Sarah Elliott, PCC, CPA
On Thursday, April 7th, 2022, we will talk with Sarah Elliott.
Sarah’s mission is to usher into the world a more conscious, evolved leadership model.
She founded the Ellivate Alliance, an alliance of women entrepreneurs who want to maximize their positive impact in the world. Through the power of collaboration, the Ellivate Alliance provides women business owners the inspiration, practical know-how and like-minded community to accelerate their growth. (Full disclosure: Emily serves on the Advisory Board for Ellivate Alliance.)
An author, speaker and instructor on coaching and leadership development, she also founded Intend2Lead to coach accountants to access the Dimension of Possible the place where fear is no longer the enemy, and love reigns.
Sarah has been recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Accounting by AICPA and CPA Practice Advisor for the past four years and is one of the Top 50 Women in Accounting by Practice Ignition.
Q: Who are you and what do you do?
There could be countless labels for who I am. Some of my favorites are: mother, entrepreneur, seeker, woman, leader, lifelong learner, coach, friend.
I am the founder of Ellivate Alliance, a community of brave women entrepreneurs who are channeling our feminine wisdom to run our businesses, create social change and find joy in who we are and what we do. Through Ellivate, we create community, provide accessible learning, and support one another in integrating more conscious business practices.
I am also co-founder and principal of Intend2Lead, a leadership development company that coaches accountants to access the Dimension of Possible through leadership coaching, group learning and consulting with organizations to create coaching cultures.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a leader and having a personal brand?
As a leader, I am always learning and growing. I am grateful to have the opportunity to support so many other people’s growth by sharing what I’m learning with them. I also learn so much from, and am inspired by, all the people I work with. To me, leadership feels like a mutually beneficial upward spiral of growth, learning and inspiration.
Q: What do you find most challenging as a leader with a public, personal brand?
I carry a constant fear with me, “What will other people think of me? What if I put my foot in my mouth? What if I say or do something that hurts someone unintentionally and reflects my ignorance?” Although the fear is ever present, I practice moving through it and letting it go each day. I remind myself that all I can do is show up in the right heart space and do my best. I have made mistakes. I still make mistakes. I will continue to make mistakes. I hope I have the courage to continue making mistakes the rest of my life because that’s the only way I can evolve.
Q: Do you have a mindfulness practice? If so, what are some of your rituals?
Beginning a meditation practice in 2013 changed my life and opened the door to personal transformation. I have evolved my practice over the years, and it continues to be the single most important practice I have as a leader and human being. Right now, I spend about 30 minutes each morning in meditation and prayer that includes silence, focused breathing, gratitude, requests for support, sending loving kindness to the world, and some chakra-focused meditation (with a few Aums thrown in for good measure).
Q: Do you have any consistent branding practices (social media, video, blogging, etc.) you do?
For me, branding is simply showing up authentically and in alignment with our beliefs on a consistent basis.
For Ellivate Alliance, we are reworking our branding practices since we’ve made some significant shifts this year to level up and expand our impact. I currently write one newsletter per month that includes a heartfelt letter from me plus a new Ellivate Aware feature where we explore how to integrate more conscious practices into our businesses and lives. We also engage with our community through regular online meet-ups and with our broader audience through consistent social media that builds on the newsletter’s content and themes.
For Intend2Lead, we set a theme for each month and release a newsletter and two 10-minute episodes of our web show, Leading Possibilities, plus social media. Everything revolves around the theme, and the themes are always aligned with our root beliefs, values and brand identity.
Q: Leadership (and branding) today requires so much of ourselves. How do you show up authentically and also keep your battery charged?
My morning routine sets the tone and fuels my day – meditation and prayer practice plus exercise. I also adhere to a structured work week with specific blocks allocated for meetings, focus time and breaks. I very rarely work nights or weekends. Although I’ve gotten to a strong place now, it’s taken years of work (I learned the hard way after too many years of overwork and burnout). Honoring my schedule, myself and my mission requires me to say no and disappoint people sometimes. I want to keep my Yeses powerful, instead of diluting them.
Q: What one difficult lesson continues to regularly guide and inform your career?
I will never accomplish all the things I would like to do. There are so many great ideas!! My tendency is typically towards action, impact and urgency, which means I can easily find myself implementing too many great ideas at once. Not only does this burn me out, it dilutes the impact I want to make and ultimately hinders progress. In fact, I ended up injuring my knee a few days prior to the launch of Ellivate Alliance. I was just doing too much, too fast, and my body made me slow down.
I continue to remind myself that big progress is made through small, consistent steps – that by focusing on one (or just a few!) great idea(s) at a time ultimately leads to more sustainable progress and impact. I must trust my intuition to discern which priorities require my focus and energy at any given moment.
Q: What has been the most satisfying victory in your career? Lessons from that?
This is a tough question because “victory” isn’t a word that resonates for me. I looked it up, and it’s defined as “an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game or other competition.” I’ve never felt I had an enemy or was in competition with someone or something.
What does come to mind for me is breaking free from the limitations of the corporate world and taking the big leap into entrepreneurship. It feels incredibly satisfying to have the freedom to create a business that aligns 100% with my values and allows me to fulfill my personal mission and express myself more authentically.
Entrepreneurship continues to be a personal journey of expansion that requires me to take risks, overcome my fears and create business and life without a blueprint. It’s exhilarating and scary, all at the same time, in the best possible way.
Q: What sort of questions would you love for our guests to ask you on Being Marketers?
Whatever they want to ask! I will do my best to answer as honestly as possible.
Q: What are you reading or listening to (podcasts or audiobooks) right now that you would recommend?
I’m currently reading What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri (it’s blowing my mind, in the best way). I just bought Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism, by Aja Barber (can’t wait to dig into that one). I get my daily news from NPR’s Up First podcast and also listen to Code Switch, Today Explained, and Hidden Brain regularly.
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