We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Cisek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, what principle do you value most?
While people tend to hesitate to show gratitude at work because they think it’s a sign of vulnerability or weakness, I believe it’s actually a sign of strength and leads to stronger, more effective teams. Expressing appreciation to your team and their contributions makes relationships stronger, improves productivity, and drives growth. It creates a culture where constructive feedback is the norm and inspires continued growth in all involved. It makes us recognize we are part of something bigger than ourselves and inherently raises the bar across the business. It drives connection, motivation, discipline, and growth. It makes all involved feel more positive and present today, and more hopeful and motivated about the future.
Most people don’t know that the weekly thankful lists that I’ve done for the past 7-8 years were originally inspired by my Little in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Mreedu, who now is a student at Baylor University, taught me so much about life and the importance of gratitude. She taught me that seeing the joy in life’s regular moments and sharing my appreciation and thankfulness for those around me could truly shift my mindset. Since then, I have made it a priority to make a list of 50 items per week that I am thankful for and it has changed my life and my leadership style. This gratitude mindset allows me to make better decisions and I believe fosters teamwork and cooperation and promotes empathy and compassion in my business and my life.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The Postage is an intergenerational private family network that allows members to securely organize their information, create their estate plans, and privately share family memories & messages so they can be passed on for generations to come. Really what sets us apart is that we’re a digital platform where families can securely share information and memories throughout every life stage. We guide them through an experience that is customized for them. Rather than having documents and passwords scattered, and memories across social media, they can build a private family network, and decide what’s shared with who and when. I’m most proud of the families we’ve helped and the way we are changing the narrative around life and legacy planning.
In regard to challenges, I could have never predicted that I’d launch my company during a global pandemic, and it was definitely one of the most trying and unimaginable obstacles we had to face. While the world was reeling from the pandemic, I closed a funding round, moved our headquarters, started hiring and launched The Postage. Without a strong team, a deep purpose and incredible determination, we would have never accomplished our goal.
COVID-19 and the mass loss that resulted are tragic. As I reflect, I know it’s taught me resiliency and the value in always finding the silver lining. The pandemic has afforded me the opportunity to create a business at the forefront of the movement towards changing how society prepares for, speaks about, and handles death. I came into the market when dying, a very painful and oftentimes avoided topic, was the subject of most conversations and news headlines. Through dedication to help those experiencing loss, and a lot of hustle, we successfully launched during the chaos.
It’s been said that ‘tomorrow is never promised’ and while it may sound cliché, the fact is that we all will connect with that premise at some point in our lives, so it’s better to be prepared. The Postage is a secure hub for organizing all of your important information that can be added to as you build your life and all that goes into it — there’s truly nothing else quite like it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I decided to headquarter The Postage in Houston because it’s an environment filled with energy and potential for growth. It’s got more depth and diversity than any other city I’ve lived in and there’s ALWAYS something to explore.
While a week isn’t enough time to check out all of the things Houston has to offer, it would need to include:
– A facial or massage at Sanctuary Spa, one of the first day spas in the US, followed by brunch at Backstreet Cafe (on the patio).
– A walk down Buffalo Bayou Trail, with views of the Houston Skyline
– Dinner at Hearsay then on to a pro sporting event – we have so many professional sports options that most cities don’t have
– Happy Hour including Oysters and Cocktails at Brasserie 19 for some fun people watching
– Going shopping at the Boutiques in the Heights and having a Crud at Boomtown Coffee, then evening drinks at Permission Whiskey
-Visit the Museum of Natural Science
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There have been many people along my journey who have supported me, challenged me, and have been part of the fire that drove me throughout my career. I’m grateful for every relationship from small to large, positive or negative — they’ve all taught me lessons and have allowed me to grow to be the person I am today.
But the most important influence in my life is my mother, Pat Spencer-Cisek. Beyond obvious reasons, there are so many ways she has enabled and empowered me to be the leader and person I am today.
Because of her and the environment she created in our family I NEVER let the fact that I am a female cross my mind as a potential weakness in being a business leader. EVER. She was the breadwinner in my family and that was my reality. I never questioned if I could do something or not based on my gender.
Because of her I continue to evolve, grow, and recover quickly when I fail. She’s a lifelong learner who always empowered and encouraged me to do whatever I set my mind to even if it wasn’t the “traditional” route. She fostered an environment where I could do things my way, fail fast, learn from those failures, and pick myself up to try again.
Because of her I am a leader who is self-aware and empathic. All throughout my life I have witnessed her be the most gracious leader I’ve ever known. The level of care and compassion that she leads with is remarkable and has influenced me to be a leader that serves with humility and kindness.
Beyond that, I have a group of phenomenal friends who are Founders and Entrepreneurs that inspire me each day. Sabrina Colgin of Sanctuary Spa, Allie Danziger of Ampersand Professionals, Sara Heald of Sara In The City Events, April Roberts of Roberts Wealth Management, Tatiana Fofanova of Koda Health, and so many more.
Finally, another person who has been particularly impactful has been my mentor, and The Postage’s co-founder/board member, Robbie Wright. He was the co-founder and CEO of the first start-up I was part of and gave me my first taste of entrepreneurship. He has been a part of my success, grooming me into the professional I am today. He saw potential in me from the beginning, challenged me while I developed the business plan and was supportive when The Postage got off the ground.
I continue to learn from him and look to his experience as an entrepreneur who has stayed true to himself while managing, helping start and having multiple successful exits. Throughout his career he has championed and supported women in the industry to help even the playing field and see women break through the glass ceiling. His tough love and support has truly gotten me where I am today.