When you talk to Cynthia Borrelli you are definitely being listened to. There are times when you are talking to someone and you can tell they are just waiting for their moment to speak. It's in their eyes, their mannerisms and their inevitable inability to repeat the important points you made. Cynthia is an active listener. Her eyes are focused, she leans forward and I have no doubt she can recount every major point I made when we talked. She is keenly intelligent, tossing out well-timed and poignant observations as easily as you might say your name. I didn't even notice we had spent two hours together until the end of the time came.
Both Cynthia and I are entrepreneurs, out in the wild making things work. We both came from previous work experiences where we were not happy. For her, it was a hostile space, not specifically targeted at her but nonetheless hostile for her to be in. I have had similar experiences. She broke the cycle of "wash, rinse, repeat," as she says, and now works with companies to help them avoid that same kind of hostile environment. She is knowledgeable and passionate, a true guru of culture and the workplace. I thought I knew a lot about those things and then I met her.
It's that departure from work, that decision to pursue something you are passionate about with nothing more than a determination to make it work and an ability to learn, that forms the basis for our connection. Our dreams are different, but there is a bond in that bravery to move on. She's been at it longer than I have, hustling and grinding through the day. There is pure joy when she talks about it. Cynthia tells me about getting rid of nonessentials in order to stretch a nest egg out longer with a divine smile and I find myself already sorting items in my head that I can cut out so I can know that kind of peace as well, so I can have that smile.
In case you haven't noticed, Cynthia Borrelli is a badass.
A major part of our conversation focuses on breaking cycles, and why people continue on paths that are making them miserable rather than pursue things that will make them happy. We all know the answer, deep down, is fear. What would you do if you could do whatever you want? Who would tell you what to do? Are you talented enough? Can you work hard enough? A million of these questions run through everyone's mind as they ponder whether or not they should leave a job they are unhappy with. Cynthia felt the same way. I did too.
"I was scared shitless."
That's a direct quote about how she felt right after leaving a job where she was miserable. It is what I felt after I did the same thing. We are battle buddies, hardened in the fires of the inevitable "what the hell do I do now" moment.
Happiness is the most accurate measure of success, not money or property. It is how much you love each and every day, how much you love what you are doing and what satisfaction you pull out of the day. That is not just your job, but your relationships too. Cynthia and I are both people who love to connect. We treasure our relationships. You never know who will have an impact on you. You never know when your last cup of coffee will be. Why would you not connect with people?
Day after day, we often find ourselves driving forward with our goals, whatever they may be. We are up front, direct and charging forward towards what we want. There are defined numbers we need, and we aim to hit them. For many of us, this is the grind. We live by it so we can succeed. I did it too. The problem often is that we become so focused on those numbers, those goals, we often forget the best parts of life, the people and the moments that can so easily pass us by and often can't be captured again.
This is my biggest takeaway from my time with Cynthia. That the successful life is the happy life. That every conversation over coffee can be amazing. Listening to her talk I can't wait for our next conversation.
Cynthia is a badass.
Favorite Animal: Monkeys
Why: They are the most human, they problem solve and they show emotions. They are also funny as hell.