Originally published Your True Colors magazine on February 22, 2015
When invited to spotlight iSHARE Agency and Experts, I immediately contacted Cheryl Malik who is the Founding Partner of iSHARE, while maintaining autonomy as an iSHARE Expert in her field of influence through 40 Aprons. iSHARE would not look the same (literally…as Cheryl is the iSHARE Creative Director) without the two of us working in tandem…because…well…Together WE are Stronger!
When I reflect on the story of iSHARE Agency…from its infancy until now…with over 20 experts and growing…I am reminded of the moment the “idea” was formed. I had been working with several clients through my business; Sherri Henley Intelligence (SHI), who needed services beyond my expertise that tied into their “intelligence package.” Having access to many experts through my business; Business Over Coffee International (BOCI)…I picked up the mobile device and began to pull together teams for various projects. One striking resemblance to each team was a varied assembly of experts working together to create a dynamic, over the top package including project management, brand development and speakers’ bureau.
Waking from sleep I was reminded of a former BOCI Monthly Event hosted by YTC’s Carolyn Bendall (who is also an iSHARE Expert); SHARE. Being a poet by nature, the acronym, S.H.A.R.E: Sherri Henley Agency of Renowned Experts – flashed before my eyes. My first instinct has proven to be the right move…contacting Cheryl Malik to discuss this possibility. That was the defining moment of iSHARE Agency…the rest is history. Oh wait! Why the “i?” An interchangeable letter for “internet – representing global,” “intelligence – representing expertise,” and “international – representing bi-lingual.” And, of course…our tagline is, “Bringing Experts Together,” a spin off the BOCI brand; “Bringing Everyone Together.”
Being a weekly host on BOCI Radio, it was a natural progression to proceed “interview style” with Cheryl…sharing her side of the story of iSHARE Agency since inception:
Q – Sherri: Tell us about yourself and your business…
A – Cheryl: I am a web designer, photographer, and food blogger living in Memphis, Tennessee. Several years back, I ended up in law school, despite my hesitations, and realized I simply couldn’t work in a non-creative industry for the rest of my life. My parents met as computer programmers in the early 80s, so I grew up with tech and started “coding” for fun when I was about 9 or 10, before CSS was around! Somehow, I found myself designing and developing websites for clients after I had made the decision to try entrepreneurship full-time, and things have simply grown from there. My photography skills came from teaching myself how to improve my food blog photos, which catapulted my blog, 40 Aprons, to heights I had not before thought possible. Google Analytics is telling me that yesterday people from 67 different countries visited my site! I’m fascinated by the global reach I have with the blogging platform, and I know that my photography is a huge reason for that influence.
Q – Sherri: Tell the audience about our first encounter at The University of Memphis; Fogelman College of Business and Economics…
A – Cheryl: After I quit law school, I realized I had a–relatively-speaking–fairly useless degree in Philosophy and not much else, academically, to help me find a great job. Now, I firmly believe that my Philosophy studies helped develop my cognitive approach, problem-solving, and nuanced logic, but that is certainly not what a hiring partner wants to see! So I decided to work towards my MBA at the University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics. I had been fairly interested in a healthcare management concentration, but I realized the reasoning was identical to that which led me to law school: for the “good jobs”, the “good pay”, the dependability. So I made another last-minute decision to opt out of those healthcare classes–“for now”–and signed up for an Entrepreneurship elective instead, led by Dr. France Fabian. Dr. Fabian invited successful local entrepreneurs to speak to the class often, so we could listen to their stories, pick their brains, and–as was my case–be inspired by the reality of entrepreneurship that they presented. Sherri Henley was one of those entrepreneurs, and when she found out I was a blogger, she asked me to speak with her about a potential collaboration!
Q – Sherri: Tell us about your internship in the Professional Boost Program with BOCI:
A – Cheryl: At this point, each step I took away from law led me closer and closer to entrepreneurship, though I might not have recognized it at the time. I came to BOCI headquarters to discuss a potential internship with Sherri, and I was excited by the idea that I could work–as me, not as someone’s employee–with others and that I had something in-demand to offer. Not long after I accepted the Professional Boost Program (PBP) internship, I quit my job–to which I had never been attached to begin with–and dove into the work with BOCI, taking absolute advantage of Sherri and all the members for their entrepreneurship expertise and guidance. I firmly believe that if I had not been involved in the PBP, I would not have had a clue where to start in developing a successful business of my own, and I fear that I might even be back in a traditional 9-to-5! I am not stingy in how often I claim that I owe most–if not all–of my success to Sherri and BOCI.
Q – Sherri: Explain how you became the iSHARE Founding Partner…
A – Cheryl: Since my work as a PBP intern, Sherri and I had continued working together on various projects, from developing her own sites, to working as a subcontractor on clients she brought in with her social media intelligence training business, SHI. We knew we worked well together and that we offered something rare–a balance of shiny, new, young tech and deeply respected experience and knowledge. I think we both began to see that our work together with clients could continue to grow, and I remember vividly the day that Sherri called me to discuss a little idea she had to essentially formalize what we had been doing. I immediately started bubbling with ideas and dreams for that possibility, and basically, iSHARE was formed! I kept waiting for Sherri to call me and tell me she was thinking of backing out, or perhaps it “was not the right time”, but I should have known–when two ambitious women get together, there is no looking back!
Q – Sherri: How do you foresee iSHARE Agency evolving?
A – Cheryl: One of my favorite things about iSHARE is that because it is not a traditional agency, it can keep evolving. I think this is what sets us apart. When iSHARE truly began, we somewhat compartmentalized our services, but since then, we have brought on so many experts and have truly understood how to implement each expertise and service, that iSHARE, to us, can work for nearly any project. I envision iSHARE growing in the Speakers’ Bureau department, as well as possibly developing a somewhat specialized branch of our brand development and project management.
Q – Sherri: What is it like working with so many experts?
A – Cheryl: I would almost say it was a bit overwhelming at first, until I realized that I too am one of the experts! There is really so much pride in having such true knowledge available to us at any moment, rather than a few people who know a little about a lot. Instead, we have 25 people who know everything about their chosen subject. I would take that over the “jack of all trades, master of none” approach any day.
Q – Sherri: How does it feel to be the Founding Partner of iSHARE with one of the iSHARE experts being your former Professor in college; Dr. Frances Fabian?
A – Cheryl: If you had only told me, when I signed up for Dr. Fabian’s class! My gratitude to Dr. Fabian for her genuine interest in her students’ success will never wane.
Q – Sherri: Did you know Dr. Frances Fabian graduated from Harvard?
A – Cheryl: I did! Did you know she received her PhD from the University of Texas in Austin, where I went to law school (albeit briefly)?
Q – Sherri: How should someone contact you?
Q – Sherri: Leave us with closing tips for entrepreneurs and students finding their way…what would be your advice?
A – Cheryl: If you know you are truly interested in entrepreneurship, find a way to take that leap. You will never be satisfied by working for someone else, and if you find the right network of mentors, you will find a way to succeed. That does not mean you should jump without looking! Take some time and inventory what you love and what you do well–if your skills are ready for the world now, great! If you need to spruce them up a bit before depending on them for income, take the time now, while you have a reliable job or class schedule, so you can feel confident when it is showtime.
A – Sherri: To answer your question…No, Cheryl…I did not know you and iSHARE Expert, Dr. Fabian attended the same University. Small world – BIG opportunities!
To contact iSHARE Agency, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, 5865 Ridgeway Center Pkwy, Suite 300, 38120, 901.820.4469. Contact Sherri Henley directly: email@example.com. Contact Cheryl Malik directly: Cheryl@ishareagency.com. Submit request to become and expert, book a speaker, project management or brand development by visiting iSHARE Agency at www.ishareagency.com. iSHARE experts are featured monthly in Your True Colours Magazine.