What Made Me: Linda Rabbitt, Founder of Rand Construction
She talks Teddy Roosevelt, surviving breast cancer, and being the only girl in the room.
The Motto: Teddy Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.” But I would change that to “person.” Win or lose, I am always “in the arena” trying. Taking action trumps complaining.
The Risk: I have been a lot of different people: a schoolteacher, a mom, a marketing manager for an accounting firm. Then I took a risk and started Rand Construction in 1989. I was a single parent—I had to put food on the table for two little girls. No one, including me, knew what I was capable of. The bar was so low for women of my generation.
The Struggle: It disrupted the social order to have a girl in the construction world. I had to walk into rooms full of men who didn’t want me there. At times I felt invisible, but my mere presence changed the expectation—that the head of a construction company could be a woman.
The Setback: Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had seven surgeries and four rounds of chemo. Many good things came out of that. I gave myself permission to let go of people who were pollutants in my life, and I said “I love you” to a lot more people.
This article appears in the May 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.