Cheryl Parks Ajamu
Founder and CEO, The Ajamu Group LLC
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
Knowing that my company, The Ajamu Group is making a difference in the automotive industry, the Detroit community and across the country. We are helping our clients sell cars through advertising partnerships, educating students about careers in the automotive and advertising industries and partnering with other small business across the U.S. giving them an opportunity to provide services for Fortune 500 companies that are clients of The Ajamu Group.
How did you determine your career path?
Being aware of what I loved to do helped me determine my career path. I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I wasn’t always sure how or when I would become a business owner. My logistics professor at the University of Memphis noticed that I excelled in my logistics and marketing courses. He helped me secure some internships and jobs that taught me the skills that I would later use in my career to secure a job at an advertising agency. I learned everything I could at the ad agency, which prepared me for becoming the Detroit advertising sales manager for BET; and Vanguarde Media (Savoy, Heart & Soul, Honey). Because those were satellite sales offices, I was involved in every aspect of managing and operations, which prepared me for owning a business. I realized then that I loved working in advertising media sales and event project management. When those jobs were eliminated, I realized this was my opportunity for me to start my business and offer the same services that I had done during my career at BET and Vanguarde Media.
Describe the skills that are essential to future business leader and innovators?
Being open to change, having integrity, having excellent time management skills and being willing to take risks, even when other people don’t agree with your decisions.
How do you set goals and evaluate your success?
I set goals based on the outcome I want to achieve. My success is primarily based on if my clients indicate that we exceeded their expectations and objectives.
Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others?
Who Moved My Cheese, The Alchemist, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Describe why lifelong learning is important to you.
It gives you the option to reinvent yourself, and keeps you knowledgeable of the latest trends in your career and/or industry. More importantly, it helps you become an asset in your organization.
What are the three most important factors of being a successful woman?
1) Be financially responsible
2) Have an exceptional work ethnic
3) Give back to your community
What social media has made the biggest difference in your life and why?
Facebook. It has allowed me to share my journey of becoming an entrepreneur with my Facebook friends, some of which I have never met, but they share a passion for entrepreneurship or they are inspired by my determination and achievements to follow their dreams.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
There wouldn’t be any wars.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That I would work less, enjoy life more. It’s one of my personal goals.
Who or what motivates you and why?
Business owners who started their companies with little or no money, overcame huge obstacles, and today, their companies are extremely successful. It gives me the motivation to keep going on those days when I feel like giving up.
How do you successfully grow from business failure?
I use failure as an opportunity to make changes in my business. I make sure to not make the same mistake twice.
Name three successful female role models and explain why you hold them in high esteem.
1) My Mom – she’s the ultimate multitasker and organizer! I watched her have a career, raise kids, manage our household and still have a great marriage.
2) Michelle Obama – She’s friendly, intelligent, tough, confident and family-oriented. When she faces adversity, she handles it with class.
3) Sheryl Sandberg – chief operating officer, Facebook. She is an advocate for women reaching the top positions in their fields, and I admire her leadership style.