In all honesty, I don’t look at business success in terms of men versus women in the industry. It’s not that I haven’t experienced the many obstacles that other women have, but in my mind, that’s old news. Instead, I focus on how to be the best for my clients and employees in an often-brutal industry.
After I started Stoltenberg Consulting, an executive at Westinghouse gave me business advice. That day, he said, “Congratulations, you’ve entered into a blood sport. You will be amazed at what you find in consulting. People will try to slice and dice you.” I still use that as motivation to be different.
When I gave birth to my son, a surgical error caused me months of medical issues, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back to normal again. Experiencing this as a working woman forced me to learn how to conduct my own business. The thought rose, How are you going to be competitive but create a work/life balance for the company?
Since those many years ago, I’m proud to see how Stoltenberg has grown to serve over two hundred preeminent healthcare clients, while making sure to think of our employees. Our consultants enjoy a four-day work week, which allows them to stay passionate about our clients while having time to take care of their families. Happy employees lead to happy clients.
Through the business, I’ve also grown to see the true quality in people. In my opinion, 95 percent of people do a good job and want to feel like they are accepted and are making a difference. However, there is still that remaining 5 percent. Don’t put rules in place for all in order to address the issues of the rest. Address those problem areas individually, so those who are thriving can continue to do so. Overall, make your employees feel valued. Give them opportunities to learn and grow, so they don’t go elsewhere.
Finally, know yourself and your business, and never lose passion. Look at your core offerings and be careful not to grow too quickly. Instead, look to balanced, consistent growth. Be consistent with customers. Provide honest service. By hiring good employees to start with who are willing to be part of a team, you have a combination towards commitment.
How has education affected your career?
My education has allowed me to understand the difference I can make in the world and how to interact with others. It’s helped me to see that everyone does not learn the same way, which enables learning better collaboration methods.
What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?
You have to have good people with great work ethic—it all starts there. With that, create a business practice of honesty, integrity, and being able to admit when you’re wrong and fix it. Stay grounded, remain focused, and be able to reinvent your company and self. Finally, education is key. Continue to educate your people. It will reinvigorate them, make them more invested in the company, and directly impact your clients and services.