Women in Business: Q&A With Elisabeth Rohm, Upromise Ambassador and Actress

Elisabeth Rohm is best known for her roles on Law & Order and The Client List, but is also a savvy business woman and activist who recently launched a $100,000 educational giveaway program with college savings provider Upromise by Sallie Mae. The Upromise Pledge which runs until November 20th, will encourage consumers to save for college, joining millions of families marching towards their education dreams, yet being financially underprepared to do so. By linking your credit or debit card to Upromise (which is free to use) and shopping at hundreds of partner retailers like Target.com and Bed, Bath & Beyond you earn money back towards college -- either in the form of money to an existing loan or 529, or in cash.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I live by a motto that my mother gave me, and you should always listen to your mother -- "just show up." Things aren't just going to land in your lap, you have to show up for the experience and I think that advice has helped me in my relationships, friendships and work. I've shown up for myself when my career has had ups and down. What creates a great leader is getting up again, when you fall down. Dick Wolf once said to me when a particular pilot we did didn't succeed, "Next." I thought that was a great life lesson to take with me because ultimately, what he meant by "next," was that we just need to keep pushing forward and showing up for ourselves so we can have the best life possible.

How has your previous employment and life experience aided your partnership with Upromise?
I've been lucky to be surrounded by people who really value learning and are tirelessly curious. Starting with my parents and my stepmother to my colleagues at Law and Order. I've been very lucky to be around people who are eternal students of life. They've always inspired me to keep learning and growing. It brings a lot of joy to my life, and empowers me. I want to empower the younger generation to thirst for knowledge and value learning. Upromise by Sallie Mae is committed to making sure that money is not a barrier in our children's' education. Using Upromise is a smart way to earn cash back for college on purchases already planned. From shopping and booking travel online to dining, to finding exclusive deals and coupons, you'll find opportunities to earn cash back every day. You can earn 5 percent or more at 800+ online partners.

Why did you want to get involved with Upromise and The Upromise Pledge?
I wanted to get involved to bring a higher consciousness to people about saving for education, especially during National College Savings Month. We want to inspire families to think about their children's education now, even if their children are young. But also to make their spending dollars work for themselves to earn cash back for college. This strikes close to home because I too put off saving for college the first couple years of Easton's life, but thanks to my relationship with Upromise, I have now started saving for her education.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I just made a commitment when Easton was born to always make it clear that she was number one. That's my balance. If I feel like she is in question of that, then I try to pull back on my work. She and I have been lucky to share a lot of time together, so I think it is also appropriate for her to realize that I love what I do professionally as well. I hope that inspires her to find a passion in her life.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Inspiring each other to be ourselves is something that should be done more often. To feel comfortable with our version of self. When women come together they are empowered. They no longer need to fit into a man's world, and I think we've seen an incredible shift in that direction. There is still room for growth. The more women come together, the stronger we will be. Women should always support each other because together we can do it our own way.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I haven't read the book yet, but I am a great admirer of hers. Not knowing the full details of the book, I would just say the title has makes me think a lot about leaning into my own life. We have to encourage ourselves as women to not be afraid to have an opinion and speak up. Sometimes we are too politically correct, and censor ourselves from strong opinion.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I think it has made all the difference. Looking back, I almost remember my teachers more than my friends -- from lower grades to college. Probably, because I had parents that I admired. I've always looked to mentors, I look at even my friends as mentors. If they're doing something better than me, I take note. When people have taken steps before you that you have yet to take, and they can lend you a hand through their experience, how much richer does that make you as a person? I think everyone should look for a great mentor, a great champion that can shed a little light to where they are heading.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are many great women who inspire me. Arianna Huffington has been on my mind a lot lately because of her seemingly endless passion for others. During the promotion of my book, Baby Steps, she made it possible for me to share my story with infertility with her readers. It was gracious and kind of her to support of me as a writer and woman- that made me realize that she must be a mentor to many people. She certainly is a great leader of our time.

What advice can you give to those just starting out at college?
Don't get in your own way by thinking that you have too many interests and passions, and that you simply can't pick a career path. Having many passions is a gift, but it shouldn't be an obstacle to your success. Success is synonymous of reinvention. As you get older you get to be so many different versions of yourself. You may change your mind and have many careers in your future but in order to get from point A to point B, you have to focus on one thing and go for it. I think it is part of the human condition that we fear making mistakes, but there are no mistakes - just lessons.