It’s midafternoon, and Lizzie Vance sits behind her laptop. A purple, blue, and yellow celestial-patterned cloth is fastened to the wall directly behind her. The colorful backdrop complements the vibrant streaks of purple and blue in her silver hair. Another day. Another opportunity to be courageous, as Lizzie prepares for her next call.
That call was me—a doe-eyed, fast-talking, excited new addition to Round Table Companies. I had the opportunity to ask Lizzie anything and everything about how things are done at the Table. We hit it off within five minutes, a genuine connection for two people on opposite coasts. I have been immensely lucky to work closely with Lizzie on several projects. As our editorial director, Lizzie serves as creative guru, mentor, comic relief, and fearless leader.
Here is a window into knowing this California girl a little better.
Mary Anna: Okay, let’s start with an easy one. When you were a little Lizzie, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lizzie: I wanted to be ALL OF THE THINGS, but, eventually, I settled with “famous.” In high school, I acted, sang, and was Comedy Sportz captain (theater improv) and Thespian president, but I was also a varsity cheerleader because I’m such a ham. I love being in front of large groups of people. I started taking classical voice lessons when I was 19 and thought I would go in that direction until I got thwarted by something called “needing to make a living,” so I focused on finishing graduate school so that I could comfortably adult.
MA: Well, I know what you do for a living, so . . . tell us how you got here?
L: I have a bachelor’s in English with a focus on creative writing and poetry, and a master’s degree in rhetoric and composition—both from California State University, Northridge. I never thought I could be a writer . . . I honestly thought that wasn’t on the menu of life. So I became a college writing instructor. I loved teaching writing at the college level, but in order to teach a full-time load of classes each semester, I had to drive to different colleges all over Los Angeles because it was rare to teach more than one class per semester at each college. All that driving exhausted me, so I began to look for a job where I could teach at one school (instead of four or five) each semester. I took a job teaching high school English full time, but then the California budget cuts happened and my contract wasn’t renewed. I figured that was as good a time as any to try my hand at writing professionally. That was in 2012, and I haven’t looked back since.
MA: I’m glad you ordered off the secret menu! How did you get connected with Round Table Companies?
L: When I decided I wanted to make a living as a writer, I asked my mom if she knew any writers, and she did. She suggested I reach out to one of her former clients, and I did . . . with the full confidence of a novice—I didn’t know what I didn’t know! I interviewed this man about his journey, and he was incredibly generous about sharing as much about being a professional writer as he possibly could. The day after that interview, his assistant asked me if I wanted to apply to work here because his boss—my interview subject—had had so much fun on my interview call with him. That man was Corey Blake! That was in the fall of 2012. In 2014, my life more or less exploded when I got divorced, so in the fall of 2015, I took a break from working at the Table to take care of myself. And when I came back—after freelancing “in the wild” for about a year and a half without the support of RTC—I knew this was where I wanted to be full time. This is home.
MA: That is quite the journey, and your entry point to RTC is a bit serendipitous! What gets you up and out of bed every morning?
L: I genuinely love what I do, and feel so lucky to have this job. I love being part of a team of creative and brilliant minds who genuinely love one another, their work, and their clients. I love that I get to call RTC home and that everything I do each day for my job makes this a better place to work and play for everyone who finds themselves in our midst.
MA: When you’re not being a superstar for RTC, what can we find you doing?
L: This is a dumb answer, but . . . is there anything else to life other than being a superstar for RTC? All joking aside, I do some freelance creativity coaching on the side, and in light of all the books I’ve written, edited, and coached into existence (both at RTC and freelance), I still have yet to write my own memoir! I still have the desire to do so, but we’ve been ramping up so much amazing work at the Table lately that I haven’t had the brain power to do much of my own writing. Hopefully I will be able to get back to it soon.
MA: I would definitely read your memoir. I want a signed copy. Give us a spoiler! Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
L: I started going silver when I was twelve years old and getting asked regularly who dyes my hair. I got lucky in that it’s a great time in history to be prematurely silver. Plus, it does look pretty cool.
MA: I hope that is a good thing! Would you share a little bit about your family?
L: My sister and her kids mean the world to me, so I try to see them as much as possible. I’ve received the “Best Aunt Ever” award three years running! As for me, I live in a cute little apartment with my two cats, Princess Vespa and Pigwidgeon, and my dog, Pippa, who makes it easier to meet handsome men when I take her on walks.
MA: #Relatable. My boxer Bronx Brutus makes the perfect wingman. Where do you live now?
L: After a tour around the country that included stints in Austin and Honolulu, I am back to where my roots were first planted . . . in Los Angeles, CA.
MA: A true Angeleno; no wonder everyone calls you a unicorn. Switching gears for a moment, what would you say is your superpower?
L: Empathy. Although, before I knew it was a superpower, I thought it was a liability. In many ways, it was a liability because I didn’t know that connection with people’s vulnerability was a worthy skill to have—I just thought I was overly sensitive. It used to be a regular thing that I would get taken on the wind of other people’s unwieldy emotions. But life is much better now that I know what to do with it.
MA: That must have taken quite a bit of self-awareness and self-exploration . . . which leads me to my last question, and it is a philosophical one. If you had to make your very own three rules to live by, what would they be?
L:Oh, I love this question! Okay, here goes nothing:
MA: Well said, and I may borrow these words of wisdom from time to time. Thank you for being fun, Lizzie!
L: Hey, thank you! That was a really fun interview. If you didn’t already have a job here, I just might ask you to apply!