Recently I was interviewed by a couple of students from the Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Washington. One of our current clients asked me if I would be willing to speak with them. When she introduced me via email, she said, “I believe that the training Gina does with her team is one of the key things that makes Athena different from the other VA firms out there.”

I had so much fun sharing with them about the industry. I had to make myself get off the call eventually, because apparently, I can go on and on about what we are doing here at Athena that is unique. They sat on the Zoom call with me like sponges, really listening and soaking it all up. You know how when somebody is truly, keenly listening to you and they are really interested, so you just keep talking? “Oh, and one other thing about that I want to share with you . . .”

After about an hour I knew I needed to wrap it up and move on to the real business of the day. Then one person added, “Just one more thing. What would you have done differently, looking back on the building and growth of Athena?”

That was a smart question, of course. I paused and looked for the answer. As I was pondering, the replay of key events over the last four years zipped through my mind. Of course, the most painful or lowest points were right there, easy to recall as if just yesterday. Then the replay of some of the high points and proudest moments crossed my mind.

I said, “Hmmmm. That’s tricky.” Then I was very surprised when I heard myself say, “I don’t think there is anything. I don’t think there is anything I would have changed. I mean, I hate that I had some of those really tough times. But from every tough moment came a piece of gold that I mined and then later, I often attributed that golden nugget to a big piece of future success.”

Many processes and systems have changed and improved at our firm over the years, not because I was sitting around looking to have “better processes”, but because I screwed something up! There was some ugly issue that showed up. Or I got blindsided by a smart question someone asked me that I had never thought of. 

The journey in life or business is the best part, isn’t it? 

Gina Cotner, CEO

Athena Executive Services