Your Name: Susan Barborek and Kris McMenamin

Business Name: The Legacy Network, a business and management consulting firm

Type of Business: Coaching & Consulting

Business Location: Fairfax, Virginia, United States

Reason for starting
You hear it a lot – but for us it was simple: work/life balance and an ability to be in charge of our destiny. We liked what we did – and we were good at it, but we wanted to do it on our own terms. We enjoyed work and wanted to continue investing in the careers we were building, but we also wanted to invest in our lives outside of work – in our kids, our husbands, our friends, our hobbies, and our outlets for giving back. We knew there was a way to do high quality, interesting and challenging work, and still have time for all the rest.

Biggest Success
Our biggest success is that we are stil here! In a market that has seen many small businesses fail, we have managed to thrive. We work with terrific, talented colleagues and clients, we do exciting and challenging work, we have made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America three years in a row – AND we are able to spend time with our families and friends, and be active in our communities and schools. And with each project – we leave behind a legacy of good work and strong results.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Finding time to develop new business while working existing projects. Networking and word of mouth have been key to our success, but as we continue to grow we need to expand our field of opportunities. As a small business, we are the “face” of TLN, and prospective clients and partners, understandably, want to talk with us when they talk about opportunities. At the same time, clients who hire us want to be assured that we are personally invested in their work and on top of their needs. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but we are committed to bringing all the benefits of being small – personal involvement, no bureuacracy – to every job. We also try to reserve a day each week for networking – coffee, lunch, more coffee – and attend as many industry events as possible.

Who is your most important role model?
Kris: My mom was an everyday hero in my eyes. In an era when single-employer careers were the norm, and options for women were much more limited than today, my mom reinvented herself and her career significantly at least four times—from Navy wife, to teacher, to newspaper reporter, to marketing director. She was able to do this in part because she believed passionately in lifelong education – whether it was pursuing a second master’s degree midlife, or teaching herself how to weave on a huge loom, lay a slate floor, or sew a slipcover for my seriously ugly sofa. She also believed in leading by example, and teaching others to see their own potential, and their own possibilities. As a single working mother, she picked herself up by her bootstraps many time – probably more than I know – and somehow always managed to put a home cooked meal on the table every night. As a mother myself now, I have a new and ever-deepening appreciation for all that she did and all that she was.

Susan : I know I’m not alone in considering Hillary Clinton – another woman who lives a life based on the power of reinvention – a hero. Her spectacular life journey has included highs and lows that are beyond what most of us can imagine. She has proven herself, time and time again, to be a strong, entrepreneurial woman who refuses to succumb to adversity and negativity, and instead focuses her brilliance and position on improving the world around her. In all of her roles – mother, lawyer, First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State – she has been a tireless advocate for women and children, and a champion of peace. Hillary Clinton set a high bar for all of us.