Secrets to Your Success: Jennifer Gilbert


In 1991, at the age of 22, Jennifer Gilbert survived a horrific random attack. Accosted and stabbed with a screwdriver by a man who had followed her into a New York City apartment building, Gilbert suffered 37 stab wounds by the time the attack was over. She nearly lost her life.

As she began the slow recovery process, Gilbert realized she didn't want to shy away from life; she wanted to embrace it instead. The business major had some small experience working in event planning, and as she got back on her feet, it became clear to her what she wanted to do: she wanted to be around people celebrating, and to help people enjoy their special moments.

Two years after landing a job at a small event planning company, Jennifer started her own company, Save the Date, at the age of 25. By 29, she had been named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year.

Today, the company employees fifteen people full time and does close to 30 million dollars in business each year. Jennifer attributes that to her "never say die" philosophy and refusal to let circumstances get her down. "I've lived a thousand lives in my business life," she says. "And I've lived equally as many in my personal."

More recently, Jennifer wrote a book called "I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag." In it, she talks candidly about her attack and her party planning work. She says she chose the title because she's always been fascinated with goodie bags and how people are more focused on getting a goodie bag at the end of the party than they are enjoying themselves during the party. It's the wrong focus, she says. That's something she learned after her attack twenty years ago when she briefly thought the future she had planned was over.

"Nobody can promise you anything great later," she says. "You have now. And so, stop waiting for a gift at the end and start just being present and enjoying your life now."