Cheryl Thomson is a professional communications specialist based out of Union, New Jersey. After graduating from high school, Cheryl enrolled in a combination of business and communications courses in college. She spent a few semesters alternating between the two disciplines as her primary area of focus, but eventually settled on communications as her major, believing that her innate talent in that field would carry her farther in a corporate setting.
Upon earning her BA and entering the professional world, Cheryl Thomson received multiple job offers for entry level positions. After a good deal of research, she chose employment with Computer Recycling, believing it to be a company that aligned well with her personal values. As a company that specializes in the proper disposal of obsolete and unwanted electronic equipment, Computer Recycling is at its core an enterprise built on preserving the environment, which Cheryl feels is the most important issue facing the human race presently. At this point, Cheryl has worked Computer Recycling for just under five years, and she takes great pride in her work as the official spokesperson for the company.
Outside of work, Cheryl Thomson is an avid cycling enthusiast, an amateur gourmet chef, and a fervent lover of cats. On the weekends, she can often be found reading mystery novels in her local park.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Computer Recycling has been around long before I began working there. However, through my many talks with its owners and executives, I can tell you that the idea for the business was borne of two elements: One, the founders of the company realized a few decades back that there was an absolute glut of old electronic appliances piling up all around the country, which was wasteful under the best of circumstances and toxic to the Earth and its people under the worst. Two, the founders also realized that, due to the rapid evolution in technology year over year, this problem would not be going away anytime soon, which means that a business focused on electronics recycling would always be in demand. Boiled down to its basest elements, Computer Recycling’s business model is financially sustainable, while at the same time helping to make human civilization environmentally sustainable.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
After waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, and drinking a few cups of coffee, I generally go for a quick bicycle ride around my neighborhood. Sometimes I bike to work. I’m usually at the office between 8 – 8:15 am, at which point I dig into my daily tasks. These include, but are not limited to, drafting press copy, organizing publicity events, conducting research, and preparing reports. Depending on the day, I also attend meetings with co-workers and clients of Computer Recycling. Of course, these days, the meetings mostly happen on the phone or over Zoom.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m a big believer in visualizing outcomes before undertaking a task. It’s a technique I read about some years ago, and I guess it’s similar to the power of positive thinking. Anyhow, once I’m given a job to do, I spend anywhere between 1 – 5 minutes silently picturing the ideal outcome in my head. Even if that’s not always how things work out in reality, I still find it to be a helpful exercise.
What’s one trend that excites you?
In the past, the business of corporate public relations hasn’t always enjoyed the best reputation when it comes to honesty. However, that is really beginning to change. Because the general public now has much better access to information (no one has to dig through stacks of books at the library anymore: they can easily just use search engines on their laptops and smartphones), it’s much harder to obfuscate the truth. I absolutely love that trend. Telling the truth openly and honestly makes my job so much more palatable, and obviously it’s the ethical thing to do.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
According to everything I’ve read, exercising a little bit each day really improves creativity and stamina, among other things. From what I understand, it has to do with increased blood flow throughout the body. Anyhow, that’s why I use part of my lunch break to stretch and perform mild calisthenics every day. I honestly think it makes me more productive. Between that and eating a healthy midday meal, I’m raring to get back to work when 1:00 PM rolls around!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I suppose I would tell my younger self to slow down and try to enjoy youth more. When I was in high school, I was so concerned with my future that I often forgot to live in the present. At the time, the future seemed so much more important. I regret that mindset now.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that the New York Jets will win the Super Bowl this coming season. Many of my friends and virtually all of the so-called ‘football experts’ don’t think they have a chance, but I have faith.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Reuse old items whenever possible, reduce overall material consumption, and recycle whatever waste you do produce! I take my cues from Computer Recycling in that respect. If my company can base an entire business around laptop recycling & the proper disposal of complex electronic equipment and appliances, the least the rest of us can do as individuals is pitch in, too. The planet needs all the help it can get.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
In my line of work, it’s important to stay in front of the news cycle. What that means in terms of being a spokesperson and a communications specialist is publicly announcing all news—good or not so good—relating to the entity or person you represent before the press & social media gets hold of it and draws their own conclusions. This is done so that it can be framed in the most positive possible light; that way victories can be amplified and bad news can be downplayed or buried. It’s how I feel we manage to stay a step or two ahead of other companies that focus on desktop recycling.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I once misspoke drastically while talking to a reporter. I won’t tell you what I said exactly—only that it had nothing to do with the company and it was exceptionally embarrassing. I fixed my problem by promising to buy the reporter coffee for a week if he didn’t print the gaffe.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Any kind of business connected with green energy is going to be very in-demand in the near future and for the foreseeable future, as well. There is a gigantic sea change coming with respect to power generation, and solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy are in the ascendance.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently paid about $100 for a two hour-long full body massage. It was worth every last penny for the amount of physical relaxation and stress relief that it gave me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The nature of my job dictates that I’m virtually always on social media. YouTube and Twitter specifically play an important role in my professional life. Sometimes I use them to post messages and videos pertaining to the company, but mainly I use them to aggregate stories in the news relevant to our industry, and to better understand the reaction of the general public to certain subjects.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Although it was written over 80 years ago, the advice it contains remains strikingly relevant in 2021.
What is your favorite quote?
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” — Richard Branson
- Reuse, reduce, and recycle!
- In order to maintain peak productivity, eat healthy and exercise a little bit every day.
- Be sure to not fixate on the future at the expense of the present. Each of us only gets one life to live.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.