When Your Personality and Job Don’t Match—Time for a Change:
Cynde Greer began working for a well-known federal agency as soon as she graduated from
high school. Not unlike many young people first starting out, her decision was based on the
hourly pay and good benefits. But after working there for a very short period of time, she
realized she didn’t really like the job or the organization. The environment was very
bureaucratic, stifling, and unfair. Cynde said, “My manager would give me work to do, and
because of my work ethic, I would do the job to the best of my ability. After a while, my
manager was giving me more work than the others, and I asked why. The manager said, ‘I know
you will do it and do it right.’ So right then I knew if you show any drive, initiative, and knowhow, you are NOT going to be promoted! They promote the people that can’t get along with
others and don’t do the work!”
Without a college degree, she didn’t think she could find a better job, so she continued to work
at the federal agency. Over time, the negative environment really wore on Cynde’s mental
state. As she describes, “It is hard to work somewhere for 18 years where the only type of
feedback you get is negative. We were never complimented on our work or told we were doing
a good job.” Finally, the last straw was when her manager came to her and told her that of her
two days off each week, she would have to give up Fridays. That was the turning point.
Although she only needed to put in two more years of service to be eligible for early
retirement, she knew she was too angry and stressed out to make it. So she quit.
As a member of a dual-income family, she started looking for another job. One day on the
radio, she heard an advertisement for massage therapy school. She had always enjoyed getting
a massage and pampering herself, so she decided to apply. Cynde was accepted and
immediately knew she had made the right decision. Cynde said, “It just felt right! The day I gave
my first massage, I got such positive feedback. I had not had that in my previous job. Helping
others has always been important to me, and with massage therapy, you can see the
transformation—the help you are providing people is apparent immediately. I thrived on the
Although Cynde truly felt her career move was the right decision, she and her husband, John,
had to figure out if they could financially handle the $10,000 or so initial investment (including
the cost of school) necessary to get Cynde started as a massage therapist after graduation.
Based on their calculations, Cynde would have positive cash flows within the first year of
operation that would enable her to effectively manage the debt she would incur. John’s best
estimate on breakeven was about eight years. This estimate included the assumption of
additional investments (e.g., continuing education units [CEUs], equipment). They decided to go
Three main types of legitimate massage therapy exist. The first type is somewhat “spiritual” in
the sense that the body’s aura and energy are emphasized. The second type is focused on
recreational massage or “spa therapy,” which is often experienced at resorts. The third type is
medical or health related. Cynde wanted her business mission to be the latter, helping people
with pain management. She rented a 325-square-foot facility for $300 per month. Cynde did
the painting, decorating, and Web site herself to keep her costs down. She initially tried joining
business associations and various advertising strategies but soon realized the best way to get
dependable customers was simple word of mouth.
After three years in business, Cynde is doing well. She charges $65 per hour with rate
differentials for more or less time. Financially, she is making double what most therapists make.
Her clientele is composed of individuals 35 years of age and older, with 85 percent being
women and 50 percent being recurring customers. The business flows are somewhat
seasonal—Christmas and spring are the most active periods. From January to May, her
schedule is quite full, with summer being the slowest period. Cynde believes she has done
better than most, even during economic downturns, because of her mission. People with pain
don’t take breaks. Her services are always in demand—so much so that in addition to her
clients, she is now teaching classes at the massage therapy school! Her massage classes include
Swedish, spa, sports, chair, and special populations (e.g., pregnancy), as well as courses in
business management and laws/ licensing. In addition, she sublets her facility off and on to
another therapist when she is not using it. Even though the sublet brings in additional revenues,
it is not a dependable arrangement.
At this point, Cynde is faced with another decision to make. What to do next? She has identified
four possible alternatives.
Implement a stability strategy and continue operating just as she is currently.
Grow the business through independent contractors. She has spoken to her landlord and
believes she can get the space next door, which is between 1,000 and 1,200 square feet. While
the rent is negotiable, Cynde believes she may be able to negotiate a rate between $700 and
$1,000 per month. The space is already set up for dividers, so she could conceivably put two to
four other therapists in the space in separate areas. In addition to a bathroom, it has an area
for a washer and dryer, which would enable Cynde to launder on site the sheets, blankets, and
towels used by her clients. Cynde would rent each space for $600, which would include the use
of her established business name, the space, utilities, and washing/drying services. Each
therapist would handle all of his or her own customers, including appointments, billing,
Grow the business by hiring employees. Assuming she could get the space next door under the
same terms and conditions described in alternative 2, Cynde would hire one to two massage
therapists, rather than using independent contractors. The employee could be paid $15 per
hour to be on site for six to eight hours five days a week and could earn tips from clients.
Because she is now teaching at the massage school, Cynde believes she will be in a position to
offer an opportunity to the best graduates.
Diversify the business by becoming a full-service salon. This alternative would require moving to
a different, larger, and more visible business location. The facility would need two separate
entrances—one for massage therapy services and one for traditional salon services. Her
daughter is thinking about cosmetology school, and this would be an opportunity for Cynde and
her daughter to work together, with her daughter ultimately having something tangible as a
career alternative. The full-service salon would provide hair styling, manicures, pedicures, a
variety of massages (e.g., health, sports, spa), and personal care products. The salon would
employ full-time employees as well as utilize independent contractors.
What type of MBTI® decision style do you think Cynde has? Explain.
Based on your answer to question 1, what are Cynde’s strengths and blind spots when making
Help Cynde with steps 3 and 4 of the decision process (e.g., see Exhibit 3-2) by gathering
information from the library and the Internet. Using this information and what you have
learned from this chapter, how would you advise Cynde to proceed? Discuss.