…never make business decisions based on money alone. The person who gave me that advice learned the hard way, and lost their company because they had chased after the dollar and lost sight of what truly mattered. Even with the growth of Thinc Strategy and the success we have seen over the last five years, I have never let that advice stray too far away.
I had the pleasure to interview Cindy Anderson, founder of Thinc Strategy. Cindy founded Thinc Strategy to help business leaders and their management teams increase corporate value. She has owned five businesses and has sold three of her own companies throughout the course of her career. That perspective and expertise has allowed Cindy to guide over 140 clients in the past 20 years to grow their value, with many selling for a high premium.
Thank you so much for joining us! Why did you found your company?
I’d like to think everyone gets to a point where we pause from the hustle of life and re-evaluate our career, our passions and why we do what we do. After building, growing and selling multiple companies in the financial accounting vertical, I had that same moment for myself. At one point, I was ready to completely leave behind everything I’d pursued professionally as a CPA. For me, being a CPA wasn’t enough anymore. That may sound strange, but I knew that the financial health and performance of a company was important, but it wasn’t everything. I wanted to serve companies in a way that cared for the entire health of the business — not just one facet.
After forcing myself to ask the hard questions about what should come next, I realized that I didn’t actually have to leave my CPA career behind. I just needed to take the best parts of it and create something new. That realization is what triggered the launch of Thinc Strategy in 2013.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We are breaking the mold and the traditional lens from which so many view business consultants. Our team takes the best of strategic consulting and financial advisory and brings a new, fresh perspective on what it means to boost business value, accelerate growth and cultivate a company culture that matters.
There’s no strategic plan that we pull off the shelf for clients, and that usually comes as a shock. Business leaders are trained to expect consultants to operate through the lens of a SWOT analysis, but I don’t care about what a SWOT analysis has to say about my client.
We cannot achieve success through a standard formula. For us, it’s about customized strategies, and the belief that if our strategies are designed for everyone, they are designed for no one. The individualized strategies we create are simple. My profession is famous for models and formulas that are so complicated and complex that they cannot be consumed by clients without third-party interpretation. But we want our clients to not just receive a hundred page book of big words and recommendations, we want them to have digestible, actionable steps that lead to measurable results.
I think delivering something with such simplicity scares others; it generates this underlying feeling that if I make it simple, you can do it on your own, and that the business partnership is over. We are more confident than that. We take the approach of transparency — delivering clear results that allow clients to know all the answers and the next steps to achieve success. With answers delivered in their hands, majority of time, our partnerships continue because of the clarity and trust we’ve created. We go from having clients because they are dependent on us, to clients who choose us. I’d rather be chosen every time that be in an dependent, forced partnership.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
I’ve been very fortunate to work with brilliant people from all different backgrounds. But early on in my career, there was a male colleague who was close to retirement that I learned more from than I could have ever imagined. His office was just one door down from mine. He was in his late 70s and I was in my late 20s. We were an unlikely pairing, but quickly built a friendship. He mentored me and invested in my career, teaching me lessons I still hold today, like the value of maintaining relationships, of being fair, and of creating a win-win outcome for everyone you meet. If those lessons weren’t enough, he also taught me that the truest form of success doesn’t come from money; it comes from authentic relationships and from never settling because of the insecurities and fears that hold us back.
How are you going to shake things up next?
We are in the business of helping companies globally grow their footprint, but we want to do the same for ourselves. A big part of our growth strategy this year hinges on evaluating the market, diversifying our client base and adding new talent before someone else can sweep them up. That’s typically not heard of in business — most leaders would tell you to build the service line and then hire the talent. But we want the talent on our team and then we will chase after the work. People are at the heart of what we do. Getting the right talent will guide where we go next — never the other way around.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
The best advice I ever received was to never make business decisions based on money alone. The person who gave me that advice learned the hard way, and lost their company because they had chased after the dollar and lost sight of what truly mattered. Even with the growth of Thinc Strategy and the success we have seen over the last five years, I have never let that advice stray too far away.
True success isn’t a sprint — it’s a marathon. With that mindset and a whole lot of patience, you can trust that doing the right thing will lead to the money eventually.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
I’m an avid readers, so picking one book feels almost like sabotage to all the other great pieces of literature I’ve read and learned from over the years. But if I had to pick one, I’d have to go with Good to Great by Jim Collins. His book was a true ah-ha moment for me. While I’ve read better writing — nothing against Jim — I’ve never read a book that made me think so much about the importance of building a company that integrates the very best minds and talent.
When starting a business, you do everything, but doing everything is impossible to sustain. That book was the first moment when I realized that the only way I could create a sustainable, long lasting brand was to surround myself with people smarter than me, and let them do what they were great at doing.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this.
My one pick has to go to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
I guarantee you when he started Amazon, his friends and family and business associates thought he was absolutely nuts. But today, the world runs on his nutty idea. His company has gone from selling books to connecting the world through a digital marketplace. He is the picture of disruption.
I’d love to talk to him about the courage it took to be so bold and so disruptive. I’m no Amazon, but I too have had many people tell me I’m wrong and that my ideas are too big. But in the end, I chased those ideas anyway and I was right. If I didn’t have the courage to keep chasing after my dreams, I wouldn’t be where I am, and my clients wouldn’t be where they are.
I admire the dreamers and the Bezos’ of the world who can confidently press forward when everyone else is telling them to stop.
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