"Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you should be doing it," Liz Dennery Sanders says. "What really lights your fire? Focus on THAT."
The founder and CEO of SheBrand worked in branding, marketing, and public relations for 25 years. Sanders owned a successful PR agency but left in order to pursue her calling. She opened SheBrand in 2009 with the mission of communicating with and marketing to women as well as helping entrepreneurs build their confidence, their brands, and their bank accounts.
The entrepreneur is also the author of Style & Substance: How to Create a Compelling Brand, which gives women entrepreneurs the tools they need to gain brand clarity all in one place.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Liz Dennery Sanders
Founder and CEO, SheBrand, Inc.
Los Angeles, California
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I have worked in branding, marketing, and public relations for 25 years. I started with internships in college for Warner Bros. Pictures and an entertainment PR firm run by two women in Boston. I later worked at Harper's Bazaar in NYC handling advertising and marketing campaigns for iconic fashion brands like Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, and Versace.
I left to work in freelance publicity for a handful of fashion brands, which evolved into a full-fledged public relations agency by the time I moved to Los Angeles in 2002. Over a 10-year period, we worked with large, multi-million dollar brands like Escada, Hale Bob, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Elyse Walker, Cedars Sinai Medical Center and the American Cancer Society, as well as high profile individuals like Serena Williams, Garcelle Beauvais and Kelly Rutherford. We dressed everyone from Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Angelina Jolie, Heidi Klum, Jessica Alba, Kendall Jenner, Taylor Swift and Penelope Cruz in our clients' clothing and accessories. I founded my second company—SheBrand—in 2009 because I felt that a lot of brands were doing a poor job of communicating with and marketing to women. I also wanted to help women entrepreneurs build their confidence, their brands, and their bank accounts. When women thrive, our society thrives and everyone wins.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
I wrote my first book last year, and it's coming out this month. It's called Style & Substance: How to Create a Compelling Brand. My intention is to give women entrepreneurs the tools they need all in one place to gain brand clarity—all of the questions and exercises I use with my clients—in a simple, concise workbook that they can work through on their own. I recently received a final copy from my publisher, and I cried when I held it in my hands. We rarely take the time to celebrate our wins—we move at such a fast pace today—and I was overcome with the realization of what a big accomplishment this was for me.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
Downsizing my successful PR and marketing agency years ago when I really wasn't happy, and taking a leap of faith to pursue something I knew was my calling.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
She doesn't know it (yet), but it's Michelle Obama. When I'm struggling with how to handle a particular situation, I often ask myself, "What would Michelle do?" Or I just use the euphemism, WWMD. She has tremendous composure, intelligence, and integrity, and has the right words for every occasion. I had the honor of meeting her right before her husband became president, and she was the epitome of grace and elegance.
What do you do when you're not working?
I spend as much time as I can with my four-and-a-half-year-old son. And to decompress, I hike around Los Angeles, do pilates and meet up with girlfriends for dinner. I'm also a voracious reader and love to get lost in a good book—I alternate between fiction and non-fiction.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
Either Michelle Obama (see above) or Frank Sinatra. I have few regrets in life, but one is that I never met Frank or saw him perform in person.
What is your karaoke song?
"Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood
What is your favorite movie?
The Shawshank Redemption
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
Probably something inspiring and uplifting by Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer or Gabrielle Bernstein.
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
Shopping vice: shoes, gold rings and sea salt dark chocolate. If I won the lottery I would probably buy a house at the beach—or an apartment in Paris.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you should be doing it. Women are dynamic and multi-faceted, and most of us could do lots of things well. But you must distinguish between your "competent" level work and your "genius" work. What really lights your fire? What are you most passionate about and when do you find yourself most in flow? Focus on THAT and find a way to outsource, delegate or let go of the rest. And remember, it doesn't happen overnight.
Why do you love where you work?
Sunshine all year long!
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.