Dynamo businesswoman and HGTV-star Egypt Sherrod will be joining us this week at Team 2021, where she’ll present the Team of the Year Award. Ahead of her appearance, she agreed to sit down for a Q&A about work-life balance, the one thing managers need to do more, and why betting on yourself is never a bad idea.
Egypt Sherrod is one of those people who makes multi-tasking look easy. Long before the pandemic forced everyone to juggle responsibilities like never before, the HGTV host of “Property Virgins” did it voluntarily – and at an impressive pace.
Throughout her professional life, Sherrod has balanced a successful career in broadcast journalism with a busy TV filming schedule, all while building her Atlanta-based real estate brokerage and raising three kids (currently ranging in age from two to 19). In addition to being the CEO of her own business, she’s a partner in her husband’s company, a best-selling author, an award-winning host, and still finds time to run her own charity, the Egypt Cares Family Foundation.
On being a leader who inspires loyalty
At the risk of asking the most cliche question ever, how do you do it all?
At the end of the day, the way I’m able to handle running a business, being a mom, and everything else is because of infrastructure. I’m not a worker, I’m a manager, in my career and in my life. I set up a support system for everything I do to make sure that, even if I can’t be there physically, the boat still moves. We all have the same 24 hours in any given day, so honor the talents and gifts that you have, and pay people who do what you can’t to do it for you in an excellent fashion.
As you know, we have an upcoming event about teamwork. What are your thoughts on how to inspire successful teamwork among your staff, and what do you think are the essentials of good teamwork?
Inspiration comes from great leadership, support, and effective communication. I find that my team draws from my influence. When they see me digging in hard with excitement and invigoration, they dig in just as hard. Goals and roles are essential components in getting to the finish line successfully! When it comes to team building, everyone should have a clear understanding of the playing field as well as the position of all the players on it.
What is one thing you’d like more managers to know?
I know there are several books about management that say never apologize because it shows weakness, but I disagree. I think it shows strength and leadership. Being able to admit a poor decision allows everyone to say, “Okay, she’s in tune, she’s not oblivious.” It endears you to your employees more by showing them that you, too, are human, and that allows growth.
On side hustles and finding your passion
How many hours a week do you work?
Some weeks I don’t feel like I’m working at all. Some I feel like I’m working day and night. But when you do something you love it never seems like work. I love everything I do. If I don’t, I don’t do it.
How did you find a career you were so passionate about?
Real estate was embedded in my blood. When I worked in broadcasting, that was the career I tripped and fell into. Many people find themselves in careers because it’s what they thought they were supposed to do. I have a friend who became a doctor because that’s what he was told his whole life. Now he teaches people to surf.
We all have to do some level of self-reflection. What makes your heart sing? What would you do for free every day because it makes you that happy? If you can take some of the skills, knowhow, and creativity from that activity, you can turn that into a career and find joy in what you do. It’s about gluing together your skills and your love. And it’s never too late to transfer or change careers.
You managed to parlay your side hustle in real estate into a full-fledged business. Is that a good approach in general?
I would say having a side hustle for the sake of it is not necessarily productive. Sometimes you can be moving and not growing. You’re working, but not going into a productive direction. For me, my side hustle of real estate was what I planned to do in the second half of my life, something that would take me into retirement. So always be planning forward and thinking about what your next decade, your next 20 years look like.
On being a woman in business
There’s a lot of attention on how women, in particular, are suffering in the current business climate due to work-life balance issues. As a businesswoman who has dealt with this, what’s your take?
I like to think that coming out of the year we just came out of, what we’ve all learned is compassion and prioritizing and the importance of work-life balance. I am noticing a lot of companies showing more empathy toward employees. If you find that you are in a career or job that denies you the ability to have a balanced life, then that’s a red flag right there. I was the host at a radio station when I found out I was pregnant, and they did not want to pay me maternity leave. Instead of fighting, I decided it was time to go to a company that respected me as a person.
As a manager myself now, I see that when your employees know you will treat them as human beings, they are incredibly loyal and will work day and night for you.
How has being a woman – and being a woman of color – personally affected your career trajectory?
Obviously there are biases in the world and the workplace. I know it exists, but I don’t let it stop me. There are times I felt I didn’t get business because I’m a woman of color. But there are also times I feel opportunities came my way because I am a woman of color. We can become the co-creators of our own destiny. More women are running things. We’re presidents and vice presidents.
But the question has to be thrown back to the companies and employers and whoever is doing the hiring and sorting for talent, why don’t we have more people of color at our workplace? We have to be open and unafraid to have the dialogue. A big part of the problem is that a lot of companies don’t recognize their own lack of diversity.
On getting ahead and giving back
What is the smartest business decision you ever made?
Betting on myself. There will come a time, if you’re doing the right things and your business is growing, that you have to make a decision. I took a leap of faith and bet on myself and I’m so glad I did. By the next year, I more than tripled my income.
In this day and age, how do you find mentors?
Now that we are more in a virtual space, we don’t have the same opportunity to interface on a daily basis. But we have all these tools we didn’t have before, like social media. We can find people doing exactly what we do, or what we want to do, and can contact them directly. Send them a DM, leave a message on their timeline. They don’t have to be members of your immediate circle.
You started your own charity. Do you think it’s important for people in leadership positions to give back?
Giving back can mean so many things. There’s the religious way, the philanthropic way, and also the daily giving back. Taking time to have a conversation with someone to help them grow their career. Making it so holiday bonuses still exist. Not downsizing just to maximize profits. We always will reap the benefits of seeds that we sow.
Join Egypt Sherrod and other business leaders this week at Team ‘21, our free, digital event.
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