Q: Brief Career Bio – how did you come to be doing what you’re doing?
Ellen: My career in presentations design began while I was working in San Francisco for a leading strategic design firm. Moving to Seattle in 1991, I continued my interest in presentation design, working with Microsoft and other companies helping them visually communicate the power of their ideas, their products and their businesses. As a cancer survivor in 1995, I set out on a path that was never anticipated nor planned – that of starting a business. As a response to Microsoft’s need for an outside vendor in the area of corporate presentations, I thought “Why not me?”, and Silver Fox Productions opened its doors. A decade later, we’re still going strong.
Q: What do you believe are your key areas of strength?
Ellen: I place value in my ability to have a vision, creating a strategic plan around that vision, committing to that plan, knowing when to expand the vision and/or modify the plan, having the courage to take risks and making difficult decisions inherent in stepping out of one’s comfort zone. I also really enjoy creating opportunities and empowering employees, providing a supportive work environment, placing the utmost value on integrity and growing and maintaining healthy and successful client partnerships.
Q: What do like most about your job?
Ellen: I really enjoy the challenges of growing a successful small business by meeting and exceeding high expectations of clients, establishing and maintaining a high standard of performance and achievement. That commitment to excellence has become the foundation on which Silver Fox is built. In running a business, the challenge of having things run smoothly is a daily task while embracing whatever changes necessary to achieve that task. The act of taking risks is inherent in being the owner of a small business. Risk not only stretches and takes you to places you never thought you’d be able to go but is another way of having fun!
Q: What’s the biggest barrier or hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your career and how did you handle it?
Ellen: The economic downturn of 2000-2001 created enormous challenges for all businesses and Silver Fox was no exception. In order to keep the business on a steady path, many decisions had to be made that impacted me and my employees. The professional and personal risks and sacrifices associated with those decisions, the communication of why those decisions needed to be implemented to my employees and the importance of staying committed to my vision was critical to the ongoing success of the company.
Q: How do you deal with balancing work and your personal life?
Ellen: As a business owner, from the day SFP opened its doors, I felt if I could build a creative place, a cool place to work, an environment where laughter and camaraderie went hand in hand with the pressures of the day, where coming to work was going to help inspire and enlighten people rather than separating themselves from who they felt comfortable being during the many hours they spent at work, then I was helping to bridge the gap and find balance between people’s work and personal life. My work and my personal life are in sync much of the time. Both aspects of my life give support to the other.
Q: Based on what you’ve learned during your career, what advice do you have for other women?
Ellen: Be willing to take a “leap of faith” and trust in yourself, create a dream for yourself, and ask yourself if you are willing to push yourself in unfamiliar ways. Be courageous in the belief of yourself and your convictions to make those dreams into reality by going after what you want. Never lose sight of who you are and the conscious choices that will help you realize those dreams.
Q: If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
Ellen: Generosity of mind and spirit.