Alumni of the Week: David Cykiert ’05

David_CykiertFrom a young age, it was impressed upon me to surround myself with good people, or, in the instances in which I lacked the option/ability to be so selective, to seek those good people out and keep them close as possible. I did choose Syracuse but could not choose the teachers and students that I’d encounter in my four years there. Fortunately, the hard work was mostly done for me and, from day one to the final day, the good people just seemed to be there.

This exposure was invaluable educationally, of course, but likewise experientially. It was because of this good fortune that I recollect college as the beginning of my learning, both about business and myself. Perhaps that’s why upon graduating I found myself at a crossroads–not so much in my uncertainty of what I wanted to do with myself, but, rather, facing the certainty that I wanted to do so many things and put to practice all that I’d learned and seen and discovered in my four years at the “Cuse.” So I started by taking my sweet time. I took the LSATs and got accepted to law school but was in no hurry. I spent a year teaching subsidized math and english, reflecting on a volunteer experience at Syracuse with the Boys and Girls Club that opened my eyes to the need for teachers and the joys of teaching, and set designs on a career in educational law.

Fast-forward to my law-school graduation, I was certain that my future lie not in law but in entrepreneurship. And so, amidst several odd-jobs, I spent two years building a no-fee, non-anonymous, secondary ticket marketplace that, in my mind, would inevitably topple Stubhub. While the inevitable never happened, my start-up experience informed me of, among others, two new ideas: (1) I wanted to build a business…or businesses and (2) I wanted to help others build their businesses. Through a serendipitous subway run-in with a Cuse friend of, at that point, ten years prior, I began volunteering to teach the same inner-city kids I had taught before–this time how to develop and execute business plans. Simultaneously with my new teaching endeavor, I joined a more seasoned start-up, where I spent two years in business development. It was then that my initial interest in the law resurfaced, and corporate law started calling.

Corporate law, despite its familiar but (I assure you) undeserved bad rap, seemed a perfect storm of all of the challenges I’d at one point, and sometimes overlappingly, sought out. As a corporate lawyer, I get to help young start-ups iron out their intellectual property concerns; growing companies figure out how to fund their various projects; burgeoning companies offer ownership stakes to the public; and those who’ve been through all those steps find a meaningful and valuable way out. I get to teach, I get to grow businesses and I get to practice law.

Some may qualify my life as a series of tangents. But seeing the whole picture, I see a web of experiences and lessons, starting from my days as a Syracuse freshman, to my oft-long nights at my law firm desk, that has enabled me to do everything I wanted to do (but for fishing) in one sitting–like a Vegas buffet but instead of crab legs, I have myriad great experiences.

I do take some of the credit, deservedly so or not, but much of it goes to the fine people I met at Syracuse, and that’s the reason I stay involved today, particularly as an active member of the Whitman Alumni Club of New York City. I find now I get calls from current, recently graduated and former Syracuse students who see an overlap in their experiences and mine. Even when these calls result in nothing more than a good get-together, I am appreciative of them and encourage any and all to reach out. I am always happy to meet and learn and teach and generally be of help in any way I can, because that’s what Syracuse (and my parents) taught me.

David Cykiert
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