New Stanford University graduate, Sydney Rieckhoff, is the co-founder of Almost Famous Popcorn, a Cedar Rapids-based business specializing in gourmet popcorn and super premium ice cream. Rieckhoff and her brother, Carter, laid the foundation of Almost Famous when they were 10 and 13 years old! Learn about Sydney Rieckhoff…
Hometown: Cedar Rapids
First job: Working at my grandparents’ vegetable farm, Morgan Creek Market, near Fairfax. I helped with everything from planting and picking vegetables to running the cash register. These efforts proved to be some of my most formative—specifically in inspiring my entrepreneurial ambitions—growing up.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in IA: When I’m in Iowa, I take advantage of the time to catch up with friends and family. I also love to spend my free time working on my business, one of my favorite pastimes is filling customer orders that have come in from our website. No visit is complete without trips to my favorite local restaurants – Oscar’s in Cedar Rapids and The Iowa Taproom in Des Moines.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: I consider chasing my dream to attend Stanford University, despite the challenges I faced, to be one of my biggest accomplishments. Moving from Iowa to California was a culture shock and very difficult at times. With an open mind and a desire to grow, I went from not knowing a soul to having a fabulous and transformative four years.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life. When I was young, I often let this get in my way. However, I’ve since trained my mindset and turned this into one of my greatest strengths. Overthinking allows me to focus on details and identify things that others miss. Today, instead of cowering in the face of fear, I pursue it.
Someone who inspires you and why: Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. I believe her story truly incorporates the spirit of entrepreneurship and I’m inspired by her efforts to prove that women can have it all!
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Be open to chasing opportunities that are completely outside of your comfort zone and do whatever it takes to learn something new each day. The greatest periods of growth in my life have come from doing just this. For example, I’ve recently started pursuing software development despite having zero experience in the field. I can’t convey how much the opportunity to be a small fish in a large pond has taught me.
Favorite quote: “You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as an end.” -Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of Stella & Dot
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: When I was 9 years old, I was a kid reporter for Scholastic News. I covered the 2008 presidential election and ended up becoming an overnight media sensation after a reporter spun a story to look like I was “snubbed” by Chelsea Clinton.