Build personal connections — Life is about relationships. Everyone struggles. I like to cultivate these relationships in every transaction and by building these relationships, when something goes wrong I find that people want to work through the issues collectively.
In my work as a coach and consultant, I speak with business leaders across multiple industries about their most significant challenges. One common theme continues to emerge — rapid change and disruption are the new norm in business, and the only constant is the demand for resilience. At the heart of resilience is the ability to adapt and recover quickly from adversity. I am certain that more than intelligence and talent, resilience is the single most important trait required to succeed in today’s highly complex market. My “Rising through Resilience” interview series explores the topic of resilience in interviews with leaders across all walks of business.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Andy Gutman. Gutman is a songwriter, poet, businessman, but mostly a dreamer. He has published four children’s books, including Even, Charlie the Caterpillar, Pop Lullaby and What Can I Be Today? His fifth book, Be Kind, is set to be released in early 2020. Gutman tries to see the beauty in the world and the good in everyone and says his greatest accomplishment is his daughter, Riley.
Thank you so much for joining me! Our readers would love to get to know you. Can you tell us your backstory?
I started out with a degree in accounting, ready to be a CPA, but jobs were scarce when I graduated. After working for several months doing odd jobs, I got a job as an accountant at a commercial real estate company. I came to find that I loved commercial real estate more than I loved accounting.
What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success as a leader at Farbman Group?
I would say I am only as successful as the team and the company. Any modicum of success I have achieved is because I believe in teamwork, hard work and putting others first.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company stand out from the crowd?
What makes us great, aside from having one of the most iconic and smart families in commercial real estate guiding us, we put the needs of our customers first and focus on solving their challenges.
How has your company continued to thrive in the face of rapid change and disruption in your industry?
We thrive because we are innovators. We operate under the idea that the only constant is change. We embrace new ideas and new technologies. We refuse to be stagnant.
I believe that “resilience” is the underlying trait of all successful businesses. How would you define “resilience?”
Resilience means following your passion and bouncing back from what others may see as setbacks or failures. It’s the ability to say, ok, this may not have worked, but there was value in it, I learned from it, it’s still a goal I want to achieve and I’m still going to do it. Resilience means you find the solution to every problem and overcome and achieve.
When you think of tenacity and endurance, what person comes to mind?
JK Rowling. At one point, Rowling was a single mother living on unemployment benefits. Her work was repeatedly rejected, but she did not give up and continued working on her writing. Today, she is one of the best-selling authors of all time.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway?
For me, it was my foray into children’s books and music. This had been a lifelong passion, but I always took no for an answer. I kept telling myself I will tackle that sometime in the future. A few years back one of my co-workers passed away unexpectedly. He had been counting the days to retirement and all he would do when he retired. His passing motivated me to make every day important and I undertook making my passion for writing and music my mission and worked tirelessly. I now have five children’s books and 450 songs I have made, of which 30 are licensed for use, and I live every day like it is my last.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever?
When I worked at my first job out of college, I dedicated myself to learning, growing and surpassing any and all learning curves. When my supervisor went on maternity leave, I filled in at the job until she came back. I implemented improvements, updated policies and improved productivity. When my supervisor came back from leave, she submitted her resignation and I applied for the job. The process went on for months, and when it was over, I did not get the job I had been doing for close to a year. At the time I was told it was because I was too young without enough experience. I left the company shortly thereafter and feel like it resulted in me finding the company where I am today, but it made me quite upset at the time.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency?
I grew up in a middle-class family, but was taught early on the importance of hard work and being self-sufficient. I had two paper routes, worked at a country club and a variety of other jobs that taught me the value of working hard, to be strong and to know that there is always another job.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. What strategies do you use to strengthen your resilience?
I tend to use humor, personal connections and goal setting to strengthen resilience.
1. Have a sense of humor — You can let each setback knock you down and keep you there but having a good sense of humor can lighten the darkness surrounding issues faced. Also, I’ve found that by not taking life too seriously I have been able to get through tough times
2. Build personal connections — Life is about relationships. Everyone struggles. I like to cultivate these relationships in every transaction and by building these relationships, when something goes wrong I find that people want to work through the issues collectively.
3. Create goals — By setting goals, staying focused on them and visualizing the completion of them, it will keep you motivated during the hard times
4. Interact with other leaders and share lessons learned — I spend a lot of time meeting with those other entrepreneurial leaders and in sharing our challenges and successes, we keep each other focused on success
5. Read voraciously — I learn and stay positive and resilient by reading articles and books from people who have been in the trenches
What are your thoughts on how leaders can create a more resilient workforce?
We teach our team the importance of allowing them to make honest mistakes and to learn from them. It teaches them that no loss is fatal or final.
Extensive research suggests that people who have a clear purpose in their lives are more likely to persevere during difficult times. What is your purpose?
I have reflected on that a lot in the past few others. My purpose is to do good in this world and make a difference in the lives of children and adults alike.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.” — Winston Churchill
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Yes, they can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @CreativeAndyG.
This was inspiring, thank you!
About the Author
Alexandra Friedman is an executive business coach with more than 25 years of experience enhancing the performance of individuals, teams, and companies such as Xerox, Peppers and Rogers Group, Microsoft, and The Wall Street Journal. She received an MS in Management from Loyola Marymount University and earned her Executive Coaching certification from Columbia University.
Resiliency Quiz: How resilient are you? https://www.friedmansolutions.com/assessment