Even though she lives in the Arizona desert, Erica Swanson has worked with Roy Group from early days. In fact, she is employee number 001. She knows every nook and cranny of our processes and operations. Quick to laugh, affable and courageous (come on, how many of you would sing about socks in front of a crowd?), Erica is a deep practitioner of Buddhism. And dance. And self-awareness. And the fact that wherever you go . . . there you are.
How did you arrive at Roy Group?
Fresh from seven years of service for organizations in the social impact space and looking for my next adventure, I opted to work for myself. A chance connection led me to a short-term contract with Roy Group scrubbing data for their new CRM. Ever since that time, I’ve been a part of the team.
What’s your background, and how do the puzzle pieces all fit together for your work with Roy Group?
My heart leads and I follow. The trek winds over mountains and across the plains. There have been stopovers in exotic lands where people sit on the floor for meals and eat from their hands. My path has seen me bounding up and down over ocean swells, seated on the bowsprit of a ship … and sprawling on the deck. I have developed myself through research and writing and teaching children to read; through weaving and singing and dancing for hours; through finding love, community and common ground with strangers.
Wow, you have lived in a very free way, exploring the world as your heart pulls you. In all your travels and explorations, have you discovered a particular gift?
I love research and variety, and having freedom to explore and develop creatively through my work. You mentioned puzzle pieces a couple minutes ago. My brain stores memories like puzzle pieces. It seems to love finding patterns — sort of matchmaking in the background. Suddenly a connection will form, or an opportunity surfaces, and I explore the possibilities through linking the right players to an idea.
How do you bring forth that matchmaking ability with your Roy Group work?
My role puts me at the hub of Roy Group activity. I read a multitude of project briefs, correspondence, feedback and information related to our clients and team members. When I become aware of a need that could better serve our clients and/or the organization, I bring that to the table or immediately take action. The intended outcome is often to improve communication, streamline a process or provide content to our clients in a new way.
Your life path is so interesting and diverse — it’s so free and self-determined, and therefore so counter to what adults normally sign up for. What do you believe in, and how has this informed your career?
Roy Group presents an annual award — The MacGregor Cup — to acknowledge a leader who demonstrates personal mastery, leadership and character in inviting others to make their finest leadership contributions. Engraved on the cup is our credo, Ex eximio eximia: finest self — finest contribution. For many years I was unsure whether I had a passion because it didn’t come in a neat box with a label and a job description that everyone recognized. I wondered what my finest contribution might be defined as, and how my finest self might bring forward that finest contribution. At last I saw the thread weaving through my life: I was on a spiritual journey to become my finest self! The contribution comes from there.
Right. One of Roy Group’s core teachings is perfectly aligned with that epiphany you had. We say, “You are the work.” Can you talk a little bit about the importance of taking that work seriously?
Who I am is a result of my practice — of the moment-to-moment choices that I make. I practice being conscious of my choices and actions because I alone am responsible for the “me” that results from that work. The amazing part is that there is no end: I am always becoming. I am the work! We all are the work.
As you see it, what’s the best part of working with Roy Group?
Every truthful practice has solid, enduring values at its core. People are attracted to Roy Group because they perceive and experience the genuine value that engaging with Roy Group adds to every aspect of their lives. The best part of working with Roy Group is that we are all on the same journey — walking the talk, and doing our practice — together — to become our finest selves. In this way, each of us on the team, and those we work with, are well positioned to make our finest contribution to the world.
When you’re not organizing courses and in-house programs for the team, what would we find you doing?
Some years back I discovered a latent talent for translating words, pictures and heart feelings into music. I enjoy recording them in collaboration with friends and family. I also sing loudly to the walls when no one else is home. Singing is my barometer. And dancing; I’ve taken my learning quite seriously here, and have taken a deep dive into the different types of dance found worldwide — there are five that are pretty universal. And laughter! I love to be playful and if these aren’t happening, something is seriously out of balance.
Five types of dance that are universal worldwide? That’s pretty cool. What’s your favourite kind?
I’m drawn to flow.
What’s something unique about you that is not common to other people?
I knew from an early age that I would be a wanderer. While I didn’t know why at the time, I now understand that I was following the path of my particular spiritual journey. Once I made a list and counted the number of times I have moved, which is almost as many times as the number of years I have occupied our planet. This odd and curious fact teaches me that I am flexible and agile, and that a certain kind of stability is unimportant to me. I have never looked back with regret or longing for the place I was leaving. My home is where I am.