Cara Thomas- Founder of SERENFLIPITY
Waking up in a different country not knowing what the day will hold, being at a crossroad in your life, makes taking the big adventure of LIFE sound amazing and scary at once. It takes a lot of courage to take that step, but if you have even a little support, those days get easier, and you notice the bliss and adventure around every corner. In need of that herself, she started Serenflipity as a personal experiment, when she convinced 90 friends, clients and strangers to write adventures for her to complete on a solo travel journey. The results were surprising and serendipitous.
Cara, you built a successful unique business called Serenflipity- your personal Adventure Concierge, give us a little insight what can people expect from this adventure and how does it work?
Serenflipity started as a deck of cards that allows people to find adventure every day -- inside, you could expect to find nudges that help shift your routine and perspective but are also open enough to allow you to get creative and make them work for you. For example, "buy coffee for the person behind you in line" or "eat something you've never tried before" are a few fan favorites. We just started Flip Text (the personal adventure concierge) -- here, you can expect that a real, awesome human is texting you, sending you on adventures, asking you questions that flip your perspective and giving you ideas and feedback.
So you switched from the corporate world and went onto your adventure and launched your own business, when did you know that it was time for more adventure in your life and how was the idea of Serenflipity born?
Serenflipity started as a personal adventure to get "unstuck" from corporate life, and to help get over a break up. I traveled for 90 days, following adventures that my friends had given me. I took the 30 that changed my life the most and turned that into Serenflipity. Feeling burned out, a bit depressed and stuck in my routine was the nudge for me to go on an adventure — after that, a friend challenged me to turn the project into a product which is how Serenflipity was born.
You live in LA , how helpful was your community in the first month of launching your business?
Community was and is critical! Los Angeles -- and Venice, specifically -- is an incredible place to launch a business. I found myself surrounded by fellow adventurers and creatives, as well as tech entrepreneurs, and that community has supported Serenflipity in so many ways, from making introductions, building and finding the right resources, to positive nudges in those dark moments.
Who has been your biggest personal supporter since you began on this new adventure?
There are so many — it's impossible to name just one! Fellow female entrepreneurs have been incredibly supportive, as have friends and family. My parents have been huge supporters, as they've watched the business grow. I remember when I started, they joked that they really hoped I knew what I was doing (I didn't!). As they've watched the journey, they constantly remind me of how much things have grown and how the right person, resource or thing always seems to pop up at the right time.
How did you start out as your own boss? How long did you still have a day job until you could jump entirely into the new adventure?
I continued working as an innovation consultant for almost 2 years -- Serenflipity was a passion project on the side. It was only when I moved to LA in 2015 that I started focusing on it fully and resign from my job.
How does your self-employed life differ from your corporate life?
What are the most rewarding moments on your new journey?
I believe the old 9 - 5 model is broken. Being self employed allows me to work more productively and creatively -- when that strike of inspiration hits. And it's a very different way of working -- I find that I have my best ideas when I'm walking on the beach, or eating dinner, and giving myself permission to tap into what works for me (vs sitting at a computer in front of a spreadsheet) allows me to be more productive. However, being self-employed, you're always making decisions and it's easy to get decision fatigue -- I find myself toggling between big strategic choices and small minute details (I joke that I'm CEO and intern), and that constant shifting gears can lead to fatigue. The most rewarding moments are the breakthroughs -- when I've been putting in effort into something for months (or even years) and it feels like nothing's coming out the other side -- but then, boom!, a huge opportunity out of left field. Also, being able to make things happen quickly is an incredible feeling -- Flip Text started as a small experiment with friends, that 30 days later, became something we wanted to test with wild users.
What are some of the best business tools you have found so far?
Facebook groups like Dreamers//Doers are incredibly helpful for ideas and resources -- and also being in a community of others who are creating. HARO is great for finding leads for stories for publicity and press.
How do you love to network ?
I hate networking, and I sort of refuse to do it. I like to meet people as friends and fellow collaborators, finding shared passions and goals. If a collaboration comes out of that, great -- but I don't go in to situations looking for business partners, investors, etc. I've found that comes as a result of connecting as humans.
Can you describe what it means to you- to do what you do in three words?
Unstick and find magic.
What do you think can help women support each other the best?
Cutting comparison, and focusing on the "why" of what we're each creating leads to mutual support. Asking, how can we help each woman achieve her purpose and personal and professional "why"? Celebrating the gifts we have to give and empowering each other to deliver those gifts is a mindset that can help women support each other.
What are two topics in the business world you would like to see more openly discussed?
Anxiety/depression and how it links to business is a topic that I think everyone feels but rarely talks about. I'm always amazed by the camaraderie that comes up when someone shares vulnerably about challenges with mental wellbeing, and how many people will say, "I feel that way too. I thought I was the only one." It's deeper than our individual feelings however, so I am always curious about the system and structures that are leading to this epidemic.
How do you stay balanced?
Getting back to purpose and the "why" of what I'm creating helps me stay balanced -- it's easy to get thrown by curve balls or logistics, but when I connect back to the purpose of the business, those roadblocks become easier to navigate. I know why I have to get through them and what I need to create for people.
Part of my meditation practice includes connecting with that purpose, and ends with a little prayer that I can be useful to others through what we're creating. I also have little alarms on my phone that remind me to find gratitude, love and trust through the day, which always re-centers me, and I have a daily gratitude list that I write that. (So yes, meditation is a big part too.)
Where can we find you when you're not working and why do you love those places?
You can find me at the beach or hiking Temescal -- I love nature!
Thanks so much Cara for the insights of your journey.