Cheri Garcia is a prison reform advocate, who is passionate about helping people coming out of prison and people in recovery find transformation through employment or entrepreneurship. As someone who has reinvented her own life, she wanted to create a company to help others do the same. Garcia is the Founder of Cornbread Hustle, a staffing agency for second chances.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in a great family household. I was in sports and always competitive and ambitious. I had an entrepreneurial mindset at an early age, but also a rebellious mindset. Sometimes these character traits can go hand in hand. I started to use my creativity and drive through the wrong outlets and became addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age. Looking back, I just had untreated anxiety and depression. My choices didn’t change the fact that I was an ambitious and creative kid. I just traveled a journey that was painful to get to where I am at today– which is living a life of freedom and recovery and serving others.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I learned earlier more about my fears and how they hold me back or cause me to make undesirable decisions. Since I have always been prideful, I denied my feelings and fears so they materialized in a negative way. Whether it was the way I treated people or a lack of motivation to achieve my goals, not understanding the root of my fears held me back.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
As a marketing and PR expert, I hear a lot of people in my industry say “Any PR is good PR.” That is not true and as social media continues to be a platform that can destroy careers, I’m sure more people are noticing that any PR is NOT good PR.
As it relates to my work with second chance staffing, a false belief is that people won’t bite the hand that feeds them when they. While that sounds logical, it’s not true because people make decisions out of fear and insecurities, and sometimes that means biting the hands that feed them.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
My darker periods in my life often looked like I was okay on the outside. I battle with addiction and depression, so a lot of my struggles were always in isolation. I still struggle at times but I have more tools for daily living to get myself out of a spiral quicker. If I had to describe a “rock bottom”, it would be when I lived out of my car which had a breathalyzer, couch hopping with a negative bank account– while trying to run my company with a fake smile.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Get sober and find God. Without those two things, I’ll lose it all.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up every morning before 5 am to do my daily prayers and journaling. I am at the gym by 6:10 am. When I come home, I spend time with my dogs and get ready for work to head into the office.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I have started to take the time to take baths. It sounds simple, but it’s very difficult for me to sit still and be present. Getting into hot water at the end of a long day to read a book helps me reflect and be present. I put my phone on the charger in another room and disconnect. Even if it’s for only 10 minutes, It’s a total act of self-care and self-love.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I reverse engineer my yearly goals by breaking up tasks into monthly milestones. I break those monthly tasks into weekly milestones. I plan my weekly tasks every Sunday night and put deadlines on the calendar so I am always clear on my vision.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
- Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk: This book helped me understand communication styles and why people act the way they do sometimes. It helped me change my behavior towards others when I feel hurt.
- Control Alcohol, The Naked Mind by Annie Grace: This book helped me get on track with making a decision to get sober. The author helps you understand the benefits of quitting alcohol without making you feel like you have a problem. This was helpful for me when I wasn’t ready to let go of drinking but wanted to learn more about sobriety.
- The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian: This book helped me get into prayer and be present with the Lord.
- The Bible and the AA big book of alcoholics anonymous: These books give me guidance for daily living.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
- Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
- Don’t take advice from people whose shoes you don’t want to live in.
- Be the light to help others shine.