Monday, January 9, 2012
Cheryl Cobb-Debrosse, “Pulling the EXTRA out of Ordinary”
• Always consult with the Lord before making decisions. If our will is in line with the will of the Father, we can’t help but be successful.
• Consider your strengths and pursue a career that allows you to do what you love most. Cheryl knew that she wanted to be in entertainment when she was four years old. She learned how to read music and grew to LOVE it. She played in the band at Locke High School in Los Angeles and was also an accomplished dancer by the time she was in college. She always entered and produced talent shows and felt the greatest satisfaction when she was a part of creative efforts that revolved around music. When she reflected on her strengths, she realized that although she liked to perform, she really enjoyed directing people and making things happen behind-the-scenes. Pursuing a career managing musical artists would give her an opportunity to do what she loved and make great money while doing it.
• Have an action plan. Once Cheryl figured out what she wanted to do, her next step was to come up with a solid plan that would help her reach her goals. First, she made a list of five performers she would LOVE to work with. Next, she planned to reach out to their management, introduce herself, and offer to take their artists to the next level. Once she got her foot in the door, she was prepared to work hard, build strong relationships, and eventually transition into artist management.
• Invest in yourself. Read and learn as much as you can. Stay current. Immerse yourself in your industry of choice, but don’t stop there. Being well-versed will assist you in making lasting connections and increase your value in corporate America.
• Be confident. Cheryl called Michael Jackson’s production manager and requested five minutes of his time. After he got over the initial shock of receiving a call from a total stranger, he agreed to meet with her. She spoke earnestly with him for five minutes about the contributions she could make to his team and ended the meeting with him wanting to find out more about her. Although he wasn’t able to fit her into Michael’s camp, he was scheduled to be the production manager for an upcoming Rolling Stone’s tour and offered her a production assistant position.
• Be tenacious. Diligently pursue your dreams. Never lose sight of your goals. Success comes to those who are diligent. Successful people don’t give up when they hear the word “no.” Instead they figure out other ways to get what they want.
• Be prepared. If you don’t have everything you need at the exact moment an opportunity presents itself, make sure you get it immediately. When Cheryl initially called Michael Jackson’s production manager, he requested a copy of her resume. At the time, she didn’t have one. As soon as they got off the phone, she created a resume and hand-delivered it to his mailbox the same day.
• Use each successful experience as motivation to fearlessly anticipate and embrace new opportunities. Cheryl used her experience with Michael’s production manager to give her the confidence to reach out to other artists’ (from her list of five) production managers as well.
• Don’t be afraid to take risks. When Luther Vandross’s production manager called to offer Cheryl a position as Luther’s “Hospitality Director,” he told her that the job would pay $600 a week and warned that it would be “dirty.” She would be responsible for setting up Luther’s meet and greets, after parties, and anything else that the backstage crew needed. At the time she had an office job making $125,000 a year. Accepting the “Hospitality Director” position would be a HUGE pay cut, but she was willing to take the risk because she knew it would help her reach her ultimate goal.
• Keep a positive attitude while building and maintaining your network. The Hospitality Director position was far from ideal, but Cheryl had a goal. She knew that her situation was a temporary and necessary stepping stone to get what she wanted. Cheryl became friends with artists’ managers and heads of record labels. While touring with Luther, she introduced herself by saying, “Hi. I’m Cheryl, Luther’s Director of Hospitality. How can I make your life easier?” The executives loved her positive can-do attitude. Through Cheryl’s connections, she obtained a position as Toni Braxton’s personal assistant. She and Toni both felt that she was over-qualified for the job and after a week, Toni let her go. They remained good friends, however, and Cheryl eventually went on to become Toni’s European tour manager (and later career manager).
• Listen to the encouraging voice in your head. Cheryl’s inner voice constantly reminded her that “we walk by faith and not by sight.” “Act as though it were.” “Faith and fear cannot exist in the same realm. You have to choose one or the other.” Whenever self-doubt tried to surface, she quickly shut it out with affirmations of faith.
• When you know in your spirit that it is time to move on, MOVE ON. Too often people are afraid to leave situations because they are unsure about what lies ahead. Leaving requires faith and trust in God. That’s why it is important to pray without ceasing and seek God’s direction. When He instructs, we must obey. For example, Cheryl stuck with R. Kelly during some very tumultuous times in his career. She genuinely believed in his talent and wanted to help get his career back on track. After talking with the Lord, however, she was instructed to move on. Although it was a difficult break to make, she followed God’s direction immediately. The following day, she and her then boyfriend, Jean, traveled to Hawaii. While there, he proposed and she accepted. This once again confirmed that when one door closes, another one opens. According to Cheryl, “You have to be at peace with the situation you are leaving. When you’re at peace, something better will come.”
• Your words have power. One evening after Cheryl and Jean were married, they found a moment to relax and tune in to American Idol. Cheryl immediately set her sights on Fantasia Barrino. Although Cheryl had taken a break from the industry to nurture her new relationship and prepare for motherhood, she told Jean that she would go back to work if presented with an opportunity to manage Fantasia. A few months later, Cheryl received an unexpected invitation directly from the creator of American Idol to manage Fantasia. In essence, she put the energy out there and God did the rest.
As Cheryl and I wrapped up our interview, I asked what she enjoys most about walking with the Lord. She didn’t hesitate. “He is always faithful and true. He has proven it time and time again. God never ceases to amaze me. With God in my life, everything just works out.”