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Leaving the Corporate World to Build My Media Empire Part 1

30 Mar 2014

written by Cindy Matalucci

Leaving the Corporate World to Build My Media Empire Part 1

By Cindy Matalucci

I have always been a ham, it’s true!

When I was younger I always knew I wanted to have a glamorous successful, high profile job. My Mom used to call me “Sara Bernhardt” because I was always acting and crying on the drop of a dime to get a rise out of her. I used to entertain our neighbors for hours acting and dancing and singing for them while they drank their martinis at the beach in Avalon New Jersey! They would hang over their deck upstairs as I danced below them and changed into different costumes. I would come up with ideas like a new radio show where I was the radio personality and create skits and funny things to say on the radio. My cousin and I would record ourselves doing these hysterical skits on a boom box I had in my room with a cassette tape. I would act out scenes from a movie, and paint my face with bruises and blood for effect! I literally almost gave my Mom a heart attack with this particular tactic.

Not too long after that, I just knew I was going to be a Charlie’s Angel. Those wardrobes and locations and the fact that those ladies could kick butt, shoot a gun, and were actual spies. That was a dream job, even if you worked for Charlie! I used to dress up in my Moms clothes to get into character as Cheryl Ladd’s “Chris Monroe.” My Dad had a cigarette lighter that was a little hand gun and I would put this in my purse to complete the get up! I was quite a handful growing up I must say.

Playing the drums with bowls

Playing the drums with bowls

Dressing up this dog!

Dressing up this dog!

My cousin Lisa and I

My cousin Lisa and I

Dancing on the back porch

Dancing on the back porch

Look at this pose!

Look at this pose!

High School Grad Pic Oh my

High School Grad Pic Oh my

 

When I got to college, I majored in English. My focus was on Women’s Literature, 18th Century Women’s literature no less. I thoroughly enjoyed analyzing novels like Jane Eyre and writing essays about the complicated relationship she had with Mr. Rochester. I dug the poetry from the 18th Century especially Lord Byron and the Romantic Poets which was more individualistic than regular British poetry. It was all so dramatic and romantic and I was hooked. I did my thesis on The use of the Vampire in English Literature, and the sexual connotation it had in novels like Dracula and poems from Lord Byron. Exciting stuff! I guess you could say I was an English buff or nerd however you want to look at it.

College Life

College Life

Me in college OMG!

Me in college OMG!

Fast forward to 4 years later and it was graduation day. What was I going to do with my life now? I had an English Major and lived in a small town in Avalon, New Jersey that had a total population of maybe 900 people in the winter when I was living there. It was an island and had the Bay on one side and the beach on the other. In the summer, people flocked to the island in droves to enjoy their summer vacations and extended long weekends from cities like Pennsylvania and New York. In the winter it was an absolute ghost town, not a car on the road, hence my big dreams of getting out and making something out of my life!

13 people in my 8th grade class

13 people in my 8th grade class

It was never a motivation or drive problem with me. That I can 100% blame on my parents. They both worked full time jobs so I was very self sufficient from the time I was a little girl, plus I hated anyone doing anything for me, even my laundry, when I could handle it myself. This would be Type A personality in the making. I was always involved in extra curricular school activities and sports and since my parents worked, I usually had to fend for myself to get a ride from school or practice. They often missed my basketball and field hockey games. I would look up at the stands and see all the other kids parents cheering their daughters on and I was just there by myself, having to be my own inner cheerleader. The good part about this is it created an inner drive in me to compete with myself and to push myself to do better and try harder. I had an innate drive to succeed and to never give up. I didn’t need to have someone there to please or motivate me, I built up my own inner strength and resilience and went after what I wanted. Thank you Mom and Dad for that, although they might have created a monster for God’s sake.

Little League Only gal on the team.  Nick name: "Miss Hollywood."

Little League Only gal on the team. Nickname:”Miss Hollywood.”

High SchoolBasketball

High SchoolBasketball

High School Field Hockey

High School Field Hockey

High School

High School

College Field Hockey

College Field Hockey

Brooding on the hockey field

Brooding on the hockey field

California Dreaming

So what did I want after college graduation? To get the heck out of New Jersey and quickly. After spending a few months traveling through mainland Mexico, I decided that I really wanted to move to California. In essence I was a beach girl, and needed to be by the beach, plus I had always dreamed of the West Coast and living by Hollywood with all the starlets and glamour. There I would find my glamorous life. First I convinced the guy I was dating at the time that we absolutely had to move to California and live with his brother in Encinitas. Next, I rented a u-haul, packed all my belongings I could fit along with my best friend, my dog Mr. Bing, said goodbye to my family and headed out west. I can still see my Mom crying and shaking her head as we pulled out of my driveway! On a side note, the boyfriend packed one bag. I don’t think he thought I was serious, little did he know!

College Graduation with Tony

College Graduation with Tony

Mainland Mexico

Mainland Mexico

Monte Alban Ruins

Monte Alban Ruins

Mom & I at the beach in New Jersey

Mom & I at the beach in New Jersey

It all seemed like a great plan and I was having daydreams of running a successful exciting PR Firm where I was wining and dining clients and making large sums of money! Reality check time! Fast forward to me first living with 5 guys I went to high school with in Leucadia and all my clothes in boxes under the stairs. Fun for about 5 minutes. I was circling job adds in the classified section of the newspaper and going on interviews. I knew NO ONE in California and I had no connections. I left all my connections on the East Coast. All my college friends were on the East Coast as well. It was just me out here trying to make something of my life. (And my constant companion Mr. Bing who kept my sanity!)

I remember finding a recruiter who ripped me apart. She was in this huge executive office and had this extra large phone on her desk. She would interrupt me and take calls on her phone. She would proceed to tell the client on the other line, “You will never work in this town, San Diego is not a high salary city. You will not make that kind of money here.” Click! Then she would hang up. Looking back she was pretty intimidating although it takes quite a bit of intimidation to scare me. (Try growing up with a Dad that was like Tony Soprano cleaning his shot gun when boys came to pick me up! After that, nothing scares you, but that is another story entirely!) She looked at me and told me that I was crazy to wear a pantsuit to our interview and that women should not wear pants to any job interview. “Men like looking at your legs and do not take you seriously in pants.” I mean was this lady serious? I ended up telling her in my most polite way that I was serious about starting a career here and that I would continue to wear pants whether she liked it or not and if she was not serious about helping me, I would simply find a job myself! She told me that an entry level job in San Diego started at about 18k a year and that I was lucky to get that. I remember storming out of her office not too long after that last statement and thinking, I am going to prove that lady wrong!

Long story short, I found my first job in the Corporate world in Sales and my salary started at 24k a year and I earned double that my first year. I ended up up calling her when I landed the job to rub it in her face, politely of course, and that began the start of a great relationship with that recruiter. I realized that she was testing me and pushing my buttons to see if I was worthy of her time and that I was serious about what I wanted in life. She actually used to vacation in Alaska and dog sled, true story! Very cool lady. She went on to help place me in two more amazing lucrative jobs with Fortune 500 companies. The lesson here is you never know who you are dealing with so be your true authentic self always and never take no for an answer. Enough of my soapbox.

Before our move to Cali

Before our move to Cali

Our apartment in Leucadia

Our apartment in Leucadia

Guys I went to HS with

Guys I went to HS with

Boiler Room Time! Always Be Selling!

This would be the start of me climbing up the corporate ladder. I ended up in sales and found that I really liked the industry. I was very competitive and hated to lose so I had the tenacity to beat out the other sales reps I worked with. In fact, my first job was selling long distance to businesses. It was like the movie Boiler Room every day. There were about 12 reps, all men except for myself and one other girl. The Vice President of the company was a young guy about 25 years old, absolutley gorgeous, making over 100k a year and running around like a kid excited everyday and trying to pump us all up for a phenomenal day of closing sales! (Yep had a major crush on him, a story for another time.)

I was up at 5 and out the door by 6 every morning commuting to the office which took an hour. I would arrive at work for our 7:15 meeting we had every day where we put our estimated sales numbers up on the white board for everyone to see and committed to what we would be selling that week. Then we spent 30 minutes role playing and going over closing techniques. Next we had to go to our offices and with a partner hit the phones for 2 hours until we booked a certain number of appointments. After checking in with our boss, we had to hit the field, ie the freeway, and head to our territory by 10:15 to start knocking on doors of businesses. This would be called cold calling and is very intimidating for most people, but remember I am a ham and not much scares me. If we did not have set appointments for the day, we were required to do a minimum of 50 cold calls a day. Cold calls are heading into a business to solicit the business owner, collect information, and try to close them on the spot which was a very aggressive type of sale.

Needless to say, I was kicked out of many places, and even chased by security in a building downtown. I once got locked in the stairwell at one of the larger high rise buildings downtown (Symphony Towers) and had to walk up a zillion flights of stairs to the top, banging on the door of the restaurant screaming, “let me in!!!” I was dripping with sweat. Not a pretty sight to say the least. I forgot to mention that my territory was downtown San Diego south to the border of Mexico. I was new to San Diego and did not know the area or how to read a Thomas guide, so I basically would get lost, find an office park, park my car, and hit the businesses until I had picked up a card at each one. I was so competitive and determined to be the best in the office, that I would not come back to the office by 5:30 like we were supposed to. I would frequently stay in my territory until someone said yes to me and I closed a sale. I remember walking through the truck yards in Otay Mesa, not speaking a lick of Spanish, knocking on big rig trucks that had trailers for offices and closing business. I don’t know how I did it, but somehow I could communicate with the owners and close the deal. My stockings and suits would be dirty and my boss would be waiting for me at the office in a panic because he thought I was either kidnapped or murdered! One time I was cold calling in Barrio Logan and actually got kicked off the street by the police because this used to be a very unsafe area. Apparently they were worried about my safety as a small petite blonde girl in a melrose place suit and 5 inch heels walking the streets. It all made sense at that time that there were bars on all the office windows in this area and that by 4:30 people were closing up shop quickly and sprinting out of their offices before it got dark.

My Boss and coworkers at my 1st corporate job

My Boss and coworkers at my 1st corporate job

Me at 22

Me at 22

Mr. Bing

Mr. Bing

Bing & I

Bing & I

In a nutshell, I worked my tail off at my first job and was number 1 in the office pretty much every month. I was quickly promoted within the first year to selling large accounts, and had a team under me to support me and send me leads to close. This was the start of me developing my sales and marketing skills, and over the next several years, I honed my skills, worked tirelessly, and successfully grew sales revenues for each company I was hired by. I moved from the telecommunications industry to the printing and publishing industry. I worked for both privately held and publicly held companies.

I realized that I loved the freedom of sales, the challenge of closing a deal, and being in control of how much money I made. If I wanted a gucci purse, I just worked my butt off for a month and closed as many deals as I could to make sure I had the commission check I needed to buy the items I really wanted. In the end, my income was always up to me, and never dependent on anyone else. A type A personality’s dream profession! I am not going to sit here and tell you it was all peaches and cream or champagne and roses, or whatever the expression may be. There were days when I wanted to throw in the towel and many struggles that I went through over the years. I guess an example or two wouldn’t hurt. The first struggle I went through was being out here in San Diego alone not knowing really anyone. The guy I convinced to move out here did not like being a small fish in a big ocean when back home he was popular, wealthy, had a successful family run business, and everyone knew him and loved him. Out here he had to start over. I loved this part and thought this was exhilarating, but him, not so much. He also complained that I had turned into some crazy career person and that all I did was work. He was disgusted by this and shook his head at me. “I can’t believe you wear a suit everyday, leave the house at 6am and don’t come back until 7pm. I don’t even know you anymore.” Nice thing to come home to after you have worked your butt off all day right?

After living with 5 guy friends from high school, I had had enough! I found a nice apartment for us and we moved in by ourselves. The old group disbanded and most of them moved back to the East Coast. My boyfriend lasted maybe a few months then decided he was going to head back to New Jersey. I wished him luck and stayed here by myself in an apartment complex in the Carlsbad area. It was just me and my constant companion Mr. Bing. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep because it was scary out here by myself and I did miss my family and friends but the thing was I wanted a career and my own life more and that drove me to stick it out, hold my head up high and make things work! I swear if I didn’t have Mr. Bing, I don’t know what I would have done! He was my best friend in the world and made me feel safe. Oh the unconditional love you get from your dog! He would see me through many relationships but that is for another article entirely!

KARMA/Be Ethical/BE YOURSELF!

Time for another example. If there is one thing that I stand behind it is being authentic and ethical above all else. In business, if you are not ethical, you can never win. Karma is always a bitch, and your reputation is everything especially if you are building relationships and a good network. I always looked at my career in sales as my own Empire or corporation, as I called it “Cindy Inc.” It did not matter who you worked for but how you differentiated yourself from others. I sold myself along with the product! “Yes Mr. Business owner, you are buying from this Fortune 500 company, but the difference is you get me to handle your account and be your go to gal for everything you may need.” It helped me to develop deep relationships with clients and they followed me from sales job to sales job because of this. When I was in the telecommunications industry, I was told that we had the best fiber optic system/network around. We had no issues with phone lines, and our clients who were calling internationally would always have the best connection they could have. This was something I prided myself on and talked up to potential clients I was wooing.

One day I woke up to a slew of voicemails from my clients on the border of Mexico who could not make an international call on their phones! Keep in mind these are clients who spent 90% of their time on the phones calling their international clients and clients in Mexico. This meant they could NOT do business and hence where losing money every minute their phone lines were down. At this point, I am sure you can imagine what type of voicemails I was receiving. I was literally sick to my stomach thinking how upset these clients were and that it was because of our company they were losing money. When I went to my boss about this, I could never get a straight answer. He just said there were temporary issues and that we would work to fix these as quickly as we could. I ended up driving down to these clients offices and calling our technical support system, and sitting down there with them to let them know I was on their side. What I soon realized is my company was leasing phone lines and fiber optic network from AT & T and reselling them. When we picked lines over from At& T, the system would go down temporarily and created a nightmare for our clients. They could not dial out of their offices and basically could not conduct business!

When I got to the bottom of this and called my boss out on it, he did not have much to say accept, “this is not a big deal, Cindy, your clients will be fine in a few days!” This was completely unacceptable to me. I put my reputation on the line with these clients that were spending a good deal of money with my company. I decided right then and there that I was leaving the company and I quit on the spot! You can imagine the shock on my boss’s face since A.) I was his top rep in the company, B.) I was making quite a bit of money for a 22 year old just out of college, and C.) I did not have another job lined up! I spent 4 hours at the office trying to quit as my boss and several other higher ups in the company tried to talk me out of leaving. They recommended I take 2 weeks paid vacation on them and come back when I was thinking straight. Wait, I was thinking straight, it was these guys that were shiesters and peddling a bunch of lies right? It’s funny how people spin things so that they can live with themselves at the end of the day when they look at themselves in the mirror. I don’t need to keep harping here, you get the point about tough decisions and struggles. It was never an easy road but I never gave up and I never compromised myself. You should have heard the conversation I had with my Mother in New Jersey about this situation. “What you quit your job and have nothing lined up, are you out of your mind!” Yes, over the years I have had several of these “tete a tetes” with Betsy, my beloved Mother, but that is for another time. (TO BE CONTINUED……)

Mom and I

Mom and I “Betsy”


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