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Innovation & Job News

60 Seconds With...exaqueo's Susan LaMotte

This week, Elevation DC spends 60 Seconds With Susan LaMotte, founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps companies clarify their employer brand. LaMotte, 38, took a few minutes out of advising other companies to talk networking, D.C. culture and learning from seasoned entrepreneurs.

EDC: What was your first job? 
LaMotte: I worked the snack bar stand at the local swim club at 13. I forgot I had a shift one day and got fired. From my first job! But since the age of 14 I've been consistently employed. I had 16 different jobs before I even graduated college. 

Best thing about your business right now? 
We're doing work that no one else is doing—building actual cultures and using data to help companies understand their workforce and have actual hiring and people management strategies. 

If you could change one thing about your business right now, what would it be? 
I wish we could grow more quickly. But we're a services firm, so the growth curve isn't the same as a tech startup. It's hard to be patient! 

Describe an “A-ha moment” (in business, or in life) that you’ve had. 
When I left my corporate gig to start this business, it was because one day, I looked around a boardroom table while I was waiting my turn to present and realized there were no role models. Only one of the women in the room had a working spouse and kids at home. And she was stressed out--all the time. If I wanted to be a successful female leader and still have time for my husband and family, there weren't options for that. I think the issue with women in the workplace isn't a glass ceiling. It's life. And I wanted to manage my life on my terms. 

What are you reading? Or, what have you read recently that has had an impact on you? Why has it been influential? 
Fiction: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It's an amazing story about a piece of stolen art and a young child. Non-Fiction: Give and Take by Adam Grant. It's a fresh look at how to network and what it means to give of yourself and still be successful. 

Biggest influence in tech or startup culture today? Why? 
Older entrepreneurs. I like seeing entrepreneurs who have been around the block a few times--who are older, have partners and families and can be successful. I like to see how older entrepreneurs use the benefit of their work experience to their advantage. 

Company to watch (besides your own)? Why? 
I'm advising Gloss and Glam right now (based out of NYC) and I think they have huge potential. It's all about market opportunity and they have found a niche market and a big demand. 

Beverage of choice? 
Normally, bourbon. But we're expecting our first child in November, so right now it's tea. No bourbon for me! 

Guilty pleasure? 
Luxury travel. I worked in hotels for five years and absolutely love to travel. I've been to every continent except Antarctica and to every state except South Dakota and Alaska! 

What do you loathe about D.C.? 
I've lived in D.C. for 15 years now and the one thing that never changes is that everyone is so busy. All the time. With few exceptions, when you try to network, it's often "I can give you 15 minutes in September" or it takes numerous requests before I can get anyone to even agree to coffee or a call. Or I get no replies at all, even after I've gone out of my way. Other cities I have spent time in (particularly outside of the Northeast) have a more welcoming and understanding style. 

What do you love about D.C.? 
There's always something new to discover--new businesses, new restaurants, new exhibits and new people. The ever-changing nature of the city always intrigues and excites me. 

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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