Do you have "Sticktoitiveness?"

June 18, 2012  |  5 comments

By Cheryl Gentry
Founder and President of Glow Media

Cheryl is a serial entrepreneur, and she continues to look for new challenges and opportunities. The following is an excerpt from Cheryl's speech during the NY Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Finals.

“I'm really impressed. One of the reasons I wanted to be involved with NFTE is because of the creativity and energy of these young minds. It reminds me of my first entrepreneurial endeavor, but I will explain that later.

One of my favorite television shows is Inside the Actors Studio, the host asks "what’s your favorite word.”  My favorite word is “sticktoitiveness.” It suggests that there is a real effort in the quest to achieve your goal.  Somehow, you know with that description, there will be bumps in the road and the need for determination and perseverance.

And, that's what you need to be an ENTREPRENEUR. 

Did you know that most entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs; they have at least 2 or 3 businesses. Most people don't start business because they know how hard it is. But interestingly enough, that's why it’s so many young superstars. The young don’t understand the risk or if they do, they don’t care, because they are young enough that it's not a problem. Most people wonder, are Entrepreneurs made or born?  I say BOTH. Sure training, talent and the most elusive component, good timing are essential, but they are not enough. You need a TRUE PASSION for what you're doing. 

And that brings me back to my 1st venture…

Back when I was in high school, there wasn't or, a lot of lyrics were actually on the album cover.  At any rate, my sister and I would write the words to all the rap and hip hop songs make copies and sell them at school for 5 dollars a copy. We saw a need AND we filled a void.  We had about 250 girls in my high school and we would sell approximately 200 copies per song. That's a $1,000 per song. 

That's how most ventures start.  Because if you thought you can make something better, believe me, someone else is thinking close to the same thing, but the entrepreneur will start the process.  When your ideas can fill a void you have the goods to becoming an entrepreneur.

Like Sumner Redstone, CEO of Viacom, one of my hobbies is reading about entrepreneurs and their stories, their success and failures, but how they STICK TO IT. Did you know that Sumner Redstone changed the way we chose to attend movies? He's responsible for and invented the multiplex theater concept. Or take for example, the founder of AirBorne, the dietary supplement with vitamins.  She was an elementary school teacher.  Or the creator of SPANX, to help women understand shape-wear. Or Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Group, includes Virgin Air.  His brand name arose when Branson and a partner were starting their first business, a record shop. They considered themselves virgins in the business. The current logo that you see was originally sketched on a paper napkin and remains largely unchanged since 1979. And we all know, Mark Zuckerberg.

To that point, most of these Entrepreneurs have one thing in common, they had mentors.  Mentors believe in you. They sometimes question you, but they always support you.

Before I started Glow Media 14 years ago, I was Director of Promotions and Publicity at Boss and Girbaud.  We planned a lot of parties and I started getting calls about who planned our fashion show or event. My mentors decided it was time for me to start my own business.

Now back to being a serial Entrepreneur; admittedly, I'm a serial entrepreneur. My second business while I was in undergrad was C&C Catering. My best friend and I loved food and loved cooking. The problem with that business was that my partner wanted to cater as a hobby, and I wanted to be the largest caterer in DC.

My 3rd business was Glitz Event Planning.  So when my mentors said start your own business, I thought I could restore the Glitz Party Brand. But they told me, that I was going to be bigger than that.  They helped me think beyond Events, and to incorporate PR, Promotions, Marketing, and Experiences to onsite engagement.

I want to share one of my favorite quotes.  "If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 6 hours sharpening my knife." That quote is from Abraham Lincoln. One thing that quote implies, is that you don't want to waste your time chopping down a tree with a dull ax. It would take you all day. You must prepare yourself with the right tools. You must be equipped and think strategically how you can become successful.  You must be adaptable. Did you know that Forbes recently published their 10 most STRESSFUL jobs?  Event Planners and CEO's were on the list. So I have a double dose of stress, but I don't look at it that way.  I love the deadlines, I love the accountability, I love coming in under budget. And I love people. 

I wish all the students good luck.  Thanks for allowing me to share my story.

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