After her son became sick, Cynthia Krantz knew she needed a role with flexibility, so she launched a social media agency. Pre-pandemic, her 100% remote business raised eyebrows. Today, it is embraced enthusiastically. Here she shares the lessons she has learned from doing it differently.
What inspired you to launch your own business?
When my second son got sick and spent a week in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, I knew I needed to pivot to a job that afforded me the flexibility to support him in his subsequent therapies.
So, I started making phone calls and heard the same message from former colleagues, family and friends: “You can do whatever you want. You just gotta have the courage to do it.” I got off the phone with the then head of Saatchi and Saatchi production (who’d basically said the same thing) and, at 10:30 at night on a Tuesday in December of 2019, announced to my husband: “I’m launching an agency”. It took numerous phone calls (and emails), but by Friday, I had my LLC registered, a skeleton website, and my first client for Mezzo Creative.
Starting a business takes courage. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
I worked remotely before anyone else, which was sometimes lonely, and clients and colleagues didn’t always understand. COVID changed that.
In addition, I needed to build the business quickly to have an income source, so I was hustling to come up with clients and make ends meet. In the beginning, I was doing it all – soup to nuts – which didn’t seem feasible after a short while, so I started strategically building a team I could trust to help meet client needs.
What challenges have you faced running your business, and how did you resolve them?
The hardest part of running a social media business is helping to make your clients’ lives easier while getting what you need from them. We don’t post without approvals, but that requires the client’s time, of which they are short! So, we respect their schedule and deliver in a way that allows them to give us what we need to effectively help them.
What achievement/s you are most proud of and why?
First and foremost, I’m proud of my two kids. This business has allowed me to support myself and my kids as they grew, especially my second son, who needed therapy and is now doing great! He’s my little fighter.
Secondly, there’s my team. It’s taken time to find the right people and the right cadence of work, but Mezzo has an amazing team that does an incredible job. We are family.
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? How did you address it?
I was talking about that the other day. I have horrible imposter syndrome. But I once heard someone say, “everyone else is faking it, so why can’t you get in on that?” And I thought that was a good idea. I have a track record of delivering for friends, family and colleagues, so I need to rely on that when I feel small.
Who has been your biggest champion on your journey, and how did they help you?
I have had two great champions in this process, my mentor, Deb, and my husband, Matthew. My mentor has known me since 21 and has become a dear friend. When she encouraged me to launch Mezzo, she regularly sent me handwritten cards of encouragement, telling me she knew I could do it. Her words to me were, “It’s time to fly out of the nest,” and she was right! I am forever grateful to her for believing in me and investing her time and energy in my career.
Matthew has always told me I could do whatever I want, whenever I want, and he will be by my side. He reminds me I’m not an imposter and is always there at the end of the day to help me decompress.
What skills do you believe women must have to succeed as a leader?
I think women shouldn’t keep apologising. I do that too much. People want solutions, not “I’m sorry”.
Work/life balance can be difficult. How do you manage it, and can you share your ‘tricks of the trade’?
Working remotely has been a huge boon to my balance. So have Pilates and walks. I try to fit in healthy habits, and if I think work encroaches on them, it’s time to reevaluate.
My mentor Deb once told me, “The producer’s adage is you pick two. You can have it done fast, cheap, or well. So, apply it to your life. You can have your health, career, or family. Pick two”. If you have your health and your family, you can find a way to put your career as a priority that doesn’t damage the other two.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
No. I’ve learned sooooo much along this journey, and it’s gotten me to where I am. If I’d taken a different path, I wouldn’t be where I am, and I’m pretty content right now.
Cynthia Krantz’s Top 3 Leadership Lessons Learned:
By Laini Bennett, MBA