Words of Wisdom from Influential Women

Lori Otter

Real Estate Professional, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services SilverHawk Realty

Life Lesson: Set Boundaries

“I think an important life lesson is to realize what your deal breakers are. I have learned that if I didn’t always know what I wanted, it was very helpful to know what I didn’t want and what I refused to settle for. I needed to be the one to set boundaries that were appropriate for me and what I wanted or didn’t want from life.”

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love learning. Real estate has provided a whole new area of business that I enjoy and look forward to working and learning more about. It is ever-changing and has so many aspects to it—negotiations, marketing, lending. My favorite thing is finding the perfect house for a person or family and showing them all the reasons to fall in love with their new forever home.

What is the best decision you ever made?

To put my teaching career on hold so I could fully engage as first lady and be a part of Butch’s years as governor. It truly is a team sport. I learned so much in the last 12 years about government, relationships and most importantly about myself. It was an honor to be able to serve Idaho and watch Butch do an amazing job at a job he loved. We made some amazing memories and left office proud of our accomplishments.

What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

My years as first lady and in particular our work at IWIL, Idaho women in Leadership, a bipartisan effort to help women run for office in Idaho as well as providing coaching and opportunities for training in business leadership throughout the state. We are growing and finished our third year this March. It will continue to be a source of pride, and I hope it sustains for years to come.

Odette Bolano

President/CEO, Saint Alphonsus Health System

Life Lesson: Perseverance

“My first leadership position was helping a group of 20 surgeons build a freestanding ambulatory surgery center in Texas. It was 1983, and this was a new concept in healthcare. I was a critical care nurse with no surgery background.

One of the large hospitals in the Texas Medical Center where I worked had a day surgery center. When I made the decision to take the job with the surgeons, I asked for an appointment with the administrator of the hospital surgery center. She granted the meeting, but when she found out I did not have a surgical background, she quickly dismissed me, letting me know I was wasting her time and would not be successful.

Four years later, we had a successful surgery center, and I began consulting across the state at struggling freestanding ambulatory surgery centers. While I was anxious and overwhelmed by what I had to learn and plan to direct and operate the center, my commitment to myself to never give up, never allow someone to define what you cannot do and never look back made me a successful young leader and has carried me throughout my career.”

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Raising two incredible, wonderful children who are passionate about what they do and caring for others.

My son, Tyler, is a fourth-year general surgery resident and will begin his fellowship in reconstructive surgery in 2021. My daughter, Krysta, started her own youth athletic organization and built a business focused on the working with those who were less privileged, giving them the tools through sports to gain confidence, self-awareness and self-pride.

The joy they gave me during their younger years pales compared to what they give me as young adults who are learning to be contributors in their communities and passionate about make a difference.

Erin Erkins

Senior Manager of Leadership Development & Communications, Boise Metro Chamber

Life Lesson: Building Strong Relationships and Following Through

“I attribute my success to the relationships I have formed in the community. You never know when you will need to reach out to someone for advice or an introduction. Boise is still a small community, and we are all connected in some way or another.”

What is your favorite thing about your job?

The people. I am so lucky to work with community and business leaders throughout the Treasure Valley through my work with the Leadership Boise and Boise Young Professionals programs at the Boise Metro Chamber. I love that part of my job is being connected to our community. Boise is full of talented, driven leaders, but unlike other markets, they’re also accessible. We are so lucky to be able to simply invite local business leaders or elected officials to coffee. That easy access and collaborative spirit are real drivers in the community.

What woman inspires you and why? 

Many women in my life inspire me. My mom and sister are two of the strongest women I know. They have helped shape who I am today. Additionally, I choose to surround myself with women and men who are talented, passionate and collaborative. Having a support system where you can learn from and lean on each other is critical. I find myself incredibly fortunate to have an amazing community to lean on.

What keeps you motivated? 

My kids and family are my sustaining motivation. I am blessed with an amazing husband and three children: Harper, 8; Henley, 5; and our newest addition, Ander, 4 months. I want my kids to see their mom and dad working, to have role models showing a good work ethic, kindness to others and to have fun while they do it. Of course, there are days I don’t want to “adult,” but seeing their happy faces encourages me to be present and do my best.

Ari Carlson

Managing Director and Entrepreneur, EWomen Network and Life by Design Wellness

Life Lesson: Perseverance

“From an early age, I learned that things worthwhile were worth working hard and being patient for. Things don’t always come together as quickly as we want, but the growth that happens while you pursue a dream is invaluable. As I have gained experience, I have learned that it is critical to trust in yourself and in the process as you persevere toward your goal. Doubts and fears can hold you back from ever reaching your highest potential.”

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

Connecting, coaching and mentoring women of all ages and backgrounds. Helping them see their worth, their unique strengths, gifts and talents, and helping them improve their well-being, giving them hope again for a life full of choices, and providing a plan and vehicle that allows them to get there. Making an impact for generations is so rewarding.

What accomplishment are you proud of? 

Completing two marathons and earning several very prestigious incentive awards and promotions in my business. These required me to first decide, commit and stretch myself in big ways. Each required courage, daily discipline, sacrifice and a shift in mindset. Accomplishing huge goals has built confidence and fueled future growth like nothing else. It’s made me who I am today, and I’m not done.

Have mentors influenced your life?

I always have several mentors in my life, each modeling what success is and helping me paint the big vision for my life. Gaining clarity on the big vision; living life in balance the way that works for me; creating daily disciplines to design the life I want; creating a strong mindset and faith that serves me; and being generous with my resources, gifts and talents are some of the practices I have improved as a direct result of working with my mentors. In return, I am better able to mentor others.

Elizabeth Lizberg

Executive Director, Camp Rainbow Gold

Life Lesson: Service

“In one form or another, service to others has been part of my career since I was 15. Each position I’ve held has taught me that the more we focus on others, the sweeter life is. Give your time. Give kindness. Give love. Give your story to the world. Share your experiences, the joys and disappointments. You have no way of knowing how your narrative may influence or help someone else. It is through giving that joy is found.”

What is your favorite thing about your job?

The incredible spirit of the community that surrounds Camp Rainbow Gold. It’s a blessing I get to witness every day when generous, hardworking and kind community members volunteer or donate to help Idaho’s children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

What is the best decision you ever made?

Making myself a priority and getting healthy. There is no excuse not to take care of yourself—not even taking care of others.  

What motivates you?

I stay motivated by those around me. I’m incredibly blessed to be surrounded by a close, supportive family and then get to work each day with a hardworking, fun, passionate, driven team at Camp Rainbow Gold. I’m also incredibly motivated by those who spend their days fighting cancer—doctors, nurses, parents, families and the children. If a child can face cancer and fight like they do, I can certainly get up and face any challenges life may throw at me. I’m not saying life isn’t hard, but I have a choice every day, and I choose to show up and do good for others.