Cindy Hersom is a seasoned Executive Assistant and Event Planner with extensive experience supporting senior executives in large corporate environments currently residing in Chicago, Illinois. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Northern Iowa and has gone on to work numerous different roles in these fields including Executive Assistant to the Chairman, Corporate Event Planner, Project Manager, Patient Coordinator, and Operations Director.

In these different roles she has mastered abilities like managing a Chairman’s’ complex and frequently changing travel arrangements and coordinating the pre-planning of trips for both business and personal, reconciling monthly expense reports, conducting research to prepare for board meetings, gathering and proofing briefing materials, agendas and decks for all executive-level meetings, researching, proposing and implementing vendor services to decrease costs to organization, database and presentation software mastery, financial management including international business; highly knowledgeable with EuroVAT, GST, and other foreign currencies, and collaborating with marketing, event services and sales teams within the company on special projects and events.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

I have started walking at least 5 miles everyday. Walking is not only a great form of exercise, but it boosts my mood, gives me higher energy, and helps me cope with stress.  I have noticed since I made the change from commuting to the office from public transit to walking is how much more motivated, I am when I arrive. My husband has noticed a big change as well when I come home. Instead of me walking in the house and complaining about my train ride, I am energized and feel great from my long walk I just completed. It also gives me my “Cindy-time” that I need to clear my head.  All in all when you exercise you feel better, you look better, you get stronger, you feel a sense of accomplishment, and that rush of endorphins has a ripple effect on everything you do. When you feel better, you feel empowered and more confident. Win-win!

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

First realize that I am unfocused and then analyze why I am feeling this way. Then I get rid of any distractions which can be as simple as turning off the ringer on my iPhone.   Sometimes I just need a quick break away from my desk to allow my mind to reset and restore my motivation. I give myself a deadline and plan a strategy on what needs to be done in order of priority. I have found that writing a to-do list and crossing off each task as it’s completed helps me maintain focus and stay organized. A clean and tidy workspace has a great way of putting my mind at ease and focus on my tasks. So, turn off your iPhone, stop trolling your ex-boyfriends Instagram, and get to work.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate?

The best advice I received after leaving college was to treat everyone with the same respect whether it is the CEO or Janitor.  Listen with curiosity, speak with candor and act with integrity.  Work really hard and be dependable. If you say you will do something, do it.  There is no script.

What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?

A balanced lifestyle helps maintain and improve my mental and physical health which is crucial for my personal growth. Striking the right balance helps me lead a happy and fulfilled life.  I have found the combination of eating healthy, staying organized and setting goals has worked well for me and my family.  While we can’t anticipate and plan for everything in our lives, we can decide how, where, and when to concentrate our energies. You only get one life, and you’re free to live it how you please. Just know that you can be both successful and happy!  “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony” Thomas Merton

Who  has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

My father has been the biggest influence in my life. I always looked him to him growing up. He started his own company 59 years ago and still to this day at 78 years old works 60+ hours a week. He took his passion and turned it into a family business that we can all be proud of. He taught me the importance of hard work and the only way to achieve my personal goals is through discipline, dedication, and determination.

What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?

You have to be patient in your life. Patience is one of the keys to success and people who cannot afford to wait should not expect better results. As a society we benefit from recognizing that some things are worth waiting for.  “Greatness takes time. Just remember it takes 13 hours to build a Toyota but 6 months to build a Rolls Royce”  In the past this was something I had struggled with both professionally and personally  but through focus, discipline and determination I now realize the importance. A popular Chinese proverb stated “ One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life”

What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?

Be willing to work hard.  True success comes from work. You will never become successful if you don’t work towards your goals in life and keep working towards it.  “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” I learned this at a young age still to this day am very appreciative my hard work ethic was instilled in me from day 1. You need to be willing to work as hard as you need to in order to realize your vision. When your vision drives you forward, it won’t feel like work. I once had a boss tell me “Successful people don’t wait for things to happen, they make things happen. “

How do you stay motivated?

Always have long term and short-term goals. Stay optimistic and commit to the end goal. Surround yourself with like-minded people and establish a personal reward system. I complete the tasks I dislike the most first to get those out of the way and I identify my most productive time of the day and prioritize my tasks accordingly.  Self motivation is one of the hardest skills to learn, but it’s critical to your success. Staying motivated is always in my reach it’s often about just about keeping my end goal in mind and breaking down the larger end result into manageable smaller steps. Motivation is something that we must recreate on a daily basis. Without learning how to stay motivated, we can get stuck and stay in one place for way too long.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” Pablo Picasso

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

I have worked with all types of personalities and feel what makes me stand out is my ability to “read the room” I have consistently earned the respect of others I have come across meeting and am known as the “ice breaker”. I can easily start conversations when those awkward silences occur during a business lunch or event.  I feel this talent is from the combination of my skills, experience, and personality traits. I learned to research people before I meet them to see what I may have in common with them that could be a good conversation starter. I understand their personality styles and adapt. I greet those I meet with a warm manner-firm but caring projecting confidence. I engage those I meet as if they are the only people in the room without being rude to those around us. Lastly, I am always humble, I use my words and manners to lift up others above myself.