Eldridge and Alicia Broussard are both busy professionals working to juggle their careers with their family time. When Alicia received an exciting and sizeable promotion at work, Eldridge made a drastic decision about his career path in response.
4word: Eldridge, can you share your background with our readers?
Eldridge: I am a Transformational and Leadership speaker. I am also a certified member of the John Maxwell Team. As I travel around the country I am often asked, “How did I get into speaking? Is it something I have always wanted to do or knew I would do?” The answer is no, I never wanted to be a speaker, and as the opportunities presented themselves in the beginning, I ran from them. I often say I did not find speaking; it found me.
Being named after and growing up in the shadow of a famous college basketball star father who was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers in 1974 has not always been easy, especially after what happened in 1987. That year, I was one of 53 children in a commune removed from my parent’s custody after the beating death of my younger sister. I was nine at the time. I found myself at the center of a media frenzy and part of an international story I wanted nothing to do with. My father, Eldridge J. Broussard Jr., appeared on Oprah and other talk shows to speak about my sister’s death and Ecclesia, the religious organization he was the founder and leader of (which most people considered a cult). As a result of these experiences, I went through the early years of my life trying to hide who I was.
I walked around feeling ashamed, insignificant, embarrassed, insecure, inadequate, angry, and very depressed. I considered myself an outcast and most people treated me that way. When I was 12 years old, my father died, which sent me over the edge. I started hanging around the wrong crowd and with their influence, I began engaging in risky and illegal behaviors. As a result of my choices, I ended up in prison at the age of 18.
It was at this point in my journey that I decided I was going to take control of my life and overcome the barriers and obstacles in my path. My first step was to embrace relationships with people who cared for me. With their support, I was able to take an honest look at my life and deal with issues I had previously avoided. I also started to believe in dreams they had for me, since I did not know how to dream for myself at that point. They saw things in me and believed in me in ways I did not believe in myself. If you want to read more of my story, you can read about me here on my website.
4word: How did the two of you meet? Did Eldridge’s background provide any friction in your relationship?
Eldridge: I met Alicia in the 6th grade at Harriet Tubman Middle School. Since Alicia and I were 12 years old when we met, my background did not impact our relationship as friends. We did not talk about my past until I was 18 or 19 when we started our romantic relationship. There were lots of things we had to overcome with experiences in our upbringings and how we viewed those things.
Alicia: During our early years of friendship, I don’t believe that El’s background created any issues or friction, but as we began “dating,” living, and parenting together there was a lot of friction based on both of our backgrounds. I grew up in a traditional family with a dad, mom, and brother, while El grew up in a community of over 100 people. So we were coming from opposite directions on basically everything.
4word: As two full-time working parents, how do the two of you find balance? Is it difficult to keep all the plates spinning?
Eldridge: We definitely go through times where the balance is off in one area or the other. I might be traveling a lot, Alicia might be working long hours, the kids have sports and different things going, so we have become very intentional in how we spend our time both as a family and as a couple. We have implemented a weekly date night where it’s just the two of us for dinner, going for a walk, or seeing a movie. It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we are spending time with each other. If one of us has to cancel for some reason, that person has to have an alternate day and time to replace Wednesday date night. That way it’s not something that is forgotten or overlooked.
The other thing we have been intentional about is spending time in each other’s work place. Everyone loves when Alicia attends events with me when I am speaking. I also spend time visiting with her and the residents who live at Laurel Parc senior living community. I have also volunteered for events her company puts on in our community to support and spend time with her. I think that’s very important and I know how much it means to Alicia when I stop by to visit.
Alicia: Balance is difficult and we don’t always achieve it. Being a wife, mother, and full time worker feels at times like 3 full time jobs! Being deliberate about making time for each other really makes all the difference. We are all in for our kids (family time, school, and sports, whatever they need) and both have exciting things happening in our careers, but we make time for date night weekly on a set day of the week and we protect that day and time.
4word: Eldridge, you recently made the decision to take a step back from your career to give Alicia the freedom to step into an exciting promotion at her job. What was that step back like? Alicia, how did it make you feel to know that your husband believed in you enough to place his own career on hold?
Eldridge: I had a feeling that Alicia would be having some type of transition with her career, so I felt it was important we talk about it before it happened so that we had a plan and were as prepared as possible for it. With our oldest son, DaLontae, turning 18 and this being his senior year of high school, I knew I needed to stay home and off the road to support Alicia and DaLontae. It was very important to me that they both know that they were more important than my career and the platform I have. I wanted to show them both that what they had going on this year was just as important to me and our family as my speaking. My speaking can be hard with how everyone responds to both Alicia, DaLontae, and our youngest son, EJ, because of the public platform I have. It can really take a toll on a family with all the expectations and the importance everyone puts on what I do.
Throughout my break, I had to remind myself of the things I share with my audiences across the country. “Purpose” and “platform” are two different things, and just because my speaking platform was taking a backseat did not mean my purpose was taking a backseat. It meant I had to be creative and live out my purpose differently during this season.
To be honest, it was not an easy process. I knew it would be an adjustment, but it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I had a lot of momentum speaking, and It was a big hit to my ego, to be completely honest. I turned down a lot of speaking opportunities both in the states and overseas, and at the beginning it was very frustrating for me. There may have been a few arguments between Alicia and me.
Alicia was adjusting to her new position as the Executive Director of Laurel Parc at Bethany Village. They had just finished a beautiful expansion of the facility, so there was a lot of work to do, and by nature, Alicia is a very dedicated person, which can be good and bad at times. I believe that is why it’s important to know your beliefs and values, and then prioritize them so it’s easier to make decisions when these types of scenarios present themselves. The struggle for me in this process was only getting over my feelings and emotions, never confusion about what I should do. I needed to learn how process the change the best way emotionally for my family and me.
Alicia: It makes me feel understood and valued as a person, knowing that he values what I bring to the table not only as a wife and mother, but also in the workplace. El has demonstrated his belief in me and my career since the beginning. He has made my career advancement a priority since I was twenty years old.
4word: What do you do to find rest and peace in your life, both as a family and as individuals?
Eldridge: As a family, our rest is movies at home and food. We love to barbecue, and I enjoy cooking for the family. As for me personally, I enjoy golfing, basketball, working out, and walking with Alicia.
Alicia: I am definitely more of an introvert, so rest and peace for me equal quiet time, walks, and weekends away. As a family, we have a great time together and laugh a lot, and barbecues and movies are on the list for sure.
4word: Eldridge, you have some inspiring thoughts on what it means to be the “head of the house.” Would you share those thoughts with us?
Eldridge: I believe the responsibility I have as the head of my household is to make sure my wife Alicia feels valued, fulfilled, and lives out her purpose in the way she feels God has designed her. How we sacrifice for each other at different times on our journey without either one of us giving up on what we feel is our purpose or calling is something Alicia and I are always working on.
As I travel and speak around the world, I talk with a lot of men and women who are in relationships where one person feels more valued based on their calling or purpose. The majority of the time, it is the women whose purpose or calling takes a back seat, and that is not something I buy into or believe to be right.
I believe as the head of my house it’s important I know my purpose is different from my platform, because that gives me the ability to honor and value the purpose of my wife and boys over the platform I have. I encourage my two boys to nurture their gifts and talents until they become aware of their calling and purpose and figure out which platform will present itself for them.
4word: What advice would both of you share with other professional Christian men and women?
Eldridge: This is a quote I use often: “The relationship you have with yourself will set the tone for every other relationship you will have in your life.” Ask yourself if you’re happy with the tone your relationship is setting for you. If you want a better life, start by making yourself better, and everything else will start to change as well.
Also, evaluate your beliefs and values, as well as your family’s. Prioritize them by number as you make decisions in your life that affect your faith, work, and family, then use these beliefs and values as the basis and foundation for all the decisions you make.
Alicia: The advice I have for women is to make your husband a priority! It’s so easy to get caught up in daily tasks around the house, with the kids, and in the workplace. Those things are important, but we need to put more energy into our relationships.
Do you feel as though you and your significant other are on the same page regarding your family’s priorities? If not, it would be well worth the time to go through the process! Eldridge and Alicia’s example is a wonderful reminder and guide for couples and families to follow.
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Eldridge and Alicia Broussard are respected community leaders and dynamic business professionals. They have served on countless non-profit boards including My Father’s House Shelter, Big Brother Big Sister, Thelma’s Place, Summit Golf Foundation, Building Blocks to Success, No Limits Foundation. Alicia was also Co- Chair of the In-home Heath Care Committee for Oregon Health Care Association just to name a few. They are also the co-founders of the Broussard Foundation Inc., a non-profit organization geared towards teaching Practical Leadership Principles & Life Skills to Youth & Young Adults.
Eldridge, known as “Mr. Own Who You Are You,” is the author of “The Challenge to Change 52 Weeks to Owning Who You Are”. He created this book and journal set to help facilitate personal growth and self-awareness on the journey to Owning Who You Are. You can purchase a copy by clicking on this link.
Eldridge and Alicia are currently living in Portland, Oregon with their two sons, DaLontae and EJ.