Interview with Susan Newman, Founder of School2Life

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Susan Newman

Tell me about your education?

Attended Columbia College Chicago which was a fantastic experience learning about the marketing industry from top executives who had proven a success. However, my real definition of industry education came from the range of internships and “on the job” experience I obtained while in school which led to a successful, exciting marketing career.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

When I worked at Playboy in Beverly Hills, and at Leo Burnett, I had the opportunity to work with Founders such as Hugh Hefner and C suite executives at Burnett, and I learned the value of gumption — spirited initiative and resourcefulness. This quality has enabled my career to evolve in the most unexpected yet brilliant way. I now have the best job ever with school2life.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

My father. He raised me on the very tactics and strategies which greatly influenced the school2life curriculum. He also supported my “unique and quirky” sense of humor which keep us all laughing (sometimes at my expense) when I’m teaching.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?


Where is your company located?

Chicago, IL

What services or products does your organization provide?

School2life provides practical personalized guidance for young professionals.

Our services include customized, interactive workshops that provide important — yet seldom taught — — information with actionable steps and personalized roadmap to understanding the job search landscape, networking navigation tool, and professional communication tactic and strategies.

In person, sessions are supported by school2life GPS (Guidance and Professional Support) a digital tool that enables our students/clients to take actionable steps in making progress towards their goals. For example, WUHU (Would U Hire U) is an interactive tool that teaches the user the dynamics of a strong answer for each given questions and then lets them apply their achievements and experiences to create personalized answers thus building strong interviewing skills.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Problem: The job search process is introduced way too late and is inadequately taught making the experience confusing, demeaning and even “paralyzing” which doesn’t allow for maximum success. Promotes uncertainty.

Solution: Demystify the job search process early on making it manageable with actionable steps to enable young professionals to navigate their search path to achieve greater success in landing a job of interest.

Result: Promotes confidence rather than uncertainty = opportunities.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Based on the feedback from customers it’s the relatable teaching style that has allowed s2l to be so successful in “turning young professionals on to themselves and their capabilities.” We communicate with a real humanistic and relatable approach (we aren’t afraid to laugh at ourselves) which in turn leads to education through conversation and allows our students/clients to apply the tactics and strategies to their unique path.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I started teaching Marketing Yourself at Columbia College and was asked to work with private clients, teach workshops and write professional development curriculum outside of Columbia. And quickly found that my quirky personality was a strength in motivating people to take actionable steps in advocating for themselves and their careers.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Surround yourself with people who:

  1. Are performing in their career and getting things done and evolving.
  2. Are positive and supportive.
  3. Can make you laugh.

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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