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Susan Silver Gotham
NAWBO Board of Director
Founder and President of Gotham Professional Services

We’ll figure it out.

This answer has raced to the top many times since The Christmas That Changed My Life. We went from the idea of starting a professional recruiting firm on Dec. 22, 2012 (the scene: me calling my husband from a parking lot) to servicing our biggest clients on Jan. 1 (the scene: me in happy panic mode). 

During the first three quarters of 2013, I reacted. Halfway through the following year, we began to catch our breath. We organized processes and built our confidence resume by resume. We stepped back and thought about our actions, something I hadn’t done during the catapult-like launch of Gotham Professional Services. 

We fully embraced the “we’ll-figure-it-out” mentality.

With this thinking comes a silent mantra that anything is possible. It has helped our company put nearly five years up on the board and gotten us within spitting distance to that elusive $1 million mark (besides connecting hundreds of people with a new career which, to me, is the best part of all).

Looking back, there have been many moments of failure and bad decision-making – punctuated by dark moments where I stared at the ceiling wondering why I took the entrepreneurial leap. But I don’t regret those failures because failure is a frequent guest of the “we’ll-figure-it-out” mentality, and it’s been a great guide along the muddy, uneven path to success. 

Entrepreneurs walk a line between fluidity and endurance

In an article last year in Entrepreneur magazine, QuestFusion Founder and CEO Patrick Henry referenced the Startup Genome study by Compass. To me, two of his factors speak to the value of “figuring it out”: 

  • Commitment to stay the course and stick with a chosen path
  • Willingness to adjust, but not constantly adjusting

At first pass, you might think these two are at odds, but they’re not. They hover between fluidity in business and endurance of what works. This, I believe, emboldens a business owner to confidently approach problems and figure them out, whatever “it” is.

Figuring it out with others

What we’re talking about isn’t just an internal approach. With clients, I constantly say those four little words: Let’s figure it out.

For example, for us, collaboration in problem-solving takes the transactional piece out of recruitment. Many recruiters find a resume from a likely candidate, send it to a company, make a match and, ta da, it works perfectly – or so one hopes. But that’s a recipe for lackluster results when you are talking about human beings.

Figuring things out with others is a fluid process that takes into account the person looking, the company hiring and what a match means for both, not just today, but months and years down the road. 

Trust leads the way because you’ve got to make decisions with other people and resist sneaking up into the ivory tower, which is very tempting. In fact, that is a strong tendency in my own leadership style, and one I continue to work on. 

NAWBO makes a difference

To that point, NAWBO has been a big influence on showing me the kind of leader I want to be. I joined NAWBO in October of 2016. It was amazing to see women empower and support one another. The fact is that it’s still a male-dominated world. There are still men smoking cigars and drinking brandy and deferring to male-owned businesses by default. NAWBO cuts through all that. 

I want to model myself on people who are contributing to the community and who are doing good things. For example, Dr. Judith Wright, recipient of NAWBO Chicago’s most recent Visionary Leader Award, will lead NAWBO Talks with Dr. Judith Wright on August 30. She is a true motivator I want to know and understand better. I’ll be there, and I hope you will too. 

At the end of the day, figuring it out means having the knowledge and confidence and connections to do just that. 

Whether it’s CONNECTS or big learning days like the last THRIVE event (yes, I’ve actually used the Schmutz Pack that Jellyvision CEO Amanda Lannert talked about), NAWBO inspires growth. I probably would never have even considered the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program if NAWBO Executive Director Wendy Jaehn had not suggested it. Now I've completed the program and added great things to our company that will help propel us in the coming years.

On a personal note, I’m very proud to be on the NAWBO Chicago Board of Directors. I’m not sure of all my responsibilities quite yet, but I really hope to expand membership. I believe in this organization and want to bring its resources and spirit to many other women who, like you and me, want to crush it in business and be leaders that make others proud.

Most likely, I won’t have all the answers. But, you guessed it, we’ll figure it out.