On the heels of International Women’s Day and with a strong sense of “girl power” filling the atmosphere; it seems only fitting that this “Executive Spotlight” should recognize one of pep’s powerhouse women, Susan Goodyear, Vice President of Sales & Marketing. When you have a conversation with Susan, you immediately recognize her energy and passion for life, which is truly an infectious quality. It is no wonder that she has blown all of her sales goals out of the water and motivated teams to conquer and surpass every objective.
In the beginning of her career, Susan fully intended to become a lawyer. She started her journey as a paralegal at a law firm in New York City, but quickly observed that the lawyers seemed very unhappy, working arduous hours that may or may not ever lead to making partner. This lifestyle was not how she imagined her future and she sought other opportunities in the exciting world of advertising sales. Eventually, she crossed paths with George Valassis and began what would be a 29 year career in sales at Valassis. Susan reflects that it was a “fun, amazing, and successful ride” that she will forever be grateful for. Just looking at Susan’s resume or LinkedIn profile speaks for itself, but what is also truly incredible are the accomplishments Susan has achieved behind the scenes of her business successes.
After 29 years at Valassis, Susan was ready for a new challenge both professionally and personally. The first new challenge presented itself on a personal level in the form of climbing a mountain – literally! Susan explained that her personal life was feeling out of control for various reasons and she needed to regain that control. A co-worker and friend encouraged her to start climbing and she agreed. Susan reached the summit of Mount Rainier in the summer of 2014. Just reaching the summit of a 10,000 foot vertical is beyond a triumph and something most of us will never experience, but what Susan took away from this experience just speaks so much to her character. She says, “No one can climb a mountain alone – it takes a team. We had three very competent guides, seven men, and me. Our leaders mapped out the vision, the strategy, and showed us the tools and techniques that were essential to a successful and safe climb.” And this is exactly how Susan leads her team in the professional setting, by clearly communicating her vision and ensuring that they have the tools to be successful. Further, Susan reflects: “Great teamwork requires communication, trust, and an understanding of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses – recognizing when to take the lead and when you need to let others take the baton.” Who knew there was so much you could learn from a mountain! Susan went on to explain that the accomplishment of summiting Mount Rainier gave her the courage to pursue a career change after spending 29 years with the same company, which is what brought her to pep.
As if Susan didn’t seem fierce enough, she went on to begin afresh at pep leading a totally new team, navigating a rebrand, meeting sales goals, and learning the ropes of a new culture within the first few months of her start date. While tackling this massive career adjustment, she also tackled a 202 mile bike ride in two days for the VeloSano race in Cleveland. Sometimes I look at Susan and think, “gosh, how does she do it?!”, but I’ve come to learn that it’s no accident that Susan achieves so many amazing things and still has time to be an incredible friend, family member, and co-worker. I asked Susan if she could give her younger self any advice what would it be and her answers had a very clear and profound underlying theme – balance. She is exceedingly mindful of her priorities and her designation of time to each priority. She stresses that this wasn’t always the case and has taken her time to learn, but goes on to say that “…when you don’t have your personal life in order it’s really hard to be successful at work. Nothing is ever perfect so try to find harmony knowing there will be an ebb and flow in life. Don’t strive for perfection, strive for balance. Nothing can ever be perfect. Perfection is not attainable but if we chase it we can catch excellence.”
Echoing this theme, I recall countless occasions that I’ve heard Susan reference “the glass balls” in meetings and private conversations. If you’ve never heard of them, check out the full story, but the simple version is that life consists of glass balls and rubber balls. The glass balls are family, health, friends, and spirit while the rubber ball is your career because a career can always bounce back, but if you damage your family, health, friends, or spirit – those glass balls will shatter and be irrevocably in disrepair. This seems to be Susan’s guiding light and the essence of her success. Candidly she says, “oh gosh, family and friends and health and spirit… keep that spirit…remember those glass balls in life because work is important and critical to success, but life flies by and you have to make sure you take the time to enjoy it and be aware of all the elements of life – be sure to keep those glass balls in a safe place.” This is Susan’s mantra, something we could all live by or at least learn from. Clearly it has served her well. Cheers to knowing women like Susan! May we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them!
– By Ashley Martina