TransPerfect CEO Liz Elting looks picture perfect as she greets me with a warm smile in a bright orange dress in the company's New York City offices. It was a far cry from her humble beginnings north of the border in Toronto, Canada. I instantly felt like I'd known her for years.
We had been introduced by a mutual friend, who said I HAD to meet this incredible woman. It quickly became apparent that she was right. We chatted about our kids and careers, but nothing in her friendly manner indicated I was in the presence of a woman on Forbes list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, with a net worth of $420 million.
Liz started working at the age of 10. Normally I'd be tempted to say something cliche like "fast forward a few decades.. " but there was no fast forward for Liz. There was thousands of days of hard work. While working at one of her many jobs as a teen, Liz was inspired by a woman. Ironically, a woman who she didn't know, and with whom she never had a meaningful conversation.
After being financially cut off by her parents as a teen, Liz worked tirelessly for years and is now the head of the largest translation and technology solutions company in the world, TransPerfect.
Her success has been complicated, and has been chronicled in the media.
Liz's Grownup moment: My financial Grownup moment happened when I saw this gorgeous fuchsia silk blouse. Let me explain. I was working at Cadet cleaners, a dry cleaning chain in Chicago, when I was 16 years old. My parents had cut me off. They had stopped paying for my clothes and entertainment and I realized I needed a job to take care of myself. So there I was behind the counter at Cadet with a line out the door, 20 people, and a woman appeared with this gorgeous silk fuchsia blouse, along with some other clothes she was bringing in. At that moment I thought wow. I want to be that woman. I want to make money, and be successful so I can take care of myself. And that is when I realized I needed to work long and hard and have a major career but then I would also have freedom.
Liz's lesson: If you want to have financial freedom you need to make it happen on your own, by yourself. You need to get the experience. Find a job and work. You need to take care of yourself. It's what I've been doing since I had my first job at age 10. It's what I encourage my kids to do and the people around me. I don't feel that any of us should be financially dependent on anyone. When I was a kid, my parents said to me don't be financially dependent on anyone, including a man. Make sure you can take care of yourself.
Watch: Liz shares her Financial Grownup Moment
Watch: Liz shares her lesson