Soft skills – those more interpersonal attributes that greatly impact our interactions, relationships and communications – are as vital as ever and very often determine our professional success.
Former North Royalton resident Cindy Smith is an expert on that topic and many others business leaders face on a minute-by-minute basis. Smith will kick off the 2019 Chamber of Commerce Luncheon series with a Jan. 16th presentation discussing and providing applicable tips for building resiliency and better management of stress and personal energy – all soft skills that can be hard to get a handle on.
“Many of us will start an exercise program in the new year and everyone wants to build muscle and strength,” Smith said. “We can think of mental challenges as mental workouts. Instead of trying to run away from those things that stress us out, we can use them as a catalyst to build emotional and mental muscle. We can use it as a catalyst for growth.”
After working 20 years for the Allstate Insurance Company as a senior learning and development consultant, Smith took over the role of a retiring colleague and one she had always admired – Director of the Cleveland Region for the Institute for Management Studies, an organization dedicated to helping leaders become more effective and improve their decision-making skills. Smith also founded Cindy Smith Consulting, LLC, focused on personal development, leadership and management skills.
Stress is a large part of her upcoming message to Chamber Luncheon attendees.
“In the past, it was more, ‘how do we eliminate stress?’ but stress is a part of life and it’s more about shifting and looking at it as a way to build resiliency,” Smith explained. “We look at people who have survived and thrived in bad times and look at it as how is it that some people are able to become stronger after a difficult time and some people spiral down. As we look at our own lives, you will never get away from stress, but there are ways to manage it and become stronger.”
Her presentation – one she promises will be lively and interactive – will also provide business leaders with insight on time management.
“We can manage our time, we can get better at planning, but we all have the same 24 hours, and instead of managing your time, manage your energy,” Smith said. “Time without energy is pretty useless. It’s really about managing your energy.”
As a performance coach for a course called, “The Corporate Athlete,” Smith draws inspiration from successful athletes who dedicate their life to training for optimum performance. She notes how important relationships – and the soft skills needed to form those relationships – are to today’s leaders. Smith attributes her own personal success to relationships and how observations she made on the job led to new and expanding roles.
“My jobs have always found me, and they’ve always been based on relationships,” she said. “I’ve never looked for a job. I’ve always done things that I’ve felt made a difference and the more I paid attention, the more I found that opportunities came to me. I talk to young people and they are so focused on their career path, and to me, the journey is more about getting to know yourself and focusing on things that are a natural talent for you; your gifts and strengths; and your career will immerge from there. Find those moments where you get totally lost in what you’re doing. From those small moments, you can really build a career.”
Contributing Writer