We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristen Guskovict and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristen, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Starting a business is a major risk. It messed with my finances, it sometimes makes me obsessive, and it definitely makes me a workaholic. Plus, it makes some people look at me like I must have been a little crazy to even try it. But it is also an opportunity. One I tried to take with my eyes open. I am a consultant, so in the beginning I talked with every consultant I knew, about anything they wished they would have known prior to starting their businesses. They all told me it would take three years to build my client base and to get my income back to where it was before I started the business. I fully admit that maybe I was a little crazy to try because I didn’t believe them. I took the risk, seeing only the opportunities and ignoring the challenges.
It didn’t feel like a risk at the time, it just felt like the next step. I focused on what I could do to make it work, instead of what might impede my success. I went into business for myself because I wanted to work someplace where I was ‘learning’, ‘growing’ and ‘contributing.’ That was my simple litmus test. Am I learning something new? Am I growing my skills or my expertise? Am I contributing or making an impact in the world, in a way that I see as valuable? Prior to starting the business, I would use that litmus test to assess my work from time to time. I decided I needed to have at least two of those three factors. One day I realized I didn’t have those factors in my work anymore, and I decided I had to make a change. So, I developed my plan and went into consulting. That eye towards opportunity has helped me tremendously with my business and in my life in general.
Looking back, I realize that I often see opportunity where others might see risk. In my life, I’ve taken the opportunity to study and work abroad. In my career, I often took the opportunity to move to a new place for a job. Although this pattern is one that some people see as risky, I rarely did. I would ask myself what I would need to make this work for myself. In life, I would need to find my circle of friends in whatever new place I was living in, and in work I would need to be learning, growing and contributing.
Risk and opportunity are often difficult to distinguish between. Several years ago, I was talking with my brother, about an opportunity. I was trying to decide whether or not to take it. It was a long-term commitment, and I worried it would negatively affect my ability to grow my business. He asked, “Would you regret not taking it?” and the answer was a very quick and simple “Yes”. So, I took it. And because I did, more opportunities came.
Looking back, I realize I’m a very methodical thinker. I used a litmus test to consider what I needed from work. I generally think about how I can do things, instead of if I should do things. And I generally decide if a risk is an opportunity be asking myself if I would regret not doing it. I’ve been in business now for 7 years, and I’m grateful that I saw the opportunities instead of the risks. I am able to continue to learn, grow and contribute through my work every day. I think, it’s successful, in part because I focused on how I could make it work instead of if I could make it work.
What should our readers know about your business?
In my consulting work, I assist organizations domestically and internationally in building staff-care programs and mental health programs for refugees and other immigrants. I provide training, case consultation, assessment and evaluation. I’m most proud that I have had the chance to act both locally and globally as a consultant. Assisting large international humanitarian organizations, and small local community organizations here in the United States, and everything in between. I’m very proud to be providing unique services to each organization. Although I have an area of expertise, I cannot provide training or support on that without knowing what my audience already knows. I always tailor my work to my audience. I bring that same sensibility to my private practice, and the unique needs of each individual client I work with.
Our individual experiences reverberate throughout our families, our communities and our work. Our experiences influence every part of our lives. If we are suffering, and we don’t seek help, it hurts others either because they care about us or because they rely on us. I work with organizations to help staff prevent and overcome burnout, vicarious trauma, and secondary traumatic stress. To allow people to continue to contribute to the world in the ways that are most valuable to them. I work with individuals to help them to continue to contribute to their families, communities and the world in the ways that they see as valuable.
We all need help sometimes! Our experiences reverberate throughout our worlds, I want to help people and organizations to reverberate their best versions of themselves.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Miami! From Wynwood to the beach, to the everglades, there’s so much to do! And it is a great place for people to visit. Guests always arrive hungry, so I recommend picking up some pandebono, so they can enjoy while deciding what’s next. (My favorite pandebono comes from Mi Tierra on 71st St in North Shore). Then I always try to take my guests kayaking at Oleta or biking in Shark Valley. Of course, there has to be beach time! After the beach, maybe a happy hour… My favorite places to take guests for happy hour are: Whiskey Joe’s, Monty’s or Shuckers, they all have amazing views. When I’m just with my local friends, I enjoy happy hour at Citadel or any number of other amazing places. For dinner, I recommend Fifi’s on the beach or Ironside pizza. Or Blue Collar… I could go on… Miami also has some incredible art museums, I recommend the Rubell.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Everyone deserves recognition for this! I have a groundswell of support from family and friends. And a wealth of knowledge from the organizations I’ve worked with, and the mentors who have shared their time with me. After trying to write this, I realize if this were an award show I would not finish before the music started… But here goes… My amazing family: Parents / Bob & Debby Guskovict and bro-Bobby Guskovict (along with his wonderful wife and incredible kids!) Mentors: Miriam Potocky, PhD, Olivia Faries, LCSW, Richard Mollica, MD, Hawthorn Smith, PhD, James Lavelle, LCSW, Sompa Adiya Taylor, LCSW Friends: I have so many amazing people who support me. Here are a few who have contributed to the growth of KLG Consulting Services, Rosario Noa, LCSW, Jennifer Cohen, Jaime Stein, Christian Eckles, Claudia Diaz, my Wednesday night zoom happy hour crew, my pandemic pod: Liz & Jeremy, My RPCV friends and so very many more. I am grateful to all of my amazing friends. Organizations: Danish Refugee Council, Kentucky Office for Refugees, the Bhutanese Community of Cincinnati, the OSCE, GCJFS/ Florida Center for Survivors of Torture; Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Services, Save the Children, Peace Corps, Foodshare of Hartford County.
Linkedin: Kristen Guskovict
Facebook: Heart of Aid Work
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