By Stephanie Skordas, Sr. Associate Director, Communications
“If you had told me this would be my path, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Elizabeth Lucas-Averett (MBA ’01) told the members of the Graduate Women in Business organization at the School of Business on February 22. She said we are conditioned to think of our careers as a linear progression, but career paths are often more winding or prone to taking sudden leaps.
The owner of Trivista Group, LLC, a consultancy with a focus on the aerospace industry, Lucas-Averett is also co-owner of Village Juice Co., a Winston-Salem cold-pressed juice company, and the host of a podcast on fitness, health, and mindset. She admits it is a diverse set of interests.
“I learned that I am a facilitator,” Lucas-Averett said. “I love to grow my passions.” Part of what makes her passionate about the business world is the role she plays outside of it. “Being a wife and a mom is a part of what makes me, me.”
Lucas-Averett offered the students and faculty members in the audience seven lessons she says she learned the hard way.
- The imposter syndrome
“We’re all making it up as we go along. Everyone’s doing the best they can. If I had known there was no magic formula for success, I would have started everything I’m doing sooner.
- Results, not effort
“Women, more often than men, wear busyness like a badge of honor. But there is no prize. Busyness is not the same as productivity. Focus on the results you are bringing to your organization.”
- Extreme accountability
“The buck stops with me. I make sure my clients know I will take full responsibility for solving problems that come up. And if you own the problem and solution, you’ve just put yourself in charge. People know they can trust me.”
- Stop nodding
Lucas-Averett says many women are conditioned to show they are engaged and listening through this body language. “But what it actually shows is that you are agreeing with everything, even when you shouldn’t be.” She encouraged the students listening to stop nodding, and remove the words “just” and “I’m sorry” from their day-to-day conversation.
- There’s no pie (So share it!)
Lucas-Averett says success is not a pie with a predetermined number of slices. “There is infinite success. Another woman’s success does not mean less success for me. We don’t have enough cheerleaders. We need to remind ourselves that there is infinite abundance for success. Your success is my success.”
- No, you can’t have it all
Articles on the internet and in the media promise women the ability to have great personal lives, work lives, relationships, health, finances, and more all at the same time. “It’s like a sound mixing board. When the bass is high, the treble is low. When you focus on one area, the other areas suffer.” She says keeping an eye on this balancing act calls for course-correction – the chance to figure out the amount of time you have, the number of resources you have, and what you want to accomplish.
- The power of story
“The stories we tell ourselves are the ones we live. Are you the victim in your story? If you think you’re put-upon, guess what, yep, you sure are. What do you want to be? Write out your brand story. If you write it, you will live it. When you articulate who you want to be, you will live it.”
“Having this advice fresh in our minds as graduation approaches is key,” said Caroline Magee (MA ’17). “One of her points was about surrounding yourself with people who inspire you to be a better person, so we’ll be taking this advice into our careers.”
Magee said the group plans to invite Lucas-Averett back to the School in April to talk with a larger group of students about career advice as they prepare for Commencement.