PHOTO Cheryl Wood Arms Folded

Cheryl Wood

After almost two decades as a legal secretary at some of the most prestigious law firms in the nation’s capitol, Cheryl Wood yearned for professional independence. Growing up in a generation taught to get an education and good job to retire from, breaking tradition took a leap of faith.

“You have to be fearless enough to go out and explore what’s possible for you,” Wood, told the AFRO, May 19.

While still employed full-time in June 2009, she dabbled in entrepreneurship, opening a T-shirt line called ‘Moms Are The Best.’ With humorous, celebratory, and serious slogans, the line “celebrated everything that we as mothers and women do on a daily basis,” says the mother of three.

Within 5 years of pursuing entrepreneurship full time, Wood has achieved immense success.

A Baltimore, Md. native, Wood is the author of three books: How I Flatlined and Woke Up in 45 Days – A Guide to Empowered Living, The GlamourLESS Side of Entrepreneurship – What They DIDN’T Tell You About Being A Woman In Business, and The Power to Sizzle-Transformational Power Thoughts for Creating The Life You Want.

As an international speaker, coach and thought leader, her clients range from small companies and non-profits to large corporations and associations including the Small Business Administration, Morgan State University, the National Association of Professional Women, the International Association of Administrative Professionals, National Association of Bridal Consultants, Women’s Council of Realtors, Mocha Moms, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, among others.

A large part of Wood’s work in individual and group settings is unpacking obstacles to success based on personal experiences where she pushed through, despite hesitations. “A lot of women have these ideas of what they want to do, but they let fear keep them hostage,” she says. “They think about all the reasons why they can’t succeed, they think about what they’re lacking instead of focusing more on what they have and so for me, I wanted to be that example to women in business; that when you become fearless is when we get to the greatness that’s waiting for us.”

A part of what she calls a “daily mental journey,” Wood encourages her clients to constantly make positive affirmations. “It’s that mentality of focusing more on what you have than what you’re lacking,” she says.

In her own reflection time, she concocted the Playtime is Over Movement – a call for women to evaluate their daily time used on social media and other forms of entertainment that may deter them from long term success.

To formalize the intiative, Wood received nominations for “girlpreneurs”– young ladies aged 10-16 with an interest in ventures from authoring books to selling cookies to exploring the fashion and cosmetology fields.

Over six months, Wood will mentor 10 young women, molding their individual creativity, unique gifts, talents, passion, and desire to become community leaders. The program will culminate at an event in November featuring leading ladies such as Mikki Taylor editor at-large of Essence Magazine, Brett Jeffries associate producer at Harpo Studios, and Kristina Bouweiri president and CEO of Reston Limousine.

“These girls will have the opportunity to meet these dynamic women and to articulate who they are and share their business in their community with people who are on that level,” says Wood.

With each event she hosts, program she organizes and books she authors, Wood will continue to challenge and push women to leave legacies of freedom and economic independence no matter where they are in life.  “I love seeing the possibility in women’s eyes when I’m able to share a message of empowerment,” she says. “ the most priceless part for me.”