FG: What was the inspiration for launching GLUE 12 years ago?
Sheri: I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. so in college all of my business school electives were SBA/entrepreneur classes. Before I launched GLUE, my roles and responsibilities at each of my jobs were autonomous in nature and my first post college entertainment job at Trevel Productions (The management and production company owned by the late great Gerald Levert) was a position that I “created”. Also, during this time, was the “soft’ launch of my company under the name of “Careers R Unlimited”. I have always known I wanted to work with companies and individuals to build partnerships and assist them in achieving their very best. Also, because I’ve always known I wanted to be a business owner, as a employee, I worked for “small” companies which allowed me to not only learn my position but see, watch, and learn the inner workings on the business. After I resigned from LaFace Records, I knew it was time to launch my business, GLUE.
FG: Where does the name of your company, GLUE come from?
Sheri: Darrick Warfield, owner of Goldfinger c.s. (www.goldfingercs.com), who is the most creative person I know, gave me the name GLUE when we were working at LaFace and I shared the idea/concept of my company with him. One day he said: “You need to name it GLUE. Not GLUE Marketing, not GLUE Entertainment, just GLUE.” A short time after that, I was talking to a well trusted friend, and as I described my business to her, she kept saying these different descriptions of our services, but I could tell that she wasn’t fully grasping the concept. Finally I blurted out: “We are the GLUE!” and at that moment, I knew the name Darrick gave me was IT!!!
FG: What were some of the challenges you faced when getting your business of the ground?
Sheri: Personnel was and still continues to be one of the biggest challenges. In the beginning, we had plenty of business, clients, and new business opportunities, but had the constant challenge of identifying the best and most qualified professionals to join the GLUE team.
FG: How are the services GLUE provides different from some of the other boutique entertainment firms in Atlanta?
Sheri: GLUE’s strength is our relationships, resources, access, and intellectual capital. Also, our Brand is recognized for working at the highest level of excellence, while providing our clients with a complete service portfolio, along with attention to detail, a keen focus, and a broad vision. I don’t know of any other company in Atlanta that provides the unique blend of services that GLUE offers.
FG: A lot of people think the entertainment industry is a male dominated business but the truth is there are now a lot of women behind the scenes. Why do you think women making decisions in entertainment are not always brought to the forefront?
Sheri: I don’t think this perception is unique to the entertainment industry. I believe it’s pretty consistent with other industries (finance, technology, etc). Just like other industries, there are fewer women in the CEO or Chairman position but many Presidents and Vice Presidents with “greenlighting” power. From outside of the entertainment industry, it may appear to be a down play of women decision makers, but within the industry, that’s not the case. Women power brokers, decision makers, and influencers are not only prevalent but recognized and acknowledged, from managers of recording artists to CEOs of major movie studios.
FG: How did your work at LaFace Records prepare you for the running of your own business?
Sheri: I jokingly say that I received my PhD working at LaFace. My tenure at the Label was the launching pad for my success with GLUE. The knowledge, exposure, experience, and understanding of the entertainment industry and business I received while working there was invaluable. Even though LaFace and the stable of artists were international brands, the company consisted of a small number of employees. As the Sr. Director of Product Management, I was intimately involved and played an integral role in many aspects of the business of each artist and the Label. In addition, I still have the relationships that I cultivated while at the Label and they have been extremely instrumental in GLUE’s success. LaFace also prepared me to interact with company leaders across all industries with ease. LaFace housed the best executive talent in the industry and the majority of the individuals who worked there are still very successful in their respective ventures.
FG: What are some tips you can give readers that are contemplating leaving their job to start you’re their own business?
Sheri: Make sure your business is your passion and your passion is matched with an understanding of business. Just because you can bake GREAT cookies, doesn’t mean you can run and operate a successful bakery. 2. Have at least 12 months of money saved to cover your personal and business expenses. 3. Even if you don’t do a full business plan, do have a written PLAN. 4. Be flexible, persistent, and consistent. 5. If one of your reasons for leaving your job to become an entrepreneur is so you don’t have to “answer to a boss”, keep your job. As an entrepreneur you now have the responsibility of not reporting to a boss, but your are “responsible” to respond to the IRS, your clients, your employees, Dun & Bradstreet, etc. The point is, everyone reports to someone. Also, if you want to leave your job for “more freedom,” again, keep your job. You have a different type of freedom, but this freedom comes with an exponential amount of responsibility.
FG: What are some of the tips you have for business women who are struggling to keep their business thriving during the recession?
Sheri: During these tough times, budgets have been cut, departments have been closed, programs have been dissolved and there is limited work available for outside vendors or agencies, which has resulted in decreased revenues for small businesses. I would highly recommend the strategy of partnerships and bartering. Let’s say I am a publicist who needs a website built and a web developer needs PR for her company. This presents the perfect opportunity to barter and preserve resources. Strategic alliances are also key. With this same example, the PR firm and the Web Design Agency can partner and pitch business together. For some new business, they may be a joint venture and in other instances one firm may be the lead agency and/or the silent partner.
FG: How do you balance running your business and family?
Sheri: Mostly through prayer and faith. However, one of the first keys to a successful balance is asking for help. I am blessed to have a husband who is involved with my business and very active with our children. I am also blessed that my mother lives with us and helps with the chores around the house. One of the biggest challenges women have is the “super woman complex”. We believe we are SUPPOSE to do it all. Yes, we are capable of doing it all, but we don’t HAVE to do it all. As a single parent you don’t have a husband’s help or a mother in your city, but I am pretty sure you have good girlfriends, guy friends, community programs or even teenage daughters of your friends that would love to help if you asked. In addition to asking for help, you must create balance in your mind and thoughts. For people who are self employed, one of the biggest fallacies is this mindset that we have to work 24 hours a day. Even when my office was in my home, I separated in my mind, my office from my home. I got up in the morning, got dressed, and went to work. I just had a shorter commute than most. So the key to balance is creating the understanding that balance in your life comes from the parameters you set.
FG: Many people think that if you are a successful business woman that getting married is out of the question, because there is simply no time to date. How does a single girl go about accomplishing her goals and meeting the man of her dreams?
Sheri: GOD gives everyone the same 24 hours in a day, but how you choose to manage those 24 hours is up to you. A woman has to make a conscious decision that making time for herself and time to be available to date is important to her. Many women decide to stay busy and think that when they meet that man, they will make room for him in their lives. But they actually have to make room in their schedules and in their lives first. Also, you have to make time to do things other than go to work and interact in your work environment. Allow yourself the time to have a hobby. Spend time doing things that have absolutely NOTHING to do with your career or business. And lastly, be open to a man and/or experiences that are outside of your normal routine.
FG: What is a spiritual mantra or philosophy that you live by?
Sheri: Most consistently its Matthew 6:33 “seek first the kingdom of GOD and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you”. But as a whole, my “philosophy” for life is constantly and consistently to pray and read the bible. I find direction, peace, guidance, confirmation, understanding and joy through prayer and from reading and studying the bible for every situation I am in, every answer I seek, all of the questions I have for my life.
FG: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Sheri: Find what you love to do and you will never have to work – Charles Hugely (my Father)
FG: What would you tell your younger-self if you knew then what you know now?
Sheri: Have fun, enjoy the moment, maximize the opportunity, and connect with the people you are exposed to. You are exceptional at what you do. Do not be afraid. Be of good courage.
Finish this sentence….
FG: Women should stop complaining about______ and start doing _____________
Sheri: Women should stop complaining about bad or a shortage of men and start loving themselves enough to let their guard down, stop having sex with men that don’t really love them and aren’t vested in the relationship, and take their power back in every area of their lives.
For more information on Sheri Riley please contact Monica Coleman at Monica@M320Consulting.com to be added to her mailing list.