4 reasons you should be proud of what you do

I have had some weird conversations and some downright crazy ones but the ones that strike me the most are business conversations. Be it my business or other’s. I have heard people say, “They are selling a packaged lie”, about an amazing idea. I just  smile and concur but deep inside I just say to myself, “You can’t fool me”  The drive behind that talk is usually just pure surprise that you managed to pull that one off.

Now here are some reasons you shouldn’t let haters or literally anyone talk smack about your gig and why you should be damn proud of what you do.

tumblr_lh98203yv71qesepao1_5001. It is YOUR idea.

Whether it’s an original idea or a modification of an already existing one. It is YOUR idea. You probably sat down for hours or days building on that initial eureka or tinkering out a solution to a problem. This is your brainchild! I have had sleepless nights restructuring an idea and I spend days, zoning out, calculating, researching, trying to find the problem to which I have the solution.

Motherland Moguls with start up businesses know this phase. It’s the Eureka phase. Even when you drew the idea from something already existing; you spent so much time turning it this way and that way, doubting the whole thing, coming back to it and doing it all over again.

Frankly even before you invest a dime into it, you have invested your brain power. That costs a lot. This alone is more than enough reason for you to take a step back and appreciate what you have built with your hands and your mind.

2. So they call it packaging…

Honey, so you know it’s called BRANDING! When people accuse you of overpricing your goods or ‘feeling’ yourself just smile and say; “This is a brand and we are unlimited”… Or say something polite but true.

Every business man or woman knows that what sells is your packaging. So if competitors   criticise your packaging, don’t worry. As long as your customers love it, you are on the right track. Don’t be afraid to do things your way.  Your product/service just has to be worth it and your brand has to be attractive. Let your packaging sell something awesome that people will fall in love with .

3. You took the step

Give yourself a pat on the back love.

A lot of people would have been successful today if they weren’t too scared to take the first step. You did. That fear of potential losses, bad reaction from target market, lack of support or funds or whatever issues you had, you still took the risk and you conquered. That alone is good enough reason for you to be proud of yourself. Ain’t nobody gonna tell you otherwise.

And when you look back (hopefully, your business is doing good. Amen), you will probably laugh at all the hysterical and hilarious moves you pulled at the beginning! You did good.

kenya-yas4. You are still there

And not going anywhere. Yea? So what we broke even this month or didn’t even get to? We are going forward. Take a huge gulp of coffee and pedal on. Honey you are already on the bike, a lot of people haven’t even climbed on and some have stepped off. Yet you are there, pedalling, eating up miles and going forward.

Each day brings a new challenge and for the record you’re not just surviving. No ways, girl you are thriving! Going strong. Look up at your name in gold letters. Be proud of you.

5. Attitude? What is that?

I only speak BOSSlese (the Boss Lady Language). I laugh when people want to smear strong, hard working Motherland Moguls out there by saying they have “attitude”. Frankly,  they are scared you are getting too big, and they  can’t get to the level you are going to. they want you earth bound like them so they throw shade! Let it go baby! Dust it off.

Check yourself, then go on. Your slayage watt should pop every time you check it. A lot of people will try to put you down when they see you climbing up, doing things and breaking grounds. Turn that shade to BOSSlese, why? Because you are the boss and nothing is changing that!

This is my go to mindset. I am proud of what I do. I have my hands in so many pies. I strive each day to get my brand right. So even when it is not going as planned, hold your head up, be proud of what you have achieved so far. Bask in the euphoria of your success.

“I am a Motherland Mogul , and I am damn proud”.

How Joselyn Dumas inspires you to achieve your career goals

Joselyn Dumas
@Joselyn_Dumas inspires herself and people like me every day. Be like Joselyn! Click To Tweet

When I was tasked to write an article on how Joselyn Dumas inspires us to achieve our career goals, I was stumped. Simply because of all the Ghanaian celebrities (most of whose lives I do not give much thought to or follow on a regular basis, for that matter), Joselyn Dumas was part of my B-listed celebrities. Honestly.

But research and knowledge always changes perspective and perception, and after reading and reading all the savoury and unsavoury articles alike, I am delighted to announce that if you were like me, you can be a changed girl now.

Unlike what others may think, Joselyn Dumas can actually inspire you to achieve it all. Here is how:

1. Guts

She had the guts to quit her job as a paralegal in London to pursue her dream of being a TV personality in Ghana. So how do you contextualize this? It’s simple.

Are you stuck in that dead end job, unhappy with your life and atrophied dreams? Leave and don’t look back…with caution please. Follow your passion. Go to your Ghana to be what you want to be. Be like Joselyn Dumas.

jocelyn_dumas2. Body positivity

As a woman, Joselyn is endowed —she is all sorts of curvy and beautiful. Unfortunately, some people in the public refuse to stop staring at those hips and start focusing on what she does instead. She has been at the centre of media attention because men won’t stop gawking and ladies will not stop hating because their men are gawking!

In spite of this, Joselyn keeps a calm, unruffled demeanour and unashamedly wears clothes that flatters her —not caring what anyone thinks.

So for you reader, wear what you want to and do not be ashamed of that body. On a deeper level, this goes to say that you should be true to yourself. It is the first wise step which when taken, will resonate positively in your career goals.

Leave and don’t look back...with caution please. Follow your passion. Click To Tweet

3. Wellness

Although the cynical Ghanaian public have accused Joselyn of passing off a gastric by-pass as a weight loss plan to justify her figure today, I choose to remain oblivious and believing.

Of course, Joselyn knew then that the Ghanaian public can be unforgiving when it comes to overweight TV personalities, so she made the move to join the Weight Watchers’ Club.

bpx2lggieaebbw0-jpg_largeShe had a career goal in mind, and made physical preparations to be suitable for that role. You also have that career goal in mind? Are you reading, learning or losing weight to make the move easier? Consider doing what it takes to get where you want to be.

There is a place for a social work. Not every day, yourself. Sometimes, others. Click To Tweet

4. Giving back

Being a believer in social action, Joselyn volunteered alongside Lucy Quist, MD of Airtel Ghana to participate in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative. Aside that, she has the Joselyn Canfor-Dumas Foundation which focuses on social issues such as providing for children, widows etc.

What should this mean to you? It simply means that there is a place for a social work. Not every day, yourself. Sometimes, others.

“A noble leader answers not to the trumpet calls of self-promotion, but to the hushed whispers of necessity.”

―Mollie Marti

4. Sharing your passion

Forget that Joselyn is brand ambassador of Range Rover Evoque and Jobberman Ghana. Forget that she was the host of “The One Show”. What does Joselyn have to call her own? There is a crop of entrepreneurs sweeping across the African continent and Joselyn is one of them. She is following her passion to make sure those who share in it also have jobs to do.

Joselyn is the founder of Virgo Sun Production Company Limited. What about you? Will you feed the entrepreneur in you? Will you allow others to share in your passion?

Are you acting professionally in any role you are playing like @Joselyn_Dumas? Click To Tweet

5. Perfecting your profession

Finally, you remember the movies “Perfect Picture” or better still, how about “Love or Something Like That”? You don’t? That’s fine. But you cannot tell me that you do not remember the sensational “Adams Apple” which featured Joselyn as leading cast member, Jennifer Adams.

Due to this and other appearances, Joselyn has been branded as part of the professional actresses who are glamorous and best dressed. I did not make this up. Nkonkonsa.com did.

So my question is this: Are you acting professionally in any role you are playing? Are you executing that role to perfection?

I wish I had a slick conclusion. But this cuts it for me-

Above lies the story of Joselyn Dumas. She inspires herself and people like me every day.

Be like Joselyn. She can inspire you too!

Why 2017 will be the year of the extraordinary woman

If you're a Motherland Mogul, you're already an an extraordinary woman. If not, this is for you. Click To Tweet

Being a woman is a great privilege, it may not always feel like it, because society has never been taught the true value of a woman. However, we are now seeing more and more women embracing each other and celebrating the extraordinary beings that they are.

More women are realising their worth and the world is slowly benefiting from this. As the new year starts, I predict 2017 will be the year of the extraordinary woman because:

Her body

The extraordinary woman will work to build and keep the body that she is comfortable with. An extraordinary woman will know that her body, that she is truly comfortable with, is the perfect body for her existence.

An extraordinary woman will fall in love with her beautiful and healthy body and know, she does not need to compare herself to anyone else. She is enough and she is perfect.

running gifHer presence

When an extraordinary woman walks into the room, her presence will be felt by all. Not because she will be loud, rather, her energy, spirit and positive mindset will fill the room. The way she interacts with others in the room will indeed be, extraordinary.

She will be attentive when others are speaking, she will take a genuine interest. She will leave others feeling increased after speaking to them. They will remember her because of how she made them feel. Her presence is a privilege to those who meet her.

Her love

An extraordinary woman will not allow her love to be taken for granted. She will give unto the others the same love she would like to receive. However, should the same courtesy not be extended back to her, she will learn and fully understand.

We all don’t share the same intentions in this world and just because you have been stung, does not mean you have to cage yourself off in order to stay out of harm’s way. Heartache builds character.

new york gifAn extraordinary woman will know, love starts within. She will fall in love with herself, flaws and all. An extraordinary woman will know, putting herself first is not selfish. Her cup needs to be full and over running before she can start pouring out to others. She will always love herself until the end of time.

Her mouth

An extraordinary woman will use her mouth to build. Before speaking out loud, an extraordinary woman will know to say the words in her head first. She will ask herself, “what purpose will these words serve?”.

Each word that comes out of the extraordinary woman’s mouth will carry value. She will speak only words of increase to herself and others. Her mouth will be a tool and she will know and appreciate it. At times it is better to listen than to speak and silence is not ignorance, it speaks louder than words.

Four points that every woman needs to keep in mind to be extraordinary. Click To Tweet

Her confidence

An extraordinary woman will be so sure of herself that no praise or criticism will stop her flow. She will humble herself and her work will speak for her. She will not place her confidence in mankind, but in a higher power.

The extraordinary woman will set standards for herself and if you cannot rise to her standards she will be happy to part ways. She will know we all have different callings and purposes for our existence. Therefore, she will not feel threatened by anyone else in this world.

tumblr_lh98203yv71qesepao1_500 gifShe will know if she tries to compete or compare herself to others, this will distract her from her purpose. An extraordinary woman will help others up knowing that despite her confidence, one day, she too may fall.

Let’s hop aboard on this journey together and make this year our year. We might not be there yet, but thankfully we are not where we used to be. We are still on our way and that’s even more important.

Don’t be afraid to wear your pink panties

shehive accra she leads africa pink

Five years ago, I was certain that my favourite colour was purple. With time, I started feeling like it was suddenly everybody’s favourite colour so I started looking for a new favourite colour.

Why? I wanted people to wonder and ask me, “Why beige?” I didn’t want them to respond with a, “Oh not you too.” pink-panties-2

But, is it so wrong? Take chocolate, wine or coffee for example, would you give it up if the whole world said women loved it? I didn’t think so.

So, what are these pink panties and how do I know I’m wearing my pair? Pink panties are the “common and safe option.” Most people would describe those choices as “security” or “stability”.

Wearing your pair is simple, find your passion and stick to it whether it makes you part of the 99% or the 1%. When you devote yourself to it, you’ll find that there are many ways to kill a cat.

Real time effects

Of course, this issue stretches far beyond the sweet things in life. It’s the fear that roams in the workplace, in academic spaces and in business.

I remember having a chat with a 14-year-old girl from back home and I asked her what she wanted to do after matric. “I wanted to study politics but my sister is already doing it,” was her response.

1. The belief that to be unique or your own person directly translates to making a different choice from the next person is a problem even in young kids. I call it the “if I’m not the only one, then I’m not doing it” syndrome.

These kids spend a lifetime waiting to stand out, all the while missing out on all the opportunities that come their way.

 

prince-um-noThat attitude does nothing for you. Imagine walking into a supermarket only to find one brand of sanitary pads, the one you really don’t like and you don’t want to buy it because well, you know where this is going. Let’s get a tad more serious now right?

2. Look at all the current issues that women across the globe are facing. The possibility that someone with a sustainable solution could be sitting pretty somewhere because ‘there are so many women empowerment groups’ is a disturbing thought. Yet, we can’t ignore the fact that it is a real thing.

 

I recently finished writing my first novel, a short story about women and their incredible strength and I can’t believe how fulfilling it feels. Now, if I had written that book the moment I felt it was what I wanted to do —instead of worrying that people would think I did it because someone else I knew already had a book— I would have missed out on months of  questioning.

The journey to starting and finishing the book has allowed me to learn things about myself that I never, in a million years, thought I could ever possess.

3. The sad thing about it all is that we don’t realise it. In our hesitation and fear, we hinder not only the progress of ourselves, but possibly, the potential of the next young girl.

By trying to hard to be “unique” we may be stomping on other dreamers. The main reason why we don’t want to be like everyone else is because we are afraid of failing. This scares us more than the regret we’d have to live with if we gave up on our dreams.

For the future

I believe we are all meant to excel. How? It’s simple, be you and do you! Yes, but again, how? Okay, so maybe everyone chooses to study law or start an events management business or blog…at the end of the day, this is your life and your choices are for you.

Here is little check-list to help you find your best fit.

Don’t:

  • Stop wearing the green, blue, floral, white or yellow pairs, we love them!
  • Let social seasons and trends define your decisions and choices regarding what you love and your future;
  • Choose something because nobody has or because everyone has
  • Develop an “I either sit the round out, or obliterate the rules” attitude, there is place for all of us, even those who don’t mind the rules

Do:

  • Wear what you want;
  • Find your passion and purpose, work at it and stand out;
  • Remember that you don’t have to stand alone to stand out!

Your pink panties matter, go forth and wear them proudly.

Lessons we can learn from Lynette Ntuli’s success

Lynette Ntuli

Many women in Africa and the world are making great strides in their respective industries. It’s also common that when you have someone you look up to, it’s usually someone in the field that you are in. Whether you’re in tech, construction, or engineering.

We tend to overlook other women in other industries because we have that perception that our role models should be within an industry we’re familiar with. This doesn’t have to be the case.

As a woman in the tech industry, my admiration for Lynette’s work ethic and passion was welcomed. I was introduced to Lynette Ntuli when I was previously at an incubator and accelerator and looking into which successful women we would approach to be a speaker at a conference.

I’ve followed her journey since then. Lynette is in property, asset management and infrastructure development. She is the CEO of Innate Investment Solutions based in Durban, South Africa. She also has a passion for youth development and leadership and is also the Founding Director and Chairman of IgniteSA.com. She’s definitely a force to be reckoned with!

Here are a few lessons we can learn from Lynette’s success and how she keeps making a difference:

Be consistent

For the past 11 years, Lynette has been a powerhouse in the making. One thing about her is that she does not stop achieving her dreams. From being the first black woman at the age of 24, to become the General Manager of one of Durban’s regional shopping centers to being the Co-Founder and CEO of a property, asset management and infrastructure solutions company.

Tip: Lynette keeps consistent by focusing on not losing momentum. She believes that in anything you do, you will probably fall. Try and do things over again until you get it right. What is important is to keep your head high through all the trials.

Help others grow

In your pursuit of greatness and achieving your professional, personal and entrepreneurial goals, it is important to pay it forward. Some people make paying it forward their daily bread, and their passion. For others, you gain years of experience and want to share what you know. Sharing this knowledge will lead to making an impact in someone else’s life, whether the impact is big or small.

At the age of 25, Lynette and 3 of her friends wanted to continue empowering others. This is where IgniteSA.com, a youth-oriented digital media and programme platform, grew. They had already grown their skills, and networks and wanted to share them with young South Africans from all sorts of backgrounds.

From there onwards, they built an ecosystem in education, skills development and entrepreneurship. This initiative was to help change the future of South African youth.

Work hard

One may not work tirelessly, chase their goals and dreams, be successful and not have worked hard for it. Great work ethic and hard-work is what will get you where you want to be. This is evident in Lynette’s success and how she continuously pushes herself.

Tip: When what you do on a day-to-day basis is your passion, it definitely is a bonus. It makes the hard work seem effortless so keep pushing #MotherlandMoguls!

Stay true to yourself

It’s important to also stay true to yourself when looking into grow into your career or business. This is one lesson that all women should keep in mind when on the road to success.

Yes, we can look up to many people in our industries and in other industries. But staying true to who you are, and what YOU want to achieve will be key in continuing in your journey to success.

 

The new African woman likes sex on the beach

Is it me or is there is a huge rise of the cosmopolitan woman in Africa? I call her, the new African woman. The new African woman meets friends for cocktails like ‘sex on the beach’, after she gets off her 9-5 corporate job. She’s the woman who talks freely about sex, and enjoys it too.

This woman takes vacation days and balances career and work life. This is a stark difference from our mother’s generation. For one thing, if I told my mom I was having sex on the beach…the furthest thing on her mind will be a drink in a glass.

Sooo who is this new African woman? Here are 11 ways the new African woman is breaking the mold.

1. We take care of ourselves first…without any apologies

Scandal - its handled gifWe have realized that the woman who does everything for others must first take care of herself.

This could mean anything from quitting a job that we hate to starting our own business. It could also mean ignoring all the haters and going back to school for a second degree.

2. We choose family…and career

career-and-familyRemember when there was a time where women had to choose between advancing in her career versus raising children and being a great wife?

Well, who said a woman can’t do both. African women are finding ingenious ways of balancing the two. We can cook a mean jollof for dinner and defend a case in court the next morning.

The new African woman does all.

3. We are girls who code and do everything else

african-graduatesDid you know that there was a study that showed that black women are now the most educated group in the United States?

Similarly, African women are excelling in subjects that where once thought to be dominated by men. We are killing it in math, science and technology. And we look good while doing it.

4. We are literally turning lemons into lemonade

lemonade olajumokeThe African woman is the most industrious of all the species. Our work ethic and our ability to wring every drop out of a great opportunity is unmatched.

Both these qualities are seen in my current favorite #MotherlandMogul, Olajumoke Orisaguna. Who else is able to wake up one day selling bread and go to bed at the end of the day with a modeling contract?

5. The love we seek is multi-dimensional

You know how our mothers will tell us that there is only one way to a man’s heart and that is his stomach?

Well, there are a thousand different ways to the new African women’s heart. She wants wit, adventure and staying up late with her love watching cartoons till 3am while eating ice cream.

6. We don’t pretend to be perfect 

olivia-pope-scaredHave you ever cried at work? Or cried because you had a huge project coming up and you were so stressed out? I have (and I would love to hear your stories in the comments).

Women have had to hide their emotions in the work place because of the fear of being judged as weak compared to the man. But we know we are not perfect, and neither are men.

So dry your tears, listen to some Lil’ Kim and go be the most perfect imperfection ever.

7. We are breaking the glass ceiling in our careers

producerWomen are the biggest consumers of African movies. We single-handedly pump money into this industry. For a long time, men dominated in the directing and producing of African movies…but not any more.

With the rise of Yvonne Nelson, Shirley Frimpong Manso and other female producers, times are a’ changing.

8. And our careers span past doctors and engineers….we are creatives

chimaChimamanda Ngozi Adichie is my personal hero. And to see her making the world stop and listen to what she has to say as a writer and a speaker is so inspiring.

It puts our parents’, “only be a doctor, engineer or lawyer” talk to shame. While those careers are great, creative careers in the arts are also important. We need more African photographers, writers, artists, graphic designers, the list goes on.

9. We wear made in Africamade-in-africa

Any fans of ‘African City’? How many times have you watched an episode and wanted to buy everything the girls wore. From the jewelry to the shoes and the clothes themselves.

I had to stop watching because my retail lust was getting out of control…and get this? Everything is made in Africa! We are showing the world what African career wear, girls night out outfits and bathing suits can look like.

10. We are leading the front lines on African issuesyvonne-nelson

Everyone in Africa knows the inconsistent power struggles that we all suffer through. In Ghana, we call it dumsor meaning “light off, light on”.

Well, guess who led the movement to tell the Ghanaian government enough is enough? Actress and producer, Yvonne Nelson. She led the cause and soon, others joined in droves.

African women are no longer waiting to be told to speak, we are leading the force on issues that affect all of us.

11. We are intentional about changing Africa

This point is captured perfectly by this quote by Elizabeth Blackwell; “For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.”

African women everywhere are doing their part for the next generation of women. From organizations like our very own SLA to movie producers writing more complex roles for women, or business owners who create scholarships for girls.

We are all more aware of the role we play in changing Africa and the stories that are told about African women.

Discover your passion with these 6 commandments

shehive london passion she leads africa

For some, identifying their passion is a walk in the park. They don’t need the help of a guardian counsellor to point them to the rainbow’s end because they already know where it is.

This category of people know what drives them —an awareness they discovered in the womb or accidentally stumbled upon early on in life. Either way, they’ve been spared the trouble of having to find where their heart lies.

The rest of us, however, are stuck with hours of self-reflection, countless meetings with a career coach and general cluelessness. The very question; ‘what are you passionate about?’ elicits the same level of dread as having one’s tooth pulled without anaesthesia, because society expects us to know what it is.

If you fall in the latter category, fear not, kiddo, for these six commandments have got you covered.

1. Thou shall quit your job

Staying on a job you hate and griping about how much you hate isn’t going to lead to a light bulb moment. Trust me, it won’t. But quitting will.

Transitioning from employed to unemployed will likely make finding your passion more urgent… and, yes, uncomfortable considering the scary economy and unemployment statistics.

But with the new extra time, you can channel your energy into discovering the gritty stuff you’re made of by following the next commandment.

2. Thou shall experiment

Breaking out of a routine is one way to find your passion. Grab at new opportunities wherever you find them.

This could mean helping a colleague complete a task at work, volunteering in the accounting department in your local church, or watching a play, even if it’s not your thing.

You’d be surprised at what tickles your interest, and in return your passion could be unlocked.

3. Thou shall ask questions

Self-reflection and asking questions offer illuminating insight.

What would you be doing with your time if you were filthy rich with no worries in the world? If failure wasn’t an option, what would you do? Or, if you didn’t give a damn about social approval? What are willing to suffer for or readily do for free for the next six months with a smile on your face?

Be truthful with your answers (even those you think might cause your friends and family to give you the stink eye), then write them all down, evaluating each candidly.

Pay attention to what you enjoy talking about, your favourite novels, songs and movies. How do you spend your days off? A common theme should connect them all. If so, find a way of incorporating it into your current job or converting it into a business.

For example, if you love travelling (both physically and through art), you could start a culture blog featuring photography, book reviews and travel articles —and possibly make money from it.

4. Thou shall consult other human beings

No (wo)man is born an island, and that’s why you need to reach out to those living out their passion for help.

Search the web for articles about how others found their passion. Read memoirs of successful business people and those you admire for inspiration.

Ask your family, co-workers or friends who are likely to support you to highlight your best qualities or talents, and use the information to clue you in on what makes you tick.

5. Thou shall take a trip down memory lane

As a kid, what were the things you did for hours on end that never grew tiring or boring? What classes were a delight before mum and dad forced you to become a doctor, lawyer or an engineer?

Your passion may lie in those lousy poems you wrote in junior secondary that no one read, the games you enjoyed playing, or in that book with dog-eared pages and a cracked spine.

Making a list of all the things that brought you joy at age 7 would help resurrect forgotten passions to life.

And if all fails…

6. Thou shall write an obit

That’s right, an obituary.

No, I’m not wishing death upon you. If you humour yourself and write what you would like it to read, not only would you be amazed at the things you come up with, the exercise will take you a step closer to the things you’re enthusiastic about.

“Do, Be, Give”: How three simple words sparked a quiet revolution in my life

shehive accra

Like most, I had heard of the book “Eat, Pray, Love” and found the concept intriguing. However, I had never had the inclination to read it up until a few months ago.

I was catching up with a friend one afternoon when she told me about someone she knew  who recently quit a  corporate office job in New York and embarked  on a 3-month journey  to  Europe and Africa to relax and regroup.

What made her story even more interesting was that she had decided on a theme for her trip : “Do, Be, Give”, drawing inspiration from the life-story in the book.

I was  going through a turbulent time in my life. Unsatisfied with the way things were, hearing this story gave me the impetus to make  a change. I decided to also read the book and later went  on a 3-month journey of my own. I would like to share my experience with you.

DO

When I started my second Master’s degree in 2013, my goal was to land a job as a consultant at  the end of the program. I applied to pretty much every consulting firm in the greater Amsterdam area and was met with either a  rejection email, or —worse still, silence.

Self-doubt began to creep in: maybe I was too old, maybe I  lacked a business background, maybe I was handicapped because I didn’t speak the local language, maybe I had picked the wrong major. With every rejection came new forms of doubt.

I landed a job as an analyst for a healthcare non-profit and for a while I got sidetracked from pursuing my original goal. My job was good enough, but I always had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be and I wasn’t doing what I ought to be doing.

After I decided to act on the “Do, Be, Give” concept, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and resume applying for  consulting jobs.michelle-obama-blackgirlsrock

One day, out of the blue, I got a text from a friend about a job with the United Nations. Though I felt like it was a long shot, I applied.  A little over 3 months later, I am packing my bags for a two-year adventure as a consultant for the UN in Zambia.

Challenge: What’s the one thing you’ve always dreamt of doing but haven’t gotten round to yet? Do you dream of starting a business, traveling the world or going back to school? What is stopping you? If money and time weren’t obstacles, what is the one thing you’d do with your life right now?

Focus intently on your goal, let the attainment of it motivate you daily and have the courage to go for it.

BE

In a previous article, I talked briefly about my struggle with depression. For me, this disorder is like knowing the sun is shining but not feeling its warmth. It has not only affected my mental and emotional state but also my physical and social well-being.

Alongside therapy and support from friends and family, I chose to start medication during an especially tough period last year. This helped for a while; I was able to get through the day but on the flip side, I  felt like my life was on mute. I could finally see all the colours but I couldn’t hear the music. Even though I no longer felt sad, I didn’t feel happy either.

beyonce 1

For the “Do, Be, Give” challenge, I have made the decision to wean myself off of medication* because I feel I am at a place in life where I am stronger, both mentally and physically. I want to know how it feels to be free from medication: to eat and sleep “normally”. It was a huge, scary step. I kept asking myself; what if I failed? What if things became worse again? So many what-ifs.

I prepared myself for the unknown and took a leap of faith. So far, so good. I feel free and some days, I am happy. Other days are still a struggle, but I’m getting to where I want to be. This experience has strengthened my self-confidence, and ability to think and act in my best interests.

Challenge: Who are you are now, and who do you want to be in future? What do you need to do to become that person? Any limiting self-beliefs you need to let go of? What truths do you need to embrace to finally inhabit the state of being you have been dreaming of?

GIVE

For a long time, I toyed with the idea of starting a non-profit organisation. I wanted to help improve the lives of others in a  meaningful and engaging way. I knew what I wanted to do, but couldn’t do it alone.

A close friend got married this year and I had the privilege of being one of her bridesmaids. As fate would have it, one of us turned out to be a young doctor with a passion for non-profit and youth development. I went out on a limb and shared my vision with her of wanting to create an NGO based in Nigeria. She embraced the idea wholeheartedly and this is how, Give Girls A Chance was born.

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Our goal is to provide educational and mentorship opportunities to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds so that they too may enjoy access to and benefits of quality education. My working on this project has given me a new friend and a co-visionary: we are one inch closer to seeing the manifestation of our dream.

Challenge: What change do you wish to see in your community and in the world? Are you willing to give up something to see this dream become a reality?

Your turn

If there is something you’ve been meaning to do, find the courage to do it. If there’s a state of being that you’ve been meaning to inhabit, find the fortitude to embrace it. If there’s a cause dear to your heart, find the time to give to it wholeheartedly.

I think the beauty of the “Do, Be, Give” concept lies in its simplicity. I urge you to take 3 days or 3 weeks or even 3 months off your time to sit and contemplate on what it is you really want to do with your time and talents; who you want to be in life or how to embrace who you already are and dare to share that with the world.

You, as much as everyone else in the world, deserve to have a beautiful life. What are you willing to do to have it? Apart from Do, Be, Give, what other words can you think of that would go well together and inspire you to make a positive change in your life?

*Please note that I am not a mental health professional neither am I recommending that anyone on medication stop taking it. I am also not suggesting that you cannot be free just because you take medication. I am simply sharing my experience and how it affected me.

 

Celebrating small time business women: 5 lessons for the #MotherlandMogul

small time business women

“Buy tomatoes!”

“Buy your frozen fish!”

Where I come from, the voices of women calling out to customers can be heard as early as 7 am. I believe that the local, small scale business woman has a lot to teach young women in cities looking to startup their businesses. Growing up, I took note of how these local business women conduct their businesses, and noticed some habits.

Forget stereotypes, they are not weak, they do not whimper and they do not wait for men to feed or clothe them. These women have pull and sway and most of all, they do it to provide education for their children.

Here are some of them that have sustained local business women over the years and that you can learn from.

1. Consistency and persistence

At many warehouses, vegetable markets or cold rooms, it is not unusual to see women exhibiting highly skilled bargaining powers over produce to purchase at 5 am.

Growing up, I had a neighbor who cooked food daily to sell to the early morning crowd. She was always up before 3:30 am. I am amazed at the tenacity, determination and savvy displayed by these small time business women, many of whom are uneducated.

The “local” business woman, over the years, builds her customer base by being consistent and persistent even in the face of bad sales and weather. She is there, in the rain and in the sun. Small time business women never take holidays or breaks, even at Christmas! For those who trade in seasonal goods like green vegetables, they go far and wide to source for their goods off season, albeit at a higher cost.

I’m not saying you don’t deserve a vacation, but you can learn to be as focused on your trade as the fruit seller at your local market.

2. Trustworthiness

My grandmother never heard of a business plan or proposal. Yet, till her death at the ripe age of 103, people gave her money for safekeeping. What’s more, she sent my mother and her sisters to school up to university from the money she made selling farm produce.

People came from far to trade with my grandmother asserting her honest dealings as reason. My mom followed in her foot steps, selling garri at the next village and buying dried fish from that village to sell in hers.

During her diploma days in school, my mom would fly to Lagos and buy clothes and sell them at the secondary school where she worked. She is still running her business. Now she distributes well refined palm oil.

My mom practices the honest business ethic of her mother. Even after changing businesses, she still retained the patronage of her clients. The most popular words about her are “Miss no dey cheat person and she no dey sell fake things”. That’s Nigerian pidgin for, “Miss is honest and sells high quality products.”

3. Customer care

With sweet words, smiles and cajoling, local business women can change the minds of their customers. Talk about the art of seduction! (In a non-sexual context of course).

Ladies, I am describing a specific woman here, delete the idea of the “market woman” you have in your mind and instead picture this woman. These women start out with greetings, calling the customers either “auntie”, “uncle” or by their names or children’s names and asking them personal questions based on details garnered over time from previous discussions.

They listen and file away information for future use. This gives the customer a sense of importance. Some go as far as having the customer’s personal number and calling to just say “hi”. Imagine the lady that sells roasted plantains calling to check in on her customer. It happens!

Some women even go out of their way to serve as personal shoppers for the customer if the need arises. Talk about diversification.

The local business woma may have never read a book on the art of marketing, but she could probably sell ice to an Eskimo. They probably never heard of customer care, but the have loyal customers spanning years.

4. Sound investments

These small time business women may not know of investments but they have savings and assets. They invest their money wisely, from saving in various forms of local thrift savings scheme to buying real gold with resale values.

They are also usually involved in property, building and leasing out houses. Better still, majority of them own several houses which they rent out. And all this to ensure that they are investing in something more precious, their children’s education.

It is not strange to see a woman whose children are engineers now based abroad, thanks to the money she made from selling akara (Bean cakes) every morning.

5. Information

Any local business woman has her ears always open for news concerning her business. Whether it is increase in wholesale prices, new products in the market, fall in prices, customer’s most popular demand, etc.

They make sure they’re always in the know. They form tight bonds with their wholesale traders who in turn keep them in the loop.

In summary, the small scale business women are the women we should not forget to celebrate today. They are the women on whose backbones some of us have grown and excelled, whose examples we have unconsciously followed.

These Motherland Moguls didn’t care to sit down and twiddle their thumbs. They did not let their degrees —or lack thereof, or their social standings or background hinder them. These women who have defined “The African Woman”.

I personally celebrate my mother, wife, friend, sister and multi-entrepreneur Patience Irene Omoruyi. Who do you celebrate?

Walking away from pre-conceived notions

“You can take the boy out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the boy”.

That statement drives me mad and I get pleasure from proving it wrong. Why? Generalizations are not cool. I am from the Bini speaking part of Edo State, and if you’re Nigerian, you must have heard the popular saying;

“Bini girls are loud, lousy, crazy, witches. They like going abroad to become commercial sex workers.”

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But you see,  it’s not just common among Bini girls. There are pre-conceived notions associated with almost every ethnic group in Nigeria.

“Ibo girls are money-hungry.”

“Calabar girls are nymphos.”

“Yoruba girls will do anything to keep a man”, so on and so forth.

It’s even more annoying when educated people say these things.

Let’s be real, this happens in Nigeria and I guess, other African countries too. I decided from an early age not to be defined by my ethnicity. Over the years, I have owned this resolve. Indie Arie’s “I am not my hair is my go-to song for kicking against convention and pre-concieved notions.

I speak out against generalizations, whether in gender, colour, tribe, political or religious affiliations. I am not generic. I am specific, unique, and me!

Unfortunately, some of us have allowed ourselves —and subsequently our families and businesses become products of these notions. Here’s a true confession: I secretly take pride in being an Aries. And the “Aries do not finish any project they start” statement is one of the biggest lies I ever heard.

This belief shaped my life badly and for a long time, till I took control. I am tempted to just say “ walk baby, walk!” but it is not that simple. Here are my top suggestions to walking away from stereotypes.

Define yourself

Do not beat around the bush on this. I’ll be first to admit that I didn’t do this early on in life, and I wish I had.

winning personalityTaking self surveys and personality tests help to get a definitive self picture. A temperament analysis and if you are into it, your Zodiac sign can also help you get a clear picture.

Filter

In Nigeria, the statement “dem say, dem say” is used to define rumours. The prevalent view of your environment may not be normal at all. Don’t let it be.

funny life pretty little liars pll personal

Filter what you hear and perceive. I’m not suggesting that you become oblivious. See, it’s important that you are aware of the workings of your area.

Let go of dead-weights

Please! This should be numero uno. Don’t go about dragging baggage and ideas that are probably as dead as the people who invented them .11-catch-fire

“Dreadlocks are evil” or “Girls should be quiet”. Ummm… no! Shed them faster than slimming teas shed fat.

Re-brand

As a follow-up to the previous tip, re-branding is simply psychological (let’s not talk about changing your wardrobe now). My mom calls it changing your OT (orientation).

It is basically about changing your thinking process. I re-cultivated my mind on so many issues that were a part of my environment.

Two major ways I did this were through books and the Bible. I read a lot about self-empowerment  and growth and try to put what I read to practice.

Positive re-enforcement

You are so much more. Keep telling yourself that. I use sticky notes to write motivations to myself on my mirror. This way, I just can’t miss them.

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It’s scary thinking of how many people have followed uninformed predictions. Know that you can defy them.

I don’t care what anyone says about Bini girls, that’s not me. I choose not to follow that notion and I do everything contrary to it.

This is it, ladies, it doesn’t matter what people choose to believe about you, smile.  Of course, we both know they know nada!

So, walk away from generalizations and that “area” reputation. That’s clearly not you.

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