This week we're spotlighting Liz, a New York-based MIT graduate who loves teaching economics, mathematics, and finance! Since graduating from MIT, Liz is following her dream of working in art as a co-founder and the CEO of a start-up based in NYC called limeSHIFT, which uses a co-creative art process to build culture and community, instigate and manage change within organizations, and transform working spaces. You can look at Liz's tutor profile here.
Tell us about where you grew up, and what your world looked like.
I grew up in the suburbs north of New York City. There is small stream that runs through my childhood neighborhood and my brother and I frequently played in the water trying to catch small fish, worms and other critters. We were pretty active and rambunctious kids and my world was filled with outdoor forts, soccer balls, and skinned knees from rollerblading.
What did you decide to study, and why?
As a kid, I always loved puzzles. On trips, my family would challenge each other to mensa games and that instilled a lifelong love of numbers. In college, I tried my first art history class and became smitten. I loved sitting in the dark lecture hall learning about history and culture through the lens of art. Pairing my interests in numbers and art, I pursued a mechanical engineering degree, which let me explore both of my passions and learn some pretty cool computer programs and machine tools along the way.
What are you up to now? How did you decide to pursue this?
I received my MBA from MIT Sloan in June 2015 and started an art company based in NYC. My company, limeSHIFT, uses a co-creative art process to empower and engage communities. We believe that art has the power to bring people together like nothing else in the world. While at MIT, I met my cofounders, an artist and a diplomat, who were using this art practice in public space to address social justice issues and heal communities in conflict zones. We wanted to create a sustainable way to finance these important projects and spread art's beauty to non-traditional areas.
What do you imagine your life will look like in 5-10 years?
limeSHIFT is a growing and successful company; we are completing important work globally; and we have changed hearts and minds on the value of art. Oh, and we have a super cool, artsy office in Brooklyn.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
Teaching is so much more than instructing on content. Students are looking for guidance on study habits, career choices, extracurricular endeavors and life lessons. It's been more fun and challenging than I expected.
What daily routines or habits are most important for you to do your work?
Working out! I'm a avid yogi, cycler and gym nut. If I didn't drag myself out of bed in the morning to work out, I'd lay around all day and be incredibly lazy. It's the best way to start the day, get my energy level up (pre-coffee!) and get motivated to do work.
Tell us a story from your childhood. Or, introduce us to your 15 year old self.
Both of my parents are doctors and when I was in kindergarten, my teacher invited my dad to class to dissect a fish (he's an anesthesiologist). I was his assistant during the dissection and I remember being grossed out by the fish eyeballs, but I couldn't leave his side. To this day, I have no idea why my teacher wanted my dad to dissect the fish!
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received or given?
For my best friend's 30th birthday, I created a journal of poems, pictures and memories for her that we passed among our friend group and each friend created a new entry. The journal traveled across the country for 2 months leading up to her birthday celebration. She had no idea and cried when she read it.
What does your daily information consumption diet look like?
I'm an NPR junkie. Before I even get out of bed, I turn on NPR's Morning Edition. Hearing the stories gets me going while I brush my teeth. My favorite is Storycorps. I look forward to it every Friday. When I get to the office, I progress to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, periodically checking throughout the day.
What’s something that has inspired you recently?
This past Sunday, I visited my mom's first apartment. Her family was very poor and she grew up in the projects, first in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan and then in Coney Island, Brooklyn. I had never seen the actual building where she grew up and seeing brought her memories to life in a way that I hadn't experienced before. I am impressed, inspired and awed by her. Because of her hard work and perseverance, she built a successful and meaningful career as a doctor and completely changed her life.
How do you stay focused and motivated?
I surround myself with incredibly smart, driven and talented people. Our shared passion for the work that we do propels us forward.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?
Explore! Allow yourself the freedom to explore your passions and interests. You will work so much harder when you find work that is personally meaningful to you.