Cindy Chanin of Rainbow EDU Consulting & Tutoring: “Start young”

Of course, women also have far more social responsibility and roles than men do — especially when it comes to emotional caretaking. This can lead to exhaustion while causing women to let their dreams take a backseat to other gender-prescribed expectations and responsibilities. It’s important to know when and why and how to say no. In fact, […]

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Of course, women also have far more social responsibility and roles than men do — especially when it comes to emotional caretaking. This can lead to exhaustion while causing women to let their dreams take a backseat to other gender-prescribed expectations and responsibilities. It’s important to know when and why and how to say no. In fact, the more women rehearse how to say no, the easier it gets! It helps to have boundaries and be firm and unapologetic about them. Women, too, deserve to not be pulled in all directions at all times. A mother or caregiver does not have to be the rock for everyone in her life. First, we must put our own life vests on and stabilize ourselves before we try to save everybody else from drowning.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy Chanin.

Cindy Chanin is Founder of Rainbow EDU Consulting & Tutoring, created with the intention of transforming lives through the power of personalized education, customized homeschooling, as well as impactful mentoring and enrichment. Internationally sought after by ambitious parents, Cindy and her team of the nation’s top educators not only help their children prepare for and gain entrance into the most prestigious academic schools in the country, but also help students discover their ambitions, desires, goals, and ultimately, their ‘why’ in the world. From working with elementary, middle, and high school students, to counseling with empty-nester parents, Rainbow EDU provides various services tailored to each individual and their personal path — no story is the same.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you share with us your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I always had a propensity for numbers, coupled with a deep connection to the imagination. I always joke that I practically emerged from the womb fluent in mathematics, even though I could barely put together a coherent sentence in English. I spoke my own vivid language quite fluently, yet it didn’t make much sense to those around me. My peers — and even some of my earliest teachers — were quick to label me as “slow” and “learning disabled.” Subsequently, I was taken out of mainstream classrooms to attend “resource” and work with a speech therapist. I felt a great deal of shame and isolation, as my teachers relegated me to the lowest level “cat, hat, bat, sat” reading group in the second-grade classroom. Furthermore, it baffled me that my supposed language barrier would somehow negate a demonstrated aptitude for math, with the teacher outright denying me participation in an accelerated math group.

After a year of senseless charade games and haphazard attempts at securing an in-roads to my education, I ultimately found myself in a different classroom with a new kind of teacher. She radically changed my trajectory. She had us learn about history through reenactments and monologues, explore scientific principles through song and dance, memorize formulas through mnemonics and clever raps and rhymes. I eagerly took to this expressive, performative, kinesthetic, outside-the-box learning style — and with that — something “clicked.” I was no longer limited in fluency to just numbers and Cindy gibberish. I found my way into learning through an innovative approach with a teacher who saw something in me. She mentored and believed in me. I transformed from a delayed learner to an honors student.

I went on to excel both in school and the arts. Come 5th-grade, I would go home after school with friends, and we would work on assignments together: word problems, creative writing journals, book reports. The next thing I knew, their parents contacted my parents and offered to compensate me for studying with and “teaching” my friends. Hence, at 10-years-old, I began my very own mom-pop tutoring service.

Who knew that an early childhood learning difference, fun creative analogies, and background in the performing arts would pave the way for a unique and impactful career in education? I discovered that I had a gift for taking complex concepts and tailoring them to an individual’s distinct learning style and interests. After working for years as a tutor, shadowing under different educational therapists, working in college admissions, developing a standardized test prep curriculum, and doing entrepreneurial coaching with teens, I went from being a one-stop-shop educator wearing multiple hats to Founder and Director of Rainbow EDU Consulting & Tutoring.

With Rainbow EDU, I have curated a dynamic team of talented, passionate, and engaging academic mentors and consultants who work with students from the inside-out. Clients come to Rainbow EDU seeking out an independent school admissions consultant, a college counselor, a subject tutor, or a standardized test prep coach. Yet, they end up getting their WHY out of it. We blend the holistic and pragmatic and transform lives.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

A pivotal story that comes to mind is when a yoga teacher acquaintance overheard me speaking to a client before a class and asked me if my company or I did homeschooling. I had run into this individual on-and-off throughout the years, yet we hadn’t spoken much before. She set up a session for me to consult with her daughter, and it proved an impeccable match. I felt as though I was getting to homeschool and mentor a younger version of myself! In working with the family, I got to meet the student’s adopted father, who turned out to be a corporate CPA — much like my dad. Though super busy and hardly ever around, the two of us finally got to talking after six months of my coming to their house. We commiserated about tax season, and I shared a few amusing anecdotes about my father amid it all.

I joked how my family and I were lucky if we even caught a glimpse of him. Several months leading up to the big April 15th tax deadline, he would come home from work at these obscenely late hours, only to go hibernate in his “music cave”…playing one of his many guitars while listening to many a beloved jazz compilation. My client’s interest piqued, as he shared with me that in his 30+ years of working in accounting, he had only ever met one such Musician/CPA who had led a very unconventional career. “The man was a genius,” he told me. “And he had a huge impact on my life. He met me when I had just graduated from college and took me under his wing. He helped me land my first job as a CPA and convinced me to follow in his footsteps and get an MBA/MBT. He took a chance on me when no else did. I would not be the person I am now or have built such a successful career without his mentorship.”

It didn’t take long for us to figure out that the CPA he was speaking of was none other than my father! And now, this otherwise very stoic, business-like CEO let down his guard as we recounted memories of my father that no one else outside my family knew. It was uncanny. And it was painful to have to relay the news to him that my father had passed away just a few years ago. My client was moved to tears, and so was I, especially in coming to terms with that full-circle realization that I now get to be of service and transform his daughter’s life in the way that my father had impacted and transformed his.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The most humbling mistake I made when I was a young educator first starting out could be considered both funny and sad. Ultimately, though, it served as a big wake-up call and learning experience. I had a client utilize my services who did not pay me immediately afterward. “We don’t have our checkbook on us right now, but we’re good for it,” his parents assured me. “We’ll see you next week!” I had just wrapped such a stellar initial session with their son; there were so many lightbulb moments and he seemed genuinely grateful for my guidance. The enthralled demeanor among us all and the fact that this family was referred by one of my wonderful former clients convinced me that they were trustworthy. I did not enforce having them sign a services agreement that night, and left without payment. The family proceeded to ghost me and did not respond to my many earnest attempts to make right on the situation. I felt so taken advantage of at the time, but now looking back, I laugh at myself and my intense level of grit and tenacity. I actually believed that they would do the right thing. They never did. Yet, I emerged with two significant takeaways: 1. Get everything in writing. 2. Have clients handle payments upfront before rendering services — no matter what. Lesson learned!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I can trace some of my earliest successes back to one person who would unknowingly serve as the catalyst to a deeply absurd and rewarding journey: Ally. The two of us met at an Introduction to Kabbalah Seminar and, over time, grew very close as we discussed and probed the existential dilemmas of navigating our twenties. She opened up to me about some of her challenges, including a rather entrenched Aderrall addiction, especially as it related to doing her school work and attaining straight A’s. She had worked with countless tutors over the years, yet hadn’t worked with anyone like me. I was there for her when she tried to ween off the pills, when she developed the ability to tolerate and breathe through the withdrawals and painstaking anxiety, and when she ultimately embraced a new approach to staying focused and productive with the rigorous demands of her college coursework. Giving up, dropping out, and relying upon former coping mechanisms no longer proved viable options. I would stay up all night and be with her just to offer moral support, put my innate thesaurus powers to the test, and help her move past writer’s block as she soberly trudged through multiple daunting research papers. She eventually hired me as her college counselor to help her successfully transfer to her dream school, UCLA, from another school.

Ally went on to tell her therapist about me and how the profound work we were doing together had bolstered her confidence and ability to access her educational goals. Her therapist barely recognized the young woman in her office — she had been transformed — and started telling other clients and colleagues about me. Next thing I knew, this therapist who I had never actually met — yet who seemed to know so much about me and coined me “the miracle worker” — gave my name and number to a new guidance counselor at a prominent high school in Los Angeles. The guidance counselor invited me onto campus for a tour and meeting. We immediately clicked, and from there, she started referring students — upwards of 4 to 5 a week — and the rest is history!

Thanks to Ally, the guidance counselor, and that school I landed some of the most impactful clients of my entire career. I’ve known many of these clients for years and they are like second families. My life, career, and business have skyrocketed ever since, and I can trace it all back to a moment-in-time, a connection, and an intuitive calling to help a friend-turned-client shift from breakdown to breakthrough.

Years later, I was invited to join a Lean in Circle and made invaluable friendships that have nourished and emboldened me throughout my career. Through this, I had an opportunity to be mentored by the CEO and founder of a Fortune-100 company, along with several other business execs who possessed impressive leadership experience as part of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). This incredible circle of women supporting and championing one another proved game-changing for me, setting the bar high for my aspirations and goals as both a business owner and mentor to other female founders.

Looking back on my trajectory, I have come to the realization that it’s not just who you know, but what you empower within them. Passion is contagious. And my goal is to Pass-”I”-on while igniting a passion in others to do the same.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” has been a staple for me. I often gift it to my students as part of the personalized, creative goody-bag I curate for each and every one of their high school graduations.

The words in this book really strike a chord and help me move through challenging situations.

The same could be said of the essential business-life communication guidebook, “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.” I am pretty adept at having crucial conversations, yet I appreciate the comfort that comes from knowing I’m not alone in feeling the anxiety brought on by high-stakes encounters and knowing that I have the wherewithal to navigate them with conviction and grace.

I believe that deep down, we all want to be heard, acknowledged, and understood — even when we agree to disagree.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

One of my mottos isthis too shall surpass.” Not just pass, but sur-pass. In our current climate, I believe that someday the life changes we have made thanks to the pandemic will be a blip on our collective radar. In times like these, it is hard to remember that every hardship we have in life has the potential to make us smarter, more emotionally efficient, and more resilient. When vaccines are widely distributed, when our cultural centers and schools reopen, and when life-in-general seems revitalized, we will all have a deeply enriched perspective and appreciation for our restored agency.

When I encounter a rough spot, I don’t merely say, “this too shall pass”, as I believe it ultimately will get better than we might fathom in the perceived struggle of the here and now! Hence, this too shall SUR-pass.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I’ve used my success to make the world a better place simply because my work is about helping others reach their full potential. Students come to Rainbow EDU thinking they want a chemistry tutor or test prep coach, and they end up getting their lives out of the experience…finding their “why” in the world. Cultivating genuine passion and personal vision involves looking for ways in which mentees can intuitively blossom. Whether coaching privately or in tandem/semi-private collaboration with several students, Rainbow EDU’s mentoring and enrichment opportunities help students pinpoint their unique assets and curiosities and transform them into plans of action. There are many success stories with my mentees! None of the success stories happened without the vision and commitment of the student, yet often the right kind of tailored encouragement is necessary for a tree to bear fruit.

A few success stories include mentoring student volunteers as part of the groundbreaking, Emmy Award-winning The Miracle Project (TMP) — a unique organization that uses performing arts to help neurodiverse students along with those on the autism spectrum tap into their confidence and discover impactful means of self-expression; coaching a student who became the only teen researcher for TMP on a team of PhDs and MDs about how expressive arts affect the development of non-verbal youth on the autism spectrum; mentoring a student to found The Thrive Initiative, a mental health advocacy organization that produces empowering podcasts and provides invaluable resources to teens to help them improve their overall well-being, eventually leading to press exposure and interviews with CBS Los Angeles, KTLA, and The Today Show.

My students have gone on to pursue countless awe-inspiring endeavors, both locally and globally. Their work continues to spread exponentially, creating a ripple effect that touches innumerable lives and communities.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

For many women, there is a historically founded lack of confidence that they can gain traction and backing in a business culture still heavily biased and steeped in patriarchal tenets. Again and again, women have seen that they are not taken as seriously by investors. Oftentimes, they even face resentment from other men andwomen who are territorial of their industry and expertise — gatekeeping emerging women founders from providing their own valuable insights and experiences into the field.

It is important for women to put on blinders wherever possible when bumping up against habituated resistance or barriers to their success — not allowing themselves or other women to internalize the constraints of an omnipresent men’s club mentality — but endeavoring to forge ahead no matter what. It helps to remember that one of the primary reasons for founding one’s own enterprise is to get past these tired old tenets and expectations and create one’s own, better culture!

Of course, women also have far more social responsibility and roles than men do — especially when it comes to emotional caretaking. This can lead to exhaustion while causing women to let their dreams take a backseat to other gender-prescribed expectations and responsibilities. It’s important to know when and why and how to say no. In fact, the more women rehearse how to say no, the easier it gets! It helps to have boundaries and be firm and unapologetic about them. Women, too, deserve to not be pulled in all directions at all times. A mother or caregiver does not have to be the rock for everyone in her life. First, we must put our own life vests on and stabilize ourselves before we try to save everybody else from drowning.

This all being said, the future of women entrepreneurship is looking bright. According to Inc., women entrepreneurship is up 114% compared to 20 years ago. Despite the obstacles created by lack of funding, many women are still finding great success in their entrepreneurial endeavors. In fact, startups that have been either founded or co-founded by women have shown to generate 10% more revenue over five years, according to Forbes.

Can you share with our readers what you are doing to help empower women to become founders?

I work very closely with my teens and quite a number of them are women. With this, there is a great responsibility and opportunity to help them build the confidence they need to forge their own path and follow their passions. I help to guide them in their own entrepreneurial endeavors at a young age and encourage them to take risks, step outside of their comfort zones, and make a huge impact — no matter their age. Instilling these ideas in girls and women early on helps to set the stage for a lifetime of success.

A great example of this is The Thrive Initiative. The two young women who started that organization had everything that they needed to build a powerful and impactful movement. Still, they have benefitted markedly from inspiring mentorship, guidance, and having someone to cheer them on from the sidelines.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Women can be very tapped in, divergent, and creative thinkers. Getting an expanded mindset into positions of power and influence should be a goal of every current entrepreneur, let alone deemed essential within already fiercely competitive spaces and industries. Collaboration is the stuff of growth, and you want your peers to push you to next-level thinking. Fresh thinking brings more resources, ideas, innovation, opportunities, and possibilities to bear for everyone. We need diverse perspectives and solutions to the problems that face all of us, and the only way to achieve that is to try something new.

Enterprising women also tend to possess other strong qualities that lend themselves as building blocks to success in the business world, including dynamic communication skills, collabor-active mindsets, and ambitious personalities. Furthermore, such women are often calculated risk takers.

It’s worth noting that many women start their own businesses so that they can have a more flexible schedule to care for family, though the foundation of that flexibility is independence. When you found your own enterprise, you will control your schedule, your scope of work, the quality of your work, and even have influence on who your coworkers are and what your workspace looks and feels like. Essentially, you set the rules. You create the vision, values, and culture of your workplace. What’s more empowering than that?

Women should become founders so that unique and compelling aspects of their character can reach peak potential. It isn’t a breeze to execute a personal vision, and you won’t do it alone, but there is hardly anything more fulfilling than pushing yourself to the absolute limit. Of course, I don’t mean pushing to exhaustion! I mean pushing to potential. Once you embrace that mindset, you’ll discover new potential waiting for you on the other side.

If you’re on the fence about becoming an entrepreneur, I encourage you to take a chance on yourself. You have more experience and knowledge than you know. However, if you still have reservations, just know that the stats don’t lie. According to HuffPost, women entrepreneurs are more likely to have financial success through their business endeavors and are more likely to become serial entrepreneurs — lending their creativity to different projects, setting up a solid foundation, and then moving on to the next great idea.

I hope you take a leap of faith. If you do, just know that I am right behind you and cheering you on!

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share 5 things that can be done or should be done to help empower more women to become founders? If you can, please share an example or story for each.

  1. Empowering young women to found businesses begins with creating space for all women. Welcome women’s ideas and voices. Place women on your board and leadership teams. Tap women to speak at your conferences. Recommend women for jobs and introduce them to people who can help them rise. Men and their voices are always prioritized over women, so take any chance you get to champion women and girls. Talk about women and their work!
  2. Start young. Encourage young girls and teens to learn more about and understand finances, rules of business, or making sound investments. The nuts and bolts of finance, if they are second nature through early education, won’t be a deterrent. Entrepreneurship and agency come from creativity and grit coupled with the fearlessness that comes with know-how. Make sure the girls in your life are fluent in financial language. One great way to get started is to tune in to podcasts about finances geared for young people, such as Popcorn Finance or HerMoney.
  3. Value women financially. If you are in a position to support the careers of women financially, do it! For example, women will often undervalue their own labor, because they don’t understand its worth. If you know a woman is asking for less than what she is worth, let her know. If you are underpaying women, you are contributing to the problem, not the solution. Women can only become founders if they understand it’s okay to ask for what they are worth. The more women owned businesses there are in the world, the more young women will presume it is their right to hold the reins, too. Have their back. Use your profits to empower women financially. Microloans are a powerful way to change the lives of women and girls. Microloans are loans for 50,000 dollars or less. Most are under 1,000 dollars. Start-up costs are typically the biggest barrier to independence, and it is easy to help! Organizations like Kiva are a way to get women entrepreneurs on their feet. One of the best functions of Kiva’s platform is that once loans are repaid, you can cycle funds to another initiative. A 1,000 dollars investment on your part could turn into tens of thousands in loans over time.
  4. Join mentorship organizations — or create one yourself. For women and girls to get and stay ahead, they need the wisdom and support of other women. Any time you have the opportunity to volunteer to provide mentorship opportunities for other emerging young female business leaders, take it. You can begin with the alumni association of your college and expand out into organizations in your field founded to help women succeed. If that org doesn’t exist, start one! A great example is Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) a trade organization for women in the restaurant industry. Founded over 20 years ago, WCR is a premier organization for scholarships, mentorships, and conferences designed for rising entrepreneurs.
  5. Be mindful of the power of language and how it can shape reality. Words like “girl-boss” and “mompreneur,” while they have good intentions, actually have a negative impact on women. You never hear anyone say “boy-boss” or “dadpreneur” — why make a completely new word for women? If women continue to marginalize their contributions to the world by signifying their gender as an addendum, they continue to contribute to an essentialist mindset. Stop saying mom-prenuer and female-founder. Just be it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Maybe this sounds a bit idealist — it’s hard to put this to words — but I would love to start a movement in which cooperation transcends cutthroat competition. “Paying it forward” would be paramount. The movement would make it commonplace to support the ambitions of others instead of undermining them. Let’s not look at everything through a swirling kaleidoscope of fear. Instead, let’s adopt a lens of opportunity that simultaneously empowers oneself along with others. Let’s be of service. The motto would be simple: “If one person wins, everyone wins.”

I would love to see us move away from negative or scarcity thinking and embrace a growth-mindset — seeing possibility where others tend to see impossibility.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

As someone who grew up in the entertainment industry and wholeheartedly embraces the importance of giving voice to our unique stories, I have deep admiration for Reese Witherspoon and the work that she is doing with Hello Sunshine. Hello Sunshine embodies everything we are speaking of here — in helping to empower women, illuminate the status quo, and pave the way for a more integral and all-encompassing narrative. I would be incredibly honored to have lunch with her and her team and discuss how we collectively — be it as entertainers or educators — are striving to work for the joy and find joy in the work. When I hone-in on why I do what I do, it all stems from the joy of transforming a life and helping to shift a paradigm.

How can our readers further follow your work online?




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