We had the good fortune of connecting with Sherry James, PMP and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sherry, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In 2018, I decided to write a book about both of my parents dying by suicide when I was much younger. I noticed that speaking about mental health and wellness was a taboo topic and that there was significant stigma around mental illness and suicide. I re-branded and re-birthed my company that I started in 2006 to focus on the difficult topics of mental health and diversity and inclusion in the workplace in 2019. In 2020, all lives changed and the focus on mental health increased exponentially. I am so very happy that we started this work when we did so that we can help those who may be struggling during this difficult time.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When we decided to focus our business plan on speaking engagements and coaching and consulting in the leadership space, we had several speaking events on the calendar for 2020. The pandemic not only changed that but also eliminated most of our 9-5 salaried positions that kept us afloat. The beginning of the year emptied the calendars and gave us the opportunity to focus 100% on the goal of our non-profit organization “2020 Lives Changed, Inc” that we founded in 2019 with the idea that we would touch 2020 lives in the new year. Little did we know that what we were offering for just a few folks specifically at military bases and shelters would be needed by the entire planet. With no speaking gigs on the books and because I am now disabled from working full time, we have been blessed to speak to and work with groups to focus on how they can instill, maintain and fund not only mental health programs, but to do so along with the DEI budgets that were likely already funded.

The past year has proven that we are working in our purpose and the masses have spoken: we need to be the champions for mental health and wellness for the years to come.

My formative years were spent homeless, in group homes, foster homes and sleeping from couch to couch. I had my daughter in 1989, at 17 years old. My life became 100% focused on raising her and keeping her safe from the horrible childhood that I lived. I learned to be a survivor and I also noticed that my willingness to help others helped me to coach and develop the next generation of leaders when I moved here to Dallas to work for AT&T. I had the opportunity to work for major organizations like 7-Eleven Corporate, HollyFrontier, Verizon Wireless and more and learned the pros and cons of corporate leadership.

Starting in HR/Training and moving to project management (IT) helped to round out the skill set that was needed to start the Phoenix Speaks brand, and much love to PMI Global//Forth Worth for the chance to serve in BOD roles and as keynote speaker and panelist roles throughout.

I am a servant leader coaching servant leaders, and I can’t say enough how blessed I am to be able to work in my purpose and to teach my children to do the same.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Monday night dinner at Dee Lincoln Prime at the Frisco Star. The food? Fantastic. The people? Fabulous. Dee Lincoln? Fierce and loving. (Tell them I sent you) Tuesday: A day shopping at Willow Bend Mall and The Galleria. Yummy bites at Knife Plano and also at Grand Luxe before heading home.
Wednesday: Back to the Star for great fried chicken at Tuepelo Honey and a walk around Legacy West for a tad more shopping and some cool people watching.
Thursday: A trip down to The Dallas Arts District for a visit to the Dallas Museum of Art, The Nasher, and the Winspear. Dinner at Ocean Prime and a Mavs game if we were lucky.
Friday Night: Legacy Hall for music and people watching
Saturday: Dallas Farmer’s Market for shopping small and eating well.
Sunday: Church services at One Community Church in Plano and dinner at my house…

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to the entire Phoenix Speaks #tribe, old and new, as well as my dear friend Mei Lin and the fantastic folks at PMI Dallas and Fort Worth PMI. They have allowed me to continue giving back to my project management profession while also #HealingOutLoud from the effects of PTSD, depression and anxiety. Certainly not lastly, I’d like to thank my children Typhani and Myles for loving me through the tough times and the good.

Website: www.2020LivesChanged.Org

Instagram: SherryJamesPMP

Linkedin: SherryJamesPMP

Twitter: PhoenixRise48

Youtube: SherryJamesPMP

Other: www.SherryJamesPMP.com

Image Credits
Lee F. Photography

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