Elizabeth Pudwill – President of I Know Somebody Houston

Do the things you are afraid to do.

Elizabeth Pudwill works directly with the public on a daily basis at the Houston Chronicle as Executive Assistant to the Editor and Chronicle Reader Representative. She is all around problem solver. A solution minded woman, helping people and finding solutions is what Elizabeth does best.

IKSH started in March of 2012 as a solution to a problem. “I had a friend who was jobless and had been for about a year. I shared with her ‘If we could just figure out how to connect all of my contacts to yours, and then sort of spider web out – you know connect all of them to each other and their contacts. Your job is in our network, I just know it.’”

I Know Somebody Houston was born. IKSH exists to provide resources to the women of Houston at home, work or play.

Originally from Southern California Elizabeth moved to Houston in 1996. When she is not helping somebody or solving problems Elizabeth is traveling to Los Angeles, Ca to visit her grandkids, working out, reading or cooking. Elizabeth is single, has 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren. She lives in Houston.

Where did the idea for I Know Somebody Houston come from?

I Know Somebody Houston was created as a solution. I got sober from alcohol in 1999. Four years later found myself in an addictive relationship with a guy from my work. I could not stop. I joined a second 12-step program for relationships and it was that program where I really learned to use the fellowship of a 12 step program to meet my needs. It worked and I got the relief I was seeking. The women in that program loved me and supported me until I could stay away from the relationship. They helped me see and stop my patterns, stop blaming him and take responsibility for why I was in the relationship.

Shortly after that I started a small book study group. One of the women in that group had lost her job, it was getting to be a year with no work and she was getting desperate. I thought we could find a way to connect all of the people that I know with all of the people that you know and then on and on, your job is that network. We just have to figure out how to reach them. And that is how the idea was born.

To have a very broad network of women that simply helped each other. Keep it all women so that they were more encouraging and warm and supportive of each other. Any woman can come to the group and post a need, any need and the women in the group will help. We have helped women with jobs, employees, electrical providers, office space, clients, ideas and on and on.

We are non-profit and our proceeds help our members.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have a full-time job as well as the non-profit organization. So a typical day starts out at 5 a.m., check social media and email. Then go to work. I can do some of my organizational work at my day job if things are slow. After work I head to the gym or an event or a meeting. When I get home I work on creating content, fundraising and events and promoting the organization.

How do you bring ideas to life?

IKSH is a non-profit which means I have a board. I present my vision and ideas to the board and the idea either takes life by the other members brainstorming and expounding on an idea, is tabled or dies. Having a diverse group of women to work with and give life to ideas (mine or theirs) is one of the most fulfilling aspects of the organization.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Videos. We can do so much with a short video and our team is so creative that we are working all of the time at staying innovative and relevant, appealing to our audience and encouraging them to attend events, like and share our posts, donate to our projects.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m an early bird. I am almost always awake and up before the sun. That time in the morning is invaluable and allows me to get a lot done before most people are awake.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To do it. Do the things you are afraid to do. Ask for the divorce. Buy the house. Move across the country. Find whatever support you need and do the things you are afraid of doing.

It took me a long time to become that person and there are times when I still struggle with fear holding me back.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

I don’t think that people don’t agree with me on this, but I do believe that most people really have not experienced it and benefitted from it, as I have. And that IT is; Helping others benefits the giver more than the receiver. I have had a lot of practice at giving and can truly say that. I have learned more from women I have helped than I could have garnered on my own. AND that learning was incredibly impactful.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I help people. I truly want to be the resource for women. I send women links to jobs, I invite them to events, I purchase tickets and give them away. I make connections, introducing women to each other. What this does for me and for the organization is to know who needs what and what is priority to others. Additionally we all need help. If not now, we will. I have a pretty large bank of deposits out there to call on help when I need it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Collaboration. We use collaboration in almost every endeavor. For instance we are working on a crowdfunding campaign right now. We have pulled in a videographer, two social media experts, a beekeeper (she is interested in the crowdfunding so she has volunteered to help us) and a women’s defense instructor. These women all feel compelled to help because of our cause. They are all learning how the crowdfunding process works by helping IKSH. It is a win/win situation.

Every even we have features a speaker. That speaker volunteers their time but we promote that person, their business and their unique approach to their business. I want all of our speakers to end up with clients by speaking to our group.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Before I started IKSH, I was going to sell cookies. I have this fabulous cookie recipe, best chocolate chip cookies ever. I took a class with the local government on food handling, I printed business cards, I went to local festivals with my wares trying to sell my gourmet cookies. My plan was to wholesale them to independent specialty coffee shops. I finished all of the classes and packaging and printing and made some cookies and went to the first coffee shop and when they said no, I decided this was not for me. I am not a sales person. It hurts my feelings when people say no to my cookies. It’s too close and intimate and I am sensitive about my cooking. I tossed the idea and started over. However, I learned so much from that experience. I make really good cookies, but that doesn’t mean I can sell them. My particular skill set is to lead, not sell.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Anything “share”. I love this new trend towards sharing. First Airbnb, then Uber and Lyft. I think an Event or Office Space share site would flourish. I’d use it. I’d love to access a website and search for a venue that would accommodate a certain number of people on a certain date, find out the cost and rules and book it online.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

New business cards. We recently changed our logo, re-branded slightly. I go through a ton of business cards and love that our new logo is getting out there every time I hand out a card.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Any kind of video production or slide show compilation software. I create all kinds of videos. Videos to promote events, videos to promote the organization, videos to promote donating, promoting our causes.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Law of Attraction by Jerry and Esther Hicks. I practice the Law of Attraction.

Take your idea and make it come alive with visualization, sharing it with the right supportive, encouraging people. Write it, see it, clarify it, pay attention to it, live it and it will be yours.

What is your favorite quote?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world…” Marianne Williamson

Key learnings:

• Help others. Helping someone else will always serve you. Maybe not immediately, you must be willing to hold off the desire for instant gratification. But helping someone else pays off in ways you cannot measure.
• Know Yourself. Know what you are good at and do that. In fact don’t try to learn a lot of new things to make yourself more valuable. Increase the effectiveness of what you are good it. Become even better at that.
• Know Others. Knowing what people are good at and using them in that capacity is the most productive use of your most valuable resource, your team.
• Learn and implement the Law of Attraction. Learn to break your goals into doable projects, prioritize them and then focus on them one at a time. Visualize, write, clarify and share with people who support and encourage you. Do this until the project feels so real to you.
• Do what you are afraid to do. The practice of the Law of Attraction will tell you if it’s a good idea. Once you know it is, do it. Get help if you need it. But do it.


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