家居装饰公司Judy George International的首席执行官朱迪·乔治是一名家庭主妇，也是四个孩子的母亲。她没有经验，却一步步成长为热门家居装饰公司的掌门人。她说，被人炒鱿鱼是开始追求自己梦想的最好起点。今天，她依然在奋斗。今年，她已经70出头。
如今，乔治女士已经年届72岁，是Judy George International的所有人。这家新的家居装饰公司是她和设计师合伙人金·萨梅拉共同建立的。如今，该公司的床垫已在600家Sleepy's商店中出售。而且，公司还计划提供一系列家居装饰设计的授权。该公司预计今年收入将达到3,500万美元。乔治女士对话《财富》杂志（Fortune），畅谈她作为职业母亲的生活，如何获得追求成功的超人动力，以及如何扛过最众目睽睽的失败。
我16岁时曾参加面试，希望成为美国出生缺陷基金会March of Dimes的全美青少年代言人。当时正是小儿麻痹症爆发高峰过后，我想为此做点什么。我没有参加全美级的代言人选拔，因为母亲不让我远行，但我成为了March of Dimes的新英格兰地区代言人。从那时开始，我开始热爱表达自己的想法，同时获得别人的反馈，这让我感觉很好。我能代表所有人，但我想有时候，企业家都是很饥渴的人。这种饥渴不是情感上的，而是在生命中做一些重要事情。我就很饥渴。
我从女子精修学校Chandler School for Women毕业后，19岁就结婚了。我母亲希望我能藉此学会如何引来金龟婿。这就是那个年代女子精修学院学习的内容。因此，我对它烦透了。
从那时开始，我就将自己的想法和创意寄给一些公司。我会写产品、电视剧和报纸专栏的宣传语。等到26岁时，我已经有了4个孩子，每个孩子相隔一岁半。我把这些想法发给各个地方的公司，只是为了让自己保持积极的思考。有两个想法得以采纳：有个电视节目喜欢我的想法，我成为了定期嘉宾，我开始为《先驱报》（The Herald）撰写专栏《家装达人》（Decorator in the House）。我一直觉得，就算没钱，也可以打造一个漂亮的房间，让你走进自己家时不再有寒酸的感觉。这就是当时这个专栏谈的内容。它背后的构想是将那些只有富人才有的东西的价格降到大众能承受的水平。
这就是我，一个结过婚并有4个小孩的乡村女孩正在实现的构想。当我申请第一份工作（马萨诸塞州布伦特里Hamilton's Furniture的室内设计总监）时，该公司所有人——乔治·汉密尔顿——最初拒绝了我，因为我没有任何经验。我就想：“我必须得引起这个人的注意。”有一天，我和孩子们在海滩上时心中也在想着这个问题。这时我看到一架飞机飞过头顶，打着什么广告，我记得是百加得朗姆酒（Bacardi Rum）的广告。每个人都在看那个广告。
这一次，我单枪匹马。我请了最好的律师事务所。我去找一流的会计师。我去了德勤（Deloitte & Touche），我们达成了一个协议：如果他们帮助我将这个商业计划搭建起来，我将聘请他们做这家公司的会计师，但我不能预付。他们做到了。他们承担了风险，为我做了20年的会计师。
我离开了一周，回来后就创立了Judy George International——我的新品牌和设计公司。回来时我已经做好了努力工作的准备。
In 2008, it looked like it was the end of the road for Judy George. The company she started, furniture store Domain Home, had succumbed to the financial crisis. Though George was still the CEO, the company's new private equity owners were taking it into Chapter 11 to recoup whatever they could. But the finishing school-educated mother of four has never stayed down for long. Her recovery time from the bankruptcy and personal fallout? About a week. Then it was back to work on a new company.
Today, George is 72 and the owner of Judy George International, a new home furnishings venture she started with her partner, designer Kim Salmela. The company's mattresses are in 600 Sleepy's stores, and it has plans to license a range of home furnishings designs. The company projects revenue this year of $35 million. George talked with Fortune about life as a working mom, cultivating a superhuman drive to succeed, and overcoming even the most public of failures.
When I was 16, I interviewed to be the national junior spokesperson for the March of Dimes. It was right after the polio epidemics, and I just wanted to do something. I didn't join on the national level because my mother wouldn't let me travel, but I became the New England March of Dimes spokesperson. That was the beginning really of my love of presenting ideas and getting feedback that made me feel good. I don't want to speak for everybody, but I think that sometimes entrepreneurs are very needy people. And the need isn't necessarily emotional. It's the need to do something important in their life. I was very needy.
I got married at 19 after I completed finishing school at the ChandlerSchool for Women. My mother wanted me to get an education in attracting a rich husband. That's what finishing schools in those days were all about. So I went absolutely crazy with boredom.
That was when I began creating ideas and sending them out to companies. I would write down pitches for products, TV shows, newspaper columns. By the time I was 26, I had four children, a year-and-a-half apart. I sent in these ideas to companies really everywhere just to keep myself sane. Two of them caught on: A television show liked my idea and I became a regular guest, and I started writing a column for The Herald called "Decorator in the House." I always felt that if you were poor, you could create one room and make it feel good, and you wouldn't feel poor when you walked into your home. That's what the column was about. The vision behind everything was to take what only the rich and wealthy could have, and bring it to a price point where the masses could afford it.
So here I am, a country girl, really, married with four kids. When I applied for my first job [as director of interior design for Hamilton's Furniture in Braintree, Mass.], the owner -- George Hamilton -- originally said no because I'd never had experience. I thought,"I have to get this man's attention." I was thinking about that on the beach with my kids one day and I saw this plane fly overhead advertising something, I think it was Bacardi Rum. Everybody was looking at it.
So I went and hired a Hawker Beechcraft plane with a banner that said, "George, Judy George will make you millions." And I flew it over his office every day for a week until he had the police contact me for disturbing the peace. The next week, he hired me.
Eventually his company bought the furniture store Scandinavian Design, and that's where I worked my magic. Robert Darvin, the CEO, gave me the real chance of a lifetime. Working together, in less than six years we went from $3 million to about $89 million in revenue. But then I started bringing in all these ideas again, ideas for a new store.
One day, I drove to work, got in, and was fired. Robert said to me, "You have your own dreams. They're not mine."
I was heartbroken. There's a lot of shame about being fired, particularly for women. I never thought I would survive it. Then I started putting a business plan together.
This time, I went all on my own. I hired the best law firm. I went to the best accountants. I went to Deloitte & Touche, and we made a deal that if they helped me put this business plan together, I would make them the accountants, but I couldn't pay them upfront. They did it. They took a risk. And they were my accountants for 20 years.
For startup money, I went to Bain Capital, where I met Mitt Romney. I love Mitt Romney. I'm not political. I've kept out of that. But Mitt took a chance where nobody would at Bain. And he was relatively new there. What I think Mitt did is he picked up on my passion and drive, and said, "If anybody can do it, she'll do it."
It wasn't because I was a genius. It wasn't because I had the best idea in the world. I think the most important thing I ever did was treat people right. And guess who got me the money? It was the manufacturers and the employees who spoke so highly of me when Bain called and interviewed them. Within four years, I had $30 million in startup funding for the company.
We open Domain in 1986, and it really took off. The design was very different than Scandinavian [George's former employer], which is Scandinavian. I was more European. Everybody I knew wanted to be in Paris, Italy, or Spain. And so I took all those countries and developed the look.
The revenue was $68 million when I sold the company in 2002. It was one of the top furniture companies in the country. We sold it for $30 million, and I didn't keep the money. About 20 people at Domain benefited tremendously from the sale, because I knew I wanted to do something else, and if I was ever going to do that, I needed people to speak well of me.
Domain changed hands again in 2006, when the bottom starting falling out of the industry, but the company that eventually bought it wasn't in it for the long term. They came in, and they wanted quick and easy money, and there was no way in the furniture industry that was ever going to happen. It was one of the worst economic climates for the industry since the Great Depression. They got impatient. Domain filed for bankruptcy in 2008.
I tried to go out and buy it back, but no banks were open to anything like that. It was the second time in my life I felt shame -- disappointing manufacturers who cared about me, disappointing customers who cared about me. I worked tirelessly from my home trying to get goods and furniture to people, begging everybody who would help to get me trucks.
I decided to go away for a week and stay with my sister and brother-in-law when the news broke. As I'm getting on a plane, somebody's handing everybody The Globe, the Sunday newspaper. And as I'm walking down the aisle, people were looking up at me as if they recognized me. I was on the front page of The Globe, with the whole story.
I just slunk down in my seat. And the guy opposite me says, "Is this you?" And it was so amazing. He said, "I'm so sorry. I know, judging from reading this article, how hard this must be for you."
I went away for a week and came back and started on Judy George International, my new branding and design company. By the time I came back, I was ready to go to town.
Now, I'm working on the biggest deal of my life, which is Sleepy's. You know, people say, "What's so exciting about selling mattresses?" But we're creating more than mattresses. We're creating the whole top of the bed. They're allowing us to do headboards, something Sleepy's has never done. We'll be in 800 stores.
So I look back, I look at my age -- I'm 72 -- and I don't want to change who I am. I don't want people to think I'm younger. I'm not going to get a face-lift I have more energy than I've had in 25 years. I've been given a Sleepy's management team. I love them. They love me. And they're giving me, along with my partner Kim, the chance of a lifetime to do something people only dream about.
Research everything. I do huge amounts of background research before every meeting. With investors and potential partners, I find something they've said and I quote it back to them. I'll even pay researchers a lot of money to find out whatever I can about the people I'm talking to and their company. When I started Domain, I took a loan out on my house so I could hire a company to do market research that I could present at investor meetings.
Look at failure as an opening. I used to tell people they've got to get uncomfortable with their situation. If you're making too much money, if you're not taking enough risks, you can put off really great ideas with the notion, "I'll do it later," and it just doesn't happen. There's nothing like getting fired to get you uncomfortable enough to go out and live your dream.
Take the kids. My secret weapon was my family always. My whole life of work I've brought my kids everywhere with me. I needed to do that to prevent guilt and burnout, but it also taught me organization and people management. Now, it's my grandchildren that I go everywhere with.