They say that destiny isn’t a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. If there’s anyone that best exemplifies this, it’s Liz Worth.
For the last several years, this award-winning tarot reader, astrologer and author has been giving people the insight they need to seize their future...but it all started with Liz choosing to seize her own. From authoring the first in-depth book on punk history in Toronto (she has since went on to publish seven other books, including a contemporary guide to tarot!) to setting an intention to take her tarot and astrology business full-time, there’s one thing abundantly clear: Liz is not the kind of person that sits around and waits for things to happen. She makes them happen.
“You should read tarot. You would be good at it.” This life-defining proclamation from an astrologer during a 2008 reading inspired the start of Liz’s career and since then, she has successfully played a role in telling the stories of both the past and the future. Liz has been featured in Toronto Life and She Does the City and in 2017, she was one of the 100+ women recognized as part of Flare Magazine’s inaugural #HowIMadeIt list.
Liz’s inspiring story highlights the value of our inner intuition, the importance of setting intentions and why we all need to acknowledge our power to create the future we want for ourselves:
Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade?
I think life has handed me lots of lemons! Growing up, I always felt I was going against the grain. I was never the popular kid. I was smart in some ways, but not in others, so in school I felt uneven and was always hugely focused on my shortcomings. But one thing I learned along the way was to put my time and energy into the things I was good at. I went for easy wins, rather than trying to remedy my weak spots.
So I focused on my creativity, writing, and independent spirit. I did things that nurtured them.
When it comes to getting to where I'm at today with my business, I took a situation that might seem scary on the outside and used it as a blessing. I had been working in non-profit communications for eight years and I was really unhappy. Before that, I had been working as a freelance writer, but the media industry was really shaky and I'd transitioned into the 9-5 for more security. But I desperately missed being self-employed.
While I was working in non-profit, I got really into tarot and astrology, and started using them all the time. At work, I was always talking about Mercury retrograde and full moons and things. I was that person in the office. As the years went on I created a serious hobby out of tarot and had started doing readings for people. Eventually, I was doing a lot of parties for friends and acquaintances. In 2015 I started to think that this was something I wanted to do at a bigger level. But I had no idea how I would find the energy to build a business with a full-time job already.
One night, I set an intention to figure it out no matter what. I made a promise to myself to make it work somehow. And wouldn't you know it, but a month after that I got let go from my 9-5. I decided that was the sign I was looking for. I decided right then not to update my resume or spend any time looking on job boards. Instead, I would build a business based on tarot and astrology. And I did.
It was scary at first. Even though I had experience as a reader, I had a very, very small client base that was comprised entirely of friends. So I really had to hustle and put myself out there more. But I was determined not to go back into a cubicle. I had to keep promising myself to make it work no matter what.
Describe your ideal work environment to get sh*t done.
Quiet, with no one else around. I hate being interrupted, and I'm very noise sensitive. When I'm not working one-on-one with clients, I'm writing. I do a lot of blogging, and create a lot of classes, workshops, and talks. I'm also working on my seventh book right now. So I need big, long chunks of time where I can get into deep focus. I try not to schedule writing time on days when I have lots of client appointments, because it feels like you are stealing bits of time, and it's never satisfying.
I also avoid working in cafes or public places because I can't control the environment. I don't want to hear other people's conversations, music, or whatever else is going on. Laughter, coughing, phone rings...all these sounds are very jarring to me and disrupt my concentration. In public, people walk past your table and their jackets might brush you, or they interrupt you to ask if you are using the extra chair at your table. All these things I prefer to avoid, so I just stay home, put on some white noise, and get to work.
For this reason, I'm also very particular about how many meetings I take on, and with whom. I don't just "jump on a call" to talk about a collaboration. If it can be worked out by email instead, I do that, because that gives me control over when I have that conversation. I don't meet friends for lunch on work days because it feels too disruptive to have something right in the middle of the day. Your morning is cut short, and half your afternoon is gone.
After that first year, how did you scale your business and continue to grow?
My business is just me, so I'm not really focused on scale, but growth is important. When you are doing service-based work, you need to decide how you are serving, and where the rest of your income is coming from. For me, I prefer to have different income sources so that I'm not relying purely on client appointments all the time. It doesn't leave you any wiggle room if you get sick, or need to take time off.
I really love teaching, so I spent my first year creating classes and workshops that I could run. I also wrote a book about tarot, so that I could sell something to my students, and have a product generating a bit of passive income.
My focus now is still on creating more courses and products that compliment my work and my teachings.
How much of your success as an entrepreneur has come from taking risks versus playing it safe?
This is an interesting question. In some ways, I think it's both. When people think of risks, I think sometimes they think of majorly impulsive decisions, like investing all of your life's savings into one idea, or doing something really out there that could make or break you.
I think risk is good and necessary. In business, we all have to embrace uncertainty to various degrees. But I think my biggest risk was just in deciding to leave the conventional workforce and follow my heart. The rest has been very safe in some ways, though. I am extremely consistent in my work schedule. I stick to my office hours. I show up for myself every day and work on whatever I need to at that time, whether it's writing some new blogs or promoting an upcoming workshop. I stay organized. I keep my energy focused. I take care of myself by going to the gym every morning. I go to bed at the same time every night.
To me, those are all ways I play it safe, but it can feel like a risk when you are immersing yourself into a lifestyle that may or may not be paying off just yet. Especially in your earliest days in a business. For me, it took about a year and a half before I really started to feel financially secure in my work. So it felt like a risk to show up every day, because I would have moments where I would think, "Is this really going to happen for me?" But I mitigated the risk with consistent effort.
How do you measure success in your career?
Money is part of it, for sure. I think if you want to live off of your business, money has to be a factor. If your business isn't making money eventually, it's not working, and either something has to change, or you need to start a new business.
But success to me is also in having free time. I don't want to work more hours as time goes on. I want to be busy, yes, but not overcapacity. Success to me is measured by putting in hustle at the front end to reach certain levels, and then be able to scale back and decide how many days off a week I want to work, or how many days vacation I'm giving myself a year. Ultimately, I want my work to fuel my freedom, not crush it.
You're 30 minutes away from walking into an important meeting. What do you do to get yourself in the right headspace?
It might sound so simple, but I always make sure I eat properly before any conversation I have. Otherwise, I get spacey and unfocused. My connection to my body is really important. The better I feel, the better I am.
I also set an intention. For example, I might say, "I intend to speak clearly."
"To overcome anything, I just keep going. I don't stop."
Was there ever a moment when you questioned your decision to become an entrepreneur? How did you overcome it?
I don't question my decision to be self-employed because I don't want to live any other way. I don't want to work for someone else. If I ever decide the business I have now needs to change, or that I need a change, I will just start a new venture.
But I do question my work at times, and I think that's normal. Even when you are on the path you are meant to be on, you will have moments where you wonder if it's right, or if you deserve it. I think a lot of us struggle to accept that we are worthy of happiness. I find that my doubt often comes up when I am having a good day, or taking extra time off. Guilt rises up and you think, "This should be harder. I should be working on something right now."
To overcome anything, I just keep going. I don't stop.
Who is a fellow Toronto-based female entrepreneur that inspires you and why?
There are so many. I really admire my friend Sophia Pierro of Present Day Gifts, a gift box company based here in Toronto. We started our businesses around the same time, and I remember talking to her about her idea before she got it off the ground. It's been so amazing to her run with it, to see how it's grown, and to see how she has executed such a clear vision all the way through.
What is your best negotiation tip?
Know your boundaries. What are you willing to compromise on, what is the opportunity worth to you, and what value do you bring to the table? When you are clear on those things, you know what you are asking for. You can put value on intangible qualities by understand the breadth of your experience and being clear in your own needs. If you are unsure of where you stand, or don't believe your own sales pitch, it will be a lot harder to ask for what you want.
What is one thing you wish you knew before becoming your own boss?
That I am the hardest boss I have ever worked for. I have tremendously high expectations on myself. I want to do it all, and I want it done right now. I am getting a lot better in easing up on myself, but I've realized that when you are in charge, your quality of life is only going to be as good as the relationship you keep with yourself. So treat yourself the way you would want to be treated as an employee.
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