“I think my personal journey is a little bit more complicated than the average person,” founder and CEO of business development firm Growth[period] Courtney Spaeth told Women of Washington hosts Aileen Black and Gigi Schumm.
“When I was about 20, my father went to federal prison for a series of white collar crimes,” she said. “My mom worked in retail, and I was an only biological child, so I was left with all the bills and responsibilities.”
Spaeth said that her father’s imprisonment was a turning point in her relationship with her family. “We had all been close up until that point, and so it completely unraveled,” she said. “It really taught me the importance of having a vision, persevering towards it, and having a personal sense of strength.”
Much of Spaeth’s strength to persevere, she said, came from her education. “I was raised, by my family and educationally, to have a personal sense of integrity,” she said. “And so I was able to look at my father at the time — things rapidly deteriorated to where we don’t have a relationship and I don’t want to have one — where I was able to say, “I love you, but what you did was wrong.”
“I think sometimes as a parent, you have to be careful what you ask for,” Spaeth said.
“If you raise someone to have a strong sense of ethic, a strong sense of right and wrong, and a strong sense of personal integrity, and then that’s what you get, you really shouldn’t be surprised.”
When asked if her father’s crime affects how she does business today, Spaeth answered: “I think without a doubt it shapes my desire to always do things completely appropriately. I never want to be associated with him in that way.”
Spaeth said that her company, Growth[period], strives to incorporate ethical behavior into the way it does business. Spaeth commented that this involves more than simple compliance. “I think ethics works both ways,” she said. “First and foremost, we make sure we’re legally compliant, and then secondarily we encourage our employees to have a personal sense of giving back.” To this end, Growth[period] sponsors its employees to do community service hours every year.
This commitment to ethics may be working, as Growth[period] is entering its 10th year of business. Spaeth described her company as “killers, not eaters,” saying, “if you’re a company that’s growing in A, and you want to grow in B and C and D, we help you figure out how, we put together the plan for you, and then we help you execute it all the way through deal signature.”
Growth[period] does not only focus on opening doors for its clients. “We’re door openers with the intent to close with revenue. We don’t do photo ops with big decision makers. We work at the level where people make contractual decisions,” Spaeth said.
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Gigi Schumm welcomes Washington's most ambitious and influential female executives to share their secrets to success. Contact Gigi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to Women of Washington’s audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.