Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall is an extraordinary person with an endearing nickname and a quiet confidence from being chosen.
I was introduced to her through a podcast and intrigued enough to purchase her biography, You’ve Been Chosen: Thriving Through The Unexpected
Raised in a house with an abusive father who broke her nose when she was a teen, Cynthia earned a full scholarship to Berkeley, where she became the school’s first Black cheerleader. She graduated with 13 job offers, choosing AT&T, where she spent parts of four decades building a renowned career.
She and her husband Kenny raised four adopted children, including one they first saw during a “Wednesday’s Child” segment on the 6 o’clock news. Before that, they endured four second-trimester miscarriages and buried a daughter, Karoline, born four months premature. She survived Stage 3 colon cancer.
Cynthia experienced a lot of firsts in her life including the first black woman in a whole lot of boardrooms and leadership teams across the country and she was the first black woman CEO of an NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks. She had never heard of Mark Cuban when he cold-called her in 2018. He needed a culture transformation for the business side of his basketball team. The Mavs were dealing with sexual harassment and workplace misconduct going back roughly 20 years, predating Cuban’s purchase of the team in 2000.
Five years later, six of the 14 members of the Mavs’ executive leadership team are women, while seven are people of color. Of 28 employees at the VP level and above, 11 are women and 11 are people of color. Those reflect a 350% increase of women in executive leadership and a 224% increase of women and people of color at VP or above over the past four seasons. At the same time, business metrics have soared, with ticket revenue increasing 64%, sponsorships up 111% and grants through the Mavs’ foundation rising 162%.
One of Cynthia’s most common expressions is “attitude shapes everything.” This idea was instilled in her at a young age by her mother.
Cynthia says, “My whole life story when I look back at it has shown me that there are rarely clear answers about why things happen in life. By the time I found out about the nasty tumour in my colon I had already been chosen for a lifetime full of stories about the way the Lord provides. I’ve been given blessings and opportunities beyond measure but also my share of adversity.”
The day before her 51st birthday she had a colonoscopy. It was the thing to do before a person turns 50. Leaving it to one day before was so Cynthia. The test showed a good-sized tumour. She was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. Just 18 months before that, her father had died from colon cancer.
She called her mom, crying, expecting sympathy. Her mom got into her preacher’s voice and told her, “This is for God’s glory. God will get the glory out of this. You have a very high-profile job. A lot of people will hear this story and you will be healed and there would be a good story to tell. You have been chosen.”
Eleven Takeaways From Cynt
1. The fight of your life is the fight for your life.
2. Bad things happen but there’s always a plan. You may never understand it because you can’t see the whole picture of how your past, present, and future work together but that doesn’t mean the plan doesn’t exist.
3. Dream. Focus. Pray. Act. is one of her favourite reminders of how to handle life. “And we’ll get through this together.”
4. Painful things are often what lead us into places we’d never go otherwise.
5. The question we need to ask in facing adversity isn’t why. That won’t get you anywhere. That’s not your business.
6. The questions you need to ask are: What will I do with what I have been given? How will I respond to grace? How will I respond with generosity? Where will this new path take me if I keep moving along it? What can I take from the experience and offer back to the world as something good?
7. Find your voice of power.
8. You can make it through a lot more than you might expect.
9. You have been equipped for whatever you’re facing.
10. You have a choice in how you will respond.
11. You’ve been chosen.
What are your thoughts about being “chosen.” What is your experience? Please join the conversation below.
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