Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your career path so far.
A: I am known as The Academic Entrepreneur---one foot in academia (18 year university professor) and one foot in the business world (10 year award winning academic publishing business).
Q: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A: When I first graduated with my doctorate and was introduced into the world of publishing, the phrase "that's the way we've always done it" came up. This is akin to red to a bull and/or nails on a chalkboard. I recall my professors telling me the reason people settled for this way is because no one was willing to step up to the plate to create a better model. We did. We have created a different academic publishing model that solves many of the challenges faced by academics. One of these challenges is ownership. When one publishes in an academic journal; one often doesn't pay the journal; the journal doesn't pay the author BUT bills remain to be paid as there are expenses to publishing. In response, the journal owns the author's copyright. I struggled with this strategy, particularly as completing a doctoral journey can take from 1- 7 years or more. Why wouldn't the author want to retain ownership? Because "that's the way its done"---until the Refractive Thinker®. All doctoral scholars who contribute to the 15 time award winning series: the Refractive Thinker® are taught how to apply for their copyright to own their submission; contributing scholars simply give the publisher distribution rights.
My inspiration as an entrepreneur was to offer a different way forward with a unique business model. In addition, my goal was also to get research that gets stuck in the hallowed halls of academia into the hands of business owners and people who can use it. The challenge is that doctoral research is very formulaic and according to specific standards that are often a challenge to make sense of---particularly as dissertations might range from 150 to 600 or more pages. Instead, we at the Refractive Thinker® are interested in getting this research out of academia in a more digestible easier to understand format. We use the anthology format--many authors in one volume under a specific title (such as the Refractive Thinker® Vol XIV: Healthcare which we are currently working on due to publish August 2018). This anthology uses an executive summary formula where each chapter is 3000-4400 words written from a more business perspective of application. The goal is to share with the reader the problem, the findings, and the application of how these findings may be used in industry.
When a doctoral scholar graduates, they often publish their dissertation to ProQuest, buying the leather bound version for themselves and perhaps their spouse/parents. This amazing research often collects dust from that point forward. Our mission has always been to dust off this research, get it off the coffee table, and out of academia to shape the future conversation of research and their field.
Q: Tell us about your business.
A: The Lentz Leadership Institute LLC has evolved in its 10 year history that includes professional editing, coaching, and publishing for those in academia studying to complete their master's and doctoral degrees, as well as those in the business community who want to share their ideas with the world.
We offer a variety of services customized to the needs of the author instead of a one size fits all approach. We offer all areas of digital technology as well from print books to digital books to audio books and much more.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur?
A: Resilience and knowledge. With all my advanced education, I looked to business coaches with the success I was looking for to coach me through the process. Just as a doctoral scholar has a mentor to help them achieve their journey, successful business owners look to those ahead of them in the process to coach them to the next level of success. One has to embrace failure as part of the learning process, as well as looking to resiliency and perseverance to keep going when times get tough.
Q: Where have you found the support you've needed to start, grow, and scale?
A: I found support in some amazing colleagues and coaches. In particular, I found coaches at Secret Knock--an amazing organization founded by Greg Reid whose mission is to offer support and guidance from amazing successful people willing to pay it forward to help others. We are offered a hand up, not a hand out. We are taught by those who have achieved amazing success and are willing to share their stories and their counsel to help the next generation of business find their voice. Greg Reid has created an amazing family of entrepreneurs shaping the future of business. Thank you Greg!
The best advice I was given that made all the difference in my business is to create your business as a solution to a problem; those in search of solution will find you.
Q: What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with other entrepreneurial women in the world?
A: Never let anyone steal your dream. My mantra has been: Let your Faith be Bigger Than Your Fear--and Fail Faster to Succeed Sooner. BUT, do not confuse motion with progress. Efforts are not outcomes.
Q: What do you like most about WorldWideWomen?
A: I love women supporting women to be their authentic self. We all have a gift and our goal is to share with the world but in our own unique way. We do not need to fit a stereotype, we simply need to celebrate our uniqueness as women.
Learn more about her business at her WorldWideWomen page listing here.
Connect with Dr. Cheryl Lentz through her LinkedIn page!