Today we’re featuring another member of the Evoke Strategy LLC team. Elizabeth Freid Vocke is president and chief strategist, and can often be heard talking about the benefits of a clearly thought out strategic campaign. Evoke Strategy LLC is her first business, having previously worked for international PR firm, Hill + Knowlton for more than 11 years, and doing non-profit and broadcast PR work before that. Elizabeth and husband Devon have an almost six-year-old daughter, Mirabelle, who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
1. What is the most interesting thing about you or your business? The backgrounds we bring to the business are what I think are most interesting and most valuable to our clients. I have a more traditional, PR-focused, long-term, strategic planning background and viewpoint, while Devon’s is very focused on digital with a scrappy entrepreneurial way of thinking. It’s a good balance of skills and of how we look at things, and get things done for our clients. I think from a personal level the fact that we are a husband and wife team is interesting. We really know each other’s strengths and how to best utilize them and we really enjoy working together (seriously!).
2. What makes business ownership worth it to you? The freedom and flexibility it allows me. I get to do something I really love professionally, but am also able to pick up my daughter from school every day, spend time with her in the afternoons, volunteer in her school, etc. It’s busy, but it’s worth it. I also love that I’m now able to be creative and apply all the techniques I’ve recommended to clients for so many years, to my own business. That is really fulfilling and exciting.
3. Describe your typical day. Mornings are relatively hectic. I get up around an hour before Mirabelle leaves for school, which is usually when she wakes up, too. I get myself dressed, make sure she is dressed and then we go downstairs for a quick cartoon for Mirabelle while I make her breakfast and lunch. In the meantime I’m eating a piece of toast and checking/responding to emails, and trying to lure the dog downstairs to go out. I take Mirabelle to school and try to run to the gym. Then I start the other part of my life, which is work – I call it the quick change, changing from business woman to mom and back. During the day I do a lot of writing, interviewing, meeting with current or prospective clients and then late afternoon I get ready to pick Mirabelle up from school. I try to spend good quality time with her in the afternoon but honestly, it’s not always quality time – we’re spending time together but by that time we’re both a little tired, hungry and cranky. I enjoy making dinner for the family almost every night while Mirabelle does her homework, we spend some family time together and Devon and I do bedtime with Mirabelle. In the midst of all that I’m checking emails, strategizing with Devon, and doing client work. But, everyday is different – as I’m writing this, it’s 6:00 a.m. and I’m waiting for everyone to get up.
4. Would you ever trade running your own business for a 9 to 5 job? It would really have to be the right opportunity. I love being able to balance my work with my family, and I love the idea that we are building something together as a family that could even be passed down to Mirabelle if she is interested.
5. What advice would you give to someone considering business ownership or entrepreneurism? Are there certain skills or traits they need to be successful? I think it is hard, hard work to own your own business and you have to have a thick skin. Growing up, I watched my father run his own business so I had no illusions about how much hard work it takes. There are going to be ups and downs, but you have to look at it as a marathon, not a sprint. I also think being an entrepreneur – one of those people like Devon who has owned businesses since they got out of college (or before) and come up with ideas and actually try to make them work – is a completely different personality type than most people. And I don’t put myself in that category. Entrepreneurs like that are so interesting to me because they are creative, they are optimists and they are risk takers, and that is what makes them successful.
6. Why do you think you’re successful? What does success mean to you? I think I’m successful because I’m taking risks and putting into practice what I’ve been talking about to clients for years. I think things out, I’m a planner, and I want to ensure success for my clients and myself. And, I think I’m successful because I’m able to keep sight of what’s important – my family, growing a strong, viable business with integrity, and also giving back to the community, which I haven’t even talked about here. That’s what success means to me.