By Olivia Schneider
Cindy Marshall, CEO of SHINE Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at the Annie Selke Companies, has deep roots in the creative and marketing industry. She began her career spending five years in publishing and ten years in the catalogue and retail space working for the likes of J.Jill, Appleseed, L.L. Bean, and Freeport Studios, before moving into the digital sector in early 2000 working for brands like Ross-Simons, The Vermont Country Store, and Performance Bicycle. She is a featured speaker at the 2018 DLE Gen Now Retreat.
Amidst a successful career, she was stunned to wake up one day in 2011 with breast cancer. At the time, she made what she calls a “bad career move” and was happy to prioritize her health and positivity. Three months into treatment, thanks to years of networking, National Geographic reached out to her about a three-month consulting gig. Three months later, she had beaten her cancer and that three-month contract turned into three and a half years and Cindy’s consulting business, SHINE Strategy, was born. Cindy’s business continues to thrive because of her contagious and positive spirit, her dedication to networking, and these best practices that set her up for success.
Here, Cindy—a keynote speaker at the 2018 Gen Now Retreat–shares her tips for developing your personal brand.
1. Put yourself first.
“Putting yourself first without losing your leadership style to me is critical,” Cindy says. “Some people put themselves first but in an egotistical way and they’re not fun to be around. I’m always fun to be around and I treat the janitor the same way I treat the CEO.”
2. Always return a phone call or email.
Cindy says because of her vast network, she gets a lot of messages. But respect is one of her core values.
“People know I expect results, but I think people deserve respect,” she says. “You get what you give. My brand has developed because I networked and stayed in touch with folks.” Notecards go a long way, she says. “It’s something as simple as that.”
3. Be positive.
SHINE Strategy was a direct result of Cindy’s positivity during her encounter with breast cancer. “My happy place was a field of sunflowers. In my past I was taking care of everyone else, so my big message is to put your oxygen mask on first before you help others.”
4. Be passionate.
Before Cindy became sick, she says she made a bad career move. Half way through her chemotherapy treatment she left that company and decided it was time to focus on beating her disease. It was during that time that she began working with National Geographic, as a contracted consultant. She realized where her passion was and decided to do what she loved — helping people and businesses shine.
“That was the biggest turning point in my whole life. Your career is important, but don’t stay in a position or company that you are not passionate about. You have to do what you’re passionate about!”
5. Stay involved.
Networking has played a powerful role in Cindy’s life and career. Under her SHINE brand Cindy has worked with brands like Pac Sun, Hanes, Brooks Brothers, and Orvis. “It was all because I’d networked and because I’ve been honest in everything I do.”
She says she has continued to stay authentic in her branding because she is constantly speaking up, constantly networking and volunteering for industry events.
“I was able to drive the success of businesses because I constantly communicated to my internal and external teams, and I knew the vendors and played hardball, but I was also a fair partner,” she says. “I built positive relationships with the vendors which is just as important as the parent company you work for.”
6. Get into a routine.
Cindy says she practices yoga three to four times a week and stretches every morning. “It grounds me and helps me focus on my work,” she says.
Time management is another of Cindy’s systems that allow her to work successfully with several companies at once. She always keeps a to-do list for every company and how much time she can dedicate to each one per week, along with a personal to-do list.