When I meet new prospects I am often asked about my business experience. I like to tell the story of my first job after college. I learned more in the first two years after graduation than I did taking classes ... at least I learned more 'real world' lessons. Here's what happened:
After finishing my last final exams at the University of Texas, I met a local Austin entrepreneur with a local retail empire. He had an idea to expand his business with a completely different type of shop.
He wanted to open a counter service, gourmet coffee and candy store at the campus of the University of Texas. He had scouted a high foot traffic location and was brimming with of ideas. What he didn't have was time or energy to devote to this new project. I met with him in December. His other retail stores were in the throes of the holiday rush. At our first meeting, we agreed that I would work on his new project.
Soon after, we sat down to discuss his ideas. He provided a "brain dump" - three typed single spaced sheets, front and back, of his ideas for the shop. We talked for several hours. I left the meeting with the keys to the new space and the phone number for his architect. His advice at the end of our meeting I have used throughout my career:
“Make decisions as if you own the place.”
Several months later I opened the shop which became known as "The Dot" to our many loyal customers. We collaborated on his ideas, solving problems and discovering new possibilities. I researched, tested, and learned as much as I could every day. There were many starts and stops, mistakes, corrections, and inspired ideas as I navigated a very steep learning curve.
I learned to ask for help when I needed it, to admit mistakes, correct them and move on. I gleaned knowledge from experts through discussion and kept asking questions.
And I learned to persevere through the many obstacles. I loved it!
My professional life has varied from the gourmet coffee and candy shop to my most recent experience in top tier leadership advisory. For more than a decade I was a travel manager in the vibrant world of competitive cheerleading and dance. Each career stop provided an opportunity to flex my creative muscles, to shape policy, to collaborate with brilliant people, and to make positive contributions.
I took the plunge to work on my own and opened Cynsational Services with the idea to help business owners: navigate the creation process by providing research, project management and collaboration, establish policy and procedures, outsourcing assistance, and social media & marketing support. I have since expanded to Cynsational Resources, providing online resources for entrepreneurs as well as virtual assistance.