Laura Kozelouzek’s Quest: Proving That “Nice Guys” Can Finish First
Laura Kozelouzek will not tolerate the word “if”. Frankly, it’s limiting. And she doesn’t want that for her clients. What she does want is for them to believe in themselves and have the confidence that they can “Fake it ‘til they make it”, a phrase she uses often. And she has no doubt they will make it. Everyone gets the same uplifting care and attention on their journey to success. No this is not Utopia or Fantasy Island. This is Quest Workspaces, a profitable, thriving community of small businesses in prestigious buildings who are on a “quest” to grow and prosper.
To understand how this all works, you have to know a little bit about Laura Kozelouzek. On the outside she has all the earmarks of a highly successful business woman — the Cornell University degree, career moves that included names like Marriott, Hyatt, HQ and Regus. And she has accumulated awards that include “Commercial Rising Star” and, for Quest, “Best Places to Work in Florida” and “Best Small Business” in the leadership category. A smart and savvy native New Yorker, Laura certainly has the level of confidence and verve one needs to succeed in a traditionally male dominated industry. Yet there’s nothing typical about her. Wrapped around this combination of energy, drive, knowledge and skill, is a genuine “niceness” that shines through immediately. Laura claims this is a huge part of what makes her successful.
That “niceness” stems from an ingrained service mentality she says she’s had most of her life. “Do you remember those long gas lines during the energy crisis in the 70s?” she asks. “I sold coffee to all those poor people stuck in their cars. I think I was about nine.” She has always had an entrepreneurial streak. It wasn’t enough to work in a restaurant; Laura owned and operated Dish in New York, with profits of $2.2 million. Recruited from hospitality into the growing business center industry, Laura thrived, adding her passion and energy into a traditionally staid, conservative environment. A string of real estate successes provided Laura with the connections to start her own business center and in 2007 she created Synergy Workspaces with a high-flying real estate group, Broadway Partners, growing it from scratch to a $25 million company that was sold a few years ago to Carr Workspaces.
After Synergy, Laura was ready to create a truly unique workspace community where enterprising individuals and small start ups could enjoy the same amenities as larger companies, with an opportunity to compete and succeed — and where the word “if” was left outside the door. The best way to do this, she realized, was to start her own company without partners. So, with her own personal investment, a solid reputation, and unwavering resolve, Quest Workspaces was born, the name selected by Laura as a testament to every small business’ quest to grow and thrive. She opened four locations in Florida within the first year and recently opened her first New York City space in the iconic Time Life Building, a deal she brokered herself and won, she feels in a large part due to people skills and being able to articulate her vision and passion.
But there have been rough patches along the way. There have been times when Laura has considered other careers. “I’d stop and say, ‘I’m never doing this again’” she chuckles. “I think if I looked at it as just leasing space I would have given it up years ago. With Quest it’s all about the journey. Our success is really about their success. That’s a big part of what gets me excited about it.”
Laura doesn’t have time for negative energy, preferring to ignore it and move on. “I always have tried to focus on things that propel me forward,” she says. About the “nice” factor? “People feel they have to change their persona to be successful. I disagree,” she says. “I’ve found that when I have led with my heart and helped others it comes back to me; doors are opened that never would have been.” And she has certainly done her part to help others, opening up her doors to struggling entrepreneurs to give them a chance at success, removing the burden of paying rent. “In the Coral Gables center, I had an idea to give an office to charity,” says Laura. “CBS news picked it up and we ended up with 30 applicants. Many were unknown charities and small grass roots organizations trying to make a difference,” she says. “We helped as many as possible and they were coming back to thank me, in tears. I felt like Santa Claus,” says Laura.
Laura Kozelouzek’s advice to others? Don’t be afraid to take risks. Above all don’t take things personally. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun! Make mistakes and laugh about them.