Although undoubtedly one of the most fun events of the year, SLA’s SheHive is also one of the most informative gatherings for smart African women. This weekend, the city of Lagos pretty much exploded thanks to #SheHiveLagos.
We could wax rhetoric about all the wonderful ways you can achieve some balance, but let’s be real. At the end of the day, you need a way out of those particularly uninspiring mornings where you just want to give up on everything.
To help Motherland Moguls shatter glass ceilings across all industries without breaking a sweat, Arese Ugwu, founder of Smart Money Africa, Nimi Akinkugbe, founder & CEO of Bestman Games and Nibi Lawson, founder of The Kinky Apothecary gave the best advice ever.
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What is balance to you? What does it mean to be able to balance work with life?
Arese: I believe in balance but not in the way most people view it. I spent a lot of time in my 20s trying to find balance. But you can’t have it all put together all the time and that’s fine.
You should be able to focus on your career and not feel guilty. Learn to live with it. Find out what best works for your lifestyle.
Nimi: I have never had total balance in my life. Some things have to take the back seat and that’s totally okay.
Don’t knock yourself out on everything. You can’t insist on micro-managing everything.
Nibi: Find out how things work with you. Compartmentalize them. Do things at the time you’re able to and when at your best.
As busy women, how do you cope with handling personal responsibilities?
Arese: There are times when my daughter says, “Mummy, you work too much”. I used to feel bad but I found a way to make her understand that my working hard is tied to the quality of life I am able to provide her.
Now, while she’s doing homework, I work. This works for us as we have a routine for homework, conversations and play dates.
Nimi: Guilt trips are real. Most times, I’m not able to do school runs but I’ve found a way around that. I decided on 3 days, a week.
Support systems are also critical. You need the help of friends, siblings and a spouse (if you have one). My mother-in-law is my greatest support. She kicks in just when I need her.
Nibi: I’m not married yet and I feel guilty about not having time for my friends (and weddings).
But I find ways around these things. Priority is key.
How do you decide on what to prioritize? What models do you make use of?
Arese: I think everyone has to learn how to say, ”No”. It’s really that important. If you have to spend all day responding to emails, DMs and tweets, you will never get work done. How then do you pay your bills?
I remember being on a board where their expectations for my responsibilities were quite different from mine and of course, I politely declined.
Figure out your priorities and focus on them.
Nimi: I have a broad picture of what I do. I don’t have idle time. And yes, even my thinking time is planned! I’m definitely not one to attend four weddings and a funeral on a Saturday.
It takes a lot to juggle family, friends, business and a career but you can’t sit and worry about how hard it is. You’ve simple got to prioritize.
Nibi: My hair business started as a hobby but even as a banker then, I had to decide between the two. You simply have to be courageous enough to decide what you need to do.
Looking back at your 20s, what would you have done differently if you knew better?
Arese: Maybe I would have gone harder on building my career.
Ladies, balance should not exist in your dictionary. Understand that this is a time to build yourself and go hard on yourself.
Nimi: Financial knowledge and discipline are very important as a lady in your 20s.
Also, develop yourself and don’t wait for things to happen.
Nibi: In my 20s, I waited for suggestions on what to do but now, I would say, do you and be focused.
How do you manage people’s expectations of who you are with who you really are? What drives your desire for success?
Arese: What drives me fundamentally is my child. I want to be successful so I can provide her a better life. And so, I don’t keep friends or people who question my drive and desire for success.
Nimi: It’s about purpose. That one thing you love and won’t mind doing for free. Gradually, you would make money out of it.
Nibi: I’m driven by success itself and I try to hang around smart and driven women who motivate me to great heights.
Final words to Motherland Moguls
Arese: If you haven’t found your purpose, that should be your priority right now. You know those issues that make you argue on end? That’s probably your passion. Start thinking of a way to make it work.
Your awesome, smart, and lucrative idea isn’t going to achieve itself if you don’t start doing something about how you’d make it happen.
Nimi: There is so much abuse of everything these days. So look after yourself, exercise and diet properly.
Give back. Have social empathy —think of that one thing you can do to change lives.
Nibi: Your health is very important. If you’re not healthy, you can’t be talking of success in business or career.
You can’t afford to be ill when there is money to be made. Taking a whole lot on yourself can make you flounder out somewhere along the way.