By the end of sophomore year, most college students have only just declared a major and may be scrambling to find a summer internship. But Natalie Elisha, ‘09, spent the end of her second year at Binghamton University preparing to graduate two years early — to begin law school on a full scholarship in the fall.
“There are two types of people in this world,” Elisha said. “There’s a type of person who wants the 100, gets a 98 and is upset, and there’s the type of person who wants a 70, gets a 75 and is thrilled. I’m the former. This is the way I’m wired: to always want more, to always want to push myself.”
On Friday, Elisha was welcomed back to BU to speak at the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development in University Union West, in a room packed with 50 students. At the start of the event, attendees were forewarned of Elisha’s energetic personality and her proclivity to call out people in the audience as active participants in her talk. These traits are what made Elisha’s talk so compelling — and what has made her career so successful.
After completing her undergraduate degree with a double-major in philosophy and philosophy, politics and law, Elisha attended St. John’s University School of Law on a full scholarship. She went on to work at a real estate development company, and then a trust and estates law firm, before opening up her own law firm at just 24 years old. Elisha’s law firm, Elisha Law PLLC, is based in New York City and specializes in trusts and estates, asset production and elder law.
Recently, Elisha has been working to help shape the next generation of professionals with her book, “The Millennial’s Guide to the Universe: How to Live the New International Dream.” Her talk centered on her “rules of success.” In her talk, Elisha shared three secrets for living a successful life. First, she maintained that you must know your purpose. Then, you need the right tools to achieve that purpose. Lastly, you must have the right risk-management portfolio in place, which means having a better understanding of how to protect your money and your life.
Another bonus secret to success, made clear by 50 students eagerly writing down every tip Elisha gave — always carry a pen.
Elisha’s self-proclaimed “magnetic” personality is something she tried to bring out in each student at the event. Throughout her talk, she reinforced the importance of a good first impression and “selling yourself” to anyone and everyone you meet. She also discussed setting strong goals, and had students break into groups to work on identifying their goals and finding the confidence to believe that their goals are valid.
“Have goals that are big enough,” Elisha said. “If your goal is so easily attainable, it’s not a goal, it’s something on your to-do list. Goals should scare the shit out of you and make you so zestful for life that you must do this, life or death.”
Christina O’Hara, a sophomore double-majoring in philosophy and psychology, said she found the talk inspiring.
“I got out of it that fearlessly pursuing the things that you like and going for it, not just in your big interviews, not just when you’re going for jobs, but every day — bringing that sort of passion and happiness and excitement — is crucial,” O’Hara said.
Elisha’s motivated personality has shaped the course of her life since before she even arrived at BU. At just 15 years old, Elisha broke bones throughout the left side of her body when she was hit by a drag-racing car in Fresh Meadows, New York, near her high school. Because nobody was found culpable for injuring her, Elisha resolved to become an attorney, in the hopes of stopping what happened to her from ever happening again. Less than one decade later, Elisha was already well into her career.
“When I was 24 years old, do you think I had so much confidence in the fact that I could run a law firm?” Elisha said. “No way. But, I showed people like I did, and eventually you get the recognition and you’re like, ‘Wow, I actually am this thing.’”
Elisha, who was rated a Super Lawyer in New York City in 2017, said that many of the tools that yielded her success are not reinforced by traditional education. In the future, she said she would like to return to her alma mater to teach these ideals.
“Why not start here at Binghamton [University] and have a course that is all about life skills and about crafting a business mission or a mission for your life,” Elisha said. “I think if we had a course that’s all about the ‘Why?’ we would literally be printing out entrepreneurs here that were able to make astronomical change and give back to the school.”