Today’s show features Cynthia Pizarro, President of CSpring.
“I feel like God lead me on that journey to discover not only ways to be more effective as a business leader but as a Christian leader. The way that you engage with people and connect with people determines your level of influence in their lives.”
Ray: Well, hello everyone. This is Ray Hilbert; I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, and we would like to welcome you back for another episode. And for those of you who have listened to the program for a while, you know, this is the place where the metaphor we love to use is we’re going to lift the hood and tinker around in the engine of Christian leadership. And this really is an amazing opportunity to hear from some of the finest Christian leaders in the marketplace across the country. And two websites I want to call your attention to before we get started here with our amazing guest today; check out the website for the podcast is at bottomlinefaith.org. You can go to the library and the archive of all the previous interviews there, and you’ll discover some just amazing conversations; that’s bottomlinefaith.org. And then the host ministry for this podcast is Truth At Work, and check us out at truthatwork.org.
If you are a Christ-follower running or leading a business, you might want to check out one of our roundtables and one of our chapters meeting in cities across the country. It is that Christ-centered peer advisory group that I think could be a potential great blessing for you. So that’s, that’s it for the commercial on the front end. I am really jacked about the conversation today because this is a person that I have come to know and love as a, I consider her a precious friend, real precious friend, one of the most amazing and encouraging human beings I’ve ever met in my life. Folks, you’re going to get a chance today on Bottom Line Faith to get to know my friend, now your friend, Cynthia Pizarro from Indianapolis, Indiana. Cynthia, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Cynthia: Thanks, Ray. I’m pleased to be here; very humbled by your introduction.
Ray: Well, this is Truth At Work, so we tend to try to speak the truth here. And every word meant what I said there and simply we’ve come to know each other over the last couple years, and God’s really had you on an amazing journey as a woman in business and a mother and a wife, and kids, and school, and all these things. You’ve got a lot on your plate, right?
Cynthia: Yeah, I sure do. I sure do.
Ray: You’ve got a lot on your plate, and so but God has called you uniquely and specifically in the marketplace particularly. official title is president of two companies: CSpring and Ohana Software. Why don’t you take a moment and tell us first about CSpring? You founded the company; tell us a little bit about that. What you do, why you started the company, and then we’ll talk about Ohana. But tell us about CSpring.
Cynthia: CSpring is an IT consulting firm focused on data solutions, application development, and some staff augmentation across those specific areas. I founded the company really just so that I had a little bit more flexibility to stay with my kids. And it took on a life of its own, so it grew, and I’ve been very blessed by it. And as it’s grown, we had, it was more difficult to connect with our staff. 90% of our folks work outside of the office. And I really love our people; I love connecting with people, and I found that was more difficult to do, so Ohana Software was born out of that need. We leveraged our own people to build a software platform that made communicating easier with folks who are in remote locations and built some tools into that to make me a little bit better at my job. So there’s some engagement tools and some programs wired into that software. So that ultimately, our folks feel supported and, and really directly connected wherever they are. Anytime, anywhere.
Ray: Yeah, so this really, and I’ll come back to CSpring in just a minute, but the Ohana Software really is about workforce engagement, right?
Cynthia: It’s exactly right.
Ray: And so let’s talk about that just for a minute, we’ll get into some of the spiritual aspects of the interview in just a moment. But what are you seeing out in the marketplace, this disconnect and, and what’s causing employees to have workforce engagement versus maybe companies who are not experiencing and tell us a little bit about that?
Cynthia: I think that probably the first thing is the way that technology has changed at that same rate communication has changed. And yet, technology hasn’t always kept up, or companies haven’t, haven’t adopted new ways of communicating. And so people just don’t feel connected. We have an expectation now that everything, all information is at our fingertips, and, and it should be real time; we should know what happened, you know, two minutes ago in a different part of the country. And we want to have that same level of connection with our companies. And as, as technology’s changed, that has become more challenging. Another shift in our workplace is more and more people are working remotely, and, and interacting with technology, you know, throughout the course of business. So, you know, we’re either isolating ourselves because we’re in front of our computer screens or by choice, because we don’t want to deal with the commute. Or maybe it’s the only way that we can acquire talent, that they would be in a different location. And so there’s just new challenges. And, you know, most companies are a little slow to, to change the, the rate of change with the way that we do business in companies is much lower than the rate of change of technology. And it’s that delta really, that I think is driving the issues.
Ray: And I know that you’re, as a follower of Christ, it really is about people, and this is a really core way to help your people feel valued, that they’re meaningful to you and to the organization, and it’s so, it’s much more than just productivity as and it’s really about connectivity at a human level.
Cynthia: It really is the catalyst for developing Ohana Software was that I wanted to be close to my people. But as we developed the platform and wanted it to work really well, I became educated in different ways that people, people really engage in what they need from a leader. And I feel like that God, led me on that journey, really so that I could help discover not only ways to be more effective as a business leader but as a Christian leader. The way that you engage with people and connect with people determines your level of influence in their lives.
Ray: Okay, fantastic. So, Ohana has really taken on a life of its own. You’ve got a plan and strategy for offering that connectivity to other businesses as clients to leverage the software in the platform. But take me back to the start of CSpring, right? What year did you start the company?
Cynthia: I started my business in 2006.
Ray: Had you ever owned a business before?
Cynthia: I was always doing little entrepreneurial things, quite honestly. But that’s a whole different tangent. So in 2006, I started my business. The catalyst was that my husband was doing some work out of state, I wasn’t, I didn’t really love the job that I was in, and I had a small child at home and another one on the way, and it just seemed like the perfect time to do something that would give me more flexibility to be with my kids and work from wherever I wanted, you know, and, and so I, I started my company. I was busier suddenly than I had been in my full-time role. And, and I was fine with that being part-time, but it ended up growing. Shortly afterward. So that was 2006, and in 2008, the economy slowed down, and I had some really solid business, but I felt an increased need to be more deliberate in sales, I felt a need to be more intentional about growing my business. And so at the same time, I had some partner firms that weren’t faring so well because the economy wasn’t doing as well. So long story short ended up merging my company with another company in 2010, and then had a business partner for two years. And we decided to go separate ways in 2012.
Ray: Yeah, well Cynthia, I am sure that there’s somebody listening to the program right now that maybe they’re a little bit fearful, a little bit discouraged. So as I’m listening to your story, so you’ve got, you know, your husband’s got in his business, spending a lot of time on the road away from home. You’ve got a small child, another one on the way and then the uncertainty of a start-up business. What was emotionally like that? And was there fear involved, or how did your faith play a role in that, you know, how did you reach out to God to give you wisdom on this? Just take us to those early days; what was that like? Maybe you could be an encouragement to somebody else today.
Cynthia: I certainly prayed about it. But I also felt, I, I also felt very certain that that’s what I wanted to do. And at the time that I started it, my husband, you know, we were probably more dependent on my husband’s income. So it was, it was comfortable to go to go, to step out and do my own thing. I also grew up in a very entrepreneurial family. My dad was an entrepreneur, his dad was an entrepreneur, he has a lot of brothers, entrepreneurs, and so that, so that was comfortable to me. What became more comfortable was after taking the leap to do that, all the, all the areas I realized that I didn’t have much experience in and had to learn along the way.
Ray: Yeah, so that’s really a great segue then into one of the questions I wanted to ask. If you could take us through and your journey, what’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make in leading and building your company? And kind of what role did your faith play in that decision?
Cynthia: Well, the hardest decision I ever had to make was parting ways with my business partner. For two years, we worked together, and I have said that partnership is probably the best mistake I ever made for a couple of reasons. One is God knew I needed somebody to be accountable to. So if I told myself, I’m going to make these sales calls this week, well, I could put it off till next week. But if I told somebody else that I was going to do something, I was going to do it. And so from that standpoint, it was wonderful. He also was much more experienced than me. And so he was a great security blanket and became a very dear friend. But our personalities were different, and our goals were different, and so some friction started happening, and to make the decision to part ways was incredibly difficult and incredibly scary.
Ray: How did your faith impact that decision?
Cynthia: I prayed like crazy over that and, and spoke with other experienced, mature, Christian business leaders who I, who I trusted to get guidance. And I just really felt like there had been several times in my life where I really felt like, you know, God clearly spoke to me about what he wanted me to do. And I felt, I felt like God was right there with me.
Ray: And it sounds like you were fortunate enough to have some godly counsel around you. Would you speak to that? How, how important do you think that is for a Christian who’s running a business, leading a company to have trusted advisors from a spiritual perspective? How important is that?
Cynthia: Well, it’s absolutely essential. But I would also guard against sometimes listening to hear what you want to hear and interpreting that, and I would just encourage business leaders to listen and then confirm, just privately diving into the Word and into prayer. So that, so that it’s God’s voice you hear for sure, versus the one that you want to hear.
Ray: It’s people who speak truth; is that what you’re saying?
Cynthia: Essentially, yeah, that they want to encourage, that they, they want to be encouraging, and it’s not that they’re not speaking truth. You know, they may be speaking their truth through their experiences and their scars as well, or what they were taught versus, you know, sometimes we’re taught things that aren’t necessarily truth. They’re just culture or upbringing or experience.
Ray: Kind of like the old phrase, you know, the Bible says, God helps those who helps them says, Well, that’s not in the scriptures. That’s, that’s an example, right?
Cynthia: Yeah, so it’s a trust and verify. And it’s not through any ill will. It’s just, you know, the Word is never wrong.
Ray: Cynthia, you know, as I’ve gotten to know you over the last couple years, you have this amazing, I don’t know if I’d call it a passion, a gift, a skill set, or whatever, but you are an extraordinary connector of people. It’s like it oozes out of your pores, where did that come from? Just this desire to bring people together and create win-win opportunities. What’s that all about?
Cynthia: I love people, and I love to help people. And that’s always been my passion from, from when I was little, if somebody asked me to help them, I would run to do it. If I needed to clean my own room, maybe not, you know. And, and that’s really the same way. I think maybe early in my career, I did recruiting and so I became a little bit wired to connecting people with opportunities. But I really feel like God built my network to be able to bless other people. And if I can do that, I feel obligated to do that. I’ve been, I’ve been surprised in my life by people sometimes who’ve gone out of their way, people you don’t expect, to help you, and others who you would expect to help who don’t answer your call. And I want to be that person who unexpectedly blesses other people.
Ray: Yeah, I love it. Well, it just, it’s just so natural, at least it appears that way from my side of the desk here. So let’s talk a little bit about some practical best practices and the leadership that you tried to demonstrate that’s a direct tie-in to either biblical principles, your Christian faith, obviously, your love for people. But tell us a little bit about, you know, just a couple of the best practices or biblical principles that guide your leadership.
Cynthia: I think leaving the window open about your faith is probably the most important. I heard, someone talk one time on, you know, leaving a crack in the door, window cracked open so that people know where you’re coming from. And it should never be a secret. So that holds me accountable. But it also gives me opportunities to minister to people. And I would also say, this is really hard for me, I am a very fast-paced person. I walk fast; I talk fast, I get things done fast. But the Lord has been telling me to slow down. And that is in the way that I relate with people. I love people. I love spending time with people. But, you know, I was raised by hard-working, you know, parents who valued hard work. And, you know, and a dad who, the way he served, his family was not being home, but being out working and we felt loved. But we didn’t spend time together. And so I think just slowing down and spending time with people and investing in them personally, versus, you know, trying to impact as many people as I can, just impact you know, people well, is what I, is what I’ve learned, and I’m still learning.
Ray: Do you ever consider that you have unique challenges as a woman business owner? You know, are there extra demands or pressures, balancing with the family? Or maybe things you encounter in the marketplace? Is that ever an issue for you, as a woman business owner?
Cynthia: it probably is. But I’m not really wired to think that way. You know, I’ve been in a man’s industry really, I mean, it’s changing, but you know, I’m in IT, and it’s always been male-dominated. And I’ve, I’ve, often I’m the only woman in the room, and I don’t even think about it. Well, I’m just not really wired to think that way. But in reflection, you know, at the end of the day, I’m rushing home to be mom, and I don’t want to let my family down; I don’t want to let my husband down. And so I think the biggest challenge really is competing priorities and demands and having to be so intentional about where I spend my time so I can do it well in a lot of places. You know, the biggest thing that happens is, I think my kids and my husband hold me accountable so that, you know, I have good family time, work-life balance, maybe not so much personal life balance, if you know what I mean. Like, just individual life balance. And that’s probably my big–
Ray: Cynthia time.
Cynthia: That’s probably my biggest challenge.
Ray: Perfect, perfect. And so you spend a lot of your time in this whole giving mode of investing in others, connecting people. What would you say to another Christian business leader who is listening to the program right now? How important is it to give to that next generation, that next up-and-coming leader? You do this a lot; I know that you do. It’s very important part of your life and your leadership. What would you say to another leader who’s asking what should I be doing or how should I be investing in the next generation of leader?
Cynthia: I think you just have to be really intentional. I think that it’s really easy to get distracted and think that 100% of your time and energy, at least during the workday, has to go into your existing, existing people, existing business, you know, investing in the, in the next generation can be inside of your walls or it can be outside of your walls. And I think, you know, here in Indiana anyway, we hear a lot about the, we hear a lot about workforce development, and developing the next generation of workers to be able to meet the demands that we’re expecting in terms of talent in the next decade, and the next couple of decades. And so I think it’s, I think it’s an obligation for all of us to be really intentional about, about doing that.
Ray: And that’s also an expression of your faith, right? I mean, the scriptures really clear about, you know, in 2 Timothy, it talks about training up leaders who will train up other leaders, so I know you well enough to know that’s, that’s really an extension of your Christian faith as well. Not just a business thing, but it really is at the core of who you are, right?
Ray: That’s who you are.
Cynthia: I feel like God has given me a business as, it’s a resource, a resource that I am supposed to invest in the kingdom. And so that is, you know, that can be, that can be money or that can be time, and I think time quite honestly, is the, is the most precious resource. So if you’re going to be very intentional, you know, about giving back, giving back to the next generation or giving back to the community, you have to be willing to, to invest your time.
Ray: Yeah, absolutely. And so, in the vein of passing along to the next generation, what we’ve learned and lessons, what’s the best advice anyone passed along to you? What was it and what did you take from that piece of advice?
Cynthia: Just put God’s goals first; put God’s goals first. And, you know, and, and keep a kingdom perspective or an eternal perspective, I should say. That everything that we are doing today is, you know, don’t, don’t let the deceiver tell you that it doesn’t have impact. The most insignificant things in my life have become incredibly important. At the time, I thought they were insignificant, but the reality is, God, revealed to me that they weren’t insignificant. And so the way that I look at you know, life now is a bit different. Things happen, and even, you know, difficulties and I think, Oh, God, what are you up to? Because I really truly believe it’s good, it’s just I don’t know what it is yet. And I’ve realized is not insignificant, you know, and so how are you going to multiply this in a significant way?
Ray: If you’ve been a long time listener to the program? You know, the last question I always ask. We call this our 4:23 question, that’s based out of Proverbs chapter 4, verse 23, very famous words from Solomon who said this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life.” I want to ask this question, our 4:23 question for every guest is, so let’s imagine you’re at the end of your time this side of eternity, and you get to pass along one piece of advice to them. And this is your “above all else” advice. Okay. So above all else, fill in the blank.
Cynthia: Listen to the Holy Spirit. I have had opportunities to minister to people in ways that I never expected I’d be able to by listening to the little voice that tells me pray in front of your team, or speak truth to somebody who’s hurting. And at those moments, I felt vulnerable. I felt like maybe I would upset people or I’d be overstepping a bound. And each time, God has redeemed that and given me increased confidence to speak truth and know that, that it’s, that it’s, that it’s Satan that’s going to tell me that that shouldn’t be spoken. It’s been well received. And so listen to the Holy Spirit and speak up when he wants you to and He will bless, and He will bless that.
Ray: So Cynthia, you know, one of the things we hope in this program is that it can really be an encouragement. Even if it’s just one person who’s listening to this, this program has never been about how many tens of thousands of this or that, because God works individually in the lives of his people, right? And so maybe there’s someone listening to the program right now, and they’re discouraged, maybe God’s given them a dream, some hopes, a vision, and they just don’t feel qualified; they just don’t feel like they can pull it off. And those deep-seated insecurities are there. What advice would you have for them?
Cynthia: I still have many insecurities, fears. And what God has revealed to me really recently is those fears, those fears are designed by Satan, to disrupt my capabilities to impede my progress, and my ability to accomplish the goals that God has set forth for my life. And so I think, you know, overcoming those insecurities is something that I’m doing every day. To say, even to be on this podcast, and to say, I can do it, you know, I can do an okay job on this podcast. I think I just have to remind myself regularly, and I want to remind the listeners, really, it isn’t about the experience that we have. Every single business person that has ever lived, and, and each person even starting their career is going to do things that they’ve never done before. And you know, and sometimes you’re going to succeed, and sometimes you’re going to fail. And I won’t be the first person to say that the greatest growth and progress comes from, from failure.
And so it’s just really defining what is successful. I mean, I think the journey toward where you’re going is success; it’s not about all of the the stops along the way. Just being willing to, to fail, to step out in faith, and to know that God is going to give you every tool that you need. I mean, he promises to use the weak, right, not the strong, That he’s the strength; that it’s not by our own strength that we accomplish great things. There was a time, right, when I started my business that I asked, I met with a Christian business leader, and I was frustrated and said, You know, I just want to serve the Lord more. But, you know, there’s like two people in my office, you know, and the other person is not a believer, you know, so, how do I do that? And he said, oh, you know, in your work, you can do that. And I’m like, you know, in my mind, I was thinking, no, there’s, there’s no opportunity; you just don’t understand.
And then God just, I mean, started proving me wrong, and opening up so many, so many doors to show me that we can be influential for the kingdom anywhere that we are. So I just prayed, God used me right where I am. And he, and he began to give me opportunities to do that. So when I prayed that prayer, that God would just use me exactly where I was, he started opening up doors for that to happen, I brought on a team with a different profile from what I’d ever had. And suddenly, I had opportunities to pour into the lives of single mothers I had, and pray with them; people who, you know, were sick and dealing with cancer and pray with them. And so people would come to me for prayer and know that, you know, that I, that I had faith that I could share with them and encourage them. So God opened that opportunity for me to do it. When the business was first growing, we had our first Christmas party, and I knew that in the room, there were quite a few people who are not believers, and people who were from different faiths all together, and just the Holy Spirit told me, you need to pray, you know. You need to pray over this event and over your team, and I was so nervous. Anyway, I went ahead and took that step of obedience. And people came up to me afterward and thanked me who I never thought would, and later told me, the only reason I’m still here, because they’d had, you know, some other things that were challenges in the workplace is because of that prayer.
Ray: Best practice is living on faith. You know, as, as it talks about in the book of Matthew, that if we seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these other things are going to be added, you know. And, and so often, Cynthia, you know, as we’re interacting with business leaders and owners around the country, sometimes they, they, they take this approach, this separation of their work and their faith. It’s like, you know, I don’t want to offend, and I don’t want to think, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. I don’t want them to, you know, think I’m holier than thou, kind of thing. And yet with that, sometimes we miss the opportunity to love people. Well, we just have to trust God, and as you said earlier, His Word is true. Says in Jeremiah that my Word is true; it will not return void. It will accomplish that which I have sent it forth. And so sometimes we turn that look upon ourselves, and it becomes about us and how I’m going to come across or am I going to offend. Well, I think we need to trust the Holy Spirit. You talked about that earlier, about listening for his voice, and he’s going to minister, he’s going to minister to people. Our job is to be a vessel. I think that’s what you’re talking about there. Cynthia, just thank you so much for being on the program today and what a blessing and encouragement you’ve been.
Cynthia: Well, I feel blessed by it; thanks for inviting me
Ray: It’s been an honor. Well, folks, this is your host at Bottom Line Faith, Ray Hilbert, and just real quickly, one more time, check out all the other podcast episodes we have at bottomlinefaith.org to listen to every episode of Bottom Line Faith. So check us out at bottomlinefaith.org, and once more if you’re a Christ-follower in business and you’re interested in having that community of peers, like-minded Christ-followers who are running and leading businesses to God’s glory, check out truthatwork.org. We are the host ministry here at Bottom Line Faith. Check out truthatwork.org. Connect with us there and learn about our roundtables that are meeting in cities all across the country. Until next time, I am your host, Ray Hilbert. Thanks for listening here at Bottom Line Faith. God bless, and we’ll see you soon.