We talked to Arturo Schwartzberg on how SweetRush Inc is helping businesses address their complex organizational challenges.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Arturo Schwartzberg: At a high level, very well, focusing on all we have to be grateful for. Of course, everyone is stressed, with Covid-19 and politics and all the planetary and societal ills we are all navigating…and so it takes its toll, and for me personally, a good night’s sleep is not something I take for granted anymore. But, the game of life is the only game in town, happy to be alive and kicking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SweetRush Inc.
Arturo Schwartzberg: I founded SweetRush just about 20 years ago with Andrei Hedstrom. I’m a lifelong entrepreneur with the wins and losses that come with that orientation, riding high on SweetRush, which for luck and hard work, has evolved into something truly special.
How does SweetRush Inc innovate?
Arturo Schwartzberg: We always think we’re changing and innovating too slowly, but then we looked back a year ago, or two, or four, or 10, and we’re startled and pleasantly surprised at the dramatic changes we’ve made, and we see a very different picture. Ironically, somehow, we have to always change, but at the same time, stay very focused on our core path. So it’s a balancing act, and I think we’ve been successful because we’ve gracefully walked that line.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Arturo Schwartzberg: We’ve been lucky. Though we are some 200 people, we’ve been remote for 10 years, so we did not have to go through that transition. And lucky again that our field, L&D, or learning and development, is relevant. We are fortunate to have a large and diverse client base, and while some clients suffered, some surged, and so on a financial level, we’ve been fine. But the real effect has been on our people, all of whom have had their world rocked and are stressed. And our teammates with young kids are experiencing a special level of stress. So, as leaders, we’ve had to put a lot of extra time and focus on nurturing the team, even as we, too, are experiencing the same stressors. But we always focus on being grateful, and we feel deeply for so many who are suffering far more.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Arturo Schwartzberg: It seems every day we are always in a sort of whitewater rapid of choices, but that is the norm. We are in a dynamic industry, and we have a growing business. We compete for work, and we produce work. We need to win often, and we need to design and deliver the best work in the industry. This means staying on our toes, changing all the time, moving forward, and every day learning how to be better at what we do. It takes hard work; we’ve worked long and hard for 20 years, and there are few shortcuts. Even just working hard does not guarantee success, so choosing to be an entrepreneur and growing a business is not for everyone, though for me, it’s hardly been a choice. I cannot imagine a different path. But…if this is the path one is considering, go in with eyes wide open.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and SweetRush Inc in the future?
Arturo Schwartzberg: Life in the best of times is not a walk in the park, and there is stress and anxiety that always co-exist. But each of us has to learn to cope. It’s our responsibility to ourselves. I’ve become an exercise evangelist, and even at 71, I run every day, lift some weights, eat a healthy diet – without these things, I’d never been able to sleep or maintain my energy and optimism. I’ve read enough and learned enough to know meditation is the right thing to do; I have yet to learn that practice but know I will. I see myself and SweetRush moving forward, always changing, and always staying true to our caring culture and values.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Arturo Schwartzberg: There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of other vendors with which we compete, and yet we’ve risen to the top. So, we are in the game and leading, but nothing is taken for granted. Having made it this far, we are in a strong position, but we need to take the advantage we have and change and build and move the mojo forward. We know we can positively impact the world since our field is education, performance improvement, and change, and that fuels and motivates us to stay in the game and hopefully keep winning.
Your final thoughts?
Arturo Schwartzberg: Mutual success and caring. We’ve built SweetRush on caring, and caring extends in all directions. This is at the heart of our culture, and I believe why we have been successful. And I have an abiding passion for viewing all things through the lens of mutual success. If I care about you, and you care about me, we will all be ok. So, let’s do that.