Women can have it all, and Paige Goss is a perfect example of that. A woman in technology and a perfect example of leadership from the inside out, Paige founded Point Solutions Group, also known as PSG, a technology professional services firm that addresses the need and demand for holistic delivery in information technology and engineering in the government as well as commercial organizations. If you’re somebody who is asking yourself the question, “Can I have it all as a woman?” you don’t want to miss this episode as Paige talks about vulnerability-based leadership and shows how she has figured out that she can be both a great CEO and a great mom.
Vulnerability-Based Leadership: Leadership From The Inside Out With Paige Goss
I have the beautiful, wonderful, perfect example of a self-leader, leadership from the inside out. A woman in technology, CEO from Denver with me, Ms. Paige Goss. Paige Founded Point Solutions Group, also known as PSG. It’s a technology professional services firm to address the need and demand for holistic delivery in information technology and engineering in the government as well as commercial organizations. Paige and her team at PSG have grown the business to over $5 million in revenue in over two and a half years. If you don’t know your stats, then I will tell you that it is amazing. That is odd-defying results. She is also the Vice-Chair for the Colorado Women’s Chamber, YP board. She’s an active member of the movement to drive success in women-owned businesses in Colorado. She lives in Centennial, Colorado where she and her wife raise their fraternal twins. This is an amazing story. I wasn’t sure if I have had any young in the life cycle of their business, female CEOs.
When I heard about Paige and her story, I couldn’t say no. Besides the fact that she’s a downright amazing woman, I want to make sure to mention a few key tidbits in this episode that could be meaningful for you. I know they were for me and each time I interview someone, although you may read a common theme, sometimes they say it a little bit differently. You know a different version and it hits you or the timing is perfect. It’s like, “I needed that message.” Here’s what stands out after talking to Paige and absorbing and taking away what only she uniquely has to say. What stands out to me in this episode, if you understand it, is a whole theme in its own essay on leadership. The leadership of self, teams, and business from the inside out. One of the key elements that get to the heart of how that has happened for Paige and read the story around it because I think it’s powerful.
She’s values-driven, but what she talks about is vulnerability-based leadership. There’s even a piece of the interview where I’m like, “How are you infusing this into your team?” I found the way she answered that question was powerful and fascinating all at the same time. The other thing you take away from Paige and she’s vulnerable around this because she’s honest in saying that she’s still learning herself around some of these things. I believe that Paige has a perfect way to teach you about the fact that women can have it all. If you’re somebody who is asking yourself the question, “Can I have it all as a woman?” I think this episode is the one that you need to read because Paige has figured out that she can be both a great CEO and a great mom.
I love it when I meet people that it clicks, and I’ve been meeting many people like that. I know you’re one of them. Thanks for your time.
I felt the same thing. The universe has been working in weird ways for me. I was fighting it for the longest time and finally, I was like, “Universe, I give,” and I let it go. Following wherever it takes me, I go.
I’ve been a resistor my whole life and as soon as I start letting the flow happen, it’s like, “This feels easy. Something’s wrong.”
It’s almost like, “What’s about to happen?” I stopped all of that and I was like, “This is not worth it.” I’ve met some amazing people. I got into some cool investment opportunities because of it with a purely women-owned business investment community, which was cool. I’ve been looking for my career. They put a cool group of women together that all have specialties in different areas to support these young female entrepreneurs. It all happened and I was like, “I get it. I’ll be quiet. I’ll let it go.”
You’ve been on quite a whirlwind. I was cyber-stalking you in a good way. I’m proud of you. I was checking you out and I’m like, “I’m proud. This is amazing.”
When did you get the tickler to start your own company?
I had the tickler like two.
That’s the interesting part. That’s why we want to know.
Early on, I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, some successful, some not successful. Even as I watched my family in certain situations go through extremely unsuccessful, what would be seen from the outside is unsuccessful. Selling businesses, losing businesses, some growing businesses, it never deterred me. Even when I was ready to start the company and people said, “Why on earth would you leave where you’re at?” I had this amazing opportunity. I’d helped grow a company in unreal ways that most people would never have the opportunity to do. I’m grateful for that. The inkling, the gut feel, the drive to do my own thing has always been there and I am finally fighting it. I stopped fearing what would happen. As much as I feared to fail, I feared to succeed. What did that mean? What was going to happen? How did this change my life? I didn’t know at the time that I was going to start the business right after I found out that we were going to have twins. Such is life and off we went.
Somebody said but I don’t know who it was, I’ve heard a lot of amazing smart women say things like, “You just have to say yes.” It’s like your flow thing. Stop resisting, stop fighting it. You have to say yes when things come and see what happens.
The second I said, “I can do this,” it was done. I almost knew it in my heart and my gut. Everything from that point forward was a matter of logistics to get me to the point where I could move, set everything up and go.
I don’t want anyone reading to miss this, but what happened was you said I could do this, which was you made the decision. You decided.
It was a choice. I believe you have to put your foot down and say, “I’m choosing to go do this.” Not knowing because I don’t think a lot of us entrepreneurs know what it’s going to be like. I had helped grow a company from a little boutique firm to well-over $150 million. I thought I knew. I had done it for that organization. I’d created an infrastructure, sold, done financing, operations, HR and legal. I thought I did, but when I finally chose to do this and to venture out on my own, what hit me in reality was not what I thought it was going to be. I think that was a good thing because I had some of these preconceived notions and thoughts about what it was like to be an entrepreneur and what it meant to be an entrepreneur. I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing.
I want to point out in case anybody who read the intro that you’re an entrepreneur, but let’s be honest, people who start a one-person business in their hometown have called themselves an entrepreneur all the way to multimillion, billion-dollar ventures. You’re on that end. You are the CEO of a major company.
Someone said to me, “When are you going to quit calling yourself an entrepreneur? Your company’s multi-millions now?” I was like, “I don’t know. I only know myself as an entrepreneur.” I’m a businesswoman and an entrepreneur.
You totally are but I wanted to clarify for the reader that you are the boss of a major company. There’s not many of those. I’m striving to find amazing women and stories at the CEO C-Suite level. There’s not a lot of out there.
That’s part of why I was on this journey and why I chose to do this is to help hopefully lead the way for people that want to take this jump and want to make this choice. Knowing that it is possible and you can do it. You can do it and be a mom. You can do it and travel. You can do it and grow. You don’t have to be yourself if you choose not to be yourself. I wanted to show people what was possible. For me, it was at the edge of my comfort zone because I believe that’s where I was going to do amazing things. That’s where I’ve constantly lived. I think sometimes I wish I didn’t, but it’s the truth and there’s not a lot of multimillion-dollar women-owned companies. That’s the reality for us if we choose.
You said that this was part of your journey. Did you know this early on that you were passionate about that aspect of it, about fully being a leader in that way?
Yes, from the beginning. Everybody asked me what got me started and what kept me going. It was the statistic that I wanted to beat all of the statistics. I am ridiculously competitive. I knew that about myself and the more I heard statistics about 1% of women-owned businesses ever making it over $1 million and only 4% of companies surviving the past ten years. They go on and on. At the end of the day, the statistics are not in your favor as a business owner. We see all these humongous organizations and then we see startups and tech companies. We see companies that make the news and they’re exploding. That’s rare. That’s not normal. I was passionate about that from the beginning. I wanted to beat all of the statistics and then I wanted to find a way for the rest of my career to helping women that wanted to do this and wants to do this be successful.
You had a bigger ‘why’ than just creating a successful company.
I love my company. I’m proud of what we do. I’m unbelievably grateful for my team. This was also a way for me to reach a bigger community. This was a way for me to get involved with women-owned businesses. For me, it’s tech. I’m in technology. I’m also in the Department of Defense and Intel Space, which is even rarer for women. There are areas that I took on, even within that business to increase the awareness and the exposure for women-owned businesses.
When did this start brewing? Did you see something growing up? I can feel there’s something more, that’s why I’m asking.
I did see something growing up. My mom was a strong businesswoman. My grandma was a strong businesswoman. My dad was an entrepreneur. My stepdad’s an entrepreneur. I was around it, but the entrepreneurs that I was around were primarily men. The entrepreneurial world that I had been exposed to early in my career was primarily men. I’m fortunate that the gentleman that I worked for prior to starting Point Solutions Group, he’s an absolute game-changer of a human being. He’s an amazing businessman. He allowed me to be me within his company. I still saw that I was the only one.
I was the only one from the moment I said yes to join his company to the second that I said that I was leaving to go do mine. Everything that I was doing was trying to help women come up in our organization. When I went to start mine, I realized that this gave me a platform and an area to help people and tell women that it is possible. Is it hard? Yes. Does it suck some days? Yes. Do you wish that you didn’t do it for some days? Absolutely. To be honest, you have to have a support system, a support team and people. If you keep pushing and you want it, you’ll find a way for it to work.
That’s why I call it out, having a big ‘why.’ It’s being connected to something, having a purpose or a passion, whatever word resonates with those reading. Being able to tap into that on the off days or on the shitty days carries you through.
There are many days I was like, “Can I mow lawns for a living?” I’ve gone through everything under the sun. At the end of the day I can, but I’m choosing to do this and I want this to be successful. I know that it will because I have a tremendous team surrounding me.
How big is your team?
We are 43 in total, my employees. I started the company in April of 2017 when I moved to Denver, Colorado. I was in Raleigh, North Carolina, previously. I left Raleigh and moved to Denver. I think that I have something wrong inside my brain because I moved and started a company in a location that I knew absolutely no one, but we’ve done it. We’re over two and a half years old. My team is fantastic. The work that we do for our commercial clients and certainly for our federal clients in a space that was new to me is amazing. We’ve grown it tremendously quickly.
Do you have all 43 employees women?
No. My VP at Tech is a female and I have some other people that we’re talking to add to my leadership team. They’re also women. I have some amazing men that are on our team and they support us just as much, if not more than the women that we bring on. That’s what we’re trying to create. It’s that together we win. Together with the diversity of thought. Diversity in traditional state of diversity, diversity in background, diversity in levels of experience. That’s what I’m trying to create and prove that makes a better team and that creates a baseline for long-term success.
That’s what I was getting at. A two and a halfyear-old company, a woman CEO who’s keen on helping raise awareness and raise the number of women at that level. I had a suspicion that there was a beautiful diversity in your company.
One of the things that I also have found that I’m passionate about is talking about diversity of backgrounds. Some of the people that I’ve brought onto the organization don’t have a background in what we do. They’ve made an unbelievable impact because of that. They think about things differently. They look at things differently. They give different ideas. I love that. It doesn’t always make our meetings super smooth. For me, diversity of thought and differing of opinions is critically important, especially in technology. Things are moving quickly that we have to keep up and we keep up by looking at things from multiple perspectives.
That was where I was going. Forty-three people in two and a half years is no small feat. I was more curious about what you learned about it. You have a vision, but sometimes the way you think it’s going to be isn’t how it always ends up. What surprised you about that team growth over time?
It’s everything. One of my mentors that I worked with is an amazing individual. He told me, “Nothing starts without a plan and nothing ever goes to plan.” That has been 100% true for me. The things I thought to be true when I started the organization, the way that I was creating the team, and the way that I was structuring. I don’t even think down to compensation plans and go to market strategy and all of that. It didn’t go to that original plan and the plans changed. It’s changed often and it changed in multiple directions. As we built the team, I think that my biggest success as an owner of a company is that I am not the smartest person in the room. I never will be. It’s my job to bring amazing people together and to bring people into a room that compliments me and is better at things than I am. Together collectively, we will be successful and we’re getting there. We’re not there yet. We still have a lot of growth opportunity in the true team sense. It’s a constant journey and it changes. You have to know that as the business owner and be willing to ride that wave because it is. If you get stuck on something, you’ll be behind.
Where did that golden nugget come from?
Probably something I got from another mentor that says, “If you’re not growing, you’re standing still. If you’re standing still, people are going by you.” For me, if you get stuck on one thing and you end up getting tunnel vision or you end up hashing it over and over. Some of the opportunities or some of the things you are probably supposed to see on your peripheral or in different directions, you’re going to miss. You’re going to get left behind. At the pace that business and industry are changing, you have to pick your head up and you have to look forward. You can’t get stuck on too many things. Your team doesn’t want you to be stuck on things either. They want to show that we can get past things and we can move forward and make decisions. Making decisions is one of the things I do all day long, but you have to push past some of the bigger ideas and bigger opportunities and not get stuck in one core area that’s not beneficial for you.
That’s an important balance. For a leader, whether it’s a large team or you’re the CEO of your company, you originate the ideas. You’ve got the vision. You create the plan and it doesn’t always go according to plan. You have all these smart people around you and they’re going to have ideas. You’ve got to be responsive quickly to know when to pivot and when not to. That’s a dance.
It’s a dance. It’s hard because there are times when you know in your gut that you need to stay to the path and your team potentially is telling you otherwise and you stay the path. There are other times where you’re like, “We need to stay in the path,” but your team might be right and that you need to go in a different direction. You don’t want to go based on fear or something else. It’s one of the most challenging things that we as CEOs manage.
It’s almost like you know exactly where I’m going with my questions. Is it always 100% you go with the intuitive hit? Do you sink into something inside of you to make the decision? How do you do that?
I don’t have the answer. There are a lot of times if I listened to my gut, it’s right. Sometimes I try to over architect it or over-explain to myself why one way or the other is right by numbers or by past statistics or by a future probability or whatever it is. Most of the time, your gut is right. What I found is that it’s good to have a group of people that you trust at that level that you can bounce some of those ideas of like, “Here’s what my heart’s telling me. Here’s what my gut’s telling me, but here’s what my head’s telling me. Have you been here? Have you done it? What have you thought? What have you seen? What have you done?” That you have another one or two people to bounce those ideas off of as a second set of opinions, a second set of eyes and ears. That for me has been extremely successful. Sometimes, me following up and asking them is exactly what a lot of my gut told me to do. Other times, it’s not. I get a different perspective and then I start to think about things differently. Therefore, I make a different decision.
You’ve referred to mentors and trusted advisors throughout our chat so far. I think you have a small circle of people you go to.
I do. I was fortunate early on in my career. The gentleman that I worked for previously believed in professional development, but even more than that he believed in human development is what I’ve recognized is important. For me, it’s not the business person, it’s not the mom, it’s the holistic human. That has to continue to develop because if I’m better as a person, I’m a better manager, I’m a better leader, then I’m certainly a better CEO. I’ve been fortunate to have mentors, sponsors, and people that I trust that have supported me along my journey. I have a couple of groups that I’m a part of. I’m a part of the Entrepreneurs Organization, which is EO.
I have a women’s group of all-women CEOs that I’m a part of as well. That’s an interesting group. The conversations are deep, real and raw. We certainly support each other in ways that I couldn’t have imagined prior to getting into this organization. It’s been amazing. It’s things like, “You’re worth it.” Simple things that are said like that help you as a CEO come back to, “I am doing this and I am doing this well.” They’re critical for you as a human because it is lonely at the top. Everybody says, “Yes, but it’s amazing,” and it’s lonely. You’re like, “I can’t talk to anyone.” Having people at that level that you can talk to and you can almost air some laundry. That you can’t get things off of your chest. You can talk about what’s present and real even if it’s not pretty. That helps along the way.
What’s one thing you feel comfortable sharing that maybe you’ve said within those tight-knit circles that would surprise us about you?
I’ve shared in those groups that I’m scared. I’m scared to make the wrong decision. I’m scared to put it all out there. There have been a few times that I’ve said, “I miss my family,” as I’m trying to balance traveling around the country and building a company, being in the office, being out with customers. I’ve wholeheartedly admitted that I’ve made some bad decisions. I’ve admitted that early on I didn’t know where payroll was going to come from. Things like that, that I think all of us experience but to say out loud, it’s nerve-wracking. When you do, you’re like, “Thank you for letting me share that.”
Most of the time, what I’ve found is that there are people in that room with me. There are people on a call with me. They’re like, “Me too. I’ve been there a few times. I was there recently. I’m there right now.” There’s a lot that I share. I’m an open book. I’m a vulnerable person. I’m vulnerable to my team as well. I think that makes me in certain ways unique. I tried for a long time to be somebody that I wasn’t and pretend I had it all together. I pretend that I was a specific way, that I was one type of person or the other. Now that I adjusted, amazing things happen and my life is amazing. It’s gone in a way that I never thought possible.
You laid it out there like it’s no big deal, but how powerful it is for somebody who’s reading going, “I want to be me, but I’m afraid. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t make my payroll.” It does by unleashing your authentic voice. Whatever’s going on, it takes away the fear and gives back the power.
There have been many times I’ve had to warn people like, “You’re going to get all of me.” They need to have all of me. We need to have all of everyone because that’s a genuine world. For people in business, especially in some of the areas that I am in, technology, defense, contracting, intel, these are challenging areas for companies, in general. You add that we’re a younger company. You add that I am a female owner. You get me. Hopefully, with that comes the vulnerability, space and realness that, “If I tell you that we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it because my reputation is on the line and our business reputation is on the line.” I only get one shot at that. I’m not willing to risk that by pretending that I am somebody I’m not or pretending we can do something we can’t.
That comes through on your website. I’ve got that raw honesty, truth value system. It was popping off the page to me.
That was supposed to. That was intentional in that you get with us more than what’s normal in this area of business.
How does this transfer into your people? I know you can hire for somebody who’s more self-aware and such, but to help them feel safe in the workplace, day in and day out, to be showing up and expressing this in all their thoughts, all of themselves in a vulnerable way.
I am still working on that. That’s part of the challenge that I have. They get it in who I am, how I speak, and how I show up. To translate that into having them feel safe, I don’t know that there’s a book way to do that. As an organization, we’re constantly looking at other ways that we can connect as humans first and then colleagues second. We’re looking at ways that we can communicate throughout the organization. We do a lot of events together. I try to be as connected with my team as possible. That’s a challenge.
It’s something that I hope to be true is that if I am who I am and they see that from the leader of the organization, that they naturally get that based on all of our conversations, how they speak to each other and to me. As far as rolling it out in a systematic fashion, I haven’t quite figured that out yet. I’m working on that day-to-day and certainly as the organization grows. We’re in more locations. We’re in seven different states, so that makes it challenging. We’re trying to bridge some of those distance gaps and bringing the company under one true umbrella that has the same type of organic, natural, raw, vulnerable human behavior.
You’re a few years in. I was curious though. I knew you had to be thinking about that for sure. When you get it figured out, you let me know.
I do think about it. It’s one of the biggest things that I think about in planning and strategic initiatives in my travel. I try to travel to meet all of our people and get involved with what they’re doing day-to-day. That’s part of it. I’m intentional with meeting our teams and spending quality time with them. That’s important to me.
What I’m getting from you on your leadership style is an inside out thing. You are focused on connecting, understanding, expressing and showing up as yourself most authentically as you can day in and day out. That does trickle down.
It’s critical to my success. It’s critical to our company’s success and certainly to the individuals that are on our team. The next step to that, to your question earlier, is how we take that then into the rest of the organization in a programmatic, systematic fashion to allow natural growth within that same environment. Where I can’t be involved with every single hire or I can’t be involved with every single new program that we put together. There’s a way for me to do that with a leadership team and then have that expand organically.
I didn’t think I was going to be asking you so much about your team, but being such a young company growing quickly and your style, I love it so much. I couldn’t help but dive a little deeper.
At the end of the day, if I didn’t have my team, I wouldn’t have a business. They are the business. I truly believe that. I’ve created an organization that there is no way I could do it by myself. My ability to successfully get this type of style, behavior, leadership, and execution through the team is critically important.
Since you are two and a half years in, I’m curious what has surprised you the most about yourself that you’ve learned?
I’ve learned so much about myself. I know entrepreneurship is crazy. It forces you to learn a lot about yourself because there are trying days.
Maybe we don’t have to say the biggest thing you’ve learned, but to take the pressure off, something that stands out that you’ve learned about yourself in the last two and years.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I’m capable of more than I think. The self-doubt, the questioning, it’s always there. It’s brutal that I want it to go away and I’m trying to make it go away. The more that I’ve combated the thoughts about my own and abilities and my own limitations, the more I’ve risen above them and I’ve been able to accomplish more than I thought. I think the other thing that I’ve learned about myself is that I can be a CEO and a mom at the same time. I was nervous about that. I was worried, I can get frustrated and feeling like I’m not being a good mom, I’m not being a good CEO. I’m not being a good wife. What I’ve learned is that I am in those situations and that’s been critically important. I don’t always remember that day-to-day. I certainly go back into the, “You’re not doing well. You’re not enough.” We all do, but I’ve certainly learned that there are times when I can be a great CEO and there are times that I can be a great mom. That was an important thing for me to learn.
I’m glad you said that because a lot of people think or I’ve heard this is what they’d be thinking, “It’s easier for you, Paige, because,” or it will be a flip. It will be, “I can’t do that because.”
I think I still say some of those things. That’s what I think and I hope people learn is that I don’t know it all. I’m not perfect, far from it. I don’t have all the answers. I still have these negative thoughts. I still have a doubt. I have challenges. I make bad decisions, but I have a growing company and I have a multimillion-dollar company. All of those things help to contribute to where we’re at. As we go, it’s going to be my ability to control that, which will help us continue to go where we want to go.
That’s what I hope anybody reading takes away as well because there’s so much power in what you’re saying around, “I have the doubts too, but I’m doing it and I’m showing up despite. I’ve surprised myself,” is great through-line of your story.Where would you like people to connect with you if they’re resonating and they want to learn more about you or your company? Where’s the best place to go?
You can connect with me directly on LinkedIn. I’m a big believer in LinkedIn. Anybody can send me an email. I intentionally leave my email out for people to connect and find me. It’s Paige@PointSolutionsUS.com. PointSolutionsUS.com is our website. Any of the questions that come through our website also comes to me. I’m happy to connect with anybody and talk further. I love what I do. I love being an entrepreneur. I love being a business owner on certain days. I want to help other people realize what’s possible.
On that note, what can we expect? Do you have any projects in that direction?
I’m a part of the Colorado Women’s Chamber. I’m the incoming Vice-Chair, so the incoming chair for the Young Professional Board. I’m a part of an entrepreneurship organization within the Colorado Women’s Chamber that’s focusing on helping women run organizations get from where they’re at to over the million-dollar mark if they choose. At some points along my journey, I want to coach and to work with other entrepreneurs and to work with organizations that are growing. To help them work through what I’m working through and maybe allow them to not step on a couple of landmines that I’ve stepped on. Have that look back and say, “This is what I wanted to do and I did it.”
Thank you for being on the show, Paige.
Thank you. It was a pleasure talking to you. I’m grateful. I hope you have a great rest of your day.
Are you going, “I need to read that again?” That’s what I was thinking after the interview. There’s something powerful and I was thinking about this as I was preparing to chat with you a little bit more about this episode. What’s powerful about Paige and she talks about it. She says, “I tried to be a lot of things I wasn’t and it turns out being me works great.” She’s figuring it out as she goes. If you didn’t catch it, the key thing she’s learned about herself is she’s capable of more than she thinks. Before we wrap it up, I want to challenge you to look at yourself and think about where in your life you can be more of who you are, where you can challenge yourself to step more fully into being you. On the flip side of that, I’d like to challenge you to identify where you can do and be more than you think you’re capable of because the sky’s the limit. If you don’t take anything away from Paige, but this is that you can do and be it all, whatever that is for you. Until next time, we’ll talk to you soon.
About Paige Goss
Paige founded Point Solutions Group (PSG), a technology professional services firm, to address the need and demand for holistic delivery in information technology and engineering in government and commercial organizations. Paige and her team at PSG have grown the business to over 5 million in revenue in just over 2.5 years.
She is the Vice-chair for the Colorado Women’s Chamber’s YP Board and an active member in the movement to drive success in women-owned businesses in CO. Paige lives in Centennial, CO where she and her wife raise their fraternal twins.