Feb. 9, 2021

Succeeding against all odds to become a profile in success with Linda Rabbitt | Changemaker

Succeeding against all odds to become a profile in success with Linda Rabbitt | Changemaker

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Linda Rabbitt, the founder and chairman of Rand Construction, who is recognized as Washingtonian of the Year, and is in Washington's Business Hall of Fame. Linda shares her experiences overcoming breakage and setbacks, and how she used adversity as a motivator to achieve success.

 

Highlights:

  • Why and how  Linda Rabbitt started all over again at age 32 
  • Linda Rabbitt’s career at KPMG and how she rose in the organization
  • Linda’s bold step into the business world as a partner in the first female owned construction company in the Washington DC region
  • How building a support group of women in the real estate industry helped her grow her company and give back to others
  • Linda Rabbitt’s battle with cancer as she became chair elect of the Greater Washington Board of Trade
  • Linda’s passion for women in leadership and her advice to young female leaders on resilience

 

Also mentioned in this episode:

Steve Harlan, former Vice-Chairman-International at KPMG

Sherri Turner, Linda’s former business partner

Mark Anderson, partner at Rand Construction

Jon Couch, former president at Rand Construction

Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker

 

Connect with Linda Rabbitt:

Linda Rabbitt on LinkedIn

Rand Construction’s Website

Rand Construction on Instagram

 

Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

MahanTavakoli.com

 

More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

PartneringLeadership.com



Transcript

Mahan Tavakoli:
Welcome to Partnering Leadership. I'm really excited this week to be sharing with you my conversation with Linda Rabbitt, the founder and chairman of Rand Construction. Now I've known Linda for over twenty-five years, and I have seen the great leadership she has shown both in the community and in building Rand Construction to an organization with more than $400 million in revenues annually.

Rand Construction has been recognized by Washington building Congress, Association Builders and Contractors as one of the best places to work, repeatedly by Washington business journal, Washingtonian magazine, and Washington post. 

Linda herself has also been recognized by numerous organizations. She has been recognized as Washingtonian of the year and is in Washington's business hall of fame.

So Linda's story is one that truly inspires because as you know, I'm a big believer in antifragility and antifragile leadership. Linda shows that breakage and setbacks can become sources of motivation if you work hard, if you're focused to become stronger and better as a result. 

Now, I really also appreciate the support I've been getting from countless numbers of you. I really enjoyed the feedback you're providing me, the emails, keep them coming, mahan@mahantvacoli.com or feel free to go on the partnering leadership.com website. There's a microphone icon, leave me a voice message. And just so you know, at this point about 39% of you are listening to this on Apple podcasts, 19% on Amazon echo, 16% on the web player, and then Spotify, Deezer, Google podcasts, and a bunch of other apps come next.

For now, here is my conversation with Linda Rabbitt.

Mahan Tavaloki:
Linda Rabbitt. Welcome to the Partnering Leadership podcast. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Thank you for having me Mahan. It's really an honor to be here. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
I am absolutely thrilled Linda to have you in this conversation. And we'll try to do my best to get as much of your story as possible in the next 40, 45 minutes.

As I was mentioning to you before, I think your story would also make for a fantastic book, inspiring to all kinds of leaders, because you have shown over the years that no matter what the setback you are not only resilient, you are antifragile, you become better as a result of the setbacks that are filling in your way.

Linda Rabbitt:
Well, thank you. That's really quite a compliment coming from you. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
Now Linda, I know you grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, a German immigrant father and mother from an Italian immigrant family. So how did your father, first of all, before we move on to your mother, how did your father impact your upbringing?

Linda Rabbitt:
My father came to the United States in 1925 to go to the university of Michigan, to be a doctor. He was the smartest in his family and his family wanted him to get an American education. And when he got here, his aunt, who was his benefactor said, there's this new industry. You don't want to be a doctor. You want to be an automotive engineer.

So he went to school to be an automotive engineer and ended up having 19 US patents in engineering. So he was a driven man. He was a man who loved to create, and loved to make things better. And there were two defining principles that he used when I was at home. 

The first one was good enough was never good enough, and the second one was, leave things better than you found them. He lived those two principles. And I think that so much of my success was doing the hard things. Good enough is never good enough and finding ways to leave organizations or situations better than I found them. So he was very tough on me Mahan. It was a very disciplined upbringing on his side. 

My mother, on the other side, the wonderful Italian was warm and loving and knew how to build networks. She had come from a very poor family. He had come from a very wealthy family. So for her, networks were really a network in case anything ever happened to her. So she was grateful every day that she had married this very handsome man. And he was very grateful that she was a perfect 1950s wife. She did everything at home and he worked. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
Yeah. And it sounds like you got a little bit of the best of both of your parents, the ability to build relationships and connect like your mother, and some of the drive and discipline of your father.

Linda Rabbitt:
That's really true. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
So as you grew up, even back at 11, you had an entrepreneurial spirit where you and your mother sold newspapers in neighborhood. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Mother was very politically active and she was very proud of democracy and wanted to teach me about that. And so we would write stories, the networking part about things that were happening in the neighborhood. And then you know, about different aspects of our community life that were more on the political side and we type them up using carbon paper and distributed them in the neighborhood. And we sold my newspaper for 5 cents a copy.

Mahan Tavakoli:
That's great. But again, that has the entrepreneurial spirit. And you've mentioned that instead of playing with dolls, you played with the discarded business cards that your dad would fill in the trash can. 

Linda Rabbitt:
So he was bigger than life to me, you know, he was very handsome and very cultured. He spoke five languages and could recite Shakespeare.

And I just thought he was just this amazing person. 

So he had an office in our home and at his place of business, which was Chrysler corporation. And he would come home to do work or to work on his many engineering situations. And he would throw out these business cards and I wanted to be like him so much, in the summer I would go outside and sit in the sun sunbathe and pretend that I was Karlsruhe Mac and that I was asking my assistant to do this and having a business call with that. And I was just modeling what I saw that he did, not understanding that my friends, my other friends were playing teacher and playing school and playing nurse.

Mahan Tavakoli:
You did all of that and eventually I think, part due to your dad, you ended up going to university Michigan. 

Linda Rabbitt: 
Well, I really had no choice Mahan, my father said you will go to the university of Michigan because it was the best school in Michigan. I really wanted to go East, but he wouldn't have any of that.

When my daughters were looking at colleges, we went to 15 colleges all over the country and we did research on it. The first time I was in Ann Arbor was the day I started school. This is where I was going to go. There was no question about it. I got in on early admissions. The only time I called my father at work was to tell him that I had got in to the university of Michigan on early admissions, because I knew he would be so proud of that.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
That is fantastic. So you make him proud. Eventually you come to DC, you end up teaching in Fairfax County, Virginia, and marrying a doctor. So to a certain extent, some of what your mom had wanted for you too. 

Linda Rabbitt: 
So my father came to this country to be a doctor. And my mother's goal for me was to go to school. I was the first generation of women, who many of them went to college. And so my mother's hope for me was that I would go to college, that I would be a school teacher, that I teach for a few years and then marry a really wealthy man or a professional man like my father was, have two near perfect children and spend the rest of my life in a suburb someplace. That was her dream for me. 

Mahan Tavakoli: 
So you marry that person. You do have two nearly perfect children. But the marriage itself wasn't perfect at all.

Linda Rabbitt: 
So of course I was young and I was away from home. I was away from family and friends. I was on my own and I made a grievous error in judgment. I married a man who was again, handsome and charming and brilliant, but who actually was a sociopath. I didn't realize, of course I'm young and I have two small children and the highs were high and the lows were low. And I couldn't quite figure it out, because he was a doctor, he could self-medicate. But now I think it's bipolar, but it was then called manic depression. And I would see these ups and downs. It just took me time to figure it out.

At first, Mahan, he was just emotionally cruel when he would come crashing down because he would feel so horrible. But then eventually he became physically abusive. 

And I remember one Christmas, we were in Florida visiting my parents and he threw something at me and almost hit my three-year-old daughter. And I came back to Washington and said, that's it. I have to leave. 

Now, we were living the good life. I lived in a 9,000 foot home in McLean, Virginia overlooking the Potomac river. We had a gardener and a housekeeper and a nanny for the three-year-old and a two-year-old. And I had to walk away from all of that because I was so scared that he would either hurt me physically or hurt my daughters. And I'd moved into a little tiny apartment and started my life all over again at 32 years old. 

Mahan Tavakoli: 
Yeah. Because he took his money, everything else and made sure, obviously you were not provided for to the point that even your electricity and water were cut off at one point. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Yes. I lived in that house for a year after we were separated. I took care of myself financially by selling furniture out of the house and antiques that we had collected and wedding gifts that we had. That's how I paid for groceries, because at the time the attorney said they didn't want me to go to work until we had a settlement. 

Eventually everything was turned off in the house and I had to go live with a friend with my children, and then I moved into the apartment. 

There was so much self doubt at the moment. Like how did a cute little girl who was a cheerleader in high school who was popular and on the homecoming court and getting high grades and being a high achiever, how in the world did this woman end up at the depths of despair? How did I miss this horrible person who had turned into a monster? And how did I not protect myself? 

I had only $5,000 in cash. When I left that house. Now, you hear people come to this country with 25 cents in their pocket. So $5,000 in cash sounds like a lot, but I had no idea how long that would have to last me and eventually he left and took his money offshore. And that was all I had. So I lived down $5,000 with the girl friend for a year. 

Mahan Tavakoli: 
I'm sure. Linda, your two girls were part of the reason why you felt like you had to get up, dust yourself off and keep moving. What else inside you was what drove you to be able to get up and move ahead? 

Linda Rabbitt: 
I had to prove to my father that I wasn't the loser, he reared a winner. And I had to prove to him that just because I made a mistake that I could recover from it. 

Sadly, the very year that all this happened, he passed away. So he saw me at the nadir of my emotional life. He saw me at a time when I was at the lowest point of my existence. But that drove me even further to prove to him. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
And prove you did. At that point, you got an administrative job at KPMG. And did a brilliant job with that. I had a conversation with Steve Harlan and he was saying it was unbelievable how bright a star you were at KPMG. 

Linda Rabbitt: 
I went there as an administrative assistant. He was the managing partner. I was promoted nine months later to his executive assistant. And I remember him saying to me, “Do you take dictation?” And I said, “No, sir, but I have a degree in English, if you just tell me what you want written, I'll write the letters for you.” And he was thrilled with that answer. 

But three months after that, he promoted me to the director of marketing and a job I knew absolutely nothing about. And he said, “Well, then you just better learn. I want you to be the best person in KPMG in the whole country. I want everyone to say that you are the high watermark.” I just said, “Okay, I'll figure it out.” 

Mahan Tavakoli:
And by all counts, you were the high watermark 

Linda Rabbitt:
To this day. He's 86 years old. And to this day he has been my friend and my mentor and my guiding light. He actually changed the trajectory of my life. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
So then in 1985, you decide to work with Sherri Turner to start the first female owned construction company here in DC region. 

Linda Rabbitt: 
So I went to Mr. Harlan one day my boss, you called him Mr. At the time. And I said, “Sir, are you 10 times smarter than I am?” And he said, “Oh no.” I said, “Are you 10 times more creative than I am?” And he said, “Oh no, Linda, you're very creative.” I said, “Well, are you 10 times more strategic than I am?” And he said, “Oh no, you're very strategic.” And I said, “Well, why do you make 10 times more money than I do?” And he said, “Well, because I got to a corner office. And if you want to make what I make, you have to go find your corner office.”

So at the time in 1985, that was the biggest building boom to that time in the history of Washington. And I saw all these cranes and I knew a woman through our local chamber of commerce, where I met you at the greater Washington board of trade. And she said she was going to start the first woman owned construction company and she was looking for a partner.

So I said I would be her partner. And I was so excited. It seemed like such a big girl opportunity. Like I was going to be a boss about something I knew nothing about, but I was going to be executive vice president of a company 

Mahan Tavakoli:
That is fabulous. And that's fabulous confidence, Linda. What gave you the confidence to do that?

Linda Rabbitt:
I don't know, that I had the confidence to do it, honestly. I had the will to do it and the will to feel proud of myself and have those who love me feel proud of me, I think was the motivating factor. I didn't have the confidence. I had to rebuild my own confidence, having been a battered wife.

Mahan Tavakoli:
And you were able to start that, succeed with it. Now, a few years later, she decided to dissolve the partnership. So again, you had to start almost from scratch. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Yes. She was thinking that she wanted to do that herself. And so I learned my very first business lesson. Never owned 49% of a company. She had the right to fire me, but she didn't. She had to pay me for my stock.

And after three years we were doing quite well because it was this building boom. So she paid me for my stock. And then I started Rand Construction, 1989 about 30 minutes before the largest real estate recession in Washington, which actually in Washington in 1989, it was almost called a real estate depression.

But the good news was that by that time I had made a lot of contacts in the industry and the bigger companies were letting go very talented people because they had no work. So as long as I could get work, I could hire people. That was sort of what I needed to do to start this company. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
And that's where you became partners or you brought on a 30% partner, Mark Anderson to work with you.

Linda Rabbitt:
Yes. I thought Rand-Rabbitt construction sounded a little silly. We combined our two last names, Rabbitt and Anderson and became Rand construction. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
In 1995, you have a $20 million business. And Mark Anderson decides he wants to spend his time doing consulting and construction. So he had been seen as the construction part of the business, and you were the marketing part of the business.

Linda Rabbitt:
Absolutely. He was seen as the guy who knew construction and I was seen as the marketing girl, or as they used to say in those days, the marketing bimbo. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
I don't think Linda too many people at that point thought that you were going to be able to make it.

Linda Rabbitt:
I would say in 1995, you probably couldn't have found anyone who would have thought I would make it. And furthermore, my competitors reinforced that theory over and over again. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
 It's something also tells me Linda, that, that by itself fuels your energy to do more, do better and succeed. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Somebody once told me, I see adversity as a red flag in front of a bull. So I said, okay, the first partner wanted to go her separate way, then we hit the recession. Actually that company did not survive that recession. The second partner didn't want risk. As a consultant, he didn't have to take risks. I had to put my house on the line and I had to back the company financially and risk isn't for everyone. 

So I just, again, started over. I was actually getting very good at starting over, I was becoming an expert in it, and I just picked myself up and the next day said, okay, I'm going to do this a different way. I worked seven months, seven days a week, getting Rand back to getting some really good assignments. And interestingly enough, the very few women who were in the industry were those who helped me get assignments with law firms and corporations and so forth.

So I had this group of women. My husband used to say, well, if my current husband, I call him my current husband to keep him on his toes. Although we've been married for many, many years, he used to say, “Well, if the boys ignore you and the girls ignore you, you got nowhere to go.” So I did build a group, a network of women in the real estate industry. And I did that 25 years ago. And actually that group still meets. It has expanded. It started with six women. It's now 18 of the most senior women in real estate in Washington. And we have enjoyed getting to help each other in really meaningful ways. 

So I got back on my feet again and was becoming well known for commercial interiors, for working for corporations, working for law firms, working for associations. Today, I'd have to say, at least in the Washington area, that door is closed.

So one of the things I had to think about Mahan was okay, if you're going to be that narrow in your focus, we only do tenant interiors. How deep can you go in a community? You can only go so deep. So we're going to have to go wide. And the next recession, that's what we did. In 2009, we started building offices and other communities.

Mahan Tavakoli:
You have grown the business all over these years, but before we get to 2009, you have also been very active over the years in the business community, supporting many organizations, many women that lead organizations. 

In 2001, you mary John, who is your current husband, keep him on his toes. You have a fabulous husband, you are chair elect of the Greater Washington board of trade, Rand Construction is going well and people are recognizing that, you know what? Linda is here to stay, she has been able to make it work. And that's when you find out that you've been diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

Linda Rabbitt:
Yes. Everything was going really well and I actually, John and I got married in 1990, but things were going so well. He had been an incredible father to my daughters. They were doing really well. We had a really nice little house and Rand was going well, and I was taking leadership positions in the community, so I was more public entrepreneur than a private entrepreneur.

And just as I was going to be the chair elect of the greater Washington board of trade, which is our regional chamber of commerce. I found out that I have breast cancer. Now I had been so busy that I hadn't taken care of myself. And for three years I had not gotten a mammogram. And finally, a girlfriend said to me, you can't do this, you must take care of yourself. And I found out that I had cancer. I had seven surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy. And never missed a Greater Washington board of trade meeting as chair elect. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
Yeah. You tackled that head-on, you kept the Rand Construction going and you lived up to all the expectations as chair elected chair of Greater Washington board of trade.

Linda Rabbitt:
Well, thank you for saying that. To make matters worse. My husband and I were out shopping for furniture and I fell down a stairs and broke my ankle in the middle of all of this. So in order to get up in the morning and get to work, I had to put on a wig because I had lost all my hair. I had to put on my boot because I had a broken ankle and I had to walk into rooms with crutches. I think sometimes people just felt sorry for me and so they did what I asked them to do. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
Either that, or the fact that you were able to fight adversity and again, become better over time, Linda, is what inspired them and they wanted to support you. 

Linda Rabbitt:
You know, I have to say at that time, which is another really very low period. My husband said to me, and he didn't say it in a biblical or a religious way. He said, you know, Linda, in times like these, we have to look for the blessing. There's a blessing there somewhere, and it'll be revealed to you what that blessing is. But look for the blessing. Actually, he was a hundred percent, right. There were many things, there were so many good things that came out of that really bad situation. And so I think about that when I talk to women who are going through divorce or people who are ill or who have serious situations going on in their life. Sometimes it's the universe's way of testing us and letting us soar even higher. And you have to get through that in order to really have a deeper understanding of what you're capable of. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
And you have a beautiful quote Linda. Don't let a difficult past define a bright future. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Well, I believe that I was lucky enough to come from a professional success family, not wealthy, but professional and successful.

So I saw growing up what success looked like, and I just wanted to get back to that place, but I've also seen people who have come from very poor and humble backgrounds. The extremely successful. So no matter where you came from or no matter what happened to you, in my case, my tragedy really was being an abuse spouse, you can't let that define who you are going forward because it wasn't your fault. In some cases, it just wasn't your fault. And so you have to brush that off and say, well, that's just not who I want to be as a human being. I want to be proud and respected and successful, and I want to make a difference 

Mahan Tavakoli:
And you have made a difference, Linda, and again, your story is a story of resilience and antifragility because as you were grooming John Couch to take over the business that you had built over so many years, he was the president of the company. 2014, he was killed in an accident. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Yes, John was an amazing man. He could win motorcycle races. He could run a company, he was such a great salesman. I used to tell him he could sell ice in Juneau, Alaska. He was just an amazing, brilliant man and also a pilot. And unfortunately he was piloting his own plane one day in September of 2014 and he was trying to do a barrel roll. And he didn't quite make it. And the plane crashed and he passed away. That I have to say was devastating.

He was 20 years younger. He was the son I never had, we had been business partners for a long time. I finally had found a partner who I admired and respected and trusted and who admired and respected and trusted me. We were building the company by leaps and bounds, and then it happened. So if I thought that in my early years, I had become an expert in picking myself up, this time, it was really, he was very close to my daughters. He was very close to my family. It was to say tragic is under valuing what it did to me. You know, you expect your parents to pass away. But you don't expect somebody 20 years younger, who you are so close to, to not only die, but die so tragically. So, I again had to think about how I was going to look at the rest of my life.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:
And get Rand Construction back on track again.

Linda Rabbitt:
Yes. Let me just say Mahan, that I'm not proud of this, but I just want to put it in perspective. 

I have never had an accounting course in my life. I've never had a business class in my life. I'm an English and American history teacher with a master's degree in education. So overcoming business obstacles was not something I was trained in. I just had to figure it out or have a network of people who could help me figure it out. 

So my network said, “Okay, Linda, you've got three choices. You can sell the company externally. You can sell it internally, or you can just close it down.” It's a professional service firm. We don't have equipment where we're really a management company. You just wind it down, give the last people standing incentives to stay with you. And I thought close it down? No way. And then I thought, Hm, sell it to someone else. Well, they're going to want me to stick around and I'm probably not really going to be too good at having a boss. And so I chose to sell it internally and I hired a CEO. And at the end of last year, we won with our team, the largest construction assignment we had ever won in the history of our company, a hundred million dollar project to relocate Marriott's headquarters. Marriott, an international company. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
It is a statement to your persistence, Linda, that you have kept through the different setbacks and now built an organization that I know you are currently serving as the chair of the board. But in essence has been able to move beyond just the founder.

 

Linda Rabbitt:
Even though I wasn't schooled in business, I have been a student of business and I've read everything I can read about succession planning and, and so forth. I just felt that Rand construction is now the largest woman founded, woman owned commercial builder in the country.

And I felt like I couldn't let that go. And I needed a legacy and the legacy would be that it could survive without me. That I had built a company so strong and so solid that it could survive without me. And so with every chapter Mahan, there was a new way of thinking. There was some new goal I needed to have, some new aspiration, inspiration that would propel me forward. And I certainly wasn't going to close it down. 

Fortunately, you win assignments, you lose assignments, you know, business because you know, business, if there are no easy days, I used to say that my definition of being an entrepreneur was the highs are high. The lows are low and there is nothing in between. But that's actually what it's like if you're in a professional service business, you just have to keep going every day and you have to believe in yourself and have other people believe in you. You know, my definition of a leader, somebody who has followers.

I had a posse of friends like you, and like others in the community and a posse of talented professionals inside of Rand, who just believed that together, we could do it. We could make a difference. We could make it happen.

Mahan Tavakoli:
And you have made a difference again, both for Rand and so many people in this community and beyond. I know, obviously women's leadership is close to your heart Linda. So, if you were to give advice to younger leaders and specifically younger female leaders, because as I was mentioning to you, even before we started recording, I do think there is still a double standard oftentimes when a female leaders are compared in terms of their performance to the way men are assessed. So if you were to give advice to younger women, in addition to the resilience you have shown, what would you tell them they need to do to be able to be as impactful as you have been both with respect to your organization and with respect to the community in general?

Linda Rabbitt:
A friend once said to me, friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate. And I think that when you are a woman and you are coming up through the ranks, it is still in our society considered unfeminine to be ambitious. So you really do have to have a posse of true believers. In order to have friends, you have to be a friend. And so you have to find people who really are very invested in helping each other.

I remember in the early years we were all on a committee together and a mutual friend of ours, Lyle's Carr was just the best salesperson. And after our committee meetings, I'd say Lyles, I'm going after this law firm and their objection is going to be whatever. And what should I say? And he would tell me, and I would go say it and I'd win the job.

So you can find wisdom in so many different places, but you have to seek it out. We don't get offered a Rose garden. We have to make it ourselves. And it's incumbent upon us if we want to really make a difference and be successful, that we help other people along the way. And we find people who value that give and take relationship, that two way relationship.

And I guess I would say to the young women, which I have said to both of my daughters, we're not allowed the same emotional latitude that men are. There are times in later years that some guy will say to me,”Yeah, I remember when you yelled at me.” And I'm like, “Joe, I never yelled at you.” And he said, “Well, you were really stern.” I said, “Well, stern is not yelling.”

So I think women have to be very careful how they manage conflict, because it gets interpreted in a different way. You know, I'm still not convinced that boys like girls as a boss, maybe that's because their mother always told them to clean their room and they didn't like it. But I do believe in our society that we are getting better in my 35 years of owning companies, two companies. There are more women decision makers now, and that helps. I used to walk into many, many, many rooms and I was the only woman, but now there are women on the other side of the table and they've had to come up through the ranks like I did. So they are in many cases, more empathic with the journey. 

At the end of the day, there was a guy in the eighties, I think maybe seventies, his name was Zig Ziglar. And he would give these motivational talks. And one of the things that he would say, and I've listened to these motivational tapes on the way to work cause again, I was trying to learn and he said, “People don't care what, you know, until they know that you care.” 

So I think that women have a great advantage in that regard because they can show empathy and they do notice things that on the EQ scale that sometimes our male counterparts aren't as attuned to, but at the end of the day, it's only in America, you get to be whoever you want to be, and you get to decide how you want to comport yourself, who you want your friends to be, how you want to live your life, how you want to be thought of as you retire or leave this life. And we all get to make those choices. Luckily in a free society, we get to make those choices. Nothing gets imposed on us, not nothing but fewer things get imposed on us. 

Mahan Tavakoli:
And with stories like yours, Linda, the barriers that some people have in their minds are also broken. As you know, I love the story of Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile. And the second he did, so many other people broke that four minute mile because no longer that barrier existed in their minds. One of the reasons I absolutely love your story is that through ongoing persistence, with setback, after setback, with the success that you've achieved, you can show countless numbers of people and especially women that it is possible. You have shown them how it can be done and I truly appreciate that. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Thank you so much. Thank you for those very kind words. They mean a lot to me.

Mahan Tavakoli:
Thank you very much, Linda. 

Linda Rabbitt:
Thanks. 




You've been listening to partnering leadership with your host Mahan Tavakoli for additional leadership insights and bonus content. Visit us@partneringleadership.com.



Linda Rabbitt

Found and Chairman of Rand Construction

Linda Rabbitt is the Founder and Chairman of rand* construction corporation, a general contractor that specializes in building renovations, tenant interiors, retail, restaurant and design-build services. Since its inception in 1989, rand* has grown from a small tenant interiors firm to a national multi-market commercial construction company offering a wide range of services to our clients. Today, rand* is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, and manages regional offices located in Atlanta, Austin, Denver and Dallas with sales in excess of $400 million annually. The company’s 31-year history of client-oriented, design-sensitive construction services and award-winning work has been consistently recognized by a loyal client base and industry organizations alike.

Under Linda’s leadership, rand* has grown into one of the top general contractors in the DC Metro area and has expanded on a national scale with GC licenses in 26 states and the ability to deliver work across the US. Her knowledge of the industry and professional experience has enabled rand* to deliver award-winning work for a vast client base. With a focus on innovation, quality, and customer service, Linda is actively involved in the firm’s expansion and performance in all local markets, the cultivation of client relationships, and the management and oversight of company-wide strategic development. Since founding the company in 1989, Linda’s leadership and direction has fostered rand* construction corporation’s many accomplishments: