Exclusive Interview with Cynthia Real

At the 2016 Women in Business Conference, Business Today sat down with Cynthia Real, Director of Marketing and Alliances at Pariveda Solutions, to discuss her mentorship session and her advice for students as they begin to enter the workforce. During her session, Cynthia Real discussed her “mentality of giving,” and how important it is to surround yourself with like minded peers.

Interview and Transcription by Jamie Downey ‘18

BT (Jamie Downey): Can you talk a bit more about what characteristics specifically make someone a giver? What can someone work on to build their giving mentality as a personality trait?

Cynthia Real: The biggest characteristic of a giver is their intent. The biggest thing they have to think, always, is “who is it I can help?” If the answer is “I’m doing this for me” then they’re not a giver. That’s the key: what is my intent? The second piece is then, “what actions can I take to help this other person?” I never really think of givers or giving mentality as trying to help a sea of people at once. It’s normally a very singular intent and action, that happens with a giver mentality. I’m going into a meeting, for example, and I plan to understand the situation before I speak and act, but I’m going in with the intent to help someone. Then, I ask myself “what can I do to make or resolve or give this person something?” That is the giver mentality. It really should just get down to that level of simplicity. Once you have that intent and then have some action steps, go take them. You can plan forever, but it’s the frame of mind that, despite the risk, this is the right thing to do. I don’t fear harm to myself by putting myself out there.

BT: Something you really emphasized was always looking forward to that next opportunity to help someone. It wasn’t just that one chance to help, it was the consistency around always seeking the next thing you can do. You also touched on the idea of not fearing the consequences of being a giver. Can you provide more insight on how it is you manage that risk of your giving mentality being taken advantage of by others?

CR: I think it’s back to that self evaluation. It almost gets into Maslow’s Hierarchy. You’re not going to have this belief, or have a no-fear attitude, if you don’t feel good about yourself and where you are. You have to get to a point where you’re comfortable in your own skin, you’re confident, and you’re ok with the risk. You really do need to believe that the steps you’re taking will be helpful to someone. There’s always that fear, but as I talked about, you always need to be ready to say yes.

The other thing I think you have to do is not give too much to takers. If you’re always giving to a taker, then you’re probably not on the right track. It’s important to know who you’re giving to. That’s why developing an infinite game of giving is important. You really have to think of it in terms of game theory. Even if you’re giving to others, you’re also developing an army of givers around you, an army of relationships that you can rely upon. It’s inspirational. It gives you courage. You know at the end of the day that giving is good. Sure, you might have some problems with takers trying to take advantage of what you’re giving to others, but I think in the long term you’ll emerge in a much better place than they will. I can tell you that since my life is more giving-centric than it might have been 20 years ago, the opportunities have grown.

BT: You mentioned the importance of surrounding yourself with those that have a giving mentality in life and at work. Since you’re on the other side of the recruitment table now, elaborate on how you try to isolate givers when you’re hiring.

CR: Especially as we bring new people on board—and our goal is to hire directly out of school and grow people into an executive—what I look for is humility. If I can see that you’re humble and genuinely are ok with the unknown, you’re thinking like a giver. They may be young in their lives but they probably know themselves if they’re thinking in that way. This is opposed to that person who always has the answer, is always very regimented. Nobody wants to work with someone like that. It’s ok not to know, and then to decide that a problem is so interesting that you want to figure out how to solve it.

BT: You certainly presented and identified an alternative way of thinking in your presentation. Obviously, every employer wants someone who is driven, who is intelligent, who is a hard worker. Looking beyond that, you emphasized that what sets you apart from a thousand other applicants who are driven, hardworking, is that mentality.

CR: That’s exactly right. Everyone wants to follow a giver. That’s what we’re looking for. When I look at new applicants, I ask myself: “how can I grow this person into an executive, with whom everyone will want to have a relationship with, and everyone will want to follow?” At the end of the day, we’re looking to build a band of givers. Frankly, we’re looking for many of the same things with our clients too. It’s more fun—and in my experience more successful—to work with companies and executives who have that mentality as well.

BT: You provided, in your words, “Pro Tips” for the students in the session. You also mentioned that you didn’t learn about the Giver Mentality until well into your career, and so you wanted to impart that on the women attending the conference. Do you have another piece of advice that you want to impart on students entering the workforce?

CR: The biggest tip that has opened doors for me is that you must be the person who says “yes” as much as possible. So often, it’s easy to think that it’s all about having the right answer before even giving yourself the opportunity to understand the problem. People wouldn’t have asked you the question if they knew the right answer, and people wouldn’t have asked you if they don’t believe that you’re capable of finding the answer. Revel in the freedom to learn as you go through life. That goes with having great mentors around you, who allow you to share and learn from them.