I had the pleasure of interviewing Cyndee Harrison, who recently launched Synaptic, a business consultancy that helps entrepreneurial leaders address their most common challenges–people, systems, and marketing.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Sure! My superpower is taking complex issues and breaking them down into smaller, more bite-sized pieces. This has helped me become successful as a trainer as well as a marketer.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
Launching Synaptic is a culmination of my last 20 years of training and experience, not only in Marketing but also in Operations and People Development. I’m confident in the training and initiatives that I’ve put together and I’m passionate about them.
Still, I think it’s always a little tricky to promote yourself since most of us suffer from imposter syndrome and have those moments of questioning why anyone in their right mind would listen to us. And so, it’s felt great to have so many people — some of whom I haven’t heard from in ages — who have stepped forward with words of encouragement and support. It’s been very humbling to realize the impact that I’ve made with different clients or projects or jobs that I’ve had along the way. So it’s been sincerely heartwarming to reconnect.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if it’s funny to anyone else, but I always find myself kinda chuckling when I hear one of my advisors telling me to refine my message or be more succinct. Over the years, I’ve coached dozens of clients on the importance of doing exactly that and boiling their messaging down, and yet it’s a real ongoing struggle for me. I think that there are a lot of entrepreneurs who run into this sort of thing in their own businesses, feeling like the cobbler’s children who have no shoes.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The marketplace is flooded with solutions that are aimed at entrepreneurial leaders. Business owners have countless books to read or webinars to watch or conferences to attend. But bringing that back to their brick-and-mortar business and successfully executing new strategies throughout the organization can be challenging and lonely work. The Synaptic Approach is different because we walk through new initiatives with every level of the organization. We not only work with the business owners and leaders but with front-line employees. This approach keeps everyone focused and accountable and it’s why I am comfortable guaranteeing my work — because this is how long-term success if built, from the ground up. It’s something that I’m really proud of.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
One of my favorite mantras is ‘Everything is Temporary’. I think that fatigue is a natural byproduct of passion. Being an entrepreneur can be exhausting, no question. Focusing on the long-term objective rather than short-term “over-this-ness” can help prevent fatigue from evolving into full-blown burnout.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There have been so many people who have helped me along the way, it’s difficult to pin down just one. I’m lucky to have a lot of people in my life who are very entrepreneurial-minded and hardworking, particularly my family. When I think of one person of influence, I would have to say that my last job involved a lot of exposure to new things because it was such a unique situation.
I worked for a family-owned business, a pawnshop, that was the subject of a really successful reality television show. I’m lucky that my boss, a fourth-generation pawnbroker, was really generous in letting me take on new challenges and try some pretty remarkable things such as dozens of national and international media tours, a Financial Literacy Class for our customers and a Workforce Diversity project that provided meaningful employment to individuals on the Autism spectrum. As a result, I ended up traveling all around the world as well as all over the country not only on media events but also working with other business owners. Ironically, it helped me have the confidence to launch out on my own.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As I look back over my career, I’ve been a part of some pretty cool things that brought significant change into the world. I briefly mentioned a couple of them before, like the Financial Literacy Course and Workforce Diversity. But there’s one that is remarkable to me just because I could have never anticipated its outcomes.
The economic downturn that began in 2008 impacted donations to arts and cultural organizations across the country and Metro Detroit was particularly hard hit. I was managing communications for the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan at the time and it was our job to help these hard hit organizations not only survive but thrive.
We knew that one of the key things that these nonprofits needed to ensure their survivability was an online presence, so we launched a one-day online giving challenge using a pretty significant grant as a matching fund. The caveat was that in order to be eligible to participate, these organizations were required to have an online presence, something that most of them sorely lacked.
It was one of the first endeavors of its kind in the world and we raised almost $5M in a single day, all in online gifts, surpassing our original goal by almost $2M. I still get goosebumps when I think of this, because it started with a few of us huddling around a table helping these organizations launch their first Facebook pages or websites and it ended up contributing to their survivability in ways that remain important to this day.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite quotes is “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” by poet Mary Oliver. It’s a simple reminder that we really only get one chance to design a life that we will be content to look back upon someday. I do my best to remember how wild and precious each and every day really is.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1-FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN ATTAIN: When I was first exploring the possibility of launching a business consultancy, I found that there are a LOT of gurus out there whose webinars and emails promise untold fortunes and followers when you follow their approach. When I applied their revenue goals to my own work, however, I ended up with the feeling that I was falling short even though I was successful by any measure of a business launch. Therefore, I had to take a look back and re-examine the goals and success measures that I had set for myself and align them with my mission which is what I would advise others to do from day one.
2-WE LIVE IN A GOLDEN AGE—AS LONG AS YOU SEE IT FOR WHAT IT IS: Never before in history have we had the access to information, communications, and connectedness that we now enjoy. This shows no signs of stopping or slowing down, but that doesn’t mean that we need to abandon the personal interactions that make us human. So keep posting, keep growing your online reach … but keep on showing up too. Keep lunching and coffee-ing and mentoring and volunteering and networking and writing personal notes. Because we can’t know what’s next, be we do know this — our ability to connect to one another shouldn’t depend exclusively on any one channel or medium. My business launch really only felt real when I started kicking myself off of my laptop and showing up at networking events and reaching out to set in-person meetings with people that I know.
3-NOISE ISN’T KNOWLEDGE: Before I started researching my launch, I don’t think I fully appreciated how much the term ‘entrepreneur’ has morphed over the past few years. I have a personal friend who went on a nutritional program a couple years ago who now sells these products for the company. She not only considers herself an entrepreneur, but also an influencer in the personal nutrition space, largely based on the quantity of content that she posts to her social media profiles about the topic. I also have countless other connections who promote themselves as beauty industry influencers because they post videos of makeup tutorials. All of us enjoy feeling like our opinions and viewpoints matter and we all do have a level of influence over others, but we need to stop kidding ourselves. Not everyone should be an influencer.
4-ACTION WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE PRODUCES FAILURE: About 15 years ago, I launched a business that was remarkably successful. My success in executing gave me a really false sense of confidence in my own ability to do everything involved in running a business. As a result, I attempted to handle my own bookkeeping and accounting. And I ended up in a big mess. Luckily, I had good resources to help me clean it up, but it was long, painful, and expensive. I’d had the best of intentions and certainly wanted what was best for this company that I owned, but I unintentionally derailed the success of the business. Similarly, there are well-intentioned and highly motivated employees who make critical errors in business every single day because they’re tasked with doing things for which they have a skills gap. Motivation and mindset are never enough. When you don’t know what you’re doing, stop and ask and get help.
5-BE NICE TO YOURSELF: I’m my own harshest critic which is something that I think is pretty common to entrepreneurs. This time around, though, I’m taking some steps back to remind myself that I’m doing my very best every day—days that I knock it out of the park or days that I strike out swinging—and I am making a more conscious effort to stop myself when I hear negative self-talk bouncing around in my head.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It sounds sappy, but I wish that there was more of an emphasis placed on the importance of self-awareness in our society. When we each understand our own needs, desires, strengths, and shortcomings, I think it makes us more empathetic to others. We start to see the need for surrounding ourselves with others who can offset our weaknesses.
We live in a world where there’s so little privacy, even for those of us who aren’t famous or well-known. This connectedness can breed judgment and toxicity, whereas it would be really nice if we could reverse that and instead begin to look at one another and seeing our imperfections and faults as opportunities to relate to one another and support one another.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I love connecting on Linkedin and I’m pretty easy to find because I spell my name so oddly (Cyndee Harrison).
My Synaptic channels are all listed at www.synapticapproach.com and I’d love to hear feedback from your readers!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
How Marco Cabrera Created a 6 figure Real Estate Empire in Less Than a Year
All his life, Marco Cabrera has been an entrepreneur at heart. Ever since he was a little boy, Marco Cabrera’s mind was business oriented. He learned from a tender age to take advantage of every presenting opportunity to make some money. At some point in his childhood, he made money from his mother’s friends by offering to paint their nails for $5. When 7-year-old Marco knew that her mom’s friends used to get paid on Fridays, he realized it would not be difficult to get $5 from each of them by doing their nails on Saturdays when they came over to their house.
To Marco’s parents, that might have just been their kid passing time while making a few bucks to buy candy with. To Marco, however, this was the beginning of a long journey into the corporate world. It was never going to be an easy journey, especially considering that business is full of risks and an uncertain future. There was much learning to do, and Marco was ready to go all in on the lessons life was going to teach him.
Believing in Himself and Learning From His Mistakes
True to his nature as a serial entrepreneur, Marco Cabrera worked hard to the extent of setting up 5 businesses. Like any other risk-taker out there, he knew there was a chance that a few or none of the businesses would grow into huge enterprises. Even so, he was not about to stop dreaming, and most importantly, taking action.
In his own words, Marco says, “Some of the companies did better than others, but what mattered most to me was taking action, believing in myself and learning from my mistakes.” One such mistake he made was backing down from his dreams. Instead of pushing through with his dream of becoming the entrepreneur he was born to be, he ended up being employed. Though he was still making a sizeable income from two of his best-performing businesses, he wanted something more for himself, his wife, and two kids.
From Stable to Uncomfortable
Marco Cabrera might have secured a ‘stable’ job six years ago, but to him, it was the same as having given up on the dream of greatness. He wanted a life higher and beyond the corporate cubicles, he had found himself in. Marco says, “I felt like I had thrown in the towel on my dreams, and was now settling. I knew something was not right.” The discomfort he felt being in the corporate cubicles then bred the determination to leave it all for something else. He realized it was not all about the money, but about fulfillment. Then came the tall and thick wall separating him from leaping onto his destiny – fear. Marco’s vision had been somewhat blurred by the confines of the corporate job that he was terrified about failing if he dared trying reaching for his dreams. Marco Cabrera, however, knew that something had to give, and it surely did.
Building a Fresh Relationship With God
Having lacked the strength in him to move forward, Marco looked to God for help. He started working on his relationship with God. That is how he found the confidence, faith and drive to get to where he had always wanted to be, where he was supposed to be. He confesses, “Through Jesus Christ, I have been able to get clarity and a new focus in my life, family, and business.” During his time growing in Christ, Marco attended a seminar where he met a distinguished real estate investor, who later became his mentor. Before long, Marco, through his mentor’s coaching, was able to finally create a six-figure real estate business. Marco Cabrera finally saw and lived the reality of his lifelong dream, and it all happened within a year.
Unlike many who give up on their visions, Marco Cabrera did not. He finally quit his corporate job to fully become a real estate investor. Today, he closes deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars every month without prior experience of having ever been in the real estate industry. So, what is stopping you from pursuing your dreams? Are you stuck in some corporate cubicle feeling sorry about yourself? Don’t let life beat you down. Like Marco, you can find help in Jesus and finally see the realization of your dreams.
5 Things Photographers Need to Know By Jaime Flores
Jaime Flores is a photographer based in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). He is best known for his portraits but also does a variety of different types of photography. In just a span of a year, he grew his two instagram accounts to have 10x more followers than he had we started. Before photography, Jaime was going to college with no real idea of what he wanted to do for a career. After receiving his Associate’s degree with an emphasis in business, Jaime decided not to continue school and look for something new to pursue in life. He bought his first camera in April of 2018 and quickly gained the knowledge needed in order to be commercially successful in his hometown.
At first his focus was only portraits but later on he began doing product photography, events, landscapes and more. In May of 2019 he started his own Media company called Digital Trends Media. The company provides photography, videography, graphic design, and social media management services. Jaime hopes to inspire and help others find skills that are needed in today’s world driven by social media.
1. Carry your camera at all times
It’s actually really important to always have your camera with you. Pretty often, people get curious and will ask you: “Are you a photographer?” or “What kind of camera do you have?”. Use that as a chance to show them your work and/or hand them a business card (you should always have some). Take your camera everywhere you go and learn to take candid photos of people out in the city, take pictures of your food/drinks, take pictures of nature, etc. This seems pointless but people are willing to buy print versions of those types of photography. Expand your skillset beyond portraits.
2. Leverage your personality
Don’t rely solely on your work to catch the attention of potential clients. Your work will only get you so far but you have to be willing to put your personality out there as well. If you take a look at some of the most successful and well known photographers, you’ll notice that they not only take amazing pictures but they also have huge personalities. People love to see what the person behind the camera is like.
3. Make your photography stand out
Editing is crucial, spend lots of time learning new editing techniques. Also, when shooting portraits, take your time and really analyze backgrounds. Take pictures from numerous angles to give your pictures unique perspectives. Combine a unique editing style with new angles/ideas, and you will gain popularity.
4. Youtube is your best friend
A question I get asked all the time is: “How can I get better at taking pictures?” My answer is always Youtube and practice. Of course you can pay to attend seminars and pay for online photography courses, but to me that’s all unnecessary. All the information you need can be found on YouTube for FREE. At least that’s how I learned everything I know.
5. Cameras don’t do the work for you
A common misconception that people tend to have is that having a good camera is all it takes to be a good photographer. Nowadays an iPhone camera is the best camera to use as a beginner. Anyone can buy the most expensive camera but it takes knowledge about camera settings in order to take the best pictures, as well as good editing skills.
There are 4 Ways to have Fun All Summer Long
Three Connecticut friends transformed a dream into a booming business. While watching sports one night, something sparked their creativity and they realized that there was a gap in the sports industry. After conducting additional research, they found that they truly had an original idea, so they came together and created the blueprint for their game, and within a year, a prototype was born! Now there is a new way to enjoy summer sports whether you’re on a beach, at a picnic, gym, or park. This four- way intersecting volleyball net has all the fun of a traditional volleyball game but with a unique twist and a brand-new set of game rules.
The World’s First 4-Way Volley Ball Net
Chris Meade, the co-founder of CrossNet recounts the journey of creating the world’s first 4-way volleyball net when the idea was only in its infancy. “A prototype that was created and tested on a beach in the summer of 2018 gained lots of attention. It went from the four of us playing and having a good time to 25 people waiting in line and me not even getting to play my own game at the beach. As soon as that happen, we knew we had a great game.”
Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight
In most cases, success doesn’t happen overnight, and this was definitely the case for the Connecticut trio, they attribute their success to creating a clear set of game rules for their users, implementing strong branding techniques, and utilizing social media to build brand awareness and outreach. “We were three kids from a farming town in Connecticut. We had an idea and we were able to make it come to life, and now we’re being played in over 500 gym classes across the world. You can also find their products in some of the world’s top retail stores like Walmart, Target, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Amazon, and many more.
Meade enjoys the life that entrepreneurship has awarded him. Since the business has taken off, he’s able to reclaim his time, energy, and life back. When asked how has entrepreneurship improved his life, he had this to say: “I have more flexibility! “Nothing is worse than going to a job everyday and working for somebody to improve their business. Everyday I wake up and ‘think how do I improve my business?’ Which is a direct impact on my life and the life that I live.”
Changing the Game of Outdoor Sports
Meade is proud of the success and attention that the CrossNet game has gained since it’s release in June 2017, he also mentions that the sports industry has plenty room for innovation, yet, despite the passing of time, the industry lacks fresh innovation, until now! “The outdoor game and sports market is a very boring industry, and I mean that in the sense that no innovative outdoor game products really came out to the market. Our parents and their friends have been playing corn hold, Frisbee, and basketball outside for the last 100 years. There’s only so many times [that a new outdoor game is developed] and becomes a game changer, and we’ve brought in a four-way volleyball net, four-square combined, and a new game of CrossNet.”
CrossNet Brings Value to Players
CrossNet is a unique game that brings value to anyone who is willing to take part in the sport. Families can enjoy this game at a picnic, or at the beach. Physical education instructors can use this game as a pre-workout tool or as a fun workout for students. Even professional athletes can find ways to enjoy this game. Its versatility and easy game rules makes this a suitable activity for anyone to enjoy. Meade says “Leisure players can now play volleyball in a one-on-one setting. Children and young adults who are looking to learn the basic skills of volleyball can now play with select friends. It’s also a great warm-up and skill and development tool as well.
Here’s to the Future!
Chris Meade is a young 26-year-old who has successfully traversed the world of business and entrepreneurship. Together, him and his friends were able to take an idea, and turn it into profit. As a piece of advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs, he says “Have a concrete idea and run it by your peers. Don’t give up! It’s been over two years in the making and we went from a company that celebrated one sale a day, to now making the news in Minnesota were sport anchors are taking our game out of the box and showing the entire state of Minnesota.”
For business inquiries and questions, Chris Meade can be reached at [email protected].
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