Interview with Cindii Eggers

I guess I have to say that my starting my own business came from a mixed bag of need and desire. I found middle age, especially coupled with divorce, to be a decisive time of my life. If you would have asked me where I would be in my early forties even five years ago, I most probably would’ve answered that I would be happy contemplating retiring from my public service position as a 9-1-1 dispatcher and as a special status deputy sheriff. After divorce, I realized that I had many goals and desires to fill and that if I wanted to do any fulfilling, it would be by me and only me. And time was of the essence. It was a frightening and liberating feeling-all at once.

When did you decide that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?

After resigning the position I had been in for quite a few years, I decided to move back to my hometown and gather my thoughts and just “be” for a month or two. I had made a comfortable life back where I had lived before and I don’t mind telling you that I was a little bit more than scared. But this feeling wouldn’t go away and I have learned to trust that feeling, or the inner knowing that one learns within oneself. For example, I had managed to become a radio talk show host/personality by telling my thoughts and dreams to a semi retired editor friend that I knew. I wrote some copy back in the day for his newspaper, back when I was a stay at home mother and he would actually come by my house and pick it up and have a cup of coffee if his schedule allowed. This was back in the early 80’s and things were a lot different then. This editor friend, he was tight with the higher ups at the radio station I eventually worked for. We “did lunch”-myself, the editor, and the program director of the station. This “high powered” and I say this tongue in cheek here, lunch was at a diner. I had a hamburger. Funny what you remember. I like to think of Seinfeld when I tell this story. I got offered a half hour talk show of my own design from that! No experience, just gumption and a gift for gab and some luck too, I guess. I do hesitate saying luck because to me luck is simply opportunity meeting preparedness. Anyway, I remember when I left the diner, I went to a payphone and called my husband. (Again, back before cell phones) He couldn’t half believe what I was telling him - but there it was. I almost couldn’t believe it myself. I stayed at that radio station for 3 yrs and my show went from a half hour to an hour and a half. All the programming was my own design. I picked and called my own guests, local and national. So from there I knew that I could anything I put my mind to. I still live that way. So the hardest part for me was deciding what I wanted to do. It fell into place from there.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Doing what I do is the proverbial two-edged sword. On one hand, I choose my own hours, I choose where to do the actual work, I get to meet new people all the time. For example, I am writing a screenplay for a small budget film to be shot in Cleveland, Ohio my home town. With that in mind, I am creating a scene and using some radio contacts from back in my radio days. I cannot say who they are yet, but they are sports figures and local celebrities. So, I get to see them again, I get to meet new people, and one of the biggest perks? Travel! However, I have to mention the downside. I am the one responsible for the bottom line. If there is a dry spell with work, I can suffer.

What was the most difficult part in getting started?

For me, the most difficult part of getting started was getting my mojo back for this particular field of work. People in the creative fields such as art and writing I think will agree with me and know what I am talking about. I had to get my mindset back to the artsy right brain type of thinking and away from the analytical thinking of my prior position. Once I “felt” the part, I started putting my feelers out and connecting again with old contacts and putting myself out there in the arts community. I am still a new company, but with each connection I make and each thing I write, it gets easier and better. And with the new technologies of today they play a big part in contacts and opportunities. But anyone reading this knows that. But for the young ones who have always had a computer, or a cell phone, back when I started my career out of the house, I got to tell you, it was a whole different ball game back then. There were no FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter or any of that. Can you even imagine not having these networking tools now?
Some of us can because we lived it!

What is the top skill (or skills) needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Well a few things. One needs a back-up plan, and a support system.

For me, I have a very loving group of people around me supporting me. Although it can appear from the outside that owning your own company is glamorous and filled with excitement, I can tell you that for every one hour of what can be perceived as glamour or excitement, behind it were hundreds or thousands of hours of work, sometimes extremely boring groundwork. And let’s not forget the lean times. My business is still new and I am still getting myself launched. I won’t even go there about being a woman as this can be used as an asset, to be quite honest with you. So I won’t go there about that. But one has to be quick- for in this line of work, what you may be thinking of doing might already be in the finishing stages somewhere else. It is easy to get beat out just by timing. Or lack of it. But the ideal thing of all to have in this type of career is a positive attitude. This trait cannot be bought but it is essential, in my opinion, to succeed. So, tenacity, fearlessness in risk taking, creativity and a positive attitude would be my answers here.

What motivates you and/or keeps you motivated?

I love waking up each day with the knowledge that when I am working on a script for example, what happens next is up to me. Every little detail, at least at inception, is from my brain.

The fun part also is that as I write or create whatever I am working on, can spin into motion something else that either allows me more work, or meeting new and exciting people. The motivation of what is around the bend is unknown but within my control, at least to some extent anyways, is just wonderful!

What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

Well, at least with working for someone else the first thing starting out is security of that paycheck. Actually, that is a constant factor. That great security blanket on the weekly or biweekly paycheck is something that is hard to wean from. But I think the major difference to me at least, is as a former nine to fiver, there was a set schedule. I still have one in a sense. Most people have work patterns but it has changed drastically over the past few years. In doing what I do, there is a freedom that comes with it. Once you get past the whole “Oh my God, I am totally responsible for the Outcome” you get a sense of freedom that is very liberating.

What has been one of your failures, and what have you learned from it?

I don’t like to think in terms of failures. But I will say that starting out I was intimidated by the thought of going into a world that was a little bit foreign for me. I didn’t jump on opportunities the way I should have and looking back there were plenty of them out there and I missed them. But with mistakes and failures, as long as we embrace them and forgive ourselves we can learn and grow from them. And especially starting out at the age that I did! I can remember asking my son (back when he was young, like ten or so) to teach me how to create a screen name on the computer. I asked him because I didn’t want to look foolish in the eyes of my peers. I have since gotten a little better about asking for help when needed. I laugh when I think back on that now. I could have a lot of I shoulda-coulda’s but I don’t beat myself up over them.

Jack Welsh once said that "An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." What are your thoughts on that quote?

As far as Jack Welsh’s statement I would have to say that I totally agree with him. It is a little different for me, seeing as for now it is just me and whomever I am working for at the time. But the essence is true. For larger companies, it can be a daunting task. I have the beauty of small size, at least for now.

Greg Norman once said that “Our success is a direct result of knowing how to market a brand and having the right people representing the brand.” What are your thoughts on what quote?

Greg Norman and I think a lot alike. I will translate it this way into how I see his statement. Celebrity endorsements for one. When I think of Ed McMahon, I think of the Publisher Clearing House and that huge check. Or how Nascar uses celebrity to promote everything from fuel to decorative plates. How about the frogs and the Budweiser beer? The genius is getting the right people or ideas branded onto what you selling. After a while, the product or concept takes a life of its own.

Albert Einstein once said “I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not accumulation of facts.” What are your thoughts on what quote?

As far as Albert Einstein is concerned, the man was a genius. I tease that he was an alien with expanded powers that few of us can comprehend. I viewed his traveling exhibition of letters, photos and ideas and works at a science museum a few years back. Unbelievable! I back him up on his statement. Sometimes you just have to pull the trigger on that idea. I cannot stress this enough. And trust. Sometimes it is inspired thought and it would be foolish not to act on it.

Excluding yours, what business or company do you admire?

As far as admiration for a business is concerned, the first one that came to mind is one started up by a girlfriend that I only met once, but am still in daily contact with thanks to the internet. I loved her personality and quick wit right off the bat. Angela Blaylock Nielsen. She is Owner and Creative director of One Lily. They are an award winning company that creates websites and has numerous website related services. She started her business from the ground up- all this with young children, a staff she hired and works with closely, and a deployed husband in the Marine Corps. I met her when she was just starting out and I knew that she was different. I was right.

What was the most crucial thing you have done to grow your business?

The Most Crucial Thing in growing my business is networking and staying on top of current events and trends. When I am not sure of something, I ask someone who knows the answer. And to be honest, sometimes you just got to fly by the seat of your pants and trust. And pray and give thanks. I do that too.

What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is just starting out?

To Those Starting out I would recommend to go with what you love. At the end of the day, doing what you love to do makes all the work and all the sacrifices worthwhile.

Company Description:

The beauty of what I do is that I can pick and choose who I want to work with, and when.

Currently I am considering buying into an already established media concern, but for now I work on my own. I write screenplays and other things associated with writing, and also am an abstract artist and beginning photographer. I came up with the name GalleryCEA which stands for Gallery Cindii Eggers Arts. It name simply means I have a gallery of things that I do and am not pegged down to any particular skill set.



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