Catch Cynthia Ferngren on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns 0:15
It's beautiful day for a #PirateBroadcast™. And we have Cynthia in the room another pirate. Whoo. Welcome to the party.
Cynthia Ferngren 0:29
I'm glad to be here. I was actually gonna try to see if I could find my eyepatch.
Russ Johns 0:35
I'll have to send you an eyepatch. So, we were chatting away, just walking through the park and just having a great old time. And then next thing you know, it's like, I guess I should probably turn this on and get going here today. So thanks so much.
Cynthia Ferngren 0:55
Yeah, you know, I mean, if there's one thing I can do is chat.
Russ Johns 1:01
Well, you know, we covered a lot of ground before the show, and I want to share it with the pirates. You know, the #PirateSyndicate™ and the #PirateBroadcast™ is, we're all about the community, I've been actually doing recordings for some of the individuals and a five minute follow up that I'm going to be producing some additional content. So I look forward to that and highlighting individuals like yourself, Cynthia, is what I love to do every morning, I get up and do the show. And it's really about sharing some inspirational and motivational and some things that people can say, Wow, that is awesome. I never knew that. Or I didn't really realize what was going on. And I know you have a lot of experience in the marketing and the media, and we're talking about some of those things. However, I know that there's, like we we're alluding to is there's a lot of life lessons that we can learn just from everyday experience.
Cynthia Ferngren 1:56
I totally agree. Yeah, you know, so one of the things that about... I guess it was 10 years...so I'm originally, I live in California now. But I was originally from New York, and I spent my entire career in corporate working for big advertising agencies working like 80 hours a week for big brands, big companies, lots of energy. And I kept thinking that once I get to the next level, then I'll be happy. Right. And then I kept climbing...
Russ Johns 2:31
The lies we tell ourselves.
Cynthia Ferngren 2:32
Yeah. And then I got to the top of it. And I was miserable. And I was looking at a blank PowerPoint slide, I was working on a new business pitch. And I was supposed to put together like a montage of photos from my personal life. And I was staring at this blank PowerPoint slide. And I realized I had nothing to put on it. Because my entire life was consumed about climbing up this corporate ladder, and I got to the top and then I was like, God, I have no hobbies and no passions and no interests. And all I could have talked to you about at that time was work. I was really good at that. And so I, I quit. I quit my job and sold my house and basically sold everything I owned and came out here with seven suitcases to California with a mission of finding my passion. And you know, everybody's just so focused these days on what's your why and finding what your purpose is, and purpose driven businesses. And I always like to tell people, and a lot of times I work with entrepreneurs that are trying to figure it out. Yeah, before you can figure out what your purpose is, you have to figure out what your passion is. And like the difference between passion and purpose is that passion is something that you do to fill your own soul. And a purpose is something that you do to fill somebody else's. And so...
Russ Johns 3:55
You know, Viktor Frankl alluded to this idea that you have to find meaning, you know, what's the meaning in life and alludes to the purpose of life and is like, why am I here? You know, I'm here for a reason. What is that reason?
Cynthia Ferngren 4:16
Yeah. So, I came out to California, and I started, you know, checking things off the box and boxes off, you know, doing all sorts of crazy stuff and failing a lot and learning that's okay, and that you don't have to be the best and that you have fun. And yeah, there's a lot that I've sort of learned through just everyday life experiences. And like allowing myself to kind of open up and embrace the idea of just saying, coming from a place of Yes, all the time and just trying different things. Yeah.
Russ Johns 4:54
Cynthia Ferngren 4:56
Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Russ Johns 4:58
I love the idea and the concept that you....so now at this point in your life, you have a huge volume and portfolio of work and experience. And now you're working on your own experience, your life experience, and where those two merge, kind of bring a new dimension, entirely new dimension in your world.
Cynthia Ferngren 5:24
Russ Johns 5:26
So is that something that you're excited about? Or are you still exploring to find what is exciting for Cynthia?
Cynthia Ferngren 5:38
No, I definitely feel like I found my calling. I started CFC Cynthia for consulting about...
Russ Johns 5:51
I love your website, by the way.
Cynthia Ferngren 5:52
Oh, thank you. About six years ago, it actually started out, it's funny, I started it actually, as a digital marketing agency with two partners and learned a lot of lessons through that. And that was, it was a huge failure. Let's just say that.
Russ Johns 6:10
Partners will always teach you a lesson.
Cynthia Ferngren 6:12
Yeah, you know, but that was okay. Failures are okay. Because I learned a lot. I learned a lot through the experience of starting something, I learned the importance of picking the right partners, I learned the importance of picking the right business and creating a business about something that you yourself are really good at what your superpower is. And at the time, I think I was kind of still figuring it out. And through that experience, what I realized is that starting businesses, business strategy, branding, storytelling, are all things that I'm really passionate about and being really good at. And so I ended up pivoting and starting my own firm. And so now I'm an outsourced cmo. And I work with companies all around the world, to start, grow and scale their business. So a lot of times companies, I work with companies, really at all different stages, but most of the time people come to me at the point where they have an idea. And they need help. They say, okay, I want to start this business, like what do we do. And so then I'll basically come in and help them from everything with finding the right manufacturer to figuring out from a team perspective, who's going to be needed to be able to scale it at different stages from business planning, and seeking, helping them get funding if that's needed, to then helping them create the brand story, and the marketing stuff. And a lot of that within what makes... we were talking about this a little bit before, like what makes my process I think a little bit different than a lot of other marketing gurus that are out there is that I really start with market research. You know, most startups fail because they start a company that's based on an idea that they've already fallen in love with. And they kind of get blinders on and tunnel vision. And they don't do the due diligence to figure out whether there really is a market need, what the market need is, and who the right audience is, like, a lot of times people will come to me thinking that, oh, I want to target a certain segment of people. And then once I do the research, I find out that they really do have something there, but that if they're targeting the wrong people, you know, or the markets really saturated. So, you know, if we pivot your idea a little bit, then it will create a bigger opportunity. So those are all things that kind of come out through the research.
Russ Johns 8:55
It's kind of reverse engineering, uh, you know, and don't call my baby ugly, please. Yeah, it's like, I've worked so hard for this thing. And like we were talking about before the show is the idea that you can be passionate about what you're doing, and also open for some outside perspective because a lot of times we're blind to see what the obstacles that are right in front of us. And so having someone like yourself is really a powerful thing to have someone that has a large volume of experience in different arenas that can actually see it plain as day you walk in, you say okay, well, you're not talking to the right people because, you know, the people that you really need to be talking to are a B and C. And that only comes, a lot of that, in my opinion, maybe you can correct me is a lot of that has to do with experience. The way that you go about researching the audience. A lot of people nowadays they could do a Facebook ad and they say, they throw up 600 ads, and then they find out which ad works. And there's lots of different processes. But at the end of the day, it's really about how can you find someone with the experience like yourself to really understand what the market is doing every single day?
Cynthia Ferngren 10:29
Yeah, I think that's a really good point. So a lot of people get hung up on like quantitative data now, because it's so easy to access, like through a Facebook ad or something like that. And when I go into a research project, you know, the quantitative data is always really important. And that's a part of it. But the qualitative data is just as important. Like, I'll give you an example, I was working with a company from Europe, and they had an art supply business. That was, that had been around for a couple of years, and they had done pretty well, but they were looking to scale it. And they were trying to figure out, like, why they couldn't get to the next level. So I did all this audience research. And as you can see, I like to pretend I'm an artist back there.
Russ Johns 11:23
I love your work.
Cynthia Ferngren 11:24
Yeah, it's award winning. And so, I did a lot of research, when what I uncovered that would not have been uncovered in quantitative by talking to the artists are more of the emotional insights that like, those are things that you need to actually talk to human beings about, I think we get so plugged in, and so dialed into the matrix that, you know, you kind of think like, technology, you get so focused on that, especially as marketers because it can do so much for us. But there's nothing more powerful than just sitting with people and talking to them about their lives. So with the artists, what I ended up uncovering was that artists that were professional artists that sold their work, would never buy art products online, because going to the actual brick and mortar store is part of the actual creative process. It's the beginning of their painting. So touching and feeling the paint, you know, looking at the colors, like that's part of their brainstorming process when they go to start a painting that never would have come out in a quantitative study, I would never have uncovered that, you know. And so what we realized through all of that research was that they were actually targeting, they thought their audience was professional artists, because they had these high quality products, when in fact that the professional artists didn't see their products as high quality. They saw them as average. And that the audience that really was really excited about their products was someone that was more of a hobbyist. You know, that didn't want to pay a ton of money for it, but really enjoyed painting on a regular basis. And, you know, wanted some decent brushes and paints to play with so that was more their audience. So it was really interesting, but I never would have uncovered that...
Russ Johns 13:41
without talking to actual artists.
Cynthia Ferngren 13:42
Yeah, yeah, you know, and then you start to see the patterns. You know, and it's just really interesting. When you get to do that type of research, I've done research with all different types of people, did research with tarot card readers, ones like that was crazy. Yeah. And like, you know, I started to do this research and realized how much history is involved in tarot cards. I had no idea that there's these really famous artists that I like, and like there's a whole history to it.
The illustration behind that is amazing.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So like, that's one of the things I think that I'm most passionate about. What I do is that I get to talk to lots of different people and learn not just about all sorts of different topics, but about different people because I work with companies all around the world. So I've worked with companies in Dubai and companies in New Zealand and Australia and India. And, you know, I think it's really taught me a lot just about human beings and how much at the end of the day we really all have in common. I mean, at the end of the day, all of these people that are trying to start businesses, they all do it for the same reasons because they want to provide a certain amount of financial support to their family? Because they want to be able to spend more time with their kids? I mean, they all do it for the same reasons. And so you start to realize that, you know, at the end of the day, we kind of really are all the same.
Russ Johns 15:17
Yeah, we are. It's, you know, one of the things is, kind of struck a chord when we were talking is, that's a lot of the same reasons that I do the #PirateBroadcast™. Yeah, I get to talk with so many different individuals at all levels, you know, from CEOs to CMOS to, you know, somebody doing yoga, and I've had, you know, just crazy individuals just doing some amazing work out there. And ultimately, we all have this desire to find the freedom of expression and find a little bit of support out in the market, either for us or for others. And it's this theme. And one of the things that I used to love is the curiosity I had, you know, you go down in industrial district, and you see these buildings with logos on them, you think, well, what do they do? How do they make stuff? Or how do they produce? How did they make money? What did they make? You know, and I always found it fascinating. It's like, I just want to ask questions and talk to people like that. And so the #PirateBroadcast™ kind of evolved. And I love the opportunity we have now where I could connect with people all over the world, where five years ago, it was a different type of experience. And now we have this experience where we can actually... you are the media, you have a message, you have a gift, you have the opportunity to share that gift. And if I can help people produce that result and share this story. It's a really amazing experience to go through.
Cynthia Ferngren 17:01
Yeah, I mean, I think the same thing, you know, one of the things I I'm really passionate about is about the storytelling part of the brand, when we're creating it. And what I've realized when I start working with people is that most of the time, just because life can beat you down, they come to me, and they're really closed off, like when it comes. So they're free to really be able to be vulnerable, you know, so one of the things that I like to do is to create a safe space, where they can come to me with the craziest idea. And I say, well, why not? Like why not do that? Why can't we figure out how to make it work?
Russ Johns 17:45
I'm almost afraid to put it out because it might be heard. It could be a crazy idea.
Cynthia Ferngren 17:50
Right. Why not? Yeah.
Russ Johns 17:51
It's my inside voice talking.
Cynthia Ferngren 17:53
So I do all sorts of exercises with them with the purpose of really being able to create a space where they can feel safe to be vulnerable, because it's in those vulnerable moments that you can a come up with an idea that's really cool. You know, it's this idea of like, in order to be curious, I love that word that you just said, like you actually have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. And try something different. And you know, part of like, when you think about brands that are really successful, that tell really good stories. It all comes from a place of really connecting emotionally, you know, and talking to their audience, about something that triggers something. I always think of Nike when I think of really great storytelling, because they never mentioned sneakers, like anything they do. They've never mentioned sneakers once, right? Like, it's all about, like, get up at 5am you know, you can do it, you can run the marathon, you can jump the hurdle, you can conquer hills, right?
Russ Johns 19:00
And get up halfway and know...
Cynthia Ferngren 19:03
Yeah. Exactly. So, you know, I just I feel that trying to help, the only way to get to a place where you're telling stories like Nike is to start with the folks that are at the company to be able to get out of their shell. And to get out of the safe space. Everybody wants to play it safe. Nobody wants to be a risk taker or do something different or bold, you know. So the ones that do it well, I think....sorry go ahead.
Russ Johns 19:36
No, I was gonna say it's really hard for a lot of people to be vulnerable. It's not an easy place to be. However, you do have to be open to understanding because Howard Kaufman is in the room, he brought up a good point, you have to balance the analysis, paralysis of the spreadsheet or the Google Analytics, learning that the Leo Burnett model of figuring The combination of functional benefits and emotional benefits is the key.
Cynthia Ferngren 20:04
Yes, yes, Howard, I totally agree with you. In fact, I do a lot of the exercises that I do with my clients is based on Leo Burnett, and really doing a lot of work to get to what their purpose is. And in order to do that, you kind of have to go through the ladder of getting to the emotional stuff, you know, everybody wants to play it safe and they want to focus on their product and all of the little things, you know, like, oh, we have to make sure that we talk about the fact that it's got X, Y, and Z, when like, what you really want to do is shift the focus, and start to talk about how the product is going to make them feel how it's going to serve a need, how it's going to make them feel better about their life.
Russ Johns 20:55
Absolutely. I want to give a shout out to a couple of people, a couple of pirate friends in here. Nick Gemmell. Hey, pirates. Nick is an entrepreneur and up in Canada, that's helping individuals in the oil and gas industry get through some of the challenges that are, you know, being out away from your family, staying healthy, making sure that you have a good mindset and some things that are going on in that arena. Silver fox talks, Darlene is in Florida helping out individuals find employment and jobs and some of the things Hi, Russ, Good morning. Hello, Cynthia. So the pirates here in the house. Laurie, Laurie J. Scott. Hey, pirates? How are you doing Laurie? Love this. And then Michael, Michael Hubicki, he has thriving mayors, he's actually helping mayors become much more focused on the environment, sustainability and how to maintain some of the things that that an elected official has to do in their career. And vulnerability is catchy and contagious. So then Russ Hedge from Oregon, he's out here, he just launched a book. So he's out. He's in the pirate community doing great things. Actually, he just launched a podcast that he and I were on. One of his podcasts was launched yesterday. So it's fantastic. Great. So all kinds of people come to the #PirateBroadcast™ looking for #inspiration, and some #motivation is like, how do I get unstuck here, you know? And it's all about, I think it goes back, Cynthia to conversation that is honest and open, and having the ability to listen and learn. Yeah, it's so important.
Cynthia Ferngren 22:56
I agree. I think the other thing, we talked a little bit about this, like at the start, one of the things I think I've taken away from COVID is the importance of also being able to not beat yourself down in your own head, you know, like, we can all be like so great to other people. And then we can be our own worst critic and own, like so hard on ourselves. And sometimes ideas that you have, like, don't even get started because you kill it before you even start working on it. You're like, Oh, God, who's gonna listen to that? Or, you know, why should I start a podcast? I don't have any follower, like, you know, you can kind of get it. So one of the things that I started kind of working on was like, projects where I was, like, well, why not? You know, it's like, I've always liked painting, I'm horrible, but like, well, why not, you know, put some music on and why not, you know, like, just to try some different things. And you know, out of it, I've ended up gaining some new hobbies, I started powerlifting, I started hiking, and you know, I started doing some other things. But a lot of that kind of translates into business to looking at a situation and coming from a place of really knowing that you can figure it out and trusting in yourself and not getting so caught in your head that you kind of psych yourself out of it before you even start to try.
Russ Johns 24:30
Do you have any heroes that you look up to and that inspire you? Besides yourself?
Cynthia Ferngren 24:38
Yeah, besides myself? Yeah, I have a ton of heroes. You know, a lot of the people that I would say are my heroes are people that along the way, were people that were doing amazing. I have a lot of strong women from the ad business that Iook at and admire, because they were fearless. And they were not just walking the walk, but change makers and trying to not just in business, but in life. You know, I have some folks that are mentors that we're about trying to get policies changed. And we're sort of on the same track as, like a Gloria Steinem, who I think is really amazing, not being afraid to speak up and challenge the status quo. And the thing that, you know, some of these women I really just admire so much in that, especially in my very early days, they saw spark in me, you know, and were the ones that like, looked at me and said, you know what? You can do this. We can see it, and I've always tried to take that same lesson and pay it forward, because I remember the days where I didn't believe in myself, and I so deeply wanted to know that I was on the right track, or that I was smart enough or good enough to, to be in the room, to be able to hold space in a room about some big brand. And it can be really intimidating when you're just starting out in your career. And I remembered how important it was in my life at that time to have folks that were at the top of their game, and to just take a moment and acknowledge and say, good for you, you can do this, or that was a good job and how much it meant to me for them to sort of see the potential in me and a lot of the those little moments like carry me through and like have been able to kind of get me to where I am today. I'm just having some of those really strong women from my early days.
Russ Johns 27:00
Cynthia Ferngren 27:01
Russ Johns 27:03
Gabe is a another pirate, amazing pirate, doing some amazing things in his live stream. He does live stream at the other end of the day, opposed to mine and he says the whole month of highlighting incredible women, doing amazing things in January, right? So he's got that going on. And he says, love your message, Cynthia.
Cynthia Ferngren 27:26
Ah, thank you.
Russ Johns 27:28
You know, it's really that moment when you're in a room and you're looking at the people around you, and you're thinking, wow, give yourself some credit, you're here with some amazing individuals doing some incredible work. And that has to be like an epiphany where you say,not necessarily that you've made it; however, you kind of design your outcome in a way that you're playing on the team, you know, you're doing some great work, and you're doing some things. And that's one side of the equation. And then now you're giving back, you're identifying, you're taking those lessons that experience and giving it back to the startup community for the next generation of amazing companies. And I see that cycle. And it's so amazing to watch people that have had the experience and been on the journey, and decided made a decision to say, you know, I'm going to try something else, which is a huge jump, you know, it's a leap of, like, what's the uncertain. And so, taking that leap, and that jump and taking off like that, and, you know, going from New York to to California is is a huge leap. And so yes, looking back on that any life lessons, any kind of experience that would make recommendations for for other people, you can inspire people today?
Cynthia Ferngren 29:04
Yeah, there's so many. One I think, you know, Marie Forleo, she's got a saying that everything is figureoutable. And I love that saying, because I think that's really one of the biggest things that I learned through the journey is that there isn't really anything that you can ever not figure out. And so I think one of the biggest lessons I learned is that really the only thing that really is failure is when you stop trying, and that, you know, you may start a company or you know, move across the country and hey, maybe I don't like it. Okay, well, I don't have to stay. I can move someplace else. Like there's always, you can always pivot. And so you know, I think sometimes we get so hung up on trying something, taking the risk, taking the jump off because we're afraid. Well, what if we don't? What if we don't catch the other trapeze bar? Like, once we leave off, you know, and I've kind of learned that, like, a lot of times, it's the anticipation of the jump. It's the anticipation of it all that is the scariest part that once you jump, a lot of times you think you're gonna fall, like 30 feet, and you only fall three, you know, and so, you know, it's, I think it's like a muscle, like, once you start taking risks, then you get kind of hooked on it. And you're like, okay, what's next? What's next? So now I don't have a problem with it. Just saying, I'm all in, let's go. Let's try it, you know, because I'm not afraid to fail anymore. And I think that's one of the best gifts that I got out of starting my own business is the belief in myself, like, I have a tremendous belief in myself and knowing that I might not always be doing what I'm doing now. But I'll always be doing something. And I'll always be doing something creative. And I'll always be okay. And I think when you're in corporate, you can get so focused on the next meeting and all the stuff that goes with corporate, that you don't even really get to focus on your own journey. And, you know, it ends up becoming... I know I felt like it was very soul sucking. You know, I was so focused on building some big company, I never really even got a chance to think about what do I even like? What am I even passionate about? What do I even want to take a risk on? I didn't even know.
Russ Johns 31:44
Yeah, yeah. Who am I?
Cynthia Ferngren 31:47
Yeah, I had no idea.
Russ Johns 31:48
Yeah. So I'm thankful that you're on a journey to learn that lesson and know who you are. So it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for being here.
Cynthia Ferngren 31:58
It's been so great.
Russ Johns 31:59
It's awesome. I think we have more conversations along the way. Gabe says, I should reach out to one of my roundtables will be on women's social media marketing. I'd love to have you on. And Laurie seconded the motion said, Gabe. that sounds like a wise idea. Cynthia's is well spoken.
Cynthia Ferngren 32:18
Russ Johns 32:19
Yeah. So and Michael, he became you started nontoxic neighborhoods. So this is the kind of information Cynthia that is in the pirate community. You know, we're all out there to help each other out and generate conversations and learn more about what we're doing in the world. And I would love,love, love, love if everybody would subscribe to the YouTube channel and follow the podcast and maybe give a review. Five stars are okay. It's awesome to do that, and help me out. Keep me going. And, Cynthia, as always, it's such a wonderful pleasure to have conversation with people like yourself and doing great things out there. And if there's anything I can do to add value to your day, please reach out. Let me know.
Cynthia Ferngren 33:06
Thank you so much. I'm so glad to be able to be a part of it. It was so fun talking to you.
Russ Johns 33:11
Yeah, well, it's not over. So don't go away. Everyone, as you know, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree, we'll be back next week with another group of amazing individuals talking about the community, what they're up to, why they're doing it. And so stay in touch, stay in tune, be well, and you #enjoytheday. Take care.
Thank you for joining the #PirateBroadcast™. If you found this content valuable, please like, comment and share it across your social media channels. I would love the opportunity to help others grow in their business. The #PirateSyndicate ™ is a platform where you show up, we produce the show. It's that easy. If you want to be seen, be heard and be talked about, join the #PirateSyndicate™ today.
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