Born-and-raised in California, Shoestring Warrior Cyndee was ingrained with a love for the outdoors at a early age, traveling the world with her parents and discovering herself along the way. Even as a baby, she was strapped to her mother’s back on a deep sea fishing boat with her father in Alaska — the fish they caught still sits on the family mantelpiece.
From Girl Scout to Camp Counselor, student to Engineer, MBA to Movie Marketer, she has blossomed into a natural leader, helping others find their true passions and achieve their goals, and ultimately leading her to connect with Shoestring Adventures!
Cyndee has become an invaluable member of our family, working with us behind-the-scenes to grow the community and get more people outdoors. Learn more about her inspiring story in our interview below, including her advice for stepping out of your comfort zone and into the world on your own!
Shoestring Warrior: Cyndee
Manhattan Beach, CA
Movie Marketer, Professional Storyteller and part-time Adventurer
What are your passions outside of work?
Enjoying every opportunity life gives me, while trying to make the world a better place by sharing my experiences with others. Typically this leads me to…
- Pushing myself mentally and physically through outdoors activities like triathlons and marathons
- Expanding my knowledge base by travelling or taking up new skills from hunting to scuba diving
- Connecting with new/old friends by hosting networking events or throwing parties
How would you describe your level of camping experience?
Intermediate. I know all the basics from my years in Girl Scouts and being a YMCA/Boy Scout Camp Counselor… but I haven’t gone out as much as I would like in my “adult years.” I’m hoping to change that by expanding my network of like-minded campers through Shoestring Adventures!
Tell us about yourself!
I’m an enigma wrapped in an enigma struggling with A.D.D. California born-and-raised, but grew up travelling the world. Half Asian (Filipino) and Half German/Scottish. Raised Catholic, but half my family is Mormon and many of my friends are Hindu/Buddhist/Atheist/Other. Software Engineer, but also an Artist. Sixty percent left brain and forty percent right brain according to a Facebook Survey. A true tomboy, but also the biggest girly girl. My life was a constant struggle to define myself, until I finally accepted that I am just a Jill of all Trades, and I learned to appreciate the beauty in being unique.
What truly drives me is my passion for using creativity and innovation to effectively tell a story and connect with the people around me.
Being able to help others reach their goals and find their passion is what excites me every morning.
Luckily, I’ve been able to translate this into my career. As an MBA with 10+ years planning and implementing results‐focused marketing strategies via integrated programs and brand management, I’ve had extensive experience collaborating with amazing people in order to bring to market some really inspiring films. Some of my favorite projects to manage have included Soul Surfer, Heaven is for Real, War Room, Hello My Name is Doris, Brooke Burke Fitness Series, Final Fantasy: Kingsglaive and the Insidious franchise. Every story speaks to a different person and every person is unique in how they relate or consume information. Being able to help people find something that will inspire them inspires me!
When and how did you discover your love for the outdoors?
Being outdoors is part of who I am. It wasn’t something I discovered, but rather something that was ingrained into my soul by my parents. Even as a baby, my mother has pictures of me on her back while deep sea fishing with my father in Alaska — the big fish they caught still sits on our fireplace mantel today!
I was lucky enough to have parents that made me join Girl Scouts and pushed me to challenge myself. Since my parents travelled a lot for work, I spent my summers at various camps learning various outdoor skills and eventually taking on leadership roles as a counselor teaching others.
There’s truly something inspiring and enlightening about being outdoors and creating unique experiences with others. At the end of the day, seeing a shooting star or waking up with a deer at your tent door may only be experienced once in a lifetime.
No two experiences will ever be the exactly same. Take in that moment, and be grateful that you were able to experience that miracle of life!
You recently went on your first solo backpacking trip. What was your biggest obstacle, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle was overcoming myself and the stigmatism society puts on single females. As a female, I was always taught to “wait until you have a buddy” because it’s not safe to travel or do “xyz” alone. Over the years, I’ve met some extraordinary women, and coupled with my own experiences, I’ve learned that there’s no point in waiting — you just have to be smart and constantly aware of your surroundings. It’s unfair that as a female we have to be more cognizant and thoughtful of our surroundings and actions, but at the same time, these experiences have taught me to be more observant and empathetic to the world around me. As a result, I’ve had the chance to meet amazing people all over the world with incredible stories to share.
I started small by going to dinner by myself to get out of my comfort zone, just observing and listening to the “happenings” around me. Then I moved on to visiting Disneyland, going to the movies, and eventually, traveling to South Africa and India solo! These experiences were refreshing and eye-opening — adventure really does begin at the edge of your comfort zone!
Going backpacking solo was another big step for me. My other solo adventures were always about being around other people and cultures. This time I had to push myself in a new way as the only thing I had to observe was my imagination and the nature around me. It was an enlightening and wonderful experience I think everyone should have at least once in their lifetime… alone.
What advice do you have for other Shoestring Warriors who want to learn how to camp or backpack?
Get out of your comfort zone, and just get outside… and maybe ask an outdoorsy friend to come along for support. Most experienced campers like myself have tons of equipment and are happy to share our experiences/tools/knowledge. There are free programs through REI and Meetup… and if you really just want to get your feet wet, join one of the amazing trips organized by Shoestring Adventures!
Would you tell us a little about your experience as a community leader? How do you balance being a successful career woman, community leader and weekend warrior?
Being a leader comes naturally to me… I’m an ENTJ if you are familiar with Myers-Briggs. As a kid, I was called bossy and over the years I’ve honed my leadership skills through taking on leadership roles, educating myself on different types of leadership styles and focusing my energy towards the “bigger picture.”
In elementary school, I started taking leadership roles at school and in my sports leagues because I liked the attention from my peers, teachers and parents. In high school, I did the same at school and in the summers served as a camp counselor at YMCA, Girl Scout and Boy Scout camps. During my time as a counselor, this is when I realized I truly enjoyed helping others find their own passions and step out of their comfort zones. In college, my parents “forced” me to study engineering, so I took leadership roles in my Sorority and within the Panhellenic community to get practice in what I really wanted to get into, which was marketing.
Now as an adult, I use my leadership skills in my Marketing career by leading and collaborating with filmmakers, Licensor/Content partners, vendors as well as functional and commercial teams to drive product development and ensure campaign plans deliver on the determined go-to-market strategies.
Even though I have a huge case of FOMO, I try to constantly take a step back and ask myself, “Is what I’m doing right now helping me in the future or helping others learn how to be more self sufficient?” If not, time to reevaluate the situation and see if the task can be delegated or ignored.
At the end of the day, life is short, and we should focus our energy on what truly inspires and energizes us while honing/leveraging the knowledge and talents that we were given.
There are tons of great books and classes that have helped me over the years. Some recommendations: Business School, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Myers-Briggs Class, Designing Your Life, The Artist Way, join or volunteer with nonprofits like YMCA or Girl/Boy Scouts, join a Sorority, listen to TED talks and just learn from people that inspire you.
What’s your favorite local destination (e.g. trail, peak, park or campsite) in Los Angeles so far?
Mount Baldy! It’s a quick drive from LA and there’s a ton of diversity on the trail. Not only is it challenging, but the views are unbelievable. One moment you feel like you’re climbing a scene in Everest and the next you’ve travelled to a scene in Lord of the Rings… then you can drink a beer at the Ski Lodge!
Where would be your dream weekender with Shoestring Adventures?
Experiencing something once-in-a-lifetime, like the upcoming total eclipse in Madras, Oregon. There’s nothing more powerful than experiencing extraordinary moments with amazing like-minded adventurers!
s’more: campfire dessert!
The Girl Scout Campfire Banana Boat. First, take a banana and peel back 1 slit of the peel. Then mash (and maybe take a couple bites of) the fruit inside while mixing in some chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows. Finally, wrap the whole thing in foil and roast it on the fire for 10-15 mins. BOOM!! Instant gooey goodness!
Follow Cyndee’s adventures on Instagram!
Photos © 2017 Cyndee Ewing