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Cherry Collier: A Personality Matter

Through her Atlanta-based firm, Personality Matters, Cherry Collier helps her coaching clients harness their inner power. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

When you ask a 5-year-old girl what she wants to be when she grows up, you expect her to say something like firefighter, doctor, or even astronaut.

You don’t expect her to say she wants to be a motivational speaker.

But Cherry Collier wasn’t just any 5-year-old.

Her mom regularly listened to the late Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who became famous for his belief in the power of positive thinking. And Collier got hooked.

“When I was in the first grade, I was in class telling everybody about the power of positive thinking and what you have to do to be successful. All of my teachers were like, ‘There’s something not right with her. We just want you to know your numbers,’” Collier MS ’95, PhD ’98 recalls with a laugh.

That drive to help people realize their best selves led Collier first to Spelman College for a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then on to the University of Georgia for master’s and doctoral degrees at the urging of Dr. Hamilton Holmes BS ’63, a father figure in Collier’s life and the first African American man admitted to UGA.

“When people hear ‘psychology,’ they always assume you’re a therapist, but I use my degrees in organizational and social psychology to understand people,” Collier explains.

While she’s not a therapist, per se, she uses her training to get inside the minds of clients. Collier’s goal is to help those working for these organizations to succeed through executive coaching, leadership training, and talent development.

“I started coaching in 1998 with the belief that people had all of the resources they needed inside themselves to be successful,” Collier says. “As you start to help them connect to those resources, then they are going to become true human resources for their organization, their communities, and their families.”

For Collier, it’s not about just creating the perfect worker. It’s about creating the most effective version of oneself.

The best advice I can give to people is to never bark alone.” — Cherry Collier, CEO, Managing Partner, and Head Coach, Personality Matters

That’s why she created Personality Matters, a firm on the 2023 Bulldog 100 list that specializes in coaching, leadership, and team development. As CEO, managing partner, and head coach, Collier and her team work with small businesses and Fortune 500 companies across all types of industries and federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Transportation, and NASA.

That team also includes four other doctoral graduates from UGA. “All of them are Black women—five Ph.D. Dawgs in one place,” Collier notes proudly.

The name of the firm also underscores one of Collier’s main messages to her clients. “You cannot be the same person to everyone,” she says. “There are different strategies and approaches that are necessary for different people. Personality matters.”

When people understand themselves, their personalities, and those around them, Collier says, their communication improves, setting them up for success. It’s all about moving out of your own way. It’s a philosophy Collier believes in so wholeheartedly that she centered one of her 22 books on it.

“The best advice I can give to people is to never bark alone,” Collier says. “We’re social animals, and we need each other. You get to a certain point and start thinking you should be able to do everything all alone. And that is not the way. You need other people. We are better together.”