My number one strategy is to treat the people that follow me as family. It is so important for them to understand how important they are to me and my growth so they want to continue being a part of my journey. From there, it progresses naturally. The energy you put out on social media is so infectious that people will be naturally drawn in if you’re pushing positivity and the feeling of community and inclusion.

We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?

In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy Prado.

One of today’s most recognizable internet entrepreneurs and media personalities, Cindy Prado is an innovator in the influencer space. Since her TV debut, Prado has established herself as an exceptional international brand, businesswoman, health and wellness leader, fitness entrepreneur, model, and influencer. Prado began her career as a model and has participated in different campaigns across the globe. As of today, the social media sweetheart has over 3 million followers across all of her social media platforms, amplifying her voice to inspire, empower and create a lasting positive impact.

Always attuned to emerging opportunities, Prado continuously strengthens her brand and advocacy with a global focus and remains true to her goal of empowering and inspiring future generations.

Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?

Thank you for having me! I have been a performer my entire life, whether I was putting on little talent shows when I was a child to dancing in high school, or even doing photoshoots with just my parents, the performer in me was always there. Once I was old enough, I was able to get more into modeling, but I quickly realized how difficult it was to get signed by an agency at the time if you weren’t 5’10”. At that point, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Thankfully, that happened to be the same time Instagram started blowing up, so I figured that if I’m not going to get signed by an agency, I am going to take on modeling on Instagram. I started taking my own photos, was funding my own wardrobe for my “shoots,” paying out of pocket for photographers — I just had to do what it took to make it happen. Little by little, I finally started taking off!

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?

“Enjoy the journey” is my life motto — sometimes we focus way too much on how to get to the next place in our lives and forget to enjoy where we are in the moment. At the beginning of my career, I was under a lot of stress trying to figure out if this was what I should pursue or if I should just get a regular job, but I decided to enjoy the journey and see where it would take me, which has led to a lot of growth for me.

This has also really helped me now in my career because one of the reasons I have attracted my audience is through the positivity I put out and they enjoy being along on my journey with me. I hope they can resonate with my messages, and I can positively impact their journeys too!

We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?

First and foremost, I always want to push for everyone to have a positive outlook on each day. They say a smile is contagious, and I want to make positivity contagious through the screen, even if it is just by showing my morning routine videos of dancing in the mirror.

I also understand the power of my platform, and I like to use it as a space to allow people to be vulnerable and not just as a modeling platform. I enjoy connecting people with the brands that I work with for there to be a stronger relationship than just brand to consumer. I have been very fortunate to partner with incredible brands, including Cerebral, a virtual mental health care program. I look forward to using this opportunity to bring my followers, friends, and family to resources that can strengthen their well-being and shine a light on the importance of positive mental health.

Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?

Just be yourself! Don’t try to promote something you’re not. I have attracted my audience by being my most authentic and organic self in front of and behind the camera. It is one thing to be another Instagram model promoting fashion brands, but to cultivate an engaging audience, you need to show your true personality and who you really are.

Many women go into this industry wanting to build a career in social media and think that their pages need to look like a highlight reel of their shiny, polished lives, which doesn’t show people the real you.

Another piece of advice is to keep the people in your life close to you. As my career has developed, I have been able to work closely with many of my friends and family, not only helping us all grow, but allowing us to show our most organic selves on our platforms. It’s so important to want to collaborate because it’s not a competition — there is enough success, brands, and deals to go around. You will start to see a difference because you will all be succeeding, feeding off each other, and it’s so much more fun!

Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?

I measure success by my mindset — it doesn’t matter how many brand deals I have or Instagram likes I get if I look around and am not happy. When I love my life, am doing well in my career, my relationships are good, I’m healthy, I feel successful because my mindset is positive and happy.

I also find success in the constant state of discomfort. I enjoy pushing myself in my work even when I hit a career-high, my next thought is always, “what next.” I seek the next level of opportunities and always want to push for more. If I am constantly feeling comfortable, then I’m not growing or challenging myself, which is a position I never want to settle in. As long as I am happy and pushing myself, I am achieving success.

What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?

Having a healthy work-life balance is super important because, without a healthy life and healthy relationships, you can’t put your best self into your career. I have the ability to hybrid my work and relationships by bringing my friends and family into my career life and creating not just strong relationships but friendships with the brands and individuals that I work with as well. I am very blessed to be able to do this because it benefits everyone and makes my job that much more enjoyable.

How do you reduce or mitigate stress?

The best way for me to reduce stress is to write everything down. Whenever I’m stressed and have so many ideas, deadlines, or to-dos, I get flustered and am unsure about what steps I need to take next. So I write it all down and create a plan of action to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel haha!

Thankfully I have an incredible team that knows me SO well and can tell when I’m stressed, even through a simple text. I tend to overwhelm myself because I need everything to be perfect, and I want to do right by the brands I work with. Knowing that I have a team that has my back and will support me any way they can give me that instant relief and confidence I need to push through any obstacle.

It is also essential to always maintain a healthy balance of work and play in my life. Being able to step away from my work and enjoy time with family and friends helps mitigate the stress of my career and allows me to enjoy life to the fullest.

I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What is your number one strategy to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example.

My number one strategy is to treat the people that follow me as family. It is so important for them to understand how important they are to me and my growth so they want to continue being a part of my journey. From there, it progresses naturally. The energy you put out on social media is so infectious that people will be naturally drawn in if you’re pushing positivity and the feeling of community and inclusion.

What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?

My followers are incredibly important to me, and I always want them to understand how important they are by giving back as much as possible. One example was a giveaway I used to do every Monday; I paid for the coffee of the first 100 followers that responded to my story. It was a simple way to say thank you for all of your support, and I want to show you that I appreciate you as well. I really saw the impact it made on many of my followers as it created that sense of community and built a relationship between myself and them. Anything I can do to show them I appreciate them, I want to do.

With the Prado program (my online fitness program), we have an online community where any member has access to me, and we can all share our motivations, our growth, mental health check-ins, and have discussions about maintaining a positive mindset. I even get to share with them my own rituals that I do to practice positive mental health. Providing that window into my own life, I think, is really important as I want to be as open and transparent with them as possible, especially when we need to be empowering one another.

Also, I take great pride in my heritage, where I came from, and how that has shaped me into the woman I am today. My goal is for other girls and women to be able to resonate with my stories and gain confidence in themselves and even feel inspired to share their own backgrounds and experiences.

Women in this industry is another significant community to me as we need to protect one another from bad situations that arise within social media and entertainment in general. Again, I am extremely blessed to have such an incredible team that prioritizes and genuinely cares about my safety and well-being, which has allowed me to help other women find safety in this male-dominated industry. By building this community, we can support one another through the bad and raise each other up during the good!

As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

An idea I’ve always had is morning dance videos! I think it would be amazing to start a movement that encourages people around the world to get up in the morning and just dance. People would start their days on a more positive note, which would lead to more acts of kindness throughout the day.

I have also been given the opportunity to use my influence for philanthropic purposes. One opportunity I am excited about is partnering with the Miami Heat Cheer and Dance team to help empower other women in finding themselves through social media. I hope that this can cause a trickle effect and give women the confidence they need to find self-love in this dark, male-dominated world.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂

I would love to grab lunch with one of my idols, Amal Clooney! She is a huge inspiration to me as an intelligent woman using her voice to fight for social justices and is someone I strive to be like every day. I would ask her about how I can make my own lasting positive impression on this world. My goal in life is to touch as many people as I can and I would love her insight on how I can make that possible.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

You can find me on Instagram and TikTok @cindyprado and I hope I can make a positive impact on you through my platforms all as well!

Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!