grow. If I feel ambivalent or genuinely anxious, then it’s a definite “no.”

What are your thoughts on concepts of work/life balance?

I hate that term. As an entrepreneur, my work is my life, and there’s nothing inherently bad or “off-balance” about that. If I’m working so much that I’m not keeping up with routines (see below), then that’s problematic and I adjust. Balance is a daily, ongoing process, not an objective goal to be achieved.

How do you take care of yourself?

I’m like a baby; my body craves routines. That means meal-prepping, scheduling work around exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and putting time on my calendar for relaxation. My work is physically, mentally, and emotionally intensive, and I can’t operate at peak performance without that discipline.

What’s something you’ve unlearned lately that you’re grateful for?

I used to say yes to every client or project, even if my intuition said it wasn’t a good fit. Those decisions were based on fear, and I almost always regretted them. Now I give myself at least a day to think, and if I’m still not feeling it, I say no with compassion. It’s better for everyone that way!

Do you have any daily habits that are crucial to your workflow?

Since I have ADHD, timing my tasks is essential. I knock out cognitive-heavy work in the morning, and save the afternoons for meetings. For creative tasks, I block off large chunks in my calendar. I need time to “get into the groove” and let ideas flow organically. That can’t happen if I’m over-scheduled.

© Elizabeth Goins, Ph.D. https://goinscommunication.com

About WORK: WORK is a biannual pop-up space, designed for sharing new ideas and approaches to creative and entrepreneurial work. The event's panels, workshops and speaker sessions explore personal and professional curiosity, storytelling, diversity and equality, business management and creative entrepreneurship. Our next conference pops up in July 2019 at Rowling Hall in Austin, Texas. ✨Click here for more information.

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