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Sherri McManus of The Lou Everett Group

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Female Entrepreneur Leaders Talk: A Conversation with Sherri McManus of The Lou Everett Group

Sherri McManus, Co-Founder, Co-Owner and Chief Operating Officer of The Lou Everett Group  and a Certified Executive Leadership Coach & Trainer, sits down with LocalFi: SEO Digital Marketing Agency’s Chief Operating Officer, Kim Coates, to talk about her entrepreneurial journey, key habits for success and advice to other female entrepreneurs.

Kim: What was the event that caused you to realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Sherri: Honestly, even as a kid, I can look back and see that I had leadership skills. I was the kid in the cul de sac always entertaining the other kids with cheese and crackers and selling homemade bookmarks for $0.25. Looking back, it wasn’t like my parents had an entrepreneurial spirit (unlike my husband Lou who has grown up around entrepreneurship and has family members who were owners of businesses).

The AHA moment to really become an entrepreneur for me was in 2005, when I had my first business.

That’s when I realized I had the natural ability to be an entrepreneur. It was also when I met my husband, Lou. We were dating for 3 months and decided to move in together. Then, we had this crazy, exciting idea to start our own business.

We were both tired of abiding by everyone else’s rules and living paycheck to paycheck.

“I wanted to be my own boss, work on my own schedule, to be in control of when to work and how to work. Of course, I also wanted to make good money.”

We learned a lot in a short amount of time and we also learned how to work well with each other. This experience also helped me find my strengths and the capabilities, from previous experiences, that I can bring to the table. There was definitely a big learning curve because, in starting a new business, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

But, starting a new business was so exciting once we started making money for the first time. We were making money on our own terms. I have a bigger appreciation for the folks who hang up their 1st dollar on their wall. Now I understand!

Kim: Can you tell me more about what you do?

Sherri: I’m proud to share that as of 2023, I am ranked as one of the top 15 coaches in Raleigh, North Carolina.

We are leadership & corporate development trainers and not your typical business coach. We’re so much more than that.

Lou and I set ourselves apart in our industry by focusing on relationships and putting faith in the center of everything we do.

“There are so many elements that are out of an entrepreneur’s control. We have to let the ebbs and flow of the Universe help manipulate these elements in our favor, where we are able to learn and grow as entrepreneurs and believers.”

It is important to seek out and think of long-term effects and success, not just the short-term gratification like so many new entrepreneurs try to do. Everyone wants quick success because they see other entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses achieving ‘quick success,’ but, in actuality, they’re not seeing the whole picture. I like to use 2 visuals to paint this picture:

The Iceberg

Imagine an iceberg, so beautiful and majestic when viewed from the surface. From an outsider’s perspective, you may forget and are simply unaware of just how deep the iceberg is submerged. Beneath the surface is where that entrepreneur’s blood, sweat and tears are that they have put into their work. So it may look easy and beautiful on the surface, but in actuality it goes deeper below. It is what’s underneath that gives it its strength and solid foundation.

The Duck

You see a beautiful duck gliding across the water (the entrepreneur) but then underneath the water, that duck is paddling like mad just to make it look like they’re gliding and everything is so smooth and clean and under control.

The lesson here with these 2 visuals is that entrepreneurship may look easy but it’s a lot of hard blood, sweat, and tears underneath that.

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. That’s another key component of entrepreneurship that it’s ok to step back and try it but it’s also ok to realize if it’s not for you, you can still make an impact working for someone else and that’s okay. You can influence others and make an impact no matter where you are. You can be an ‘interpreneur’ working within another company but have the entrepreneurship spirit on someone else’s dime.

Kim: What is the driving force or passion behind what you do?

Sherri: In 2018, I was working in a toxic workplace, working myself to the bone. Because of this, I ended up in the ICU for a total of 10 days. I was diagnosed with this crazy rare disease where it just started out like a basic cold but then it just kept progressing and getting worse. Then, all my good mucous membranes were being attacked by my own body and I was basically burning from the inside out. Luckily, the good doctors at UNC were able to help me survive with very minimal damages.

The reason I share that story now, and continuously with others, is because I came from a work environment where it was very high stress and very crash and burn. Leadership focused more on the bottom line, instead of valuing employees to the point of verbal abuse and expectations to work 70+ hours a week. It was very draining but it’s not about blame at this point.

I take full responsibility for working so hard and pushing myself. But when you push past your own red flags, something’s got to give and that’s exactly what happened for me. It forced me to relook at my own life and career.

Although I had a wake up call, I chose to return to that workplace. I had a team I cared about and I wanted to at least try and make an impact and stop the abuse in some way, shape, or form. My team appreciated it to a point, some thought I was crazy.

Long story short, I ended up having a long meeting with HR to basically hash out the issues of all the reasons I would be leaving the company and the facts of what was actually happening in the workplace. For some reason, at that time, I was actually watching a lot of Shark Tank so by the team I officially put in my resignation, I said:

“For Those Reasons, I’m Out!”

I thought it was hilarious and I giggled inside but no one else knew that. It was kind of intentional but it mostly slipped out because I was watching so much Shark Tank.

It led me to a realization that you can lead others with a heartfelt mind. We’re so used to a work culture where we beat people over their heads to try and get them to work harder. Instead, we can achieve a positive and impactful leadership role by using our influence for the greater good, instead of using it for evil. This realization helped me understand that I’m meant to do what I’m doing now.

Lou and I knew and still know that this is not just the Sherri & Lou show. We have always known there’s a bigger purpose here than just us and our team. That is our North Star, our Guiding Star. There’s a bigger purpose and bigger impact for us to accomplish.

Kim: If you could teach just one lesson to female entrepreneurs, what would be that lesson?

Sherri: That we are not in competition with one another. I think that’s the biggest thing. We are more alike and more like allies than we think.

Women are typically competitive in nature. We won’t always get along; it’s not always kumbaya. But there is such power in numbers. When you all have the same purpose, the same mission and core values… if you all want to impact the greater good, we’ve got to link arms and find our tribe.

We have to ask ourselves: How can we use our business model to create more and do more beyond our individual selves? How can we make a bigger impact?

Kim: What is the number one habit that you’ve developed that has made a big impact in your success?

Sherri: A big habit that I’ve developed has to be discipline, accountability and routine.

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get distracted by the other things going on in your day. The next thing you know, you just blew your day and didn’t do any work ON your business at all even though you were busy all day long. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: Did today help move my business forward?

As boring and tedious as it sounds, building a routine for yourself and for your business helps to keep things in check. It’s good to build what I like to call ‘non-negotiable habits’ meaning habits that you refuse to break and will be consistent on. Being accountable helps me in making sure I’m getting things done and following through. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to get it done.

In the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you typically try to do everything and anything to get the needle moving, but ultimately, you need to not just try things but figure out what’s going to work, what feels good and what doesn’t based on your core values, your mission, the likemindedness of others that you’re working with.

Kim: What are one or two of the most impactful books you’ve read that you’d recommend to any entrepreneur?

Sherri: John Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” is the first one. It’s all about personal development, setting priorities and really narrowing down your worth. It’s a blueprint for business and personal growth.

“The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy is another great book. That’s a super good book if you like “Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business” by Gino Wickman.

But the one I really like is “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek. This book disrupts our traditional mindset regarding competition, business, and life, presenting a fresh perspective that prioritizes a strategic, long-term approach. This outlook helps emphasize the significance of purpose and values while welcoming change as a natural part of the path to attaining our goals.

The book gives great insight on business practices in the 1970s and 1980s where they had the GO GO GO mentality and were beating people over the head for the sake of profit. That’s where it started to make a huge change for me and helped me open my eyes.

That book really made me think ‘How did we get to this mentality of yelling at people just to make productivity?’ That method may have worked back then…for a short period of time anyways. Because of that behavior, they would often burn out their people and experience high turnover.

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic especially, I feel like people are finally speaking up and saying ‘Hey, you cannot treat the team and me like this. I will walk out that door if this kind of behavior and treatment continues.’

Kim: If people want to learn more or work with you, what is the best way to contact you?

Sherri: You can contact me to connect or for a free consultation at:
Email: Sherri@LouEverettGroup.com
Phone: 919-249-8466
Website: www.LouEverettGroup.com

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