Communicating Like a Boss

July 23, 2020

How do our communication techniques play a role in the trajectory of our success? 

At every turn, we’re given opportunities to amplify others, speak our truth, and provide honest feedback. Elisabeth Diana, Vice President of Communications at Instagram, shares how practicing “real talk”, being concise, and owning moments of redemption pave the way for a more rewarding professional journey.

Listen now.

Want to hear more from Courtney and her incredible guests? Find all Dare to Interrupt episodes here.

Rather read the conversation? See the transcript below:

[Start transcript]

Courtney Stanley: Hello everybody, this is Courtney Stanley and welcome to another exciting episode of Dare to Interrupt, a listening experience where you have the opportunity to be a fly on the wall and listen in on honest, unfiltered conversations with women who are considered to be the most influential and inspiring leaders in the world of events, hospitality, business and beyond. Throughout their careers, these women have dared to interrupt conversations, their own comfort zones and sometimes even societal norms to hustle toward their greatest levels of success.

I am dying to introduce you to today’s guest. I’m so excited. Today, we are joined by Elisabeth Diana, Vice President of Communications at one of the most powerful companies in the world: Instagram. At Instagram, Elisabeth leads a global team focused on media executive engagement in policy, product, consumer and corporate communications. She and her team surface the ways Instagram brings people closer to each other and the things that they love. Elisabeth, it’s an absolute honor having you here with us today. Thank you so much.

Elisabeth Diana: Oh my gosh, thank you for having me, Courtney. It’s such an honor to be on this.

Courtney: Well, I am really excited to dig in. And I have so many questions for you today. You’ve had an amazing career. I’ve done some research and just have been totally girl crushing on you. So, first and foremost...

Elisabeth: That’s very nice of you.

Courtney: Where are you joining us from today?

Elisabeth: Yeah, I live right outside of San Francisco, right over the Golden Gate Bridge called Sausalito. And it’s a smaller town, it’s right by the water. So, it’s nice. Even though I’m working from home, it’s nice to actually see the water which is very great and I’m very grateful for that. So, that’s where I’m joining you from.

Courtney: Absolutely. Yeah, I have actually only been on the other side of the bridge. So, I’ve seen Sausalito. But it looks great from the side that I’ve been standing on. I would love to learn more about you and your story and better understand how you got to where you are today, which is such an impressive journey from what I’ve read and what I’ve seen. So, could you start by just telling me a little bit about how you got started in your field of work and where you ended up today?

Elisabeth: Yeah, definitely. It’s actually quite relevant to right now because I started out of college right in the middle of a recession. And so, it was really hard to find work, so I can definitely relate to what I think some of the college graduates are going through right now. Although this is a crazy, totally unprecedented time.

I started out of college. I’ve always been interested in technology. I went to college out in the Bay Area, so technology was always around me and love advertising, marketing, that sort of thing, PR and so knew I wanted to go into some sort of space like that. I liked to write in college and in high school, too. So, I took an unpaid internship at a PR agency and knew I couldn’t do it forever because it was unpaid. But I tried to be a sponge and learn as much as I could about the clients that we had - a lot of them were tech clients - and just really understand how I could be of use and did a lot of writing, a lot of researching, a lot of searching on the Internet, but really tried to soak up the environment.

And then really, my career has just bounced around from I would say PR advertising and marketing. I went to an advertising typing agency after that, that had a lot of technology clients as well. And then I bounced around to doing advertising but then also sort of what they call brand planning, which is this idea where you create the creative brief, you write the brief or the insights that guide what creatives create, whether it be a TV ad or a print ad, but like, what’s the thing that you want to tell consumers? Like what’s the insight that you want them to know? What’s the thing that you want to distill down?

And so, a lot of that, it’s still what I use today. A lot of it’s related to just good PR and good marketing and good communications to consumers. So, that really influenced me a lot. But then yeah, I went to business school, I went to Berkeley, Go Bears. Got a business school degree. I learned a lot about like statistics and analytics, which helped me a lot in the work I do today, too.

And then ended up at Google and then Facebook. But really, it was really bouncing around between advertising and PR and marketing, and I’ve landed at Instagram. I was at Facebook for a while doing kind of what we call like monetization communication. Not a very good name. But really what it is, is how do you tell reporters and sort of like the industry, about how Facebook makes money, about how it helps businesses of all sizes grow, and how its ads work.

And then recently, about a little over a year ago, I got the opportunity to interview with Instagram and really wanted to learn more about how to do PR directly to consumers, because I’ve been talking like advertiser press more, and business press more. And so now, I oversee a team that handles everything related to Instagram and PR, which is so exciting. So fun. Really, it’s all—and we can get into more of this—but it’s really about talking to consumers and speaking their language, meeting them where they are. But yeah, it’s a really, really fun job.

Courtney: It sounds like a lot of fun. What do you find most interesting when you are working in the world of communicating with consumers and learning more about them and being strategic in the way that you communicate from Instagram or even from your own personal perspective, what do you find most interesting or what are you most curious about when you get to know people on that level?

Elisabeth: Yeah, I mean, they want you to talk the way that they talk. They want you to meet them where they are, right? Everyone I think knows this, but like just jargon, it’s such a crutch, it sounds so corporate, you just need to be able to take in their energy and match their energy and speak their language. And I think a little bit of real talk, at least acknowledging the tensions that may exist. They may not be happy with you all the time. So, at least be able to acknowledge the things that may upset them and just acknowledge the elephant in the room, it lends you much more credibility when you’re straight up and transparent. So, that’s another thing.

I think the other thing that really works with speaking to consumers is not just making it all about you. So, a lot of times what we do, and we actually oversee the Instagram account is making sure we’re just surfacing the community. Who are the amazing people doing amazing things on Instagram? That’s what we want to celebrate. It’s not about what we’re doing. It’s about how our products, how our services, how our programs are helping those people and let those people tell their stories. So, I think that’s what really helps, is just showing the community, other members of the community and what they’re doing.

Courtney: That’s really cool. And I feel like that transcends to certain styles of leadership as well - being transparent, using that real talk approach, really celebrating members of your team or of your community. I know we talked a little bit about this before and how real talk is really important to you and the way that you live your life, and I would assume that’s something that you brought into your career as well. So, what does real talk mean to you? And how have you channeled that in your career and in your life?

Elisabeth: I think people want to hear it straight. I think we always want to get to the heart of the matter. And sometimes we too often dance around the thing that everyone knows is there, front and center, but we just want to acknowledge it. And so, I think first of all, just to be completely—almost like tactical, it’s just more efficient, right? If you get to the thing that is on people’s mind, you go straight to it. Yeah, sure. You have to give some setup and some context as to why you’re doing that. But I think it’s just more efficient. So, you’re going to get things done quicker if you can make sure you’re addressing the thing that really people want to talk about.

But then it also as I mentioned before, it’s just about credibility. It’s acknowledging the thing that people know is the thing. And so, if you don’t acknowledge it, it’s almost like you’re spinning people. PR, we always talk about PR spin, but I really think the best PR is when you’re actually very honest and open about the things that are really important and relevant to people, even if they’re hard.

And yeah, I mean, sure, you can figure out a way to position it in the best way possible. But as long as it’s like truthful, and it resonates, I think, and it feels real and authentic, then that’s what real talk is.

Courtney: I feel like that’s so important. And I couldn’t agree more that it makes more sense to just tell it like it is in a way that’s productive and in a way that people really feel like they’re being heard and that they can trust you. I think a big part of it is that you build trust with the people that you work with or the consumers that you’re serving. And what’s so ironic is that I have worked with different boards, and I’ve worked with different organizations and not everybody takes that approach.

So, I’m curious in your career, have you been in situations where you feel like the people you’re surrounded by or maybe some leaders that you are working with haven’t adopted that mentality where they are maybe trying to spin something to make it sound different? Or they’re not being proactive in building that trust through transparency?

Elisabeth: Yeah, it’s sometimes when you just try to say the thing—you try to position something as the way you want it to be, not the way it is. So, you can’t go from saying, this is how it is when it’s actually the way you want it to be. And so, I think while aspirations are very important and you setting—being very forthright with, here’s my vision for the future—sometimes people think that the future is the present, and they skip over the challenges or the hurdles, or the tensions that exist.

And so, I think that’s when people kind of feel like, ‘Wait a minute, there’s stuff we need to work out here.’ And that’s sometimes when people feel a little hoodwinked and a little, okay, but you’re kind of loftier and you’re saying all these vision things and you’re saying this is perfect, but it’s actually not and how do we get there?

I tend to be more of like a solutions-driven person, I sometimes too quickly go to the solution, instead of acknowledging, okay, just acknowledging and sitting with the confusion or the pain or the status quo. But I do think people want solutions. So, for me, I like it better when people actually can acknowledge, here are the pain points, and here’s how we’re going to get to a solution. But yeah, I don’t know. I just think no one likes to be spun.

Courtney: So, you clearly excel in the realm of communications. You have built a phenomenal career, which requires a lot of strategic thinking and planning and connecting with the right people and certainly advocating for your ideas, your values and communicating what you bring to the table. I’m curious, have you ever struggled with speaking up for yourself? And if you have, how did you work through it or overcome it? And what can other women do to make sure that they’re heard?

Elisabeth: Yeah, oh, yeah. I still struggle with it. I think it’s really hard. There are certain meetings that I’m in and that I just like, I don’t feel comfortable saying the thing that’s on my mind, even though I have a thought, you know? I think we all get a little like, ‘Oh, is this comment, is this thought, is this idea worthy of speaking up?’ And it’s really, really hard, so I don’t have a really good answer for it.

I do think that if you think you have something to say, you should always try to say it. And if you feel like it’s uncomfortable, and it’s not a place where it just feels natural to say it, one thing that I think is really important is building allies. So, whoever that ally may be, is it someone who can prompt you with a question? Is it someone who can transition to a topic that you feel more comfortable either asking a question about or saying something?

Really, I think, building relationships with the people around you that can help you—provide you with an opening in a meeting, and that’s a pretty specific example about one meeting. But I do think actually it comes down to the meeting setting where you’re sort of like, I don’t know what’s going on.

So, one thing that I try to do is an ally to people on my team who may feel like they want to say things and don’t feel like maybe they want to speak up, is really just asking more questions. ‘Hey, what do you think?’ Like, I want to make sure what I’m saying is tracking with the people in the room.

And actually, in this world of working from home, it’s harder to see people’s faces and see their reaction. So, I really try to sit with a thought after I make it and say to someone like this morning, ‘I see that you’re smiling. What are you laughing about? What is bringing up for you? What are you thinking about?’ And just getting people—prompting people a little bit more is something that I try to do, and I encourage others to do. That’s one tip I think that helps.

Courtney: I love that answer. And I actually love that you talk about nonverbal cues. So, not just being an advocate or an ally in the room for other people by having structured questions and times for people to give report outs, but actually really reading the room and taking a pulse on what people are feeling and thinking by looking at their body language. I think that is so cool. And I think that’s such a powerful way to tap into our own emotional intelligence and really practice empathy in action and also allyship in action. I love that. I think that’s cool.

Elisabeth: Yeah, the other thing that I just thought of too, is just PR, it’s stressful sometimes. We have hard situations that we’re in sometimes we’re under a lot of pressure. There are a lot of jobs that are way worse than that. But - my brother is actually an ER doctor. So, we joke. I think this is not my phrase, "but it’s PR, not ER."

But trying to keep things light in meetings as well. so, one other thing that I do that I think kind of breaks the ice a little bit is just trying to make light of certain situations like, ‘Oh, that one’s gonna be a fun one’ or just trying to keep the levity alive so that people do feel more comfortable speaking up as well.

Courtney: I think that’s also a great actionable way for people to loosen things up and to make it a more comfortable environment. And actually, again, this brings me—I’ve brought this up a couple times in emails back and forth with you—but the photo that you sent me of yourself that is going to be used to promote this episode, I mean...

Elisabeth: I’m excited that I get to use that photo.

Courtney: I’m excited too. Well, I haven’t asked the magazine yet, but hopefully, they’ll have a good sense of humor. I’m sure they will. But it actually was a powerful reminder to not take things so seriously. I mean, you again, I said this in the beginning and I truly am so in awe of everything that you’ve accomplished. And you are just to me, you’re so inspiring.

Elisabeth: Oh, thank you so much. You’re doing this. You’re inspiring going off on your own and doing all that you’re doing.

Courtney: Thank you. But it was such a cool moment when you uploaded that fun picture of yourself. And I had asked you, send me a picture of yourself that you love that’s fierce. And you send me this picture of adolescence at its best/worst. And I loved it. It brought a smile to my face. It humanized you. And I just loved that so, so much. So, I think it’s great that you talk about—it’s just so, so important.

And it’s easy enough to get so caught up in the seriousness of a meeting and it’s easy enough for us to take a step back and recognize that the people we’re surrounded by are people, and they have a sense of humor, they have things they’re afraid of, they have ideas that they want to share and maybe haven’t had the opportunity or felt comfortable to do so. So, I really love that piece of advice for you.

Elisabeth Diana YoungElisabeth: Yeah, and if and just so everyone knows, like what we’re talking about is just a photo of me (pictured) from I don’t know how old I was probably eight or nine. I really liked matching. I don’t know if a lot of you did, but matching colors so I had a red headband, a red and white striped turtleneck and I think my glasses were red at the time.

Courtney: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Flashy red.

Elisabeth: Yeah. And I think I even had braces at the time. I think my braces had like bands that were red, which is totally embarrassing, but I’m just gonna lay it all out there. So anyways, that’s me and I’m smiling like a huge smile in my braces.

Courtney: Oh, yeah. You were proud. You were proud of that matching look.

Elisabeth: I was.

Courtney: I mean, it was good. It was it was on point. Oh, yeah, point. So, I have to ask you, I would kick myself if I didn’t ask this question. What was it like working with Sheryl Sandberg? What did you learn from her? I mean, I’m so curious. I’d have to know.

Elisabeth: Yeah. So yeah, I worked with her in my old job because she oversees the business part of Facebook and Instagram and all of our apps, and so that’s part of the job is working with her. She’s an amazing spokesperson.

Yeah, I mean, working with her is inspiring. She’s always really pushing, ‘Okay, what can we do to make this bigger, better?’ Right? I think I learned that from her. And, ‘Okay, this announcement is great or this thing is wonderful. But how can we take it from a 10 to an 11?’ Always thinking about how we can go bigger and how you can push yourself, which I think is really important that we should all take that advice to heart.

The other thing is just like how much she cares about small businesses. I think that’s something that I think some of you may have seen our work around COVID and the recovery, trying to get businesses back, because that’s something that’s been super hard hit from COVID-19 unfortunately is small business owners.

And so, the work that she does there and that she champions is just incredible, really just understanding the needs of small business owners. She spends so much time with them. She understands what they need, how technology can help them. And so, that’s something that she was a huge champion for when I was working with her. So, that was really inspiring too.

Courtney: I bet. I’m sure there are a lot of people that would love the opportunity to even just observe a leader like Sheryl Sandberg or leader like yourself and how you operate and what you do day-to-day and how you lead and innovate. I would imagine that that would be an absolutely life changing experience.

So, I am super curious if you could start all over again, your career, even the path that you took, or decisions that you’ve made, mentors you’ve had, what would you do differently?

Elisabeth: Such a good question. What would I do differently? I think back to your question about speaking up, I think I would have told my younger self, ‘It’s okay to speak up and not always have all the answers.’ I think it’s sort of like when you’re just younger and you just care a lot about what people think of you—at least I did—although maybe not so much since I wore what I did when I was eight or nine, but...

Courtney: I was thinking the same. I wasn’t gonna say anything, but you totally rocked that look with confidence.

Elisabeth: I yeah, it seemed like I did, right? I think we care too much, especially I would say women in particular care a lot about what other people think of us. And sometimes we make decisions too much based on that. So, I think that’s what I would tell my younger self is like, ‘Just say the thing that’s on your mind, it’s okay, if you don’t always get it right. It’s okay to not internalize every single move you make, or every email you send or... we’re gonna make mistakes, and that’s okay.’

And I think, honestly, the people that I work with now, it’s really in how they pick themselves up after a mistake, how they react to crises, how they react to things that don’t go their way, that is actually the defining thing versus things that go well. Because let’s be honest, nothing goes well all the time. And it’s really those moments in which we could say, ‘Okay, I made a mistake, or I didn’t handle that the best way possible, or this thing happened that shouldn’t have gone this way.’ And it’s really how you react to that and how you pick yourself up and how you do better the next time, how you learn from those mistakes.

And I know people say that all the time, but it’s really like, it just did not resonate with me as a younger person starting out in my career. I just wish I had had a little bit tougher skin and realize that like, everyone’s gonna make mistakes and no one cares in the long run. It’s really just how you keep going.

Courtney: I actually can relate to that a lot, and I would give my younger self that exact same advice.

Elisabeth: It’s hard though.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hindsight. It’s so difficult and it is something that I find that is a continuous struggle to make sure that you’re getting past the point of wondering what people will think. You say something or forgetting that you have so much experience and so much knowledge and so many ideas that not everybody else has and being able to really communicate those.

And it’s such a balancing act, especially I think for people—especially for people who are super aware of reading a room and analyzing body language, facial expressions, tone, all of those things impact what your next step is, and how you say something or the question that you ask or the feedback that you provide. It’s such a tricky place to navigate and really learn to just kind of push it aside and yes, it’s important to read people in the room but you also need to make sure that you’re heard and getting your ideas out there. It’s so important.

So, I would love to better understand what type of legacy that you hope to leave behind? You’ve done so much already. I’m sure you have amazing aspirations and next steps and goals for yourself. But when it’s all said and done, and you decide to maybe go into retirement and relax up in northern Michigan, what do you want to be remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?

Elisabeth: Oh, gosh. I think it’s a little early to think about legacy. But thank you for the question. I think I just like to keep things as light as possible. I think I want people to think and these are I mean, mentors and good bosses that I’ve had before me, I hope imbued this in me, but I think just like making work not just work and making work fun and more of like a family in the sense of look like times will not be always rosy. And we all are going to give each other hard but constructive feedback and advice and push each other to be better.

But you learned something, and you laughed, I think would be my things that I would want to leave my team with, that my team feels like they’re super supported by me. They’ve learned a ton, I’m going to be hard on them when I think they can be doing better, but they’ve learned, and they’ve laughed like not everything is stressful. I would say those would be the things I would leave with my team.

Courtney: Well, amen to that. I’m going to take that and run with that. And remind myself.

Elisabeth: I always felt like I mean, it’s hard to deliver feedback, right? It’s not positive and so the way I usually is like real time feedback, right? Like in the moment, want to give you some thoughts because it’s fresh, we’ll move past it after this, but I want you to know, this is like things to do better for next time.

And it’s hard to hear that but I tell people on my team, the reason why I give you this feedback is because I believe in you. And I think that you can be even more. I believe in your potential. You’re already amazing. But I think you could even be more amazing. And so that’s why I’m giving you hard feedback. Like, if I weren’t giving you hard feedback, you should be worried because that means that I’m like, I don’t think you have it in you.

And I just think that people that work on my team are amazing. And so, I always try to—I think there’s always opportunities to just say, look, you could have done this a little bit better in this way. And it was fine the way you did it. But here’s how to take it from a 10 to an 11.

Courtney: Yeah, I like that you approach that from a place of potential. And not a place of fear or termination or even criticism. It’s just a place of, I can see big picture, where you can take the next step or where you can grow professionally, personally. Let me help you do that. Even if it’s a mistake, that’s okay. Mistakes should be celebrated, and they should be leveraged and use to move forward. So, I think that’s awesome. And I think a lot of people actually do struggle with not just receiving feedback, but with giving feedback. You don’t want to hurt anybody. You don’t want to - it’s difficult.

Elisabeth: Yep. But sometimes you’re hurting them by not giving them the feedback, because then they—it’s almost like when someone is saying something about you, everyone’s saying, and no one will tell you. You wouldn’t want that. I certainly wouldn’t. I would want to know the thing as long as it’s something that I think I can improve upon, and you can give me the tools to do it.

So, yeah, and it’s nice now it’s become when you get into a routine of giving that feedback too, people ask you for it more before you even give it. So, like for prepping someone for an interview. So then someone will say, how did that go? What did you think? What could I have done better? You know, and like, it’s so awesome to hear that because it’s like, oh, well, there’s always little things, pieces of feedback I can give you. And then it makes it easier for them to also say to me, Hey, here’s something for you that you could be doing better, like giving that upward feedback too, is super important.

Courtney: Yeah, I think so, too. And I think it definitely creates an environment of conversation instead of just that one way, listening versus speaking type of environment. That makes a lot of sense to me.

So, I would love to close the episode by asking you what your advice would be to other women who are looking to really excel in their careers?

Elisabeth: So much advice. I mean, I think I said earlier... So, definitely, I think in the earlier stages of your career, I tell people, it’s more about what you don’t want to do not what you do want to do. I think no one unless they’re writing an application for getting into college or getting into a graduate program pretends to know exactly what they want to do, it’s really hard to know early on. And so, you just got to kind of do it and eliminate the things that you don’t like to do. I think that’s part of the earlier stages of figuring out your career.

For me it was figuring out okay, I really like the writing blog posts and prepping executives to what they should say in interviews, and I was sort of like, okay, that steers me more towards PR versus like marketing, straight up marketing. Figuring that out is important, kind of crossing things off the list. I think it’s important.

There’s an exercise called Love and Loathe. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, but sometimes you take inventory of your entire week for a week, and you write down during the day what gives you the most energy and what doesn’t give you the most energy. Now a lot of people will say like expense reports don’t give me energy. Totally get that. But we’re talking more about like, I get really excited when I go into a meeting about x.

And then you can sort of start picking together or weaving together the themes and seeing what you really love and what you don’t love as much. Like, what do you look forward to? What don’t you look forward to? And I think it’s pretty telling. So, that’s another piece of advice of like, figure out what gives you energy and what draws energy from you.

And then when it comes to just advice, just in general, I think the theme of really having a tough skin and understanding that there are going to be days where you’re gonna think everything is permanent and prevalent and everything is awful and terrible and oh my gosh, and it’s really about picking yourself up and pushing through those things and pushing those things aside that really define where can go and just know that everyone has them.

And it’s just taking those moments and trying to learn from them and trying to trying to push through them. Because it’s gonna happen to everyone. And I would say, as you get more senior, it happens even more. So, get used to doing those things and pushing through them is just super important. So, I think the best people, the people that I admire in my career are the people that can do that really well, who can say, ‘Look, this was tough. This really stunk, and I’m learning these things from it. And I’m going to do better next time.’

Courtney: I think it’s so important to talk about the comeback and the way that you pick yourself up and your perseverance and I truly do believe that those are the things that will propel you to the next level. And I know you and I talked offline about how this year has shaped up and how it’s been such a different year than I imagined, than other people imagined and it truly is in those moments of you’ve been knocked down, you could even be at rock bottom, it’s in those moments where you realize that you do have a choice, you can get up, you can push forward, you can learn, you can grow, you can win, or you can stay stuck and it’s totally up to you. Nobody else is gonna pick you up.

Elisabeth: The other very, very specific thing that I would give to people starting out is really understand how to be —because I think this is this is true of many fields—try it to be really succinct in the way that you summarize, synthesize. I think too often we get so reliant on lots of words instead of fewer words. And I would just say, the art of a good succinct, well framed email, or a memo, or blog post, it’s super important or just the way you talk. ‘We have three options. Here are the three.’ Or ‘These things have changed since last we chatted.’

Really being able to synthesize and summarize in a succinct way is I just find it those the people who can do that, well, it’s like a rare art form. And I cannot stress how important that is. It doesn’t matter if you’re going into communications or not. It’s actually just something that’s just important. It’s like how do you serve up the problem and serve up the solutions in a way that’s palatable and understandable to people?

Courtney: Yeah, that’s really, really good advice. I think people would benefit greatly from improving communication skills and not trying to be so perfect. I think that comes back to what you mentioned earlier about just being real. Being yourself, being authentic, being transparent and what you say doesn’t have to be the perfect idea or comment or solution. Just be yourself and say it, get it out there.

Elisabeth: That’s right.

Courtney: Thank you so much, Elisabeth.

Elisabeth: Thank you for having me. This is lovely.

Courtney: Oh, I’m so glad I have been looking forward to this for so long. So, thank you so much for sharing your insight and your knowledge with us today. And thank you all so much for listening. Please share what you learn from this amazing episode with Elisabeth with me on Twitter, Facebook, and of course, Instagram by following me @Courtneyonstage and be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing to Dare to Interrupt on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play and more. Stay daring, be kind and keep it real, my friends. Until next time.

[End transcript]

About our guest:

Elisabeth DianaElisabeth Diana is Head of Communications at Instagram, where she leads a global team focused on media, executive engagement, policy, product, consumer and corporate communications. She and her team surface the ways Instagram brings people closer to each other and the things they love. Prior to Instagram, Elisabeth was VP of Monetization Communications at Facebook, overseeing public relations for the company’s advertiser, small business, and investor audiences.

She started her career in PR and advertising, working at advertising agency Publicis & Hal Riney as a brand strategist, and at Google in the global communications and public affairs group. Elisabeth holds an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and a BA from Stanford University. She lives with her husband and son in Sausalito, California.

Connect with Elisabeth:

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About our host Courtney Stanley:

Courtney StanleyCourtney is a keynote speaker, writer, podcaster and career success coach with a background in experience design, community engagement and leadership development. Courtney is the host of Meetings Today’s “Dare to Interrupt,” a podcast that provides a platform for the event, hospitality and tourism industry’s most influential and successful women to share their stories of adversity and success, unfiltered.

Courtney believes that transforming past experiences into impactful conversations through raw, authentic storytelling challenges the status quo, connects people from all walks of life and results in great change for the world.

  • Courtney is the youngest member to have ever been elected to Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Board of Directors
  • She is the recipient of Smart Meetings’ Entrepreneur Award, MeetingsNet’s Changemaker Award, the Association for Women in Events (AWE) Disruptor Award, the MPI Chairman’s Award and MPI RISE Award.
  • Named Collaborate and Connect Magazine’s 40 under 40 and a Meetings Today Trendsetter.
  • Recognized as one of the event industry’s most impactful change-makers.
  • Serves on the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, AWE’s Board of Directors, MPI’s Women’s Advisory Board, is a Meetings Mean Business Ambassador and is the co-founder of the award-winning movement, #MeetingsToo.

How to connect with Courtney:

  • Instagram: @courtneyonstage
  • Twitter: @courtneyonstage
  • Facebook: courtneyonstage


Profile picture for user Courtney Stanley
About the author
Courtney Stanley

Courtney is a keynote speaker, writer, podcaster and career success coach with a background in experience design, community engagement and leadership development. Courtney is the host of Meetings Today’s “Dare to Interrupt,” a podcast that provides a platform for the event, hospitality and tourism industry’s most influential and successful women to share their stories of adversity and success, unfiltered.