The man known professionally as Teriy Keys, Esq has a list of achievements that many can only hallucinate about. He has played for Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs. He has a slew of awards attesting to his dexterity as a recording artiste. He is an entrepreneur who knows what it’s like to have nothing. Proactive and unapologetic, Teriy doesn’t see failure as fuel for success.
In this feature, Teriy dishes on what keeps him going and what he wishes he knew before he started out …
Name: Teriy-Severo KIIZA, Esquire (known as Teriy Keys, Esq)
Best Known For: Being Founder and CEO of R.O.A.D. Group of Companies. Artiste. Music Executive. Businessman and Social Investor. Founding member of Dizzee Rascal’s Dirtee Stank Recordings. 7 UK No.1 Songs, 4 MOBO Awards, 1 Brit Award and 2 Platinum Albums.
Describe yourself in three words: I can’t in three words; but I can in four. Righteous, Organised, Always Determined
Previous occupation: Professional Footballer.Arsenal FC – 1999 – 2004, Tottenham Hotspur FC – 2004 – 2006, FC Barcelona – 2006 – 2008
12-month goal: Key delivery partner in the Strategic Regeneration Programme of London Borough of Haringey.
Describe your outlook & what makes your work/brand, unique: I’m a habitual optimist. I see every setback as an opportunity to get my head down, bend my knees and PRAY! However, I’m also a complete contradiction, as I don’t see failure as fuel for success. I encourage my team and our brand message to promote the celebration of ‘pro-activity’ as opposed to ‘reactivity’. The key difference you get from my brand or myself is the ‘best practices’ I try to instill in my team. On average, we’re a lot younger than our core clients and most of us are predominantly from a disadvantaged background, so I always remind everyone that as we come from a place where we’ve been doing something with nothing for so long, we should be able to make a success of whatever we’re given!
Your greatest career highlights to date: Relocating all of my business and personal interests to the Tottenham/Wood Green area of Haringey, which is where I grew up – after the 2012 Tottenham/London riots that resulted in the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of the Metropolitan Police, which in turn sparked social action across the UK. I did this so I could build a ‘for us, by us’ business in the community to increase the confidence in the community that raised me. Another highlight was opening R.O.A.D Academy and Training Centre in 2014, after several years of consultations, negotiating with the local council and multiple planning applications. It is a 6000sq/ft, independent facility of creative and cultural space, that also doubles as our headquarters for everything we do – from running our Entertainment company to operating as a fully licensed UK Adult Learning Provider delivering specialised courses in the Digital and Creative Arts and Entertainment industry, with a mission to take local talent from the ‘streets to the industry’.
Is international appeal important to you? Absolutely! My sister and I were raised in foster care, living in a very strong Caribbean household. I learnt their culture and customs ‘outside-in’, as I’m not Caribbean. My mother was an entrepreneur before I knew what the word meant. She had multiple ventures from importing and exporting of precious metals to-and-from Africa to Agriculture, Safari Tours and Renewable and Sustainable Energy. I think that imposed international ambitions on my business plans and I feel that in the very near future, I’ll be in a position to tap in to that vision.
Most important piece of equipment you use in your career: Hmmm… this one’s difficult. I’d say my own identity (my brain).
A typical day for you is: I’ve been working for myself for almost seven years and prior to that, I was involved in sport so I’ve never had a Gregorian style approach to arranging my calendar. I’ve recently decided to have a loose routine, as because of the whole independent working, I never know when to sign off and stop working. It’s put a strain on my personal life in the past. Its’ still in the works but I guess this is what a typical kind of day could look like for me: 05:00 – Catch up on world current affairs, I’m not a huge news believer/reader but I do make sure I spend an hour or so watching Al Jazeera. 07:00 – Check in with staff via our system and check where I need to be that day and what needs to be done. Set out tasks/targets for my team. 08:00 – Eat and go to sleep. 14:00 – Wake up, either take a conference call with my team or head in the office and have my first few meetings of the day. 18:00 – Listen to music and check up on all the latest Entertainment News. 20:00 – I may have a dinner meeting or an event to go to for networking etc. 23:00 – Head in to the studio. 03:00 – Leave studio head home, eat – reply to flagged email and general mental maintenance. I’ll maybe watch a few episode of one of my favourite series, to break up my ‘work, work, work and work ethic’. (#RihannaVoice). In all honesty, no two days are the same, as I have various business interests.
What legacy would you like to leave? You know… I’m not sure at the moment; I can’t think past wanting to re-start my family name’s lifeline. As the only male child of my mother, I’m the ‘seed-bearer’ to carry on the family tree, in her/our name as she unfortunately was taken from us too soon.
What is the hardest professional decision you’ve ever had to make? Other than deciding to be my own boss, I’d say accepting who I am. When you grow up without a definitive connection to your history, you can get lost in whom you find yourself becoming and start to even believe it as true. I benefited greatly from understanding that I am someone. I am someone’s child, not just foster child. It sounds easier said than done, but in a world where you’re constantly fed that ‘compromise’ is the name of the game, you’ll be surprise how many people position themselves in a false sense of comfort, just because they’re afraid of what the response may be if they were to make a decision that started with “I don’t want to…”
Your biggest career mistake: I wish I had known about consultants a whole lot earlier. I’ve spent countless hours and finances wasting my time on information and services that someone else somewhere had/has readily available.
Most common & avoidable mistake you see in younger people in your career: I could go on for days on this topic but I’ll just say a few things I wish I had known at the very beginning of my journey. First, ask all the awkward questions upfront, there is no such thing as a stupid question especially if they have the potential to cost you money. Secondly, avoid over-promising and under-delivering. Lastly, pick an inspirational person/organisation that you would love to be like or work with, then hire their accountant and lawyer to represent you too.
Single piece of advice you give your mentees: Understand your USP, then monetise your content!
You live in (town): London
Favourite food: Chapatti
Biggest spiritual/life lesson you’ve learned: You either pray or worry; do not do both
What do you do for leisure: Surf the Internet
One app or piece of technology you cannot do without: Apple iCal
Your most over-used word/phrase: There are two. “If that makes any sense” and “Be a jack of all trades but hire master’s of each one.”