At the very end of 2008, Julia Torgovitskaya Rapoport and I entered a business plan competition at Tufts University, where she was a student. We were seniors in college, clueless about where our lives and careers would lead us, but we had a shared passion for the performing arts. Our entry won 2nd place prize and iCadenza was born.
“CEO of iCadenza” has been my title and identity since I graduated from college. I spent most of my twenties and entered my 30s in this role.
A little over two years ago, I was feeling stuck and frustrated professionally. I felt like I had no idea how to be a CEO, despite having the title. I had only recently completed a JD/MBA at Stanford University where I assumed I’d learn everything about how to be a competent business leader. And yet, I had no idea what I was doing. So I decided to get a coach.
I told my coach that I wanted to win at being CEO. She asked me what I would do if I could do anything, if I had no obligations or expectations to live up to. I was annoyed by the question – I didn’t hire her to ask me that! But I admitted out loud to her and to myself, “I would write musicals.”
This summer it hit me. I achieved the goal that had seemed so distant just 2 years ago – I am winning at being CEO of iCadenza. Our revenue has doubled in each of the past two years, I’ve recruited and developed an incredible team, we’ve launched numerous new initiatives, attracted amazing clients, and embarked on powerful work with arts organizations and higher education institutions. Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate that nearly 10 years after Julia and I embarked on this journey, iCadenza would thrive to the degree that it has.
In parallel, about two years ago I started taking steps to nurture my creative side, which I had deprioritized for a long time. I started taking piano lessons again. I started composing. I joined a musical theater writing program. Just over a year ago, I released the big story that had held me back for so long.
After years of pining for a more artistically creative life, I now have all the ingredients to pursue my dream of writing musicals in a serious, deliberate way. I have a concept, I have a collaborator, I have a modicum of experience, and I have the support network and structure to do this project.
Starting a New Chapter
So I’m going for it – I’m pursuing my dream of writing my musical and exploring my next professional chapter. And to make space for that, I’ve made the decision to step down as iCadenza’s CEO and take on the role of advisor to and champion of both iCadenza and Cadenza Artists. As the co-founder, these companies are like my children – our futures will always be intertwined.
In many ways, it is my clients who have inspired me and given me the courage to take this step. I am so fortunate to count each of my clients among my dearest friends. While they have hired iCadenza for a service, I have gained so much in friendship, shared stories, and advice. I admire them for their talent and artistic achievement and I’ve been stunned that they regard me as a creative peer. I thank each of you for your support, friendship, and words of encouragement as I take this step – you know who you are.
Believe me, I’ve had the thought – “You’re crazy! Why step out of this role when iCadenza is doing better than ever?” And it’s true. I’ve never been more excited and optimistic about iCadenza’s future, or less concerned about its long term success. After the years of struggle that Julia and I put in, we’ve now hit our stride.
And that’s why it is time. Time for me to shift my primary focus to my next great adventure, and time to invite the team we’ve nurtured to step up to the plate and take iCadenza into its second decade. I will be continue to be involved with iCadenza projects and initiatives as they arise. However, a new schedule will afford more time for me to walk the walk that I preach to my clients as I figure out how to make an impact through my artistic work.
The company I’ve had the honor of building in collaboration with Julia and our incredible team has given me the tools to know how to do the business side of an artistic career. This experience has also taught me that I love being an entrepreneur – and in my next chapter, I look forward to new expressions of this entrepreneurial impulse, particularly in the area of helping creative people start businesses.
Meet iCadenza’s Newest Leader – Lisa Husseini
My change in role also brings good news for iCadenza. Above all, Julia and I are committed to ensuring that iCadenza’s ability to serve clients at the highest level is only enhanced in this new chapter. As such, we have appointed our fabulous colleague and long-time team member, Lisa Husseini, as Interim CEO. Lisa joined our team in early 2016 and most recently has been serving as iCadenza’s Director of Consulting.
Not only did Lisa learn how to deliver the unique coaching work that is the iCadenza signature, she made it her own and has risen to be the primary consultant on our team. Through the depth of her insight, intuition and her vast experience, Lisa’s skillfulness constantly astounds and inspires me. Her background and experience is very similar to many of our clients’ – she is a conservatory-trained flutist with significant arts non-profit experience. iCadenza’s clients have recognized Lisa for her extraordinary ability to help them gain clarity, get into action, and achieve results beyond their imagination.
Lisa’s compassion, enthusiasm, know-how, and deep commitment to our clients make her a master coach – and a great leader for our company. On top of that, she is a personal development junkie (like Julia and me), a master connector, and a true friend. Our clients, team, and the future of iCadenza could not be in better hands.
Over the next four months, Lisa, Julia, and I will be working closely together to ensure a smooth transition so that in January 2019 I will be able to fully step into an advisory role for the organization. We will be communicating updates on this transition regularly so that you are included in the process and can join us in celebrating this powerful time of change. You’ll also be hearing from Lisa so you can get to know her better. As you’ll see, she’s awesome.
Obviously this news represents a big change for me and for iCadenza, and you may have questions. If you do, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
iCadenza has brought countless people together over the years – it has brought me many of my closest relationships. What could be more fitting for a company that was born out of a friendship (Julia’s and mine) rooted in collaborative musical experience? I know that this trend of bringing people together will continue and expand going forward and I take great pride in having co-founded an organization that stands for positivity, community, and empowerment within the arts.
I look forward to sharing more on my next steps soon,