When a crippling challenge hits you in the face, you usually have two options: accept defeat or continue riding the wave. But, while the latter is the more admirable of the two choices, it is often easier to do the former. The good news is you can overcome virtually any difficulty with enough perseverance. Take it from RV queen Gigi Stetler.
Gigi Stetler is a highly decorated business executive, entrepreneur, life coach, and author who founded the RV Sales of Broward and built it to become a top company in the American RV market.
However, before earning her success, Gigi endured a traumatic moment that threatened her dream and her life.
A tough upbringing
Gigi Stetler was born in Florida in 1959. Her father abandoned the family when she was a child. Coming from a poor background, Gigi desired the finer things in life from a young age. Her mother was quick to remind her that nothing good comes without a sweat.
“If you want designer jeans, you need to get a job,” she often told young Gigi.
Gigi dropped out of school in 10th grade and went out to fend for herself. Her first job was in retail as a minimum-wage cashier at K-Mart. Later, she became a freelance sales agent, selling household appliances to farming equipment. With sales, Gigi had found her calling.
A traumatic encounter
In 1983, Gigi used her hard-earned savings to buy a rundown but promising apartment in Miami. She intended to renovate it as an investment and sell it. A few days after the sale, Gigi was walking around her new house when she found a homeless man living in the basement.
Sympathetic, she offered him a place to stay in exchange for some help renovating the apartment. The arrangement went on well for a few months. One day, the apartment manager called Gigi to report that the man was on the roof drinking and hurling beer bottles at cars.
Not wanting him to get arrested, Gigi opted to drive there and talk to him. However, a few minutes after she entered the building, the man rushed to her and stabbed her in the chest. Before she could grasp what was happening, the attacker came back for more, stabbing her repeatedly in her arms and torso. Gigi lost consciousness and the man, believing she was dead, finally stopped.
The rough road to recovery
Gigi woke up in the hospital 12 hours later after being stabbed a staggering 21 times. Her doctor told her she was lucky to have survived, but unfortunately, she would likely lose the use of her left arm.
Two weeks and 200 stitches later, Gigi got out of the hospital. It took months of both physical and psychological therapy to get back on her feet. She worked very hard, drawing strength from her relentless ambition.
Gigi Stetler’s dedication paid off, and one year later, she had made a full recovery. Even her left arm, which showed little promise after the incident, was back to normal.
Success in a male-dominated industry
Gigi used her life-changing experience as fuel to reach the stars. A few months after she got back to sales, a client enlisted her to sell some old RVs sitting on his land.
Gigi thrived in the RV market, so she decided to open a small dealership in Davie called Broward R.V. Within ten years, her establishment had grown into a top-tier RV company.
During this time, she endured sexist competitors, an exploitative mentor. A public lawsuit with Camping World, the global leader in the RV industry, left her company nearly bankrupt after years of success. Instead of quitting, she persevered and regained her position as a formidable industry leader.
Today, Gigi Stetler is a celebrated business figure in the recreational vehicle market. Besides her multi-million-dollar company, she runs the RV Advisor – the number one unbiased source of help and tips on buying RVs. Despite her gruesome attack, Gigi did not stop helping people achieve their dream.
The takeaway is this:
Gigi’s life is an exemplary example of triumph after suffering a tremendous challenge. If she bounced back, there is no reason to believe you cannot conquer whatever adversity you face. Get up, wipe off the dust, kick failure to the curb, and move forward.
“Never give up because you will fail – failure is a stepping stone to success.”