We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Guntur and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caroline, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an entrepreneur, risk-taking is built into my DNA. It has had a massive impact on my life and career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. A great example is my decision to move to a new country on my own at 18. I had no money and no idea how things would work out – I just knew they would. And they did.
I enjoy taking risks because I know that very often I will get a big reward in return, and I don’t always know what it will be – just that it’ll be juicy and worth it. If you don’t try, you’re more likely to regret that, and I feel like living with regret would be much worse. It’s not so scary to take risks if you know what you want and you trust yourself. If you do what you think is right, things have a way of working themselves out. And as we all know, fortune favors the bold.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As someone who has always wanted to make a big impact in the world, I started dreaming big at a very young age. While my friends were partying and playing video games, I was strategizing marketing campaigns for the future. I was always very focused on the bigger picture, constantly trying to find my place in the world. Looking back on my teen years, I definitely stood out. My goals very different than those of people around me and I just didn’t fit in.
At 18, I decided to move to the United States on my own to change my environment, and thereby my future. It was not easy. The culture shock took a big toll on me, and it was only through sheer determination and support that I survived it. Slowly, little by little, I started to assimilate.
Determination was always the motivating factor and I kept telling myself “I didn’t come this far only to get this far.” Failure was simply not an option, and I think that most successful entrepreneurs will agree with me. There is no plan B.
I put myself through college and grad school before finally starting my own business. Now, 20 years later, I run a thriving online business and live the digital nomad lifestyle of my dreams, but it wasn’t easy getting here. Looking back, it’s also clear that it was absolutely the right decision.
Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I currently live in Chicago, and if someone were to visit me here, I would start with the classic Chicago-style deep dish pizza and a show. We have a great art scene in the city, and there is always something to do. Chicago also has so many great neighborhoods, all with their own distinct vibe, so I think I would focus on one neighborhood per day. The first day, we would walk the beautiful magnificent mile on Michigan avenue and do a little shopping. There you will see Navy Pier and the Hancock building as well as remnant history of the Great Chicago Fire.
The next day, we would visit the south loop and the Field Museum, perhaps the wonderful planetarium on Museum Campus. From there, you have a great view of the city skyline.
On day 3, we would head north to the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, and Andersonville. There are some beautiful areas along with nice little boutiques, and as a Swede, some great Swedish pastry shops. I really like frequenting unique smaller businesses and there are a lot of them!
On day 4, we would head to Oakbrook, which is a suburb of Chicago. It’s a lovely area with nice shopping and great restaurants. You can easily spend a day there because there’s so much to do!
On day 5 and 6, I would suggest heading to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s a nice city – smaller than Chicago – but you get to see an additional state on a short drive. Wisconsin has some local specialities of their own (hello, cheese curds!), so why not? Their historic third ward district is lovely to walk.
On day 7, I think a nice relaxing spa day could be in order, perhaps with dinner at a family-style restaurant to top it off and wrap up the week.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents get all the credit for my success because they were the ones who always let me go in whatever direction I decided was right for me and supported me throughout, regardless of what I decided to try. When you are a creative entrepreneurial spirit, you tend to jump around between projects and jobs, and a lot of people view that as being indecisive or flaky. You are misunderstood because you haven’t yet found the right path for yourself, and sometimes you come across as a quitter. You start something, but then it’s not right, so you pivot. Then you try something else, and it’s not right either, so pivot again. And so on. That’s an important part of the entrepreneurial journey, and it’s what makes you successful in the end, but it can be hard to understand as a bystander. My parents never once questioned my decisions, and to this day, they have no idea what I do. They just know that their daughter is happy and that’s all that matters.
Location photos: Wendy Yalom Room photo: Nick Kelsh