Thursday, March 8, 2012

Interview: Cynthia Kocialski, author of Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success

As part of her blog tour I can honestly say I'm happy and proud to introduce you all to Cynthia Kocialski!
Please, help me welcome her and her instructive, interesting and bright book Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success: How to Prosper Without Being at the Top of the Class!

Interview with Cynthia Kocialski

Alaiel: First of all, thanks for the interview Cynthia and welcome to Librarian Mouse!

Questions about yourself.-

Alaiel: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Cynthia: I was raised in upstate New York, where it was way too cold for me. I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and graduate degrees from the University of Virginia. My career has taken me to New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami, and San Francisco. I have spent my career working in technology companies. About 15 years ago, I began working with start-up companies. I’ve founded three companies and I have worked with numerous other start-up companies. I love start-ups and all the wonderful gizmos and gadgets they make, and just the atmosphere of start-ups. I live in California with my husband and two young daughters.

Alaiel: What is your favorite book? Why?
Cynthia: That’s a hard one to answer. I have always been an avid reader. As a child, I read tons of fiction and I remember my favorite books by Dr. Seuss, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, J.R.R.Tolkien, James Michener, Herman Wouk, Richard Adams and Mary Stewart. I also recall those I really disliked too. As a middle schooler, I thought Milton’s Paradise Lost, Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms, and Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago were painful to read. My older brother convinced my parents that if they wanted me to get into a top university, I had to start reading more serious books. I actually hid Farewell To Arms in our attic so I won’t have to finish the book.
As an adult, I read mostly non-fiction except when I’m on holiday. I really enjoyed Margaret Thatcher’s The Path to Power, Alan Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence, Jack Perkowski’s Managing the Dragon, Tarun Khanna’s Billions of Entrepreneurs, and Pietra Rivoli’s The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy.

Alaiel: Where is your favorite place to write?
Cynthia: My favorite place to write is in my home at the dining room table between 3 am and 6 am in the morning. It may sound odd, but I do my best thinking in the very early hours of the morning. I’m refreshed and my kids are quietly sound asleep.

Alaiel: Is there some kind of ritual that you need to do to write? Like listening a special playlist or have your favorite drink with you.
Cynthia: I write non-fiction, mostly about business topics. One way I get the thought flowing is to listen to others people podcasts on the subjects I write about. I find it gets my thoughts moving along. Plus, I can sometimes combine the listening in the podcasts with my morning exercise. The only problem is I have to keep stopping along my route to use the voice recorder to remember my thoughts.

Questions about the book.-

Alaiel: Why did you write Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success?
Cynthia: My oldest daughter is someone who is never good enough for our local school system. She is always being asked to take tutoring and spend extra time at school in order to get better grades. After 5 years of putting in 10 additional hours each week doing extra classes and tutoring, her test scores didn’t budge. Despite all that extra effort and years of hard work, she still isn’t good enough – and most likely, never will be. At this point, my daughter doesn’t like school much. Over the course of my career, what I’ve learned is success in life doesn’t hinge upon getting the top grades. There are lots of average people who are highly successful.

Alaiel: The theme of success beyond academics is evident throughout the book. Why is this so important?
Cynthia: I’ve worked with entrepreneurs and start-ups companies for more than 15 years. I look at everything as if it’s a new product from an unknown start-up. Kids are a product of their education and experiences. In the end, they need to sell their product – their skills - to employers and customers. A start-up company isn’t about the product. It’s about the business of that product. What makes a start-up succeed or fail is what’s wrapped around the product. Let’s face it; a lot of really dumb products have been successful in the marketplace. The most advanced technical product with the best features doesn’t necessarily win. Kids are the same way. Success is more about those secondary skills and talents, then the core skill. It’s more about what’s surrounds the core talent. Just like start-ups, most people neglect to develop those other skills and the necessary perspective for success. They focus exclusively on the core talent.

Alaiel: What advice or encouragement can you give youth who are struggling in school?
Cynthia: School isn’t everything. School addresses one talent – academics. You need to have a basic level of education to function in society, but not everyone is going to be Albert Einstein. There are many talents in this world. If your talent is art, music, or sports, then you should develop that talent. Stop spending every waking minute studying, only to get B’s and fall short. Your time is better spent developing your best talent then struggling to be mediocre at something that isn’t your talent. What do you think would have become of Mozart if he were required to be a straight ‘A’ student before practicing his music?

Alaiel: How do I create the life I want?
Cynthia: It’s all about intent. Fate isn’t going to suddenly surprise you one day and drop you perfect, ideal life on your doorstep. No one is that lucky. In a start-up, there’s always something that needs to get done. The rule of thumb is if what you are doing now isn’t moving you closer to the goal, then stop doing it. The same is true for creating your dream. Life is busy. It’s full of request from people around us. You can’t do it all. You have to pick how you spend your time wisely. Time is everything. It’s a non-renewal resource, you can’t check the balance, or get a refund.

Alaiel: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Cynthia: I wanted to illustrate some of the concepts in a single frame for the younger audience. I’ve never worked with an illustrator or poets before this book. Just selecting an illustrator was tough. I had dozens of proposals and portfolios submitted. We were stuck on quite a few concepts, so I asked everyone. I asked my hair stylist, daughter, friends, and three stand-up comedians for ideas.
The same was true for the poets; more poems didn’t go in the book than were included. I wanted the poems because my daughter really likes children’s poems. They are short and convey a point quickly. While I don’t think my daughter could read the text of the book and understand it, I wanted some of the keys points stated in a way that even she could get it.

Random and quick questions.-

Alaiel: Hardcovers with or without jacket?
Cynthia: Without.

Alaiel: Winter or summer?
Cynthia: Summer.

Alaiel: Night owl or early bird?
Cynthia: Early bird.

Alaiel: What book are you most looking forward to reading?
Cynthia: Oftentimes I get books to review. I love self-published business books because the information is based on personal experience and they’re not much fluff. There’s a lot of knowledge locked up in people’s brains and reading the self-published books is a way of getting at it. Right now, I am reading One Simple Idea by Stephen Key, a wonderful book about product licensing. I really excited by reading and learning more about business. When I go on vacation, I always fit in a few factory tours. Many times my book choice is what is on the new book shelf at the library. I like my reading selection to surprise me.

Alaiel: Sweet or salty?
Cynthia: Salty.

Alaiel: Do you like cheese? If yes, which ones are your favorites?
Cynthia: I love to eat it Manchego goat cheese with whole pecans, preferably aged 12 months. This spring, I’m taking a tour of a cheese factory. I can’t wait!

Alaiel: Once again, thank you for being here :]

Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success: How to Prosper Without Being at the Top of the Class
by Cynthia Kocialski

Official Blurb:

In our grade-focused school years, the rules of success seemed as simple as making straight As. However, in the working world, success is often far more complex, and formal education is only the baseline to ensuring career advancement in a highly competitive world, where prospective employees are up against international candidates who have been long schooled in skills. Now, a self-professed over-achiever shares how her professional triumphs wildly strayed from the honor roll tactics in an eye-opening, easy-to-read compilation of truisms from the trenches of real life.

Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success: How to Prosper Without Being at the Top of the Class offers hard-won wisdom on achieving professional glory that will serve as an invaluable resource to anyone who is contemplating a career, or for parents who want to help their children lay the groundwork for success in the work place. Inspired by the experience of her daughters, Kocialski realized that many young adults graduate and are completely unaware of a new playing field that is not always predicated by superior grades or talents.

In eighteen concise chapters, the author draws from her professional achievements and challenges to debunk common myths that can lead astray aspiring professionals in the early years of forging a career. This slim, indispensable book serves up the “aha!” moments that will assist young hopefuls and parents in navigating the path to success. Does practice really make perfect? Do good things come to those who wait? From teamwork to tooting your own horn, this matter-of-fact guide to greatness underscores that happily, successfully ever after does not just happen; it’s the result of planning, promoting, taking action, and going for it. Inspiring and uplifting, this simply brilliant take on creating a career will help anyone realize their goals, anyone avoid common pitfalls, and lay the groundwork through the secondary talents, skills, and mindset necessary for optimal success.

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