Woman Crush Wednesday.
We love to celebrate female movers and shakers who are successful locally, nationally, internationally, and most importantly, personally.
This week, we are so excited to highlight Elizabeth Gordon, owner and CEO of Extraordinary Journeys, who is recognized as one of the best travel agents for Africa by Travel + Leisure: A-List 2016! We asked her to share with us her thoughts on success.
How did you get started in your field?
My parents owned a safari company growing up so I grew up with a lot of the people I work with now. I had started a business in Argentina first, managing and renting apartments to foreigners. I had built the company with my ex-boyfriend and when we broke up I decided to start Extraordinary Journeys with my mother. I loved the travel world and helping people put together incredible travel experiences so it made sense to venture back into the travel world. I started with Africa since that was a part of the world I knew best and felt so few people did well.
Biggest "break" thus far and how you were able to achieve it?
We had a few great press breaks when we launched the company. The first was a honeymoon safari we organized for the editor of the off-duty section of the Wall Street Journal. It was a personal trip but the journalist ended up writing a whole page about us in the 4th of July week-end edition. Our second big break was being featured as one of the top safari specialist in Departures Magazine. Our third break through was this year when we were voted the second best safari operator in the world by the readers of Travel and Leisure.
Biggest roadblock and how did you overcome it?
Finding the right business partners. I had worked on my first business with my ex boyfriend but I felt I was being held back. I then had a business partner in France but I ended up taking care of her. It didn't feel like an equal partnership. I learned fast that you need to create clear expectations in a partnership and hold each other accountable. I was choosing partners at first because I was afraid of doing it by myself.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you find him/her? If not, who do you model your professional goals after?
My mother has been my best mentor. She always had my best interest at heart and always encouraged me, especially when I was ready to give up. I am also very lucky because my industry created a very supportive organization (Safari Professionals) to help each other.
If you could tell your younger self one thing to jumpstart her career, what would it be?
That is a hard question. I am not 100% sure.
- Become a specialist and don't worry if the grass is greener somewhere else. I didn't know what I wanted to do but I became really good at one thing and it gets more interesting as you go along.
- Don't get discouraged.
- Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.
- Be patient. I feel there is a pressure to build a huge company overnight but a lot of companies just slowly become larger. I can't believe I already have a team of 17!
- Don't be afraid to say yes.
- Delegate and focus on what you do best.
Elizabeth Gordon is the owner and CEO of Extraordinary Journeys, voted as the second best safari outfitter in the world by Travel + Leisure readers. Born in Kenya and raised in Paris, Elizabeth explored the world from a young age. After graduating from Stanford, she worked in Namibia and started a business in Buenos Aires. Eventually she returned to her passion, Africa and the safari experience, starting Extraordinary Journeys with her mother, Marcia. Elizabeth has visited over 40 countries and taken more than 30 trips to Africa. She is active in the Association for the Promotion of Tourism in Africa and Safari Professionals of the Americas. She was one of Travel Agent Magazine's “30 under 30” and is on Travel + Leisure’s “A-List” of Top Travel Advisors. She is an avid photographer and loves to escape New York City on weekends.