Meet Jennifer Gutwenger | Contributor in the Spotlight
Jennifer Gutwenger is Founder and Principal Consultant at #HR, a unique, boutique and yet multi-disciplined consultancy. #HR helps business owners and managers implement best practice and thinking, through HR Solutions, Pulse Check and Design insights.
Jennifer herself combines a seasoned background in corporate HR, a deep working knowledge of systemic best practice, and an inclination to muse. She is fuelled by acts of kindness and natural co-incidence, as well as a deep-seated faith in bringing the best of our collective intellect and mindfulness to business.
You can read her fresh, contemporary and sometimes surprising content here on Smallville and more regularly at the #HR blog.
CLICK HERE to read Jennifer’s Smallville articles.
Jen, who is your business idol and why?
I have many and write about them often here on Smallville.
What was the last book you read without skipping through anything?
Wonder by R J Palacio. It’s teen fiction, but challenges any reader to think about diversity and the perception of normal – a must read for any Small Business owner who’d like to think of success beyond the balance sheet.
“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track … though those things are important. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”
If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
My Aunty Jan, in Queensland. She’s a vivacious and active lady who backpacked around Europe well before most Australians knew they could. After settling in Australia’s far north, she ran a string of Small Businesses side by side with her husband and has been credited with keeping the community alive too.
Never able to have children herself, she filled the void by caring for others in her country town. She used quieter moments behind her shop register to knit for the local hospital, and taught herself lost traditional crafts, like Maltese lace making. She has more depth of knowledge in her pinky finger than I could hope to have in my lifetime.
What is something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to?
Trying new things doesn’t scare me. I’m possibly over-cautious, but rarely jittery. My rule of thumb is to consider the worst possible outcome. If it can be managed and I’m reasonably comfortable with that scenario, then little gets in the way of me giving it a go!
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
That each morning I make my four children a green smoothie and they drink it. That their idea of medicine is one that comes from nature, not from a white coat. That they crawled, walked and ran in that order. That they teach me humility and patience and push me to look for alternative answers to all of their foibles – in all sorts of weird and wonderful places. These small accomplishments help make me a better parent, person and businesswoman. Nothing makes you think more laterally than children.
Where is your favourite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?
Our backyard. My father care-takes our lawn impeccably – a golfer would envy its texture. There’s nothing I love more than throwing the hand-made patchwork quilt my grandmother made me on the lawn and piling it up with cushions and kids. And don’t forget the snacks, drinks and casual banter that flows with a big family’s silliness. Wouldn’t be anywhere else.
What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you?
My grandfather always said, “there’s no such thing as can’t – there’s always a way.” Wise words from an unschooled man, who learned all his lessons from the land and its traditional ways.
Is there a documentary/book/event that really changed the way you thought about something?
The BBC ran a documentary on Brett Davies, a computer design technician from County Durham in the UK. After being turned down for hundreds of jobs, his hidden genius for visual detail finally landed him a two-week trial at Peacocks Medical Group. The program documented his journey in securing the trial and then in landing his dream job – by solving a technical problem that had defeated every other employee who had tried.
Davies, who had been out of work for eight years said, “I have autism. There isn’t anything different about me, I just think differently.”
What’s your favourite cheesy pick-up line? Have you ever used it for real?
Cheesy pickup lines are the best, especially when delivered well. Always giggle-inducing. ‘My buddies bet me that I wouldn’t be able to start a conversation with the most beautiful girl in the bar. Wanna buy some drinks with their money?’ I’ve never needed to use a pick-up line – my husband had me at hello!
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?
White – it goes with everything and cools all the other colours down!
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