Name: Elizabeth Chabe
Title: Published Author and CEO
Organisation: High Touch Group
ELIZABETH CHABE (MBA, MS) is an author, entrepreneur, and recognized strategic marketing consultant for science, engineering, and technology organizations. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Popular Science, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Composites World, and 360Dx, among others.
As the founder and CEO of High Touch Group, Elizabeth oversees a team that develops marketing and PR strategies for advanced science, engineering, and technology organizations. Through High Touch Group’s holistic, comprehensive marketing services, clients generate more leads, drive revenue, and elevate their brands into the global B2B space. Her work as a strategic consultant has been instrumental to biotechnology, energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and robotics and automation companies.
Since 2018, Elizabeth has been a governor-appointed director of the Maine Venture Fund.
Her book, “The Giant’s Ladder: The Science Professional’s Blueprint for Marketing Success,” is available for pre-order on Amazon and from your favorite book retailers.
An inveterate traveler, she splits her time between the US and developing world communities. She currently resides in Mexico with her husband and rescue dogs.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Elizabeth's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Leadership, inherently, presents a unique set of psychological and strategic challenges. Beyond the overt responsibilities like guiding the team and impacting their livelihoods, the subtler aspect is the weight of decision-making. Each decision, or at times, the lack thereof, carries significant consequences. This responsibility can create an isolating environment, where understanding and empathy are scarce.
To navigate these complexities, it's beneficial to have a support network of peers who comprehend the intricacies of leadership. Such connections are not just valuable; they are essential for maintaining mental resilience and perspective. In my experience, having a confidante who shares a similar professional journey has been indispensable. My long-time best friend, who also holds a leadership position, has been a cornerstone for me, providing insights and support that only someone in a similar role can offer.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My leadership journey doesn't anchor to a singular moment of realization but rather is a mosaic of experiences and inherent traits shaped by my upbringing. Raised by a dedicated single mother with modest means, I learned early on the value of initiative and resourcefulness. This environment became the crucible for my leadership skills.
My entrepreneurial spirit manifested early; I launched my first venture at nine and embarked on college education at the age of twelve. These were stepping stones in cultivating leadership qualities. My afternoons at the local university library provided ample opportunities for intellectual exploration and growth.
This blend of curiosity, precociousness, and the unique circumstances of my upbringing laid the foundation for leadership. My mother, through her direct encouragement and the indirect lessons learned from our life situation, played a pivotal role in shaping the leader I am today.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Maintaining consistency in my daily routine is crucial, particularly in a career that involves significant travel like. The key elements of exercise, nutrition, meditation, creativity, and family time are integral components of my professional effectiveness.
My day begins early, between 4 and 5 am, and I dedicate the first three hours to a regimented morning routine. This includes a walk or run with my dogs, a moment of tranquility with coffee or tea outside with my husband, a nutritious breakfast, and a meditation session. These activities are foundational practices that prepare me mentally and physically for the day ahead.
Work commences around 7:30 am and extends uninterrupted until approximately 5:30 pm. To transition from work mode, I engage in an evening hike with my dogs, a practice that signals to my brain the shift from professional to personal time. Evening hours are devoted to cooking a healthy meal for my family and indulging in creative pursuits, such as oil painting or practicing bass guitar, which I find essential for maintaining cognitive flexibility and emotional balance.
My work week is strategically structured. Meetings are confined to specific times and days, allowing for uninterrupted "deep work" sessions. This approach is invaluable for focusing on my business, my clients, and my writing, ensuring that I can dedicate undivided attention to these critical aspects of my role.
This disciplined approach to structuring my day is a strategic choice that enhances my capacity as a leader, ensuring that I am operating at my best, both mentally and physically.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A leader's existence is fundamentally anchored in the trust and belief of their team. Leadership is not a unilateral exercise of authority, but a mutual journey of growth and achievement.
I am eternally grateful to have learned this lesson early in my career, as it has underscored the importance of actively nurturing a team culture where support is not just about task execution but also about genuine belief in the shared vision and in each other. It's about cultivating an environment where every member feels valued and empowered to contribute, thus reinforcing their belief in the direction the leader is taking them.
In practice, this means engaging with the team beyond the superficial layers of day-to-day tasks. It involves listening to their ideas, acknowledging their challenges, celebrating their successes, and, most importantly, learning from them as much as they learn from me. This approach fosters a deeper sense of commitment and belief in the collective mission, reinforcing the essence of what it means to lead.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
There are too many to name that have influenced my leadership style and skills, but the book that I gift the most often to other business leaders is "The Hard Thing about Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz. It's essentially the story of everything going wrong and a leadership team that makes it through—mostly.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Travel often, read widely, and get out of your comfort zone as much as possible. These activities will make lateral thinking and problem-solving easier, and will build your resiliency—perhaps the most important leadership characteristic of all.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One of the most affirming experiences in my tenure as a leader has been the repeated instances where team members express that High Touch Group feels like a second family to them. These moments, though not a singular story, collectively represent a significant achievement in leadership.
Creating a workplace environment where employees genuinely feel a sense of belonging and mutual responsibility is a testament to the culture we have cultivated. It reflects a deep connection where team members feel genuinely invested in not only the success of our clients but also in the welfare of each other.
This sentiment shared by our team is a powerful indicator of the strength of our internal relationships and the shared commitment to our mission. It is a reminder that effective leadership is as much about fostering a supportive and collaborative environment as it is about guiding the team towards achieving business goals. Each time I hear such feedback, it reinforces my belief in the approach we have taken and fills me with both pride and gratitude for the remarkable team we have built.