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Entrepreneur Network

Jennifer Gilbert Bounced Back From a Near-Fatal Attack to Find Massive Business Success

3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jennifer Gilbert, a wildly successful events entrepreneur, was assaulted to within an inch within her life in 1991 at the age of 22 outside of her friend’s New York City apartment. The attack was random and horrific, carried out by a complete stranger who stabbed her 37 times with a screwdriver before leaving her for dead.

In this heart-wrenching video interview with Joe De Sena of the Spartan UP! podcast series, Gilbert, who is the founder of New York-based events company Save the Date, describes how she not only survived the attack but went on to live a rich and fulfilling life.

"I was screaming, I was punching, I was fighting, I was screaming at the top of my lungs," she says as she describes the final moments facing her attacker. "And all the sudden, he stopped and ran out the door... And I was like, what just happened -- did this really happen?"

Despite her serious injuries, Gilbert says she remained in control of her situation, telling her friend to call 911 and her parent, and she did not pass out until she made it to surgery in the emergency room. But she did think that she would die during the ambulance ride. 

"I had about six or seven holes in my scalp, and my ear was ripped off and my neck was bleeding badly," she says. "But I wasn't crying, and I didn't faint. Then the ambulance comes, and I get into the ambulance, and I thought, 'I'm dead, I'm going to die right now.' And I looked at the ambulance driver and I said, 'Tell my family I love them.' And I was thinking, 'It's OK, I've had a good life.'"

Gilbert had no idea that her life wasn't only over -- but that the best was yet to come. Her transformation certainly did not take place overnight. She was able to recognize the vast source of resilience that she discovered on that terrible day and draw on it to create the kind of life she always wanted.

Lessons from this interview include:

  • The resilient person that you are in your most challenging moments is there for life to aid you whenever the need should arise.
  • Fear is the worst feeling from which to make a decision.
  • Beautiful things often grow from dark, ugly places -- like flowers from compost.
  • You cannot control one thing in the world except who you are after an ugly incident: whether you move toward the light or wallow in the darkness.

Watch more videos from the crew at Spartan UP! on their YouTube channel

Related: Former U.S. Military Commander Compares His Rise in the Ranks to an Endurance Race

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