About Me

Stand By for A Lot of Spinning Plates

"What, uh... what exactly is it that you do?"

I get this question a lot, and it's a fair one. It can get a little schizophrenic in my office on any given day.

The short answer is, "I read, write, and teach. Like, a lot."

While I've never been great with the elevator pitch for my work, I've always been good at asking great questions, and that's what the real work of my life has become: one giant exercise in asking compelling questions about the world around me and my relationship to it -- and helping others do the same.

Sometimes we find answers to those questions, sometimes simply better questions for more investigation.Image title

My lifelong practice of asking questions currently takes place in several professional arenas. You can read about each below, but I'm proud that for all this juggling Fast Company highlighted me a few years ago as a thriving member of "Generation Flux" -- a group of younger professionals who have rolled with the punches of the modern economy.Image title

Writer

First and foremost, I'm an author. I've written two books with Random House/Ten Speed, Outsmarting the SAT ('08) and Acing the ACT ('15). I also co-authored Lou Imbriano's (former CMO of the New England Patriots) book, Winning the Customer (McGraw-Hill '11), and I'm contracted to ghost write a fictionalized memoir project and I'm co-authoring another memoir. If you're looking for a co-author, head over to the writing page for more information or hop down to the contact section and shoot me an email. 

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Back when I was between books and before my schedule became so tight, the bulk of my writing actually happened on my blog, Stay Out Of School, which we brought home to elizabethonline.com. Most of the material there is a few years old, but it was a real labor of love. On SooS I explore ideas and issues that really matter to me. There's not much about test prep, which was always the point. On Stay Out of School I explore creativity, discipline, culture, writing, and I sometimes interview other creative professionals about that much-fabled reality Being A Professional Artist.

It's an interesting place with a lot of lively conversation-- when I do, in fact, post.

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Educator

I'm also the president and founder of a boutique international online tutoring company that prepares students globally for the SAT, ACT, AP, and SAT subject test exams. We also have an academic coaching department and a new Writing Academy. We're called Think Tank Education International, Inc., but I'm fairly certain this would be news to any of our students.

The tutoring company is a natural outgrowth of my books Outsmarting the SAT and Acing the ACT (both Random House/Ten Speed) in which I shared my personal tactics for earning top tier scores on those tests. 

I began prepping students professionally for the SAT and ACT around fourteen years ago. I'm one of those people who's just naturally good at standardized tests, and it didn't take me long to realize that I wanted to show students how to see tests the way that I saw them. After a few years of parsing out topics and skills--along with the help of some brilliant students who helped me refine my own thinking--I got good at tutoring. Really good. Eventually that led to working with some of the finest tutoring companies in New York City and some incredible coaches from whom I learned so much. That led to flying all over North America to tutor and working with people whose names you'd recognize but that I'm not at liberty share--celebs, politicians, and athletes. 

Since the early aughts I've been honored to serve as the secret weapon of some of the most competitive students in the world. American students from all sorts of backgrounds and international students who want to optimize their chances to achieve entrance to an American university come to us for that extra edge. We serve students from Miami to Kuwait, from New York to Stockholm, from Los Angeles to Argentina. My hand-picked team and I provide completely customized online educational experiences that not only generate outstanding test scores but, more importantly, the discipline, focus, critical thinking, mental toughness, and creative problem solving skills that students can use once they arrive at their dream colleges-which is the whole point, anyway.

I've been flatly informed that it's "a bold statement" when I tell prospective clients that they don't have to choose to work with us, but that I don't know anyone who is better than we are, but I'm comfortable with that--because I don't.


Speaker

Since I've been working directly with teenagers since my very early twenties, (and since my early twenties were, sadly, not just last year) their interests, perspectives, and ideas have stayed close to my heart. I figure if I can get them to focus and actively engage on topics as dry as standardized testing, we can connect that much better over topics that matter to them.

I'm all about sharing insights that empower older students to take hold of their wildly changing brains and set patterns of awesomeness as early as possible. There are so many speakers who spout hopeful words about the future-and that's great. But it's not my thing. 

When I'm teaching groups of teenagers, we talk about how to understand oneself, to think about real, relevant goals, and to develop fresh perspectives on the world around us.

Topics include:

  • what happens to their brains during adolescence
  • thinking critically about the world around them
  • finding their own voices in a loud, loud culture
  • relating to each other and adults in ways that make sense and actually get somewhere

As an extension of my research at Stay Out Of School and my decade+ of teaching, I speak to adult audiences about topics related to education, culture, competition in the new global market, and cultivating quality of life. Specifically, I talk about:

  • practical creativity: what it is and what it isn't
  • culture and its impact on education
  • arts education and the social contract
  • liberal arts and adaptability
  • how to teach -- when you're not a teacher

We always end with actionable advice that can be implemented this week.

Visit the News and Appearances section for more media updates. 

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Personal Tidbits

Everybody loves a little dish, so here are some extras about me:

  1. I graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts: Special Major in Cultural Economics. This means I hybridized a double major in Economics and Art History with more-or-less minors in Studio Art and Math.
  2. I'm a pretty serious yogi.
  3. If I'm not at my desk I'm in the kitchen. Since I'm not currently sculpting, painting, or throwing pots, food is my creative outlet. 
  4. I rescue dogs like some people collect loose change. Currently I have six: Chowder, Stevie, Luna, Marcy, Sally, and Puddin' aka The Pud. 
  5. I used to be a professional actress and singer, and I was granted two fellowships from Mount Holyoke College--a Class of 1905 Alumnae Fellowship and a Mount Bardwell Fellowship--to pursue further vocal study in New York after graduation.

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