On July 5, 2017, Judy Guido, chairwoman and founder of Guido & Associates, was attacked by a landscaper working at her house in Moorpark, California.
Guido was working on her laptop at home while a new landscaping crew was occupied with installing sod in her backyard. Suddenly she heard a really loud noise.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Oh my God, they hit a gas line,’ because our windows blew in, they were smashed,” she says. “And then I saw one of the landscapers basically flying over our fence.”
She says she was completely caught off guard as it had been a beautiful, peaceful day prior to the sudden explosion-like noise. Guido then noticed one of the landscapers had a pickaxe in his hand and was using it to smash the window out.
Then that landscaper ran over to the fence and began throwing some of Guido’s lawn ornaments over the fence. At this point Guido called the landscaper’s boss who had just left her property to pick up more plants.
“I felt like these guys might have been having a crew fight,” she says. “I told the owner of the landscaping company, ‘You better get over here, there’s something is really wrong here.’”
While Guido was on the phone with landscaper’s boss, the landscaper entered Guido’s kitchen still holding the pickaxe. She asked him what was going on.
“He just looked at me and he said, ‘I tried to kill my co-worker because he was the devil,’” Guido says. “And at that moment, I knew what I said or did that I was either going to live or die that moment. I knew it because I knew that I was probably going to be next on his list.”
As soon as he told her that, she says she remembers thinking, “I don’t want to die today and I’m not going to die today.”
She says she knew the only way she was going to be able to survive was to get the man out of her house and get outside where someone could hear her scream for her life.
Guido says there were some newly purchased knives laying on the kitchen counter nearby. She says she made a point not to look at them and turned her body, so the landscaper put his back to the knives in order to look at her.
“I physically pivoted my body, immediately developed a strategy and then I just started talking to him, like in business when market conditions change instantly,” Guido says. “He was my main customer. He was the focus. I basically had to convince him that I was there to do the right thing for him and to help him, much like you do in business.”
Guido asked him if he was okay, told him he needed to see a doctor and that she was there to get him help.
“I just kept asking him questions, and I was walking him back,” she says. “As I was walking him back, he was holding this axe, and he kept walking back as I was talking to him and reassuring him I was going to get him help.”
At this point, they had made it outside. Guido’s small family dog had been staying close to her, when suddenly the man looked at the dog and told Guido he had to kill her dog because he thought the devil was in it too.
“The first blow to the dog, I knew my dog was dead instantly,” Guido says. “He just continued for whatever reason, he felt that he had to keep hitting the dog with the axe again and I knew the first blow he was dead and that gave me a couple of steps to literally start running.”
Guido says she felt a surge of power and strength as she decided to run as fast as she could, scream as loud as she could and fight as hard as she could.
“I just remember screaming, repeating the same pattern over again ‘Somebody call the cops. Somebody help me. He’s going to kill me,’” Guido says.
The landscaper caught up to Guido and slit her throat. Guido says she saw him pick up the pickaxe and knew she had to fight this 27-year-old built like a fullback. She says she had to hold her neck with one hand to prevent bleeding out while warding off her attacker and running away at the same time.
“Next thing I remember him saying to me, ‘I have to kill you.’” Guido says. “And he said, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ I just remember I used whatever energy I had left trying to protect my face and neck because I saw the axe coming up and I had to protect my head.”
At this point Guido had made it her mailbox. She recalls seeing one of her neighbors who saved her before waking up in the ICU.
“If it wasn’t for my neighbor’s son who knew me from birth but didn’t recognize me, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” she says. “He had no idea who I was, he just came out and he saw a bloody body, called 911 and then called his mom until the ambulance got there. If it wasn’t for him finding me pretty quickly, I probably would have bled to death.”
Aftermath of the attack
Guido credits her survival to developing an immediate strategy and executing it at the same time while being focused on what her goal was that day. She is also thankful for her neighbors who did the right thing, the talented staff at the hospital and her family and friends who supported her afterwards.
There were many aspects of her rehabilitation. Physically, she had to adapt to responding to simple sounds and light before working to recover her memory, balance and speech. She also made a point to wean herself off her medication as quickly as possible. Guido says it took her about a year to recover physically.
Emotionally and mentally, Guido developed a strategy to deal with negative thoughts very early on, but she says the attack has taken away a piece of her peace of mind and she is hyper-vigilant now towards people and surroundings around her.
Guido says there was never a question of if she wanted to return to the industry. Instead, she used the attack to drive her to become better than she’s ever been.
“That was a driving and therapeutic part of my rehabilitation was that vision and goal to be better than I ever was before, not only for me, but for all the people in my personal life and in my professional life that that relied on me.”
During Guido’s rehabilitation, she happened to be reflecting about how the number one question people ask her is “Judy, can I pick your brain?” and it was her first time laughing since the attack. She found it to be the perfect title for her book.
Frequently people asked her how she was able to get away from her attacker and she realized as she was telling the story that everything she did is exactly what she does in business.
“All the things that I did, the strategy that I had to save my life and to live were the same things that I do with my clients and business and so I just started documenting it,” she says.
For instance, when she heard the smash of the window, she compares this to when the market conditions can change instantly.
“In writing the book, I took each event and then I applied a business principle and motivational principal too,” she says. “Because part of it was as much business as it was me getting from surviving to thriving.”
Guido wants to make it clear to people that if she could survive this, anyone could.
“There’s no survivor or super heroine gene that you’re given in your DNA,” she says. “It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re focused and disciplined to do it. That’s it. You have to have a purpose, a vision, a plan and persistence to do it.”
The book is expected to publish next year. Guido says that her current goal and purpose in life is to continue to learn, share and give. In five years, she says she sees herself doing what she’s doing right now and possibly teaching at a university as well.
“Maybe doing 30 percent of professional work time and 70 percent volunteering, but probably at least in the next five years doing what I’m doing now, coaching and working with individual clients, helping them get their strategy and team built in order to scale up to the next level,” she says.
As for the legacy she wants to leave with the next generation of professional landscapers, Guido encourages them to become learnaholics as well.
“They need to become learn-it-alls instead of know-it-alls,” she says.