Driven: How Did I Get Here Ep.3 – When Hard Work and Hustle Yields Dividends



Kathy Sacks, founder, investor, consultant, joins Justin Gray on this episode of the “Driven: How Did I Get Here?” podcast. Kathy currently runs advisory firm Coleap where she advises founders and executives in growth strategies and marketing. Kathy also invests in early-stage tech startups.

Growing up, did you have a clear vision on what you were going to be?
Well at one point, as a child of the 80s, I did want to be a solid gold dancer at one point. And thank God I didn’t follow that path. But for a hot minute there. I grew up in New Jersey and I grew up with immigrant parents. My parents both escaped communist Hungary in the 60s. So I got a hard work ethic at an early age. But looking back, I wanted to be many things, and I’m still figuring that out today. I mean aren’t you? Did you really figure that out?

I think the path of reinvention, especially today, happens often in one’s career. And I think it is really healthy.

What was the first job post college or first real job?
I wanted to work in New York City and to be a buyer at Macy’s. So I went to school in the city and after that ended up getting an entry level job at a company call Domestications – it was a catalog. $19,000 was my salary and my job was to fax orders to the different suppliers that were buying items from this catalog.

So let’s fast forward to today, you’ve had huge amount of success. You’re out on your own, running your own company, as well as investing in a ton of early stage organizations. What made you say, “I want to be an entrepreneur”?
Well I grew up with one. I saw the seasonality and stress of it, but also respected and admired the sense of freedom. So I always knew there would be entrepreneurship in my future and I don’t like people telling me what to do necessarily.

Is there any advice you would give to your younger self looking back over all these experiences that you’ve had?
The advice would be to not take myself so seriously for sure. When I look back, I’d say that I just needed to chill out a little. Continue to work hard, but be more open and willing to fail.

If you could hire anyone to do what you’re doing today, what type of person and traits would you look for?
When you are building a team, you don’t just want to hire a bunch of clones of yourself because you just get a bunch of stuff that isn’t going to lead to high performing teams. You get groupthink, and you get sameness.

Today, a lot of what I do is with founders, CEOs and their teams around how to grow. And the area of growth I’m most focused on is business strategy and customer acquisition. Within that, the sauce that I think is really the most important, but not necessarily its own department when you’re an early stage company is the people, and specific to people, it’s leadership. So I’m really interested in the intersection of business strategy, growth, and leadership. And how you develop yourself as a leader so you can multiply your people, and build a high performing team that ends up building a really great company.

Take away quote: “Spread your wings. Try things that you might not be sure if you’re any good at, but if you have that curiosity, try it.”

For Kathy’s blog posts about business strategy, check out kathysacks.com.

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