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Interview Marble Jar Gang: Small Business

The basic premise or formula is to recognize that when your skills + traits + behaviors are placed in the right environment the outcome will give you a greater chance of success and happiness in your work. We recently had a ‘sit down ‘with 2 of our MJG founding partners. We wanted to ask them about how they each began a new business paradigm for themselves. We discussed that each had been employees in both large and small companies. Each had had at least one ‘start up’ experience in their early career and later careers. Currently, they both own and manage consulting businesses that they founded and nurture. We thought it might be interesting to hear from them on a few topics related to having a small business that you control. Question #1: Do you know each other well as in professionally and personally? CC: Yes, and both. I met SF 32 years ago. She was my first boss in the beauty industry. We have maintained a close friendship and professional relationship throughout the years. SF: I first met CC on a phone call that soon became an in-person meeting we arranged in New York at our office. We have worked together and collaborated on work related projects for many years. Question # 2: Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?

CC: No, not really. Consulting for me is a way to be a part of a lot of different teams and contribute to many projects. Without the clients and projects, I wouldn’t have a business, so I don’t see consulting or freelance work as entrepreneurial. SF: I do not relate to the word. It connotates risking loss in order to make money. That is not me. I am a consultant that mitigates risk for my client in proposing, developing and helping execute programs that have higher assurances of financial success. I would prefer one to say I was a person who can be transformative in a company which also means I am opinionated in a positive manner. Question # 3: Did you have a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘never-haves’ when you began your own entity? CC: Sure. A ‘must-have’ for me is that I must believe that I can help the client and they must be open to the help. It is

n’t always that way and I’m not interested in doing that type of work. It’s too difficult for both sides. A ‘never-have’ is that I won’t work for people I don’t respect. SF: I was fortunate to have a tutor and mentor in beginning my firm. His name is Tom and he asked me to write down the top 5 things I would bring forward from my past and the 5 things I would leave behind. He made it very clear that I would not accept a contract that had those five “never-ever’s” in the obligations. My biggest one is I never wanted to fire an employee again. In my entire career I have not had more sleepless nights, more anxiety and such sadness as when I, or another direct report, had to terminate an employee. And it didn’t matter if it was for, performance or even a company layoff or restructure. Even now I see names and faces and hope they did well. It hasn’t gone away for me. That’s my never-ever. Question #4: What is the take-away from working for a large corporation? Should everyone try it once? CC: Absolutely, more than once if you can get the work! The takeaway is learning how to be a small cog in a very large wheel that turns 24/7. You must learn how to be a part of the wheel and contribute to the efficiency and success of the wheels movement but if you left tomorrow, you can easily be replaced, and the wheel keeps turning. It’s incredibly important to understand how the entire team works together and how to be a part of it. You learn a tremendous amount from a large corporation that has the resources and infrastructure in place to support a large business. At the end of the day the training and lessons are invaluable.

Cayce Cage and Susan Flint of Marble Jar Gang interviewed by Sam Smith

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