Women Shaping History 2004:
Sheila Johnson, Co-Founder, Black Entertainment Television
Factors in Career
Choice: I am now in my third career. What
I'm doing now combines my talents in music and drama, my love
of food and wine with my business acumen. I am now in the fun
part of my life when everything I've learned over the years
is coming together. I have created a market and I'm in the
midst of building an inn and spa in the middle of beautiful
Virginia horse country.
Throughout all three of my careers, my education has been
Pivotal Points: When I left
Black Entertainment Television I felt an inner need to do
something more representative of who I am. The direction
I took was through a desire to reconnect and refocus my creative
talents and energy. Through the company I'm developing, I'm
able to pull together different elements from my past careers
and use them to further my current goals. My current direction
also involves a large philanthropic element, which allows
me to help children through education and arts programs and
to give back.
Achievements: My children are my greatest achievement. I hope
that I can continue to play a pivotal role in their lives by
setting an example to them on the importance of character building,
ethics and giving back to the community.
Obstacles: I am still steering around
is what life is about. I've learned that there will always
be bumps in the road. You just can't keep looking in the rear
view mirror. You have to remain resilient and flexible and
you have to be steadfast in not letting any obstacle be a deterrent
in trying to reach your goals.
Mentors: My mother and my dear friend and teacher Susan Starrett.
They are mentors to me to this day. My mother taught me not
to accept mediocrity, be the best and never give up. Susan
was my orchestra director and I learned so much from her. She
really set a standard for me on how to grow gracefully and
deal with people. She taught me to accept people for who they
are. Susan has an inner strength and moral stability that I
really admire. I try very hard to emulate her and set my own
standards by hers. She is one person in my life that I know
I can trust with any information.
Other people around me continue
to be mentors including my staff. I learn from them daily
and they teach me how to become a better manager and have
fun in life. Without them, I know I couldnÕt be where
I am now.
Advice: Growing up, women really need to find out who they
are and what they're about. They need to learn not to let anyone
else make those decisions for them. Young women often find
themselves defined by the male in their lives. They need to
find their own strengths and understand their weaknesses and
build a solid character base that is moral and ethical. Too
often women look outside for definition and they sell themselves
short. In my life, I made the mistake of listening to other
people. Young women also need to learn that, while we all make
mistakes, they have to learn from them and do things differently.
Not repeat the same bad patterns over. Women are often their
own worst enemy. Young women need to be stronger; they need
to take back their power.
Goals: I am building an inn and spa just outside of Middleburg,
Virginia. This will join my other projects and companies including
Market Salamander, a working chefs' market in Middleburg; Mistral,
a bath and body products company that is sold nationwide; and
my linen line. My goal is to create a lifestyle company that
will change the direction of affordable living.#