INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Susie Cheatley breezes through the doors of the Chateau at Incline Village, blue eyes beaming, a smile outstretched across her radiant face. The Chateau is quiet and empty at the start of the offseason, but Cheatley’s vibrant energy immediately fills the space with warmth.
Cheatley is the kind of person you want to be around. Her personality is infectious and her outlook on life is admirably positive. She’s seen her share of struggles, but she’s risen above the adversity to obtain success and happiness against all odds.
Growing up in Southern California, Cheatley lived the quintessential childhood as a Laguna Beach native. Hot summer days were spent soaking up the sun at the neighboring beach where her father would join her on Sunday’s to surf the waves and barbeque in the afternoon.
As a lifelong elementary educator, her mother served as the driving force behind her academic studies, encouraging the pursuit of higher education and supporting Cheatley’s goals. After school on the occasional Friday, her father, a savvy businessman, would take her to visit clients in San Diego where he taught his daughter ethics and professionalism in the business world.
“My Mom was the teacher of the family and I learned so much from her educated side,” Cheatley said. “My Dad was the one that really lead me into sales my whole life; I was brought up in a family owned business and through that, my Dad taught me integrity and about having good character.”
Water begins to swell in Cheatley’s piercing blue eyes and she brushes away a tear. Nearly six years ago, Cheatley’s father passed away from health complications, inflicting a pain that comes and goes in waves.
“I love when people ask me about my Dad and my Mom,” Cheatley says, shaking off the brief pang of sadness. “They were married for 50 years and they’d still be married — you can look up to something like that.”
After graduating high school, Cheatley moved to San Luis Obispo where she spent the next four years as a student at Cal Poly, during which time her mother became diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma — a strain of cancer with few survivors.
“It seems so long ago that my Mom had cancer, she’s been in remission for 18 years now,” Cheatley says with a hint of both relief and disbelief. “I look back and think ‘how did I get through that?’… I must have been in a parallel universe where I was dealing with my Mom, but had to let that go when I went back to Cal Poly and back to class because education was really important to my parents.”
Post-college and with her mother in remission, Cheatley set out to conquer the world of marketing and sales with Fortune 500 companies and the pharmaceutical industry — a career that lead her to spend several years on the opposite end of the country in Boston.
“I loved it back east … people will take the shirt off their back for you and I made some friends I will have for life while I was living there,” Cheatley said. “Being so into sports made it a great experience to live there because it is such a sports town and that’s all anyone ever talks about — Celtics, Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox — that’s it.”
However, the distance had its price — Cheatley missed her family and eventually decided to return home after her only brother and his wife gave birth to their son. She continued to pursue a profession in sales, but when her father’s health took a turn for the worse, coupled with a difficult layoff, Cheatley retreated to the mountains of Deer Valley, Utah where she mended her grief by working as a ski instructor far away from the corporate world.
“When my Dad died, I moved to Park City, Utah, and was so thankful that I lived there during that time because I could climb to the top of a mountain and talk to him instead of sitting in traffic and stressing out in a city,” Cheatley said.
The short stint was beneficial for Cheatley’s strength, but she soon found herself back in Orange County, plotting her next career move. After another layoff, Cheatley yearned for life as a mountain dweller, and in October 2009, she packed her bags for North Lake Tahoe.
The avid skier and fisherwoman immediately embraced the Tahoe lifestyle with a winter gig as supervisor for Squaw Valley’s children’s ski school and a summer job at the The Grille at the Chateau at Incline Village.
“I felt like my job at The Grille was a great job and I got to meet all of the locals, I fell in love with the golf course and the people associated with Incline and all the events we do here,” Cheatley said, a spark of excitement reverberates through her voice.
When a sales manager position opened up at The Chateau, Cheatley jumped on the opportunity to return to her marketing and sales career.
“I went through the hiring process and did a huge presentation where I put together a 30-60-90 plan to make this position successful, and I went into the interview and nailed it,” Cheatley says, tossing her blonde head back in laughter at her own tenacity. “I am so happy to be back in sales now, creating relationships and meeting people, planning parties and being on the event side of things.”
The Chateau has already reaped the benefits of hiring on such an experienced and personable employee, and in a short time, Cheatley increased clientele as well as the volume of weddings taking place at the luxurious year-round venue.
“What makes a good sales person is being a good listener; people think sales is a lot of talking and I learned a long time ago that it’s easy to talk yourself out of a sale,” Cheatley said. “I find that what I love is finding the needs of somebody and giving them a solution to that, that’s where I’ve always thrived.”
Cheatley has made a home for herself in Incline Village, where she intends to remain indefinitely, as long as The Chateau will have her. On a daily basis, she recalls her late father’s words of wisdom and life lessons he instilled in his daughter early on.
“My Dad always said ‘if you’re going to do something you do it’ and in this day and age, there’s so many flakey people out there, but you can always count on me and that’s what makes me a success in my job because if I say I’m going to do something I’m going to come through for my client — that’s the strongest characteristic I got from my dad,” Cheatley said.