One of the best perks of my work is meeting all sorts of inspirational women on a regular basis. Some overflow with exuberant energy, while others are quietly powerful. They are young, old, and every age in between. What they all share is the confidence to move out of their own way and the learned ability to feel the fear and do it anyway. Despite how easy they make it look, each one has a story to tell, missteps made along the way, and occasions when their self-confidence was shaken to the core. Persevering in spite of life’s challenges is precisely what empowers us.
I am happy to bring to you monthly interviews with empowered women I admire in the hopes that they inspire you as well.
Grab a cup of tea, read on, and enjoy.
We start with Elaine Zelker, who has been my go-to headshot photographer for both books. Elaine's mission is to create beautiful images, teach others how to build memorable brands, and inspire creative living.
For the past nine years, Elaine has been running her photography business in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. She has been published in multiple publications and has worked on numerous film projects and commercials. She has expanded and now offers classes in photography, branding and social media, and also mentors others to perfect the perfect headshot. Known as a serial entrepreneur, she has multiple side hustles and loves art! She's a mom, a teacher, a photographer, brand strategist, wife, team leader, author, DIY'er, speaker and lover of life!!
Tell me a little about your path…
My path has led me in many directions!! I started with a degree in Psychology and Business, then got an RN Degree. After 15 years in that world (which included many aspects of nursing...running a dermatology practice, working in Pharmaceutical Sales, working in different hospitals and specialties, including Hospice Nursing….) I jumped ship and pursued my true passion in photography in 2010…and never looked back! I discovered in 2017 that I did not want to pigeon hole my path by “just” being a photographer, for I knew I was much more than that…that’s when I rebranded myself as a photographer and brand strategist…my mission statement is to: “create beautiful images, teach others how to build memorable brands, and inspire creative living”.
What’s your biggest life lesson/challenge right now?
Knowing that family comes first! No matter what. I have 3 beautiful girls (2 in college and one in high school)…they still need me to be a “present” mom. They know how hard I work and get really busy, but they know they can always count on me to be there for them. Life throws you curveballs all the time and you have to know how to balance work and life all the time. I learned to “leave work at work”, and “leave home at home”…it makes for a perfect combination!
What keeps you grounded?
My girlfriends!! I’m in a “CEO” (Challenge Each Other) Group. We meet up every few months and chat about our businesses, our challenges, goals and failures. We boost each other, we are each other’s cheerleaders and role models. We balance each other out, we hold each other accountable, we cry on each other’s shoulders and know we can always count on each other in times of need. They are my TRIBE!
Tell me about your relationship with fear.
Everyone has fear, but not everyone challenges it! I challenge my fears every day. I counterbalance fear with passion…and passion always wins! When you have fear on one side, and passion on the other…..you have to jump!! Go for it….push fear aside…because you never know what is waiting for you. I remove words like can’t, won’t, unable, afraid, should, just from my vocabulary. They do nothing but bring me down. If you think those things...you act on those things….so remove doubt and fear…and JUMP!
In what ways do you empower yourself? Others?
I never stop learning!! (and the more I learn, the more I want to teach!) When I wanted to “up my game” in headshot photography, I found the best in the world to teach me. I became friends with him and I now mentor other photographers as well. I invest time and money into my business. This empowers me daily. I am currently in a 10-week elite entrepreneur class that will end with a weekend stay in Colorado at an amazing mastermind class. LEARNING is my kryptonite!! And when I learn something, more empowerment comes from me TEACHING others the way!! For every one hour I teach, I’m sure I’ve invested over 100+ hours in learning! I empower myself by pushing myself up to the top of my game all the time.
What is the biggest myth that keeps women stuck?
Thinking they CAN’T!! Growing and building is a mindset!! It starts by building YOU first!! I tell women entrepreneurs all the time…if YOU don’t work…IT won’t work!! I studied (and still read daily) the Og Mandino Scrolls…changed my world!!! Learning to love yourself first, learning to master my emotions, creating good habits from bad habits, and realizing it’s better to live each day as if it’s your last…changed my mindset 100%! The hardest thing we have to do is create self-discipline! This comes from creating schedules, journaling, setting goals and crushing them, and working on yourself daily. This is what I do every day.
What’s your go-to phrase for empowering yourself?
There is nothing I can’t do!
What are you working on now that thrills you the most?
Building my 10-week mastermind course! I just piloted my first class and it was amazing. I’ll be doing an online private Facebook group for women entrepreneurs who are ready to crush it!! Building themselves first so they can have a successful business.
What would others be surprised to know about you?
I’m a huge DIY’er!! I have a YouTube channel that shows my “crafty-side”!! I’ve been sewing, crocheting/knitting, and crafting since I was 8 years old!! I also know how to do woodworking, plumbing, and electrical work!! I gutted and remodeled my bathroom from soup to nuts myself! (except for lifting the toilet back in place…the hubs had to help with that!)
Books/Podcasts/Tutorials…never stop learning!! By far, my favorite is the teachings from the Og Mandino Scrolls (which I teach in my 10-week class). Spend at least 30mins a day on self-improvement.
Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your wisdom with us!