How often do we comprehend that painful void in our lives? Sometimes it seems, as if it’s taking a good chunk of emotions out of us, as if it’s inevitable, incorrigible and unquenchable. We can safely say that this void is nothing but hunger for some good, gut filling, heart melting, and a ride to heaven kind of delightful food! And something similarly delicious is coming fresh out of the oven. An enchanting legend of how milk and cookies were magically combined by Michelle Silberman, the dessert fairy from Philadelphia. Through times unknown, till being the CEO aka, the Chief Cookie Officer of Snackadabra, Michelle has always believed that life is a tapestry which encompasses the difficult as well as the beautiful times, and embracing the ‘now’ will unveil to us the lessons hidden in the adversities we face.
Talking about Michelle’s chef d’oeuvre, the Cookie Cup, it was an idea between two best friends in seventh grade. They thought, cookies and milk are the best snack, so why not combine them into one delicious, effortless and mess-free experience? Years later, Michelle pitched the concept to her professor in an entrepreneurship class at Drexel University. She began prototyping the Cookie Cup in her dorm’s kitchen, and after countless hours, heaps of flour and thousands of chocolate chips later, the impeccable Cookie Cup was born. Snackadabra’s commitment to quality and innovation is fueled by its mission to inspire a smile for every taste bud, every person, every time!
The first thing of paramount importance to the Snackadabra team and for the evolution of the Cookie Cup is technology. For the first batch of Cookie Cups, Michelle flipped over a muffin pan to mold the dough. One side of the cookie burnt to a crisp. With the help of her father, who is also an engineer, she customized machinery to perfect the Cookie Cup.
The second important thing is the comprehension of efficient leadership. According to Michelle, a great leader is relentlessly committed to her vision, and with confidence she embarks on her journey in search of incredible people to join a dream to make it a reality. “It is important to admit your mistakes and fill in the gaps with the talent of the team you hire. It takes a village – and there is no substitute for collaboration,” says Michelle.
Michelle understands the strengths of her team. The talent at the company is exceptional at what they do and they do it with passion. Through experience, she has also learned to hire people who embody the organization’s core values, or its 10 Cookie Commandments. “The company rises and falls on its leader, so it is important to remain a strong example for the rest of the team,” Michelle expresses.
She adds, “In order to effectively motivate and inspire people, a leader must first have a deep sense of self-awareness. That’s not to say that a leader is 100 percent certain at all times. The truth is that everybody makes mistakes and a capable leader accounts for that. If you are the type of leader who screams at the troop, do you honestly think they will raise the flag and take responsibility when something goes wrong? Your team is your family, but you must set it up that way. Respect does not come easy, so cherish every opportunity you have, to truly deserve it from your team.”
When it comes to sustaining her knack for innovation and Snackadabra’s distinctiveness in the market, Michelle is always thinking of creative ways to enhance the experience of her customers through her sweet delicacies. Whether it’s about releasing new invigorating products, upgrading event displays, dressing up the team in memorable costumes, or organizing programs for local schools – she is always focused on quality and experience. Most of all, she is open to feedback from the team and the people she looks up to in business. Her willingness to keep evolving is the very reason she is able to sustain a leadership position. Knowing that it takes time, she ceaselessly strives to provide the best experience for the Snackadabra squad and her cookie customers as well.
The world is run by Women too
Michelle believes that the women on her team are a crucial part of its success. In order to encourage women to take leadership roles, she continuously takes a stand for women through her speaking engagements, hiring practices, and overall daily demeanor. She has shared her personal journey with confidence and in her pursuit has invited numerous women to the team who are inspired to do the same.
In early 2019, Michelle plans to launch a ‘Dessert and Dreams’ workshop where everyone on the team will jot down their personal goals and come together to express them through writing and crafting dream boards.
This is extremely important to Michelle because she is committed to supporting her team in their personal goals.
In her advice to aspiring women leaders, Michelle says, “be very mindful of the people you surround yourself with. Especially as the leader of your ship, the entrepreneur gets to pick the team – so develop a fine tuned process for assessing people to make sure they are a fit for the company culture. Also, learn to focus on contributing in the best way possible.
One of Snackadabra’s core values is, understanding. This reminds the team to develop, and always be a student in life. Michelle treats this business as her Master’s and PHD degree. Even in the difficult moments, she looks at them optimistically as an opportunity to learn and grow by experiencing difficulties. She always says, “The magic only happens outside of your comfort zone!” Snackadabra is her vessel for growth and now that the team has introduced the Smart Cookie Education Series, Michelle has already begun to lead workshops within schools to help support and inspire students to be courageous and chase their wildest dreams.
Michelle’s journey, of grit and compassion, of humility and passion, and of creativity and inspiration, compels us to open the doors and step out of our comfort zone, and also to understand what she learnt from her mother, “everything that happens and everything that doesn’t is all for the best.”