c21tv episode six – Sharon Goldmacher
Sharon: What inspired me to start c21 is I went on a trip to Australia. It was the farthest I’d ever been. I went to visit a friend and when I met his friends they all were so much happier than I was. I was kind of grinding away at a job where I enjoyed what I did but didn’t really love the people I worked for. So I thought, gosh, they seem really happy. They’re doing their own thing. I mean, I met a farmer. I met a business person but they all just seemed a lot happier. It was probably because they lived in Australia but when I came back I decided I would just try to start a company and it was kind of on a whim – with a little bit of planning – but it really was just to see if I could do it.
Did I have a backup plan? No. I did not. I felt like my skills at the time, I was at least marketable so I feel like if I’d failed I could probably get another job or maybe I’d have to leave the state. But, you know, I was very young and very dumb and I think part of that was I didn’t really have a fear of failure because I felt like, what would I lose? I was 28 so I was really kind of getting started and getting my feet under me and I think that lack of fear of failure was helpful and it’s hopefully something I carry on to this day and also try to inspire other people that failing is okay because I’ve failed a lot and, on occasion I feel like I fail every day, but I learn from failure and I think everybody does and I do encourage my team to fail because you learn how to do it properly – hopefully – the next time.
I would describe my leadership style as – I guess I try to lead by example. I do tend to be a bit of a perfectionist but I hopefully don’t pass that illness on to other people. I’ve tried to – definitely over the years I’ve become much more flexible. When I first got started I definitely was no flexible and I think I lost good people as a result of that but have learned over time that flexibility is really key and again it’s kind of important to put other people first so I don’t know if that’s a leadership style but, again, I try to be flexible and I try to lead by example and hopefully give people enough freedom to discover and learn on their own. And share and – I certainly am taught new things every day by the team because I’m an old, so that’s okay.
Who’s the person I admire the most and why? It would be my dad. He was super special. He was very smart. He really knew the ins and outs about business and managing and I think he actually did end up working for himself but he grew up kind of working for others and I think he was so excited when I launched c21 just because it was a little bit of vicariousness. But he taught me a lot about how to deal with people – both clients and team members – but he also, he was really good at arguing both sides of an issue so he was one of those types that could be very fair and balanced. I did not get that great skill from him but hopefully I picked up a few others and my dad also reminded me to stop and smell the roses and celebrate successes because you don’t want to work your whole life away and look back and not remember the successes and the fun times. He was great about that as well.
My favorite item in my office – now that it’s super clean and I can see everything – I think is my Fatz Domino poster. It was from New Orleans Jazz Festival. I had gone with a girlfriend of mine. We had a great time and it just reminded me of being at school and how much fun jazz festival is and what a quirky and odd place New Orleans is and it just kind of reminds me of really fun times.
I think what makes c21 special are the people, honestly. I have learned over the years, while I love most of our clients – or all of our clients – most of our clients, clients are going to come and go and I think it’s really important if you’ve got a great team like we do today that I work really hard to make sure that they’re happy first and put their needs first. Clients will come and go but a happy team makes for a really great office environment that’s fun and we have a lot of camaraderie here, I think, but at the same time the c21ers are all very different and very individual. And I like that. I think everybody brings their own interests and experiences to the table. I will say that we do share a lot of the same Netflix and Amazon interests which makes it great because we can talk about the latest and greatest but I truly love everybody’s individuality and what they bring here and it makes it fun – for me – to come to work. I know work is a four-letter word as they say but I love what I do and I love the people I work with. So I feel really lucky.