What’s On My Desk: SIVO Insights Managing Partner Cindy Blackstock
Cindy Blackstock's clean desk comes with a cozy fireplace view. (Photo courtesy of Cindy Blackstock)

What’s On My Desk: SIVO Insights Managing Partner Cindy Blackstock

It takes two desks and a lot of video conferencing to manage a virtual team with clients around the country.

Cindy Blackstock runs SIVO Insights, a consumer insights and strategy firm that works with  Fortune 500 brands. Along with her business partner Marilyn Weiss, she manages a virtual team of 30 who work on projects around the country. It takes two desks to get her work done—after collaborating and brainstorming at the company’s Minnetonka office, Blackstock’s home office is a haven where she retreats when quiet concentration is required. We took a peek to see what’s on her desk.

Mug. My SIVO Insights mug features a saying by Howard Thurman that guides how we custom build our research teams for the work we do: “Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Ironman medals. They remind me of the value of discipline—I am a triathlete and have done three full Ironman competitions.  I have also competed in Kona at the Ironman World Championship. 

Patent award. I used to be an engineer and have four patents. 

Family photos. Picture of my kids—we value flexibility in our office and having family time is important to me.

Team photo. We work virtually with people all over the country and twice a year we get together for a team-building event.  Looking at the 30 faces on our team today makes me think about all we can accomplish together.

Painting. When Marilyn and I became partners my husband bought this left and right brain painting for us.  I love it because it is an accurate representation of us.  She is the right-brain creative mind and I am left-brain roadmap of structure and grids.

About Her Work Space

Private office or open work space? At the SIVO Insights office we have an open, collaborative workspace.  It allows us to ideate together which is crucial for the work.  The collaborative workspace takes out the hierarchy and allows us to function as a more cohesive team.  My home office is for times when private concentration is needed. 

View from your desk? Much of my daily view is looking at the people on my team through video chat.  It is important to our work culture that we stay connected, so this allows us to do that within the flexible work environment we’ve established.

How much time work do you at your desk? I have a steady mix of working at my desk managing our business strategy, operations and finance as well as external work leading clients and hosting leadership meetings.  As managing partner, I also coordinate with the rest of our team who are out conducting consumer research in the field, which could be in homes, retail environments, online, internationally and all over the United States.

Can you work at a messy desk? I have an engineering background, so it’s probably no surprise that I think best when my surroundings are in order.