Meet Marcia Zaruba O’Connor, CEO of The O’Connor Group

Aug 14, 2019

Meet Marcia Zaruba O’Connor, CEO of The O’Connor Group. Far beyond your typical consulting firm, The O’Connor Group provides talent acquisition, human resources and industry solutions with a passion for helping all to thrive. Clients range from Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial, growth-minded businesses. 

Here's what she shared when we talked to her:

Why did you found this company? I was always an entrepreneur. When I was little, I mowed lawns and shoveled snow for people. As an adult, I was good at recruiting, I wanted to run my own show and build a workplace where it’s fun to come to work. It’s important that people love what they do!

What’s your core business philosophy? We help all to thrive! We do that through the amazing connections we build and living our four core values: curiosity, execution, collaboration and integrity. We are always asking our clients how we can do better, diving in, assessing the problem and finding a solution.

How did you fund the company when you first started, and why? I took my bonus, made a budget and ran with it. I am a trained accountant, plus my mother taught me how to take a dollar and stretch it to the nth degree. For the first year, we budgeted not to go out to dinner - at all. And not to go on vacation. I’d meet business people for coffee, not lunch. And it worked out. I do not like debt. Any bill I have gets paid within five days.

How do you keep a competitive edge as your company grows? You have to be out there building relationships and listening to what the clients are asking for. Then you try your hardest to go above and beyond. If you give a lot, with no thought of reward, you get something in return. My motto is: give, give, give, get!

How do you measure success? We gauge success based on two aspects; our referral rate – over 90% of our business comes from referrals and the retention of our team. We use EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System that focuses on six core components that must be managed and strengthened to make a great business. When you track and stay on top of your metrics, you accomplish your goals.

What motivates you? Enjoying life and seeing other people happy, making the world go around a little better. Solving a problem for a client really feels great.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned? I learned to delegate. Let people go, fall down and get back up. They have to learn, otherwise they will never get to the next step. The second lesson is: write things down, your goals, your ideals. See it, believe it, build up your team until they believe they are invincible.

How has the AWE network impacted you and your business? There are wonderful women I never would have met without it. To hear about their ups and downs is like group therapy. I can pick up the phone and talk to an AWE colleague who knows what I am going through. It’s also so exciting to be a mentor, to share insights with other entrepreneurs who are scaling their businesses.

What’s the most influential book you’ve read in the last five years? There are two. Play Bigger, on how to become a category king, and The Surrender Experiment, which is about letting go and following the clues that the universe has laid out for you. The book that made me quit my job and start a business is The Alchemist, which says we should not go to our graves with a “what if.”

If you weren’t involved with your current venture, you would be: Building another business. I love building things. Or I would probably be a farmer because I love digging in the dirt and being outdoors.

The goal of the Cover Stories series is to profile female founders scaling companies to counterbalance the constant flow of cover stories that only focus on 20-year old men dressed in jeans and hoodies. High-growth women founders exist, and their stories should take a leading role in shaping how we see entrepreneurship.