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Entrepreneur Sue Marks On How Companies Can Win In The War For Talent


From a very young age, Sue Markshas valued entrepreneurship and a strong work ethic.

After her grandparents immigrated from Germany in 1919 with nothing, her grandfather built a life for them in Milwaukee as the owner of a small printing business.

Sue married at 19 and finished college at night, earning a BS in Business Administration from Marquette University. Like her grandfather, she never stopped working.

Sue is founder and CEO of Cielo, a fast-growing recruitment process outsourcing firm. Headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, the company has 1,800 employees and $200 million of annual revenue. She previously founded and ran ProStaff and HRFirst, which she sold to Kelly Services Inc., a Fortune 500 staffing firm, in 2000.

"There’s always been a war for the best talent," Sue says. "And actually right now, we’re back in a full-fledged war for talent in the United States, and globally."

Sue has also invested in, or been on the boards of, a number of tech and tech-enabled service companies, some of which she is still involved with.

Known as "Sue-isms," here are some tips Sue has for other entrepreneurs:

  • Risk is the price you pay for opportunity
  • Fail Forward
  • Ask forgiveness, not permission
  • GSD (Get Sh** Done)
  • Don’t take “no” from someone who can’t tell you “yes”
  • JFDI (Just Focus and Do It)
  • We hire happy, friendly, smart people who walk fast
  • Aim High and Fake it ‘til you make it
  • Don’t just follow the rules, make them