We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebecca Brizi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebecca, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is a natural part of life. Absorbing this realization was a liberating moment for me. I’ll start with the idea that risk is subjective. At 18 I left my family in Switzerland to come to the United States for college. I had spent plenty of holidays in the U.S., and this had been my plan all along. It didn’t feel like risk, just part of the plan. To some of my friends it seemed like a huge decision. It is all about our own habits and decision making patterns. One of my earliest lessons about risk in business was this refrain of “Starting your own business is so risky”. I started working in a startup after the dot.com boom but still in early days of startups. It struck me that the risk of entrepreneurship vs employment was different, but not less or more. As an employee, one is at risk of upsetting the wrong person, losing their one single client (their employer), of decisions made at a more senior level that affect their work, of a lack of control over their working conditions, and much more. There is always risk, what changes is the type of risk. This taught me to acknowledge risk in my own business, and in that of my clients: every plan, every decision, every change that a business makes is done to pursue an opportunity. And with every opportunity, there is a side of risk. Identifying, accepting, and mitigating that risk is what allows a business to progress. Analyzing the risk factors makes them normal and less intimidating, it is a situation in which knowledge truly is power.
What should our readers know about your business?
We are made up of our experiences. Every single one teaches us lessons and guides the next phase of our lives. I started taking summer jobs when I was 15 – something that was extremely unusual in Switzerland – and this gave me early insight into the working world, where I was always treated as an equal because nobody was used to having a summer student there, they could only treat me as part of the team. My first full time job after school was in an artistic but corporate environment. The whole time I was there, something was itching, I never felt fully settled. A serendipitous conversation about this feeling put me in front of a new startup founder, and after a few meetings in which we got along, I joined his brand new business. Cue twelve years of doing, learning, and then doing again. It was exhilarating work, and as such an early joiner, my work covered a broad spectrum of business areas. A few years into this, it finally hit me: my skill, the value I brought to the business, was in management decisions. The founder I worked with had wonderful ideas for product development and customer needs, and it came naturally to me to turn those into specific steps, guidance, and a plan that would bring us to the success we wanted. In 2017, after some ad hoc consulting, I decided to start this practice full time. As with my university decision: this was not difficult, because I was so excited about doing it. It did not feel (overly) risky at the time. With all these years of in-house experience, I was ready to create my own programs and work with a variety of business types in creating their success formulas. My work now is done with business owners – don’t outsource your business planning! – as we sit at the same table and I share best practices, and use those together to build their business models and organizational structure.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have lived in Atlanta for about 8 years now, and what I like most about living here is the quality of every day life. What one can get for the cost it requires is fairly well balance, for such a big city. There is an entertainment for all tastes, from music, to sports, to theatre and more. So much of life happens out doors and the city caters to that well. It is a good place to live. When friends come to visit, in particular from abroad, I like to spend a half day in a bunch of different neighborhoods across town, to show different personalities of the city. We will park somewhere and walk around stepping into any shops and at a local eatery. There is almost always also a trip to a Buford highway restaurant, and of course a meal at Fat Matt’s or Fox Bro’s (my European family and friends need to experience this!). And I will encourage them to talk to any local people. Southerners are truly friendly and warm, and it is fun for visitors to feel like they are connecting with a local person. Depending on the visitor’s preference, I will also suggest a small hike on one of the great trails in and around Atlanta. I like to show them we can be right in the city and yet feel miles away. An anecdote about “every day life”: I had friends visiting from Switzerland and my car battery died. They could not believe that I could drop my car off on a Sunday afternoon and get it back in a few hours all fixed. (In Switzerland everything is closed on Sundays). It’s the little things.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A few years into my work with the startup, we acquired an angel investor who joined our board. He was a senior VP in a corporate multi-national with a long list of experience and successes. He is also approachable, open minded, and an all around interesting person. I came to admire the balance he brought to his work: he was never shy to correct me or question my ideas. He was just as quick to learn something and change his point of view. From talking to little and inexperienced me! This attitude had a two fold effect on me: 1 – I was a shy and somewhat insecure – although opinion-prone – director of this small business, and his treatment gave me the confidence to sit at “that” table and contribute fully to the discussion. It taught me that I didn’t have to always worry about being right, I was there to participate in the ongoing development of our business, and I could do that. And 2 – To be like him, in always maintaining a balance of confidence and humility, and being open to learning all the time, and from any source.
Other: Phrases for Business Success, available on Amazon: https://rebrand.ly/ct4jn
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