It Girl | ERIN LITTLE
Meet Erin Little! Erin shares her experiences as a serial entrepreneur and more! My favorite part of this interview is the reminder that our failures don’t define us and to be a good human. Read it all here!
Name: Erin Little
Job Title/Company: Interim Executive Director, Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network
Education Background: Loyola University Chicago; Bachelor in English & Communication, Draper University; Entrepreneurship Studies
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I am extremely curious person who loves learning and challenging the status quo. I’m originally from the Midwest, but have lived and worked on three continents. Although I’ve had many roles, I’m technically a serial entrepreneur and innovator obsessed with solving big problems. My work has spanned across startups, policy, and technology with over 190 countries I’ve done some kind of project in to date.
2. Who are you most influenced by?
There are several major US politicians who are influencing my day to day quite a bit right now. I don’t like any of them.
3. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
My first payroll job was working at an ice cream shop called Cherries with one of my best friends Merideth Johnson. I was fired within three days.
4. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
No matter where I am in the world, I still speak to my parents almost every day.
5. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
I think I have a tendency to define myself by my work. Entrepreneurs don’t get the chance to have jobs. They take on deeply personal missions and work comes home with them. I think I’ve tried to separate out my work life taking on a deep sense of purpose and the organizations I run with who I am as a human being or individual.
Many startups fail, and it’s been a difficult path to not let failure cloud who I see myself whether the outcomes are positive or negative. I am still Erin after all. It changes your identity immensely when you can remove yourself beyond the identity of what you do for a living. It is incredibly freeing.
6. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned through your work?
Learning the art of patience, and understanding that timing is everything.
7. Where do you hope to be in five years?
I hope to be either in office or running an organization, but with a family of my own behind me.
8. What is a typical day like for you?
I balance multiple projects at once so every day is different. For instance, I occasionally teach in schools, run an organization full-time, manage private consulting clients, and advise startups a few times a week. I have worked remotely in many of my roles, so I try to either be around students in the morning or friends late at night so I don’t get too isolated. I will chunk out my meetings usually in the afternoons, and major “heavy lifting” tasks when my focus is best either at night or after my calls are over so I’m not interrupting my zone.
9. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
My health controls a lot of my experience as well as moods and finances. I’ve been Type 1 diabetic since I was 11, so it is really important to be hyper aware of my condition. Type 1 is highly influence by stress, so learning to really slow down when I need to has been a major learning curve.
10. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Never turn down an invitation.
11. When do you get your best ideas?
I am a classic night owl. Always, always, at night.
12. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
I’ve failed so many times I’m not sure where I even begin. One of my first interviews as an intern was at the largest French advertising firm in the world. The Managing Director of the office kicked me out of his office because I was unaware of their listed stock price in the market for that day. It taught me to always be prepared, but also that I didn’t want to work with a jerk.
13. How do you unwind?
I love bathtubs. Bathtubs are really hard to find in many parts of the world, so I take great joy whenever I can find one. I also am a street art aficionado and most of my Instagram is just photos of art from all of my travels. Other than that, I follow football (soccer) relatively closely.
14. What would you tell someone else who is interested in entering your field?
Brace yourself, and make friends with as many founders who understand your world as possible. It is very hard and most people do not understand what you are going through. Your family and friends will think you’re insane, and you are, but it’s okay because you’re not alone.
15. What do you hope people take away from your story?
People often get the highlights and not the real story. The year I was featured in TIME Magazine I earned $700. I’ve been privileged to see millions of lives worldwide affected by some of my efforts, but that often comes at an immense sacrifice. There are risks I took when I was younger I’m not sure I would ever do again. Fortune favors the bold, but if you make the choice to take risks you have to be prepared to play the long game.
You have to define success on your own terms, which is why I ultimately care more about my friends and family than anything else. Money, school, leadership, not a lot matters if you don’t have a good foundation of support of people who love you behind you. I am exceptionally blessed with good friends, an Egyptian boyfriend who loves me, and parents who have made my dreams possible while struggling to manage a life threatening illness who have pushed me forward when I want to give up. God has given me strength when I have nothing left to give and to him I am grateful for this life he has given me.
16. Anything we missed that you would like to share?
Always be human to people. I’ve had the chance to meet lots of people all over the world: from Nobel Prize winners, refugees, billionaires, Kansas stay at home moms, and lots of amazing students. Staying humble and understanding everyone has a powerful story to tell to use for the greater good is a strong reminder every day we all need each other and are interconnected despite our different journeys.
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